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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Hike to Indonesia’s Most Famous Volcano

Mt. Bromo in Surabaya, Indonesia

My last trip this year with my travel buddy. I thought it would just be a plain goodbye with a sumptuous dinner and a bottle of beer. Who am I kidding?! We've known each other as travel addicts why not do it the travelers way. Another trip abroad. Another mountain to climb. This time around we've decided to go to Surabaya in Indonesia. It is formerly known in Dutch as Soerabaja/Soerabaia, now its using the Javanese term as Surabaya. Located on the north eastern part of Java and considered as the second largest city in Indonesia.

Day 1, 27 October, Thursday  : Surabaya Airport  - Mount Bromo
8:15-9:35 Flight Tiger Airways TR2260 to Juanda Airport Surabaya International Airport

How to get there: Airport to Mt. Bromo Area
1.Surabaya Airport to Bungurasih (Surabaya Intercity Bus Station) , located just outside the airport. Purchase your ticket before heading out to the exit door. 
Travel time: 30 minutes
Bus Fare: 25,000 Rupiah per pax

It's a public transport expect some waiting time. Pick-up transport from the hotel usually cost around 500,000 Rupiah. After half an hour of filling all the seats we were heading to the bus station. 

2. Alight at Bayuangga Bus Station. 
Take Bus to Probolinggo (Bayuangga Bus Station) 
Travel time: 2.5 - 3 hrs
Bus Fare: 30,000 Rupiah per pax 

3. Alight at Bayuangga Bus Station.
Take minibus to Cemorolawang, the minibus station is located at the back of the bus terminal. 
Travel time: 1-2 hrs
Bus Fare: 35,000 Rupiah per pax 

The minibus waits for 15 passengers before leaving, it was a weekday and we were the only passengers that afternoon. So we paid 150,000 per pax to head off to Cemorolawang and drop-off at our booked hotel. 

Check in Yoschi Hotel
1 night: 210,000 Rupiah for two pax (1 room, bathroom sharing, free bar soap and with breakfast)
Staff is helpful. Pretty garden to hangout. However, location is far from Mt. Bromo and food stores while mode of transportation is via booking with hotel. 

Our transport to Mt. Bromo was book with Yoschi hotel. I've read from a few blogs that its possible to go hiking on your own. Make sure to check on your routes or maybe get a guide. If you stay in Cafe Lava Guesthouse its just walking distance from the sunset viewing point.

Day 2 :  28 October, Friday : Bromo Sunrise Hike – Ijen Crater Tour (7 hours driving from Bromo to Ijen Crater)

Jeep Sharing (4x4 WD) to Mt. Bromo: 150,000 Rupiah (Booked with Yoschi Hotel)
Wake up call: 3:00 Am - 3:30 Am
Travel time: 1 hour
Mt. Bromo Entrance Fee: 220,000 Rupiah (tourist) and 27,000 Rupiah (locals) Check out the big difference. 

We took a bath the night before to save our body heat for the next day hike to the mountain. As early as 3 in the morning we were up and ready to start a great day. Our jeepney sharing buddies were 30 minutes late, it got us a little bit worried. Good thing, we manage to get to the sunrise viewing point at 4:00 Am. The viewing point is located in front of Mt. Bromo to get a better picture of the sunrise. The jeepney parks at the base, make sure to take note of the license plate number and the color of your vehicle. Hike less than 20 minutes to the sunrise viewing point. There are food shops at the top, you can have some banana fritters and coffee while waiting for the sunrise. (Banana fritters: 5,000-10,000 Rupiah)
It was crowded. People were in all corners. The whole place was flooded with tourist of different nationalities. I felt bad for the locals who went there to pray and are disturbed by endless footsteps and laughter. We tried to keep our voices low, stationed ourselves on top of the pillars to get a better view of the sunrise. Be mindful where you step your foot as you might step on one of the worship pillars. Everyone waited patiently for the sun to rise. The second I saw the first light of day it gave out this warmth feeling, like being reborn, like you can do whatever you want and in whatever you want it to be. Look far beyond everyones head, let nature entertain you with its magical beauty. The moment I detach myself from the unwavering crowd below I saw the spectacular view of the mountains. I'm glad we were brave enough to climb the pillars but be careful with your footing, keep your balance and find your grip. 

As time passes by in the viewing deck we realized that we were on a schedule, I don't like call time. One disadvantage of booking tours, even thou its a jeepney sharing is that it still feels like a tour group. Some has less fascination with mountains so they tend to head back to the jeepney earlier that the expected time. Thou we kept track of time, one of the passengers thought otherwise. What do you in this situation? Kill them with Kindness! Ahahaa. Keep laughing and just let it go. I'm glad we stayed longer as the mountain view got clearer, even less crowded which meant more fresh air for us. While everyone is busy getting warmed with hot coffee, others bargaining for souvenir items we were actually having the time of our lives. I stared at the beautiful horizon. It reminded me of the movie "Avatar" by James Cameron. The fog, the clouds, the mountains, the valley was mesmerizing. The tourist who came there were just looking, no one bothered to stare and see intently the captivating view. I can imagine now why some ethnic tribes chose to live in the wild. Even in the movie Tarzan he chose to stay and Jane, his partner, insist to stay as the jungle felt like her home too. It might be just a movie but I believe it says a lot about the small communities in the mountains like how they feel about the outside world. Now don't get me started with the Pocahontas animated movie ahahaa. I'll stop sharing my silly thoughts before it gets out of hand. 

