I woke up in my bungalow the next morning with a view of the Gunung Bromo. This is a small volcano in the middle of a vast crater ten kilometers across, and my bungalow is just meters from the edge of the caldera. There is a road from the hotel to the bottom of the crater. It’s the world’s biggest ashtray, filled with dark gray sand and a few sparse patches of brown grass. Gunung Bromo is an ash-gray mountain with its top blown off. A steep path, and then a stairway, lead up to the rim of its crater.

Bromo’s crater is a few hundred meters across, and looks exactly like a crater is supposed to look like: crevices run down the sides to the bottom of the bowl, where craggy canyons can be seen through the mist. Gunung Bromo is an active volcano, and alternates between a single wisp of steam rising from the canyons, and eruoptions of steam that fill the crater with gray fog slightly tinged with yellow before it rises up in a big cloud like from a smoke stack. A strong smell of sulphur wafts up like memories of highschool chemistry classes. There is no lava.

It’s possible to walk around the rim but the path is very narrow between steep slopes, and the crumbling ash makes it unsafe. Since I had no urgent desire to fall into an active volcano I went back down the fractured gray lunar landscape to the bottom.