It took much longer than I plan to post day 2 of my East Java trip. I promised to share my visit to Ijen Crater on January 3 but many things got in the way 😉
First, I want to share a bit about Ijen Volcano from wikipedia.org
The Ijen volcano complex is a group of stratovolcanoes, in East Java, Indonesia. It is inside a larger caldera Ijen, which is about 20 kilometers wide. It has a one-kilometer-wide turquoise-colored acid crater lake. The lake is the site of a labor-intensive sulfur mining operation, in which sulfur-laden baskets are carried by hand from the crater floor. The work is low-paid and very onerous. In 2008, explorer George Kourounis took a small rubber boat out onto the acid lake to measure its acidity. The pH of the water in the crater was measured to be 0.5 due to sulfuric acid.
This is how the crater looks like from above (I think it was taken on helicopter) the photo belongs to Takemeholidays.com
I couldn’t see it like that but still it was an amazing view and how I wish I can visit it again somewhere in the future (Mount Bromo is more famous than Ijen volcano but for me Ijen is WAY more beautiful and memorable than Bromo) *my trip to Bromo can be read here> East Java Trip Day 1.
We arrived there somewhere in the middle of the night (I forgot what time it was). We waited there till 1 am before we started hiking. To reach the crater we have to walk/hike for about 3 hours. We hiked at that time because we wanted to see the blue flame of Ijen. We couldn’t see the flame again when the sun is about to rise. The hike started very easy on a quite plain track but less than half an hour later the track became much steeper. I hadn’t done mountain hiking for many many years (the last time was on college) and I honestly quite surprise that I was still in good shape. I was still able to control my breath while hiking up. I took a break here and there because the air was so cold and because of the steepness of the track. It was pitch black and almost everyone carry a torch to see the track.
We got there faster than we planned, it was around 4.30 am. We still had to walk closer to the crater to be able to see the flame. It was one scary moment…at least for someone who’s afraid of height like me. The spot where we can see the flame was already full with people. I wasn’t wearing the right shoes so I didn’t go down to the crater because the track was slippery with moving rocks. My friend went down there and told me how blue the flame was but fortunately I didn’t follow him because it was difficult to breath if we don’t have proper masker, the sulfur gases took all the oxygen away. I saw the flame from afar but luckily I still managed to take a picture (bad quality)
You can see a MUCH MUCH better photograph at Boston.com. Here’s one of the pictures> According to that site: Flaming molten sulfur flows inside the volcanic crater. Sulfur will melt at just above 100 C (212 F), but the temperatures in the crater do not get high enough for spontaneous combustion – the fires are lit by the miner’s dripping torches.
I really need to buy a much better camera!!!
It was FREEZING up there! The wind was killing me and my friend. I put on my rain coat to block the wind passing through my jacket but it was a poor attempt. My friend and I finally moved to another spot looking for a way to cover ourselves from the wind. We didn’t want to get down because we wanted to see the crater when the sun rises. We found a gap between a big rock and the crater wall (when I said crater I meant the top crater not the area near the lake). We hid there and it helped block the wind a bit. Not long after that, few of our friends came joining in. He gathered together to keep warm.
Look at us looking like refuges 😉 It was so cold..FOR US!! but not far from where we sit, a couple of westerners were standing calmly wearing a thin sweater…WHAAATTTT??? Hahaha it showed how different we, people of the tropical islands, deal with cold 😉
The view at early dawn was quite scary. It looked so blue with a bit of white from the sulfur fume.
When the sun peaked from the other side of the mountain, we could finally see how the view around the crater look like. TRUST ME…the photographs I took didn’t do justice to how it really look like!!
We decided to get down (after taking so many pictures of us there) as the day getting brighter. We found out that we went down too fast because half an hour later the green acid lake could be seen clearer. Because of this, I wish I could go there again to see it clearly. We went down because the smell of sulfur became thicker.
We finally could see the track that we took at night.
The crater was NOT the only eyegasm we had that day!! The surrounding was breathtaking…I love seeing another mountain tried to peek through the white cloud. We we descended from the crater we never expected to see this!
I thought the view was other worldly. I live in the city and scenery like that is something I will never see in the place where I live. I am so happy I joined the trip…I love nature, always am, but I haven’t been able to spent time with her beauty for years. I surely wish I can do another trip on the next school holiday.
If you read the information above, it mentions about sulfur mining. The miners are people who live around the volcano. They came there ignoring the sulfur fume and took as many sulfur rocks they can carry down.
It was amazing to see these workers…we struggle on our way to descend from the volcano because it was steep and the small rocks made it slippery, if we didn’t put our foot the right way we would slide down…those workers while carrying the rocks, walked down easily and some of them only use flip-flop!!
Those mine workers learn to speak foreign language so that they can accompany foreign tourists and of course they will get extra cash for guiding them. Their English is not fluent but still able to understand. There were a lot of foreign tourist that day…but the most amazing one was a tourist from China who went to a volcano wearing wedges!!! I didn’t take picture because I didn’t want to be rude. It was the wrongest foot outwear I have ever seen! She struggled to get down and always leaned on her boyfriend.