A Special Sunrise on Mount Batur (Spoiler Alert: With More Monkeys!)

You’d think after a week of no-work-at-work I might not get so excited about Friday (only click that if you’re really prepared for what you must know you’re going to find), but that’s not the case. I’m so excited!

I mentioned at the end of my last post that we had to be up at 2 in the morning in order to climb Bali’s second-highest volcano, Mount Batur. Why, you might ask, did we have to be up at such an ungodly hour for the event? Because it was a Sunrise Hike; an important element of which being that we were at the summit before sunrise, which was 6:30 am. An hour’s ride in a Jeep to get there, a 2-3 hour hike to reach the top (depending on fitness and stamina)… yeah, it seemed like 2 in the morning was a safe bet.

We arrived at the base of the mountain and met our guide, Ketut. I remembered that the fortune-teller-from-EPL was named Ketut (don’t hold this against me… though don’t think it’s lost on me that going to Bali completed my own Rome/Indian Ashram/Bali trifecta), and had noticed in the art museum in the Monkey Forest that a lot of the artists were named Ketut, and remarked to Wayne that, “Man, there are a lot of Balinese people named Ketut!”

At which point he shared with me this very interesting tidbit of information: In Balinese families of a certain class, the first born child is named Wayan. Second born is Made, then Nyoman, and then Ketut. Should a family have a fifth child, they go right back to Wayan! The names work for both genders. Incredible, right? Of course, there’s a little more to it than that, if you care to you can read about it here.

If you’ve been following at all, you’ll have realized that the hike up the volcano occurs before sunrise, and is therefore very dark. Ketut supplied us each with a flashlight and we began our ascent first through the government vegetable fields growing in the fertile volcanic ground, and then up the sometimes steep slop of not-always-secure volcanic rock. With only our little flashlights to guide us! I mean, that makes it sound slightly more dramatic than it actually was; the time passed quickly and we finished in right around two hours. Ketut kept us entertained the entire time with funny little stories; he also explained that the volcano is still very much active. In 2000 it ‘erupted,’ but only in the form of smoke and a bit of ash. The last lava-ridden, fire-spewing, visions-of-the-apocalypse-inducing eruption was in 1964. I asked Ketut when the next eruption would be. “I don’t know. Maybe today.” (Wayne has since told me he read conflicting information to Ketut’s concerning the eruptions. I know the responsible thing for me to do would be to fact check myself, but instead I’ll leave you with a “Don’t shoot the messenger,” and the dates Ketut shared.)

We got to the top and were given a breakfast of a boiled egg (I read somewhere it was actually cooked with volcano steam?) and a peanut butter sandwich, and then had to wait an hour in the cold (way colder than we expected to be in Indonesia!) before sunrise. Guess they should have actually determined the level of our fitness and stamina before getting us up at 2 in the morning after all. But when it did rise it was worth it! Lake Batur, the largest lake in Bali, was sprawled out below us; and we could see the only Balinese peak taller than the one we stood on, Mount Agung, just ahead of us. Gorgeous colors filled the sky and yes, eventually we warmed up.


he’s thinking, “i’m so hot for her! i’m so hot for her! i’m so hot for her… and she’s so cooooold!”


with ketut

thanks wayne! (my camera was dying so many of these are his.)
thanks wayne! (my camera was dying so many of these are his)

volcanic pups. feel free to use that as a band name, since i’ve long since given up on my own music career.
crater monkeys. sooo docile!
volcanic steeeeam.

barbed wire don't keep no monkeys out the crater.

if only i could remember what he did…

hahaha, so someone left a bottle of coke on the ground, and a big mean monkey made a beeline for it. he picked it up, threw it viciously to the ground so it spewed everywhere, and then began to lap the spilt coke up from the stone. meanwhile this little guy ran up to the abandoned bottle, ran a little ways down the hill so the other monkey wouldn’t see him with it, and began drinking properly from the bottle. it was priceless.

the view we didn’t get on the way up. (we found hiking in the dark to be surprisingly rewarding… you never know how far you are from your goal, so you just focus on paying attention to every precarious step. a metaphor for life, perhaps?
ketut helped us take a ‘surprise picture’. we are very strong.

tomato fields next to the mountain. we also passed onion and pepper fields. apparently the earth is very fertile here.

After the hike we were a bit exhausted, but everyone kept telling us about the coffee plantations that were Stop Two in the Mount Batur Tour. Though they tend to cultivate many things (such as ginger, galangal, cacao, and cinnamon) in addition to coffee, their specialty is indeed a particular type of coffee that is a bit… strange to us foreign types. It’s called Luwak Coffe (or Kopi Luwak), and is made with the assistance from a small mongoose-like rodent called a civet. Namely, the civets are known to select only the best ripe coffee “cherries” for their own consumption. They eat these, digest them, and then… ‘eliminate’ pods of allegedly perfectly cured coffee beans. We were initially a little put off at the thought of drinking mongoose poo, but, you know, when in Rome. We decided the plantation was worth a stop.

you can see the poo-ey pods in the front middle basket.
ready to consume…
this coffee smells like shit!

it is shit, austin!

oh good, then it’s not just me.

Actually, I can’t call myself a coffee connoisseur by any means, but in my opinion it tasted just like good old fashioned espresso. Which, of course, isn’t a bad thing, once you can get past the fact that it passed through the digestive tract of a small mammal. They also had other goodies available; ginger tea, lemon tea, ginseng coffee, vanilla coffee. Though we enjoyed that stop (aside from the parking lot: Wayne had ever-so-generously donated his hiking boots to Ketut after seeing the state of disrepair the sneakers he was wearing were in, but the parking lot was all stones so did not make for a pleasant walk! No good deed goes unpunished.), we couldn’t bring ourselves to visit the rice plantations that were next on the agenda… we could barely keep awake in the car! Even without it the tour was quite enjoyable.

Since I just quoted it:

And since I quoted it earlier (however senselessly… though I was cold!), and because it’s just one of my favorite music videos ever:

Guess it’s doubly sensible, what with the “bleeding volcano” line. Alright everybody, rain seems to have calmed down outside so let me seize this opportunity to hop on the ol’ wheels and pedal home! Happy weekend everyone!

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One response

  1. Pingback: The Tanah Lot Sunset with Old (and New!) Friends | [and] i'm [STILL] having the THAIme of my life!

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