Indonesia was sadly the final leg of my Southeast Asia trip. Bring on the volcanoes and beaches! My best friend and I decided to split our time in Indonesia into three parts: East Java, Bali and Gili Trawangan
We would have loved to visit Flores and Komodo Island as well but unfortunately didn’t have enough time.
We flew from Bangkok, Thailand to the Surabaya airport in Java to begin our Indonesian adventure. Java was the location of two famous Indonesian volcanoes, Mount Bromo and Mount Ijen. On our flight we befriended two other fellow backpackers, one from Lithuania and one from England. The four of us ended up sticking together to do both hikes. We stayed one night in a hostel close to the airport called My Studio Hotel City Centre as we arrived in the evening and were planning to make our way to Mount Bromo the next morning.
And the journey begins. We made our way to the closest train station in order to make our way to Probbolingo, the closest train station to Mount Bromo. Once we arrived at the train station, we felt a little stranded. It looked as if we had arrived at an abandoned train station – no attendants, no one waiting, absolutely empty. Luckily we were able to find a taxi van and asked them to take us to a hotel/hostel near Mount Bromo but instead they took us to a tour office, in the middle of nowhere. We basically had no choice but to buy a tour as it was getting really late at this point. Everything worked out for us in the end thankfully, but I’m sure we paid a premium. Reading up on this after, it seemed to be a common scam for tourists visiting Mount Bromo but if you are unfamiliar with the area like we were, I suggest going with a tour and paying the extra cash just to be safe.
Once we booked the tour, we were ready for 2 days and 2 nights of no sleep and lots of exercise. From the tour office, we were driven straight to the first accommodation close to Mount Bromo. From there, we were woken up at 2am to be driven to one of the hike starting points. We hiked up for approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour until we reached the view point. It was a little cold but we knew watching the sunrise would be worth it! At the viewing point, there was a cement structure that you could climb to get an even better view.
It was a spectacular view! I think this is one of the most amazing places I have ever seen to this day. After we had a little photoshoot during the sunrise, we made our way over to the volcano. We took our tour van to the main area below and then walked up to the top of the crater. I could literally look INSIDE the crater, that’s how close you could go!
Next, we made our way over to the Mount Ijen area which was a couple hours away. This time our wake up call was at 12AM and we were in for a much more intense hike.
After getting a couple hours of sleep, we were up (barely) at midnight and ready to go for volcano number 2!
Once we arrived at Mount Ijen, we had a young local tour guide join us to take our group to the summit. He told us all about his family and how his father and brother both worked as miners there. The only reason he was able to get out of it was because he spoke English and could lead tours. The hike was absolutely insane and it took us about 4 hours to reach the top. Mount Ijen is volcano known for its famous blue flame, which can be seen in the crater area where sulfur is also be found. As the sulfur fumes are very toxic, we were told we would need to rent gas masks once we went closer to the crater. During our hike, we saw plenty of Indonesian miners carrying sulfur. Our tour guide told us how the Indonesian miners had to do this hike approximately 3 times a day, 3 times a week, carrying 50-100kg of sulfur on their backs. Some of them were wearing flip flops, some didn’t have gas masks and many of them e had huge dents in their backs from where the pole sat. The worst part is – they were only paid $10/day for this work.
Although the view was incredible, it was very saddening to learn the conditions that these Indonesian people succumb to in order to live and provide for their families. In total, the hike took about 6 hours, 4 hours to go up and 2 hours to go down. I really hope this can change in the future.
Just like that, we completed 2 famous hikes in approximately 48 hours. From here, we got our tour van to drop us off at the port where we could take a ferry to Bali! It was time for some beaches and relaxation.
Check out my video below showing my experiences in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Indonesia.