My alarm went off at 1.30am, the last time I had looked at the clock it was 11.45pm so not much sleep!
I crept out of the bedroom with my clothes that I had put ready by the bed. In the bathroom I realised I hadn’t picked up my underwear which must have fallen from the pile. Useless!
Once dressed in the darkness, I took my stuff and put my boots on outside in the living area.
4 girls also came out and then a boy, all doing the same trek.
We didn’t speak, it was too early!
A van pulled up and took the 4 girls away. They had booked with someone different, so had a different driver.
The boy and I waited outside the gate, and introduced each other. Kristian was just on a 3 week holiday from Germany.
After waiting for 40 minutes, another bus arrived. This one was just for Kristian.
Left alone, almost an hour after I was supposed to be collected I was worrying slightly. No where near as much as I would have been if I hadn’t got used to the Indonesian way of telling the time!
However, as I had the contact details, I sent a what’s app to check. They responded that they were on their way.
Just after 3am a small bus arrived and asked for Sarah. Phew!
I was the penultimate pick up and so the bus was pretty full and I was perched on the front row, where the 3 seats seemed too small for us.
It was an hours drive which went quite slowly. None of us spoke and it was dark. I didn’t want to go to sleep as I knew I’d feel worse. Luckily all hint of the migraine had gone but I didn’t want to risk it coming back.
When we arrived, I was shocked by the number of other people. There must have been 80 mini buses in the car park, all full with trekkers.
We were told to wait at the back of the bus and we were given a small cold banana pancake for breakfast.
A torch was handed out to each of us, and then we set off.
It was pitch black except for the area that the torch lit up. We were walking on a path of sandy gravel, at a slight incline.
I started chatting with Laura (England) and Fergus (Scotland), all of us surprised by the lack of incline.
We were walking through spring onion fields and it was such a strong smell.
We had 10 people in our group and 2 guides, Jai and Ellen. There is a rule that a guide can have up to 5 people and you are not allowed to climb the volcano without a guide. There are rumours it is controlled by mafia gangs!
About 15 minutes into the walk, we hit the incline! It was steep and rocky. Unlike Bromo that had been a wide path made of sandy lava, this was broken up lava and rocks. There were some huge step ups and it reminded me of the Cameron Highland hiking.
My torch was pretty rubbish and had a very small circle which lit up. I was glad I had my hiking boots and that I am quite used to hiking now.
We stopped to take our jackets off, although the air was cold, it was so hot when walking.
We were climbing for a good hour, stopping a couple of times for water and to catch our breath.
It was single file walking and it was just a continuous line of tiny lights. We must have looked like a trail of glowing ants to the people at the bottom, winding our way up the mountain.
At just gone 5.30am, we reached the top. Well, actually we didn’t get to the summit. That was an extra 20 minute walk but Jai said the view was no better up there and it would be too crowded with people to enjoy it.
We found a clear patch and settled down on the rocks. The sky was still pitch black and there were so many stars. I starred upwards hoping to see my first shooting star but no such luck.
It was slowly getting lighter, the clouds in the sky could be seen and the volcano on the other side of Lake Batur was a silhouette.
We were busy clicking away taking photos.
There wasn’t a full vision of the sun rising, due to the clouds, but the sky just kept getting lighter and changing in colour.
From darkness to an inky black, turning purple and then a streak of orange through pink clouds.
I just kept taking photos, each one different to the last. It was so quick and then as the sun got higher, the clouds gave way to blue sky above and the sun shone through.
It was breathtaking and I am so glad I got up and did it. I’m not sure if Mount Bromo would have been any better, and I’m glad we saw Bromo in the light as it was so interesting with the sulphur.
Mount Batur has 3 craters, but nothing like Mount Bromo. There are small steam holes where you can boil an egg! But really it just feels like a rocky mountain, with an amazing view over to the higher volcano.
Kai took our orders and brought me over a cup of tea. Wonderful! A cup of tea on top of a volcano at sunrise!
We were going down a different route, slightly longer but less steep so it would be slightly easier.
