Back to Probolinggo
The next morning I visited the regular warung for one last time before heading back down to Probolinggo. As I was eating my 'Nasi Campur Ayam' (Mixed rice with chicken), one of the more distinctive regulars came in. He was an elderly man with dark, weathered skin and bushy, wild, uncombed hair. He always seemed to wear the same clothes - a beaten dark brown old batik sarong with a shawl wrapped around his shoulders - and would always give me a happy grin whenever he saw me and when he did so, his eyes would disappear behind wrinkles and he would expose a mouth that would have been completely devoid of teeth had it not been for the two isolated teeth on each side of his mouth.
The minibus (which was really a van) was easy enough to board as one would only have to wait at the side of the road and the van would just drive around picking up passengers. Even locals would board the van from time to time, mostly elderly farmer women with scarves tied up like bandanas carrying huge baskets of vegetables and other produce. Redolent of my trek back down Mount Pananjakan, the trip down the mountain to Probolinggo seemed especially scenic as the ride up had been undertaken under the cover of darkness.
The little houses that dotted the side of the windy road before Wonotoro were a unique sight in itself as they were built on what looked like huge platforms or steps cut or built into the mountain slope to counteract the inclination of the road and to keep the house level. The houses were also surrounded by plantations in their small compounds and had gorgeous backdrops of the sweeping vistas of the misty hills just behind them. The Tenggerese language (which was incomprehensible to me despite being able to speak Bahasa Indonesia) filled the van as it made its way down the narrow road that wound through the misty hills.
The journey was made even more interesting with the things that the van passed on the side of the road. There were instances of old topless women with droopy breasts walking alongside the road past stalls selling ornaments made from Edelweiss flowers as well as speedas (motorbikes) whizzing by, one speeda even carrying another speeda on it's back! The van would on occasion have to stop at the side of the narrow road to let other vehicles pass and on one occasion I astonishingly glimpsed a young boy, perhaps as young as 10 years old, peering over the dashboard as he navigated the jeep that he was driving through the tight squeeze skillfully.
The fog seemed to get more dense the lower we went and was unnerving at points as hairpin turns with steep drops down the side of the mountain would suddenly emerge out of the fog along with brief glimpses of the ghostly visage of the treeline in the distance. The van kept on stopping to pick up more passengers and by the time it was well on its way, they had somehow managed to squeeze 17 passengers along with around 8 large (possibly 70cm in diameter) wicker baskets into the van! The van dropped me off at the Probolinggo bus station where a bus was about ready to depart for Surabaya where I would be catching my flight home! That's another one for my Bucket List!
*I only spent a total of IDR415k for the 2 days that I was visiting Bromo (Food & drinks IDR130k, accommodation IDR150k, transport IDR135k). The return flight cost MYR148 (IDR527k) bringing the total cost for the trip to IDR942k (MYR265).