First days in Bali

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November 26th 2018
Published: November 28th 2018
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The night flight from Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Airport landed in Kualalampur by day break. This time there was a special route for transit passengers ( flight from Kochi for some reason did not have that option) and one did not have to go through customs formalities. With a window seat it was nice to see all the landmarks below though there was fair bit of cloud cover at times.

We landed in Bali on time. Got a taxi to Grandma's hotel. Escaping the grime, dust and chaos of Kathmandu Bali was more than living up to the expectations. The roads were clean and less crowded. Except a couple of dual carriageways most roads were single carriage. However the dirt and dust were absent. It was hard to find any potholes on most roads. In the cities and in small towns around, there were decent footpaths over drains (not the man-traps or leg breakers we find in Kochi. For the little money I was paying (including breakfast) I was expecting a hostel type hotel. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Grandma's hotel was one of a chain of hotels of very good standard..

First on getting the room was to have a shower and catch up on some sleep lost due to the overnight flight. After a couple of hours a walk to the beach (150m away) was awarded with a beautiful sunset..

Sunday morning again went for a long walk on the beach for an hour and a half. On return to the hotel had breakfast and went hunting fo see what activities were on offer. My trials on the internet with Viator did not yield any positive results. In the end from a local agency I picked “Mount Batur Sunrise Hike” for Monday and. “Villages and Paddy fields Cycling Tour” for Wednesday.

I had booked a massage at the Hotels Spa on the 5th floor. I figured that if the Physio could reduce the pains in the legs, so can a good massage. It was the first one I ever had and I would recommend anybody to do this. When the masseuse started on the calf musles I had excruciating pain, but I new it was good. Slowly the pain subsided.

Mount Batur was a 4000m mountain before it became a volcano, the top being blown off. Now it stands at around 2500m however the caldera is only at 1700m. After the incomplete and disappointing trek in Kathmandu i was determined to take on another trek. So, this was a perfect opportunity. I was also assured that the climb is gradual. We had to be at the top 1700m before 6AM to see the sunrise (over mount Agung which is still an active volcano and out of bounds for tourists).

The van collected me from the hotel 00:30 hrs. There were already two young Korean girls (living in Australia) in the van. We pickedup another Chinese girl born in Limerick also now living in Australia and a German girl both from Ubud which was an inland tourist resort.

We started the climb around 03:30. We were to reach the top before 06:00 before the sunrise.

It was real hiking. While the Sunderijal trek was well laid out with defined steps and well laid out pathways, this was just a 500mm wide track twising upwards. The ground was full of volcanic gravel and larger stones. To make things worse one had to hold on to a flashlight to see the rocks in the way as it was still night time.

The german and the Chinese girls were very athletic and had little problems to negotiate the climb. The two Korean girls was very poor. One of them had to be dragged up to the top by helpers. I was somewhere in the middle. We stopped for 2-3 minutes nearly every 10-15 minutes. Finally managed to the viewing platform before 06:00hrs as planned. We had taken warm clothing for the cold at the top. But we were sweating profusely and our clothes were drenched. No need for warm clothing there.

The sunrise was beautiful but not spectacular as there was some low cloud in the horizon. Just before the sunrise we could see smoke rising from Mount Agung.

After the sunrise and a lot of photographs we went to near the caldron of the volcano. We could see the steam still rising and some cracks on the ground felt hot when one puts one's hand in.

We could not see the bottom of the caldron as the sides were overgrown with trees and the steep precipice was scary to say the least. There were some friendly monkeys here looking for anything we could give them. Many gave them their breakfast packs.

Now it was full daylight we did not need to hold the torch. But the descent was nearly more dangerous than the ascent. The gravel slipping under our feet most of us fell down a few times, fortunately however there were no serious injuries except a few grazes and very sore bums.

Unfortunately our return was too long as we hit the traffic around 1600 hrs and was very tired to get back to hotel. To make it worse the van”s a/c was not working, front windows will not open and fumes were coming in when were stuck in the traffic. I got back with a sore throat (not sure it was a carryover from the dust in Kathmandu or something acquired on todays trip

We drove from the south to the north of the island. But we could not see any rough roads except near Mount Batur (may be due to volcanic activity) They have as much rain as in Kerala but I could not compare the roads. They also have trees beside the roads and that also do not seem to cause a problem.

Returning back as we drove through the narrow lush green roads of Ubud I felt like I was transported to 1950 Kerala with the greenery and type of vegitation with Cocunut palms, Jackfruit and Banana trees etc. Another thing you notice is the lack of the grotesque billboards beside streets in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Tuesday was marked as a rest day. I was expecting a lot of problems with my feet due to the climb. Fortunatelynone materialised. The masseuse must have done a very good job on my calf muscles, I had no aches at all. Explored the surrounding area on foot. May be, I should have hired a motor bike which would be a cheap and rewarding way to see Bali. However, I was worried about the legalities and documentation required for the police, in case.

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