This was such an incredible experience. I watched the clouds part and the sun emerge as orange globe and illuminate the lush green caldera and silver lake of Mt. Batur as it lit up the morning sky. I was sitting on a bench at the top of the mountain where, moments before I had been a bit chilly since my sweat had dried from the epic sprint up the mountains on goat paths, I watched in awe the morning unfold upon island below me. I heard the birds start to wake up and suddenly it was choir from every direction.
I started with the highlight of my day because at 3am I didn’t know if I was going to make it up when I woke up at 3am instead of 2am! Stupid me forgot to set my phone to Bali’s timezone, 1 hour ahead of Thailand by the way! FUCK!
So I woke up and got all ready at what I thought was 2:30 amd and was actually 3:30am. I received an email from the company I booked saying the driver had come and left!! I quickly downloaded Whatsapp and called the company. Minor panicking involved. They sent the driver back to me. Turned out I was the only one on the tour that day! My driver zoomed in the dark along a single lane through villages and through cabbage patches I’m not sure how we didn’t fly off into the chili pepper patches but we arrived in the pitch black at the starting point.
My guide, this little 63 year old wiry Balinese guide, grinned at me, handed me a walking stick and a flashlight and proceeded to tell me he was “very optimistic about making it to the top in time for sunrise if I was a good trekker.” (he repeated this a few times on the way up!)
In the pitch black, we began or ascent straight up these tiny, narrow trails that were barely a wide enough for my shoes!! We went the “shortcut” meaning we didn’t go on the main trail but instead just took the little paths that would get us to the top before 6am. This was a solid climb. Wouldn’t recommend this unless you are a good, fit hiker who likes to scale steep goat trails in the dark. I had a fricken blast:) I laughed because we hit the general trail at one point and it was so flat compared the vertical climbing we had been doing that I asked my guide if this was a rest stop or campsite and he laughed and said this was the normal way up, very gradual and easy, he said before turning onto another hidden trail leading straight up the mountainside.
We made it up in 50 minutes (the main path usually takes 1.5-2hours) and all the young balinese guides already at the top serving their customers crowded around the two of us and were excited at how quickly we had come up by the local trails they climb as well. These guides were hilariously shocked at first when we emerged from the grasses behind a hut on top of the mountain with my guide breathing heavy and both of us soaked from sweat and dew. My guide was out of breath and so, in typical balinese fashion, he chain smoked cigarettes while we waited for the sun to rise. He also took a fun photo with me.
There were also monkeys at the top. I am not a fan of monkeys. They can sense I don’t like them and they hiss at me and I hiss back. They did pose though.
Most other hikers had already arrived and were crowded around the huts where the guides served them coffee and tea (which you do have to pay for) and bananas cooked in volcanic steam. My guide took me to where he put the bananas in a little cave with volcanic steam. I had a warm volcanic banana sandwich for breakfast as I watched the sunrise. What an experience.
On the way down we listened to my guides favorite Balinese song as we jogged down the mountain. Super fun. I was able to see the steep narrow trails we had come up in the dark. We had walked up volcanic rock through forest (I figured this one out because I was whacked in the face by a branch of pine needles as I was walking up in the dark!), and tall grass fields.
He took me to his house while we waited for my ride. Turns out he is the village’s holy man and explained a little about what he did and showed my is house temple.
A very good day.
I fell asleep immediately upon arriving back at my hostel and woke up at lunch a new person!