We loved staying in Bondowoso – a town equidistant from both Ijen and Bromo craters – as it was just a regular little town, and we were a complete novelty to all the locals, who constantly asked us why we were there, where we were staying, and how we liked it. We were stopped by locals for photos on the street and restaurants treated us like extra special guests!
We’d spent a fun couple of days exploring the town and its markets by this point, and now we had a birthday to celebrate – our friend Ash’s! We sourced cakes and party hats from local shops, and started the day with a little kids’ party at our hostel, with birthday cake, games, and … err… beer! After tiring ourselves out from all the games, sugar and excitement we took a trip to a local hotel’s swimming pool where we played catch with an inflatable ball, and messed around with some local kids who found us pretty funny!
After a post-party nap, we were then taken to our next overnight trek – this time to Gunung Bromo – the view of which is one of the most iconic picture-postcard views in all of Indonesia. We’d swerved the need for a tour by being advised on the ‘back entry’ into Bromo, which meant driving halfway up a big hill then scaling a viewpoint opposite Bromo, through some steep forest. After a quick coffee we started trekking, and realised that the sun was already coming up, so we trekked faster and faster until we reached the top! … Only to find that there were already about 50 older European tourists there hustling for space with their huge cameras.
We found a spot slightly higher up on the hill and watched the sun rise, creating beautiful patterns through the dense cloud cover, until the clouds finally parted and we got a look at Bromo herself. The mist was in thick roles over the cone, and as it lifted the multi-coloured sky shifted between blue, red and lilac. It was really stunning to watch, and we didn’t feel like we were at an ‘alternative’ viewpoint, but regardless, volcanic cones probably just aren’t really my thing because I was left a little underwhelmed afterwards. We’d heard that if you go down onto the sand and explore in a jeep it’s a little more fun, as you can go and watch over the edge of Bromo, but given its recent eruption this wasn’t possible for us.
Driving out in the daylight was pretty cool as we could see all the ‘vertical farms’ surrounding the volcano, which are super productive due to the fertile soil, and we stopped to take a few shots. All in all, a pretty view, but lacking the excitement of our Ijen trek! Next, after a breakfast of Bakso, we waited for our painfully cramped 8-hour train further up Java, to cultural centre Yogyakarta!