It was one of those Indonesian mini buss hopping adventures to get to Brestagi. Constantly crammed and made for smaller people than me (how Paul coped I will never know) they were a constant fascination as well as moving torture mobiles.
Brestagi is what I have come to understand as a typical Indonesian town. Ugly, busy and a little bit dirty. We weren’t here to admire the town however; we were here to climb a volcano, Gurung Simayek. The following day we set off with a hand drawn map and a lunch box and began to walk towards the entrance to the park. We were soon lost. Not to be deterred and a couple of waving hands from locals later we were back on track and began the winding ascent up the paved road. At one point we came across a group of Indonesian students wondering down with a guitar. I asked them to play a song. They ushered us into the road and began strumming along. We talked a little bit and then scarpered as a mini bus swung around the corner. Laughing we parted and continued up the hill.
The road soon disappeared and we got to play a game of can you find the mud path up to the volcano. After a while it turned out we could, latching onto the most indistinguishable path possible. It took us up into the mountains. The beautiful greenery soon gave way and the top of the volcano was in view. It’s hard to remember what hit first, the sight of it, the smell of it or the noise of the sulphur escaping from the vents. The crater itself is dry and now covered in peoples messages made out of stones. Surrounding it however are green glows, with smoke pouring out and loud hissing noises. I put my hand over one, it was boiling hot! I’ve never been on an active volcano before. The experience was quite something.
We spent some time around the area and then began our descent down. It was smooth enough until our ‘not to scale’ map decided to take us on a walk far beyond what would be seen as acceptable considering we’d just climbed a decent amount already. After goodness knows how long (at least an hour I’d suggest) we finally hit a main road. We sat down. A motorbike taxi asked us if we wanted a lift into town. “Us! No, we’re hikers, and pretty good at it, we’ll walk it, it’s not far anyway, just look at the map!” He didn’t attempt to persuade us, which was strange considering after a while we passed a sign saying eight kilometers to Brestagi. Considering by this point we had been walking for six odd hours that’s no mean distance. Determined we polished it off in impressive time. It had been a great day although I was quite happy to be back at the hotel and with no more than ten steps to navigate between the room and the restaurant.