Sunday, May 24, 2015

Waking up in Bali...

After another seven hours in the sky, we landed in Bali. We had a quick cab ride to our bungalow on the beach in Sanur and within the blink of an eye we were in bed, drooling on the pillow. Unfortunately, we were only able to sleep two measly hours before our alarm went off. It was time to hike to the top of Mount Batur...just what our bodies needed.

Kadek and Ardi, two brothers in charge of driving us to and from the mountain, picked us up in a van and drove us through the dark, dog-ridden streets of Bali. We arrived at the base around 4:00 am where we met our guide, Saja. Saja led us through farmland, around temples, and into the jungle where we began our hike to the summit of Mount Batur, a 1700 meter climb. 

The terrain was constantly changing beneath our feet as we ascended. We stepped over twisting tree branches, slipped over sandy inclines, nearly lost our balance on loose volcanic pebbles, and clung to rocks that were slick with dew. We'd stop every so often to catch our breath or to take a drink and we'd shut off our flashlights to gaze up at the clearest sky we'd ever seen. I was twenty-five years old, sitting on the side of a Balinese volcano, with an endless sky above me, and the rest of my life in front of me. I made four birthday wishes that morning, all on different shooting stars. 

Of many groups hiking that morning, we were the first to the top. Being long and lanky, we had an advantage over the rest. We finished the two hour hike thirty minutes early. We enjoyed an extra sweet Sprite and CocaCola (Saja insisted it would be good for our energy) and waited for the sun to 

As we watched the sun come up, Saja and the other guides were cooking us breakfast in pits heated by volcanic steam. We were served Balinese coffee, warm banana sandwiches, steamed eggs, and fruit. Saja also acted as a [nearly professional] photographer during the entire experience. 

Thomas, myself, and our dear Saja

After breakfast and the breathtaking view, we started our descent. A narrow walk along a ledge followed by a run, down nearly the entire backside of the mountain. Saja advised us tiny, fast steps were the only way to get down the steep slope we were on. So off we went, running down the volcano, giggling like little kids, stopping only to play with monkeys.

It was almost hard to believe the great feat that was hiking Mount Batur after we were able to see the mountain in the light of day. And all on a whopping two hours of sleep, I might add.
It wouldn't be right to leave Saja without a few more photos.

From there, the Brothers Bali (Ardi and Kadek) took us to a Balinese coffee plantation where we toured the grounds, saw our first luwaks, and sampled coffees and teas while looking out at the jungle scene below us. And yes, we tried the luwak cofee. Thomas even bought a bag :)

When we got back to the bungalow our moped was ready for us. That's right, we were planning on blending in with the locals on our very own scooter. But let me just tell you, we stand out like sore thumbs with our 6 foot frames and Hawaiian shirts. Oh, and the selfie stick.

We zipped over to the nearest money exchange where we quickly became Balinese millionaires and headed home to lay on the patio as the sound of the ocean lulled us to sleep. Welcome to Bali and hello to twenty-five.

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