Tagarchief: diy

How to get to Mount Bromo (part II)

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In my previous post I talked about getting from Bondowoso to Probolinggo and getting on a bus to Cemoro Lawang, but I never actually arrived there. Well, not on paper anyways. In reality, I did.

LOOK, BUT DON’T LOOK
As I got on the bus, I couldn’t believe I had been waiting for over 2 hours to “fill up the bus”; the thing was completely packed! I expected there to be a lot of “bule” (foreigners), but surprisingly I was the only one! I took the (empty) front seat, no seatbelt but definitely the best views! And boy, were those views great. About 10 minutes after leaving Probo, the landscape changed into little villages and beautiful mountains in the backdrop. I should have kept my camera ready, because at one point I saw a lady, she must have been 80 years old, carrying a complete tree, (4-5 meters) ON HER HEAD.

I can’t help but watching the road whenever I’m in the front seat, even though I know that clenching my teeth won’t change the eerily narrow roads, nor the driving skills of the man sitting next to be, casually leaning back and steering with one hand or his elbow, whichever he found easiest I guess. So people: don’t look at the road. Trust that the driver will drive like a madman and let the scenery distract you, it’s worth it. Otherwise, you will have several micro heartattacks.

PHOTO OP
After about 1 hour, we arrived at Yoschi’s guesthouse, which is located in Ngadisari, a village a couple of kilometres from CL. The temperature had severly dropped, I guess it was about 20 degrees Celsius there. No one got off of the bus at Yoschi’s (despite the sign saying they had “die beste Kartoffelgerichte!”, but some did at the nearby Sion View Hotel. They were all dead set on getting a picture (and by “a” I mean: at least 4 per person) with me so we did a little photoshoot with what I guess was mount Sion in the background. After that, the whole bus wanted to take pictures with me and it came to the point where I had to say “this is the last one” (I mean, they must have taken at least 50 at that point!). A while ago I got annoyed by all the curious picturetakers. I then decided to take a picture with whomever attacked me with their camera, and ever since I’m not that annoyed anymore. While I might still grace the Facebook profiles of dozens of Asians, at least I now have my own photoalbum “Me with random Asian strangers” to show for it!

At the hotel, there were a couple of boys selling “Bromo hats”. The freezing cold of Kawah Ijen still vividly clear on my mind, I bought one for 10,000 INR (about 70 cents €), and promised the boy I would not tell “my friends” about this price. Waving goodbye to all my brand new bff’s, we continued to Lawang, it was only a 15 minute drive from there. As I had asked, they dropped me at the highest guesthouse, near Cemoro Indah hotel (the town is actually quite small so the drop-off point could also be at cafe lava, it’s a two minute walk). I then shopped around for a homestay, seeing at least 5 rooms, before checking into homestay “Yog”, with friendly owner Yog. He had the best value for money, including a private bathroom with hot shower and squat toilet for 150,000 INR (10€). He started with 200,000 INR, That’s why I looked at several rooms afterwards, most of which looked like they might have creepy crawlers in the bed and the only other one that actually offered a shower wanted 300,000 INR. Crazy prices up there, and these are BASIC HOMESTAYS I’m talking about, absolutely nothing fancy. The word “shower” made some faces turn into a big questionmark. An other homestay even seperated two twin beds with a filthy looking curtain. Ever the bargainer, (just kidding, I hate bargaining and am not very good at it) I went crawling back to Yog’s and told him I would stay 2 nights for 250. No such luck, but I could change to a cheaper room tomorrow, with shared bathroom, for 275,000 INR total. We talked about it for a couple of minutes, I promised to send all my friends to his place (this is me doing that, for your information) and we settled on my price, but I had to switch to another room tomorrow. I have not yet seen that room so I might be in for a big surprise.

I was told to head to Cafe Lava, for they’re supposed to offer great advice on doing the trip by yourself. After reading Be My Travelmuse’s blog about it and gaining confidence after my Ijen hike, I decided to DIY the shit out of this mountain. But what d’ya know: Lava was closed! So instead, I wrote this blog and am heading to Cemara Indah to rent a jacket and use their wifi, then get an early dinner, read Game of Thrones and get up at 2.30 to prepare for my walk! Ah, the lone traveller’s life! More on my solotrip after I return.

