Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

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buksida
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Re: Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

Post by buksida » Wed May 04, 2016 8:18 am

My Thai bank cards were useless online outside of Thailand so we’d booked flights via an agent on Gili Air from Lombok to Java with Lion Air for 1.2 million Rupiah plus 15% agent commission (about 3,600 baht). The ride to the airport took under an hour and by early afternoon we’d landed in a very wet and very traffic clogged Surabaya.

There was little else to do for the rest of the day but edit photos and crack on with the trip report; our hotel, and it seemed the entire city, was dry so I couldn’t even grab a cold one. The incessant wail of the muezzin from what sounded like every second building in the city at 5pm was enough to wake the dead – luckily the rooms were sound proofed!

Surabaya doesn't really have anything to offer the traveller aside from being a stopover point for trips to Mount Bromo. Our only day there was spent booking the rail ticket, which took half of it, and walking around the Tunjungan Plaza for some rest bite in the a/c and a kebab at the food court. We also discovered it has some interesting wall art, a roof top half-pipe and a submarine.
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Booking a train ticket in Indonesia is easy; you can do it online – providing you have an Indonesian credit card, so off to the central Gubeng station it was for us then. The first logical place to ask was the ticket counter where I was told I needed to fill in a form at another counter with my travel itinerary and passenger details, and take another numbered ticket for the queue to buy the ticket. Feeling like that guy at the end of the Beetle Juice movie with number 236 while 71 was currently being served, I settled in for the wait. Finally I was called to counter three and told I needed to go to counter one, “no need for queue ticket”, with our passports … this would not have looked out of place in a Monty Python skit. Eventually we had four seats on a train to Probolinggo, the closest town to the Bromo Tengger National Park, for 360k ($33 USD).

We all wanted out of Surabaya and looked forward to what would be the highlight of the trip ...

To follow: Cemoro Lawang
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Re: Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

Post by Big Boy » Wed May 04, 2016 9:21 am

The wall art is of similar standard to that across the road from Hua Hin Airport. I wonder if they held a similar event there.

Sorry, I couldn't help my self laughing at your ticket buying plight. I could just picture you getting redder and redder (I certainly would have). I'd have probably walked out, or left Mrs BB to sort it. Probably a good job there was a big carrot at the end - the highlight of your trip.
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Re: Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

Post by Bamboo Grove » Wed May 04, 2016 9:39 am

There's a lot of wall art also in Chile, at least in Santiago and Valparaiso.

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Re: Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

Post by STEVE G » Wed May 04, 2016 2:10 pm

Surabaya doesn't really have anything to offer the traveller aside from being a stopover point for trips to Mount Bromo.
I spent a year there in the nineties! I was working so it wasn't so bad and it was easy and cheap to get out of the place. It also wasn't so difficult to get a drink there in those days.

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Re: Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

Post by buksida » Wed May 04, 2016 5:14 pm

STEVE G wrote:It also wasn't so difficult to get a drink there in those days.
It wasn't when we went to Sumatra 3 years ago (except Banda Aceh) - guess Thailand hasn't been the only one clamping down on alcohol.
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Re: Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

Post by buksida » Sat May 07, 2016 4:18 pm

Bromo is a pain to get to and from so we did a little research online and mulled the idea of using one of the many tour companies that offered overnight trips there. As with anything booked online in Indonesia the prices quoted were outrageous; between 5 and 6 million rupiah (13 to 16 thousand baht) for less than 24 hours at Bromo on a rushed tour package. Bugger that, we’ll do it ourselves.

Trains in Indonesia (ticket booking fiasco aside) are very efficient and well managed; we left on time and arrived on time. It was then a royal shit-fight to try and get transport up the mountain to Cemoro Lawang (Bromo base camp) as everyone and his dog was trying to sell us overpriced taxis, tours and accommodation. We eventually chartered a minivan (450k) and shared costs with two other backpackers heading that way, the driver obviously wanted to stop at his buddy’s restaurant to sell us double priced food so we insisted he stopped at the first Alfamart (Indo Seven-Elevens) for some snacks.

Accommodation is also a sting at Cemoro Lawang; basic rooms with no amenities, only two occupancy, and sometimes a shared bathroom can cost almost 40 bucks a night. We skipped on the hotels and found a homestay that had a family room for 350k (about 900 baht). No need for fridges or a/c up here at 2,217 meters, it was freezing, and the visibility was down to about 20 meters since the village was now shrouded in low cloud and chilly mist.
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To follow: Trekking to Bromo
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Re: Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

Post by GLCQuantum » Sat May 07, 2016 4:41 pm

Amazing photos and great trip report Buksi. Been enjoying this thread from the beginning. I like the fact that you're finding your own way to places rather than the tour buses - makes for a much better read.

