I enjoyed my 4.00am chicken porridge and steaming coffee as I watched scores of young backpackers trudging past on their way to see the sun rise over Indonesia from the top of Mt Bromo, Java.
They had been walking for at least two hours from lodgings miles down the valley. I’d ridden up the evening before and my horse, with a dozen others for similarly middle aged, over weight tourists, was waiting for me outside my room after breakfast.
I wore three layers of clothing, including two pairs of jeans; the temperature at this altitude was nudging freezing.
Riding down the rim and across the ‘sea of sand’ three miles to the active volcano, I passed many backpackers sweating and puffing, and I thought “Stupid people, it only cost twenty dollars for the accommodation and horse. You should have paid. You’ll be sore and sorry well before the end of today!”
When I went to dismount, I couldn’t move. Spine frozen! The cold, a body unused to sitting in the saddle for an hour and the several layers of clothing, conspired against me. The horse guide with the help of several of the backpackers I had quietly poured scorn upon, tipped me sideways in an A-shape off the horse.
In agony, I edged one foot, then the other, up two hundred concrete steps, while fit Swedes and Germans raced past to meet the sunrise. Some even offered to carry me up.
I learned a lot about arrogance that morning!