Friday, March 14, 2014

On THe Road Again - to The East (Malang City, Ijen Crater, Baluran National Park and Bromo Crater)

Bekol Savannah - Baluran National Park

The sky was dark with a beam of moonlight. The stars twinkled and were spread in the dark sky. The urban traffic with beam of thousands of cars slowly decreasing then disappearing once we drove onto two sides of road into nature areas, which haven't been touched yet by concrete blocks and modernization. The road was showing the shadow of tall trees which seem wanting to touch the limitless sky.     

I opened the window and felt the cold breeze wind touching my bare face skin. Enjoying all the natural beauty of stars, which I hardly see daily. Having been living inside the jungle of skyscrapers, I am used to breathe hot air with its pollution with foggy sky upon me. I turned my head to the back seats and smiled. 5 sleeping heads followed this shaky car and it seemed their soul travelling deep into their land of dream. The lands of adventurous stories were made.

“Di, wake up! There’s a security check and you should report our visit, and pay them the admission fee.” I said to Adi, trying to get him completely awake.

Having been seating in the car for almost 8 hour, finally we reached the border, and the first security check was in Ijen Complex (there were 3 times of security check). One hour more to drive before we could park our car in available parking lots at  Ijen Complex, surrounded by many tents offering some hot beverages and some snacks (even it was almost midnight).

“Are you ready, guys?” “Okay, before we start trekking, let’s pray in our respective faith for this trip.” Sam, the guide, led the final preparation.

And two (to three) hours of trekking to Ijen Crater was beginning. The smooth track ended at some point that we could see the volcanic lake of Ijen Crater. Finished? Not yet, and we continued our trekking down, through a rocky steep slope to the safe closest point that we could see the magnificent blue fire.
Check Point
Blue fire is a rare natural phenomenon in the world that can only be seen at Ijen Crater, East Java, Indonesia and (some say) somewhere in Iceland.

All the efforts and sweat of this trekking finally paid off when we saw the beauty of the blue fire. I sat on some dirty spot and watched the fire, just enjoying the natural beauty with dozens of other visitors. The beauty came with its limit, the blue fire could only be seen before dawn and we were not recommended to spend hours in blue fire areas because of the thick sulfur fogs. 
The Blue Fire of Ijen Crater
Back to the top, the sky turned into bright, even the sun hid behind the clouds. The panorama of the volcanic mountain and the lake were stunning and mesmerizing. The turquoise of the lake, the grey of the magnificent cliffs and the orange-pinkish of the sky, definitely created a masterpiece.
Ijen Crater
On the road again, and this time we went to Baluran National Park (around three to four hour drive from Ijen Crater).

“Beach!” I shouted with my finger pointed to the view outside and followed by 5 other heads.

Watudodol Beach is a narrow beach with a long coastline. The water’s in dark blue color and forbidden for swimmers because of safety reason. The Beach has a unique sand, which is a ferruginous (iron) sand and made the sand looks glittery.
Watudodol Beach
Welcome to Baluran National Park

Welcome to Baluran National Park, The Africa van Java.
Passed the main gate of this park by midday, and we had to drive our car for another 15 kilometer to reach our destination: Bama Beach.
3 kilometer just before Bama Beach, we passed the famous landmark of Baluran National Park, Bekol Savannah. Bekol Savannah during dry season (May to October) has got this park nick-named as The Africa van Java.
Bekol Savannah
Bama beach at last, where we would spend one night on our road trip, taking a rest and enjoying the beach, the savannah, and the forest before we got back to the road again, to the west.
Bama Beach
Bama Beach is one of the famous beaches in Baluran National Park. It has a short coastline with white sand and kind of a perfect place for sun bathing. Bama Beach also offers you an experience of the beauty of its marine park with hard coral domination. The marine park, once ever told, was destroyed before some conservation actions were made lately to rebuild the park.

Drinking the water directly from the pipe, running around the white sand of the beach, fooling around and fought with others, hanged on the branches of trees, ran again and then fell asleep. Yup, the monkeys did that. We call them sun monkeys, which are so many around the beach and the cottages. The monkeys show up when the sun rises and suddenly disappear just after twilight.

What did we do? Nothing, just got lazy inside the cottage, had a little chit chats and played on the beach.
Sometimes doing nothing is the only thing you need to do to get relaxed and give your soul some break.

“Damn, the light gone out! The officer said that the light would be available until 11 pm, but it’s only 8 pm right now!” someone grumped when suddenly the electricity in whole area of Bama Beach was turned off.
“Where’s the flash?” someone shouted. Well, looked like there were some problems with the generator, which is the only machine to supply electricity for the whole area from 6 pm to 11 pm.

