Rest day and nice surprises
So we stand there with Jana at the bus station of Probolinggo, the sharks circling around us. Everybody shouting: taxi, Yogya, Banyuwangi, Jakarta, Malang, taxi, taxi, transfer, hotel. So, what do we do? I veto Yogyakarta and finally we agreed to Malang, a small town of East Java, with university life and rich Dutch heritage. Back on the flight to Singapore I’ve read about two beautiful temples in the area in a magazine, that can be interesting. Though the majority of the people come here to have base for the organised tours to Bromo.
We looked up the bus to Malang, crossing through scammers to try to sell you tickets for a higher price, but you buy the official ticket on the bus, from the colleague of the bus company, only once the bus left the terminal. Based on the experience of others, the price should le between 20-30.000 IDR, but we check with another passenger as well. Not all the locals are helpful, as they fear the scammers who stay around the terminal all the time. We travelled for 2 hours and paid 30.000 IDR. On the road we try to get to know a bit more about the town and its public transportation, so we can catch a local minibus to the center, or at least what looked to be the center.
Before looking for a place to stay we had lunch at street food place and became local attraction. People were staring at us – I guess it is time to get used to that. We looked up to optional hostels, and stayed right away in the first, that we liked. We were really tired after Ijen and Bromi, so after a little bit of chatting we went to bed early and dozed off.
Jana had a series of bad luck on her journey in Indonesia. She had a scooter accident in Lombok and got injured by a coral, and these heal really slow. She traveled to Flores and Komodo no being able to keep the wounds dry. Then she went for climbing Rinjani, and their guide pushed her group so hard, that 5 out of 10 got some injuries. Jana’s toenails were totally blue because of the descent and her trekking shoes, and two of them needed to be extracted in Bali. Almost all of her scratches got inflamed and infected, and she carries a complete pharmacy with her. She even got refused at a volunteer project she agreed on before, so she had some extra free time before traveling to Thailand. I got worried a bit to take over her bad luck, but it seems good times are coming for her. When we arrived to Malang, she received two invitations to participate in two different volunteering projects, and after some hesitation she accepted one of them, where she leaves the next day.
She is a smiley, talkative, food lover and I liked spending time with her. We start the morning really slowly. We went to a good cafe to have a proper coffee and spoiled ourselves with European breakfast. We bought our train tickets at the station with the assistance of a really helpful staff of the railway. After that we visited the bird- and flower market and walked a lot to reach the supposedly nice Ijen Boulevard – that turns out to be a boulevard with heavy traffic, two lines of palm trees and some Dutch colonial style villas behind fences. We left with some disappointment, just to reach a small square a couple of blocks away, where there is a huge bronze gramophone in the middle of a maze. As we walked closer we could hear the music. It was Michael Bublè. It was so absurd to experience in the middle of an indonesian town, that is was hard to believe. We bought two pineapples and some mango slices for 0,3 USD, that we ate at a pool full of water lilies. Later, when we were looking for some non-deep fried food, we bumped into a district with freshly painted colorful houses. I figured this a great marketing campaign of a company selling paint. This not only good for the company, but for the locals as well, who sell entrance tickets to allow people admiring this crazy area from the inside as well. Finally we found a brilliant restaurant close to our hostel, where I had one the best lunch in Indonesia so far, for 1 USD.
Jana catched the train, so our shared adventure was over. I met a German couple in the hostel, who tried to figure out how to get back to Bromo to see the famous view, as they were also unlucky withnthe weather. The British Aaron is traveling for 6 months, gave up his job in a bar to be on the road. He might goes to Malaysia, and if he can, he will look for a job there once he runs out of money. I also met Mick, the Irish guy who spent days in Malang without actually seeing much, but had one of the best stories with a tricky local language teacher. This guy comes every morning to the hostel offering free walking tours to the backpackers. Mick joined him, and he went right away to a school, where Mick ended up teaching English all day, and didn’t see anything in the city. He decided to join me on the morning train to Yogyakarta. I have my ticket, but we left right after breakfast to have enough time for him to buy the ticket. First surprise, that the ticket office is not open at 8 am, and the ticket machine blocked us from buying the ticket. We almost made it in Indonesian, but at the last screen he pushed the wrong button, so he needed to restart. Then we discovered it can be done in English as well, but it didn’t show available tickets. It was only 5 minutes before departure, when I left him alone there with a bad feeling, and got on the train. I will travel 7 hours till Yogyakarta on economy class. Honestly, it is not worse that a train at home from the capital to my hometown.