Dada da da…. Da…dada da da da……
Da da da da da da da da daaaaaaaaa….
The final mountain……
Friday 13 Jan, 2017. Padang Bai to Toya Bunkah. 24th cycling day. 8 hours 16 minutes. 58.36 km. Average 7.1 km/h. 1930 metres up, 935 meters down.
My ‘packed lunch’ today was fish in banana leaf.
Smaller temples everywhere with intricate carvings as I begin my accent. I like how the Balanise architecture style has remained consistent. This means you have doorways, gates, fences and buildings with similar designs whether they are hundreds of years old or newly built.
I cycled to Toya Bunkah via Pura Besakih. It’s lovely, but as an active place of worship it’s not possible to visit all areas of the compound, even paying $10 for a guide. The best thing to do is to bypass the guides at the ticket counter, whose fee includes a motorcycle ride and walk the kilometre to the entrance gate. Here temple patrons gather, and for a donation of your choosing they will be your guide, and can take you to all parts.
The early part of the hill today broke me, and I was forced to push my bike, but the inclines were kinder after Pura Besakih. Stop for another meal and have the most delicious chicken and vegetable noodle soup. I told the owner chef it was the best food I’d had in Indonesia in five weeks, and he was happy.
Make it to the top, before a fast decent into the valley and village on the other side.
Hot springs are popular here, and the two most luxurious try and convince you on the way into town. Go straight. Go straight. Go straight. Nooooo. Turn right. Turn right. Turn right.
I find a family run hotel for 100 rupiah and a simple hot spring for 30. It was fine though. Three pools, each a different temperature to soak my muscles. Niiiceee…
Saturday 14th January, 2016.
I was asked a number of times yesterday whether I wanted a guide for a sunrise hike to Mt Batur, the quote was always the same, $40. That seemed a bit excessive as I could see paths on maps.me and reports suggested it could be done in an hour. I had declined offers intending to do, like much of what I do, it by myself.
Alarm set for 5am. Camera, bike light, water, and a take away nasi goreng bought yesterday at dinner packed. I set off from my hotel and as I reach the turn off a guide asks where I’m going. Guide mister? Nah bro, I’m all good. I get about 100 metres before he’s caught up, on his motorbike, with a second man who he introduces as his boss.
He says that he is very sorry, but he can’t let me continue without a $40 guide. I say that I am very sorry, but I have a map and will be fine. He tells me I’ll be disrespecting the mountain by going alone. I tell him I went to Bali’s holiest temple yesterday and paid $1.50 to pay my respects. He says the money is used to pay for the 70 plus religious festivals held there each year. I tell him it isn’t, and that the majority doesn’t even go to the guides, it goes to the bosses. He says he’ll block my way if I ignore him, or call the police. I’m firm, smile, tell him he won’t, and continue.
I don’t see him again.
Even so, I keep a low profile and when I see flashlights of a group up ahead, fall back keeping my distance. I also decide to avoid the rim for sunrise, and break off the main path to find a secluded spot.
Decide to show my respect to the mountain by filling two shopping bags with plastic bottles, lids, candy wrappers, cigarette butts, cans, noodle packets, bits of shoe rubber and whatever else I came across.
When it is light I finish the climb. Breathtaking views. Walk around the rim and then back down the slope passing pink magma trails from its last eruption. AXA few surprised people asking about a guide but no hostility when I reply I don’t have one.
Paranoid panic that I’ll return to find my room broken into, or bike gone. Happy everything is as I left it I slip into my liner and doze the majority of the day, a welcome rest day. Particularly as I can feel a cold coming on.
Decide to update the Wikipedia entry for Mt Batur. My additions italicised.
There are reports about “local mafia” which harasses and threatens anyone who is trying to climb the mountain without hiring their guide. According to the reports this situation is totally ignored and even supported by the local police. In 2015 a harassed tourist has created a petition on change.org with a call to change the situation but no reaction was given by any official.
Despite their presence it is possible to climb by yourself (confirmed January 2017). It is not a managed government tourist attraction and there is no entry fee to pay at the base of the mountain.
The ‘mafia’ (the local trekking association) will try and talk you out of climbing by yourself suggesting you are disrespectful to not take a guide for 400 rupiah. They may say they will follow you, or call the police. Simply be firm and walk away. One idea is to take a shopping bag to collect some rubbish. If questioned later on your hike you can explain that you are showing respect to the mountain by picking up trash.