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Indonesia | The Journey To Mount Bromo

13th-14th October 2014

0740- Taxi to airport

0840- Arrive, bags through scanner, check in, cant- go to self check in, cant- go back to check in. Have a Starbucks.

0950- Through security to departure gates

1030- Start to board flight, held on way in hot walkway. Walk to aircraft and get our seat near the back, put our bags as usual in overhead lockers and pass the 1hr 40 flight reading and looking at the views out of the window. Travelling with budget airline Air Asia so no free food or drinks, so bought some pringles.

1300- Arrive at the small airport Surabaya, got bags and were as usual hassled for a taxi, no one was giving a decent price so jumped on a local bus (£1) which took us on a very bumpy road to the bus station.

1400- Three hr bus okay, took spells of sleeping and reading.

1700- Arrived in Probollingo, hassled again, walked to the back of the bus station, had read on trip advisor (we read lots about this trip as we knew it was a long journey) we should go to Toto's travel for a mini bus/van, found it and the lady was helpful but said the van wasn’t full and could be waiting a while. While we wandered we seen lots of vans lined up, found a French couple who had been waiting for over an hour and said we'd join them. We waited an hour and no one else arrived so we asked if we could pay for the whole van and go. The van takes up to 15 people, so we had to pay that share. So instead of 35,000 (£1.80) each we paid 100,000 (£5).

1850- During the bus journey up the mountain to Ceromo Lawang, having had spells of dizzyness all day (think its to do with the malaria tablets), I decided to occupy my time by getting the ipad out and making a collage for Flyn's Birthday in a few days time (Happy 2nd Birthday Flyn!), so in the pitch black I root for the ipad- I cannot find it, I start pulling out other things and then ask Shan if he put it somewhere else. He panics a bit and says he was using it in departures, he thinks he might've left it, but I doubt he would. So he checks the bag- and then asks where the money bag is...we both freeze, we cant even see each other in the dark. But we both realise we have had our stuff stolen!! I say not to panic, there's nothing we can do at this moment, but we both feel sick at the thought.

1930- Had to pay the driver in US Dollars as that's all we had, found a Homestay called Yog and ran to a hotel to exchange the remaining few dollars, with a terrible exchange rate we could then pay for our room, which cost 150,000 and was just enough room for the double bed and our bags. It was chilly outside on this dark mountain, so we lay in bed with no duvet but lots of blankets and went through our day step by step to work out where we had been mugged. As always we never let our handluggage out our site, its always attached to us, we thought maybe on the bus but it was at our feet and my pillow and hoody was on top so it would be hard to get in. Our only conclusion was someone had watched us in departures when Shannon was playing his game and followed us. I think it was when we were queuing in the walkway as it was rammed and people bumped into me, so they could have appeared to bump into Shannon and went in the bag which was on his back. Although Shannon reckons it was when we left the bags in the overhead lockers, we wouldn't have noticed or been suspicious of someone going in because people do that, and the way the bag was lying it would be easy to unzip, I reckon they only went for the ipad but then came across the money wallet too. Anyway there is no point making ourselves go crazy, we are just super relieved that they didn't take the passports, and also we are safe and well so we weren't harmed. Also if it was to happen we are so glad it happened now and not at the start as we had all the currencies together.

2100- So we were hungry and had little money so had noodles in a styrofoam cup for dinner, then went back to the homestay and slept for a few hours.

0235- Having heard from several people including locals that you could walk to the volcano a different way and avoid paying the entrance fee of 220,000 (350,000 on weekends). That price is for tourists- locals only pay 35,000. So we woke up, put on some layers, grabbed our phones for their torches, packed a bottle of water and some perfume flavoured coconut biscuits, and headed in the dark up the side of a mountain, we didn't need the torches much as the moon was large and lit our way. We planned to stop at the first view point as we heard it was always the quietest spot, but when we arrived we were still early so carried on walking, to the next view point and then the next further up and up the mountain.

When we arrived and were joined by others we watched the sunrise over the mountains and our village Ceromo Lawang.

It was stunning to watch the sunrise but soon clouds came and blocked the view- later we were to find out the clouds were coming from Mt Bromo. After taking photos and climbing even higher, we made our way back down to complete our 6km hike.

At the first view point we finally spotted Mt Bromo from beneath the clouds, so not happy with that hike, we then went back to the village and headed down a sandy track towards Mt Bromo.

The walk was covered by the thickest blanket of fog, we couldn't see where we were going and we were all alone, the ground was sandy and went on for miles, we felt like we were on an eerie foreign land. We finally found people and horses and followed them still in the haze, then we climbed and climbed and stopped for being out of breath and climbed some more, then we scaled steps to the top of the crater.

It made the long walk so worthwhile- we were on top of an active volcano and there was smoke bellowing out of it! And also the sky started to clear and we could see the sand landscape we had just crossed.

Shannon went a solo walk further round the lip of the crater (without the barriers) while I watched the smoke pour out and fill the blue sky.

