Monday, November 29, 2010

Java Trip (VIII)

Kawah Ijen

With the Bromo Sunrise Tour coming to an end at 8.30am, I set sight on my next stop – Kawah Ijen, or Ijen Crater.

The tour operator picked me up at Yoschi Hotel at 10am. There were three other participants – two Belgians and an Australian. Kawah Ijen was pretty far away, and the access road was VERY BAD. We spent that night at a coffee plantation in Sempol.

The following day we woke up at 3.30am, had breakfast at 4am, and check-out from the hotel at 4.30am. At around 5 in the morning we reached the Ijen National Park. From the entrance, we had to walk 3km up the hill.

Before I left for Java, someone had already warned me that the 3km hike to the rim of the crater would be very tough. I did everything I could to reduce the weight of my bag: The 908-page Lonely Planet and one of my two lenses were left in the car; I had eight AA size batteries. The Australian lady happened to need AA batteries, so I happily loaned four to her.

Unfortunately, I made a mistake for not bringing a raincoat or umbrella. It started to rain as we were ready to set out, and I had to look for shelter. The Austrian lady, who had an umbrella, was way ahead of me. I almost wanted to ask her, “Can we share the umbrella?”

It took me more than an hour before I made it to the rim of the crater. My efforts paid off, as I was presented with a view which marveled me. I took picture with great care. The wind was strong. I was concerned that I would be blown off the ground and tumble into the crater.

Kawah Ijen also produced sulfur. Workers transported loads of sulfur from the crater to the foot of the hill. It was a tough job which paid very little. I was told that the workers got 600 Rp for every kilogram they carried.

By the way, I was proud to be the only visitor who was neither Westerner nor Indonesian on that day…

Sulfur collectors:

The sign reads: All visitors strictly forbidden to go down to the crater… (But the sulfur collectors kept persuading us to descend.)

Two baskets of sulfur:


  1. The 3km hike was well worth it wasn't? I would love to see the crater but judging from the itinery, it looked like a tough journey.

  2. You are brave and adventurous. The views must be awesome and this is certainly a thrilling experience.

  3. the volcano photos look very much like those my mum took from Bandong....

  4. when we were there, it was so hazy that u almost cudnt see the lake... only when a sudden drizzle came, that we were able to catch a quick glimpse of it. and thats about it.

  5. So awesome your pictures!! Did you collect some sulphur too? Hehe

  6. By the way, please vote for me by clicking "like" here:

    Thank you! :)

  7. Awesome shots, KS. It must have been quite an experience and achievement to be so near to a volcano crater. I see water and steam at the same time. So, is this an active or an inactive volcano?

    The sulphur looks so pure. How far down do the workers have to carry the load? How is it mined? Manually?

  8. Looks like a tough hike indeed. Sometimes it's not the distance... The lady should have offered to share her umbrella!

    What LP did you have? I love their books but they are so thick. I know some people who cut the various sections of the book and only bring the ones they need.

  9. Mei Teng
    Yes, the 3km hike was worth it.

    Autumn Belle
    This is nothing adventurous la...

    Ha... there are plenty of volcanoes in Java.

    Ah... it must be daunting that the weather was bad when you were there.

  10. Witch
    The workers sold sulfur, but I didn't buy.
    I have 'liked' your travel post.

    The volcano was active, but not erupting.
    The workers carried the sulfur up from the crater, then down the hill. It was 3km down the hill.
    I didn't go down the crater, but I can't tell you in details.

    The LP I used was Indonesia.
    Oh no... I'm not going to cut out sections from my book.

  11. 我们去台湾时准备了雨衣与雨伞却都用不上,呵呵。这里的景色的确特别(是矿湖吧?),相片都拍得很好。。。

  12. I've always preferred Insight Guides to LP mainly for the colors in the former. Your thoughts?

  13. I have never liked the smell of sulphur. My first experience was at some volcano in Japan, could have died from the smell, haha.

    Ffirst time I see solid sulphur. Why will anyone buy it, other than to scare snakes?

  14. So close and yet so far. How long do you need to descend to the crater? Could have a quickie touch n go if its merely a few minutes.

  15. wow, 3km hike up the hill, and somemore doing that at 5am.. really tough job for me :p

  16. but i really got to agree with you that the effort pays off with the great view of the crater.. that's magnificent!!!

  17. hmmm i started to wonder why you are going to this kind of place?? is it because of your job nature??

  18. how much is 600Rp?? around only 20 sen?? wow, that's really very little money, but then how much can they earn from that two basket of sulfur and how much they can collect a day??

  19. Grass

    Insight Guide is for reading prior to the trip. Lonely Planet is the bible during the trip.

    Lonely Planet says sulfur is used to make cosmetics.

  20. bananaz
    I didn't descend to the crater. Lonely Planet says 30 min.

    Maybe my job is too boring, so I go to this kind of place.
    I believe the workers earn very little.

  21. interesting fact bout kawah ijen: it's the world's largest acidic crater lake.

  22. I would love to see the crater so closely but I am worried about the air's condition. I might faint. I will remember to bring my rain coat for my Mt Kinabalu trip!

  23. kyh
    Thanks for the info.

    It is not advisable to get so close to the crater.

  24. So did you go down to the crater?

  25. Haha!! yeah the lady should have shared the umbrella with you since you loaned her your batteries!

  26. Hi Kheng Siong,
    can you recall how much was the tour package from Bromo (or near Cemoro Lawang) to Ijen?

    Thanks. We are going in Feb and an agency quoted us 2,000,000 rp for vehicle and driver + petrol + driver's accommodation and meals for 3 days from Surabaya. Is this a ok rate from your experience. Thanks.


  27. Lin
    Drop me an email.
    khengsiong dot chew at gmail dot com