For my last week in Indonesia, I decided to explore Bali, one of the most popular island destinations in the world. It was a huge change from the remoteness on Pulau Belitung, where I had just come from, so on one of my last days in Bali, I decided to get away from the busy tourist cities and surround myself with nature by going hiking!
I made a rather spontaneous decision to book a tour to Mount Batur, an active volcano at 1.717 m, leaving at 2 AM the next morning. It was an early start, but I later realized just how much it was worth it, when I reached the top and experienced the most stunning sunrise.
Three German girls from my hostel joined me on the trip and later on, an English couple also joined us. I was extremely tired after having only 3 hours sleep, so it wasn’t until the breakfast was served at 3 AM that I got talking to them and found out what a great hiking group I had gotten. We all got along really well and all had interesting travel stories to share with each other.
After breakfast, we were taken to the beginning of the trail and at 4 AM, it all started. Along with about 300 other people, we slowly climbed the mountain, trying not to trip on the many stones on the track. Ascending was tough, but I was surprised that we all managed it so well. Before we knew it, we were at the summit, about 20 minutes before the sun would start rising.
In Hindu belief, Mount Batur is one of the most sacred mountains, so watching the sunset from that very mountain could not be more perfect. The views from the top are amazing, overlooking small villages, Lake Batur and Mount Agung, another active volcano.
While ascending the mountain, the sky had been completely clear, but just as the sun was about to rise, a thick layer of clouds came over the mountain, completely blocking the view. That meant that we didn’t get to see the sunrise over Mount Agung, which we had all been waiting for, but what we did see was something much better.
We all watched as the sun rose slowly behind the clouds, staring directly at it like it was some planet or moon. Never in my life had I been able to look so directly at the sun, apart from during totality of a solar eclipse. This was really special to me and I enjoyed every minute of it. Here I was, looking at this huge, orange star, which is rarely visible to the naked eye. I was in awe and I didn’t want the moment to end. The sun is really an amazing thing that I have only recently learnt to appreciate and respect.
Moments later, the clouds started disappearing, giving us a look at the mountain that we were standing on, right before we had to leave. This was the highest up that I’d ever been and I must say that the Earth looks amazing from above; clouds or no clouds!
And then it was time to descend the mountain. The first part was easy to climb down and there were even people running down parts of it. But then came the stones again and for some reason, they were much more slippery than on the way up.
I’ve been quite unlucky on this trip so far; I had already injured my knee and elbow on the left side and got infections after falling on some rocks on a beach on Pulau Belitung. And it probably won’t take you long to guess what happened this time… Just as I was enjoying Mother Nature the most, strolling down the mountain, confident that I definitely wouldn’t fall, I fell. And I fell bad. I hit my knee and elbow on the right side, got bruises all over my leg and ruined my leggings. But I did manage to save my camera again, so it wasn’t all bad.
On the way down, our guide showed us a place where we could join the inhabitants (cute little monkeys) in looking down the crater, while seeing and feeling the hot steam from the active volcano coming up. It was only then that I realized where I was; I was standing on top of an active volcano that could erupt at any minute. I imagined myself fighting for my life, trying not to be left behind as everyone started running away from the hot lava that was chasing them down the mountain. But deep down I knew that nothing would happen; I was just extremely lucky to be standing there. I had just hiked up an active volcano in Indonesia.
Looking back at the mountain as we reached the bottom, it looked huge. I couldn’t believe what we had just done. But this was only the beginning of my hiking adventures in Asia; and I can’t wait to continue them!
Since my journey through Northern Europe last year, I have really found a passion for hiking; a passion that I hope I’ll be able to follow for the rest of my life. There’s nothing quite like defying a mountain, especially when doing it with a great bunch of people by your side.
Mount Batur was a great beginners mountain, and now I feel like I can overcome the bigger ones, so why not just start with the biggest? Climbing Mount Batur was actually preparation for something crazy that I’m doing tomorrow here in Malaysian Borneo; climbing Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia at 4,095 m.! Call me crazy – because I am – but I am going to cherish every minute of this.
I’ve still got bruises all over my leg and it does hurt a bit to walk, but I’m just going to suck it up and do it anyways! Climbing Mount Kinabalu will be a dream come true and nothing – I mean nothing – is going to stop me! Just 6 hours to go!!!