One month into our Asia travels, we really had the hang of this backpacking thing. At the start of this all we knew is we had our backpacks, and were going to be travelling differently than we ever had. After 4 days in Yogyakarta we decided it was time we move onward to Mount Bromo. That afternoon we booked transportation to take us to Cemoro Lewang, the village next to Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. The next morning, we were picked up by the minibus where we joined some other travellers, filling the last two seats. I got the front seat, thinking I was lucky since its usually the only seat with a seatbelt and some personal space, I quickly discovered there was no seatbelt and the seat was broken. With front row seats to the crazy driving and the possibility to get trajected out the window if the driver beside me makes a mistake, I was looking forward to the end already.
Ten hours of sweating on a hot minibus with no air conditioning, falling in and out of sleep, minimal to no safety, and another traveller resting his sleepy head on Alessia rather than his girlfriend in the back row, I was questioning why I was doing this. I truly had not been this uncomfortable in a while. Every time I would wake up it seemed I was sweating more and more and I was not even doing anything.
Finally arriving in Probolinggo, sitting at a travel office it was around 8:30pm. We were waiting for the next ride to bring us to Cemoro Lewang while other minibuses showed up with more travellers. Everybody was purchasing tour packages, while Alessia and I didn’t even have a place to sleep booked. I was questioning if we should just book a package since we really had no idea what the plan was for sunrise the next morning but Alessia was sure we could figure it out when we got there, and since things up to this point had always seemed to workout for us, we sat and waited for the next ride up the mountain to Cemoro Lawang. Upon arrival around 10pm we discover the homestay we had in mind was fully booked except for a 500,000idr room so we decided to walk away and find somewhere else. Lost in a mountain village, not sure what to do, was strangely an exciting adventure, just not one to tell the parents until we were home safely. All we knew was we needed a place with wifi so we could figure out what to do for the sunrise view since we had no idea. Setting off to wander around Cemoro Lawang in the dark, the bus driver showed us a place of his friends. As his friend brought us down to a place that seemed to have nobody else around, it was a little sketchy, but Alessia and I were going to give it a chance. As he unlocked the room and opened the lights, it was what we expected but they did not have wifi so we decided to try to find somewhere else. Continuing to wander, we found a place that we had read online has a free entrance into the national park beside it to see Mount Bromo. In other words, a hole in the fence. Unfortunately, the place was out of our price range, but lucky for us they were friends with the guesthouse across the street which they walked us over too. For half the cost and some wifi we were sold. The young man giving us the room offered to wakeup at 4am and drive us on scooters halfway to the viewpoint for 50,000idr from where we’d have to hike the rest. He also showed us the opening in the fence where we could walk into the national park to go and see Mount Bromo for free. Once again, somehow, not having anything planned, paid off, and as it turns out we did not even need the wifi since this man gave us all the info we needed. That next morning at 4am, on four hours of sleep, after smashing my head off the doorway to the washroom, we hopped on the young man and his friend’s scooters and headed off to the sunrise viewpoint. Halfway there we began our hike.
As we arrived it was still pitch black, and slowly as the sun was peaking out, it began to light up the village, Mount Bromo, and some other peaks around the area. The beautifully coloured sky, the light morning fog over the surrounding area, and the incredible feeling of where we were made this adventure totally worth it.
Alessia and I were not even phased by the crazy day of travel we had just had or the lack of sleep we were on, we were loving the moment. After enjoying the sunrise, we hiked down back to the village for breakfast and then went through the hole in the fence to see Mount Bromo’s crater. Hiking down the hill, we entered the national park.
The terrain is mostly just dirt with some trenches as you get closer to where Mount Bromo itself is. Once we got closer to where we wanted to be, there were hundreds of horses to take tourists up to the crater. I honestly think there was more horses than people there. Alessia and I refused and spent the whole walk to the crater talking about how we felt so bad for all the horses. Hiking up to the crater was not very strenuous anyway. Looking into the crater of Bromo was awesome as the smoke rose up and people threw flowers into the crater as an offering. Still not feeling the fatigue, we were truly grateful to be able to have the opportunity to do things like this. After enjoying the crater for a while we started our walk back.
