Probolinggo, Solo, and not a Tourist in Sight

Trip Start Nov 17, 2009
Trip End Sep 05, 2010

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Where I stayed
Prawisatta Hotel

Flag of Indonesia  , Java,
Thursday, December 24, 2009

"I Want to Go Where there are no Tourists"

Careful what you wish for, intrepid traveler.

Wandering_man and WW have often harbored this sentiment, and when acting upon it, have encountered mixed results.

Took a bus from Kuta-Denpasar-Medewi and stayed in a guest house in Medewi. Some French guy had been suckered into buying a whole durian. He took one bite and left it on the table on the 2nd story shared balcony.  After dinner, when WW and WM retired to the porch we saw rats gnawing on it.  WW kicked the two halves of the durian off the balcony. One half landed on the seat of a hotel staff's motorcycle.  When they raced upstairs to investigate, WW feigned language difficulties and insisted that the rat did it.

We left Medewi, a surfer hangout with great lefts and nothing to do if you don't surf and caught the bus to the ferry terminal at Gilimanuk, Bali.  Caught the ferry to Java and a bus to Probolinggo, famous for mangoes.

There were absolutely no tourists in Probolinggo, a city of at least 100,000.  A hardcore traveler fantasy?  Not this time.

No tourists means no tourist infrastructure.  No English spoken.  No hotels or guesthouses of Western quality. No restaurants near the hotel we finally stayed at (The Prawisatta (sp?) and no Bintang anywhere in town.  The hotel did not give us towels, a top sheet, soap, or mosquito netting.  And brother, there were mosquitoes.  WW and I slept underneath her two sarongs as makeshift top sheets and slathered ourselves with bug dope after a dozen bites between us.  In the morning WM awoke to bedbug bites.

When WW was shampooing her hair, the shower quit. Just up and quit.  She had to rinse from a bucket filled from a spigot.

Every single person we asked directions from gave us bad information, sincerely offered because here it is better to give someone a wrong answer than none at all.  And every single destination is always 100 meters away according to the direction giver.

Next morning we decided to make it a long travel day—our third in a row- and hoof it all the way to Jogjakarta. Caught an 8:00 second class bus to Surabaya (15,000 rp, two hours, lots of fun.)  Caught a 10:15  executive class bus to Jogjakarta (63,000 rp, A/C, lots of leg room, free lunch of grilled chicken and rice, eight hours).


One hour before we reached Jogjakarta we stopped in the bus station in Solo (aka Surakarta). In 2001 terrorists from Jema’ah Islamiyah bombed Paddy’s Bar in Bali, killing 202 people.  The ringleader of this (and other) bombings was a guy from Solo.  He was tried, convicted, and executed in Indonesia in October 2008. When his body was brought back to his home in Solo for burial, 10,000 local people showed up for his funeral. That’s fine by WM, but it should come as no surprise that WW and WM have no interest in spending one minute or one rupiah in Solo.  WM thinks the worst job in the world would be Director of Travel and Tourism in Solo.  Kinda like, as that wizened social commentator Beavis would say, polishing a turd.

Made it to Jogya at 6:30 PM, taxi to Metro Guest House in Prawarirotoman.  Nice A/C room, satellite TV, free breakfast, gorgeous pool, 180,000 (high season rate). Had an outstanding dinner of so much food it couldn’t be finished for $3.50.  And yes, there was Bintang.

Unlike Solo and Probolilnggo, there are numerous tourists in Jogja.  And the infrastructure to match.  WW and WM plan to kick back here a week and patch our bones, so to say.  Will have Jogja pics in a couple of days.
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Dee on

Hi WM and WW, Solo is inhabited by many nice people. It's true that some terrorists are from Solo, but they're not exactly from Solo, rather from villages neighboring Solo, and their community is exclusive, they don't have many links to Solo's people, they even seclude themselves from their village neighbors. Those people are muslim fanatics, while Solo people are not. Solo harbors many Javanese christians, abangan (Javanese muslims but not really believers, they practice also Javanese traditions influenced heavily by Hindu), and many non-muslim fanatics. That's why the nationalists have a very strong political ground there. I think the 10,000 people who attended the funeral were not at all the fans of that terrorist. Many people just curious as if they go to see a strange animal.

Come to see Solo as I did in 2004, you'll find many friendly people there.

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