Rushed down to the lobby of Four Points, the tour guide was smiling and calm, jumped into the car, the driver look indifferent, all was good. All good for Bromo – relieved, smile.
Driving out of Surabaya to Sukapura 21.10am
Dian the tour guide was pleasant and informative. She carried a certain kind of energy, one that I need not stay away from. She shared the folklore of Bromo – a tale of love, deceit, the impossible and immortality. She shared the stories of the old and new Surabaya, she shared tales of the journey between Surabaya and Bromo and the people who passed through it. The journey to Sukapura was pleasant on the highway, the bitumen condition was good for a smooth ride but the overtaking on the left side was a bit too tricky to get used to. With no more questions coming from me, Dian’s pause in her tour guiding talk led to a long silence… all wandered in their minds, I can’t wait for Mt. Bromo… all dozed off as we travelled into the night.
Not too sure how long we dozed off but soon after waking up we took a left turn to a more populated area with houses and shops to the left and right built close to the road. There were many 4WDs by the roadside. A few guys waved their hands seeking attention and offered their 4WD services as we passed by them. The car was climbing a gentle slope when Dian said, “ We change to 4WD here”. The driver negotiated the narrow road with colorful 4WDs sometimes on both sides of the road as we went uphill slowly. Within minutes we arrived at the meeting point. Apparently the 4WD was waiting somewhere nearby by the roadside instead.
The car rolled not too many meters away down the gentle slope from the meeting point before stopping next to two 4WDs parked by the left of the roadside. One of them was our ride. My eyes were set on the dark blue 4WD instinctively knowing that we were suppose to take that one. Yes, the blue one was the one. I tried recalling the color of the other 4WD as I write but strange, I have no memory of it. We hopped onto our dark blue 4WD, I chose the side seat behind the driver and off we go, destination – Pananjakan.
“The highest point to catch the sunrise is Penanjakan”, said Dian. The second highest, Bukit King Kong and a few hundred walking distance meters lower, Bukit Cinta. We travelled up the slopes with the sight of many 4WDs ahead and behind us and many more by the roadside. They were in various happy colors of red, blue, yellow and green and many more in various shades. The sight of this and the feeling of rushing up the hill as if there was not enough sunrise for all made the bumpy ride with occasional sudden rough turns that made holding on to the seat necessary, bearable. The in-the-head auto replaying breathtaking images of Mt. Bromo from pre-trip googling helped too.
The feeling of being chased by the 4WDs behind us seemed real. The fiercely beaming headlights of the 4WDs trailing us magnified the feeling especially when you sit in the dark at the back of a bumpy moving 4WD. You get excited and in the days of social media you clicked away to capture the moment hoping to get the best picture for your next post. After much effort my I-phone photo album got filled with blurry and badly lit pictures. Deleting bad shots on a bumpy ride was not a problem.
Bukit Cinta 4.25am
The 4WD moved slower as we got into a bottleneck. There was a row of shops on the left side of the road mostly selling hot drinks and snacks, gloves and beanies and souvenirs. There were also warm jackets for hire. There were many people walking all over the place in colorful winter clothing, all looking eager but cold by the way they wrapped their bodies and necks. After our washroom break Dian said that it was not possible to proceed beyond Bukit Cinta to go to Bukit King Kong. It was a local long weekend that day. Increased crowd means clogged traffic. Dian advised that the only way to go to Bukit King Kong was by Ojek, the local motorcycle taxi. Taking the motorcycle meant the option to go all the way to Penanjakan was opened. However, the Ojek man said Bukit King Kong was a better option especially that morning with the long weekend crowd. Naturally, there was additional cost for the Ojek and if he was not interested to take more money to take us to Pananjakan that is farther away and will cost more then I took it that he was sincere in his recommendation. So, it was Bukit King Kong by Ojek.
The motorcycle ride up was fun, I have a thing for wind-blowing-in-my-face rides. We zigzagged through the vehicles and crowd, not too slowly but yet not too fast to be in danger. The Ojek driver must have done that a gazillion times. I can’t remember the last time I took a motorcycle ride. I was having so much fun with the motorcycle ride so much so that I can’t remember how long the ride was before reaching Bukit King Kong. My guesstimate would be around 20 minutes.
Upon getting off the motorcycle as it halted Dian said that the place was with unusually less people, many got stuck at the bottleneck of Bukit Cinta. Yes. It was a good decision to Ojek there. We immediately took the steps near where we got off our motorcycle up the slope to the observation deck of Bukit King Kong. The leisurely walk up the slope was pleasant. The drop of temperature was clearly felt as we made our way through the cemented pathway in the dark. It has been awhile since I last went somewhere in winter, my rusty in built thermometer told me that the temperature was in the middle teen celsius.
(To be continued – final part)