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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Blue Flame Volcano of Surabaya

Ijen Crater Hike, Surabaya , Indonesia

Our next stop is the Ijen Volacano. It's one of the two rare volcanoes in the world that produces blue flames, the other one is in Iceland. The blue flame is produce when the sulphur from the crater gets expose to air molecules which creates the blue light effect. The Ijen crater is located in Banyuwangi Regency of East Java, Indonesia.

How to get there: Bromo Area to Banyuwangi
1. The previous day we took a Van Sharing from Bromo Area to Probolingo at 10:00 Am.
Van Sharing: 75,000 Rupiah (Booked with Yoschi Hotel) Inform driver drop off point for bus to Banyuwangi.

2. Two options from Probolingo to Ijen Area: Train/ Bus 
a. Train from Probolingo to Banyuwangi has two timings 11 am and 4 pm. 
b. Bus from Probolingo to Banyuwangi. 
We didn't alight in the bus terminal instead at a bus agency named Kantorpos. Economy bus: 70,000 Rupiah (6-7 hrs), Business/Express bus: 125,000 Rupiah (4-5 hrs)

3. Alight at Banyuwangi Minibus Station
Take minibus to booked guesthouse for 20 minutes
Minibus fare: 15,000-25,000 Rupiah

Check in Kampung Osing Inn 
1 night stay : 125,000 Rupiah / 13 SGD for two pax (1 room, with towel and breakfast) 
Staff is great however far from Ijen crater, no nearby restaurants and difficult to find mode of transportation. The only great thing about the location is that it's around 10 minutes away from Karangacem Train Station. Other than that theres nothing more I can say. One more thing it turns out the hostel's website has not been updated. Our booked jeepney sharing for the crater and transport to red island was all for nothing. We decided to get a motorcyle transport instead to Ijen crater and forget about the red island. There's no other guesthouse around the area and no travel agencies too. You got to find a solution when you're face with this kind of travel challenge. Bookings with guesthouse was never a problem in our past travels. However, I do hope nobody gets the motorcycle ride to Ijen crater, backpack traveling it's not always about the money. Please learn from our mistake.

Day 3 : 29 October, Saturday : Ijen Crater 
Motorcycle to Ijen Crater (2 way): 200,000 Rupiah per pax
Ijen Crater Entrance Fee: 100,000 per pax
Ready by 01:00 am. 1 hour drive by private car or motorcycle to the parking area of Mount Ijen, passing by Licin village ,plantations and rainforest. 
Approximately 1-1.5 hours to ascend slope of mount Ijen to reach the crater. 

We slept for a few hours, got ready by 12 midnight, ate a snack and off to meet our drivers outside the guesthouse. They were on time to pick us up, one motorcycle driver for one passenger. Be reminded to ask your driver ahead of time to provide helmets. Don't ever ride without wearing a helmet, even your driver has to wear it. If possible, get the jeepney or van sharing to the crater. The road ahead is treacherous. Always think of your safety. Aside from that wear proper clothing. I wore a heatech top and bottom, a fleece jacket with hood, a lightweight windbreaker jacket and a cute bonnet. Don't forget to bring along a mask as the sulphur smoke gets really strong around the crater (gas mask rental is around 25,000 Rupiah). We were equiped with a N95 mask and a headlamp as there will be no light on the way to the summit and down the crater. Please be advised to wear hiking boots as it is more appropriate for the hike. Wearing the right kind of shoes will prevent accidents and saves a lot of time for your footing. I've relied my safety to my shoes. Hiking up and down the crater means passing through big boulders, loose rocks, slippery stones and risk of acquiring acrophobia, thats fear of heights.