We went passed the different craters, they were overgrown with plants and ferns, with monkeys everywhere.
The way down was more loose dirt and difficult to stop once you started to walk.
A group of young people ran passed us, skidding and slipping everywhere. Laura and I stood tot he side to let them pass, I didn’t want to be in their way and get toppled over.
We couldn’t see anyone from our group but just followed the people in front.
After a while, we came to a stop. The group of people in front of us were being held up by a guide. We looked to see if we could bypass but no one was allowed to go ahead. A girl was having a wee round the corner and so we all had to wait for her to finish!
She held up about 50 people! Although still no one from our group. We carried on, my legs feeling slightly shaky and really needing a wee.
The groups spread out slightly, with some stopping for a rest and others overtaking and going quicker.
We came to an opening with a drinks stall and benches. I was concerned that our group hadn’t waited at any point for us. On the way up, Jai often stopped to do a headcount. Surely, he would have done this on the way down too?
When I mentioned this to Laura she agreed it was strange but we hadn’t seen any other pathways to go down, so they must just be powering on ahead.
The group we had been following were sitting on the benches. The guide noticed us stood alone and asked where our guide was, we said we didn’t know.
Another guide came through with just 2 people and instead of stopping they carried on through. We decided to follow them to get down quicker.
As we were walking, a guy came up behind us, overtook and asked where our guide was. We said that we had lost him near the top. He wanted to know who it was and what they were wearing. I think he was making sure we hadn’t snuck onto the mountain without a guide, was he part of the mafia?!
Once we had answered all his questions about Jai’a red tshirt, he told us there were 2 starting points and if it was Jai’s usual, we were heading to the wrong one.
We asked if he could contact Jai but he said no. He ushered us in front of him and then within minutes he had disappeared. I guess we successfully passed the mafia questioning!
Our only option was to carry on following this guide, we had no idea where we had gone wrong. Why hadn’t Jai waited at the junction? How were we supposed to know where to go?
We got to the bottom of the volcano and had spring onion fields to walk through. We got excited as we had gone up through spring onion fields, but then remembered we were going a different way anyway even if it was to the right car park.
I said I had the what’s app of the driver but would need wifi. Laura said she could text him, so we sent a message to say we had lost Jai and to please not leave without us.
About 20 minutes more walking, we arrived in a car park. It was difficult to know if it was the same one, with just a lot of mini buses but I thought where we had parked was slightly bigger.
Laura was starting to annoy me, talking about getting a taxi instead. We couldn’t just leave, although not the biggest health and safety conscious, I imagine loosing 2 girls up a volcano would cause them to panic.
We decided to call the driver, which didn’t go that well! He seemed confused as to who Laura was, and as she couldn’t remember the name of her hostel she couldn’t confirm where she had been picked up from. However, he knew my name and pick up point – phew!
As Laura was talking to the driver, a guide came up and asked if we were ok. I explained we had lost Jai and that we thought we were in the wrong car park.
He said he knew Jai and that yes we were in the wrong car park. I asked if he could speak to the driver to let him know where we were. He took the phone and they spoke for about a minute and then he handed it back to Laura.
The driver was then asking her for our names again! She was getting stroppy and offered the phone to me.
I spoke to him and he asked my name again and then where we were. I explained slowly with very few words that we had lost Jai, we were in the car park that the other guide had told him and we would like to be collected.
He seemed to understand, but then said he would have to check with his driver and hung up.
Oh! We were speaking to the office, not the driver which is probably why he was struggling to understand what Laura had been saying about where she had sat on the bus!
With no idea of he was going to get us help, call back or just ignore us we had to move.
The guide who we had followed for a while before the seating area came over on the back of a motorbike. We asked if the other car park was close and she said 10 minutes and then asked if we needed transport to be arranged. I said no thank you and walked away before Laura could ask for a taxi back to Ubud.
We had just trekked up a volcano, we could walk 10 minutes down the road.
30 minutes later, hot, tired and desperate for a wee, we agreed she must have meant a 10 minute drive, not walk.
