[PHOTOS] What's It Like To Play With Blue Fire In The Heart Of A Volcano?

Malaysia-based photographer Keow Wee Loong is known for climbing high-rise buildings. But recently he went on his biggest adventure yet. Sadho from SAYS spoke with the 'Malaysian Spider-Man' himself on his adventure to Mount Bromo in East Java and into the pit of Kawah Ijen.

Cover image via Keow Wee Loong

Malaysians are not unfamiliar with stories of daredevils who—for the sake of an adventure—climb large, multistorey structures

Fearless explorers Vitaliy Raskalov and Vadim Makhor exploring Gensler’s under-construction Shanghai Tower, the world’s second-tallest building.

Image via Vitaliy Raskalov

Among such daredevils from around the world, there's one from Kuala Lumpur. His name is Keow Wee Loong, a 26-year-old with passion for photography. For his penchant for climbing high-rise buildings, he has been nicknamed as the Malaysian 'Spiderman'.

Keow climbing a high-rise building in Hong Kong earlier in October this year.

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Earlier this month, 10 December, Keow, who was in Bali for a vacation, posted photographs of himself—in his usual attire, shorts, a cap, a bandanna masking his face, in his sandals—walking across, as he captioned them, "in the middle of nowhere"

He was, in fact, near Mount Bromo, an active volcano in East Java, Indonesia. Keow, who keeps his face covered, hidden from his gradually raising popularity among locals, revealed this later on his Facebook profile by sharing an entire collection of breathtaking photographs of himself, looking incredible, atop Mount Bromo.

Speaking to SAYS about his journey to Mt. Bromo, Keow shared:

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"When I was at Mt. Bromo, the locals told me that there's a RP250,000 (RM70) entrance fee, and that I must hire a jeep to get there."

"So I sneak into Mt. Bromo via Mt. Penanjakan, climbing down the steep hill and walk 10km to Mount Bromo. The journey is really rewarding."

When we asked Keow, who usually climbs high-rise structures, what made him go on an adventure as unusual as this, he duly noted,"it was a coincidence". During his vacation, when he went to Kuta beach, "which so was dirty and full of foreigners, so I decided to move away from Bali and started to travel west," he told us.

Keow at his camp site at Ijen crater. He camped there for 3 days 2 night.

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Speaking exclusively to SAYS, Keow further shared:

"I took an hour-long boat trip from the island to mainland Java. There, a local, who spoke in Bahasa Indonesia, told me that I should go up to the crater in the morning. The view is amazing."

"So due to some delay I arrived late at night."

"At the site, there are locals guarding the spot. They told me it's dangerous to get up there because the toxic fume is burning on top and I was not allowed to get in at 6 pm."

After being denied to enter at 6, he sneaked into the crater an hour later. "The walk to the crater took me another hour to complete the 3km climb," he said. Claiming to be inside the volcanic crater for 5 hours, Keow photographed this blue flame that looks like Mordor, a fictional universe of Middle-earth in The Lord of the Rings saga.

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When asked what was it like, he said: "Expecting to see the crater and nothing as exotic as the blue flame, I was in a state of shock when I saw the blue flame at the bottom on the volcanic crater."

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"I was blowing smoke out of my mouth. The atmosphere was so cold. I wasn't prepared for it, what with my shorts and a jacket."

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"The crater is filled with toxic gas. I smell sulphur and immediately tears start coming out of my eyes. It hurt and felt like tear-gas."

A pile of liquid sulpher behind Keow.

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Having covered demonstrations in Asia, Keow is used to the feeling. But it's when the wind direction changed, that's when he felt "that's it I'm dead". Speaking candidly, he said how he doesn't have those flashbacks of loved ones popping up in his head. Instead the only thing that pops inside his head is, "I'm f**ked. Half way down the crater, it's way too late for me to run back up."

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"With toxic fumes blowing towards me for a minute, I cant see anything nor breathe properly. I almost choked myself to death."

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When asked, if he could, how would he describe the overall feeling? As compared to his other adventures, Keow said:

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"I use to do a lot of rock climbing. I'm only doing rooftopping because I live in a concrete jungle. So going back to my root, that felt really good again."

"God's creation is always better than any man-made wonder."

"No words can describe my exact feelings."

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"I was just expecting some random trip on top of a hill to capture sunrise. No one told me anything about the blue flame."

"My mind blew off when I saw those blue flame burning 800 meters below. Liquid blue lava dripping out from the blue flame, turning it into a river of blue flame. That was some pretty impressive stuff."

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