With four hours of sleep, Josh, Alvin, and I woke up at 1:30AM to get ready for our hike up to Bali’s famous Mt. Batur. Hundreds of tourists from all over the world come here every day and wake up just as early (or even earlier) as we did to catch the sunrise on the top of the mountain. We drove about an hour away from our Villa to the bottom of Mt. Batur. Alvin woke up feeling really sick, but he stuck it out and went with us anyway. On our way to the mountain he threw up, and we knew he had to have a bad case of Bali Belly aka traveller’s diarrhea. But of course, we went onwards, and by 3:30AM we started our hike with our guide, Kudik. His English was hard to understand, but he ended up being a really great guide. We started our ascent at a pretty fast pace (to me) and I got out of breath fairly quickly. We made it to our first break point, and we were already sweaty and needed to take off our jackets even though it was cold up in the mountains. Before the halfway point, we stopped by a temple where the locals pray for a few minutes before proceeding up the mountain. By that point I’ll admit I was tired and a little miserable, but thanks to Josh and his subtle words of encouragement every time I wanted to quit was I was able to keep trekking.
That night was a big and bright full moon. In Balinese tradition, temples celebrate the full moon by performing full moon ceremonies. Since we didn’t get to see one, we made our commune with Mother Nature our ceremony for the month. The moon was gorgeous every step of the way. Every time we reached a stopping/resting point, the boys and I would look at how high up the mountain we got. Soon we could see the clouds on the neighboring mountains below where we were. We could see the neighboring mountains, the lights on the bottom lighting up the cities, and cotton candy clouds hovering over all of it.
The end was the most difficult, not only because we were extremely tired and beat, but because after the halfway point is all steep rocks and rocky dirty pathways to climb up. Kidak helped me as my legs were giving out and feeling like Jell-o. And finally as we made it to the top, Kidak congratulated all of us with high-fives. He laid out a mat for us to sit on where we had the perfect view of both the sunrise and the setting moon.
We moved to a different spot later to get the perfect spot for sunrise. Kidak brought us out breakfast, which was fried banana sandwiches, boiled eggs, and bananas. We drank hot tea and ate our breakfast as we waited for the sun to peep through. Soon, deep orange and blue colors were appearing in the sky. However, shortly after also came clouds and enough fog to encompass the entire mountain. All anyone could see was white. There was one moment when the sun came out for a split second, and the hundreds of people up on the mountain were cheering. That moment passed by quickly, and shortly after people started heading back down the mountain. The boys and I didn’t lose hope, but after about 15 minutes of waiting in the cold we decided to head back down.
The trek back down was a completely different experience than going up. Going up, it was pitch dark and we had no idea what we were really stepping on. Going down, we could see everything and every rock that was potential for us to slip on going down. Since the ascent going up was steep, so was the descent doing down. Slowly but surely, everyone on top of the mountain made their way down in a single file line. I started to get rocks in my shoes (and my smart ass forgot to wear socks) so my toes were starting to blister. With the help of Kidak, I was able to get down the mountain a lot faster than I usually would. The boys know by now that I’m a bit clumsy – they make fun of me for slipping on flat surfaces. I had been holding my pee for the entire way down, and thought about what advice my mom would give me. So eventually I found a nice bush and communed with nature. Josh and I ran back down the trail that was downhill but nicely paved. We passed through people’s farms and talked about how wonderful a nice hot shower sounded. Our original plan was to go to hot springs, but we were all way too tired to go after.
We went back home right after. Alvin threw up (inside the car this time) and Josh and I watched as our driver had the funniest disgusted reaction. He was nice about it though, and we kept driving back to our villa. Of course Alvin knocked out right when we got back – he deserved it. Josh and I went to find an ATM so we could withdraw more money and eat lunch. We were well out of luck because the one nearby ATM that accepted Visa ran out of money that morning. We tried finding resorts with fancy restaurants that would take card. We ended up stopping by Gaia Resort, which was this beautiful fancy resort that the boys and I definitely couldn’t afford to stay at. Josh and I had to spent a minimum of 500,000 IDR to pay with his card. It was like it was meant to be because along with a buffet lunch, Josh got a body scrub and we both took a yoga class right after.
Before our yoga class, we went back to our villa to pick up some stuff and check up on Alvin. I ended up hanging out with some of the local girls, who were watching me type on my phone, blog, and use Facebook. I saw her weaving the green rice containers that we see all around Bali either at restaurants or on the floor as prayer offerings. I attempted to learn, but it’s a lot harder than it looks. The owner of Villa Segara Lestari spent some time showing me how to make them. I couldn’t quite get it down, but I’m determined to keep practicing once I’m home with the palm leaves I have at home.
Josh was absolutely beaming after his body scrub and the yoga class. He nearly fell asleep through the last half an hour, but he said he felt rejuvenated like he slept for six hours. I’m writing this as I keep him company. We’re both drinking Balinese coffee and I think I’ve had way too much for the night.
Okay, it’s not super intense and impossible, but it is something you should definitely be prepared for. Here’s a little Mt. Batur survival guide I came up with.
Hydrate the day before. Stock up on a lot of water and electrolytes the day before the hike. Gatorade, Pedialite, rehydration powders/salts, coconut water, and just plain water will help you immensely. You will consume less water during the hike (like Josh), which means you’re less likely to have to urinate in a bush (unlike me).
Get a guide from the front office. The hike is actually doable without a guide, however our guide helped us, especially me, so much during the hike. It’s only about 100,000 IDR for someone who will safely walk you through the dark trails. There are hundreds of people on this hike and the guides are all willing to help everyone around them. Someone got injured on our way down the mountain, and almost all the guides around us asked us to wait where we were so they could go check up on the person.
Wear good shoes with grip. This is definitely not doable in sandals, even athletic sandals. And wear good socks. I know this is a no-brainer, but I totally forgot to wear them with my water shoes and sand and rocks got everywhere. More than half the hike is extremely rocky and the hike back down is strenuous. “Hati-hati!” they say, meaning “be careful!”
Wear warm clothes and dress in layers. The mountain gets extremely cold, but your body will also get extremely hot! Be ready to strap on or strip off clothes as you go. The top of the mountain is the coldest, and as your body is cooling off you’re going to wanna get warmer.
Bring a small thermos of hot water and some tea bags. This is great if you want to save some money. Tea or coffee is 30,000 IDR for just one cup. If you have a small one that doesn’t weigh too much then I suggest bringing it.