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Jawa (Java), Indonesia

A quick look at our week in Java...

sunny 29 °C
View Itchy Feet on colinandleah's travel map.

To view all the photos from Java, click here.

The following is a brief summary of the four major attractions we visited in Java:

Ijen Crater
Though technically closed due to "poisonous gas," we were able to arrange a tour to Ijen Crater. Ijen is a massive crater filled with sulphuric acid near Banyuwangi in Java. When conditions permit, miners dig out the sulphur and carry it down the mountain, sometimes making two trips a day, with bundles weighing 80-90 kg. For their work, they receive 690 IDR per kilogram, which is about 7 US pennies.
The "tour," which was a bit pricey (400,000 IDR) despite our best efforts at negotiation, consisted of a 4 a.m. jeep ride into the mountains and a guide, who accompanied us on the 3 km hike to the crater even though his presence was completely unnecessary due to the somewhat straightforward and easy nature of the trek. He was a really nice guy, however. We had to pay a small park entrance fee, which felt more like a payoff so the park ranger would turn a blind eye. On our way to the top, we encountered two friendly miners, and watched them descend into the mine; they were the only ones left to maintain the water pipe, while all other miners were temporarily suspended due to poor conditions (at this point, we started to wonder if it really was okay to be there). Overall, Ijen offered stunning views, and was definitely worth the hassle of getting there.

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Mt. Bromo
Our next stop in Java was Mt. Bromo, an active volcano, which is nestled in the mountainous Tengger-Semeru National Park. Mt. Bromo rises some 500 meters from the center of a vast crater. We awoke early for a jeep ride/1 km hike (in the dark, with no flashlights) up the edge of the crater to view Mt. Bromo and the neighboring mountains at sunrise. This turned out to be fairly anti-climactic since Bromo is not in the east and therefore the sun did not rise behind it as we'd imagined it would. However, it was beneficial to see the park early since the rain started at 9 a.m. and lasted all day. Following the sunrise, we drove down into the crater, which we then opted to cross on foot (others rode horses), and climbed the 240 steps up to the edge of the Bromo volcano. Seeing the volcano was a great experience, and the views have been labeled everything from "scary" to "interesting" to "awe-inspiring," but was decidedly not very beautiful. Overall, however, the trip to Bromo and the two nights we spent in the mountainous park were well worth the trip.

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Prambanan
Our next stop in Java was Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia; it was built in the 9th century. While it was originally comprised of 237 temples, most have crumbled and really only 6 remain. We were offered a lovely tour free of charge from some high school girls completing an assignment. They walked us through the temples, explaining about their rich history and translating the tales of the reliefs. It really is a spectacular sight.
After that, we crossed the grounds to a Buddhist temple about a kilometer east of Prambanan. It was equally as fascinating, and also interesting to see two major temples from two different religions in such close proximity to each other (apparently a Hindu prince built the second temple for his Buddhist fiancé).

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Borobudur
The next day, we went to to see the world's largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur. It was equally as impressive, if not more so, than Prambanan, though structurally very different. It as also built in the 9th century. We had a lovely day exploring the temple and surrounding park grounds. We even got to spend some time with elephants and deer.

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Our week in Java was adventurous and stimulating, and really could not have been more exciting.

To view all the photos from Java, click here.

Posted by colinandleah 21:28 Archived in Indonesia

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