Wednesday, 23 July 2008

20 – 22 July 2008: Gunung Bromo

We were determined to use public transport as much as possible to get to Bromo. First, we caught the Damri bus from Surabaya to the Purabaya terminal (15,000Rph). At the terminal, a really kind uniformed lady whisked us through the crowds to stance 2, putting us on the bus to Probolinggo (23,000Rph).

Probolinggo is well known for its pushy touts, and we ended our bus journey outside one such office. A very shifty character wanted us to sign up to various packages. Eventually he offered us a bus to Bromo and wanted 50,000Rph per person. According to him, all the hotels were full (wrong), his bus was leaving in 10 minutes (wrong), all the public transport had finished (possibly true) and the public bus would take four hours (wrong – it only takes two hours if that). Not standing for his nonsense, we offered 30,000Rph. It was turned down, so we got up to leave. This dropped the price to 35,000Rph per person. Afterwards, another couple went into the office and got 30 minutes of his torture – finishing up with over-priced Bromo and Ijen plateau tours.

When we arrived in Bromo, two out of the three hotels had lots of space. Indeed the hotel we were staying in – Hotel Bromo Permai – had loads of rooms free and for good reason. Dead flies lined the window sills in the restaurant, the rooms were cold and filthy, and the washing water was about one degree above freezing.

Most people seem to rush here, get an overpriced Jeep to drive them around and then whizz off to Ijen. Taking a leaf out of Taavi's book on Flores, we got up late and decided not to go to Bromo. Instead, we walked up a beautiful old road to Gunung Penanjakan (2,770m). In its prime, the road must have been an important trading route. However, after years of landslides, the road was now impassible to motorised traffic. In a few more years, we wonder if even people will be able to get up it. On the summit, we had hazy views of Bromo. However, we did manage to have a nice cup of Java coffee, sit around a fire and watch some TV. Including long rests, the round trip took about five hours.

On the morning of the 22 July, we got up at 4am and did Bromo proper. Everyone looked like bandits from an old Western, with scarfs covering their faces. A cloud of sulphur hung over the crater, obscuring the sunrise. The morning light was welcomed by a chorus of coughing.

The Bromo Tengger-Semeru National Park is a very special place. However, the BNI (Bank Negara Indonesia) branded staircase and pillars on Bromo don't blend in very well with the surroundings. That said, they'll probably go the way of the last set of steps and get destroyed by the volcano. The Jeeps and motorbikes ferrying tourists in can also create a fair bit of noise pollution. Some visitors we saw came in on horseback which is more in tune with the environment.

Now safe and well in Yogyakarta.


Anonymous said...

I love traveling too but I remember staying in this one hotel that smelled like being downwind of a row of porta-potties, mixed with cigar was disgusting! I bet you've got a few more stories too.

Check out this funny video, called "Ballad of a Traveler":>

YouTube - Ballad of a Traveler

I work with Hampton Inn, and I'd love to hear your horror stories! What's the worst experience you've ever had at a hotel? (I always get a kick outta this!)\...dead flies wow, lol that a new one for me.