The Enchanting Blue Flame in Ijen Crater

It all started with a video I saw on the internet. There was this guy backpacking all around Indonesia and he made a short video showcasing each exotic place he’s been. And Ijen crater is one of those places. When I saw it, instantaneously I paused the video right there and googled Ijen crater. I am Indonesian and I live in Indonesia. I never heard of the word Ijen. It is a shame that this guy (presumably American) knew this place but I (Indonesian) didn’t. I told myself that Ijen will be my next destination. And now I can say, I have been to Ijen and saw the enchanting blue flame in Ijen crater.

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This is my story 🙂

Ijen is located in Banyuwangi, East Java. I took this trip with best mate, Wayne from Jakarta. In order to get to Ijen, we flew from Jakarta to Surabaya, capital city of East Java. We stayed overnight in Surabaya in order to take the earliest train from Surabaya to Banyuwangi.

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It was a long ride from Gubeng Station, Surabaya to Karang Asem Station, Banyuwangi.

We took executive class departing at 09:00 and arriving at 15:00.

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After arriving in Banyuwangi station, we got picked up to our B&B. AirBnB is really helpful for this trip! Our host arranged us to meet a tour operator to Ijen crater and we made a deal with them. We took off from our B&B at 1 in the morning. Why that early? The blue flame is only visible in the wee hours so we had to rush to get there. The ride to Ijen mountain was about an hour. That was the craziest winding road I’ve ever been. And the driver just didn’t slow down. He drove like F1 racer but the winding part is like 80% of the road. I felt sick so I took a mint candy and closed my eyes.

When we got there, it was dark. No light whatsoever. I only saw some people with flashlight. My fellow hikers. It’s dark and it’s slanted to be about 45 degrees up. It took us 1,5 hours to get to the top.

Along the hike, we met many sulphur miners.

They have one the hardest jobs in the world. Why? They carry 70 to 100 KGs (around 220 lbs) of sulphur (one time) and walk through a very dangerous area. The crazy part is for each KG, they are paid merely RP 910,- (around 0.07 USD). Imagine this. They have to hike like 4 KMs up (very steep) and almost 1 KM down to the crater to mine. So in total, they’ll have to do 10 KM both for mining the sulphur and taking them to the weighing area down there.

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One of the miners in Ijen. If you want to take photos of him, prepare some cash. He’d be asking for it right after you clicked you camera. “Money?”

A miner offered us this sulphur-based carving

A miner offered us this sulphur-based carving

I was shocked to find out that in order to see the blue flame, we had to go down the crater through some crazy paths that the miners take. Thank God that we have our guide with us. Oh I forget to mention that our guide is a miner. He works seasonally as guide as well.

The way down wasn’t like anything I imagined. It was dark and we solely depended on flashlight. The steep level is staggering. It’s not for amateurs and it’s actually forbidden for visitors because it’s too dangerous. My feet were shaking like crazy going down. It’s slippery because of the sand and it started to drizzle. Since it was a really narrow rocky path, whenever a miner wants to pass by, we’ll have to move somewhere and let him pass by first. No rail or anything like that. All giant rock. And if you slip, I’ll say adios. The closer we hiked to the crater, the stronger the scent of sulphur was so we wore our gas mask.

After a grueling 45 minutes, we finally got to the crater. It was AMAZING. We went down there and it all paid off.

The famous blue flame

We spent some time down at the crater before hiking up to the top. As the sun was rising, I could see the way down to the crater. Thankfully it was dark when we got down to the crater and I couldn’t see anything clearly aside from the area with our flashlight. Had I seen all the crazy steep paths, I wouldn’t had gone down to the blue flame, I’d pass. Nope.

Typing this somehow makes me reflecting on life. Often times, I ask God to show me what His plan really is down the line for me. But thankfully, He doesn’t do it because if He did, I’d be too scared to move because I thought it’s all impossible. One step at at time 🙂

Alright back to Ijen 😉

When we reached the top of Ijen mountain, the sun was ready to rise.

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The beloved guide who saved my life several times lol

The beloved guide who saved my life lol

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That’s the way down to the crater. After this, you’ll have to pass some really narrow path with cliff on your sides. Not for the faint-hearted fella.

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Overall, it was a great experience for me. I highly recommend this place for anyone looking for some adventure and looking for something incredible the nature offers. Don’t hesitate to book your flight and accommodation to visit Ijen. 🙂

Until next time!

