My first attempt to get on an angkot (Angkutan Kota or public transport) was unsuccessful. I had to duck to get on board but my big backpack got stuck at the mini-van’s small door. The driver started to move off while my other leg was still on the ground. Welcome to Malang.
Reaching Malang at 4 am was no joke. I think it was the first time I ever walked on the roads in Indonesia so early in the morning. As I followed the exit direction and reached the station’s front gate, taxi drivers and ojek drivers (motorbike taxi) rushed towards me. I think it was because of my 65L backpack. And of course, the nervous and tired look on my face.
I saw some angkots passed by with initials on them. My destination was to Arjosari bus terminal and from what I researched, I should stop any angkot with the initial “A” (for Arjosari) on it. But I was not sure which direction. One angkot driver directed me where to stop the angkots heading to Arjosari. So, I crossed the road and waited at the three-lion statue opposite the train station. A random guy, an older guy, approached me and asked where I was going. He explained to me about the initials and flagged the angkot for me. I was taken aback at first, because I didn’t know why he approached me at the first place. I was so ready to run with my heavy bag. It was so nice of him and so cynical of me!
When I successfully got into the angkot after a few attempts, I just sat down at one corner, trying not to think of the embarassment and hoped to reach the terminal safely. I looked at the dark surroundings along the way. No one was around. I was the only one in the angkot and the driver dropped me directly at the terminal where all the white angkots to Tumpang were parked. It was so nice of him to inform the other drivers at the post that I was going to Tumpang. Arjosari was only 10 minutes away from the train station. I paid Rp 5,000.
I thought the white angkot to Tumpang would go right away. But no, I had to wait for other passengers. After waiting for more than an hour and I actually fell a sleep. When I woke up, the sun had risen and it was bright all over. I was occupying so much space with my backpack on the seat. Or rather, the angkot was pretty small. I got a chance to talk to the driver about transport options to Bromo and was pretty convinced that Ojek (Motorbike taxi) was the way to go. He dropped me at an ojek post soon after passing the “Welcome to Tumpang” sign. The journey took almost an hour and I paid Rp 10,000. I didn’t ask for the change.
I didn’t bargain with the Ojek driver when he said he would take me to Cemoro Lawang for Rp 150,000. I agreed and looked for a helm. There wasn’t any. I felt cheated right after, but he was nice. He asked me if I want to put my large backpack in front and I was like, “In front where? Is there space?” I was occupying the entire seat at the back of the motorbike. Luckily, he did managed to put my bag in front of him.
The journey to Cemoro Lawang was quite enjoyable at first. I passed by the beautiful Ngadas village which was really good for pictures! That was before reaching the Teletubbies Hills and the Savanna. The road was smooth and I really enjoyed looking at the distant terraces and cliffs and mountains and large trees. But it got really bad as we went downhill on the extremely bumpy road, while going down to the valleys. My body kept sliding down on the bike and I couldn’t control my posture because of the shaky ride. I would just let go and let my whole body weight pressed on the driver’s back. But I also wanted both of us to be safe, so I tried hard to push myself back with my leg muscle. My thigh muscles got so tired and shivered after a while. Like a muscle failure for trying to support my heavy body. That was when I realised I could just hold on to the handles at back of the motorbike. It worked so well. Thank goodness.
I asked my ojek driver to stop for pictures so many times. He laughed at me at first. But after many subsequent stops, his laughter sounded more like annoyance. I couldn’t care less. I had to make use of the generous sum money I agreed on. I didn’t think I would do this kind of trip anymore, unless somebody pay for the expensive hardtop jeep for me. Does anyone need a tour guide?
I told my ojek driver to go to Bromo first before going to Cemoro Lawang. But it was crazy crowded. People were queuing up on the staircase and there were so many jeeps around. I got turned off right away and told him to take me straight to the guesthouse. I reached the recommended ‘Subur’ homestay by my ojek driver by 9 am. I think it was his parents’ house. He called them ‘Pak’ and ‘Mak’ or dad/mom. They said it costs Rp 150,000 a night which, they claimed, was a very good price considering the Rp 400,000 per night at the hotels. I thought it was pretty expensive. I chased after French tourists who were just checking out and they told me that they were charged for Rp 100,000. So I used that on the guest house owner and asked for further discounts to Rp 80,000 because I said I was Indonesian. They also offered me an ojek driver for the sunrise tomorrow morning.
After a nap for the rest of the morning, I had a really good and cheap lunch at Cafe Lava. Then I decided to walk to Bromo. After only an hour of walking from Cafe Lava, I reached Bromo! The best part was I got the whole volcano to myself.
I stayed for quite long up there and enjoyed the sunset while walking back to Cemoro Lawang by the sea of sand, as people call it. Nice view. I couldn’t stop myself from taking pictures. Also, the 3G signal was awesome! I have to admit, I enjoyed browsing the net on the long walk back to Cemoro Lawang. I had 4 gigabyte data during my stay in Indonesia. It was heaven!
I spent the rest of the day walking around, snapping pictures of the sunset at Cemoro Lawang and chilled at Cafe Lava. It was a great day. I couldn’t wait for the sunrise at Penanjakan tomorrow morning. I have to say, today has been a great start of my journey to the east..