It’s a scene from Lord of the Rings. Sunrise on a cold, dusty plain. Horseman riding by in the mist, multi-colored blankets wrapped around the shoulders. And in the distance, the grey plume of a volcano, rising in a tight column from a smoky caldera. I must be in Mordor. The only thing missing are orcs and hobbits.
Truth be told, Middle Earth this is not. Nor is it New Zealand, where TLOR was filmed. In reality, I’m climbing Mt. Bromo on the island of Java in Eastern Indonesia. More of a stopover on one’s way from Bali to Jakarta, Bromo is another one of those fascinating places that doesn’t really land in the guidebooks, although it should. You start climbing early in the morning, along a cobblestone path, up and over the first of the volcano’s calderas. You then enter the aforementioned dusty plane, sharing the surreal landscape with horses, donkeys and the occasional hiker. Eventually you climb the final hill and look down on the smoky, sulphury pit of an active volcano. Sunrise from the lib of the volcano is stunning, with the mist giving way to the vivid reds, oranges and yellows you only really see in the tropics.
When was the last time you pinched yourself, astonished that 1) this place exists and 2) you’re actually here? Imagine if you did that even once a day, in your daily life, looking for the sublime in the mundane.