Last Thursday was welcomed on top of one of Bali’s highest volcanos, Mt. Batur, at 1717 meters above sea level.
Everyone had been talking about the sunrise trek ever since I’d arrived, so without further ado I figured that that might be worth doing. The tour started with a light breakfast (two pieces of toast with marmalade) at the hostel just before 2 am. I had tried to go to bed as early as at 9 pm, but could not fall asleep. I hadn’t had a proper dinner, either, so I was feeling a little weak.
We were picked up by our tour guides. Once we got to the bottom of the volcano everyone was given a flashlight. The night was pitch black. The sky was full of stars, apart from which the only thing that was visible was the dim string of light going all the way from the bottom of the mountain to the top, marking the path.
The first half of the trek was quite okay. The ground beneath us changed from a sandy path to an asphalt road, and I was happy to be getting a workout. The second half, however, turned out to be a real climb. Without our guide who was used to climbing the path every day (what a great shape he must be in!) we would not have had a clue of where to go. A misstep could have been fatal, as the rocky ground was uneven and covered in sand. My stomach was turning and my heart was beating. Someone asked the guide how much longer it would take us until we’d get to the top. 13 minutes, he said. Or was it 30?
It was impossible to tell how far from the top we really were. The closer we got, the better the flashlights in the far distance became visible to us. It seemed like a never ending road. On the other hand we were lucky that it was dark, as it could have been quite freaky if it hadn’t; now we were happily unaware of the height we were at.
We reached the top an hour early, so we sat down on a bench facing Mt. Agung, the highest mountain of Bali behind which the sun was supposed to rise. The road to the top had been both sweaty and chilly, and the air was cold. I had brought a sweater, a jacket and a scarf, and all of it was much needed.
When the deeply orange spring of light finally showed up in the horizon, people’s smartphones and cameras flew into their hands like Harry Potter’s broomstick when he calls ”Accio Firebolt!”.
In a flash of light everyone had forgotten about their cold and tiredness and hunger.
After a very slow start the sun rose at an increasingly fast pace. The clouds gathered around the mountain across the lake, and the view was constantly changing. It was breathtakingly beautiful, almost surreal. Here I am on top of a mountain on Bali with a bunch of people I got to know about half an hour ago, all of whom feel so like-minded. Thinking about it, how random is that? Random but nice, very nice.
Going down was a lot easier than going up. We had a view over Lake Batur and Mt. Agung, both covered by clouds as seen from the top. The closer we got to sea level, the warmer it got, until all of a sudden it was as hot and sweaty as ever.
After the trek we visited a coffee plantation, where we got to taste the most expensive coffee in the world, the Balinese Luwak. The coffee beans of this specific coffee are eaten by an Indonesian cat-like animal called palm civet or civet cat. The cat only eats the ripest of the coffee beans, which means they are of top quality. It then defecates them whole, after which they are collected, washed and dried, and sorted and finally roasted. Sounds disgusting? It was!
As if the visit to the plantation hadn’t been enough, we also visited the Tagallalang rice terraces. The terraces are located just outside of Ubud and are a Unesco World Heritage. Although I had walked the Campuahan Ridge Walk the day before and already seen some rice fields, seeing the actual terraces was nice. Everyone was quite exhausted, though: we had stayed up all night, done quite the trek and been served nothing but eggs and banana bread for breakfast. We did not feel like taking one more step, so we asked the driver to take us back to the hostel.
Friday was my first day of having to hurry nowhere. I woke up after 11 hours of sleep and really felt like having a massage. I wanted to try the hot stone massage, which consisted of a one-hour Balinese massage and a half-hour hot stone massage. It was so, so, SO good and only cost 10 euros – insane, I know!
In the afternoon I finally got to try yoga. We had picked a gentle flow class at a place called Intuitive Flow with the Dutch girl, Britt. It turned out to be the perfect choice. The teacher was funny and the group consisted of no more than 7 people, on top of which the view was amazing. What a peaceful place!
Saturday, then, was mostly spent on the rooftop terrace of a café. I had breakfast and did some writing. It felt good to finally have the time to catch up with myself after quite an intense week.