Ijen Crater

Hi all!

Post Bromo, we headed to Jember where our hotel was located. We rested throughout the afternoon before checking our at 10pm that very same day. I know, it’s all kinds of screwed up and it made hotel bookings a confusing affair.

GM253 Hotel 

Address: Jalan Gajah Mada no. 253, 68131 Jember, Indonesia

According to the guide that brought us up to Ijen crater, it was colder that morning (we started our hike at about 2 am) then the day before. We also heard stories about his experiences with other customers, and how fast they could hike up. There was 1 marathon woman who could run the entire way up! Impressive!

The start of the hike was pretty mild and gets pretty steep mid-way until we reached the resting point. It became even steeper before it plateau out as we approached the crater top. Wearing shoes with a good grip is key because the ground was pretty sandy.

There’s always the “taxi” – human pulled carts, that will carry you up for a fixed price of 1 million rupiah, regardless of where you got on – if help is needed. Going down, the price varies depending on where you got on board. But it’s definitely a lot cheaper.

Ijen crater is famous for its blue fire, a natural phenomenon that can only be seen in the dark. The blue fire occurs as the sulphur oxidises in the air. So if you want to catch a glimpse, an early morning hike is a must. It was a pretty good day that day, so the smell of sulphur was not strong at the bottom of the crater. If you need gas masks, they are sold at the top of the crater.


The pipes laid along the crater carries the liquid sulphur from the source to a zone where the miners can collect them. As the sulphur cools, it changes from orange to yellow.



As the sun rises, the beautiful greenish-blue crater lake can be seen.



Miners carrying at least 20 kg of sulphur up and down the crater for a livelihood. According to our guide, most stay in the crater area for about 3 days to work before going home.



There are various hole dug along the crater rim which allows the miners to hide out from the cold winds at night.


The beautiful sunrise…IMG_7440

and a view of Mt Merapi from the crater.


After hiking down, we headed to our hotel in Surabaya to catch some snooze for the night before heading home. I would highly recommend the Artotel Hotel if you’re ever staying in Surabaya. The rooms are wonderful and it comes at a bargain price tag. 

Artotel Hotel Surabaya

Address: Jl Dr Soetomo 79 – 81, 60264 Surabaya, Indonesia

Now that I’ve finally caught up with all my travel posts, till the next post, bye!


Mt Bromo

Hi all!

My visit to Surabaya last year, near the end of October, was a desperate call for a break. It was a short trip, where we visited the popular Mt Bromo and Ijen crater (in a separate post). This was the 2nd time I was doing a night/early morning (i.e. in the dark) hike with my friend. We stayed at the Bromo Park Hotel Probolinggo, one of the better accommodation in the area. (Side note: It was also the most expensive hotel per day during our trip). Probolinggo was slightly far out, so we had to check out at midnight to head for the viewing platform for the sunrise view of Mt Bromo. Once at the base area, we had to change our vehicle into a jeep that drove us to the platform.

Bromo Park Hotel Probolinggo

Address: JL. Dr. Sutomo No. 70, 67217 Probolinggo, Indonesia

We were actually one of the first few stragglers to wait out a spot for the sunrise in the dark (we were there from 3 am). But because we had no clue on where to position ourselves for the best view of the sunrise with Mt Bromo in the foreground – we ended up in the wrong corner. It was very, very, extremely cold in the wee hours as we stood with our back against the strong wind for hours while waiting for the sun to rise. The sunrise was beautiful but it didn’t brought enough warmth to my body. I think my body went into a slight shock from all that cold because I started shivering uncontrollably once I was in the jeep as we made our way from the viewing peak to Mt Bromo.





This was how all the jeeps looked!


The hill in the background was the route we took from the viewing platform to the foot of Mt Bromo. The black sand was actually the volcanic ash from the volcano. We were quite fortunate that the wind was not too strong that day. But I would highly recommend wearing a surgical mask and doubling up to cover your face with a scarf (when needed). This would help block out the ash from getting all over you. The temperature also started to warm up here and I recovered marginally from the cold overload earlier.



Once we alighted, we decided to take a horse ride up (100,000 rupiah (I think) – one way) and walk down to experience the 2 different modes of transport. It was my first time riding a horse and can I just say how scary it was?! On flat ground it was generally okay but there was a portion the horse had to go up-slope and that’s when I feared I would fall off. Dismounting was also a problem because you had to jump off the back of the horse onto a sandy slope.




After dismounting, we started our climb up the steps to the crater. It was a pretty okay with crowd stopping every few steps so going up was pretty chill.




There was quite a lot of smoke billowing from the centre so visibility was not the best. But it was really cool to hear the roaring of the volcano! It sounded like a hibernating dinosaur or something. You do have to be very careful when moving along the crater. It’s almost a one-way traffic for the most part so it’s really important to give way to avoid falling.


Just look at this beautiful view from the crater! Somehow, the terrain reminds me of the moon.







It was a fun but really cold trip and till the next post, bye!


Hi all!

After Tainan, we headed to Taipei, where I had my first visit to Shifen – a very delayed visit, given the number of times I’ve been to Taiwan. It’s quite far out and if you wish to visit Jiufen and Shifen at the same time, I would highly advise you to start your day early. IMG_7159



We were fortunate enough to witness the train travelling along the tracks where we would release the lanterns. It’s so interesting how everyone starts shouting “train is coming” and there’s this scramble to get out of the way and whip out our cameras/phones to capture this interesting event.


IMG_7102 IMG_7106

Shifen waterfall is pretty small, but the walk up there from the train station is beautiful. We had lunch at a restaurant on our way up and this friendly auntie serves delicious and affordable home cook dishes that warmed our souls.




Literally translated into black mountain pork sausage (黑山猪香肠) – don’t forget to have it with the raw garlic they provide on the side. The garlic cuts through the grease and makes each bite crunchy, flavourful and refreshing.


The next day was a visit to Taipei Zoo, which was pretty warm before we headed down to Shenkeng Old Street. The old street had changed so much that it’s no longer worth the effort to go there.




IMG_7253 IMG_7197


We also made our way down to Yangmingshan (阳明山) – albeit pretty late so we couldn’t visit the calla lily farms at zhu zi hu (竹子湖). Instead we headed to xiao you keng (小油坑), qing tian gang (擎天岗) and leng shui keng (冷水坑).

Xiao you keng is the foot of the volcanic Mt. Qixing. If time permits, I would have love to hike up to the peak. But alas, we walked about the area until the next bus comes to brings us to qing tian gang.



Qing tiang gang is a lava terrace that has a flat terrain. There are quite a number of stray dogs when you first walk towards the grassland. There are also a few cows and their huge poop along the pathway so be careful on where you step. From here, we “hike” down towards leng shui keng – a hot springs area. But it was near 5 pm, so we had to hurry to catch the last few buses out of the mountain. Plus, bus timings towards the end of the day become less frequent and erratic due to mountain weather. So, it’s best to have some leeway when planning your departure from the area.








Till the next post, bye!