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Published: March 14th 2017
My main reason for the Surabaya stop was to see the Masjid Nasional Al Akbar Surabaya - aka the Grand Mosque (2nd biggest in Indonesia ), and it was on the way to Bromo Tengger NP. Caught a cab there early (the Artotel reception called one for me then I negotiated with him to wait for me for an hour and a half and drive me back to the hotel). The mosque's level of spectacularness didn't disappoint - green and turquoise domes, lots of gold leaf, intricate mosaics, stained glass and huge tracts of white marble floors. Slippery marble floors. Even slippier when newly mopped. I think my post-Merapi stiff legged robot style walk that throws your centre of balance may also have contributed but my L knee took the brunt of my spectacular slip and fall. My first potential disaster for the trip. Security guard who was showing me around hauled me up and I still got to climb (by elevator) to the viewing platform of the minaret. It's not completely apparent as to how you can access the 99m minaret but I found a manned desk in the carpark that were able to organise it for
me (small entry fee for the elevator ride (Rp 8000 I think). The rest of the mosque grounds are free to enter but as a non-Muslim entry into the worship rooms is restricted. I was very pleased to have gone, it truly is a beautiful piece of architecture. It was also quite atmospheric as there were hundreds of school children visiting and all were in white dress, they were expertly corralled by their teachers and I assume parent helpers (some things are the same all over the world!). I wore modest clothing (loose pants, long sleeve top and a loosely draped scarf around my neck/shoulders and felt quite comfortable. I didn't see any other Western tourists.
Raced back to hotel.
Got picked up at 10 by driver (Dosi was going to be with me for the rest of my time in Java getting me to Bromo, Ijen and the ferry to Bali). We had about 3 1/2 hrs to drive to Bromo. Enroute stopped for food at a small warung with Padang food- Javanese style- cooked in the morning, lots of dishes - meat and vegetable, that sit in a glass case all day. It's cheap local food.
One of the 45 doors
You choose what you want and it's served with rice and sambal. I decided that if my knee was possibly going to take me out I might as well throw caution to the wind and go all out on the food too. I now also think that it's sometimes best not to know what you're eating until after you've eaten it- really delicious spicy water spinach and corn fritters, the jackfruit curry was also delicious- even if it had cow face (muzzle or mouth actually), tendon and cartilage in it. Wasn't as keen on the dish that I thought was eggplant but was in fact intestinal lining slivers - smelt and tasted ... well ... crappy. Dosi happily finished it off for me!
Continuing on through the foothills of Bromo NP the scenery was spectacular. However, getting in and out of the car became an increasingly more spectacular effort- directionally proportionate really. As we drove up into the highlands the air cooled, massive hillsides planted out with crops emerged and heavy cloud descended. From the first lookout point we had a decent view over the lava fields and crater of Bromo and Mt Batok. The plan was to walk
to the crater from a second view point, getting to that was challenging, it then totally clouded over- the walk/hobble was cut short- got to say I was relieved. So, Bromo, for me is something that will need to be revisited. Even though I missed out on seeing it in all its grandeur I still had a really good day driving and doing the small amount of walking that we did.
Back in the car, the day ended a couple of hours later in a place called Probolinggo. The night was spent in a small home stay called Bromo Sunrise located on the main truck route road next to a mosque- I had a downstairs a/c room (Rp 150 000) with eclectic decor but clean and a "bathroom" (Western toilet/shower hose on wall/no basin). There was also a desk, chair, enough power points, wifi and TV! Towel provided, byo soap. Minimart located at front entrance for pop noodles, icecream, drinks, etc. Quick cup of tea then elevated my now swollen knee on the firm but comfortable bed and crashed.
Woke up suddenly at 0400... Java Belly?
No.... good news- just the call to prayer over the loudspeakers
next to my window.
And... the knee is on the improve. What's in store for Day 7? Sneak Preview- scroll to the end of the photos for the early morning market across the road from the homestay.
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