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June 13th 2012
Published: June 23rd 2012
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Since the Nepal trip I have an almost constant desire to be walking, trekking- whatever you want to call it.

This trip to Bali presents Gunung Agung (3142m) as the next challenge. Gunung Agung is a volcanic mountain, it is the highest peak in Bali and the 5th highest volcanic peak in Indo. It is 3142m high at the highest peak with a crater of around 700m in diameter and about 500m in depth. It is hugely significant to the Balinese in a spiritual context and is home to the Besakih Temple (Mother Temple). It last erupted in 1963 with significant loss of life (2000 people) and homes, Pura Besakih was spared. There are 2 main approaches- from the south via Pura Pasar Agung in Salat, or the west from Besakih (this is longer and means and you have to start around 2300 the night before). Trekking is not advised November through March due to the rains and landslides and a guide is almost mandatory. We decide on the southern route, Geoff even with his fear of heights is determined to give it a shot, I am really excited to do it (but a little bit nervous as well).

Once the decision is made to do it, the search is on for a good company to do it with. Read lots and decided on Mudi from Mudi Goes To The Mountain. A quick email was sent and Mudi quoted us Rp 700 000 pp for the trip which included pickup and drop off, water, breakfast, lunch, trekking poles and headtorches and he would guide us. Date was settled upon with a 0100 pickup from Aquaria. Got to pull out my Nepal winter clothes and packed (along with the usual Bali clothes ie- bathers, shorts and tshirts) my trekking shoes, Macpac merino singlet and long sleeve top, Kathamndu polar fleece vest and my Northface gortex jacket. I also took my pole and headtorch (because I just wanted to).

Now, I sooooo hate getting up in the middle of the night, but, in pursuit of the experience, you just have to. Managed a couple of hours sleep and got up at 0045- Bali is essentially asleep - certainly the night security guy at Aquaria was- woke him up as we were leaving. I think he thought we were absconding without paying the bill- except we had no luggage and I
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to the west
was carring my trek pole and wearing boots. Anyway, down the lane we go and wait on the corner, lots of noise at the end of the lane. So, Bali is not asleep they are at the only bar in CD with the Euro Cup on a big TV. At 0115 we are still waiting- no problem says Geoff, we are probably just on Bali time. At 0130 I call Mudi who answers immediately and says he'll call me back. At 0145 Mudi calls to say his driver has messed up the dates- can we reschedule? Sure, I say (I love getting up in the middle of the night, I think).

Back to bed, awake, awake, awake. Asleep at ? 3ish.

Take 2

Deja vu....

Now, I sooooo hate getting up in the middle of the night, but, in pursuit of the experience, you just have to.... Managed a couple of hours sleep and got up at 0045- Bali is essentially asleep - certainly the night security guy at Aquaria was- woke him up (again) as we were leaving. Anyway, down the lane we go and wait on the corner, lots of noise at the end
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to the east, Mt Rinjani visible
of the lane (still). So, Bali is not asleep they are at the only bar in CD with the Euro Cup on a big TV (how many nights does this soccer thing go for?)... At 0115 we are still waiting- I don't consult Geoff, I just ring Mudi - "no problen Gill, just running late" AKA- Bali Time. At 0120 he appears with the driver (different, reliable one this time) and we jump in. There is another couple with us for this trip- Octav and Monica, from Romania, living in Belgium. Quiet trip in the darkness, the temperature starts to drop as we get a bit higher. Not much going on at this time of the morning, lots of dogs though.

Arrive at Pura Pasar Agung (1500m) at 0220. Hop out of the car and it is freezing, on goes the long sleeve layer. Mudi has brought offerings and he makes a prayer at the temple to show respect to the mountain and ask for safe passage for our trip. The first hour is spent walking initially up about 150 steps from the carpark to the temple, we then walk through dense forest like terrain. I can do this.... There are some uneven surfaces but it's pretty comfortable. As we leave this section it becomes more exposed and the track becomes narrower, steeper and more slippery. There are a few sections that you have to abandon the trekking pole in favour of climbing using both hands (especially if you are not tall like me, note I didn't say short). We take several short breaks - Mudi seems to have the ability to fall asleep instantly whilst perched on rocks and wake up exactly 5 minutes later. I have stripped off my LS top and am back to the singlet at this point due to warming up with the exertion, although with each stop you cool down quickly, LS goes back on. We continue upwards. The headtorches are essential, you really have to concentrate on where you are placing your feet as there are a lot of loose stones. The pole is also, in my opinion, essential, as I found out in Nepal it really helps with stability and climbing. The track still has low lying trees on either side and at this point you aren't really aware of drops to either side. However, Geoff (did I mention his problem
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western crater rim
with heights?) is now having considerable trouble and decides to stop and wait for us on our return. He rugs up in all available clothing layers (we were well prepared) and Mudi leaves him with a hot drink, food and some water. The spot is well protected from the wind - great place for a sleep (apparently).

