Climbing Mount Bromo : The alternative backpacking route

Climbing Mount Bromo : The alternative backpacking route

Bromo to Malang

The must-try Route : Bromo-Tumpang via Ojek!

This is one hell of a ride. Your heart will still be thumping against your chest, hair on your skin still fizzing like the engine of the motorbike. This was one of my favorite experiences, and the events that transpired in the morning (waiting 4 hours for the view of Bromo, trying to find transport to Malang) made it all the more sweeter.

From Cemero Lawang, we went through the sea of sand again. The amazing but sad thing is that most people only get to see part of the “Sea of Sand” as they only go through it to climb up the front of Mount Bromo. However, surrounding and beyond it, lies lush green savannah. As it started to drizzle, I couldn’t take much pictures plus it was foggy, but that just enhanced the experience. With mist and rain peppering your vision, looming mountains and wheels on volcanic ash, flowers and grass that line your path as if to salute you, what more can you expect?

Except, that was only the start. Slowly, you will make your way up to mountain route, going past blind bends, narrow ridges, with Mount Semeru in the distance taunting you, come, climb me! You will go past the various villages. This path is generally a path where locals take and it is more accessible via the motorbikes. yes, if you had to ask, no helmets. Wind is good for your skin, just kidding, I hate helmets. You could try to take a 4WD(Jeep) like the ones you see in the picture below, but it will be very expensive. I believe it should be at least 600,000 IDR. You also wouldn’t get the same feeling as the wind brushing your hair, and your knees gliding just above the road as you round the bends.

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One of the villages
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Riding through blind bends in the fog, with at times 5m visibility makes it a once in a lifetime experience

Our asses started to hurt afterawhile, so did my hands because of the vibration of the motrobike when you grip the back handles. I was ever ready to jump off, in case there was an opposing car or motorbike round the bend. The road is not always well-paved like in the picture, but it is mostly okay, with a few bumps and potholes. Luckily, we took a short break at the waterfall.

Pelangi waterfall

On the way to Malang, you can stop by this waterfall. You will have to pay 70,000 RP I believe. There is of course a local and foreigner price. My advice is just to not talk if you are a foreigner, pay the local price and just walk through.

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The spray from the waterfall is pretty strong so prepared to be slightly wet once past the steps.  It takes around 45 minutes to walk from the entrance to the waterfall.

Madakaripura waterfall
The waterfall

To get to Malang, the ojek will only take you most likely to as far as Tumpang city, where the fun ends.  You will understand why, because the route takes you up the mountain through the different villages, before going all the way downhill where you will reach Tumpang. I believe Tumpang is the lowest point so it becomes meaningless to continue and it is pretty close to the city. Therefore, you will have to find an Angkot to take you to Malang, it is quite easy to spot or you can ask around. Just take the van that has the Arjosari name on it, or A, it is usually a green coloured mini-van.

Malang City

Malang is a vibrant city that on the surface seems like any other ordinary city, but it makes a good 1-2 day stopover. The best part, for me as a Singaporean, Malang has a focus on food. It is almost a “Food Haven”, where there are popular or famous food places that the locals will go. Just plan a food trail around the area, from the bakso, to the pangsit mee (like the picture below). The pangsit mee was seriously one of the best noodles I have tasted. It had a fabulous texture, and it was extremely cheap(1.50 SGD?), plus there was live music, that was so good that the miser in me actually donated.

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On top of that, Malang has many other markets like Pasar Malam (night market) and street markets. We went to one morning market and tried the local street food! Really awesome but sinful.

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Trust me, one of the most delicious and sinful things you’ll ever touch.
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This eggstick is the shit.
Malang morning markets! Vibrant and good street food!
Malang morning markets! Yummy street food!

Drop by the flower market to relax as well as to allow your senses to be invaded by the vibrant colours and flowers!

Flower market!
Flower market!

Beside it, is also the bird market. Frankly, I felt pretty sad when I saw the birds caged up. I was never a fan of animals being caged up, but this was still an interesting insight into the culture. It was crowded, and I really wonder why do these people buy these birds? One of the most heartbreaking scenes was when these group of 4 birds, was jumping from branch to branch, till they hit the top. And they kept hitting the top, and falling back down, as if wondering why they can’t go up. They were like frogs, hopping up and back down again.

Bird Market!
Bird Market!
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Ah, colours and birds.
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Welcome to Singapore, wait….
No bird market is complete without coloured chicks
No bird market is complete without coloured chicks
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I wondered why they were standing so still. My heart sank when I saw them chained, by cable ties, or steel chains to the branch, just by hooking one webbed (toes??)

A question Esti asked was, ” Do you think the birds were born caged? Would they be different?” That concept struck me and I thought, “Yeah, look at those birds caged up, thats what a Singaporean is somewhat like?”  It can be really comfortable, you can be really happy, but wouldn’t you wonder, whats out there when you gaze out? If you don’t travel or explore, we are like these birds in this very small cage, but a whole world lies out there. This is not a negative analogy, more of just how big the world is. I can just relate to the caged bird. As a Singaporean, was I born in a cage, or was I plucked from my freedom and put into a cage? Perhaps I am like the bird, always trying to hop out.

Perhaps, perhaps my soul sings to spread my wings, for a certain flight into the sky.

Perhaps, I don’t want to ever stop exploring.

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