Friday, September 14, 2012
East Java: Kawah Ijen
It is true that the harsher the environment is, the more breath-taking it usually is. This goes to Ijen Crater (Kawah Ijen) as well. Want to look at the smoking sulphuric acid, blue acidic crater lake, and above the cloud experience? No better transport to reach there than with your feet. Yeah, so it was another hiking session! Yay!
We started at about 6am. The hike was about 3km and it was not really an easy hike, as the path was sandy hence the grip was not as firm. The downhill hike was especially tough. I slipped and almost fell so many times that Swen and Marcus said their cold sweat broke out whenever they saw me slipped. Luckily I was able to regain balance and did not fall down even once.
Even though it was quite a tough climb, the view was spectacular.
We passed by the sulphur miners, who risk their lives to go really close to the acidic crater lake and carry these heavy baskets of solid sulphur which can be as heavy as 90kg I heard, down the hill. I was a bit taken aback when this miner saw me with camera and asked me to take picture of him. Of course he expected some return, cigarette or small tip.
When we finally arrived at the peak, we first noticed the smoke that rose from the big "hole".
Walking along the outer circle of the caldera, and feel ignorant of the danger that lurks right below us. Imagine if the volcano suddenly becomes agitated, I don't think we can run away. Our guide, Bajo told us that we should go before daylight to see the "Blue Fire" of Ijen, a phenomenon most visible at night when the sulfur catch fire and burns with blue flames. However, we decided to give it a miss due to budget-constraint and the lack of proper gear.
Danger! Of course, with the acidity of the lake as low as pH 0.5 I don't think anyone wants to have even a droplets of the water to land on the body.
Last but not least, tourist pictures for all of us wa ha ha.
Getting to Ijen Crater was not easy. From Surabaya Juanda airport, the car ride took us almost 7 hours to reach the Arabica Homestay where we spent a night. The ride up the mountain was... not fun at all.