After forgetting where the trail from the broken fence into the park was and getting lost for a little bit, we figured it out, got back to our guesthouse around noon, grabbed our bags and were off to find the local bus which would take us to the Probolinggo train station. With extremely mixed advise from locals, it seemed that we had missed the bus. Some people said another was coming, but some said it was done for the day. We were really unsure so we found two guys offering to take us to the train station for 100,000idr each on their scooters. It was about an hour away so we decided this was fair. Not knowing this would be the scariest scooter ride of our lives, we hopped on along with all our bags. Beginning with a short cut down a trail, we were very confused as to where they were going but we were embracing this as a local experience. However, the struggle to drive down with us on the back of their scooters was real. We offered to get off and walk the next 50 metres to the bottom of the trail and they laughed since we all knew it was a good idea. The rest of the ride was on the road, however, an extremely windy road down the side of a mountain that these two locals were not afraid of going fast down while telling us not to worry because they were good drivers. Thanks for reassuring us! Half way through the drive, our butts could not hurt any more. It was that pain you get from sitting to long, but the worst we had ever felt it.
Finally, around 3pm, we made it to the train station alive. At around 6pm, after grabbing some food from a stand across the street and hanging around the train station, we headed off to Banyuwangi where we would get the ferry to Bali. On the train we met a lovely Indonesian woman and her family who offered us some fish and shrimp to have with them as we chatted for a while. She even offered for us to come stay with her for the night, which I regret not taking her up on as I feel this would have been an interesting local experience. As we got off the train in Banyuwangi, Alessia and I met a young Chinese traveller who was in Indonesia for university and taking a week trip to Bali. Lucky for us, he spoke Indonesian which came in handy.
Together, we walked our way to the ferry station, where we paid around 5,000idr. Crossing the channel to Bali on one of the nicest ferries I have seen, this ferry was playing a movie and had places you could lay down to sleep.
Arriving on the island of Bali around 11pm but still hours away from our destination, Kuta, we now had to find local transportation. With our new Indonesian speaking friend we attempted to find this. We were harassed by numerous taxi and private bus drivers offering to take us for 500,000idr but we knew there was a local bus where we could pay local prices but nobody really wanted to tell us. This was expected because they wanted our business of course. After searching around we finally found someone that pointed us in the direction of the buses, where we found the bus driver who told us the bus would leave at 1am. We took this time to grab some local food from a lady making rice at the bus station and spent the rest of the time waiting around the dimly lit bus station in the middle of the night. Finally, after a little confusion due to the one hour time change between Java and Bali, we were on the local bus. Hugging our bags sitting on the doorless local bus, Alessia and I fell asleep almost instantly as we have had barely any sleep and a crazy adventure the last two days. I wake up, unsure how far into the trip but all I know is the bus is full and there is a chicken bocking beside me. This is one of those moments where you’re not sure whether to be shocked, confused, or amazed. At the time I was just so exhausted I did not really take in the moment but I was able to reflect on it later and just thought it was the coolest thing that I had woken up next to a chicken on a local bus in the middle of the night. After falling back to sleep, I was woken up shortly after to Alessia saying she has to go to the washroom and cannot hold it. We looked at the time and were only half way. We had no idea what to do. You cannot just stop a local bus. Or can you? We asked and with the language barrier we were not sure if our request was granted until a lady came up to us to say we were stopping so Alessia could use the washroom. Amazed that this was even happening, I guarded our bags on the bus as Alessia ran off to a dark gas station. To be completely honest I was extremely nervous, Alessia was out of my site and anything could happen, it was the middle of the night. I stared out the window waiting for her to run back, and quickly she did and back to sleep we were.
Our bus finally arrived in Denpasar at around 6am where we parted from our friend as we were going separate ways. We found a taxi that was going to take us to our hostel in Kuta. After maybe half an hour the taxi driver dropped us off in front of a street and said our hostel was just down the street. Well it defiantly was not as we wandered the streets of Kuta, completely exhausted and sore with no idea where to go now. We were pretty grumpy at this point. Finally finding our hostel, we went expecting to have to drop our bags off and check in later as our booking was for that evening. Expecting to go through the entire day exhausted and grumpy, to our surprise, they checked us into our bunks right away. As we entered a room of 4 other sleeping guests at 7am, we took no time to get in and fall asleep after our crazy 2 day adventure.