It is 1:30 in the morning and my alarm goes off. I went to bed early as I could ~ 9:00 PM but it is sure to not be enough sleep. I’m in such a deep sleep that I am not really registering what the alarm is for. I decide to blow off whatever plan I had because I am not ready to wake up. Luckily I only press snooze (three times total). Eventually I remember that I have a driver coming for me at 2:15 to take me to Mount Batur. I am to do a sunrise hike.
I get myself ready quickly, luckily everything laid out the night before. I am outside a minute early and my van is already there. There is one other sleepy guy inside. He’s had an even earlier pickup than I. I try to sleep on the hour or so ride, eventually doing so. Awakened by the arrival at a resort where we are given tea and wait to meet our guide. It is chilly but I refuse the large jacket they offer because I have my own and I rarely get cold.
It is still pitch black when we start walking up toward the summit. The guide and the much younger guy start ahead and it becomes apparent there is no way I can continue at the pace they are going. It is 5 minutes in and I am exhausted. They put me in the front to set the pace and I trek up for a little more and realize even though my stomach has almost fully recovered from my recent sickness, my body has not. I have an embarrassing lack of stamina. Eventually I tell the guide I am going back to the parking lot because I don’t want to ruin the morning for the other guy. The guide tells me if walk another 15 minutes there is a motorbike I can hire to take me the majority of the way. It is an embarrassing option but at least I don’t lose out on the entire sunrise experience.
I put on the helmet provided and then wrap my arms around him to hang on for my dear life. It is a 30 minute scary and bumpy ride in the dark, maneuvering around hikers. As scary as the ride is, I know I have made the correct choice. Today would not have worked out the way I wanted it to. On a good day I do well with self-paced or at least a companion who can deal with my pace (I always say I am slow but I will get there) but today there was no way I am getting to the top with those legs and body and definitely not with the defeatist attitude of feeling like holding up a healthy 20 something on their journey. This is another reminder I can never do group hikes. It is never a pleasant activity for me.
We stop along the way for a picture. It is still sort of dark out but you can make out the lake and the mountain in the distance.
My bike drops me off on the last point that bikes can go and from there I have to hike the rest. This is supposed to be the most challenging portion but short. There is a guide helping me and a couple other “bike people”. They keep telling me its ten minutes to the top. I NEVER believe the timing in foreign countries because it is almost never representative of the time it would take ME. I assume it could take me up to thirty minutes to climb and I am ok with that but I am being chaperoned and constantly asked if I am ok and hands given to me to help. Please let me take the journey at my pace, alone. I actually feel better climbing this portion because even though I am weak, this is the part of climbing that always gives me a bit of a rush: uneven rocky surfaces with a bit of scrambling. If I wasn’t annoyed by the constant attention I might actually like this part. My original guide catches up with me with the other guy and I join them again. We are going to the summit and the guide is going to cook us an egg in volcanic steam while we wait. There is another “just another 5 minutes to the top”, all lies of course. At the top I am warm from the hike up but it is noticeably cool. I am still wearing my short sleeves because I love the feeling. We still have an hour to wait for sunrise. I eventually put all my layers on too because it gets windy and we are just standing still at this point. We eat breakfast and it is becoming obvious that the previously clear morning is now very overcast with strong winds. We remain hopeful but as sunrise comes and passes we have no view of the mountain. A thick fog covers the sky. So disappointing, but it would be even more disappointing if I actually hiked the entire way.
Our guide shows us the volcanic steam area and shortly after we start back down. As we drop in altitude the view becomes clearer and we actually get some good shots of the mountain.
I meet back with my motorcycle because I decide a round-trip is a good idea. It is still a scary ride down but I also see people slipping and sliding on the trails as we pass them. Maybe I am smarter than I think.
I’m back quick so I rest in the car waiting for the tour guide and the other guy. Eventually they make it back and we head off to visit a coffee farm. The coffee farms are much smaller here. The talk about the Luwak coffee that I have heard mentioned before. Luwak coffee is a rare coffee that is made with beans that are from the poop of the Luwak (or a civet). Civets only eat the best coffee berries and then subsequently poop out the beans whole. They are cleaned up and roasted into an expensive coffee. They didn’t have the coffee to sample but they did have some to buy so I bought some to take home along with another tea and coffee. After my visit I read about the conditions that the Luwak are kept in and I am not happy. When the guide told me about the coffee though he told me that the beans here are collected from the wild so perhaps not all farms use terrible practices for harvesting this rare coffee? After our tour we are able to try a good number of coffee and tea combinations. This is a nice stop on the way back.
After I go back to my hotel I clean up and rest a little and head out to lunch nearby (remember we left at 2:15 am this morning so it is still early in the day). After lunch I am done for the day. I spend the day napping and relaxing by the pool.