Decided to do a separate post on Mount Batur itself because there’s so much to cover. #mycupofbali was inspiration from my cup of tea; traveling means different thing to different people, I personally do more of interaction with the people, half of my soul goes to places to visit and half of it goes to trying local food (very thankful that Ethel booked her own air ticket and joined me in Bali too, she inspires me to understand a culture more through the food locals eat- will cover more in my second Bali post), so I think this hashtag works perfect. This is my cup of Bali.
I’ve came to read quite a few encounters of Mount Batur, but haven’t quite came across one that really prepped myself for it, so maybe its good I share mine- hope it will be helpful to those who wants to witness this beautiful sunrise at such an elevation at 1717m above sea level too.
We booked our tour through www.balisunrisetours.com and you should get a reply from Mr. Gede. He is extremely efficient in replying emails and would even create a Google calendar event for you. Not sure if different tours trek different routes, most people did not mention about the split point you get after trekking about 15 minutes, but if you follow Bali Sunrise Tour, the hiking instructors will let you have a choice, either to go the easier route to get to mid-point or take the more strenuous one and get to the top. I must say the hiking instructors will also monitor you during the first 15 minutes and advice you on the route you take from here.
Because we (being noob) did not know that staying in Seminyak area would call for a ridiculous waking up time at about 12:30am, just for pick up at 1:30am. I would suggest staying around Ubud area if you want to catch up on more sleep. Try referring to the map of Bali to get a better idea. The road to the Mount Batur is pretty rough and bumpy and it might be hard to catch a good sleep on the bus/ van. We met Robyn and Sam, mom and daughter from Sydney and we stayed together through the whole hike too, of course, we exchanged contacts in the end! Now I can’t wait for an impromptu Sydney trip ;)
Nyoman, our driver picked Ethel and I at 1:15am and he was very accommodating, he reached early and waited for us at the lobby. After the hike, when we were starving on our way back, asked if we could grab a quick lunch, like any where before we head back (which is not allowed in the tour because it doesn’t include), but he kindly drove us to this place where most locals go for their Nasi ayam campur. We had 2 of that, 1 tehbotoh, 1 orange juice and a dessert (so called) like ondeh ondeh- this was like S$0.20, and the total is only S$6.80?
Thank you so much Nyoman, I really recommend him based on personal experience, if you need a driver around Bali, here is his contact:
I NYOMAN GD. MERTAYASA
Mobile: +62 81 337 235 995
So, back to the trek. We reached Mount Batur at an elevation of 1000m at about 4am. Mount Batur is 1717m. Everyone was served either tea or coffee before the trek, and since the tour package includes breakfast, I happily sipped my coffee while waiting for my breakfast, only to know that breakfast is only available at the tip of the mountain. Oh boy I was pretty hungry, but oh well, you take what is given to you and be contented, at least I had a cup of coffee, with also a group of people, all around the World. The beauty of traveling in a small group so you get to know other people as well, you don’t really get it if you stick to your own big bunch of friends. Here we go trekking at 4:30am with our new friends!
Its extremely cold at this point of time but you will perspire as you hike, I was rolling up my long pants and sleeves. But when you hit near the top, warm and sweaty, the freezing wind seems like the perfect remedy. Like what I said earlier, after about a good 15 minutes, we all come to a resting point where you choose you go either the easier way and hit the midpoint of the mountain (like, honestly, I was panting quite hard at this point already.), or the other way to get to the top. I really want to get to the top, so I had to leave Ethel.
I never did any trekking and am totally not prepared for this road; it is extremely rocky, steps were steep, there is basically no straight path until towards the tip. Every time we hit a point where we get flat grounds without any elevation and I took a quick breath of relieve before the next steep step welcomed me. Somewhat 50 minutes away from the top, my hiking instructor, Waiman was like, “okay keep your phone (okay I don’t know why am I holding my phone when it was all pitch dark around me, I had a torch light provided by the tour package), it is going to get hard from here, you need to hold my hand”. THANK GOODNESS for her, if its not for her pair of angelic hands and strong build, I will never get to the top before sunrise, she was like my point of pivot every time I need to take a huge step up the route. She is so good at it I trusted myself to her to hold me up every time I fall, yup, fell many times too. Wanted to give up so many times because I was panting so hard, I kept slipping, bruises everywhere... But, go on, it's gonna be SO WORTH IT.
So yup, you get about 50 minutes of huge, strenuous unpathed route up to the top. Waiman is so nice, she kept asking if I need a break and we keep doing it for like 30 seconds to a minute before moving on, I would just throw my butt on a huge rock- totally ignoring how dirty and wet it is, that minute felt so blissful. Then she would keep encouraging me by saying, “Reaching! Go go go!”
