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Games and stakes in playgrounds

Games and stakes in playgrounds

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Java : the volcanic island

Posted by Floriane Romain Worldtour on September 21 2014, 11:01am

Categories: #Indonesia

We left Jakarta and its pollution to visit the rest of Java Island. Java is the most active volcanic island in the world and has 126 volcanoes. Impossible for us to hike all of these volcanoes but we chose 4 of them, all different:

We started with Papandayan volcano, south of Jakarta. This volcano erupted in 2006 and is still active. We went there with motorbikes (we were not the drivers) and we spent then half day there to walk (and swim…). It’s an easy hike of about one hour and then you walked on an almost flat floor. It’s a good start if you’re not use to do long hikes and it is also a good opportunity to get close to the sulphur sources. Sulphur is a volcanic mineral which smokes smell like egg… not really a nice smell !

We also passed some hot springs (hot enough to cook an egg, as water was boiling… ) but in some other parts, cold water meets warm water and we could have a nice bath there, we really liked it.

Our trip (veryyyy long by bus) brought us then to Yogyakarta in Central Java. This cultural city is the capital of “batik”: traditional fabrics made with hot wax and different layers of colours. We did couchsurfing in a very special place: We were hosted by Allison, her 2 year old son and her flatmates (an indo-Dutch couple with 2 children) and they have the particularity of welcoming everyone who asks for a bed. In their house they have more than 10 mattresses on the floor… It’s perfect to meet new people (we were about 10 couchsurfers when we were there) but it looks more like a hotel than a real couchsurfing… We still spent a nice time in Yogyakarta. 

We visited the biggest Buddhist temple of the world: the Borobudur temple. It is very impressive and well conserved.

During this visit we met Salomé and Quentin, a French couple in holidays with whom we quickly discussed. Together we decided to climb the Mount Merapi: the most active volcano on Java and one of the most difficult to climb (on Java). The next day, we started our hike with a guide at 1AM…. The trek takes approximately 4 hours and we wanted to be at the summit for the sunrise…But we were not sure to be fit enough…Fortunately, we were all almost at the same level of fitness and with the motivation of each other we can do everything (or almost….).

Hiking at night with head lamps and still fresh air is really nice… and it also permits you to arrive at the summit just before sunrise… So we had to keep going if we wanted to be on time. The path is really steep and slippery! Fortunately we could count on the support of everybody to go ahead! And when we arrive at the “Plateau” (just before the last part of the crater) after 3.15 hours climbing we were really happy! Our guide did a small fire to give us some energy before the last (more difficult) part!

But because Salomé has fear of heights, Quentin and she decided to stop at the plateau. Romain and I continued hiking, but the last part was more climbing than hiking! First we had to walk in sand, so when you do one step you go back from two…. And then it was a lot of rocks, so we had to use our hands also to go up!!! But what a nice feeling when we arrived at the top! It as a 9km trek with a 1600 m of vertical gain in 4.15hours!!! But it’s really cold at 2900 m above sea level at 5.30AM…
Fortunately the sun came really fast to give us some warmth! Soooo nice to see the sunrise from here…. 

Unfortunately it was time to go down… and if the way up was difficult, the way down was worst… But we finally arrived at the village where a delicious banana chocolate pancake was waiting for us!!!! Hmmm Yummi!

As we were now trained ( ;-) ) we decided to climb Mount Bromo. We took the train (economic class…) to go there !! 8 hours with no space for the legs and very straight seats… checked!! But it gave us the opportunity to meet Laura, a German girl in holidays who hosted us in her hotel room for free because she had two your beds in her room.

We waked up a 3AM. Laura took the 4x4 and we went on foot (it’s free and it’s more freedom…. And more calories burnt) We first climbed to the first (and lowest) view point to see the sunrise on the mount Bromo.It’s an easy hike to here, but then, to avoid paying the entrance fees for the Bromo, we took the free option: A 20 kilometres hike, with 8 km in the “desert volcanic area”. It was really impressive! And we were really proud when we arrived at the summit of Mount Bromo after all these efforts and still all our money in our pockets ;-)!!!

We even had enough energy to run down in the ashes…

 Okay, the way back up to the village was a bit difficult so we slept from 2PM till 2 AM!!! (Why 2AM??? Because I think we like it… so we did another hike at 2 AM to see to sunrise from the second (and higher) viewpoint !!! What a lovely sunrise!! We highly recommend you to go to Bromo, with free version or even with 4x4… it really worth it!

At last but not least, we visited the sulphur collectors of Mount Kawah Ijen. To go there we decided to rent a motorcycle: the road to go is new, so the scooter is the cheapest option. If you make a stop in Banyuwangi to go to Ijen, then we advise you to rent your motorbike at Tripoli agency. This new agency is very reliable and the boss has a lot of advices about almost everything ;-)… And of course, if you think of driving at night, take a jacket and even gloves because it’s really cold on bikes at night in the mountains…

We left from the hotel at 1AM. It’s one hour drive until the bottom of the volcano and then 1.30 hour on foot to arrive at the summit of the crater and 30 minutes to go down the crater near the sulphur « mine ». So we left early to get a chance to see the “blue fire”: the blue smoke produced when the sulphur gas under pressure meets the air. But we can only see it during night time!  

We started the hike at 2 AM. Compared to Merapi it’s really easy! 1hour and 30 minutes later we were at the crater’s border. From here we had a great view on the blue fires…but we wanted to be closer. We followed the path taken by the sulphur collectors down to the crater. When we reached the bottom, we needed to breathe with our masks and our scarves because the smoke was really dense… Our eyes were also burning…. And when we looked at the workers there, they were only with t-shirt and jeans and sometimes no mask…. And they have to carry more than 80 kilograms on their shoulders… 

One more time, this volcano is different from the previous ones we did before. And even if we couldn’t see the sunrise from where we were, the sun brought nice colours on the volcanic lake of the crater!!! Really nice before driving back to the hotel (and having a huge breakfast).

After all these night hikes, we need some rest… Next destination Bali and its beaches, its diving sites, its French school…
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