Tag Archives: East Java

Sidoardjo Mud Volcano Disaster

On 28 May 2006, an industrial gas drilling company initated a torrential hot volcanic mudflow which would inundate villages and rice paddies, displacing more than 11,000 people from eight villages in the Porong district, Sidoardjo.

Families and factories as well as farms had to be relocated as the land was deem unsafe. Since then, there were more gas explosions, hot muds exploding as far as 5km unexpectedly. According to the geologists the mud volcano was collasping in its own weight

Two years on my June 2008 travels, when we visited the place briefly, there were some industrial work going on, probably related to the gas exploration works since the gas pipelines were still in operations.

As far as my eyes could see, the ruined villages were still covered by the mud, nothing has yet to be done to the area. Some people were still living in tents and have turned to begging in the streets.

Sidoardjo in East Java

Sidoardjo in East Java
The price of living next to an active volcano, the volcano exploded into a large caldera of hot mud

Sidoardjo in East Java
Many houses in the villages were destroyed by the mud and gas explosions. Two years on, nothing has been done

Sidoardjo Disaster in East Java

Sidoardjo Disaster in East Java
There were quite a few people in the streets asking for money, some still lived in makeshift tents

Sidoardjo Disaster in East Java
The active caldera still releasing hot vapour gaseous.

Sidoardjo Disaster in East Java

Sidoardjo Disaster in East Java
Hot mud and water flows, some works are still being done to divert the hot mud safely

Sidoardjo Disaster in East Java

I found a national geographic article which would give you more details of the whole situation. You can read it here.

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Photo series of a Sulphur Miner

These slags of sulphur are look deceivingly light, but highly densed in masses, each basket would weigh an average of 80kg.
If you do visit the place, go in the early morning, before sunrise, you will get to see the miners carrying their torches. The weather is much gentler and you probably could see the crater before it gets covered by the fumes.
We only got to volcano after 8am, by then, the turquoise blue lake was covered.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

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Sulphur Miners of Mount Ijen

June 2008

Mount Ijen, Banyuwangi, East Java

It takes 1.5hours to climb down to the base of the crater. I gave up halfway, the sulphur dioxide fumes proved too piercing to my lungs and eyes. My throat was sore for the whole day after only spending few hours up the volcano.

It is amazing how these sulphur miners carry their heavy 80-100kg load of sulphur up and down the crater and breathing and working in unbearable conditions filled with sulphur dioxide fumes. The visibility was quite limited and only every once in while does it clear a little to reveal a few moments of the lake.

Many of these miners worked til their late forties, it was one of the better paying jobs in the impoverished region. Each of them start making their ascent up the volcano in the dark, a few hours before dawn and ending their work just before sunset. Its tough work but for many of them, this is the only way to feed their familes.


Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater
Base of the crater, every or so moment, it clears a little to reveal the base of the crater. This is where the miners work, breaking up pieces of sulphur.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Nothing lives up here, even the trees died, poisoned by the lethal fumes of sulphur dioxide.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Where the wind blows across the top of the rim, it becomes unbearable and almost unbreathable. The miners have no more than their clothes to cover their mouths, little use to protect them from the accumlative toxic fumes. Most of them would not live past their 50s.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

A miner making his way up the ardous rim from the base of the crater, carrying an average load of 80-100kg. Climbing down the rim and ascending up the rim is dangerous enough, not to mention carrying beyond human weights.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Midway down the outer volcano, a young miner checks the weight of his load. He gets his money based on the amount of sulphur he brings down.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

The weighing station in the middle of the volcano route. This is where some of the sulphur is collected and weighed before making its way down to the main collection office.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater


Each Miner has his own load of sulphur. He collects and gathers his baskets of the sulphur up from the crater rim before making the steep descent down the hill.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

It is amazing how these miners could carry loads than more than double their body weights.

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Visiting Mount Ijen, the sulphur volcano

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Such a beautiful and surreal place. It took some patience taking this image. The wind would blow in my direction covering the whole place with the odourous fumes. Only every now and then does the torquiose lake reveals itself for a few seconds before covering it again with the sulphur smoke.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater
Its only a 3km accent up and yet took me an incredible 2 hours to climb up! Oh How unfit am I!

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater
The Mined Sulphur on closeup.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater
Sulphur miners in the fume covered crater.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater
Finally I reached the crater rim, only to be greeted by this post telling me that there is more to climb if you can withstand the throat burning sulphur dioxide fumes, you could walk up the top of the volcano, or descent to the base of the crater which would take you another 1.5 hours.

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater
Amazing surrealist landscape which looks almosts alien and breathtakingly beautiful.

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About Mount Ijen Sulphur Miners in Banyuwangi

Mount Ijen Sulphur Crater

Location: Mount Ijen , Banyuwangi

This surreal place it takes at least 2 hours of steep ascent to the top of the crater, gives a spectacular view of the torquiose colored lake down below the crater.

This is where the local men work as back-breaking sulphur miners. They suffer toxic stinging sulphur fumes and endure the steep trek up the crater and dangerous descent down to the lake.

The sulphur is use for whitening sugar and processing rubber. The miners apparently earn around 5,000rp per load according to my travel partner who interpreted it, although there was some dispute about it later on.