This blogpost is entirely my own opinion, just sharing my experience. I wasn't really impressed with what I saw when we've reached the crater. The reason could be the weather, the season or the position of the moon. The blue flame was something different of course. Maybe it's the crowd, the tourist were just all over place. Maybe its not really the crowd, it's more about the miners.  I saw a few sulphur miners working industriously in the area. They pass by us carrying heavy rocks of sulphurs on their shoulders without proper clothing, mask and safety shoes. Everyone literally disturbed and blocked their way. An accident happened during our hike due to one selfish tourist who ignored to give way to one miner, when the miner got closer, he panicked as the road is not intended for two people. He stood in one loose big rock that could not handle his weight which eventually fell on the miner's foot. The miner shouted. I'm not sure if the tourist even tried to apologize. It really mentally tripped me off. The queue behind me was intently waiting for me to move ahead. I hate the fact that I can't do much for him. He can't communicate in English as well. Just a tap on his back and a smile was all I can give him. I do pray his foot is ok. I don't mean to discourage people to visit the crater but I can site a lot of reasons not to go there. Let's not focus on that. Anyways, we only stayed their for a few minutes then we made our way back to the starting point where our drivers were patiently waiting for us. 

On the brighter side I would advised everyone to go instead on a morning hike. When the sun was up, everything looked magnificent. The view of the mountains was spectacular. I bet the crater must have looked more friendlier at that time of the day too. My mood was rejuvenated, my thoughts for the miners was masked for awhile as my eye feast for the beautiful surroundings. The mountains were all in view, the sky was clear with  streak of clouds and soft lighting from the sun. I stood there for awhile without a word. When you see something good you have to breathe it all in, capture all the details in your memory. Even now I can still picture myself standing on that rock looking at the great mountain view. We took our sweet time hiking back to base as the descend down the mountain was a lot easier. All smiles and laughter. We were like kids playing with the tree branches and sliding down the slopes. Don't forget to remove your jacket, windbreaker and bonnet. You don't want to miss the fresh air. 

We decided not to stay anymore more longer in Banyuwangi. The guesthouse offered to drop us off at Karangacem Train Station, however, no one was there to do the good deed. Independent ladies like us just have to do things in our own ways. We walked not knowing where the train station is located. A few locals pointed us to the right direction, two little girls sang in unison to guide us where to go. But if you're equip with heavy bags walking to the train station will seem like miles away. Good thing as we walked down the street our designated driver found us which gave us ample of time to buy the train ticket and have some lunch before the trip. 

9:15 Am Train to Gubeng Station, Surabaya. Buy your tickets in the counter, when you're to ready to go have your boarding pass printed at the ticket machine then proceed to the entrance where the security officer will scan your tickets. 

Train from Karangacem Train Station to Gubeng Station
Business class: 145,000 Rupiah
Train Schedule: 9:15 Am
Travel time: 7 hrs
Make sure to check the train timing, as they only have several train rides per day.

I love waiting for the train or bus during my travels. It's where time stood still, you get a chance to think about your day and all the wonderful things that happened. You get to see different kinds of travelers in the train station. There's the youngsters group singing in the corner, a lone traveler trying to figure out the map to his next location, lovers looking at pictures in their camera, locals trying to get to work and two girls sheepishly teasing each other. I'm glad my travel buddy doesn't mind what other people say or think because I can be an embarrassment sometimes with all my foolishness. The train arrived on time yet the seats were not that comfortable compared to the bus. But the view of the countryside was great. Our booked hotel was just 5 minutes away  from Gubeng station.

Check in My Studio Hotel (booked via
1 night: 180,000 Rupiah for 2 pax (with breakfast and superb location)

Walking distance from Matahari Mall and Gubeng Train station.

Day 4 : 30 October, Sunday : Surabaya - Airport

Goodies Shopping in Surabaya City. Purchase some Indonesian snacks at Indo Market at Matahari Mall. Price range from 4,000- 12,000 Rupiah

Goodies were cheap yet no souvenirs available. Manage to buy some in the airport but its all plain I love Surabaya keychains no image of Bromo or Ijen Crater. Better yet buy your souvenirs in the tourist spot locations.

Drive back to the airport. Booked online by Hotel Receptionist. 
Taxi Fare: 55,000 Rupiah
Travel time: 45 minutes

Jetstar 3K248 2:05- 5:30 Surabaya Airport Terminal 2 to Changi Aiport, Singapore


  1. What a nice place, sarap naman mag tour diyan.

    1. Hello, I hope you can visit the place po. Worth it xa!

      Thanks for dropping by. Cheers!


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