Day 2 of Bali found us at the bottom of Mt. Batur ready to climb it and take in the sunrise after a 2:00 am pickup. We were with some delightful young girls, three from London and one from Canada. We met our guides at the base and began our trek.
I must admit, the experience was not as advertised, as the people who sold us the tour assured us that it was a nice, easy climb. On that point they were very much mistaken! The volcano mountain is really beautiful and we enjoyed the experience, but it got quite steep as we made our way up in the dark and rain. Our guides were regular mountain goats and they were very agile at running up and down the mountainside assisting us as needed! It was very beautiful when we reached the top. The clouds rolled in, so we really did not see the sunrise at all, but being in and above the clouds has a beauty of its own and was well worth the trek.
Mt. Batur has erupted 4 times: The first, in 1964, killed an entire village of “more than 100 people”. There is still a very large blackened area marking the spot where the trajedy occured. The second, third and fourth eruptions were smaller and no one was killed, which is a mercy. Yes, the volcano is still active, and we were able to go see the crevices that emit steam. Unfortunately a couple was killed a while back while climbing it with no guide; they fell over the edge and burned to death. For anyone who goes there, please invest in a guide!
The climb down was much easier and quite fun, as I learned to hop from big rock to big rock as the guides do. They took us through a farming village on the way back and we ate peppers and peanuts straight from the ground. The entire village shares the load of work on the farmland, and they then trade their produce for other things that they need. As in Fiji, Bali is a very community-oriented culture and it is very wonderful to see. They really care about each other and are very desirous to help out their neighbor.
Upon our arrival back to town we freshened up at the hotel and then went to an Indonesian restaurant, where we enjoyed some Lawar and Nasi Goring. Lawar is a wonderful dish with stems, chives, coconut shavings, and spice. You can put any vegetable in Lawar, or fruits such as jackfruit or papaya; it was really wonderful! The Nasi Goring is basically fried rice with veggies and an egg on top. Yum!
That evening we went to the Ubud Temple and saw 3 shows: A Kecak, a Sangryang Dedari Dance, and a Sanghyang Jaran Dance.
The Kecak is a story in dance of Sita, Rama and Laksamana (Rama’s brother). It opens with the male storytellers in 3 circles around each other chanting and one lead singing the story out loud.They sway side to side as the chanting continues.The actors playing the leads then dance out the story as the chanters tell it, and the dancers do not say a word. The story itself is about Sita being kidnaped by the evil Rahwana, who wants to marry her. Rama employs the help of Hanoman, the monkey king, to save her. After a fight between Rahwana and Hanoman, Sita is saved and returned to her family.
The Sangryang Dedari Dance is a traditional ritual meant to maintain the health and well-being of the village by driving away evil spirits. Two underage girls are put into a trance and perform a ritual dance with their eyes closed, and their movements remain in sync throughout the dance. The men chant around them, and when the chanting stops the girls fall to the ground. The priest finally brings them out of the trance and blesses them with holy water.
The Sanghyang Jaran Dance is a firedance performed by a man on a stick horse. It was very impressive to see, as they light a fire in the center of the courtyard and he brushes the ashes around and dances on them.
All in all, they were wonderful shows and a fantastic end to a long but gratifying day! We had been up since 1:30 am, climbed a mountain, explored more and went to a show, we went to bed exhausted but in love with Bali!