It was a little challenging to walk up the volcano, takes a little persistent steady pace to reach there in 2 hours. Am not really that fit a person, a much fitter person could do it in 1.30 hours. It took me 1.30 hours down the volcano. It would take another 1-2 hour for me just to walk down to the base of the crater. Regretted not going there early before sunrise so I could have more time to walk down the crater where the miners break up sulphur pieces. It was quite a difficult descent down the crater, only managed a little bit down before surrendering to the stinging fumes of sulphur dioxide.

There’s a national geographic documentary on the Sulphur Miners of Ijen which gives you more details.

Part one :

http://youtube.com/watch?v=U2NYNdoMtEk

Part two :

http://www.youtube.com/v/V9GJdfBVjK

JourneyMan pictures gives another view

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciH1qw3eiHs&feature=related

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The Story and Legend of Mount Bromo

Mount Bromo Sea of Sand

Here’s the legend of how the Tenggerese came to live in Mount Bromo.

A long time ago, there lived a beautiful woman by the name Roro Anteng. She was a reknown beauty and had attracted the attention of an evil giant. Because the evil giant possessed extraordinary magical powers, Roro Anteng dared not reject the giant’s advances when he proposed to her. Roro thought of a plan to get away from the marriage without offending the giant. In order to get her hand in marriage, the giant had to fufill her wishes.

Roro then concocted a difficult request in hopes that the giant did not have the power to fufill it. She had asked him to make her a sandy desert in between the mountains in one night and before the break of dawn.

Unfortunately for her, the giant magically and swiftly begin to work his powers and was near completing her wishes. The fast thinking Roro Anteng quickly thought of an idea to disrupt the completion, she made all sorts of noises that woke up the roosters. The roosters began to crow bringing dawn in.

On hearing the rooster’s calls, which signalled the break of dawn, the giant was shocked for having failed his task. Frustrated, he threw the coconut shell that he used to dig the desert, the shell fell to the ground beside Mount Bromo, forming what is now knows as Mount Batok (coconut shell). The sandy plain was to form the Tengger caldera.

The story continues with Roro Anteng falling in love with Joko Seger, a descendant of the great Majapahit Kingdom who had led a reclusive life on the desolate mountain range.

They were married, living happily blessed with many children. Their children and their descendents formed the tribal community of the Tengger (taken from the names ‘Roro Anteng’ and Joko Seger”).

This was the story of how the Tenggerese tribe came to be and how they lived the lands.

Tenggerese Horsemen of Mount Bromo

These Tenggerese Horsemen live on the edge of a magnificent million-year-old caldera with four dormant and active volcanic peaks. Mount Bromo is one of the active volcanoes in Indonesia. For centuries, the Tenggerese lived off the rich volcano soil with substance farming, horses only came to the land 200 hundred years ago and became an integral part of the Tenggerese culture.

Nowadays, these Tenggerese Horsemen takes tourists up the Volcano daily basis, the average trip up the volcano will cost you 20,000rp – 40,000 depending on your bargaining skills. These horsemen start working at 4am and returns back to their regular jobs after 10am when all the tourist leaves. It gets too hot after 9am. Business is tough these days, this is the off peak tourist season and not many tourists take the horse ride up these days judging by the number of horses awaiting for business.

It was fairly easy ride up the Volcano on horseback, with parts of steep ascent, my skinny little horse had no problems walking up this steep portion along with its horsemen leading it up. Riding down the descent was a little uncomfortable strapping my 10kg camera bag on my back, it was a little challenging balancing myself with my heavy bag.

Horses of Bromo – A series of Black and White images
Tenggerese Horses of Mount Bromo
One of the horsemen who took us up the Volcano

Tenggerese Horses of Mount Bromo

Horses up the slope, looking down at the ‘Sea of Sand’

Tenggerese Horses of Mount Bromo

The horsemen waiting for business up the Volcano

Tenggerese Horses of Mount Bromo

Tenggerese Horses of Mount Bromo

Horses lining up awaiting for tourists to take them down the Volcano. Most of the horses looked quite skinny and dehydrated.

Tenggerese Horses of Mount Bromo

Tourists riding up the steep slopes of Bromo

Tenggerese Horses of Mount Bromo

The view of the entire caldera from my hotel, Lava View lodge.

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Mount Bromo Volcano – The place I always wanted to visit

June 2008 : Mount Bromo, Semeru National Park

Coming here was a little of a surprise to me, I lept at the chance of coming here when someone I knew decided to invite me on their trip. Mount Bromo has always been one of the places I wanted to visit, I had put it down on my travel bucket list.

The trip was quite short and I had wished that we could have spent a little more time here instead of just half a morning. We had spent 10 hours driving here, arriving only at 8pm the night before, waking up at 3am for the sunrise view of the three volcanos. In the 3 day tour around the region , I spent more than 20 hours travelling around in the van more than I had touring the places. This was the regret I had of coming here.

Well, there is always the next time.

Mount Bromo

Mount Bromo at sunrise
Mount Semeru erupts every interval, blowing hot steam in the background.

Mount Bromo
Waiting for the sunrise in complete darkness along with pack load of tourists.

Mount Bromo minutes before sunrise
A few minutes before sunrise, at the middle far left , you probably can make up some village lights.

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