Hello everyone! It has been far, far too long since we last posted a blog, but we hope you will forgive the terrible internet connections everywhere we have been recently. That being said, get ready for a long one because we have many more amazing adventures to share with you all. Now, picture time!
After trekking the back roads of Ubud, playing with rabid dogs and fending off terrifying monkeys we decided that it was high time for some rest and relaxation so we headed to Sanur. After finding a wonderful hotel off the main road with a pool, TV, air conditioning and breakfast included for $20 a night, we knew the next few days would be just what the doctor ordered. Prior to our Ubud adventures we met a couple of guys, Mike and Charlie, from the Bay Area with whom I happened to have a number of mutual friends. They told us that they would be in Sanur when we arrived, attending a conference that they thought I would enjoy at the luxurious Sanur Beach Hotel. Upon hearing luxury and beach in the same sentence we were sold and made plans to meet them the day after our arrival in Sanur. Total relaxation was to follow….
The next day marked the first of a three day, non-adventure into the joys of doing nothing. We proceeded to lounge at the gorgeous Sanur Beach Hotel pools during the day, taking full advantage of their dart boards, table tennis, water polo and poolside service, while retreating in to Sanur for delicious eats and the first games of the world cup at night. We fully indulged our inner children as we explored the reefs, splashed in the pools and helped Sasha to perfect treading water. Unfortunately, once the conference ended we no longer had our free access to luxury and again had to figure out where our next adventure would come from.
Initially, we were going to take the public boat to Lembongan, but unbeknown to us Mike and Charlie had other plans that proved irresistible. The next day, we hoped on our motorbike to meet up with Charlie, Mike and their huge crew in Seminyak.
Upon arriving in Seminyak we got the first taste of what would be an incredibly entertaining and fun adventure for the next two days. Arriving at Mike and Charlie’s hotel, we were greeted by a group of 9 world travelers, revving their motorbikes and ready for a long ride. Immediately excited to meet everyone we quickly attempted to introduce ourselves, but before we could even finish the introductions Charlie was flying out of the driveway with everyone in tow. Within moments we were on the main junction, 5 motorbikes deep, driving towards the hills surrounding Ubud with an assent of Mount (Volcano) Batur on our minds. Sadly, Mike had to stay behind as the initial onset of Bali belly had snuck up on him overnight and he was too fatigued for the journey ahead.
After driving for about 1 1/2 hours we found ourselves back in Ubud. Our rowdy crew pulled across the intersection at JL. Monkey Forest Road and JL. Ubud Road and parked in front of a busy, but unassuming local restaurant. One of the boys that came on the trip had been living in Bali for the past year and a half and insisted that we eat here. He informed us that this restaurant was known across Bali as having the best Babi Guling around. Without knowing what Babi Guling was yet we said, “Great!” and immediately ordered the special. As it turns out Babi Guling is a suckling pig dish. The pig is cooked over a spit and every part of the body is used. As we were chomping down on delicious ribs over rice, Sasha picked up a red sausage took a bite and said, “mmmmm…what is this?” Charlie, having already been keenly watching her nibble at the sausage casually said, “Pig blood sausage,” after which the look on Sasha’s face changed from mild curiosity to intense disgust. Frowning at me, she placed the rest of her sausage on my plate and told me I could have her blood sausage. I excitedly obliged and quickly ate both hers and mine. Aside from that, Sasha (and I for that matter) loved our Babi Guling, pig skin and all.
With the cohort pleasantly satiated after a lunch of swine followed by ice cream, we made the brilliant decision to get back on the road just as the clouds were darkening. Mounting our motorbikes everyone driving down from the mountain was either soaking wet or covered in a Pancho. With the wit of the monkeys Sasha dislikes so, I quickly found a store that sold Pancho’s and we snatched their entire inventory for the crew. Panchoed up and ready to go, at the very moment we hit the road so did the raindrops.
