After a short break of occidental life in Australia, it is time to get back to traveling backpacker-style again. Indonesia was not on our original list of countries to visit. However, after hearing many fellow travelers rave about it, we decided to squeeze it in.
With cheap flights to Indonesia, we flew out from Darwin, Australia. Our arrival into Bali made the beach city of Kuta an easy candidate for our first night stay, being only 15 minutes from the airport. It is so convenient that it felt like we never left Australia with so many Australian tourists around. It took us couple of hours to look for an almost livable, non-moldy hotel room that is within our budget. After spending a day walking among the crowds of tourists and touts, trying not to get ripped off when buying street food, we decide it is not the place for us, so we leave the next morning.
We board the first bus to Gilimanuk in the west of Bali, hop on a ferry, jump on a local ojek and finally arrive in Java at night. On the same night, we meet a French couple and decide to share a jeep to visit Kawah Ijen the next day.
Kawah (volcano) Ijen is one of the most beautiful volcanoes of Indonesia because of its baby-blue lake. It is also famous for its sulfur mine, which is still exploited today.
At our first sight of a sulfur miner, we are all in awe. He is carrying 2 heavy-looking baskets full of yellow blocks. Our guide informs us that the miners carry between 60 and 90 kg (130 to 200 pounds) of sulfur at one time. This figure seems a little outrageous so I try to lift the smallest basket. I can’t believe that it doesn’t even flinch as I try my hardest to lift it up. These miners are really hardcore.
Each time we pass a miner, we give him a piece of candy to help sooth his throat. We do not realize what this actually means until we are in sight of the caldera and are breathing in the sulfur vapors. It does not only smell like rotten eggs, but it tickles my throat and makes me cough as if I was breathing in pepper spray.
The view is amazing so we decide to hike down to the lake where the sulfur is extracted. The path is small and seems dangerous so we take our time. Thirty minutes later, we almost head back up because our eyes are tearful and we can hardly breath with all the smoke. Fortunately, the wind picks up a little and we suddenly see that we are almost there.
At the bottom, one of the miners decides to take a short break and show us around. He shows us the pipes that bring the hot liquid sulfur back to the surface. The miners stand next to the pipes and break blocks of solidified sulfur from the ground to fill their baskets.
A little hot stream is flowing from the side of the caldera to the lake. Both are at warm and at a pleasing temperature when I plunge my hand in.
On the way back, our guide explains to us that the miners do this 3.5 hours round-trip from the bottom of the crater to the trucks 2 to 3 times a day for which they are paid $7 USD on average. No health insurance or regular check-up is included.
As we head back, we make a few stops to see various trees like coffee, cinnamon, clove, and rubber. Our guide shows us these cool leaves that shrink when you touch it. We couldn’t get enough of it, touching all the leaves around us.
|What We Paid:||IDR||USD||Euro|
|– Jetstar flight from Cairns to Darwin, Australia||–||210/pp||155|
|– AirAsia flight from Darwin, Australia to Denpasar, Indonesia||–||190/pp||140|
|– Visa Upon Arrival for Indonesia||–||25/pp||18.50|
|– Taxi from Denpasar Airport to Kuta [30 mins]||40,000/ride||4.50||3.50|
|– Double room with private bath and AC in Kuta||180,000/double||20.50||15|
|– Street food||11,000/pp||1.50||1|
|– Restaurant dining||50,000/pp||5.50||4.50|
|– Taxi from Kuta to Ubung Bus Terminal [1 hour]||60,000/ride||7||5|
|– Bus from Ubung Bus Terminal to Gilimanuk [3 hours]||20,000/pp||2.50||1.50|
|– Ferry from Gilimanuk to Ketapang in Java [45 mins]||6,000/pp||1||0.50|
|– Ojek from ferry to Banyuwangi [or bemo costs 5,000 IDR pp]||20,000/ride||2.50||1.50|
|– Double room at Hotel Baru with private bath and AC||90,000/double||10||7.50|
|– Harry’s Javanese Restaurant for dinner||25,000/pp||3||2|
|– 4×4 Tour to Kawah Ijen||550,000/jeep||62||45.50|
|– Entrance to Kawah Ijen||15,000/pp||2||1.50|
|– Camera fee for Kawah Ijen||30,000/each||3.50||2.50|
|– Local bus from Banyuwangi to Kalibaru [1 hour]||10,000/pp||1.50||1|
|– Basic double with fan and free breakfast in Kalibaru||60,000/double||7||5|
|– Local dining in Kalibaru||20,000/pp||2.50||2|
|– Local bus with no AC from Kalibaru to Malang [7 hours]||30,000/pp||3.50||2.50|