On my second day, or night to be more accurate, I hiked Mt. Batur Volcano to watch the sunrise. The volcano, which last erupted in 2000, peaks at 1,700 meters and is located between two concentric calderas. The locals in the area historically farmed the rich soil surrounding the volcano as their main source of income. However, due to a pretty straightforward trek to the summit of the central crater, tourism is now a heavily relied means of income.
It didn’t take long to realize why my driver got up at 2am to make this drive. It’s the only time the streets are completely clear of all traffic. And he took full advantage of this rare opportunity. We were flying! Originally, I thought the extra pillows in the backseat were there so I could take a nap, but they actually made great bumper pads.
After about a 45 minute drive, I met up with my guide on the side of the road in a very small village. It was dark. He handed my a flash light and off we went.
The hike to the top of Mt. Batur took about 2 hours. Once on top, while waiting for the sunrise, I found myself taking refuge with other hikers in a few little sheds, which were a big help in staying warm. Having to wait almost an hour for the sunrise, clearly confirmed my guide pushed me beyond the normal human hiking comfort level. [Side note: Only two people passed us going up, while we passed hundreds. Don’t think I didn’t let him know this.] While waiting for the sunrise, I enjoyed the breakfast box my hotel had prepared. Before long, the sun finally made its debut and I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Hiking the volcano was hands down the best part of my trip to Bali. It was also the hardest part of my trip. While making my way to the top, in total darkness, I never would’ve imagined what was in store once the sun brought my surroundings to life. It was a lot like having a blind fold removed. It was spectacular. Guess what else the sun brought life to? Monkeys. Country monkeys. You might think the monkeys in Ubud were pushy. Wrong. Country monkeys wake up hungry! There was one unlucky lady who ended up with two monkeys fiercely fighting while on her head. As I created my own trail in the opposite direction, I kept thinking to myself… better her than me… better her than me.
The below picture is where a group of us waited to be attached my the country monkeys.
I had read several posts regarding this hike, and not one of them mentioned it was hard. People, it’s hard. There were times I didn’t know what I was thinking. It was straight up, on volcanic rock, in total darkness. And going down was even harder. It was faster going down, falling and sliding does that, but it was so much harder on the legs. Yet, worth every minute. The views going down were nothing short of majestic.
Just before returning to the little village, to meet my driver, we walked through a few crops that my guide and his family farmed.
Bali is a little pocket of Hindus, where most of Indonesia is Muslim. I have to say, I’ve never been around people who put their faith in the forefront of e v e r y t h i n g. My guide stopped to pray at least three times. Forget the paying, tipping customer he had… we would stop hiking so he could pray. While driving back to my hotel and thinking about my morning, I wondered why I didn’t join my guide. There I was, thanks to the grace of God, surrounded by the graces of God. Strange, right? I’m glad I was able to witness his faith, as it had a positive influence on the rest of my trip.