Day 210: Opportunities–Missed and Taken

Mon. 11th March 2013

A pretty good motto - entering Wonotoro villageToday is our opportunity for a lie in. We have been on the go for the last few days. The travelling, whilst fun, is quite tiring and we have been spending only 1 night in most places over the last week.  There are currently 5 marker pins on the little map on our blog pages that show how much we have been moving on – I can’t remember ever seeing so many pins on the map. This pace is going to continue for a couple of days yet as with both Mount Bromo and Borobudur temple the sunrise view is apparently the one to get and so we have more early starts ahead of us.

Kind of them to have a globe showing our part of the world from mid-Feb to mid-AprSo, last night was our second night in the Palm Hotel in Bondowoso, our transfer to Bromo is not booked until 10am, we are tired from our early start yesterday – and we both wake at 6:30 this morning. Java is an hour behind Bali (it would be 7:30 in Bali) – so perhaps that is it. Whatever, we will probably regret it later. At breakfast we again meet Maclean and Taylor, a couple from Vancouver, whom we met yesterday at Mount Ijen (and saw previously at Gili Trawangan). They also want to go to Bromo today and so we agree (with them and with the hotel) to share our driver and the cost. We now feel even better about our decision to go for a car and driver for this transfer.

Its like the old 4 elephants in a mini joke - how do you get 9 men and a cow in the back of a small pick up truck?The drive to Wonotoro village on the side of Mount Bromo takes a little over two hours (about half the time it would have taken by bus). It is quite uneventful – other than overtaking the pick-up truck with 9 men and a cow in the back (Janet is convinced there was more than 1 cow too!); the driver stopping at a mosque for prayers; talking to some of the local kids; and the car engine overheating and leaking coolant. I’m not sure it was down to the driver’s prayers but the car did at least keep going.

Hillsides neatly planted with what look to be cabbagesThe road takes us along the coast for a while and then turns to climb up into the hills. Here the scenery changes and we go from paddy fields to vegetable fields all neatly planted with what appear to be cabbages. The hills are steep and the road is twisty – the views would be spectacular, but we are in the clouds and only get glimpses of the countryside. As we get further up the mountain, we start to see signs of the tourist industry in the little villages that line the only road.

What we are hoping to see tomorrow - sadly, only a photo of a photoThe Java Banana hotel where we are staying is quite swish and is pricier than we’ve been used to in Indonesia (even with a discount because of construction work). This is one place where booking.com has failed to find us a hotel and Java Banana were the only people that responded to email queries. It does, however, have a photographic gallery attached with a display of pictures of Mt Bromo and other nearby sights taken by the owner/founder . These just whet our appetite for tomorrow – even though it will be a 3am wake up call in order that we can get to the viewpoint to see the sunrise over the mountains.

'Main square' in tiny Wonotoro villageWe take the opportunity to have a walk around the village and along the road that heads up the hill but the cloud is closing in and hanging around the mountain, so there is little of the dramatic hillside to see and little else of note in the village. Instead we head back to our room and start planning the last piece of our stay in Java (and Indonesia). After today (well, tomorrow morning) we swap volcanoes and countryside for cities and temples as head for Borobudur and Prambanan temples near the city of Yogyakarta.

Java Banana HotelThe good news is that we can get there by public transport – and a big chunk of it on the train. The bad news is that is too much to comfortably fit into 1 day of travelling so we decide to split the journey and book a night in a hotel in the big city of Surabaya for tomorrow night before catching an early morning train to Yogyakarta the next day. All this moving around means more transport to organise and hotels to book. We will (need to) slow down soon but there are so many ‘must see’ sights in Java that we are determined to take advantage of the opportunities we have.

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