Another 40 minutes uphill we stopped once again at the rice paddies of Telengan only this time Sasha was replaced by a huge pink marshmallow. By the time we arrived at the rice paddies the rain had subsided and everyone, but my sweet little girlfriend, had taken off their pancho. Sasha, ever fearful the rain would return, instead bounced around the rice paddies like an overstuffed pink pillow and was somehow magically spotted by a local rice farmer. He flagged her down as we took pictures with some of the boys and the priceless pictures seen above were the result.
After the Sasha show at the rice paddies dusk was quickly approaching and we still had a long way to go before reaching Lake Batur at the bottom of the Volcano. We charged along for the next hour and reached the lake just in time to watch a beautiful sunset over the ring of mountains surrounding the lake. Finding a hotel just five minutes away from the base of the volcano we all were relieved to stretch our tired limbs and kick back for the remainder of the night. After a wonderful dinner of laughs and fun, we all headed to bed in preparation for our 3:00 am wake up call to begin the ascent of Mt. Batur.
Waking up at 3:00 am began what would be one of the most memorable days of the trip so far. Drearily rubbing the sleep from our eyes we wandered out of our rooms and lazily mounted our motorbikes for the five minute ride to the base of the volcano. Upon arriving we were quickly rattled awake as we approached the trail head. Standing before us was a throng of guides (required to hike the volcano) all vying for our business. Luckily for us we we only had to endure about ten minutes of confusion while the guides argued about who would one to lead our large group up the mountain. Before we knew it we were trekking forward in the dark for what would prove to be a treacherous hike.
Just minutes into the first bit of the hike we realized that our lack of sleep had repercussions outside of our current fatigue. In our daze not only had Sasha and I forgotten to grab a flashlight, but so had 7 of the 9 others in our group. This left just two flashlights among the 8 of us, including the guide and much to our chagrin within the first five steps of the hike we understood what a critical tool we had forgotten. Initially the ground we were hiking on was fairly mild and solid underfoot. We slipped here and there when we encountered the inconsistent grove or incline, but for the first 5 feet the trail seemed as though it would quite manageable. On footstep number 6 everything changed. In the blink of an eye, the trail jutted sharply upward and changed to loose, sharp and uneven volcanic rock that slipped under each step. The slope went from an easy walk up Bernal hill to a practically impossible vertical incline consisting of treacherous terrain.
Upon realizing that the only way to avoid serious injury would be to stay as close to the flashlight as possible, Sasha and I scurried up to the front of the line and as close to the guide as possible. For the next two hours we scrapped and scrambled straight upward towards the top of the volcano. It was one of the most intense hikes I have ever experienced. In just two hours we climbed at least 3000 vertical feet. In preparation for the climb we had decided that wearing a sweatshirt in the chilly mountain air would be a good idea. Within 20 minutes that was a decision that we lived to regret as everyone was drenched in sweat as we charged upward.
After a series of near disastrous slips and quite exhausted, we were relieved to find ourselves at a small hut located at the top of the mountain. While Sasha and the others collapsed on the rickety one plank benches outside of the hut, Charlie and I ventured through the doors of the hut. Inside we found a group of locals chatting about the world cup with fresh coffee brewed for the weary climbers just arriving. It was about 5:30 am and everyone was in dire need of their first cup of coffee for the day so we ordered coffee for the group and joined them to wait for the sunrise outside.
Two coffees later, a small bit of light began illuminating the sky at around 6:00 am and with that faint sunlight our incredible surroundings began to be reveled. As the light increased we saw that we were sitting on the rim of the volcano directly in front of a massive crater created by an eruption of the past. Behind the crater the rim of the volcano jutted further upward and loomed ominously overhead. In front of us was a sheer slope that exposed the incredible trail that we had just completed. Looking over the edge you could peer down over 3000 feet to a spectacular view of Lake Batur underneath another large peak shrouded in the early morning clouds. Surrounded by this spectacular beauty, we sipped on our coffee and watched the sunrise over the volcano as waited for a breakfast of toast and hard boiled eggs cooked over the steam vents of Mt. Batur.
Unfortunately the internet cafe is shutting down for the night so I have to end here. Tomorrow I will pick up where we left off and describe the rest of our amazing journey to the top of Mt. Batur.