The volcano tour to Mt. Bromo and Ijen crater/plateau
After spending a few days in and around Yogyakarta I got on the train and made my way further east to visit some more volcanoes. The first one on the list was Gunung Bromo, Mount Bromo. There’s an extensive railway system running all the way across Java which makes it really easy to travel from city to city. No need for long distance buses and personally a really pleasant change of scenery as well. I was heading to Probolinggo from Yogyakarta, but had to transit in Surabaya. However, the connecting train was about 3 hours late which kinda ruined my planning a bit. Thankfully there was another traveler (Joey) who was going the same way as me and we got to talking a bit to pass the time. He was actually doing the similar route as me with the end stop in Bali, so I figured it’d be nice to have a travel companion for a while. We finally get on the train and arrive 2 hours later in Probolinggo, but the actual plan was to take another bus to Cemoro Lawang, a small town at the base of Mt. Bromo. Seeing how it was late, there were no buses running anymore (apparently). So we were stuck in Probolinggo for the night.At the trainstation we bumped into a few other travelers with the same faith. This is how we met Genevieve and Livia. All of us were traveling alone so this was kinda a great coincedence that we all suffered the same faith. All of us but Genevieve didn’t have hostel booked as we had different plans, but thank god that her hostel had rooms available for the 3 of us. Here we got offered a 2 day tour that would take us to Mount Bromo and Ijen crater (my next destination) and finally would drop us off on Bali (also on the planning). We crunched some numbers and decided this tour was a rather good deal so we negotiated the price a bit and went on with the tour with the 4 of us.
The next morning we had to wake up around 5 to be in time to see the sunrise at the first viewpoint on Mount Penanjakan. They told us to wear some warm clothes because it gets quite cold up there in the morning. I totally underestimated it and got punished for it. It gets really cold there with the wind and while you’re waiting for the sun to rise. Immediately we could see why this viewpoint was so popular, there were tons of other jeeps going up the same way as us and tons of tourists at the top trying to get a glimpse of the sunrise.As we reserved a good spot for pictures, some Dutch lady comes barging in over my friend and claimed it hers. I understand that everyone wants to take a nice picture of the place, but seriously. IT’S JUST A SUNRISE! We kindly told her that it was my friends spot, to which she bluntly replied “So? Go stand over there then”. BITCH! Ok fine, wasn’t worth arguing with the lady, we just climbed over the railing (which we probably weren’t supposed to climb over) and sat on the side of the cliff waiting for the sun to rise, with no cover whatsoever where the wind could pierce through my clothes, skin and bones. All of this to enjoy the sunrise. The sunrise was rather nice and to see it light up the whole area in front of us with Mount Bromo and Mount Semeru. We all took some pictures and went back down the mountain to the second viewpoint for a few extra pictures from a different angle. Afterwards we drove through the area we were just viewing before to hike up to Mount Bromo itself. The edges are tinged with sulphur and always bubbling. But other than that, it wasn’t really THAT spectacular to be honest. You can hike all these different spots which I’ve seen some people do, but looking back at it, I’m actually glad I chickened out and got driven around by the jeep. The road looked painful :s
Ijen plateau / Ijen crater
After a long day we went back to the hotel to pick up our bags and drove to Banyuwangi, gateway to the stunning volcanic scenery on the Ijen Plateau. We spent the night in one of the hostels there picked out by our tourguide and went to bed early as it was a long day and we had to wake up early again the next morning to visit the Ijen crater.We didn’t catch the sunrise this time, but instead we got dropped off a bit more down at the base of the crater so we had to hike up a bit to reach the crater itself. The hike itself was pretty tought, there were several steep parts but other than that, depending on your own speed, you can still manage it. The views were pretty nice along the way, but the main attraction was Ijen crater at the top. When you arrive the colour of the water in the lake is scarcely believable being an extraordinary vivid aqua blue. Evidence of volcanic activity is everywhere with steaming water and brilliant yellow crystaline sulphur deposits. Collecting the latter is an industry here and one with extremely harsh working conditions. You will see many workers trudging up and down the mountain carrying sacks of sulphur. Earlier I’ve already mentioned that I took a tour here and seeing how this is a big touristic hotspot there were tons of other tours that stop by this place. Including the rude Dutch lady we encountered earlier. As we sat down to enjoy the view I saw the lady taking pictures and people that know me a bit, know that I can be an ass at times. I wanted to get back at the lady and took my camera and made my way next to her and started slightly pushing her around and getting in her way to get my picture. Little that she know that an Asian looking guy like me could understand Dutch, she told her husband to just push me down the crater. At this point, I told her in Dutch that it wasn’t really necassary to go this far for simply a picture. This kinda left her with a blank face and speechless and I just walked away with a smirk on my face. Anyway, after visiting the crater we went back down and the jeep took us to a busstop to get our bus. Problem is that the bus is already packed with other tourists and well and there were no seats anymore. We were the last group and there was another couple before us. The girl started screaming that she wasn’t going to get on that bus if she had to stand and that she paid full price and that she demanded an extra bus. Basically freaking out and causing a scene. I’ve been traveling long enough to know that this stuff is pretty common so I was just amused by the situation itself. The tour people were trying to figure out a way to get everyone on and moved some people around. In the end, all of us got on the bus, with a seat and off we went to Bali!