After more than nine hours of driving, we finally reached Arabica Homestay in Bondowoso, East Java. Its name is derived from the coffee beans growing in the plantation in which the guest house is located.
Most visitors use Arabica Homestay as a base to explore Kawah Ijen (one of the two volcanoes that we had planned to conquer in that weekend trip).
Kawah Ijen volcano is famous for its turquoise- coloured acid crater lake. We took about an hour and a half to hike up to the viewpoint.
It was a steep hike that had us panting and wheezing in the early morning. By the midway point, sulphur fumes and smell began to fill the air. Things got worse the further up we went, and it came to the point where masks had to be deployed. Fumes were swirling all around us. Soon we could barely see half a metre ahead, and our eyes were stinging.
We retreated back down to an outcrop of rocks and waited patiently.
About half an hour later, the fumes dispersed as the green crater lake peeked out of the smoke. Elated, we continued down the now visible crater rim path, and finally reached our viewpoint.
Right at the edge of the crater lake below, grey-white sulphurous fumes belched out of a crevice. Yellow sulphur stained the entire surroundings. Incredibly, beside the lake below is a sulphur mine. From our viewpoint, we could see sulphur miners trudging up the steep path from the mine towards us.
From there, we hit the road again for about seven to eight hours before reaching the highlight of our trip - Mount Bromo, one of the top tourist attractions in East Java.