The sun came out from the horizon and spread its wings of lights, turned this side of earth into daylight.
“Good morning.” I whispered to nobody, mesmerized by the sunrise and enjoyed the soft of the sands and the chill of water beneath my feet.
Sunrise at Bama Beach
And, the monkeys also came out from the forest. They are the sun monkeys.

“Let’s go!” I shouted to others and began the trekking session; crossing the forest to Savannah Bekol with high expectation we could see some untamed animal in its own habitat.

We saw ……none haha.
“Seem like that you guys haven’t got enough luck to see the animals. It’s none, even for deers and bulls which are used to be laying down around those trees.” Bambang, the guide, told us.
“Yes, the best time to see wild animals is in dry season, because they would come out to savannah looking for fresh water.” Bambang continued.

A glance of a peacock flying into the wood with its sound.
A glance of a black colobine monkey’s tail.
A buffalo in a mud pool, from about a hundred meter or two.
A partridge passed our path.
Those were all animals we saw. We just had a bad luck. Even in Bekol Savannah, where we saw a group of deers the day before, now was empty.

Well, no problem. At least the trekking passed the wood went well and lots of fun!
The Buffalo
at Bekol Savannah

Bekol Savannah
Mount Baluran
Midday came and after a quick break we had to go back on the road and drove all night to the west for around 10 hours. Driving to where Tenggerese lived for hundreds year in their puja (worship?) to The Brahma, driving to where Penanjakan Mountain embraced the holy crater in view of Mahameru The Great.

“Beach!” I shouted with my finger pointing to the view outside and followed by 5 other heads.

Pasir Putih Beach (means White Sand Beach) is a beach with long coastline, located nearby Situbondo City. A beach where being lazy and water sport activities are blended in a perfect place to sit and lie on mat, sail with wooden boat, see the marine park, play jet ski, enjoy the sand and the gently wave, and of course a perfect place to enjoy fresh young coconut while the sun is just about to set in the west coast.
Couple hour before sunset
Water Sport

Eat Street - Chicken Satay
Young Coconut and Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce
We passed the gate of Bromo Mountain in the night. Welcome to Cemoro Lawang village, where all visitors (most of them) will start the journey in Bromo Mountain area. Our itinerary was quite simple. We would start the journey by chasing sunrise at Penanjakan Mountain then we went down to Bromo Crater which was located in the same complex with Teletubbies Savannah and Pasir Berbisik (whispering sand).  

Chilly weather and strong wind splashed. Jacket, gloves, scarf, trousers, socks and shoes were mandatory around this area.

We had to wait until three in the morning to start our journey. We headed to a 24-hour traditional resto, ordering hot beverages and fried platter. Yummy!

“Urip?” I asked a man standing in front of ticket counter.
“Yes. Harry?” he replied. Urip was the owner and the driver of jeep that we rent.

By Urip’s jeep, we went to Penanjakan Mountain, which is one of the best spots of sunrise in Indonesia.
The Red one :)
With thousands of other visitor, we were stunned and sighed because even the weather was not that good (cloudy morning) and the sun hid behind the cloud, yet the lights of the sun made the sky so beautiful and mystical with the blending color of pink, red, orange, blue, grey and white. Well, it was a pretty beautiful sunrise.
Cloudy Sunrise at Penanjakan - Bromo
Bromo Crater usually is one of the main sightseeing around this area. So, don’t be surprised (especially during weekends, long weekends and high seasons), there will be thousands of visitor climbing the dirt path and the stair to reach the top of the crater.
Bromo Crater
Bromo Crater
The Horse for Rent and its Master
Teletubbies Savannah, for me, is quite beautiful with the great texture of the cliff and the hillside.
Teletubbies Savannah
Pasir Berbisik (means Whispering Sand) is the other side of sea sand around Bromo Crater, nearby the cliffs of the hillside. The sand, of course, doesn’t whisper. The area got the nickname after became a place of filming “Pasir Berbisik”, which was one of the hits local movies.
3 main locations with 2 additional beaches in our journey “On The Road Again”. 4 days 3 nights, mostly on the road, sat inside the car, ate snacks, chit chat, fell asleep and day dreamed, what could I ask for more? It was awesome.
Some destinations did not match our expectations and some were beyond my expectation.  Well, the bottom line of a journey is the journey itself, so yes this trip was great and lots of fun. Now it’s time to go home.
Sleep, you traveler. You are full with good memories and adventurous stories. You will tell your stories to others in happiness, because you saw it with your bare naked eyes.

And this is it, one more of my stories about my lovely Indonesia.

Special thanks to Resviana and AT for my English translation review 

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