In my 6-day Java tour, I spent about 2,200,000 Rp (~RM780 or US$245) on Indonesian soil. I feel guilty for being kiamsiap (stingy). To compensate for that, I am going to do a free promotion for this fascinating destination.
Public Transport or Tour Group?
When I was in Java, I traveled mostly by public transport. But in areas not accessible by public transport, e.g. Bromo and Ijen, I did join tour group. Taking public transport can be slow, and sometimes one has to bargain with the service provider. The advantage is that you get to experience the ‘real Java’. (Remember the crowded mini bus from Probolinggo to Ngadisari?)
If you want a hassle-free vacation, your better bet is to join a tour group right from your country. The downside is that you will lose some degree of freedom.
A compromise is to hire a driver at soon as you set foot on Java. This way, you can travel fast and still retain freedom to choose. However, whether you can trust the driver is a big question mark.
Money changers are hard to come by in Java, but you can withdraw cash from ATM with your credit card.
Phone Call & Internet
4 or 5-star hotels should provide Wifi, and you can make calls right from your room. If you stay in budget hotel, try to look for wartel and warnet. There were people selling prepaid SIM card at Surabaya Airport.
Should you go Kawah Ijen?
The 3km hike to Kawah Ijen can be taxing. So, should you go there?
When I was on my way back from the crater, I saw many Westerners in their 50s or 60s going up the hill, some with the help of walking sticks. Is the trip too tough? I will leave it to you to answer.
Note that descending should be easier than ascending, if it is not raining. If it rains, the dirt path can be slippery.
Java time is GMT+7, or one hour behind Malaysia’s. Sunrise is 5~5.30am in Surabaya and Malang; sunset is 5~5.30pm. By 6pm it’s all dark.
Night owls from West Malaysia must adapt to local timing. If you wake up at 8am, you miss half the fun.