After scuba diving, we spent the night in Tulumben trying to find a cheap local way to get to Mt. Batur: an active volcano that we wanted to hike for the sunrise. Despite our best efforts, we had no choice but to pay top dollar for a driver to take us there, as the buses were indirect and would take a day of haggling, lots of effort and offer no guarantee that we would even get there. So, two hours and one comfortable drive later we checked into a dingy moldy smelling room at the base of the volcano with two Christmas lights as the only bulbs in the room and booked our guide for the 4am hike up.
Our guide up the volcano was Guday (pronounced like Crocodile Dundee says g’day mate), a 19 year old kid with dreams of working on a cruise ship to save money to start his own business in Bali. He was very kind and patient, as I had a splitting headache and Carrie was having some problems of her own on the walk up. However, after an hour and a half, we reached the top and sat down with all the other hikers from other groups in a covered wood shack for tea, a small breakfast and the sunrise.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas about our plans. The fog had started about halfway through our hike up and only got denser as the hours passed. Shortly before sunrise the downpour began and we just sat there watching as the sky went from dark to light. No ball of fire, no color changing, just light behind the wall of white.
I slept sitting up for a bit while Carrie talked to some other travelers and finally, after about two hours of shivering, the rain seemed to stop. We almost called it a day and went down, but decided to keep going on anyway and take a chance. Man are we glad we did!
The rest of our hike, another three hours, was spent without rain watching as the fog came and went providing spectacular views over Lake Batur and the surrounding mountains. It never got hot out, we took lots of breaks and I took about a million photos.
We saw smoldering craters, a temple inside a cave, the Lucky Temple at the foot of the volcano that managed to avoid any damage from constant eruptions, lava ash fields and more. On the way down we literally skied with our shoes on through a beach of ash. In total, our hike lasted eight hours (it should have been five but we had the rain delay) and we traveled a bit over 8km. Good times.
Verdict: Bali Hai