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Choosing Malang as jump off point to Mt. Bromo


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large_1840343_14769678819380.jpgAbdul Rachman Saleh Airport (MLG)Going to Mt. Bromo, I had two choices - the popular and heavily touristed route via Probolinggo, and the more expensive but less traveled route via Malang [Malang-travel-guide-866647]. Despite being an extrovert, I also abhor being harrassed by touts - and there are hordes of them in Probolinggo! So I focused my research on Malang instead, noting that this place was of higher elevation than Probolinggo, and nested between a few mountains, notably Gunung Arjuno and Gunung Arjuna (likely sibling mountains deducing from the names) to the north, Gunung Kawi to the west, and the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park to the east. Until the 11th hour I was constantly chatting with Fay and Maya trying to determine which airline to take, and I was somehow drawn to the national carrier Garuda only on the condition if the flight would be departing from the new terminal 3 (it didn't yet, so I ended up with one of the low cost carriers, Sriwijaya).large_1840343_14769678788964.jpgSriwijaya 737-300I booked through an OTA (online travel agency) site, Nusatrip.com, just a couple of hours before I was to leave for the airport in Manila. The fare was reasonable and baggage and a snack were included free, so I considered it a good deal. Not to mention Fay had generally positive reviews of the airline (knowing how meticulous Fay is, I definitely trust her travel advice).

So while the flight was still at 1105AM, I was told by Fay and Maya that I should leave before rush hour (8AM), just in case we encounter unexpected heavy traffic on the way to the airport. Surprisingly I left a few minutes after 8AM, but there was hardly any traffic in my directions - since I was leaving the city. On the opposite lanes though, traffic was piling up at the expressway, and hundreds of meters long.large_1840343_14769678634079.jpgnot bad for a low cost carrier - free food!I arrived at the airport with a lot of time to spare for a domestic flight, and check-in wasn't a challenge at all, so I made my way to the domestic terminal. Terminal 2 is interesting as it is shaped similar to a flower, with the airbridges/gates being the equivalent of the petals. By the time I had gotten to the gate, the outsole of my hiking boot was detaching itself from the midsole, and I had to devise a patch using the laces to prevent the outsole from completely separating. Hmmmm...talk about 5 year old shoes that have been rarely used until recently...

The plane was an old 737-300, and its age was evident in the seat upholstery and trays. But whatever shortcomings of age the plane had, the generally pleasant flight and free snack made up for it. Arriving in Malang airport, it was not as difficult finding my way around except for the nearly separated outsole.large_1840343_14842293388601.jpg I had no choice but to get the airport taxis (seemed they were a cartel, since no public buses were around) and it cost me 45,000 IDR. The drive was a bit far, about 25 km. so the fare seemed reasonable enough. The hotel I was staying (Best Western OJ Hotel) was in the northern area of the city, but within walking distance to the train station and Alun Alun. Good choice, I got a healthy amount of exercise from walking over the next three days.

Going around Malang City was an easy walk, and when I got tired, I tried their blue passenger jeeps, although the directions weren't clear so one time I had to be dropped off far away from my intended destination. Of course one of the first chores of the day was to get my boot fixed, which I was able to do at one of the department stores.large_1840343_14769678535881.jpg I also went to the train station to get my tickets to Yogyakarta [Yogyakarta-travel-guide-1311494], as I would be meeting Hayley and her friends in a few more days.

Finally, I sought out a tour to Mt. Bromo - checked out two places including the local tourist office near one of the big churches, but in the end, I went with Helios Transport since they seemed quite professional and were well established in the city. A couple of folks had booked already for the tour departing on August 10th, and there was room for at least 3 more. So if in case we fill up the 4x4 with 6 people total, the cost of the tour would easily be half compared to if only 2 people had joined.

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Posted by NT01 17:00 Archived in Indonesia

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