The first homestay we stayed in after our 2.5-hour drive from Surabaya airport, seemed okay at first, until our Guide gave us twenty minutes to freshen up before dinner. I was still busy unpacking my things when my travel mate came knocking on my door to say that the toilet cistern in his room was not working and that he was going to ask for a room change. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong with mine at that time so I stuck with my room.
Evening temperatures had dropped drastically after dinner at Hotel Lava Lodge and I was looking really looking forward to having a hot shower before going to bed. To my horror, only cold water came out in tiny drops! I had to clean myself with wet swipes that I had brought along. The situation got even worse when I was getting ready for my first adventure to Rogo Wulan later that same night. The tap made an ugly hollow sound when I turned it on and not a drop of water came out of it! Luckily, I still had some bottled water left over and used that to brush my teeth and wash my face.
The second homestay we put up in was much better. It was a two-bedroom furnished house – except that the toilet and kitchen seemed like they were added only as an afterthought, forming an “outside” extension from the main house and connected by a door. The hastily-built walls didn’t reach up to the ceiling, leaving a huge gap big enough for anyone to climb over. I must say, though, that the toilet was in very good working condition.
We set out for a drive and walkabout around Cemoro Lawang.
At 2,217 metres (7,273.6 feet) above sea level, this sleepy mountain village is the entry point to the Tengger National Park. As it is the closest town for early morning climbs to Bromo crater, Cemoro Lawang attracts visitors from all over the world. Half of the village population is focused on farming potatoes and onions while the other half on tourism activities.
Despite the hundreds of visitors to Cemoro Lawang, the local residents’ lifestyle do not appear to have been affected much by their presence. They still continue with their culture, traditions and way of life and seem to be unaware of visitors’ very basic expectations related to accommodation, meals, sanitation and utilities. This is probably the reason why the rooms, food and other facilities found here are more “village” rather than “tourist” standard, despite the high prices charged.
The locals are a peaceful people – hospitable, yet minding their own business and respecting “your space” unless they are invited to join in.
Although there’s really not much to do in this horse town, it does possess its own rural charm, with farm crops thriving on the rich volcanic slopes and views of Mount Bromo at every other corner.