Reminders: By the way it gets cold at the viewing point, I wore a fleece jacket with inner heatech top, wool leggings, plus my travel size windbreaker jacket and top it off with a cute bonnet. Don't forget to remove your fleece jacket when climbing the summit, as you wont need that anymore. 

Call time back to the Jeepney: 6:00 Am
Drive to Mt. Bromo for 20 minutes.
Jeepney parks a few metres away from the starting point. 
Remember your jeepney's plate number, color and drivers face.
2 Kilometres hike to Mt. Bromo Summit, estimate time: 1 hour (back and forth)
Take the horse ride for comfort but I don't recommend it. A few minutes walk is good exercise for everybody. It's a good mountain exercise for beginners, young and old. 
Call time back to the Jeepney at 8:00 Am.

At first we really thought that was it after the sunrise viewing point, no more hiking at all. We got really worried. We've heard from some bloggers that they might close the summit hike to Mt. Bromo due to bad weather. It was raining for the past few days but luckily the heavens was all to our favor. Our next stop was to climb Mt. Bromo, see the crater and be showered with ashes at the summit. The sun has shone brightly on that Friday morning, the crowd has double in numbers. I strongly believe Mount Bromo is a friendly and lovable mountain. Young and Old came to see her, lets just put it as a her. She sometimes has her moments of menstrual cramps which is the smoke coming from the crater yet she manages to control her temper. Mt. Bromo's eruption are not that massive and destructive. Locals would say they try to keep her calm through prayers and offerings. 

I saw two guys made their way down the crater, they looked absolutely cool, crazy and hilariously brave. Well, I guess it's the only way to throw something at the mouth of the crater, or maybe they should try a safer approach like a slingshot or catapult, just kidding. When I had my solo trip last time in Kintamani, Bali, the Balinese people does the same thing, they shower the active volcano with offerings and prayers too. At least they show a great sign of respect for mother nature. 

Drive back to Yoschi Hotel. Breakfast 3 choices: Toast bread with egg and orange juice, Fried rice with squid cracker and Fried Noodles, all served with coffee or tea. We asked the receptionist tips, travel routes and estimated fares for our next day journey. They offer a van sharing all the way to Ijen Crater at a great price, so we settle for transport to Probolingo and decided to catch the bus from there to Ijen area.

How to get there: Yoschi Hotel, Cemorolawang to Probolingo
Call time for Van to Probolingo: 10 Am
Van sharing: 75,000 Rupiah (Booked with Yoschi Hotel) Inform driver drop off point for bus to Banyuwangi.

Alight in Probolingo then you have 2 options: Train/Bus 
1. Train from Probolingo to Banyuwangi has two timings 11 am and 4 pm. Check tiket dot com for any changes. 

2. Bus from Probolingo to Banyuwangi. Option 2 was favorable for us as the train timings does not match our scheduled arrival. We didn't alight in the bus terminal instead at a bus agency named Kantorpos. 
Economy bus: 70,000 Rupiah (6-7 hrs), Business/Express bus: 125,000 Rupiah (4-5 hrs)

Scam Alert. The guy offered us the student price for the Business/Express bus for 100,000 Rupiah if we showed him a student id, the bus will then pick us up at 12 noon he said. We laughed and honestly told him it had been centuries since we've graduated. I guess we have to thank our baby face for our good luck charm, little did we know. We saw a sticker inside the bus that shows the fare rates for different stops. It clearly shows that bus ticket should be around 75,000 Rupiah to Banyuwangi. That's just how it is, we got to taste their rubbish deception for tourist. It reminded of another scam alert. This happened while were in Bromo while we were hanging out in Yoschi's hotel lobby. Two American ladies came in asking for help from the receptionist. I can see that they're tired and angry. It turns out that their taxi driver suddenly just stop driving and told them he won't drop them off to their booked hotel, just like that. They took the taxi from the airport terminal which is suppose to be reliable. I'm not sure if it was all a part of their plan to stop at our hotel, thou the staff were confused and helpful but everything seemed suspicious. Anyways, it was a long bus ride to Banyuwanggi, good thing we had a bladder break for 20 minutes at Damri Bus Station. Get your snacks here as the journey ahead will have no pit stops from other stations. Admire another beautiful countryside of Surabaya for the next 7 hours. 

Alight at Banyuwangi Minibus Station
Take minibus to booked guesthouse for 20 minutes
Minibus fare: 15,000-25,000 Rupiah

The Blue Flame Volcano of Surabaya
Bromo Hotels and Guesthouse

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