Amanda and I didn’t plan much for our time on Java besides Borobudur, so we needed something to do to break up the distance between Bali and Borobudur. We did some research and decided Bromo Volcano sounded interesting, and so began our crazy transportation day from Bali to Java.
Even though several people we ran into told us one night was all we needed there, we had plenty of time and decided to spend two nights. Since we were arriving late at night, and the main draw is the sunrise tour, we figured we’d sleep in and relax, and see the sunrise the next day.
Due to the elevation, we suddenly found ourselves in a cold environment. The one blanket on each bed wasn’t really enough, so we both layered up with whatever warm clothing we had. Plus it provided a layer of mental protection from the dingy looking beds we were about to sleep on for two nights.
The next morning we got up in time for a mediocre breakfast (at least it was free) and then decided against showers. It’s amazing how often skipping a shower seems like the cleaner option. We enjoyed the slow internet for a little while before heading out into the town to find lunch.
That’s when we realized why so many people told us not to stay more than one night. It was barely a town, there really wasn’t anything to do, and we had a hard time finding lunch. We finally settled on another hotel’s restaurant, and the food was acceptable. Unfortunately the front door didn’t latch too well, and we had to deal with swarms of flies throughout our meal. After lunch we decided snacks might be the only way to get through the next 20 hours, and managed to scrounge up some cookies and a banana.
Upon arriving back in our room, we discovered there was no electricity. It turns out they shut off the power for a few hours in the afternoon, probably to save money. Since there’s almost never anyone there in the middle of the afternoon, it was a logical time to choose for a voluntary black out, but it also meant our one form of entertainment, the internet, was no longer available. Although the power did finally come back on, the internet never did. Amanda and I were convinced that we had annoyed the slimy manager too many times by trying to get them to reset the router, leading him to just shut it off completely.
We had a horrible dinner in our hotel’s restaurant and were harassed by the same slimy manager about renting jackets. It wasn’t the first time, and it sure wasn’t the last. Since most people traveling through Indonesia aren’t prepared for the colder temperatures of Bromo, they try to capitalize by renting jackets to tourists for the sunrise tour. We tried to resist, but after dinner when one of the employees came knocking on our door, we decided paying them the 20,000 Rupiah each (a little over US$2) to rent the jackets was worth it just to get them to leave us alone.
The next morning we climbed into our assigned jeep and took a bumpy ride up towards the look-out. But the jeeps could only go so far, and we had to get out and walk up a steep, windy path. Knowing this path could be difficult for some people, plenty of men were waiting to offer a ride up on their horses. I’m not in great shape, the elevation was getting to me, and I had just recovered from a pretty bad sinus infection a few weeks earlier, but I really didn’t like the idea of getting on one of those horses. I had already spent money on a jacket I wasn’t wearing (it was a bit cold but I had on several layers and I was hiking up hill, which really gets the blood pumping) and I didn’t want my clothes to smell like a horse for who knows how long.
These guys were just as persistent as the guys with the jackets, and I had had enough. In my opinion, saying “no thank you” a few times and then ignoring them should’ve been enough, but they kept on pushing. Finally I turned to the guy who hadn’t left my side for several minutes and yelled at him “I don’t wanna get on the damn horse!” Maybe a bit extreme, but the constant sales pitch harassing we experienced was ruining the experience for me.
The sunrise was gorgeous. The volcanic ash blowing about was not. Amanda and I never wore the jackets, but they did make for good seats. If you decide to go to Bromo, here’s my advice: Don’t stay at Cemara Indah Hotel. Don’t rent jackets unless you have absolutely no warm clothing. Bring something to the volcano that you can use to shield your mouth and nose from the ash. And don’t stay more than one night!
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