Andhini, my colleague, got burnt out from work. She threw an idea of going to Mt. Bromo and Malang before her class got started. I agreed to it immediately because it means I could go home and see my family. Initially only Andin and I were planning to go, but we could tag along Astrid, another colleague, in the end.
On Wednesday, 17 April 2013, we flew to Surabaya early morning by Citilink. This trip was started with a little tension. Our flight was scheduled at 6 am, but till 1 hour before the departure Andin and Astrid hadn’t showed up. So I thought I’d checked them in and they could get the boarding pass themselves when they came. If they didn’t show up, at least I could still fly to Surabaya and drop the plan to go to Mt. Bromo. I’d go directly to Malang instead.
The clock was ticking, the departure time was approaching, yet there was still no sign from Andin and Astrid. I started to get nervous. I said “I don’t care. I’m going myself.” However, suddenly Andin and Astrid showed up together in a rush, 30 minutes before departure. It was such a relieve to see them entering the waiting room.
The Jakarta-Surabaya flight took around 1 hour 20 minutes. Upon arriving at the airport we directly took Damri airport shuttle bus to Bungurasih bus terminal from which we would take a bus to Probolinggo. The fare was Rp 15,000. Before we hopped into the bus which would take us to Probolinggo, we had breakfast at one of food stalls at the terminal. It was cheap and unsatisfying breakfast but it would fill us in till we reached Yoschi’s – a backpacker hotel near Bromo.
From Surabaya we took an AC bus called Rimba Kencana to Probolinggo. Actually the bus went to Jember, but as it passed Probolinggo we just took it. It took around 2 hours to reach Probolinggo. From Probolinggo bus terminal we should take a mini bus to reach Ngadisari. You can locate this mini bus right outside the terminal, on the left side. The normal tariff was Rp 25,000 per person. Normal here means if the mini bus is full. The capacity is around 15 persons. If there are less passengers, they will charge you more. That was our case. They charged us Rp 40,000 each as there were only 9 people, including us that time. After one hour of journey through small road with fantastic mountainous view, we arrived at Yoschi’s.
We were famished. We took a shower as quick as lightning bolt because the water was ice-cold. Our main goal was getting something to eat. We wanted to get something warm with nice soup. Bakso sounded perfect! We finally found one house which sold bakso. It didn’t meet our expectation though. The meatball was hard to chew and I doubted if there was any meat at all in it. After lunch, we were having a stroll around the village. The air was nice and fresh. Every direction I threw my sight at, I only saw greenery. It was pleasant to see. While exploring the village we were invited by a villager to her house after she caught us admiring her roses. We could only left her house after it was dark. We decided to directly have dinner and sleep early as we have to get up at 3 am to get to Penanjakan to see the sunrise.
Penanjakan & Mt. Bromo
The jeep that we rented for Rp 600,000 came to pick us up at 3.30 am. It brought us slicing thick fog through steep little winding road to Penanjakan 1. We reached Penanjakan 1 rather early, so we could pick our spot to witness the sunrise. The temperature was not so cold as it was raining at night. Thanks to that also, we were having clouds hanging in the sky. There was no orange giant ball rising in sky for us that day, just reddish beautiful sky. After the sun had risen, suddenly the air became chilly as the wind started to blow. The very wind shifted away the fog which covered the foot of the mountains. I felt like witnessing someone uncover a mystery.
We felt so cold that to warm ourselves we ate some banana fritters and warm milk on the way down to the parking area. Once we finished, we went back to the place where our jeep and our driver, Agus, were waiting. He drove us to Mt. Bromo. Since there were still some rains every now and then, there were yellow and purple flowers blooming everywhere. The sand was also denser than it would when it’s dry. I saw the beauty of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park in rainy seasons for the first time. I had been to Bromo several times, but it was always in dry season.
Our driver dropped us at the parking area from where we had to walk to the top of Mt. Bromo. Walking on wet sand wasn’t so difficult, but Andin and Astrid are not mountain girls so it was a little tiring for them. Some people took the easy way to go from the parking are to the stairs of Mt. Bromo by riding horse. They offered Rp 125,000 for a 2-way horse ride. Astrid is afraid of horse. Well… she is afraid of anything which has fur, thus riding a horse is not an option for her. We continued walking and after sometime we made it! We reached the caldera.
It was crowded around the caldera, therefore we didn’t stay long up there. Descending was not an issue. Andin and I were running, while dodging people and horses. We were like children once more.
Savanna & Sea of Sand
After Mt. Bromo, our driver took us to the savanna behind the volcano. He described the hills there as Teletubby Land. I found it true. The savanna was filled with yellow fennel flowers. The combination of the scent of grass and fennel flowers made the air smell really good and fresh. It was just a perfect place for relaxation.
The last spot to visit in the area is Sea of Sands. This place became famous after a movie titled Pasir Berbisik (Whispering Sands) was filmed there in 2001. That Sea of Sands reminded me of coal mining area, where there was no single tree nor grass live there. We only stayed there for some minutes because it started to become hot.
By visiting those four spots, we had visited four cities in East Java; Pasuruan, Probolinggo, Lumajang and Malang as the National Park is located in the these four cities.