What a crazy 24 hours! Left Jakarta yesterday with Nossi to catch the 11:30am flight to Surabaya. After the 1 and a half hour flight, we arrived at Surabaya airport, and immediately got a bus to the bus station. Scenes of chaos greeted us as we arrived. Touts pulled at my shirt, shouted, begged for our custom, and generally did everything in their power to confuse us and get us to part with our money. I’m well accustomed to this kind of trickery by now, but every so often a new scam fools me. A pack of touts surrounded us and escorted us to Terminal 6, where we could get a bus to Probolinggo. The bus looked incredibly shoddy, and I realised that it must be a local bus, riddled with thieves. We managed to break through the pack and got into the shelter of the main foyer, where touts are kept at bay by long wooden sticks waved by the local Military. Grabbing a bite to eat, a simple chicken curry dish, we befriended one of the guards, who took a liking to me as I was clothed in my beloved England shirt. He told us the next bus would leave from terminal 2, and it was a Patas bus. We waited 20 minutes inside the station, and I watched the packs of touts lunging over the invisible line at everybody walking out of the station. Their faces were desperate, sneaky,hungry. It was an interesting yet somewhat depressing sight. We boarded our bus.
On the bus, we were treated to a great variety of entertainment, before the bus had even left the the station. Peanut sellers, trinket sellers, teh botel sellers, ‘musicians’, beggars with a variety of ailments parading outside, it was definitely worth the price of the bus ticket. It was a typically hair-raising journey of breakneck speeds and then infuriatingly slow crawls, and my air-conditioning wasn’t working. Why does that always happen to me? We got to Probolinggo, as it was getting dark. There was no action in the bus station, only a few people milling around, and nobody knew anything about a bus or pretended they knew nothing, staring down into their mie goreng and refusing to engage me in conversation even in bahasa. We waited an hour, now it was dark. We needed to get there soon to secure lodgings and book a tour for the next morning before everyone went to bed. A few extremely dodgy-looking private car ‘drivers’ told us they’d take us, no meters, and just a set price, which I can’t remember now but I do remember that even my Indonesian companion couldn’t bargain them down. No doubt I was the problem. We took a chance and rode the rocky route to the lodges of Gunung Bromo, and managed to get a room in the Lava View Lodge. It was freezing outside. We had enough time to have some garlic meats and a tea, in a restaurant where, as in such places in Indonesia, locals are always hanging around hoping to be guides for the next day. We bargained with one such man, who seemed decent, and, satisfied, returned to the freezing lodge and slept fully clothed and with extra socks on. Made it!