As if I thought anything could top Bromo – 14 hours later I was beginning to hike up to the Ijen crater. This was certainly more of a trek. Walking an hour and a half, straight up the hill, at 1:30 a.m. gave us all a little work out.
When you reach the top of the crater, it’s still pitch dark but you can see a slight blue flame in the distance. We scaled down a sketchy, rocky path that led us 45 mins down to the bottom of the crater to get a closer look. It was mesmerizing. Again, my photos don’t do this wonder justice. National Geographic names it the largest blue fire site in the world. It’s because of the ignited sulphuric gas that comes through cracks of the earth at 600 degrees Celsius, that we see it burn blue – only in the night.
Finally we climbed back up to the crater rim and waited for sunrise. Feeling exhausted yet absolutely mind blow at this point, you start to see the acid crater lake appear. The electric turquoise colour of this lake was stunning. I may have actually enjoyed this site a little bit more than any other the past few days. The Ijen Crater lake is said to be the largest highly acidic crater lake in the world.
The only twist to this whole adventure was the active Sulphur mine that was in production with workers as we poke around the ‘tourist’ sight to see the blue flame. I wasn’t expecting this. I didn’t even think about a mine like this to still exists. It was heartbreaking to be honest. I felt guilty as I realize how hard these men are working, while I enjoy the sights and snap photos around them. It was after this that I looked up details on the mine and learnt every night they work, they make two trips up and down the crater with sulphuric rock loads reaching 60kg. For each load, there only earning $6 EUR. Don’t quote me on that, but knowing its in this ballpark is thought provoking enough.
A few men asked us for water and snacks as we trekked down, and I couldn’t have been happier to hand it over. It’s the least I could do. One thing I did wish to do, that would be beneficial, is but these men masks. All the tourist can rent a mask to go down near the the gases and these men are working in it ever night with no protection. This is causing numerous respiratory diseases in the long term for everyone working.
All in all, It was a beautiful, thought provoking-mind blowing, morning to be apart of. Another fantastic experience for the books.