I got up today and used the directions I received last night to go to Baluran National Park. I caught a ride on the “number two” bemu (“bemu” is what they call the local minivan transports in East Java, as opposed to “angkot”, which is what they called them in Bandung and probably most of West Java) and then I switched to the “number six” bemu; unfortunately the driver spoke no English and did not understand where I wanted to go; I tried to explain that I wanted to go to the “bus terminal”, “bus station”, “where the bus to Surabaya is”, but it was no use; he pulled over and found someone to “translate”, but that was no use; so I walked down the road until I found another bemu and that driver understood immediately, which makes sense since the bus terminal name is on the windshields of the “number six” bemus and the terminal is at the end of the “number six” route, if there is such a thing as a standard route for bemus in Indonesia. I then took the Surabaya bus north to the entrance of Baluran National Park. Along the way – in one of the villages we drove through – I saw a naked man walking down the street as everyone else went about their daily business, paying no attention to him; I actually saw the same guy yesterday – in the same village – while on the bus to Banyuwangi; he was sitting in a shallow pool of water, naked as well; I suppose he must be a Hindu holy man (a naga sadhu) and that the locals have accepted his behavior despite his presence on Java – a dominantly Muslim island.
I finally reached the entrance to Baluran National Park, paid the entrance fee, and then hired a motorbike to take me to the lookout tower in Bekol. During the motorbike ride I saw a Water Monitor basking in the sun on the asphalt; as we neared he got up and scurried in to the woods. Then once I arrived at Bekol safely, my attention was immediately directed at the monkeys (long tail macacas) sitting around and climbing the trees. I then climbed up to the viewing platform on the lookout tower to gaze at the savanna (which had three water buffalo grazing nearby) and Mount Baluran. I then walked down to the savanna and walked along the dirt road to where the water buffalo were to get a closer look (I made sure a safe and non-threatening distance was kept between us); there were also a lot more monkeys on the savanna, though strangely they and the other park animals were more afraid of a lone human than motorbikes or cars passing them by. I then walked back to Bekol and found the three kilometer trail to Bama Beach and I began hiking eastward through tall grass, shrubs, and woods – luckily, if there were tigers hidden in the grass along the trail, they were not ambitious enough to attack me. As I neared the beach, I saw a number of deer grazing, although once they got wind of me most of them would leap away; the few that remained would then run like hell once I placed my camera up to my eye (I guess they thought it was gun); so it was difficult to impossible to get a decent picture with my camera lens, which has modest zooming abilities. I then reached the beach which ended up not being the resort I was led to believe; there were a few cabins, a mosque, toilets, park station, and a cafeteria that was not open. On the beach I watched the monkeys walk out during the low tide to scrounge for and consume small fish stuck in the pools of water. These monkeys on the beach were the least afraid of humans that I encountered in the park and many walked right by me on their way out to the sea. I then walked north along the shore for a while passing by mangroves and more monkeys. Then once I was satisfied with my visit to the beach, I hired a motorbike to take me back to the park entrance. On the road back through the savanna I saw some more deer and water buffalo – naturally I stopped to take more pictures.
I then arrived at the park entrance and jumped on the first bus that passed by heading south; this bus went through the city of Banyuwangi and dropped me off along the route at the nearest point to my hotel, which was three kilometers away. So I walked back to the hotel where I had a steak tenderloin (more like hamburger meat) and steamed vegetables for dinner in my room. I then booked my rooms for my upcoming sojourns in Bali and Singapore. Eventually I went to sleep – very late.