We still love a lazy beach holiday. But of late, we’ve been drawn towards vacays that are a little more adventurous – specifically, hiking trips. These appeal to our sense of adventure, will burn off all those holiday calories, and give us the chance to see glorious scenery we’ve never encountered before. Top of the current wishlist is Ijen, an Indonesian active volcano that’s topped with a turquoise lake. Blue flames appear around the crater as sulphur gas ignites, and can be seen most clearly after the sun sets.
However, hiking in Singapore and hiking overseas are very different prospects. We can pretty much do MacRitchie or Bukit Timah in flip-flops and jeans, but the two-hour trek from base camp to the top of Ijen, in extreme conditions, requires serious kit. Here’s what to bring.
The temperature of the nearest town, Sempol, is usually in the mid-20s, but at Ijen, it can be as low as 5 Deg C overnight. Pack a light down jacket such as this staple from Uniqlo, which is thin and warm, but can be stuffed into a small pouch so you can easily transport it.
You need a bright torch to navigate the hike in the dark. A headlamp like this one keeps your hands free. A mask to protect your nose from the pungent sulphur odour is also essential – these can be bought at local supermarkets.
The sulphurous fumes from the volcano aren’t just smelly. They can also damage your moisture barrier, which can make skin rough and dry. Before you even leave Singapore, start using a skincare product that can strengthen the barrier function, such as SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, which contains Pitera, a natural ingredient rich in micronutrients. The watery lotion conditions skin to improve its moisture barrier. Korean actress Lee Siyoung took a trip to Ijen as part of ‘Face the Wild | Face the Camera Extreme Expeditions’, a series of vignettes presented by SK-II and National Geographic. "It was so hard to breathe because of the dust and gas, and I was unable to open my eyes. But even in this extreme environment, Facial Treatment Essence kept my skin great,” she says.
Your smartphone camera is good enough for most things, but the spectacular blue flames at Ijen need something more. The brief? Something compact, light, and easy to use, such as this Olympus camera, which is small, but takes great, sharp pictures.
It doesn’t just get cold up there. When you’re scrambling through the crater you may need to hold on to sharp rocks, so you need something to guard your mitts. These gloves are fleece lined and protective, but also allow you to operate your touchscreen – vital when you’re about to take that perfect sunset shot.