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The journey through East Java continued to Paltuding which houses the largest acid lake in the world, that is Kawah Idjen. From Mount Bromo to Paltuding, it took nearly 8 hours to reach Bromo with two stopover, one, at the grilled fish restaurant – Warung Pak Cip Ikan Bakar/Goreng in Probolinggo and a grocery shop just before we reached Sempol. To be honest, coming from Malaysia where my country has major resemblance to that of the neighbouring country, I slept more than I was awake.

Approximately at 4p.m., we passed by plantation areas where the guides were showing in passing the cocoa plantation, tea plantation, mango plantation and strawberry farm etc complete with its histories. Kids could be seen playing along the street and waving frantically to the tourists as a sign of welcome. Once you crack a smile, you will get a smile in return. That is how it works in village areas in East Java.

Before we checked in at Catimor Hotel, Kawah Ijen, the guide took us to the Blawan waterfall, 10 minutes away from where we parked the car. It was a pleasure to be at the edge of flat area just underneath the waterfall, enjoying the drizzle. We spotted the formation of rainbow too, albeit it was not vivid as the skies were dark. We were told that caving activities are possible. Not to mention, the hot springs! Two to three ponds of hot springs. Refreshing!

Finally, we arrived in Catimor Hotel – ate dinner, dipped ourselves in hot spring pond and had a good night sleep for a better tomorrow,

At about 5.30 a.m., we started to hike up the hills to Ijen Crater. If you have not heard about Ijen Volcano Complex, it is a magnificent turquoise sulphur lake that lies 2148m above sea level. Ijen’s major eruption was dated in 1930s. The steep journey up to the crater may take 2 hours depending on your speed. When you are at high altitude, the greeneries of other sleeping volcanoes will catch your eyes.

On the way up, you will bump into miners who carry sulphur ridden baskets of 80 kilos weight one trip. They expect from tourists cigarettes and some biscuits, they rarely ask for money. You can’t help but notice the existence of gibbons or siamang jumping from one branch to another. I was joined by a researcher for gibbons species in Kawah Ijen who told me that there is a plan to turn Kawah Ijen to protection area for gibbons.

The smokes and fog that billowed might constraint your visibility to see the turquoise acid lake. Give up not, wait for 10 minutes or so, the smokes will clear up and you have the largest acid lake in the world before you. Mask is recommended. If you have breathing problem, you are not advisable to go near the crater as the high sulphur concentration might cause asthma. As you go down the lip of the crater, beware of the slippery ground or else you will be gone.

It dawns on me that the miners are paid relatively cheap, not commensurate with the hardship they go through collecting the sulphur. To make it worse, some parts of their bodies have disfigured due to long exposure to sulphur. If this is America or Australia, for that matter, these people might have been millionaires who succeed in suing the government or any person concerned.

Coming up next : Learn how to cross from Banyuwangi, East Java to Gilimanuk, Bali via ferry

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