Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bali Road Trippin: Mt Batur and Beyond

Ben braved the streets of Bali in style with a little Suzuki Stilo. As he figured out how to drive a manual with his left hand, and zigged and zagged along the windy-windy very narrow roads, navigating motos and big rice trucks, I tried to figure out how to navigate using a very general map--towns in Bali have signs sometimes, but not alltimes. We didn't know what many of the street signs meant...but we made it. 

the stilo in style at our digs in Toya Bungka

There was a downpour just outside of Ubud. We took refuge from the storm in what we thought was just an empty parking lot, but in less than 30 seconds, three guys were around the car with colorful umbrellas. We had stumbled unknowingly on one of the many agro-tourism spots along the road. Our guide brought us past drying spices like star anise and clove, then to a whole set up of coffee beans at different times of harvest/roasting. Then we went by the Luwak cages...this area of Bali is all about there special Luwat or Civat coffee, the coffee that is best because it has first been through the digestive system of the small Luwat. It really feels impossible that all that coffee comes from the Luwat, but what can you do. We sipped a long line of coffee, cocoa and tea samples as we looked out on the pourig rain. Before we headed to Toya Bungka, the base for exploring the volcano, Mt. Batur. 

Toya is an interesting town. It's main activities being tourism and volcanic soil harvesting. Yes, that would be the constant noise of 18 hours of trucks on the one road to Toya, collecting and delivering volcanic soil and rock. There was a wierd vibe in the town to be sure. Here's where we stayed, I wish I could've photographed the interesting wood tree and mushroom diorama that deocorated the bathroom....

But as we climbed Mt Batur in the dark early morning hours under a quarter moon, through the shadows of farms and forests, with our trusty, tiny local guide Yamin it was all worth it. 

magical cloudscapes

while we had trekked closely to some French tourists (who amazingly smoked cigarettes the entire way up) we didn't expect the party we found at the summit. About 40 or so folks with thier guides, all of us waited for our guides to cook our breakfast of eggs and bananas in the steam of the volcano. 

The fancy guide making delicious banana pancakes while all of us drooled...and other guides making offering at the summit's temple

Once we summited, we walked along the crater's lip which was just about a foot wide with lots of steam along the way, we could feel the heat!

great view of Bali's most revered and holy volcano, Aguung 

View of the last eruption in 2000ish (every Balinese you ask will tell you a different date of the last eruption). Note the small green patch amidst the black lava, it is the Lucky Temple that survived the blast. 

we found a monkey along our route

we hiked out along the most amazing farms, salsa farms as Fred would call them--tomatoes, peppers and shallots. 

these farms had several small shack homes that were beyond decay but they all had satellite dishes. Whole families, three generations, stooped over shallots, skinning them for market, not too amused to see us trekking by. It was an amazing experience to be sure. 

Next up: hope to get photos from the rest of our Balinese road trip up before we begin our Nepal trek. 

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