Driving in Indonesia

Java Scenery
Scenery alongside the road once we got out of Yogyakarta

There’s not much to say about today except that we spent the entire day on the road. So I’ll just write a few observations around our driving experience. Before we hit the road, we enjoyed what will end up being our last good meal in Java – banana pancake for Doug (the best he’s had), and bifun goreng for me (fried noodles, this time with thin vermicelli, which wasn’t as tasty as egg noodles). All in all, our stay at Rumah Mertua ended up costing us 1,831,000 rp or $180 for two nights, 3 hours transportation to Borobudur, dinner, and some drinks.

Banana Pancakes
Posing for the requisite food pic before annihilating his banana pancakes

We had no idea what to expect with our “tour shuttle” to Cemoro Lawang, the access point to Mt. Bromo, but ended up getting our own driver with a minivan. Awesome – this would be our ride for the next 12 hours. It was a long journey that lasted 2 more hours than expected, since traffic was heavy and unpredictable especially for the urban sprawl that surrounded Yogya for the first two hours. Driving was insane – 2 lanes of traffic turned into 4 at times, with cars and trucks sharing the lanes side by side with mopeds. Our driver was aggressive which we appreciated for the long journey, but overall everyone had zero qualms about passing straight onto oncoming traffic, oftentimes waiting until the last possible second before moving over into a lane that was already preoccupied with a car and another moped. And did I mention there is about a 5:1 moped to car ratio?! Once we were out of the urban sprawl, the scenery improved, with shacks and warungs transforming into jungle, rice paddies, tobacco farms, banana trees, all creating a forefront for the volcanos in the distance. The ride was confusing, as the driver pulled over suddenly a few hours in, and simply said “eat.”  Ok, I guess it’s lunchtime.  We also stopped half an hour out in a town called Probolinggo, where we added another staff member (his “friend”) for the final leg, veered through some steep hairpin turns in the dark, and finally arrived at our hotel, Cemara Indah, in Cemoro Lawang at around 8:45. Since we had an early morning ahead, we quickly grabbed a bite at the restaurant (suspect cooking consisted of a weird noodle soup with hardly any soup and a ham and cheese sandwich for my homesick companion). We also were treated to a freezing cold shower in our motel-like room. A word to those thinking of Bromo – it’s definitely a backpacker vibe as we didn’t find any accommodations that rated over 2 stars in our search but all good, we were only going to sleep for 4 hours anyhow.

Our ride
Our ride for the next 12 hours
There were no minivans for families here…mopeds were the preferred mode of transportation for young and old alike
It’s hard to really see, but there is actually a pet monkey at the intersection, approaching a driver
Moped Jam
We had the share the road with hoards of mopeds, about 3 to a lane
At long last, we made it to our final destination…we didn’t even mind the fact that it was a small shack!

The bathroom in our room. It sustained about 1.5 minutes of hot water. And that is not a sink, that is a bin to scoop water from to flush the toilet.

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