The Kayu Aro tea plantation is the largest of its kind in the world, producing 5,500 tonnes of black tea annually, most of which is sold for export. It spans across the base of Indonesia’s largest volcano, Mt. Kerinci; occasionally erupting plumes of smoke from its crater. Volcanic soil and tropical climate of the Indonesian highlands create the perfect environment to grow high quality tea.
Up until 2010, Mt. Sinabung - further North of Kerinci - had lay dormant for 400 years. It’s sudden awakening saw continual eruptions in the years to follow. 17,500 people were evacuated during it’s initial disturbance.
A blanket of ash covers the towns of Naman Teran and Sukanalu Teran. Signs of respiratory diseases rise as the wilting crops fall. Although the eruptions continue, many have little choice but to return to their homes.
Kawah Ijen was made famous by James Nachtwey in his 2001 film 'War Photographer', where he photographed sulphur miners working under some of the toughest conditions on the planet. With 15 years passed conditions have not yet changed, though tourism has flourished in the area because of it.
Miners mould souvenirs for tourists after collecting liquified sulphur as it spews out from the volcanic vents. Often they will choose to work at night due to the unbearable heat and toxicity of the smoke during the day.
Sim takes a rest on our ascent out of the crater. During the holiday periods, many of the miners opt to work as freelance guides, taking tourists down to see the famous ‘blue flames’. Their wages far exceed the average daily income of $10 earned collecting sulphur.
Over the years, Semeru National Park has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Java. Visitors pay the equivalent of $5 to take a one-way horse ride to the crater rim of Mt. Bromo. Although tourism has provided working opportunities in the area, some people have become dependant on an uncertain future. Eruptions may invite onlookers yet prevent them from entering the park.