To the right a by-path plunges into the impenetrable shadows of the wood; it leads to Ledok Lepitan, once a grazing place for the herds of Tenggerese cattle, now being reforested gradually; near the Munggal Pass it rejoins our road. To our left opens an abyss, a thousand feet deep.
At Tjemarapukul, the highest point before the Munggal, there is a path to the left to Metigi and the Penandjaan. The woods cease, and the first faint glimmerings of dawn a it is past five by now a enable us to discern the surrounding mountains more clearly.
In front of us is a sharp declivity; beyond are the giants of the Sandsea Wall, with mighty Munggal as a dominant feature; on the comparatively insignificant knoll, bordering the Pass on the left, keen eyes may detect the little wooden hut, where we shall take a rest and have breakfast before descending to the Sandsea.
Pale wafts of smoke curling upward incessantly from behind this Guard of the Dasar, and scarcely discernible against the translucent morning-sky, betray the volcano; far away to the south rises the predominant cone of the Semeru, haughty and menacing. Sometimes this monarch seems dead and petrified; sometimes he breathes out his sulphur-sodden breath at regular intervals, like a living creature; but always does he stand clear of his meaner vassals, a fierce and untamed prince.
And this vast scene beheld in the suffused glamour of dawn, a one cannot wonder at the natives, who think all these mountains animated by powerful and secret spirits, and wreathe a garland of legends round their tops, both fearful and charming.
The path descends abruptly through the dewy herbs and the few scattered trees; the woods continue for some time only on the heights overhanging the path on the left. The young tjemaras are thin and timid, their elder brothers worn and weather-beaten; the leaf-trees are fantastically bent and twisted with gnarly knobs, and on their branches grow strangely withered parasitic shrubs. But blue forget-me-nots blow amongst the tall grasses, and the sendara looks glossy, like white silk.
At the bottom of the ravine the forget-me-nots are interspersed with big nettles; let me warn you against their wicked stings.
We tread on loose volcanic sands; the smell of sulphur grows stronger under the slowly drifting clouds.
When we emerge from these shadowy depths, the sunshine flaming on the tops has a gladdening effect, and the stern features of all those bulky mountains seem to relax into a smile. A lonely bird chatters in the dark-green mystery of a tjemara; a rare jungle-cock (they are very tame up here, and when you chance upon them you can approach them quite easily) sounds forth its gay, metallic crow. The crumbling path climbs by the MunggaFs side at an increasing grade. From the distant ridges the vague and confused sounds of awakening villages reach our alert ears, and the slumbering mountains lift their heavy eye-lids, absorbing the vital morning-air in titanic breathings. a
Then, suddenly, a chilly, dead hand sweeps across the landscape; the life dies out of it; the bright colours are sullied to lived loneliness, and the lofty mountain-kings change into demons: the Dasar!
Here the unbridled rule of Flora is broken and annihilated, and the dark rocks reign and the barren sand. Here the cheerful
Photograph by G. P. Lewis. View of the Sandsea and Batok from the Munggal.Photograph by G. P. Lewis. View of the Sandsea and Batok from the Munggal.