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Smoke and Sulfur

Wow, time flies again and it’s definitely time for a new blog entry!

After we arrived in Surabaya / Java after our time in Kalimantan it took us 2 days back in civilisation to get used to it again and make up new plans for the days to come. From Surabaya we went east with our first stop in the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park where Mount Bromo is to be found – Java’s most active volcano. We had hired a driver who did not seem too fond of his life (or our’s for that matter), knew only 2 gears and digital breaking/speeding (–> on/off). Even in terms of Java-driving-habits his driving style was remarkable and unique and on the winding and narrow roads with uneven surface and unexpected holes definitely not to be recommended.

The landscape on the last 20 ks before we reached Mt. Bromo was absolutely stunning. Higher and higher we went into this beautiful volcanic area and we marveled at the farmers who work on their fields on these steep hills. Unfortunately the road was so narrow and winding and all participants of the traffic were driving so fast and unpredictable that we did not dare to leave the safety of our car for taking photos.

We spent the short night in Cemoro Lawang directly on the edge of the crater. This village seemed somehow surreal: In 2010 a new series of eruptions began at Mount Bromo and as this volcano is very active right now, the whole surrounding is covered in clouds of ashes constantly. The hotel staff tried in vain to dust the whole property but the ashes coat the ground, windows and pathways all the time– leaving the impression of a surreal grey snowscape. We woke up at 3.15am because we wanted to walk up Gunnung Penanjakan to watch the sunrise. We waited under the starlight for the sun and enjoyed the early-morning-mountain-atmosphere.

After we left Bromo we went further East to get to the next volcano complex: the Ijen Plateau. In the middle of this mountain range there is the crater lake Kawah Ijen who is the world’s biggest acidic lake and the main sulphur mining area of the whole region. The workers mine the sulphur by hand and without the protection of gas masks. They then carry it all the way up to the crater rim, only using a wet piece of towel they bite on which helps them breathe when the sulphur clouds get too dense. The baskets made of bamboo loaded with the sulphur weigh up to 100kgs (!) and have to be carried down the mountain for another 4ks to the sulphur factory, where it will be processed for mainly beauty products. Most of the workers only wear jandles/flip-flops or gumboots when they walk over the rough surface and their salary is only 600 Rupiah (approx. 5 Euro-Cent) per kilo. The workers start between 2 and 3 am and if they are fit, they can make up to three tours per day. They really have our highest respect!

After this impressive tour our time on Java came to an end and we ought the ferry to Bali and from there on to Lombok on the following day.

7 Kommentare auf “Smoke and Sulfur”

  1. Helga sagt:

    OOOOOHHHHHHH…….wie immer WUNDERSCHÖÖÖÖÖÖÖN!!!!!!!!!!!oh :-)Mein grosser Respekt vor den ARBEITERN!!!!!habt weiter eine erlebnisreiche Zeit….umarme Euch aus der Ferne

  2. oooh….wie immer!!!mein Respekt den Arbeitern

  3. Teena sagt:

    when we are all back, you guys have to watch the documentary of James Nachtwey which he did on the Sulfur-worker….makes you just angry of the whole damn world! …but I like your pictures and I love you guys :) tee

    • Chris sagt:

      Hey :o) Thanks! Yes, Nachtwey’s pictures are very impressive, though I have to admit that we have an ambivalent relationship to his work. It’s quite sensational!

      Miss you too!
      Chris and Kathi

  4. Christophe sagt:

    Hey Chris & Kathi !!
    Nice to follow your trip from your blog. I get the RSS flux in my outlook to loosing nothing from your travel ;) It’s a real pleasure to read it and to know that you are well. You’re lucky to continue your adventure … now for us, we are back in France … but the travel was good with a nice stop in Singapour to cut a little bit the long flights. It was really nice to share some good times with you during our travel. And we hope that you will enjoy the rest of your travel …
    Keep in touch ;)
    Chris & Laeti

  5. Luisa sagt:

    Huhu ihr beiden/

    schoen euren ersten Indonesien-Blogbeitrag zu lesen und mich total gefreut. Sogar Christophe und Laetitia haben den Beitrag kommentiert :).
    Krass die Fotos vom Bromo sind echt voll schoen. Gestern war ich auch da …. es sah total anders aus, da der Bromo gerade sehr viel Asche spuckt, sodass leider die meiste Zeit nicht alle Vulkankegel zu sehen waren :) – der Vergleich ist echt krass, auch der Sonnenaufgang ist irgendwie anderes. Freu mich auf den naechsten Beitrag und hoffe ihr koennt die lezten Tage in Neuseeland auch etwas geniessen. Glg Luisa

  6. Heiko & Sandra sagt:

    Was für Bilder !!!