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Seeing Another Side of Bali with a Bike

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If you have a day to spare in Bali, make sure you fill that day with a full day biking. It is so refreshing. I took a bike tour for this. Early in the morning, I got picked up from my hotel to have breakfast. We had a nice mountain view. What I like from this bike tour is how I get to see where Balinese lives, their daily activities and the amazing Jatiluwih rice field.

Actually I have posted this before but I realized that I have so many pictures in my computer, might as well just share them 🙂

So here they are:

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The view for breakfast

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The participants in this tour and our tour guide in the restaurant for breakfast

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After breakfast, we’re brought to this place where the bike tour officially started.

Met this Balinese woman who's washing her clothes

Met this Balinese woman who’s washing her clothes

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Bumped into some kids playing around

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That is the place where usually Balinese “perform” their healing treatment. Every traditional house in Bali will have this “ward”

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A traditional rice container

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Traditional Balinese still uses wood to cook

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Not only on smooth road, but also on path like this

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It’s just the end of a Hindu celebration so everywhere in Bali, I found this.

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Harvesting

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Up to the hill

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Steep hill where I slipped

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The wind. The view. Perfection.

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Ubud, The Medicine that We Need

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Ubud is easily one of my favorite places in Bali. It has been known as the cultural centre of Bali. When you get there, you’ll find many cultural centres like dance studio, museum and the likes. If you are looking for somewhere to just easily layback with no much noise from the party scene, I’d highly recommend you visiting Ubud. Ubud is actually featured in Julia Roberts’ movie, Eat, Pray and Love. According to the local, the word “ubud” means medicine. This place is full of traditional healers. People from the region will go to Ubud to find healing.

I stayed in a hotel closed enough to the centre of Ubud. There are many stores along the street. What I like the most is I can walk safely on the sideway without worrying about being hit by car or motorbike.

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I had read a lot about Campuhan Ridge Walk in Ubud and decided to give it a try. It was easily one of the best view in Ubud. I will not provide you how to get there since there are a lot of blogs already shared that kind of information. Actually the real reason is because I can’t recall how to get there ahaha.

So here are some pictures for you to enjoy.

The start of the walk

The start of the walk

It is a pretty long walk but it’s totally worth the view and fresh air. I only met a couple of fellow trackers. I went there in low holiday season, probably because of that. It was good though. Less crowd.

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From the top of the hill, you will be able to see some villages

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After a really long walk, finally I got to see some signs of living

Village on top of the hill

Village on top of the hill

After you found a village, you’ll notice a “cafe” with a really nice view of paddy field. Thank God for this place. I was drenched with sweat and needed a place to rest. It was drizzling by the time I reached that place so after I finished my drink, I quickly asked about the walk back. The waiter suggested me to walk back the track I took instead of continue walking straight down. The walk straight down is 2 to 3 times longer. Thankfully, one of the guys were willing to take me to downtown Ubud with his motorbike. I paid him 25 thousand Rupiah for that.

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I asked someone to take me to downtown Ubud with his motorbike

I asked someone to take me to downtown Ubud with his motorbike

Jatiluwih Rice Fields, Bali

Ok. To kick start this travel blog, I am gonna start with my favorite place, Bali! 🙂

In case you don’t know, Bali is one of many beautiful islands in a tropical country called Indonesia. This time I will share my recent trip to Bali. I have lots to post here but to ease the reading process, I will divide this trip into a few posts.

I’ll start first with this place called Jatiluwih Rice Fields. Before I give you any background on this, I’ll let you enjoy the picture 😉

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It is located in the west part of the island. It has been named a UNESCO Cultural Landscape for their known traditional irrigation Subak system. This irrigation system has been conserved for centuries and passed down from generation to generation.

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You may notice some people with their bikes in the picture. I took a full day bike tour and this field is covered in the bike tour. I’d recommend you going with a tour from TripAdvisor. It’d be less than USD 50 for a day tour. They will pick you up from hotel, take you to have breakfast in a decent restaurant with mountain view, guide you riding through Balinese neighborhood (which is very nice), make sure you don’t fall and injure yourself (yup, that’s me. I slipped and almost fell from a high mountain to a river), give you a cold banana during break time (It is THE most delicious banana I’ve ever tasted! if you have ever walked or ridden a bicycle under direct sun for the whole day, you’d understand this haha) and provide you a tasty traditional Balinese lunch.

Despite the heat and long ride, lemme tell you something: TOTALLY WORTH IT. The view is just amazing. The breeze, oh my…

Ok. I’ll stop talking and let you savor the picturesque scenery 😉

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Sadly, this is the end of the post. Oh how about start following this blog so you won’t miss awesome posts from me! 😉

OK, guys! See you again!

Jonn