Mt. Batur: Sunrise Hikes and also a Monkey Forest
We set our alarms for 1:30 a.m. We were going to hike Mt. Batur to see the sunrise. The volcano's first documented eruption was in 1804, and most recently in 2000. It's still active. We were given little prior information, but according to the itinerary, it looked worthwhile.
To be honest, we didn't quite know what we were getting into. Mt. Batur rises 5,633 feet and typically takes two to three hours to climb. After a quick bite of dry cake and some sludge coffee we were given at 3 a.m., we arrived at the base of the mountain. We were provided small flashlights and that was basically the extent of our tutorial. We did have a guide who led the way.
The air was thin and it was freezing. Or at least, I was freezing. Regardless, a sharp contrast from the humidity in Ubud. As we continued to climb and glance back, there were indications we that would be rewarded once we reached the summit. But it was too dark to tell.
About halfway through, the climb became nearly vertical and more of a rock scramble.
It was more physically taxing than we anticipated, but we welcomed the challenge.
The clouds ultimately started to part and we had hints of a stunning sunrise.
We were above the clouds, and there's no true way to give the colors justice.
Personally, I found the other side of the mountain with the moon against the pastel hues to be even more spectuclar.
The soft colors highlighting the shapes of the clouds resonated with me. I couldn't get enough. The sun on one side, the moon on the other. It was remarkable.
At that point, we were told to eat our breakfast of a small banana, a hardboiled egg, and a slice of white bread in a box, before the monkeys surfaced from the valley.
And it was no joke. They climbed up in swarms, anticipating scraps of bananas.
We could appreciate how high we climbed on the way down, when the landscape became visible.
When looking out, it was evident that the black mass was actually lava.
We trekked back down through it. And also stuck our face in a crevice where steam was escaping. I wanted to stay hovered, if only to warm up.
Once the adrenaline faded, our eyes became super heavy in the van on the way back. We were unexpectedly woken at 10 a.m. for a tour and tasting of a coffee plantation. Although this would have been great, the timing felt ill-conceived. We were exhausted. We learned about Kopi Luwak, the most prized coffee, is made from coffee beans that are partially digested by civets and then plucked from their feces. That wasn't part of the complimentary tasting, naturally it cost extra.
I gulped down the sickly sweet concoctions in a hazy state. My advice is to be wary if brought to a coffee plantation for a complimentary tasting. It woke me right up.
Our time in Ubud was highlighted by our trek up Mt. Batur. I've gone on sunrise hikes before, a particularly notable one in 2015 when I was in Israel for Birthright and we slept overnight in the dessert to hike up Masada before the sun rose. However, never up an active volcano. It was a super rewarding expereince.
Another, less strenuous, activity in the heart of Ubud is the Monkey Forest. It's exactly as it sounds--a forest full of monkeys.
I may have been more apprehensive before entering if I'd known there were hundreds of monkeys. Everywhere.
I was drawn in by the fact that the forest is located in a nature reserve and a Hindu temple complex.
But they were relentless. Climbing on people, grabbing bags. I preferred the reserve aspect of the self-guided tour.
This monkey pretty summed up my mood in the monkey forest.
It's worth checking out. There are tons of people, as it's a big tourist attraction. I was grateful to have more space at the summit of Mt. Batur, and tried to channel that tranquility. The monkey forest was entertaining, but Mt. Batur will have a lasting impact.