After descending the black sand steps and me telling Shan that someone should brush it away as it was making the steps below slippy, which Shan replied- maybe if people paid the entrance fee they could. We then walked all the way back to the village, the same way we came but in a direct line this time as now we could see where we were going. Another 6km completed, we arrived back sweaty, out of breath and with our trainers thick inside and out with sand.

0900- Arrived with our bags and tried to jump on a van going back down the mountain, it was full, the driver annoyed me as he had just said yes to us but then gave our seats away.

1030- Still waiting for another van, 6 of us in total by this time, Shannon asked them if they were willing to pay more and go now, no one was. Even though it would only be about £3 each. Buggers. So we said we would pay the full amount for the van, everyone was curious but still wouldn't pay, we were about to get in when the chinese guy said he only had 50,000 so we said to him to jump in. We paid 400,000. Well we would have if we hadn't had our money stolen, so thankfully still having our bank cards, we ran to an ATM as we drove down the mountain. We had to leave then as we knew we had a long road infront of us.

1200- Off the van and a man approached us offering a direct bus to Banyawangi, where we were headed, it was cheaper than we had expected, after checking with him it was direct we booked it. It was certainly not direct! It stopped every few minutes and the guy at the back steps shouted at every stop. This guy shouting had grabbed our bags for us as we boarded and chucked them in the baggage compartment behind the last row. He then came and wanted money for helping we said no. But then I felt uneasy for a while as he could steal something or even chuck the bag off the bus, he came up again asked, we ignored him. We were too busy focusing on how shit the bus was- it was a local bus with at least three people at a time smoking and blowing their smoke around the bus, also we both flinched when something hit the back of our legs, we turned round to see a little girl being sick (only watery) but it had hit us I was beyond mad so I grabbed the curtain and cleaned my legs. Then I started to cry, this bus which was to take five whole hours was the worst thing ever. I grabbed by face mask we had got for going up the volcano- too much smelly sulphur. And I put the mask on, looking rude I did not care! The man came again for money for moving the bags and Shan ripped into him, saying someone had stole our money and we didn't want to give them any more. I was so proud of him. Then Shan went to the back and brought all the bags to be at our feet, at least that put me at ease he wasn't going to do something to them. (When I later told my mum about our mugging she also said a good point- if they can take something from your bag, they can also put something like drugs in it!) But thoughts like that did cross my mind. Not only did we have all that to contend with but at most stops five plus men would board the bus selling drinks and bags of nuts and dried fish, the bags skimming your head as they walked past, also buskers with guitars boarded, sang one or two dongs them went round with a money pot, surprisingly everyone put a few coins in. We didn't. At one stop which we were at for a few minutes, one guitarist came on, sang and played and collected money, then a second came on straight after, then a third. It was crazy. This bus journey we both agreed was torture, much worse that someone stealing your belongings.

1720- Off the bus and onto a songthew (van with wooden benches) we crammed our bags on and set off down the road for the ferry port. On arrival we had scammers yet again- one even saying he could drive us to Bali- even though it across the water. Everyone crowded round and I was so mad at all the Indonesians we had met, they are all con men, in your face being pains and lying to you. Paid 8,000 each for our ferry tickets, seen the walkway and gangplank to the ferry, three guys in uniforms directed us saying 'Bali, Bali, Bali' and were pointing, we walked towards the ferry with a guy carrying drinks and snacks shouting at us to buy something, he followed us the whole way. On the gang plank I had my rucksack on my back and my day bag on my chest, when I suddenly looked down and realised the steps just stopped, they weren't attached... I could have fell in!!! We went back and seen the uniformed guys I said 'Bali?' they said yes I in my pissed off foreign accent shouted at then 'Bali, Bali, Bali!!!' Walked in between the trucks and boarded via that way. Thankfully there was an air conditioned room that the locals didn't use so we relaxed for the one hour boat trip. We had had so much to plan on getting to and from Bromo that we hadn't checked how long the ride from the ferry terminal to Seminyak was, we guessed one to two hours, Shan asked a worker he confirmed our worst fears, it would be four hours!!!! This bloody day just was not ending!

1830 becomes 1930 with time difference. The terminal was deserted, it was dark by now and we didn't know what to do, we thought we could get a bus, it wasn't to be. We were approached by a taxi and we got it down from 800,000 to 650,000 (£33). The driver was actually decent, he did need to pop in his house which was on the way to get his glasses, he asked if we wanted to see his house, we politely declined. We slept on and off, I was too busy watching the traffic though as it was single lanes all the way, and the roads were rammed, we spent the whole journey overtaking and swerving back in lane.

2000- Time we had told Shaun and Jodie we would meet them, we had no internet to let them know and felt really bad. And we were so excited to see familiar faces.

0010- Arrived after getting a bit lost on roads near the villa. Spotted the Guernsey Flag flying on the gates and were so relived to be here!

Told Shaun and Jodie all about our terrible mammoth journey, which started yesterday morning, had 5 hours sleep and travelled the rest of the time! And we were so happy to see them!!

Bintang please!!!!

#java #jakarta #surabaya #ceromolawang #mtbromo #bromo #volcano #bali #traveldiaries #Asia #southeastasia2014 #indonesia #adventure

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