By Dwi Oblo

I’ve known about the annual Hindu Kasada Festival for some time now.

For years, I’ve been planning to go but for the past two there have been conflicting events that I needed to cover so this was my first time attending the festival. As I wanted to provide extensive coverage, I decided to arrive a day before the festival started. Along with four colleagues, I headed to Mount Bromo from Yogyakarta. It took us nine hours to drive the 500 km (310 miles) route.

On the morning of August 15, the sunshine slowly warmed me as it reached 16 degrees Celsius (60 degrees Fahrenheit). Coming from Yogyakarta, this was cold for me.

Once arriving in Ngadisari, the last village before Mount Bromo, we decided to rent a four-wheel-drive Jeep. These vehicles were provided for visitors who wanted to reach the volcanic crater of Mount Bromo on foot. After the last eruption in December 2010, the track heading to the crater became sandier, which made it even harder for non-4WDs to navigate. I wore a mask and sealed eyeglasses as strong winds made volcanic dust fly everywhere. My photo equipment also had to be securely protected from the dust when it was not in use. This was the exact same situation I was confronted with when I covered the 2010 eruption of Mount Merapi.

Dust was everywhere! I brought two cameras, each with a wide angle lens and a standard lens. I also had a small flash with me. I assumed that this would be enough equipment. With the two cameras I could make overview pictures as well as portraits without having to change lenses all the time — something I wanted to avoided in a dusty and sandy place like Mount Bromo.

I continued my journey by horse to the foothills of Mount Bromo, a trip which took about a half hour. Everyone had to stand in line since the trail could only fit one person and the slope was about 45 degrees. The long line allowed me to take deep breaths as I leisurely counted the stairs. Yep, there were 250 stairs!