A Humbling Experience
The first climb was up Mount Ijen. It was not just a climb. Little did they know that from the foot of the mountain, new realisations would slowly reveal themselves along the way, fraying the very threads of their conscience.The villagers living near Mount Ijen were friendly, accommodating and warm—treatment the pair appreciated. When they reached the foot of the mountain, they finally realised where all that humility had perhaps come from. The men from the village, clad in clothes that had seen better days, were at work. Slung across their shoulders were two wicker baskets fixed at the ends of a long pole. They were also about to climb Mount Ijen – but for a nobler purpose that the pair would eventually discover.
Tagging along up the mountain with the villagers, the honeymooners soon realised that the men were on their way to collect blocks of sulphur from a volcanic crater atop the mountain. The miners set out from their village in the wee hours of the morning to reach the foot of Mount Ijen just before sunrise. With their empty baskets, they trudge up the incline, a three-hour journey. Mokhsin and Jaslina were left breathless at some points as the incline got steeper with every step. ‘The men were climbing up as though they were walking on flat ground,’ Mokhsin recalls. When the couple reached the top, the men continued downwards, into the crater that was spewing hot sulphur fumes. Pulling out their long rods, the men began digging away at the sulphur blocks below their feet, then loaded them into their baskets. Once full, they carried the baskets back to where they started, a three-hour descent back down to the foot of the mountain.