I am high on Bali! I had truly enjoyed my first trip to Bali and the Komodo Islands. Since then, I have been in awe of the Island of Gods. As soon as I arrived home, I knew I had to return to Bali again.
For the second trip to Bali, my friends suggested that we climbed mountains. I was not exactly fit but was desperate to return to Bali (it was probably post-vacation-syndrome), thus any agenda was fine by me even though I was not the outdoorsy type. Nevertheless, decision was made very quickly and within two weeks, we made all the necessary travel arrangements.
We stayed at Harris Hotel on Kuta Beach again. After checking in, we went sightseeing and our first stop was Tanah Lot, home of a pilgrimage temple called Pura Tanah Lot (Tanah Lot temple). It is located on a rock just offshore and is fundamental to Balinese spiritualism and mythology. Unfortunately, the walking path leading to Tanah Lot is very commercialized with Balinese souvenir shops selling just about every Balinese trinket that you can think of. Apart from the temple, most people were amazed by the views of the sea, thunderous waves crashing on to the rocks, and the beautiful sunset.
We spent about 2 hours at Tanah Lot – taking photos, exploring the site and enjoying the spectacular views. By the time we left Tanah Lot, it was already an hour before sunset and we were on our way to Ku De Ta – a fancy restaurant bar located on Seminyak beach.
Ku De Ta is modern and minimalist in design. It has a west-facing beach front, thus popular for its nightly sunset sessions. The theme for their sunset sessions is “music creates space”, so while watching the sun sets, guests sip margarita or mojito, hang around in the garden or recline on the lounge chairs on the upper deck, and listen to House, Bossa, Jazz or Lounge global music. Sweet indulgence.
As the sky darkened, we ordered a pitcher of sangria, some beer, cheese and crackers. We also invited our Balinese travel agents to join us – they had organized several Indonesian trips for one of our friends and our recent trip to Komodo Island. Our travel agents were “impressed” with the amount of alcohol we drank because we were going to climb mountains early next morning. They reminded us about the climb and that admittedly sobered us up a bit.
We left Ku De Ta about 10pm and headed to Made’s Warung in Kuta to have supper. By the time we returned to our hotel, I slept only for an hour and had to wake up again as we had to travel to Kintamani highlands for our mountain-climbing.
Kintamani is located about 90 minutes from Kuta, and is 1,500m above sea level. We were going to climb Mount Batur (1,700 metres), and is still an active volcano. Most travellers climb Mount Batur to watch the sunrise and apparently it is an easy climb of about two hours. Well, I probably took about 2.5 hours, or maybe 3 hours, as I was not so fit.
We were assigned to a guide who ensured we ate a meal first at the Lakeview Hotel before ascending the mountain. There were many travellers which resulted in a congestion at the start of the climb. My eyes were adjusting to the dark though there was a glimmer of light shining from our guide’s torch lights. We had to frequently stop to make way for faster and fitter climbers but at the same time, we had to ensure not to stop suddenly as we didn’t want climbers to bump into us from behind. Soon enough, the bee line of climbers broke as the faster climbers sprinted ahead while the rest of us slowed down to catch our breaths.
I struggled to climb Mount Batur particularly during the last 45 minutes of the climb. The guide had to hold my hand and constantly pulled me up at each step. Fortunately, I made it to the top in time for sunrise which was spectacular!
I felt as if I was in heaven, above the clouds, and as if the sun was within reach. We could also see in the far distance: Mount Agung (tallest mountain in Bali), Lombok Island and its tallest mountain, Mount Rinjani. We were served breakfast at the summit – bread, eggs, a cup of hot tea – and a breathtaking view.
Obviously, what goes up must come down. This was the part which admittedly, is an embarrassment to mountain climbers. I had to be piggy-backed to descend the mountain. Yes, that’s right! I was excited to descend because I thought going down the mountain was easier than climbing up, right? But on the contrary. I came across loose rocks while descending which made me slipped a few times and that scared the shit out of me. What made things worse was, I didn’t carry a climbing stick with me as I had left the damn thing in the hotel room! So the guide had no choice but to carry me on his back to get me down the mountain. I gave him a big tip.
After that embarrassing moment, we walked to a nearby hot springs to dip into warm water and relax. Lunch was at Lakeview Hotel and by that time we were able to see Mount Batur and Lake Batur in clear sunlight.
On the way back to Kuta, our driver drove through Ubud, the cultural centre of Bali which was 45 minutes away from Kintamani. We could have stopped to look around Ubud but unfortunately, we were too knackered from climbing and the lack of sleep that we just mumbled to the driver to move on to Harris Hotel.