I set the alarm for 1.45 am and prepared all the long sleeved clothes I brought with me. Surely it was not going to be as cold as we were told, but it’s better to be prepared. Blurry-eyed we met our driver at 2 am and collected breakfast boxes with fruit of unrecognisable shapes and unknown names (snake skin fruit anyone?).
A 2h drive later, a bit confused why there was a guide and a driver with us in the car, we stopped at the foot of a mountain, the darkness around us so black I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. Our guide introduced us to yet another guide and off we went. Why didn’t we bring head torches, I thought. What if he’s a serial killer? (He wasn’t.) Why aren’t there any other tourists?
We climbed for about 40 minutes, clutching small torches in our cold hands. Our new guide offered to take my hand so I wouldn’t trip and fall, and at first reluctantly, but then gratefully, I took it. It was cold outside. About 10 degrees colder than in Ubud so perhaps 10-16 degrees. The path narrowed and the ascent became steeper. I asked if we could switch off our torches to see the stars. The darkness around us was so so deep and the starry sky seemed vast, a bit unfamiliar. I wondered if one can spot the same constellations from the southern hemisphere as at home, in Europe.
Still no tourists. We stopped for a break and I made a mistake on sitting on the ground. It was hard, uneven, set magma, dried in a rush after flowing down the slopes of Mt Batur. Up we went for another 30 minutes or so and our guide drew our attention to the path behind us – a procession of tiny luminous spots. *sigh of relief* so it wasn’t a tourist trap, there were other people climbing behind us.
We were joined by a group of local men with 2 little girls – friends of our guide. “Cola cola, miss?” – “No, thank you, perhaps on the top”. Every day they climb the volcano (see the program of Indonesia Bali trip 'Wakacje na wulkanie': https://exorientelux.pl/wycieczka/wakacje-na-wulkanie/) in the morning to sell about 5 bottles of Coca-Cola to the tourists at sunrise. Little girls already started their job training. I wanted to buy all the bottles and tell them to go back to their beds. It was around 5.30 am.
After another 30 minutes of rather steep, rocky ascent we reached the top. We were shown into a little concrete shelter by our guide and offered breakfast – sandwiches with warm banana and coffee. Tourists started streaming in, taking places on the benches around us and waiting for the sunrise. The atmosphere reminded me of one before a spectacle in a theatre or opera.
“Oh no, smoke, many many smoke!” exclaimed our guide. The volcano wasn’t erupting, he was disappointed that clouds covered the horizon and will obstruct our view of the sunrise. The nature failed to perform according to him.
The sun rose. It was beautiful. And then the monkeys came to say hi. It turned out they live in the volcano crater and meet tourist to beg for breakfast every morning.
I touched the ground – it was very warm. I read that one can cook eggs simply by placing them 1 feet under the ground for 15 minutes.
There was smoke coming out of the crater, and any other hole dug in the ground, droplets of water condensing on tree branches due to the cold air.
We walked in the cloud on our way down. The views were dreamy, I suddenly felt very tired. I thought about what we’d just done, was it worth the early start? Probably yes.
I was glad our companions managed to sell all their coca-cola.