Okay, this is how the story goes...
I had confirmed that RM0.18 Airasia ticket to Surabaya for darling husband and I since last December. Then early this March he tells me that he couldn't actually take the leave he thought he could as it was in the middle of their survey period. Oh no! We were supposed to ride through the vast Sea Of Sand and the Savannah around Bromo, astride those petite yet gusto Indonesian horses, ride freely into the sunset...
Ya, well, that didn't happen.
Anyhow, I was adamant to go, alone if I had to, coz the ticket was only RM0.18! Darling husband didn't comment much when I started to make plans for Surabaya; I reminded him that I have been quite almost around the world very well alone on my own before, so I should be okay travelling alone in and around Surabaya, InsyaAllah. But I was also thinking how wasteful it is to just let darling husband's ticket expire like that. So I asked him to ask a friend at Airasia if he could transfer his ticket to Esfahan. I'd have a good reason to bring Esfahan sans his younger brothers, as Esfahan is in Standard 6 this year and it may be the last time he could freely travel with mommy, as he is actually looking forward to getting into boarding school next year.
Waaaaahaaahaaahaaa! Okay, that's digressing, but I just needed to express how I DO NOT want Esfahan, or Damascus or Marrakesh, to get into any boarding schools, ever!!!
So, anyway, I told my younger goons that when they are in their 12th year, they too will go on a trip with mommy, climb all the mountains that are still on mommy's bucket list, heh heh :)
At first our friend said we could transfer the ticket at a reasonable fee, then she came back to apologise and say that it was actually not possible to transfer. It's okay, no harm done, there's always a reason for everything that happens. Since we already prepped our boys about this whole Surabaya trip, we bought a new ticket for Esfahan and finalised our worry-free-comprehensive overland arrangements with Kapten Redeye via his Redeye Guide. Then off we went!
Surabaya's Juanda International Airport was very calm and quick. Not having any checked baggage hastened things but it wasn't just that, the Juanda Airport was really very quick. We landed, passed Immigration, then right after the security lanes we were already at the main exit. And we were immediately greeted by Singgih, Redeye's very kind and reliable driver cum tour guide. Our first stop was at the telcomm vendor where Singgih got us our Simpati SIM card, and then after a delish ayam panggang lunch in Chiro we were already on our way to Probolinggo.
[We did also manage to stop for mommy to enjoy some eye candy, in the form of HANDBAGS! HANDBAGS! HANDBAGS! But we'll talk about that in a separate forum ya :)]
Oh, but one thing I wish we had had in Juanda was brochures; we didn't find any promotional brochures or flyers of Surabaya and the nearby sights, like how we would find in Ngurah Rai, for example. Those brochures would have been good.
Anyway, moving along...It was a long drive to Bromo, but the sites made the whole trip all very worthwhile. I always find it fascinating to see and experience first hand the lives of people in places other than our own comfort zone, their norms, cultures, traditions, beliefs. Darling husband shares this with me. We need not understand everything everytime, it is good enough that we are aware of them and that we appreciate and respect all that God has created. That is why we make it a point to have at least 1 family enrichment trip each year, be it within Malaysia or outside.
We arrived at Lava View Lodge in the evening, just about a couple of hours before sunset. So Esfahan and I walked around the Lodge, from where we could clearly see Bromo. Then the fog flew in and it started to get cold, but that was well after Esfahan met Pablo and his handlers and they took him for a cool ride around the Lodge's hill.
By about 6pm it was already dark, so we had dinner at the Lava View restaurant and retired early, as the next morning required an early wake up call to catch the sunrise.
We started at 4am the following morning and proceeded to Mount Penanjakan in a hardtop Jeep. After a short ascend by jeep, we continued up to the sunrise viewing point astride the local ponies, with their handlers holding the leads. It was still dark and cold, but it was bearable, a little less cold than it was in Sarangkot, Nepal. The sky was a spectacular sight, with thousands of stars twinkling ever so brlliantly, like diamonds scattered on a black velvet backdrop. Esfahan was awed, it was indeed something we don't see everyday amidst our KLCC sky :)
The sun came out and it shone brightly onto Mount Bromo and the valley below, ie Sea of Sand and the Savannah. No matter where in the world it may be, Latemar, Low's Peak, Merang, Sarangkot, Penanjakan, watching the sunrise is always a magical and breathtaking experience.
After sunrise, we drove across the Sea of Sand to the Savannah. We joined the local guides for some refreshing hot beverages, namely Indocafe for me and Indomilk for Esfahan. Foto-foto dikit, as how the locals say it, and we then continued on horseback to Mount Bromo. We got off at the foot of Bromo and ascended the 250 steep steps to the top of the magnificent crater.
The red speck in the centre is Esfahan, with Singgih following closely behind...
The steep climb...I would advise that one should be fairly fit and healthy to attempt this climb. Although it is not so high, it does not make it any less challenging. Personally, I don't think anyone with existing heart conditions, high blood pressure, acute asthma or anything of the sort, should do this; coz apart from the climb, there are also the dust and the sulphur fumes to factor in, and I am not sure if they have adequate medical facilities close by. Just be careful and take the necessary precautions...
Being there right at the mouth of the crater was simply awesome! Esfahan had a more vivid imagination : he imagined Bromo suddenly erupting, angrily spitting out hot lava, and as we all scattered to save ourselves, our equus rides, Anton and Bingo, grew wings and flew over to us and we hurriedly jump on, missing the firey lava in the nick of time! Anton and Bingo then fly us away to safety to the balcony of our room at the Lava View Lodge. Phewh! :)
Wow, how cool would that have been, huh? Weeeeeee!
Anyway, back to reality... The horse ride there was different from what I am used to, as Anton was basically a pony and I felt insecurely too huge for him, all the while worried that I might break his back! But small as they may be, both Anton and Bingo were sure footed and maneuvered swiftly through the crevices along Bromo's dusty terrain.
The temple in my background is the Pura Luhur Poten, a Hindu temple of the Tenggerese people in the area...
The view from our balcony at the Lava View Lodge...
We returned to Lava View at about 10am, had breakfast, cleaned up and reluctantly said goodbye to Bromo...
Next, the exciting safari and our adventure at the Magic Tree House! Stay tuned :)