Watching sunrise at Ijen Crater

A few days before Eid Mubarak holiday, my family went to Ijen Crater. We planned this trip approximately two weeks before, since it had been quite a while since we went on a holiday together. My friend has been there before and he told me the view was magnificent. I browsed some photos on Instagram and was amazed by them! Especially the blue fire! So my aunt booked a hotel at Banyuwangi, a small regency in the easternmost of East Java Province which is closest to Ijen Crater. And then off we go~

Blue Fire at Ijen Crater © National Geographic

We departed at 1 PM from Surabaya and after long hours in the car, we finally arrived at the hotel at 8 PM. The hotel we booked was quite fancy. I really liked the minimalist interior and warm atmosphere. It also had swimming pool — which made my little cousin super happy and excited about taking a swim!

How we got to Ijen Crater

We didn’t go to Ijen Crater by ourselves. My aunt paid for an online tour and the tour guide said that they would pick us up at the hotel. So after cleaning ourselves, we didn’t go to sleep and wait for them to come at around 12 AM. The trip to Ijen Crater was about an hour drive from our hotel. By the time we arrived at the gate, it was 1.30 AM. The gate opens every 2 AM therefore we had to wait for a little while.

Is it a difficult mountain to hike?

Actually, after having been to Mt. Semeru, the hike to Ijen Crater was incomparably shorter. It only took us 3 hours to get to the final destination including a quick stop at the rest area. However, since we did the hike at night, we barely saw a thing even with a headlamp so navigating along the track felt agonizingly slow and tricky. To top it off, the land was a bit slippery due to the drizzle and I tripped once at the hill ^^;;

What I really regretted was the lack of preparation for this trip! I didn’t have time to pack because I was out of town with my college friends the day before. I wore jeans (which was STUPID since the rain made it humid and difficult to dry!) and I also didn’t bring my headlamp because I couldn’t find it at home! At last, I used my phone’s light to navigate clearly. It wasn’t comfortable but it did just okay.

We reached the crater at 4 AM and there were quite a lot of people over there waiting for the sunrise. Our guide took us a bit to the edge of the crater but much to our disappointment, we didn’t manage to see the legendary blue fire 🙁 There was heavy fog and we only saw a tiny bit of the blue fire behind those thick layers of fog. The drizzle made it worse cause my glasses got blurry and my vision became worse in the dark.

The worst thing though, due to the rain and my wet jeans, the temperature felt colder than ever. I was shivering till my teeth were chattering and at that time I wish nothing but the sun to quickly rise so that we would be over with it! We were lucky though, cause the guide said that a couple days before it was 2 degrees Celsius! Already freezing temperature for us tropical creatures lol.

The break of dawn

Nothing beat the feeling when the sun started to rise though! At first, it was only a slight change to our vision, but gradually I was able to see my surrounding more clearly and then the magnificent blue-green lake became more apparent. The green color is resulted from the high concentration of hydrochloride acid in the water. So pretty! <3

It had been a while since I had a quite time like that and I appreciated the moment to cherish little things like how the sun rises every day without failure; how wonderful all of God’s creations are. It made me realize that His timing is always perfect. I suppose my busy college schedule up to that time drained away most of my energy and made me complain a lot in life. I took so many things for granted. I had never been happy to see rays of sunlight until that moment, a sign of hope that the agonizing wait and endless shivering or teeth-chattering were coming to an end.

We took a stroll around the area and we were greeted by sulfur miners. These man were strong enough to carry sulfur stones up to 100 kg in one go. Thanks to the fog slowly disappearing, the scenery was fresh and calming. Our hike back to the gate was accompanied by beautiful views from the top of the mountain. We were above the clouds!

Although my original intention to see the legendary blue fire was not fulfilled, I was happy for what the hike made me feel. Grateful. Strong. The sunrise was far from disappointing as well.  We took many photos with the panoramic background and it will certainly be a good memory!

One of my lecturer at college says nature teaches the best things in life. I could not agree more.

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