I have redefined retirement at age 23. I have a lifestyle where I do the things I like, with the time I have and still get paid for it. I designed my freedom these two decades, traveling to more than 40 countries. I run a successful business doing consulting works as a Corporate Writer, Corporate Emcee, Event Producer and a Workshop Facilitator. I am also a talk-show host on an Internet Radio station with two programs "A Course In Miracles for Work-Life" and "Freedom Speaks". Life is Healthy, Rich & FREE! You can design this lifestyle according to your willingness. I hope mine will inspire you to achieve that freedom too.

Friday, December 02, 2011

The Majestic Mount Bromo of Java, Indonesia

Mount Bromo (centre) and Mount Semeru (background), both are living volcanos spewing out smoke.  Mount Batok, not active, is in the foreground.  It was a few minutes after sunrise, the earth has not lifted the blanket of mist yet.  From the hill station Cemara Lawang, where I stayed a night, the view is spectacular during sunrise and sunset.  I witnessed both.

The Guest House where I stayed, is situated on a hilltop.  I had to walk over 30 mins to reach the foothill of Mt Bromo.

Farming at Cemara Lawang.

Beautiful sky during my stay there.  At night, it was filled with stars.

A stunning view from my Guest House.
When I left Tanah Lot in Bali, it was noon.

After having a typical Asian breakfast with fried meehoon with egg and coffee, which was part of the deal for a big room in the idyllic setting of Tanah Lot, I was ready to leave Bali.
Cemara Lawang, a hill station in Probolingo.
I didn't read about it and no one told me, but somehow I was so sure that there must be a way to get to Java from Bali.  And sure enough, when I asked around, I was told that there is a ferry that frequents Selat Bali, bringing passengers from Bali to East Java and vice versa.

The place to board the ferry on the westernmost side of Bali is a small town called Gilimanuk.  I took a bus from Ubung, the central bus station in Bali, to Gilimanuk.  The bus fare was Rp30,000 (RM9).  It took to the winding road across some mountainous routes in the western-side of Bali, stopped and packed up passengers along the way.  The bus journey took 4 hours from Ubung, central Bali, to Gilimanuk.  By the time I arrived at the port, it was already dark.  For one-way journey, the ferry costs only Rp6,000 (RM1.80).  Fortunately, the ferry runs 24 hours a day.  The ferry leaves every 15 to 20 minutes.  The journey across the Bali Straits takes under an hour.  The town where I alighted from the ferry on East Java is called Ketapang.  

I asked some locals how to get to Mount Bromo.  They told me to take a bus to Probolingo, the town where I will be able to get buses up to the hill station known as Cemara Lawang.  The hill station is a pace where all tourists arrive to take a tour of the surroundings.  The hill station overlooks Mount Bromo.
It was already 10.30pm in Ketapang, after the ferry ride.  I was hungry, tired and exhausted.  But I had to move on.  It was another 4-hour bus journey from Ketapang to Probolingo.  Fortunately, the bus had air-conditioning.  I paid the fare of Rp46,000 (RM16).  I took my seat, folded the sarong over my head and slept, oblivious to everything that was happening on the bus.
I was traveling alone with my backpack.  It was so early when I arrived, the Guest Houses were not open yet.
I would say it is a gift, to be able to sleep soundly on any moving vehicle wherever I may be.  No matter how bumpy the road, or how cramped up the vehicle is, or how uncomfortable the seats are, I will doze off.
I think the bus "flew" all the way to its destination.  It stopped in Probolingo, a small town at the foot hill.  The bus station has a few food stalls still operating in the wee hours of the morning.  I was so hungry, I found something to eat.  It was another 3 hours before sunrise, and the transport up to the hill station was not available yet.  It was cold and I was very sleepy.  I asked if I could get onto the van that will be going up to the hill station now as I could sleep in the van.  The night was so cold.  I curled up in the front seat and slept.

Looking down is the crater of Mt Bromo.
You can go up to the crater from the nearby town or hill station by horse riding.
Mount Bromo is still an active volcano.  In Jan 2011, eruptions occurred.  In spite of this, the place is considered sacred by the locals who come in throngs to perform worships and rituals.  Legend has it that a childless couple was granted their wish to bear children.  The payback was that, the 25th child must be thrown into the crater as human sacrifice.  Till today, the locals risk their lives climbing into the crater to try to retrieve offering goods, which they believe to have good luck charms.

I stayed a night at the hill station.  Instead of riding the horse or taking the jeep that bring tourists for a tour of the vicinity and to the foot of the crater, I chose to walk.  I descended the hill station (a back door route, see picture above) and walked the distance on the volcanic sand bed to the crater.  It was long walk.  It seemed to cover a distance of no less than 3 km.  It was exhilarating but astonishingly fulfilling.

I arrived back at the hill station just in time for sunset.  It was too cold in the mountains to take a shower, so I just cleaned up, put on an extra jumper and went out for dinner. The night sky was clear and filled with stars.  I had eaten at the same little shop since I arrived in the morning, the shopkeeper recognized me.  I ordered my food, she cooked me the most delicious nasi goreng (fried rice).  I ate it with the sweet black sauce mixed with cili padi.  That added that extra fiery zest to my already spicy nasi goreng.  I loved it.  In this cold mountain surroundings, a hot tea to go down with my food was a call to sanity for my stomach.

The crater of Mt Bromo.
I took my time to walk back to the guest house as I soaked in the serenity of the night.  I could count the stars.  The place was magical.