During my long road trips through Java, I got to see two alternating scenes outside the window. Either kilometers of green and sometimes dry (rice) fields or poor city districts around the train stations with sometimes even people living on the rails.
This impression changed as soon as I entered Bromo Tengger Semeru national park. This rolling landscape is so green, I think anything could grow on that soil. From scallions to strawberries, the farmers had everything to offer.
As I said I came to Cemoro Lawang to see Mt Bromo, the youngest crater of the Tengger massif. It’s by far not the biggest one they have in Indonesia but it is one of the most active. So it was erupting when I was there as well. I was rather fake sad about this fact though. How unlucky I can’t do the exhausting hike to the top… 😛 I still went to a panorama point for sunrise to watch the volcano erupting. But again there were too many clouds to see any sunrise and I got up at 4 for nothing. And of course my expectations to see Bromo spitting fire were soon belied as it only had another cloud above the crater.
So you can easily tell which one’s Bromo. The one in the front is Batok and the big one in the back is Semeru.
After that I was kind of disappointed, I mean it was still impressing to see as they all have very symmetrical shapes. But I decided to give it another go the day after. The special thing about Kawah Ijen is that it has the largest highly acidic crater lake on earth as well as blue lava. The blue fire can only be seen at night though, so we startet at 1 am to do hike up to the crater rim under the prettiest spangled sky of my life. It took one and a half our to climb down the crater hole to the blue fire. At this point we had to wear gas masks because of the sulfur gases. I had to concentrate on every step down the boulders with my lamp only showing me one meter ahead, while the workers with several kilos of sulfur on their shoulders passed by me at a rattling pace. They were wearing flip flops and no gas mask of course. I asked how much they earn and he said 15000 per kilo (=1€), which makes them quite wealthy in the area – otherwise they wouldn’t do it obviously. I later read that their expectancy is around 45 years.
The blue fire was amazing, honestly it is the most spectacular thing I have ever seen. You can hold you iPhone like 30 cm above one of the blue sparks on the ground. My camera couldn’t capture the light though. But every now and then the blue fire suddenly emits a round of sulfur gas. in that moment the mask is of no use at all and your eyes burn like hell. I immediately squinnied and got really scared as I couldn’t see where I was. Luckily one of the workers helped me out of there. It’s incredible how open-hearted these people are. After that I had enough and went back up to watch the sunrise of the acidic like. And we indeed had a good one this time (3rd time lucky!), even though the lake was covered in steam, but oh well I can’t complain.