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It is indeed a long silence as I had embarked on an excursion to the land which has been ill-fated by natural disasters; Indonesia. A week before the trip, I had been keenly following the news on Merapi eruption and the phenomenon of volcanic activities. I nearly pulled out from visiting one of the activated volcanoes until it dawned upon me that I was the one who initiated the plan and it didn’t feel right to let the rest went without me. With a sense of responsibility, I decided to follow the majority decision i.e. to take the risks.

At 10.45p.m., I boarded the flight together with Syahid who arrived just on time at the airport. The flight took off way ahead of time that we arrived at Juanda International Airport, Surabaya at about 1.00a.m., not knowing who would pick us up from the airport. I cracked a smile when I saw Shakir and Adi waiting for us quite patiently (flight was delayed for almost one hour) with a taxi driver. As it was really late, the taxi driver stopped at 24/7 groceries shop to buy junk food for supper.

We stayed overnight at Da Rifi Guesthouse near Juanda International Airport and it cost IDR 75,000.00 per pax. The owner, Ibu Diyana was pleasantly helpful. The real soto ayam Java style was served to us for breakfast. She even made lemonade juice for some of us who were coughing the night before.

While waiting for the travel agent rep to arrive, I spent time watching the live news on Merapi eruptions and the spread of volcanic ash to nearby cities. It was really an experience when you were fed live news feed from local tv station reporting on events like Merapi eruption. It was even worse than any internet news could ever mirror. Not long, two gentlemen came into the house introducing them as Febry and Dody from the travel agent that we engaged prior to setting foot in Surabaya.

For someone who always fixes my own itinerary and travels on my own, they won my first impression and kept up to my standard until the end. They were both bubbly and happy. It was not hard to see that they are happy doing what they do. There were times when I felt that they were even more excited than us. Showing places and narrating stories enthusiastically – the kind of quality hardly found in most travel agents who are money oriented.

Sidoarjo (Not in the itinerary)
I first heard about the story of Sidoarjo Lapindo Mud when I was in Lombok. In the year 2006, there was a mud volcano that took place in the town of Sidoarjo. The mud volcano was not due to natural disaster but a gas exploration that went wrong. The estimated 12 million cubic metres has by far buried 4 villages and 25 factories, some of which could be seen from the surface. For local tourist, you have to pay IDR 5,000.00 to get in and IDR 50,000.00 for getting around the mud area.
After seeing with our own eyes what human activities may cost to the environment or rather how we as human beings may endanger our own species, we were driven through East Java in Toyota Avanza heading to Madakaripura Waterfall.

Madakaripura Waterfall
It is a cylinder shape waterfall that was said to be the last resting place of Patih Gajah Mada. It is located in Lombang district, East Java not far from Bromo. When we reached there, it was drizzling. Our guide quickly let us know that if there is a drizzle or rain, the guardian of the place won’t let any tourists in. This is due to the nature being of the waterfall; it was a cylinder shape waterfall which source was from Bromo Tengger mountain. If the rain falls heavily in the mountain, we would either be stranded or dead because of the gushing volume of water. We didn’t push any further as for all we knew Madakaripura Waterfall has been put on status alert few days before.

Continuing our journey, we headed up to the hill station which was also the starting point for Bromo mountain. We were driven through beautiful sceneries of mountain valleys and I feel the need to mention about the road up the hill station. Pick one of the lanes on the road, only one. That road is to be divided further by two lanes. It was indeed a very small road and imagine two avanzas or two jeeps bumping into each other at that stiff mountain road. We suffered for adrenalin rush for 45 minutes!

We arrived a tad bit too early for we cancel out Madakaripura because of the weather. All we did was resting at the hostel. The room was so cute, so to say. It fits only a queen size bedroom. As the time flew, we marched off to the nearby villages to get the feel of Bromo Tengger people. The mountain people. The vegetables was so healthy and fresh. The aborigines people of tengger leads life at their own pace. No pressure due to them from the rat race world. The children will one day do the same thing as their parents.

I missed seeing the prayers they performed that night as I finished my dinner quite late in time. Dinner was served in the kitchen of a restaurant near Lava Cafe. I went to sleep early for we needed to wake up at least at 4.30 a.m. for the next day.

Travel Note:

1) Da Rifi Guesthouse – http://www.travellerspoint.com/accommodation/6562-Da-Rifi-Hostel/

2) Dal Adventure – http://daladventure.com/ Our dedicated guides for the trip were Febri and Dody.