After Komodo we snuck in a few cheeky days of luxury in Sanur, back in Wirasana hotel with the swimming pool and breakfasts on the balcony, so we could organise the next leg of the trip. And this next leg took us to Java, just in time for the start of Ramadan, and more calls to prayer than one island ever needs.
The trip to see the still-smoking volcano at Mount Bromo was the first time we got properly ripped off (or at least were aware of being ripped off as it was happening) so far. We arrived in Java at about 4am, were dropped off in the middle of nowhere about 2 hours away from the little village we needed to get to. After trying to resist being pressurised by a tour operator who was far too energetic for that time in the morning, we eventually gave in and handed over all our money. Or at least it felt that way at the time. We later found out that everyone else had been ripped off roughly as much as we had, and that's just how it works when you resist the pull (and price tag) of the organised tours to Bromo. Lesson learned.
However, beautiful as it was (and it really was one of the most spectacular sunrises I've ever seen), I'm NEVER going back there. We were stuck in Cemero Lawang, the closest village to the volcano, for two full days. Which might not seem like much, but when both days start hours before sunrise, time starts to drag a little. Especially in freeeezing CL, where there's literally nothing to do. I mean, not even an internet cafe, or really any other tourists to talk/complain to (a complete mystery, because the number of tourists at the viewpoint for sunrise was immense - where did they come from?!). Not being aware of the time difference between Bali and Java, and therefore getting up at 2.15 instead of 3.15 for sunrise, didn't help us grow fond of CL either, and nor did the massive bowl of fried rice which we were given each day for breakfast, and then had to eat under the watchful eye of our host. But despite all the griping, it was worth it in the end, as you can see from the Facebook photos of the sunrise. And we learned two important things - think hard before arriving somewhere before dawn with no onward plans, and check time differences!