We had passed a taxi stand and I had said we shouldn’t get a taxi until we reached the other car park so we could be sure they weren’t waiting for us. Maybe we should have got a taxi to the other car park. But that was ages ago and now we were walking along the side of a country road. Just fields on either side and the odd bike or van driving past.
We took photos on the way, laughing that at least it was a good view and a beautiful place to be lost. I was glad to be with Laura, although we were both scared at least we weren’t alone.
My stomach was hurting from needing a wee so bad. Laura said I should just go in the field, and just as I was thinking of giving in a car drove past, slowing down as he saw us, beeping and shouting out the window. Not uncommon for Bali.
We carried on walking a few steps but then I realised he had shouted my name. Had he? Laura nodded.
I turned to look and he had pulled over and then shouted Sarah again. Clearer this time and then he used my surname.
We crossed the road to him and he confirmed my full name and looked very happy to have found us.
We jumped in and he asked if we were ok, to which we said yes just hot and tired.
He turned around and drove back to the right car park. We had been walking at least 40 minutes by the time he found us and it took 10 minutes from there to get to the car park so we would have been walking for hours to get there!
As we pulled into the car park I saw Jai running in the opposite direction. We were parked in the far corner and so the driver weaved through the remaining buses and pulled up next to the bus. We thanked him for saving us and he laughed.
We saw Fergus first and without any concern or relief to see us again, he just said that his own leg was fucked. He had skidded off his motorbike the day before and instead of treating it properly he had just put a load of bandages and tape on it. I just said at least he hadn’t been left to the mafia on a volcano.
It seemed to snap him out of his own sorrow and said that Jai had gone back to find us but had then assumed we had gone ahead as he couldn’t see us. Since getting back to the bus and realising we weren’t there, he had been in a panic. And rightly so I thought.
The others saw that we were back and so started to get into the bus. A middle aged Australian couple who we had been chatting to on the top asked where we had been. We explained about the other car park and they just said they had thought we had raced ahead.
This really annoyed me as we had specifically with them about not liking going down hill and that we were all just going to take it slow. Why would we suddenly then race ahead?
The bus journey home felt longer than the way. We stopped very briefly at the rice terraces and took a few photos. There was a crochet shop next to the bus and I spotted a beautiful crocheted blanket. I wanted it but knew we couldn’t stop for shopping.
I had just dropped off to sleep when we made the first hostel drop off. I was next and I was so glad because much longer I think my bladder would have exploded!
I said a quick bye to the bus, I had thought about asking Laura for Facebook details but then I just couldn’t be bothered if I’m being honest. Since B left I have definetly been in a solo mood. I think it’s readjusting to being solo traveller from being on holiday with B. I will get there but at the moment I just can’t be bothered to make small talk.
After a run to the toilet, I changed into my pyjamas and climbed into bed. It was 11am so the other people in my dorm were getting up. Whilst they shuffled about and sorted their stuff I uploaded my photos to social media and had a chat with some people.
I slept for about 2 hours, not a great sleep but better than nothing. I woke up feeling empty of any energy. I hadn’t eaten anything since the banana pancake at 4am.
I needed a shower but I didn’t think I could stand long enough to have one.
I slowly got out of bed and changed into some shorts. I ordered chicken fried noodles, a coke and a sugary tea. I ate it so fast, it was delicious and the sugary drinks helped give me energy.
I still couldn’t stop thinking about that blanket! I had been thinking I don’t have many souvenirs from my travels that I can have when I’m home and just love the thought of the blanket being on my sofa to remind me of warmer times.
I decided to head to the market and see if I could find any. I knew I would regret it otherwise.
Yes! I found loads! The first stall I found them at the lady wasn’t even bothering to try and I had to get her attention. She offered 800,000rp – no way!
The lady I bought it from in the end was a very smiley and happy lady. She had huge blankets and I got it for 400,000rp in the end. It’s big enough to cover a double bed!
Uh oh…just thought about packing it! Where am I going to put it?!
Compulsive, non-essential purchases were a Sazzle speciality. Seems I haven’t lost that talent!