Escape from Bali during the Volcanic Eruption

I arrived in Bali, Indonesia with my friend on Nov 24th, 2017 and spent a lovely weekend there.

At a breakfast tea place.

However, we were stuck in Bali because of the volcanic eruption of Mount Agung. All flights departing Denpasar airport got canceled for 3 consecutive days from Nov 27th to Nov 29th and partially opened on Nov 30th.

This caused a large number of tourists waiting at the airport in desperation and anxiety.

I found out the volcano eruption on my Google Maps

Instead of waiting in vain, I took a detour to go home. I ended up taking a 5-hour taxi, an hour-long ferry, then an 8-hour train ride, till where there’s a flood destructing the railway, I changed to a local mini-bus and finally arrived in Surabaya International Airport, where I was able to take a flight home. It took me 1.5 days of waiting and more than 30 hours journey to get home. But what a memorable experience!

This is my actual trip overview. If you drive, it’s going to take 10+ hours.

I wish this post can help those who are still stuck in Bali wishing to get home.

From Bali to Surabaya

  • Step 0. Negotiate a good price to go to Surabaya
  • Step 1. Taxi from Bali airport to [todo] harbor
  • Step 2. Take the ferry to go to East Java
  • Step 3. Take the train at New Banyuwangi Station
  • Step 4. Take mini-bus from Bangil to Surabaya
  • Step 5. Go home!
Those are our bags while we are on the ferry from Bali to East Java

Step 0. Negotiate a good price to go to Surabaya

I write “Step 0” because of 2 reasons:

  1. I failed to negotiate a good price with cab drivers, thus I did not take the cab option.
  2. I ended up taking taxi, ferry, train, mini-bus to go to Surabaya (8AM to 12AM, 16 hours in total). If you wish to just take cab, make sure to negotiate a good price and leave comment below, so you can help others. If you wish to take my approach, simply skip this step and read on.

I asked 3 drivers for quotation. Their quotations are around 3~4 million IDR (220~300 USD).

I would have gone if they offer 2.5 million IDR, but I got lied to by one driver and then someone said F-word to me, and then I got lied to by another driver again. I was very disappointed and felt unsafe to go with any of them.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t book a very good flight in the next 24 hours. Thus I decided to book a flight 48 hours later, which gives me more time to take other travel options (ferry + train + taxi).

Step 1. Taxi from Bali airport to Gilimanuk Harbour

This is the longest taxi I’ve ever taken in my life — literally 138 kilometers.

This is the screenshot in my ride-sharing app during the ride.

The driver was super nice and kept telling is jokes to cheer us up. He said that his house is right beneath Mount Agung, and his entire family moved to south Bali, where his relatives live. I don’t see any frustration or worry in his eyes, though I know that he and his family are suffering more from the volcanic eruption than I do, and the local economy is going to be hit hard over the next few month. I really appreciate his ride, not just because he didn’t raise the taxi fare, but also because talking to him flushed away all my frustrations. His name is Nyoman. After we arrived, he requested to take picture with me :)

The ride took 4.5 hours and cost me 500,0000 INR. The scenery along the journey was very good: coconut trees, mountains, and the ocean.

Step 2. Take the ferry to go to East Java

At Gilimanuk Harbour, there’s a ferry that goes to Ketapang Ferry Port in East Java. The waiting time is 15 minutes and the ferry took 30 minutes.

This is the path to board the ferry from Gilimanuk Harbour to Ketapang Ferry Port.

When I arrived at Banyuwangi, I felt the journey is half done, and I was very excited and confident about the 2nd half of the journey on Java Island. There is no more volcanic eruption here, what else should I worry about, right?

I finally left Bali and arrived in Banyuwangi, East Java, Indonesia.

Well, I was being a little naive. There’s no Grab or Uber here in Banyuwangi — not till we get very close to Surabaya. From here onward, we are cut out from any technological development happened in Silicon Valleys in the past 20 years.

But the good news is, we got to spend time in the real Indonesia!

This is inside the mini-bus that takes us from Ketapang Ferry Port to KFC, Roxy Mall, Banyuwangi.

We are hungry. After we purchased the train tickets and decided to eat in Banyuwangi. We found the only foreign fast-food chain in town — KFC in Roxy Mall. Hooray!

We took a small local bus to go there, spending 50,000 IDR each way. The 2 drivers we had does not speak English as good as the drivers in Bali, but luckily we were able to get around and bought food for ourselves. We were ready to start the next step of our master journey.

The train ticket is super cheap, thus I forgot the price. The train was supposed to depart at 1:50pm but it was delayed for 2.5 hours that afternoon.

Step 3. Take the train at New Banyuwangi Station

We finally boarded the train at 4 pm. We are already 9 hours on the road. I originally thought the train will finally take us to Surabaya. However, the destination on the ticket shows ‘Bangil Station’ instead. We were told there was flood in Surabaya area thus the furthest the train can reach is Bangil, 50 kilometers away from Surabaya. That’s OK, let’s go.

Before we left the Banyuwangi Station.

Step 4. Take mini-bus from Bangil to Surabaya

The train is about 6 hours. At 10 pm we arrived at Bangil. This station was smaller than I thought. It took me a while to find a cab driver that could drive us to a hotel in Surabaya. Most other foreign tourists who traveled on that train goes to Surabaya Internation Airport directly.

This is the train we took.

The ride from Bangil to Surabaya is about an hour, plus some pretty long waiting time. It was hard to find a private car driver since most vehicles outside the train station were 10+ seaters.

Step 5. Go home!

When I finally arrived at Surabaya, both my friend and I were exhausted, and no more pictures. The next morning we boarded the first flight to go home. When I landed in my country, I got interviewed by a local newspaper.

I hope this post can help those who need to travel from Bali to elsewhere by ground/sea transportations. I sincerely wish all residents on the Bali Island safe and well, and all tourists in Bali Island could go home early.