DO’s & DON’T’s:

Don’t:
– look at the road while driving to Cemoro Lawang;
– settle for the first hotel/homestay you like, unless you really like it (and the price);
– be mad if you have to wait for 3 hours before actually heading up to CL.

Do:
– look at the fantastic scenery;
– buy a hat. I guess. Will reconfirm after my hike;
– shop around for accommodation;
– take pictures, either of the views or the people you’re with.

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….the part where you don’t look.

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….and the part where you look!

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One very happy fangirl (and a girl with a funny face. Who’s who?)

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The crowning piece of my “random Asians” collection 😊

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How to get to Mount Bromo (part I)

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A lot of people have asked me why I don’t write a travel blog. My answer was usually something like “well, I like writing, but not it it’s an obligation.” Also, I thought “Who, except for my mother and some close friends, will read it anyway?”. So instead I opted for ye good olde facebook, posting some pictures and short travel stories along the way.

Now, after almost 3 months of travelling, I can finally answer my previous question: “Other travellers will.” I relied mostly on my lonely planet and other backpackers’ mouth-to-mouth information while travelling, but Java might be the least touristic place I’ve visited (of course, I haven’t been to Yogja yet). I found some really useful travelblogs (like Walk Fly Pinoy and Be My Travelmuse) and wanted to be of use myself, hence starting a travelblog at the end of my trip.
The other reason for this blog is that I couldn’t find any comprehensive information of getting to Bromo, one of Java’s main attractions. I made it all the way to Probolinggo and despite reading a lot about the rip-off-eager mentality of the place, I fear I still fell for it. So let me tell you about the trip to Probolinggo first. (This is the first part of that story. For the second, click here).

BONDOWOSO TO (SITUBONDO, TO) PROBOLINGGO
A day before going to Probo, I checked the buses leaving from the bus terminal in Bondowoso, since this would be my drop-off point after my Kawah Ijen trip. My guide showed me there was a bus leaving every hour, so I wasn’t worried at all when I arrived in Bondo the next day at 1.10pm. From my hotel, I took a Riksha (which of course overcharged me for a 7 minute ride: 5,000 Rupiah). However, asking about the 2 o’clock bus, told me it was “not parking” – I don’t know exactly what they meant, but it sounded pretty self-explanatory. How about the 3 o’clock one? “Not parking”, either. 3.30 maybe? “No Miss, not parking. Only 4pm go to Probo.” At that point I had been awake for a good 30 hours straight and nearly started crying at the prospect of having to idly wait for another 2.5 hours. Furthermore, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t reach my intended destination, Cemoro Lawang, that day. Because of the stories I’d read, I didn’t want to stay in Probo. Then the information clerk showed my a different route, which would take me 4 instead of 2 hrs and be more expensive, namely going to Situbondo and changing buses to Probo from there. I’d rather do that than wait, so I took the Situbondo bus. Of course I had to wait in Situ for another 30 minutes and finally arrived in Probo at 7.15pm. We were at a gasstation when a guy came in and asked me in which hotel I was staying. I told him about the one from my Lonely Planet but he said it was too far and he knew a cheaper and cleaner one. Writing this, it sounds really sketchy but bear in mind that I was extremely tired, fed up with that bus and a clean hotel sounded like heaven to me. Across the gasstation, he took me into his office (some nameless travel agency that just said “tourist information”). I heard about these places and said I just wanted to go to a hotel. I took a bemo for 4,000 Rupiah and it indeed took me to a cheap hotel (hotel Bromo Per Mai II), but the rooms had no showers, only mandi. If I wanted a shower, it would be 150,000INR). I turned my mind to “whatever” and took the room, I really needed a shower and IT INCLUDED TEA (yay. I guess). The hotel was fine and the people nice enough. After my shower I slept for 13hrs before waking up, eating the complimentary toast and jam and heading to the Probo bus terminal. I didn’t rush, because I figured there would be plenty of buses leaving for Cemoro Lawang…