We started at 4:30am and I reached the peak at about 6am, waited to about 6:20am for the sun to slowly shine its rays of glory on us. THE FEELING WHEN YOU HIT 1717M ABOVE SEA LEVEL, OVERLOOKING AT THOSE TINY HOUSES WAY BELOW, THE LAKE, MOUNT AGUNG RIGHT BESIDE, CLOUDS FLOATING AROUND YOU….IS UNBELIEAVABLE. It's so beautiful, the sun creating pink-and-orange coronas around the edges of the clouds of the other mountains.
Please just, ignore what I was wearing. Work was so intensive prior to this I packed for this trip extremely last minute like, 3 hours before my flight, trying to clear up space on my phone at the same time so I could take more photos... I wasn't thinking at all. Threw everything into my backpack (yea I didn't even bring a luggage) and to the airport I went. Thank God my brain was still clear enough at 12MN to bring along a pair of shoes for hiking. I almost came with only a pair of sandals.
And, as promised, our breakfast. See that little hut way up on top? That's where I had my rugged breakfast, flattened bread, tea with a bug in it, with my new friends from Italy and Germany. oh and of course, not forgetting my volcano steamed eggs! There are benches behind me, where people sit to enjoy the sunrise.. I think I just randomly sat down, too tired to function. That little kid behind me with the cap is Adi. While trekking up we had a few conversations with our hiking instructors during the breaks, Adi is extremely shy. The instructor had to explain to us how Adi has to trek Mount Batur every morning to help earn some bucks for his school fees with the drinks in his backpack. Everyday he would trek up with the hikers, then down he went and off to school he goes. What a huge responsibility to carry at such an age. My heart swelled upon hearing it..What was I doing when I was 8 years old? Probably whining and crying about not having enough food to eat.
Meet Waiman, the lady with her angelic hands that held my hands and guided me up the mountain;) We stayed on top for about 2 hours or so I guess, I couldn't really remember, it surely did not feel like 2 hours, good times always fly by. Hah! The story doesn't end there. Time to trek down now. I actually cannot decide if going up or down is harder, you should try it yourself haha:) it puts a lot of pressure on the knees while coming down I must say. I'm lucky to always have a pair of hands to hold me and guide me, coming down was Sam's! She is so good at it. We left the top at about 8am reached the bottom at about 9am in the morning.
Meet Sam & Robyn! ;)
And boy what a scenic trek down the mountain. We passed by a patch of chilli farm (which we just plucked them and ate on the spot), a family having some BBQ goodness I could smell it from afar, a tomato farm, and we snapped really interesting photos of the bugs and animals! You get to do motorbikes ride down when you are halfway through too, at 100,000RP (which is about SGD10-11). Ethel took it and claimed it was one of the BEST experiences she got in Bali! Scooting through such scenic nature at such exhilarating speed, I would love to try some day too!
The little puppy and daddy (not shown) accompany groups of trekkers up and down the mountain everyday, dogs make such good companion and friend I must say. They ran so wild and free my heart sang along as they leaped down the mountain.
When I was trekking my way down, I still required the help of my hiking instructor for some huge steep steps, we chatted along the way and here goes one of the conversation that hit me, a lot. (I'm sorry I forgot his name, but lets call him Ketut.) He kept apologising for his bad English language but honestly I think it is good enough for normal conversations. It goes something like that:
Ketut: "We, very thankful that you choose Bali Sunrise Tour, I work for the government and it is together. I take my salary from the government. Because you choose to hike with Bali Sunrise Tour, our company has money to improve. Like, medical, like computer. So I really thank you very much."
Me: "No its nothing! You're good, I'm glad we manage to help!"
Ethel shared with me her experience with her hiking instructor as well and she asked her,
"Do you do this everyday?"
"Yes, I climb every day....what else can I do?"
That hit me a lot. They do their absolute best they can with what they have. According to how they speak, they stick to it because they do not have a choice but this spirit revealed through their commitment is charming. How many times in life do we succumb to circumstances that bind us? Or at least or me, I have been fighting it because I refused to let anything pull me down. But traveling has been swinging me back and forth between pursuing my own desire to learn more and to stay put, to stay simple.. oh well, I don't know, I haven't quite figured it out.
And, yup that pretty much summed up my very first hiking experience. It taught me a lot, through its very own rough and tough ways, physically and mentally, but I would like to believe it made me a stronger person than I was. When we work our days in blur, it is really refreshing to just take a leap out of your country and understand how people are living in another island of the world. More islands and life lessons to go! Counting down to the next.
All photos taken with iPhone 5s and GoPro. Hit me up on email if you'd like to find out more or if I missed out on anything! :)