We sailed back to Padang Bai, Bali, after a couple weeks exploring the neighboring island of Lombok. At this point we'd put in quite a few hours on buses and crowded ferries across the Bali Strait, so it only seemed fair to stay there for a couple days, doing absolutely nothing.
After doing absolutely nothing for a couple days, we got bored. Isn't life cruel that way? Anyway, in order to get excited again, we decided to hike to the top of Gunung Batur, one of Bali's two volcanoes (Gunung Agung is actually the larger of the two, but it was closed to tourists because of some major Hindu festival, or so they told us).
So there I was, scrambling up the side of Gunung Batur with a cheap little flashlight in the pitch-dark at 3 a.m. in order to reach the crater rim by sunrise. I remember thinking, "This is truly the worst idea I've ever had. I hate hiking in the middle of the night and I will never, ever do anything like this again." But I honestly took it all back once we reached the top and the sun started to rise over the neighboring peaks. It's amazing what a little light and an awesome view does for a crabby little camper! A group of photogenic monkeys sharing the moment with us didn't hurt, either. I'm starting to really love monkeys. They're like little furry people!
After sufficiently appreciating the sunrise, our guide led us along an extended tour of Gunung Batur's crater rim. I felt like we were on the moon. It's still an active volcano emitting sulfurous gas, and the footprints from the last big eruption are really quite ominous, but amazingly, people still live right in the lava path.
By late morning we'd descended safely and had thoroughly enjoyed our volcano adventure. However, since it was dark when I started hiking, I didn't get a chance to read the rules until it was too late. Oopsie...sorry, Hinduism!
Later in the day, our driver took us to Pura Besakih, Bali's largest temple complex and #1 sacred place for Balinese people. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Hindu temples aren't really doing it for me. They're fascinating in a rambling sort of way, but they're too all over the place for my tastes (and I'm perfect, so I can make these kinds of observations). Perhaps beginning a strenuous hike up a volcano at 3 a.m. killed my midday temple enthusiam. I did get a pretty good look at Bali's other volcano, Gunung Agung, from the temple hill, so all was not lost.
Brendan and I had about one more week in Bali before flying back to Chicago, and we didn't want to spend it doing anything stressful. Feeling travel-weary and out of ideas, we caught a bus to Kuta, Bali's most famous beach resort and gigantic tourist trap. Never go to Kuta unless you like shopping for tacky crap and dodging motorbikes all day long. The beach is pretty, but overcrowded (though watching the surfers at sunset was kinda fun). I think we were both so excited to get back onto American soil that we just gave up altogether. I hung out in the internet cafe, B finished his novel, and we both did a lot of this during our final week in Asia.
Coming up next.. Sarah goes to India and hilarity ensues! Don't change the channel.. we'll be right back!