We keep going and the journey becomes steeper, Monica is having problems with her knees, she and Octav decide to stop and wait it out, out of the wind tucked behind a rock. The sky is starting to lighten and at this point we have reached the wide open, barren and steep lava flow area so Mudi asks me if I want to keep going by myself for a little while while he gets some food sorted for Octav and Monica. Absolutely! He directs me up and tells me to veer off to the right and look for a silver trail marker. Anyone who knows me will be killing themselves laughing about now- it is inevitable that I will not end up where I should be no matter how absolutely clear the way or the instructions are. After about 5 mins of climbing I hear a voice in the distance ( a shouting one) - "NO, NO, not that way..... veer more right, more right", OK, I veer right and find a spray painted marker. It is very exciting getting closer to the top, "NO, NO, veer MORE right", there's that voice again! OK, veeer, veer, veer, climb, climb. Hanging onto the rocks I can see that I am nearly there (well, I think I am... maybe not... Mudi has climbed up behind me and is a bit to my right- OK more veering is required... Get to the top and it is now 0630. WOW!!!!

There are 5 other tourists and 2 guides up there at this point and they look freezing. It is very windy. One of the guides has lit a small fire out of the wind. I say hello to all and find a spot to sit. There is an area facing the north where there are statues of the deities and offerings. Mudi prays again and gives thanks to the gods. It is very beautiful. The crater is immense, it is breathtaking. The rock strata are multicoloured and the sun is just emerging over the eastern crater rim- POP - 0639- sunrise. Lots of photos. The views take in the peak of Mt Rinjani on Lombok to the east and the island of Bali out to the sea to the south. There is also this wonderful cloud layer to add to the view. Incredible! The others all leave at 7 and there is just me and Mudi. I revel in the solitude, taking it all in and think, "how very lucky am I?"... I have a little Nepal moment... it's hard to explain.

We make our move at 0730, descending back down is harder, with the body's centre of gravity shifted forward it is much more slippery. Mudi saves me from sure and certain death twice, I catch him once (I guess I still owe him one!). We pick up Mudis backpack and shelter for a few minutes out of the wind. It is really cold. We split a sandwich and a chocolate bar (NOTE- Do not buy or consume Silver Queen chocolate bars, they are seriously bad, seriously! Spalsh out and buy, or better still bring, a Snickers from Australia), time to move. The pace has eased up a bit now. It is nice to chat with Mudi, as we are descending we talk about an impending trip he is doing, what he would like to do, Bali, Nepal, etc. The sun has risen higher (funny that...), the temperature is coming up- another beautiful day.

We catch up with Octav and Monica and then with Geoff (who did in fact manage 1/2 hr sleep, ate all his food, took photos, spotted birds and was accosted by a monkey- not an aggressive one- just an inquisitive one who was in the process of delving into his bag when he arrived back from taking pictures). The trip down continued on for another couple of hours, very slippery, lots of loose stones and relentlessly downhill. I have no knee issues at all but by the end was happy for the downhill to be over. However, we then arrived at the back of the temple- a very welcome sight, walked around to the front, down the millions of steps and set up in a bale for a very late breakfast - the mountain and the temple providing a wonderful backdrop. Awesomely good breakky - boiled eggs, jam sandwiches, fruit and tea- it was just fantastic.

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Rinjani peeking out
in the car, we make our way to Manggis to drop off Monica and Octav. The drive through the villages is pleasant, it is punctuated by truck upon truck carting volacanic sand and rocks to the millions of construction projects that seem to have taken a grip of Bali. We inadvertantly drive over a few tarpaulins with drying rice spread over them, the driver is amused by this- he clearly thinks the roads are the domain of the cars not the rice! So, now you know how those little stones get into your rice in Bali! We take a shortcut - 4 wheel drive kind of shortcut, but not in a 4 wheel drive and are rewarded with great views of the coast line just before Manggis- see last photo.

We arrive in the outskirts of Candidasa around 1.30. Reluctant to call it a night/day we decide to stop at a small place for lunch- one of the ones with glass cases full of food. Happy to say that the food was good and nice and hot, and we stayed well (Although I am certain the glass case temperature was very conducive to bacterial overload and the flys buzzing
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shadow of Agung
in there added to the bacterial burden- sometimes- well, it all works out ok -maybe it was the protective properties of the chilli?) Get up to leave and all of a sudden feel a bit tired....

Summary- Awesome tour. Mudi is a great guy, he is passionate about Bali and about his profession. Highly recommended. I really hope to see him again - maybe for Mt Rinjani next time- have never been to Lombok! ... or around the perimeter of the island? Now, there's an idea....

Additional photos below
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beautiful cloud bands
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Very Happy

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