PROBOLINGGO TO CEMORO LAWANG
I took a bemo from my hotel to the bus terminal, which took about 15 minutes. I realized I had arrived when the guy from the “travel agency” helped me get out of the bemo. It was 10.45 and the bus would leave at 11.30. I let another guy from the agency rattle on about all the tour options for Bromo, and just thought “I will not pay one rupiah, I just want to go to CL”. He offered me coffee and cigarettes and we ended up having quite a nice conversation, he didn’t push me or anything. Some other tourists came and I helped them out with information about Ubud, Bali. At that point I realized it was 11.45 and asked about the bus, “at 12”, the guy, naming himself Toto, said. I had read about the Toto travel company being trustworthy so I just assumed I was there, despite there being no name or ANYTHING saying “TOTO”. A middle-aged New-Zealander asked me if I had booked anything in CL, because he was going there as well and like me, he had read about a lot of ripoffs in Probo. And this, my dear readers, is when things started to get ugly. A guy sitting next to Toto overheard, looked at him furiously and raised his voice: “WE NOT RIPOFF! IF YOU DON’T LIKE, YOU GO AWAY!”. We were kind of caught off guard by this sudden change of personality and when my fellow traveller opened his mouth to respond, the guy repeated “GO AWAY! GO! GO OUTSIDE!”. The guy left, leaving me to reconsider my decision, since I had read about the exact same situation on the JIPP WORLD blog. I turned to the angry guy and told him he shouldn’t get so mad, because the tourist didn’t accuse him of anything (well, not him specifically). “I heard, and I am Probolinggo so I get mad.” Toto replied. “You will scare tourists if you respond like this.” “IF YOU SCARED, YOU GO AWAY TOO!” they said. At that point, a big bus pulled up and Toto said “Lawang”. I took my stuff… and the bus left! Without me! When I looked at Toto and his colleague, they did nothing and just looked back at me like they didn’t care, which they probably didn’t. Yet another guy took me to the opposite side of the street and said I had to wait 10, maybe 30 minutes for the next bus. Instead, I finally realized I wasn’t at the busstation at all and started walking. Another bemo took me to a place which didn’t look like the busstation either and after I insisted on being brought there, he did. It was 30 meters further, and I ended up walking back there anyway because that place was indeed the public busstop to CL. These buses, small and green (directions: leave the busstation, walk 30 meters to the left) leave when there are enough people. I had wasted so much time that morning that in fact, I’m writing this while still waiting for it to leave, 90 minutes later. We are still 5 people short, probably because everyone went early in the morning. The funny thing is, they ask the same price here (30,000 Rupiah) as at the scammy tourist place (though I got it down from 35,000 to 30,000 there). The LP says it’s a common route for ripping people off, and it should be 15.000 INR. All the blogs I read say 25-30 though. It’s 2PM now and I wonder when I will finally get there… I’m even contemplating offering them 100.000 INR if we go now, but that would be such a waste of the time and effort I put into this.

DO’s and DON’T’s

Don’t:
– Get off the bus anywhere else but the busstation. (Tip: If it doesn’t look like a bus station and there are no buses; it’s not the busstation).
– Let anyone persuade you to take a bus or tour to any place you don’t want to go. Stick to your gut and to your plan. Normally while travelling, plans change, but in this case, they shouldn’t.
– Pay more than 30.000 INR for the ride up.
– argue with scammers over anything, least of all their bedside manner.

Do:
– Get to Probo early so you can get to Cemoro Lawang on time.
– If you have no other option and arrive in Probo late, just search for a hotel near the busstation, this will save you time and bemomoney.
– Find a small bus to take you up to Cemoro Lawang.

PS: an hour after finishing this post – I had just started on my Soto Ayam lunch, of course – we were still 5 people short. The driver said we could go if we all paid 35,000. I tried to object, but went anyway. Depending on what time this bus arrives, it only took me 7hrs to get to CL from Probolinggo. I spend 6,000 on bemo’s and 35,000 on the minibus, and another 17,000 on snacks and drinks. All combined just under 4€ so actually not bad at all.

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