Keep up the good work.

:cheers:

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Re: Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

Post by pharvey » Sun May 08, 2016 2:36 am

Did you bump into GLC then with his "Carry Home".... DSC_0695.jpg :rasta: :wink: :duck:

What's the story with the building in DSC_0683.jpg? Why 4 stories compared to those single around it?
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Re: Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

Post by buksida » Sun May 08, 2016 11:58 am

pharvey wrote: What's the story with the building in DSC_0683.jpg? Why 4 stories compared to those single around it?
It was a minimart at the bottom, camping store on the 2nd floor and accommodation on the top - because the place does get busy at times regular folk have opened up their own homes to get additional income. We stayed in one such homestay for half the price that the touristy hotels wanted.
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Re: Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

Post by buksida » Sun May 08, 2016 12:02 pm

I was expecting a buzzing little mountain town full of travellers but CL was actually more like a quiet farming hamlet with a cluster of tiny local 'warungs' (all selling nasi goreng or mie goreng), a few homestays and the odd hotel.
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After speaking to others who had done the hikes we decided to avoid the crowds on jeep tours at the lookout point and make our way across the “black sand sea” to Bromo itself for sunrise. The National Park fees for foreigners were steep to say the least at 900k/2,400 baht for all of us for one day only. We’d heard of a horse trail near the Cemara Indah hotel that lead down to the plateau of the Tengger Caldera and avoided the park entrance so at a dark and sub-ten degree 5 o’clock the following morning found ourselves scrambling down it by torch-light in heavy jackets.

Once we reached the bottom a white wall of cloud and mist that filled the vast crater met us, our only indication of direction was the rumbling of Bromo a couple of kilometers away so we headed for that hoping that we didn’t bump into any park rangers looking to inspect tickets.
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To follow: Trekking to Bromo continued
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Re: Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

Post by Vital Spark » Sun May 08, 2016 4:25 pm

Great photos and reports Buksi. I'm now in two minds whether I want to go there - feel I've been there and done it just by reading your excellent travel log. :cheers:

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Re: Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

Post by pharvey » Sun May 08, 2016 5:09 pm

As usual superb photo's buks :bow: Not too sure I'd fancy the 5 am "Torchlight Trek" though!!

Interesting stuff in your previous post also - DSC_0650 for instance.

:cheers: :cheers:
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Re: Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

Post by buksida » Sun May 08, 2016 5:48 pm

5am was better than the 3.30am one we did the day after! I went a bit mad with the camera on this trek, the place just blew me away so much ...

We trudged on across the vast black desert through the mist like some kind of post-apocalyptic survival journey. Nearing the volcano as the mist began to clear we started getting covered in fine black dust in the form of ash which got into absolutely everywhere. Breathing became tougher as we climbed and the going got slower, maybe a combination of the increasing altitude and the black blizzard.

Horsemen offered us rides but I was determined to make the summit on foot, mostly at the objections of the clan - it wasn’t a tough climb, it just felt tough. The landscape was almost lunar in appearance, or that of some far distant alien planet, it certainly bared no resemblance to anywhere familiar on this one.
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To follow: Climbing the beast
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Re: Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

Post by prcscct » Sun May 08, 2016 6:05 pm

Really great stuff, on here and FB as well. 0766 must be the stairs they use to take the virgins up before throwing them into the volcano? :shock: Pete :cheers:
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Re: Photo trip report: Island hopping Indonesia

Post by buksida » Mon May 09, 2016 10:57 am

We reached the stairs signifying the final ascent to the crater rim, 242 steps above us a huge plume of superheated ash billowed into the crisp morning sky accompanied by the deep reverberating growls of the Earth. There is an unspoken connection and a mutual nod of respect between travellers when they reach the crater rim of Bromo, peer into the rumbling belly of the beast, and simply utter the word ‘wow’!

Like the Sarlacc Pit in Return of the Jedi this place seemed to be alive; you could feel the planet breathing beneath your feet. At this time of morning there were only the odd one or two others up here, the rest were still at the viewpoint or were too apprehensive to make the climb.
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To follow: Bromo descent
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