Do one thing everyday that scares you or challenges you. I try very hard to follow that. Mt Bromo and the Ijen Plateau fit the bill.
Originally I was going to go to Malang and do a tour which ran directly to Bali and hit Bromo and the Ijen Plateau but then I decided who needs a tour? For Bromo, I understand the convenience but doing it on your own means that at the top you can take your time and enjoy the view. It also means you can hike up it if you are so inclined and of course I was.
Taking the train to Probolinggo at 9am economy with no AC was the first step. I befriended a little four year old girl by making paper fans out of old city maps – multiple uses maps, and colouring on Note51 app on an iPad. Fantastic ap for all ages by the way! It made the trip slightly shorter for sure. Once we arrived in Probolinggo we had to get to the bus station. Bus stations in small towns here seem to be the local hangout for any man with a mode of transport who can make you a deal. To get there we got to take what I can only describe as half chariot half wheel barrow. You felt like you were flying down the street. Then after a bit of a search at the bus station we hitched a ride to the base of Mt Bromo with a VIP bus and started a one hour ride which brought back memories of the road to Pai.
Staying in a wee little homestay for 120,000Rp by the starting point of the hike, we captured a few hours of shut eye and headed off at 3:45 wearing as many layers as possible. Definitely rocking the look. The almost full moon lit the way and we started the continual hike up the mountain. The plan was to hike up to the 1st view point for the sunrise as there would be hardly anyone else and the view was supposed to be as spectacular as at the top. Unfortunately the sky clouded over and drizzle started – the weather generally declined as we climbed and our sunrise, well it was 52 shades of grey/blue. We made the most of it though, taking shots with the “amazing” view, having our little breakfast and naming a little mouse “Achmed” which skirted the seating area.
Cooled off and slightly freezing because of it, we decided to continue to the summit, the view would be better, we would be warmer and the girls had heard tails of coffee for sale at the top so the only way was up. There were actually two ladies selling coffee, tea, milo at the almost top. A welcome heated drink in the cold rain and mist. We almost stopped there! It didn’t look like it was going to clear and to be frank it was miserable in every sense of the word weather wise. Our third hiking companion said it was a bit silly to be so close but not get to the summit as we hiked it, so we should go even just to say at least that we were there. Thankfully we agreed and about 10minutes after we reached the top the clouds cleared and opened up to an unimaginable view – my pictures do not do it justice. A local teen who had also done the climb yelled “I love my country” and I couldn’t help but agree with him. It was pretty spectacular and if we had been too disheartened or gone with a tour we would have missed the view over Bromo, the valley and surrounding area.
Then it was a mad scramble down with lots of photo ops to make it across the desert valley to the actual crater of Mt Bromo. We had weighed the cost benefit of getting to Ijen on our own or with a tour and while it is possible on our own, due to time constraints, hassle and it quite possibly would have cost the same amount we had organised to go on a tour which we had to be ready for by lunch so we had to move if we wanted to hike across to Bromo. Our leaving timeturned out to be 10:30 and our driver quickly sorted out getting scooter rides to across the desert included in the price of the tour so he didn’t loose our business.
This was the first time I rode on a scooter with a local and it was an experience. I had been nervous on the back of friends bikes who liked to go fast in Thailand. Well non-South East Asia fast is different than local fast and I hummed in my head at first to concentrate on not squeezing the life out of him as we rounded bends. After I managed to think “they do this all the time Lia, relax” it was fun and it took a lot of energy from not throwing up my hands in air as we whizzed by.
At the base of Bromo, they do offer horses to get to the very top if you don’t fancy the stairs but I was dying and didn’t really want to inflict it on the horse. Anyways what is it they say? No pain no gain? So after a few curses, I am sure the volcano gods didn’t miss, we arrived at the top of the crator and took in the sulphur clouds coming from the middle of the volcano, looked back over what we had climbed that morning, crossed and then just walked up and felt totally awed, humbled and for me slightly like I should be wearing a pin. 🙂