MT. BROMO AND IJEN CRATER (on the island of Java, flew into Surabaya)
Day 1: Our guide and driver picked us up from the airport at 7:30 and then drove to Mt. Bromo. I was so happy to see our guide, Bima. I booked everything over the internet so I was a little worried we would get to Surabaya and be stuck. Not a lot of American's go here so I was quite pleased to see a board with my name of it. The drive to the hotel was an adventure. Driving in Indonesia in insane. We tried to get as much sleep as we could. We stopped at a local restaurant were we enjoyed authentic food. We then arrived at Cemera Indah Bromo around 1am. The hotel over looked the volano of Mt. Bromo, Batok and Kursi around the Tengger region. We were so exhausted but the room was so gross that we could not really sleep. There were no sheets and just a blanket that who knows when it was last washed. We put on our sweats and covered our bodies head to toes and tried to get some sleep. I guess in this area there are no nice hotels. Welcome to a developing country. But don't worry the amazing view in the morning made up for the hotel.
Day 2. Slept from 1-3:30 am. A 4WD brought us to "the world's most famous view point" at Mt. Pananjakan on the rim of the Tengger caldera to see the sunrise with it's young volcanoes including Mt. Bromo and an active Mt. Semeru. This was a crazy adventure. The ride up was so steep and we were truly four wheeling. I thought it was a lot of fun. It was a crazy day because it was a holiday or come type of celebration so all the locals were up at this point celebrating. There were over 150 jeeps. It was packed with people. Luckily our wonderful guide wedged his way through all the people and we were able to be up in the front to see the sunrise. Unfortunately, it was really foggy at the beginning but as the sun came up we were able to see the magnificent view of the village and volcanoes. Truly incredible! Nature amazes me. After the view we rode horses up to Mt. Bromo. This was also an adventure. The "horses" were super small and everyone kept laughing and pointing to Shawn because he was bigger than the horse. I was behind him and laughing the whole way up. The locals would walk the horses as we rode to Mt. Bromo. There were over 250 steps that you had to walk up to get to Mt. Bromo. This was also amazing. Next, the 4 WD brought up back to our hotel where we eat a tradition breakfast (some sort of spicy rice and fruit), slept for an hour, and then headed to Banyuwangi. It took us about 5 hours to reach our next destination. It was a beautiful drive through the rice paddies and villages. We again stopped at a lovely local restaurant that had amazing food. We arrived at our hotel around 4pm. We stayed at Ketapang Indah Hotel. This was a beautiful, clean hotel. We were really happy to take a shower. That night Bima and our driver (can't remember his name....he was very nice) took us to a local fish restaurant. This really was local. We choose our fish and they grilled it up. We sat on the floor and ate the fish and rice with our hands. Unfortunately, we forgot our camera but this was a very "unique" experience. Our driver ate the fish eyes because he said it has good hormones in it. While we were eating, the family that owned the restaurant was bathing and dressing their kids as we ate.
Day 3. At 4am we drove a short way to Paltuding to the start of the trail that leads up to the active beautiful crater of Kawah Ijen Volcano. It was about a 2 1/2 hour hike up to the carter and down the carter. The crater is famous for it's blue acid lake (the most acid in the world) due to the hot liquid sulfur that is deposited in it. Local men would carry the sulfur (over 160 pounds) up the crater and down the mountain and sell it at the bottom. These men would ear around 6 dollars a day. In Indonesia this is pretty good money but VERY hard work. These men would do this job without any shoes or just with sandals. I just finished reading Born to Run so seeing these men made this book more valid to me. The Ijen Crater was spectacular. I don't think there is anything like it in the world or words to describe it. We spent lots of time just amazed by the view we had. There were lots of people from Australia and Singapore there as well. Then we went back to our hotel showered and then continued our 7 hour drive back to Surabaya Airport. Again the drive was amazing. Then we boarded a plane that was run by a local airline ($30 for each ticket) to Bali. Shawn describes our plane ride more as a bus ride. Quite the experience.
Overall, this tour was amazing, spectacular, incredible, magical, adventurous and the adjectives could go on and on...... Our tour guide and driver were amazing! Our tour was through www.bromoijentours.com.
The pictures go in order of our itinerary. This was the first hotel. I wish I had taken pictures of our second hotel that was right on the ocean and was beautiful.
waiting for our 4WD at 3:30am
The local restaurant that Shawn loved. Our guide had to order for us because nothing was ever in English. This was our true "local" experience. Not a lot of tourist in these villages.
We had to wear masks because the sulfur was really strong. Amazing!
At the end of our hike we had some fresh fried bananas and met a lovely couple from India who we chatted with for a while. There were also beautiful flowers everywhere.