This will be a quick(er) read than the rest!
Our first destination in East Java was Probolinggo, just a night layover before catching a mini bus to Cemara Lawang. However, this sounds like a much more easy process than it really is. Cemara Lawang is the last, and highest, village before entering Mt Bromo National Park to see the active volcano so it hosts many, many tourists throughout the year. Because it’s situated at such a high altitude and the road from Probolinggo is literally straight up the mountain side for an hour, a normal public bus cannot make the journey. So, que entrepreneurial locals who own their own minibuses and take advantage of tourism because there is no other budget-friendly way to get up. Now the process of catching one of these minibuses... you show up to the bus terminal, an old man directing traffic sees that you are a tourist and automatically assumes you’re going to see Mt Bromo (in which case he is probably right 9 out of 10 times), he walks you past the legitimate bus station to the front of a random side-market restaurant. Here, there is a local Javanese man and his van sitting out front. They tell you it’s 30k IDR each and they don’t leave until the bus is full (15 people). When Carter and I got there, there was only one other couple... great. So we sat at the restaurant and had our “favourite” Nasi Gorgeng (fried rice) and waited... and waited.... and waited. The couple who was there first had already been waiting for THREE hours! Thankfully, we had only waited an hour before another couple came and we told the driver we’d split the total cost of 500k IDR we could just leave NOW. Once again, I would have personally paid the full 500k IDR for the journey that was ahead!
In Probolinggo, Carter and I were sweating (that’s nothing new for Carter, but for me to sweat just sitting is letting you know how hot it was out!) and as we rode the bus, I had all the windows open, practically hanging out side to catch some breeze. As we drove up, and up, and up, one by one the windows closed; it got SO cold as we climbed into and above the clouds!
After an hour and a half straight up this mountain face, we arrived in cloud-covered Cemara Lawang.
Immediately changing into our ONLY semi-warm attire, we explored the village. We didn’t last long because it was only 12 degrees and rainy, but it was refreshing to finally feel cold! *sorry for those at home currently experiencing winter!
We decided that we would take on Mount Penanjakan the next morning to watch the sunrise over the Sea of Sand and Mt Bromo. This meant getting to bed early and waking up at 2:30am to start the hike. Again, Carter and I only had one pair of pants and one long sleeve each which got wet in the rain so we had to compromise when it came to going to bed & keeping warm so please enjoy this picture of my little babooskah:
Our alarm went off at 2:30am, you could already hear the sounds of dirt bikes roaring and the hustle and bustle of this village. We layered up with almost everything we owned, exhibit a:
We headed out to Mt Penanjakan. It took a full hour to get up to the main viewpoint but it was getting a little crowded with Balinese and Javanese tourists so we climbed above that to get a more serene view and experience as the sun rose. We had to wait another hour before the sun started to really come up but it was well worth the tough climb and was another surreal moment of our first month of travel!
When the sun has fully risen, we made our way back for a well deserved banana pancake. After that, we started on the trek towards Mt Bromo’s active volcano crater. We found a side entrance in so we didn’t have to pay the National Park fee and walked across the Sea of Sand.
It truly looked like we were in a land before time based on Mars. The landscape was breath taking!
But above all, the actual volcanic crater was the most mesmerizing for us. It was SO enormous, powerful, loud, hot, angry looking. It was truly like looking into the depths of the earths core because the crater was SO deep. And no, other than a little fence that was damaged by so much sulphuric acid and didn’t even go all the way around the craters edge, there was absolutely no safety measures here. Although, we found it to be better this way because it was a piece of nature that was essentially untouched and in its natural formation which was amazing to be a part of.
And yes, I swore at Carter to be safe and careful because we were on the edge of a f****** volcano!
As we headed down the volcano, we got stopped multiple times by people to take our pictures. We should really start charging for photos! It could very well fund the rest of our trip! Here are some of the few we snapped as well:
We then hit the road back down to Probolinggo, same method as last time but we were fortunate enough to be the last couple to arrive so we just jumped in and left as oppose to waiting hours for the bus to fill up!
When we got back to Probolinggo we decided to keep on traveling toward our next destination, the big city of Surabaya. So, once again, as we got to the bus terminal, the old man directing traffic started yelling at us “Jakarta, Surabaya?!” And lead us to a bus which we boarded.
Only this time, another bus driver came on to explain to us that this bus is direct o Surabaya, 2 hours nonstop, don’t sleep here because pick pocketers, and offered us some water. We agreed to all the above and then he asked for the bus fare which was 35k IDR ($7CA/each) so we paid him, he ripped off the ticket and went to the front of the bus. As we started driving away, 15 minutes out of the bus terminal, the bus attendant comes down the lane to collect fares. When he got to us we explained that we had already paid and he just kept shaking his head no, no, no. He handed us the tickets for the bus route we were on and Carter realized we had been scammed. The man who took our money at the beginning must have been a bus driver for another bus who was out for some extra cash because he was wearing the bus attendant outfit, had the real bus fare tickets, but gave us the wrong route tickets! Thankfully, our bus attendant was kind enough to not put up a fight and let us continue riding without paying the fare (again). It actually worked out because the fare for the bus we were on was 20k IDR more expensive than the one we were scammed for! But now we know to double check the tickets and to not pay before the bus takes off, lesson learned.
We were able to hang out in the city for 3 full days, recharging, getting laundry done and getting caught up before heading to Vietnam. We even had time for a date night - sushi and Justice League movie!
And that’s the end of Indo!
Carter Bender & Brittany Wilson left Toronto, Canada to travel the world. Where will they be next? Follow their #cbwtravels blog to find out!