Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The dangdut bus to Probolinggo

We got into Surabaya bright and early on Saturday and took a taxi to the bus station, where we hopped on a nice air-conditioned bus toward Mt. Bromo. During the ride, we were treated to numerous dangdut videos starring a woman who seemed to be constantly disappointed by a series of men. You could see why -- the men all wore weird, shiny, pimp-y clothes and acted like jerks. One of them had long, luxurious hair, and every time the camera panned to him he was running his hand through it in a way that suggested he was the hottest thing on the planet. No sensible woman would have a cup of coffee with that guy, never mind a love affair.

About an hour outside Surabaya, traffic came to a grinding halt in Sidoarjo, the site of the mud disaster. It's been two years since boiling-hot sludge started spewing from the ground there, and the thousands of people who've lost their homes and jobs are still waiting for most of the compensation they've been promised. The mud lake seemed to have gotten bigger since the last time I visited; bulldozers were out working on what looked like new containment walls along the highway.

After this sad interlude, traffic picked up again. Just outside Probolinggo we caught a public minivan to Cemoro Lawang, a little town perched on the outer crater that surrounds Mt. Bromo.

The minivan guys insisted on putting all of our luggage on top. The van was hot and pretty well packed with people. There were no music videos, but we were entertained by children singing songs in the seat behind us.

As we made our way up the steep, winding road, I tried to drink in the mountain views and ignore the terrible thought of my backpack, with my laptop in it, sliding off the top of the van and smashing onto the pavement. It was a long day of travel, but eventually we and the luggage all arrived in one piece.


johnorford said...

i took a train from jkt to semarang once, and all the staff were singing dangdut in the restaurant part.

best train trip ever!

nadya said...

what an awesome story. any recollections of the artists / songs plyaed on that bus trip? that guy actor sounds too good to be missed (in a trainwrecky kinda way). I went to Bromo about 5 years ago, I hope the stairways on the way to the crater isn't as littered as it used to be.

kopisusu2 said...

Nadya, I wish I knew. It was all one singer and I tried to memorize her name, but I had luggage all over me and couldn't reach a pen and paper. I think her name started with a K. That narrows it down to about a thousand dangdut stars, right?

I don't remember litter on the stairway, but the viewing point where you watch the sunrise was in a crazy state of ruin - there were big chunks of concrete lying around with pointy metal rods sticking out of them. It was really dangerous with everybody stumbling around in the dark. But the driver assured me it was just being renovated and would all be fixed soon.

John, that train ride sounds great!