Java — Day 2 ...

A 4:45am call to morning prayers woke me up. In fact, there were a few different calls to morning prayers that were clashing with one another. I learned throughout the trip that this was the norm.

The day started around 8am with a wonderful buffet breakfast. The Marriott had everything you could possibly imagine! A variety of freshly made breads, donuts and croissants, eggs, mini eggs Benedict, baked beans, roasted tomatoes and mushrooms, freshly squeezed juices, fresh fruit, raw vegetables and an assortment of cheese. Staff would make fresh omelets or French bread as per your request and eating all day would have made me one happy girl.

Check out was 1pm and Vernon and I had yet to make any decisions. Finding a train ticket on a Sunday in Jakarta proved to be difficult. I went to the travel agency in the hotel but they couldn't help because their agent was closed. They directed me to the Alfamart to get tickets but they also were unable to help because it was Sunday. Our only option was to go directly to the train station.

We purchased two tickets (Rp$105,000/NTD$256/CAN$10/each) to a place called Probolinggo, leaving at 1:40pm. It was a two hour ride and we had four seats all to ourselves. Finding the correct train was a bit confusing (the train was late) and we were very thankful when a young kid approached us asking if we needed some guidance.

Probolinggo sits near the base of Mount Bromo. We had booked a hotel beside Mount Bromo and getting there on a Sunday was not easy. There is a tourist information office right across the street from the train station in Probolinggo but it was closed. There were a few touts hanging around the train station and one of them jumped on us immediately.

The tout kept throwing ideas at us when we weren't really looking for help. Unfortunately, we didn't have many options so we showed him the map to our hotel and he offered to take us over on a bike taxi for Rp$25,000. We knew our hotel was about one hour away so we were baffled at his offer and refused. He then had a yellow van pull up and said he would take us to the hotel for Rp$100,000. This still seemed too cheap but we hopped in the van. About 10 minutes later, we pulled in beside a hotel and the tout announced that we had arrived. This was where the small battle began.

We refused to pay the tout money because he didn't take us where we wanted to go. He insisted that this was the brother hotel to the one we were going to and they could guide us. We still refused to pay him money. We turned our attention to the people at the hotel and explained that we had paid online for a reservation of a different hotel and the guy called to confirm our reservation. Then, out of nowhere, appeared a calm guy who spoke fairly decent English asking if he could help. Whether this was all a game and they were all involved together, we will never know.

We told him we needed a car to get to our hotel and he started talking about tours to Mount Bromo. At first we didn't really want to listen to this as we were upset about dealing with the other dishonest tout who was still outside waiting for our money. This new guy did have reasonable prices and was easy to deal with so we sat down to discuss our plans. We gave him Rp$25,000 to pay the tout outside and started planning a tour with him.

A three-day two-night tour to see the Mount Bromo sunrise and the iJen Crater cost us Rp$1,300,000 (NTD$3,200/CAN$125) per person. We paid the money and waited about 20 minutes for a car to arrive. The ride up was almost two hours and sadly it was dark the whole way up. The roads were tiny and windy and we were curious what things would look in the daytime.

Bromo Permai 1 hotel
We reached our hotel around 8pm, tired and starving. The hotel was called Bromo Permai 1. (see my review on TripAdvisor here) We paid Rp$600,000 for the night. The room itself was not impressive nor was it comfortable. We had a quick dinner (not tasty) and headed to bed as we were scheduled to be picked up in a jeep at 3:30am!

Java — Day 1 ...

Taipei  ✈️  Kuala Lumpur  ✈️  Jakarta  ✈️  Surabaya. 16 hours door to door. Upon arrival in Jakarta, there is a Rp$450,000 (NTD$1,100/CAN$44) 30-day landing visa for foreigners.

My flight landed the same time as flights coming in from Dubai, Abu Dubai and Doha and my immediate feeling was as though I was in the Middle East. Waiting for luggage to appear on the conveyor belt took forever; I swear they walked it over.

My long time friend and travel partner, Vernon, was waiting outside the security check. We were scheduled on a 6:40pm flight to Surabaya with Lion Air. We had a few hours to wait and wanted to see if we could get on an earlier flight. The first counter we asked at said that all flights were full and that we needed to head over to Terminal 1A; we were currently at Terminal 2D. In search of a taxi, I spotted a free shuttle bus that runs between the terminals so we hopped on.

At Terminal 1A, we found another ticketing counter and decided to ask again if it was possible to get on an earlier flight. Again, we were told no. We decided to check in and then see if we could find a place to sit down with a cold beer.

Upon checking in we were told that we needed to quickly go over to Terminal 1C because we were on a flight leaving at 5:25pm with a different airline. How that happened we weren't totally sure but there were no complaints. So over to Terminal 1C we went. Keep in mind that with each new terminal, there was a new security check.

We checked in with no troubles and our tickets stated that our flight would be leaving from gate C7. At gate C7 the signs read two other locations and was not showing our flight. We went to the information counter where we were told that the plane would be leaving from C6.

Nearing the time of departure I heard our flight being called but not one person was entering gate C6. There was a guy checking tickets at C7, so back over we went to board the plane. How is it that no one seemed to know what was going on at the airport?!

After the quick flight to Surabaya, we had yet to make plans for a hotel. We were hungry, hot and tired so we decided to treat ourselves and headed over to the JW Marriott Hotel Surabaya (see my review on TripAdvisor here).
The view from our hotel room in Surabaya
The hotel was about a half hour drive from the airport and I noticed along the way that there were a ton of fast food joints like KFC, A&W, McDonalds and Pizza Hut. They weren't your average fast food restaurants either. They were located in these massive buildings with three or fours floors. Not what I expected to see in Indonesia.

The room was Rp$1,300,000 (NTD$3,200/CAN$127) and absolutely worth it. We checked in around 9pm, grabbed a shower and headed to the lounge for some margaritas and food. Shortly after we sunk into our cozy beds for a comfortable night's rest. We would need it as the next day's plans were still uncertain.

Let the unexpected joys of travels begin ...