When “beautiful sunrise” is described in the same breath as Bromo, the first viewpoint that comes to mind is Penanjakan 1. At 2,770 metres (9,087 feet) above sea level, this is a very popular spot for visitors to witness the beauty of the famous volcanic crater, Sea of Sand and surrounding mountains at sunrise. It’s no surprise that this place becomes really crowded with people jostling for a spot to watch the unravelling of Mother Nature.
For those who want to watch the sunrise without the crowds, Penanjakan 2 is an alternative spot. Although the site is not as high as Penanjakan 1, it shares much of the same scenery, as Penanjakan 2 lies below the peak of Penanjakan 1. Its lower altitude also means that it is easier to reach this site.
Our stay in Bromo did not allow enough mornings to watch the sunrise from either viewpoint. We had to be content with just driving up to Penanjakan 2 in the late afternoon, after the walkabout at Cemoro Lawang village.
When we arrived, we found the place deserted except for two or three locals, and there was only one other car at the parking area. It was already approaching the blue hour and we were all over the place, trying to take in as much of the disappearing landscape as possible.
As the darkness made its way across the national park, temperatures dropped and the few people still around sought refuge round an open fire next to a lone food stall.
We pretty much had the whole place to ourselves for the next three hours. In retrospect, I cannot imagine how we could have remained up there for so long. There was just something about that quiet mountain spot, the cold night air, the thousands of little stars across the sky and yes…even the little fire, that made me want to prolong my visit on that mountain for as long as possible.
Besides, it was a good excuse to enjoy a cup of instant noodles accompanied by piping hot coffee. Somehow, these simple pleasures taste extra nice when you are seated outside in cold weather.
The stall is operated by a local resident who sleeps in a little room at the back. Considering the isolated location where she has chosen to do her business, I was curious and asked her where she got her water for her daily needs. She said that she visits the nearby mountains everyday to collect water and firewood.
Later into the evening, it became so cold that it was no longer comfortable to sit outdoors. I invited myself inside the tiny, cramped stall and promptly sat down on a log next to a small charcoal stove to keep warm.
Before making our way back down the mountain, I decided to brave the cold wind and take a last look in the direction of the Milky Way which was lit by thousands of stars.