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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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The beautiful sunrise…IMG_7440

and a view of Mt Merapi from the crater.

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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!

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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.

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This was how all the jeeps looked!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

Batam, a short ride over

Hi all!

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I took a short ferry ride (~45 mins) over the long CNY holiday with the family to Batam. Yes, it’s been super long since then but I’ve only had the time now to sit down and edit the draft that has been rotting away since Feb. School was cray this sem. Anyway, back to the story, I personally would recommend going to Batam only as a day trip from Singapore. Besides massages and food, there’s simply nothing to do over there.

The first day there we visited Tua Pek Kong temple in the afternoon after lunch in Nagoya. A rather small temple, nothing much to see.

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Then, the fam split up between the massage and non-massage team. After which, we gathered for dinner and on our way there, our driver drove past this bridge, that is like the Golden gate bridge of San Francisco in Batam. We stop quickly for some pictures before moving off to the kelong, as we were (or at least I was) trying to chase the beautiful yolk before it sets into the horizon.

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Some stalls lining the streets en route to the kelong…

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The yolk from the car as we drove across the bridge

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And … we failed to reach the kelong before the lovely red yolk sets. We missed it just by the tip of our fingers too 😦

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Kelong is a seafood place where you can choose the seafood you want that’s available from their farm waters, and they’ll cook it for you. We got super fresh seafood and at a pretty good deal too!

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The different kinds of seafood are reared in each square

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Dining with a view from mother nature…

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After dinner, the restaurant owners offered to get some fireworks for us to play with. It’s super fun (and a bit terrifying because of the unexpected recoil when the fireworks go off from the stick you’re holding). It’s not something I could do in Singapore and it was a good experience. The first time I did it, the fireworks didn’t go off from the popper stick thingy. I was holding my arms in the air the entire time my uncle’s popper was popping (lol, it rhymes!). Our guide kindly (and fearfully) took the stick from me to dip it in the seawater to extinguish any flames, so that we don’t end up with an exploded face. Lol. #epicfail

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Aren’t they simply beautiful? There’s so much pleasure derived from the simple joys in life.

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The next day consisted of another temple visit before heading to another kelong for lunch. You guys see the cycle here? haha, there’s really nothing much to do on the island.

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There were some cute statues representing the different zodiac animals at the temple compound (I’m only showing the rooster one here though).

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Just look at the row of coconut trees on the island directly across us…’Twas such a beautiful scenery that filled our eyes as we filled our stomach during lunch. Haha.

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We ended the trip with a boat ride in the waters surrounding the kelong before heading back to the hotel to rest and get ready for our night ferry back to Singapore. Till the next post, bye!

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