Category Archives: Java

2 security checks. Really??

After an 8-hour layover in the Kuala Lumpar airport, it was time to head to Bahrain, a small country bordering Saudi Arabia.  Among the many security policies I find to be annoying are the policy for liquids. I finished my water, passed through security, and bought more water for the flight after passing through security.  Then came the surprise – the gate had their own security check with the same no-liquid policy. Really?  Is that needed?  After passing through, you’re basically quarentined at the gate, with no access to water or bathrooms until you can get on the plane.

We’re heading to the Middle East, so I guess two security checkpoints feels like a great idea. But it’s a long flight so not being able to have water is a challenge. They’ll bring you a little 6oz cup of water when they offer drinks. Awesome. Thanks Gulf Air!  Eck.  I had looked them up and they actually came highly rated online so we’ll see.

Indonesian BBQ fish – innovative grilling

I take photos of nearly every meal when I’m traveling and some readers* have  requested more photos of them. So, by popular demand, this post is on the Indonesian  BBQ fish we had in Java.

After a day of hiking up a volcano, we were ready for a post-volcano feast.  Travel is about pushing the envelope on your comfort zone, and this is a great example. We went to an authentic Indonesian BBQ fish place (seafood) – located outside at a Shell gas station! It turned out to be delicious! 

Photo tour of our Indonesian BBQ fish experience:

Dina featuring her new henna at our Indonesia BBQ fish dinner
Dina featuring her new henna at dinner
The waving method of grilling

Their method of grilling was a bit different than what I’m used to. They put the fish (in this case, red snapper, caught that morning) in between the 2 metal racks and put it on the grill, and then constantly fan it. I’ve posted photos here:

Indonesian BBQ fish - they use this waving method to grill
they wave air to the grill’s fire
Indonesian BBQ fish - very different than the grills we use
That’s our snapper on the grill

Costs:  dinner for 4 for under $8!

The delicious Red Snapper was in 2 types of marinade and turned out to be one of the best meals I’ve had! I bought dinner for the group, which included the fish, rice, veges, chili, and drinks, et al. Total bill for our Indonesian BBQ fish was $72,000 IDR (~$7.50 or so). I love Indonesia!

yum. Red Snapper off the Indonesian BBQ grill
yum. Red Snapper off the Indonesian BBQ grill

Choose your fish, they BBQ it up! - Indonesian BBQ fish in Igen, Java, IndonesiaChoose your fish, they drop in on the scale and BBQ it up!  Note – food station is right between the parking lot and the gas station

Where is the best Indonesian BBQ fish place located?

It’s actually located in the lot of a Shell gas station, in Ijen, Java, Indonesia. Welcome to Indonesia! You can see in the below photos – they just move the cars away for dinnertime. Seriously!?!

Scale for our Indonesian BBQ fish in a Shell gas station in Ijen Indonesia in Java
Just before we got our food I looked around…are we in a gas station? They set up a seafood restaurant in a Shell station.
Scale for our Indonesian BBQ fish in Ijen Indonesia in Java
Calamari and a scale…in a Shell station! You can see the Shell banner in the background. It was at a gas station

The experience made me crave Indonesian BBQ fish when I got home, so I looked up some recipes. Here’s the Indonesian BBQ fish recipe that I’m going to try:

Ikan Bakar Dua (aka Grilled Fish)


– 1 kg. fish
– 3 shallots
– 3 cloves of garlic
– 2 candlenuts
– 3 tbsp gula merah
– 1 tbsp tamarind paste
– 3 tbsp oil
– salt to taste


Chop the shallots and garlic finely and grind it with the candlenuts and salt into a paste. Add the gula merah and mix it well. Add the tamarind paste and the oil and mix well. Brush the fish with the marinade and let it marinate for an hour. Grill the fish on the barbecue until tender while brushing with the marinade. Recipe source

* A bunch of readers have requested “food porn” from my adventures through Asia, but the request that caught my attention most was Jess, founder of Jessica Alfreds Homemade. Her cooking is delicious!  Try it if you’re in NYC!

Sulfur Mining at Kawah Ijen volcano

I went hiking up a volcano!

Sulfur Mining at Kawah Ijen volcano

This post is from my day hiking up a volcano, where we discovered sulfur mining at Kawah Ijen volcano. It’s is the site of a labor intensive sulfur mining operation in Kawah Ijen volcano and acid crater lake, in eastern Java, Indonesia. Miners extract the sulfur and carry it 8,660 feet up and down the mountain.

Sulfur Mining photos from our Kawah Ijen volcano adventure are below.

photos from Sulfur Mining at Kawah Ijen volcano in Java, Indonesia |

Sulfur mining at Kawah Ijen volcano | Java, Indonesia
looked like fire
Man carries sulfur up from the sulfur mine, around the mountain, and then down
Can I help you carry something?

Sulfur mining at Kawah Ijen volcano | Java, IndonesiaStanding in front of the sulfur mine at Kawah Ijen volcano | Java, IndonesiaSulfur mining at Kawah Ijen volcano | Java, Indonesia 41Holding sulfur at a sulfur mine at Kawah Ijen volcano | Java, Indonesia

the yellow brick road leads to... this -- a sulfur mine at Kawah Ijen volcano | Java, Indonesia
the “yellow brick road” leads to… this.

More great photography on Kawah Ijen that were posted on the Boston Globe website. You can also find more photography of the sulfur mines at Ijen here, here, and here.

"eating" sulfur deposits at the Kawah Ijen volcano Kawah Ijen volcano
note – eating sulfur deposits is not recommended

Kawah Ijen – I don’t recommend eating sulfur deposits

My favorite photos of Kawah Ijen come from the Boston Globe’s photography section, The Big Picture, which has been getting much better recently. I’ll track down the direct photo.

Hike up to see Ijen volcano

As we hiked up towards the peak of the Kawah Ijen volcano crater, visibility got worse with each step

Hiking up to see Kawah Ijen
Hiking up to see Kawah Ijen. Visibility declined rapidly – at one point I couldn’t see 5 feet in front of me!

So much for the amazing Kawah Ijen view of a turquoise crater lake surrounded by Volcanoes.

At least I’d soon discover the sulfur mining at Ijen.

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