Mt Bromo

Getting to Bromo

So with two hours of sleep in 26 hours I started making my way back. The ride back down from Ijen in the full glory of the sun’s light and warmth was a lot more pleasant than the same route the night before. It was downhill and a really easy drive; particularly without Google Maps trying to take me down “main roads” that at best result in being red in the face with stupidity and at worse being red in the face with symptoms of death (namely, no heart beat). That said, parts of the way down still felt cold – it was crazy that the day before I drove through it at night in just shorts, a tank top, and a rain coat. As it turned out when I got back into town, I appeared where I would have taken the fourth right (see previous post).

Within 30-40 minutes, I was back in Banuwangi. I was famished. Between the cold and hiking, I burnt through calories like. Despite Ramadan I managed to find an open restaurant and feasted on chips and an omelette – the omelette came with some flies cooked really well into it for absolutely no additional cost…bargain.

Before long, I was on a bus on the way to Probolingo. A very nice American couple who have been teaching English in Java for the last two years helped to point me in the right direction and pay a fair price. I got into Probolingo quite late. The next shuttle bus to Bromo wouldn’t leave for a few hours until more passengers arrived from a different bus. But, I wanted to get there before night set in, so tried to find alternative arrangements.

I found a bike driver who would take me up to Bromo – I negotiated him down from 150,000 Rupia to 100,000. It was more than I wanted to pay but having no other options costs money. We drove fast. It took an hour to get there. It was easy going being on the back of the bike, at first (at least while the slope was flat). As the inclined sharpened it became hard. The acceleration from the powerful bike kept nearly throwing me off the bike. As we climbed it became colder. As it became colder the blood cooled or drained away from my fingers which were clutching on to the back of the bike – the small handle was the only thing I could hold onto – as my fingers cooled my hands began to cramp. I tried to let go with one hand so I can try to exercise some more blood back into the fingers. When I let go, pain seared through my hand as I tried to move it. That wasn’t working so I just put it back on the handle and held on. There were a few times that were touch and go but some strength mustered from somewhere kept me clung on. I never wanted to do such a journey as a passenger on a bike again.

We got to a small village where the taxi said there would be guesthouses. After a few enquiries they were all far too expensive. I looked at the Lonely Planet and realised the drivers hadn’t taken me to the right place. He took me to Ngadisara, a town 3km away from the entry point to Bromo. I told him I wanted to go to Cemoro Lawang. His face dropped and he looked sad and anxious. I said it’s only 3km from here. The receptionist at the hotel said no it’s 5km. The driver repeated “It’s 5km and it’s really steep”. ‘Ugh’, I thought. ‘Here we go’. I said “You’ve brought me to the wrong place. Everyone starts their journey from Cemoro Lawang – you can walk to Bromo from there, you can’t do it from here.” He repeated, “It’s 5km” I picked up my bag, started walking to the bike and said “Come on, let’s go. Now.” He followed.

About 5 minutes later we arrived at Cemoro Lawang. Lava Cafe, as recommended in the Lonely Planet was full, so he took me to a Homestay. Though basic, it had enough. I could have a warm shower (it was cold in the mountain) and it had clean sheets so I could get 3-4 hours of sleep. I was very tired having only slept a few hours the night before and waking up at 0030. I paid the bike driver the agreed 100,000. He said, “what about the extra?” I said, “what extra?” “We had to drive extra.” “No, you took me to the wrong place. This is where you were meant to bring me.” “No, extra. 50,000.” “You charged me 100,000 to drive 50km, now you want 50,000 to drive an extra 3km?!” “Yes, 50,000.” I just laughed. “I’ll give you 20”, I said holding out an extra note. “No. 50.” “Okay, 10.” “No. 50.” “5”. He realised what was happening and realised he played his cards wrong. But he was being stubborn and hoped I would feel bad and give in. “No, 50”. I put my money away. “Okay, nothing”.

I then took out my phone and used google translate to translate a message into Indonesian. All of the above was easy to say in broken English, but I needed more clarity in Indonesian than I was capable of. “We agreed 100,000. You took me to the wrong place, then tried to charge me 50,000 more to bring me to the right place. Why? Because your first price was 150,0000”…he gave a sheepish smile like a child who had been busted with his hand in the cookie jar…“you should have accepted 20. You’re greedy and you’re a bad man. ” I went and got dinner from Cafe Lava and started to work out how I’d get to Bromo. After some deliberation I decided to fork out and get the four wheel drive to take me over. Pick up was at 0330. It was a cold night, but I was tired enough to curl up in a little ball under two blankets (I took the blanket from the other bed in my twin room) and fall asleep almost straight away.


Bromo is a spectacular place to visit. Awesome views.

I would recommend everyone to not bother taking the car. I would hike the 3km in the morning to Bromo and watch the sunrise from there instead of the viewpoint which had about 300-400 tourists attempting flash photography on a sunrise. The whole experience felt rushed. I was chastised by the driver for being 7 minutes late back to the car at 0607 – all the jeeps look identical so finding yours amongst the 100 jeeps parked on the road is difficult. We were then only given one hour to go up to Bromo and come back down. I didn’t have time to even walk around the crater.

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