Many people say that Indonesia is cheap and they are mostly right. Food is cheap (and tasty), transportation is reasonable if you don’t come during Ramadan, but the entry prices for the tourist attractions are killing.
I understand that the country wants to earn money on tourists, but the prices for locals and tourists differ between 5000 and 150000 or 30000 and 300000 rupiahs. The ojek (motorbike taxi) don’t make the thing any easier, as their prices are high as well, so if you’re backpacking and want to go places, it’s just evil.
One of the reasons why I went to Indonesia (apart from Bali) was Volcano Ijen with blue lava, one of two places like this on Earth. Entry ticket costs 5k for locals and 100k for tourists, but that’s still okay. However in order to get there you have to rent a bike or shared taxi from Banyuwangi and it’s either another 150k or 350k. Because of that I’ve decided to walk from the bottom of the mountain and save money. Because the fire is visible only at night and the park opens at 1am I’ve started my walk already at 6pm. From the bottom it was around 15km, so basically nothing after my trek in Himalayas. The road has been repaired one year ago so it’s a very good but long (6h) walk. Yet after two hours of walking in a complete darkness it started to rain. And it rained and rained and I luckily found a shelter where I stayed for an hour hoping for the rain to stop. But it didn’t. And then I regretted that I didn’t pay extra and take this stupid ojek to the top of the mountain. Walking up the hill is one thing, walking at night another but walking up the hill at night in full rain is no fun at all. I met Franceska with whom I was walking together so at least I had some company. About 5 km before the end we finally caught a ride and it to the parking at 11pm. I was thinking you could go there anytime, but nope, you have to wait until 1 am. Until then everything is closed. It was freezing and I had to take my tee off because it was all wet. The first hour we spent walking to keep moving, the second we joined guys who made a bonfire. And why is night the best time to go there? Because during the day you won´t see the blue fire.
Then the park has been officially opened and we could go in. The walk to the crater took around 3 hours. The views are amazing, even at night because the moonlight is just enough to see everything around (but the torch is still required to not trip over the roots). And when you reach the top you have to go down to the crater and here the face mask is necessary. You can either rent it at the parking but you can easily take a simple cotton one and splash water over it. Why do you need it? To not to die. Yes, it is dangerous if you’d get into the smoke. It’s pure sulphur and the wind blows in every direction. I got caught by smoke three times and although I had a mask, it wasn’t pleasant experience. You can´t breat at all in it and even when you get out of the smoke it is still hard to breathe. I was expecting a blue lava but seen only a blue fire instead which wasn’t so awesome as I thought it would be. But it was still something unique.
Later we walked up to the top for the sunrise and although it was cloudy I still enjoyed it, in the end I was hunting for the sunrise for few days.
If I had to summarise this trip I’d say that I walked the line up the hill for few long rainy hours, in the line to the crater with hundreds (yes, hundreds) other people and I sometimes walk the thin line between saving the money and being greedy and it’s hard to tell the difference most of the times when you’re on a really tight budget like mine.