Category Archives: Java

The View – Kawah Ijen

After seeing this photo of Ijen I knew I wanted to visit:

Kawah Ijen

From the photos it looked gorgeous – a turquoise crater lake in the middle of a group of volcanoes. But after a red-eye road trip to the base, and a difficult 2-hour drive up the mountain, and a hike up, the overcast sky became nothing but fog. Visibility was only a few feet in some places. All we saw was this:

View from the top – you’ll have to use your imagination because this is all we saw. In theory, the view of the volcano is best from right here.

I’m 0 for 2 on attempts at seeing volcanoes on this trip to Java. I almost turned back but then we took a different hike to see the sulfur mining on the other side of the mountain.

Indonesian Military Escort

The plan was to meet up with Dina’s brother near the base of the mountain, since he has a more powerful car and you’d need it to get up the steep mountain.  Her brother said he’d have a friend drive us up. Again, exceptionally nice when you consider this is a difficult 2 hour drive. What I didn’t realize was that her brother was Indonesian military!  We pulled into an Indonesian military base that morning, and Dina’s brother’s friend drove us up in his military jeep.

Indonesian Military - enroute to the Ijen volcano in Java

Spontaneous 7-hour Road Trip

Time to move Plan B – Gunung Bromo trip is canceled. Ahhh!  Bromo’s an active volcano, and it’s been particularly active recently, so we were told it’s just not safe. Roads are closed off and you can’t get anywhere remotely near to see it.  [Note to Indonesia: please set up a website that gets updated with this sort of information. It would go a looooong way towards making you a tourist-friendly country. Thanks.].

Plan B was to go to Ijen, a group of stratovolcanoes on the same island of Java, in Indonesia.  Our target was Kawah Ijen, a beautiful volcano with a turquoise-colored acid crater lake.

At 11pm we – Nadya, her cousin Dina, and Dina’s friend Afit – all hopped in the car. Now there’s a slight language barrier so perhaps I didn’t completely understand. I thought we were heading out to get food, and it turns out we had started driving towards Kawah Ijen. It’s a 7 hour drive!  5 hours just to the base of the mountain where we’d change cars.

Gungung Bromo, Indonesia’s largest volcano

After leaving Bali at 9am, we arrived at Surabaya (SUB) on the island of Java at 9am. Nadya and I were picked up at the airport by her cousins friend, who was kind enough to drive us 2.5 hours to her cousins place.  That’s exceptionally nice – would you do that for a friend’s friend visiting?   Would you drive 2.5 hours to pick up a friend’s cousin’s new friend at the airport?

The plan was to head to Gungung Bromo, their largest volcano to watch it at sunrise.  We got a ride to her cousins, at which point we’d we’d take another leg of transportation towards the base of the mountain, and leave for the mountain around 4am. It’s a lot of effort but Lonely Planet Indonesia (Travel Guide) raved about it.

Indonesia has 129 volcanoes (debated number; some place the number as more than 150), most in the world, and none are more beautiful than Gunung Bromo, on the eastern side of the island of Java (same island as Jakarta, Indonesia, where U.S. President Barack Obama once lived). There’s actually 40 volcanoes on the island of Java alone, but beautiful postcards from Indonesia with a volcano are typically of Bromo. It’s impressive!

Wings Air — Cheapest Flight I’ve taken

My flight from Bali (DPS) to Java (SUB) was $29 on Wings Air. That’s the least I’ve spent on a flight up to this point. It’s a prop plane. That’s right, we’re flying a plane with a propeller. Hope we make it!

Wings Air - a prop plane to get us from Bali to Java
Wings Air. It’s a real plane. Just with propellers. Can this thing fly?

Closeup photo of the propeller of the Wing's Air prop plane
Closeup photo of the propeller from the plane. [It was taken through an airplane window so it’s a little grainy
You can see the propeller on the Wings Air plane pictured above. I had last taken one on my trip through Belize and that was an adventure!  Scary!  I’ll post about the Belize adventure after I finish posting about the 15-country Asia trip.

My $29 Wing's Air prop plane flight