While planning our trip to Bali, Indonesia, the one activity that constantly came up was trekking Mount Batur to witness the breathtaking sunrise splayed across the sky. We constantly heard about the rich colours that interlaced and danced with each other while the sun emerged amidst them. When the time came for us, my friends and I were ready from the day we landed in Bali. Our bags were packed and we thought we prepared enough for the cold. After all, we had been constantly told that the temperature at the peak was no less than sixteen degrees.
However, every expectation we had crafted about our trek came undone as we started out at 3 am, greeted by stormy weather and slippery slopes. In the darkness, all we could see above us were the stars that littered the sky past the arching shadows of ancient trees. I am convinced that I saw a constellation that day. In a single file, we trudged along, only able to see our two feet shuffling across uneven land as we knocked life into our dying torchlight. As we inched towards the peak, at 1717m, our morale whittled away for our guide consistently reminded us that the sunrise would not be visible that morning. After stumbling over rocks and swerving several cliffs with the help of a single torchlight, we finally made it to the peak and this was our view.
It was foggy with winds whipping our faces angrily. Sand constantly went into our eyes as we tried our best to shield ourselves from the wind with whatever means necessary (pants on our head and t-shirts as scarves). Huddled together, we warmed our stomaches with hot tea and boiled eggs (made from volcanic steam!) before managing to catch the sunrise for a sliver of time. Bogged down by the cold (It was 6 degrees that morning) and rain with no cold weather protection, we started making our way back down at 6.40 am.
It was then we found out that even though we did not see the sunrise, the real beauty of Mount Batur lay in what we could not see at 3 am in the pitch black darkness. Bunga Tahi Ayam and pinecones were amongst the colourful flowers and plants that peppered the clay-coloured path down the first 100 metres.
I could not stop myself from trying to soak up all the sights with each passing minute. Progressing further down the volcano, we could see that the rich volcanic soil was bursting with life. Greenery erupted from the smallest of nooks and crannies while small animals thrived amongst the locals who set up their houses in the dense forest.
As we reached the base, the greenery gave way to acres of farmland that was drenched with reds, greens and oranges from the various vegetables that were grown there. The rocky pathway we treaded on bore semblance to the sets of ‘The Hobbit’ and, oddly, ‘Teletubbies’.
When our trek was done and dusted, we stared at each other, soaked to the bone with mud-splattered calves, and realised that our trek was a cliche. The journey was celebrated more than the destination.