at the edge of a volcano.

It wasn't until I was sorting through photos last month at Hannah's house, lounging in the comfiest chair in her living room as the sun went down, that I remembered these pictures.

An early morning in East Java, after the world's worst Southeast Asian bus ride. (And I've seen a few.) I started off at 7AM from Yogyakarta and didn't arrive at our destination until midnight that night, a grueling ride with no air conditioning and horrific traffic. It was another hour up the windy mountain to our hotel, where we managed to get an hour and a half of sleep. We had to be up at 3 to hop in a jeep that'd take us up the mountain, slowly winding our way through sandy dunes in the dense early-morning fog. I remember being deliriously tired, feeling as if we were bumping our way along through some far-off planet terrain.

We finally made it to the top and watched the sun come up over Mount Bromo, dozens of tourists and locals alike taking pictures like mad as the sun illuminated the steam rising from the volcano. Despite sweating my way through Indonesia up to that point, here it was freezing.

From there we begrudgingly got back into the jeep and made our way back down to the bottom edge of the volcano. It was a strange sight, 6AM on an island in Indonesia at the base of a volcano, the area swarming with locals leading pack horses ready to cart tourists to the rim, the fog just beginning to burn off. It was quite sad actually, the amount of tourists getting rides from the overworked horses. The hike was intense but certainly doable, and I found myself having a difficult time shaking off my anger as I made my way up.

The air was thick with the smell of sulfur, and as you got closer to the top the roar of the volcano grew louder and louder. It still baffles me, the lack of protection between visitors and the rim — ultimately not much standing in the way of a fatal tumble. By then the sun was fully up, and the view from the top was astounding. Despite the exhaustion and fear of falling into a volcano, it remains one of the best things I did in Southeast Asia.

Mount Bromo, I'll be back someday. xo