Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Hiking Mt. Batur

Our main reason for staying in the Mt. Batur region was to hike the volcano first thing in the morning to catch the sunrise.  Sounded amazing!  And it WAS.  However, it wasn't easy!  We didn't think about the 3am wake up with 3 young kids.  We also didn't think about the 2 hour hike when the kids were barely awake.  We also didn't consider the rocky and steep path to get to the top of the volcano!
So we set out early and it was a bit of a rough start.  It takes the kids and I awhile to wake up in the morning so to jump up and start hiking wasn't really the best way to kick off our day.  We started with 2 tour guides, the lady in black and the guy in the white shirt.  Before we knew it the young kid in the black joined us.  It was perfect.  The kid and Owen made a great team and hiked most of the way together.  After carrying Ethan on my bike for the start of the hike, it started to get to steep and rocky (with rocks that slip out from underneath of you) so I had to pass Ethan off.  The guy in the white took Ethan on his back and took the lead!  It was amazing!  The girl was so helpful with Addyson and myself.  We were a great team.  It is amazing to think these hired guides hike this volcano at least 3 times a week if not more!
We passed several other hiking groups on our way up and I was SO proud of us!  AND our kids were the ONLY kids that hiked the volcano this morning!  It was amazing!  And several people commented on how impressed they were!
There were a few slips along the way and some bumps, bruises, and blood but we made it!
And we had several minutes to spare before the sun started to rise!
We made it for the breath taking view!  Amazing!
 Over Lake Batur.  Here comes the sun!

Made it!!!  Tackled a volcano!!!  This was a big feat for him!!!  He started to get nervous about hiking a "volcano".  I'm sure he was thinking of movies with volcano erupting and was scared it would happened!  He was SO relieved to know we were save, no crazy hot lava chasing us, and we were able to enjoy an amazing view!

Raising the sun
At the top of the volcano area there is a "breakfast" area where they give you some snacks and drinks!  Coffee is free.  They also sell bottles of soda.  Wanna know how those bottles get up there.  Remember the young kid that hiked with Owen?  He is about 12.  He hikes this volcano every morning with bottles of soda in a backpack that he then sells to people to make money for his family!  CRAZY!  His family cannot afford to send him to school so this is what he does instead!  We bought soda but then also gave him a very nice tip for being SO helpful with Owen!  It really did take all of us to get all of us to the top!

(same photo with flash)
Couple of crazy adults with crazy ideas dragging their crazy kids along on a wild adventure!

Mt. Batur is an active volcano so there are places you can feel the hot steam coming out of the ground!
Here we are standing in front of a large opening where you can feel the hot steam!
There is also a cave in the area with bats.  Our guide took the kids in one at a time to go see the bats.
There are also lots of wild monkeys in the area.  One came over for a visit and for some banana!
"Hey, I want more of that!"
Our glory photo!!!  This is what we tackled today!
After spending over an hour at the top it was time to head back down!  Going down was almost as hard as going up!  Super hard on the knees and legs!  And it was a bit dangerous because you could step on a pile of rocks that would slip out from under you and send you sliding down the hill.  Brad and I ended up with some nice bruises from this trip!  So did the kids!  We wear them like badges of honor!
It was nice to hike the path in the light to see everything we passed this morning when it was dark outside.  What a beautiful place!
We made it!!!!!!!!!!  Headed back to the hotel to put our legs up and eat some breakfast!!!  We all earned it!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rice Fields, Coffee Fields, and a Volcano

Today was spent traveling from Ubud to Mt. Batur.  As the crow flies it should only take an hour or so to get there.  However, the roads here are in pretty bad shape so it took us over 2 hours.  And poor Ethan, the car rides here for him are miserable!  We knew we needed to break up today so it wasn't so rough and that's exactly what we did!  It ended up being a wonderful day!
First stop, lunch overlooking the rice terrace.  One can pay to tour the rice terrace and walk around it however, just overlooking it was enough for us and we were able to see the beauty!  The restaurant was off the beaten path and we were the only ones there for the first 30 minutes.  It was amazing!
This relaxing stop was MUCH needed after our crazy morning.  After several days of navigating the narrow pathway on my scooter without any troubles, the one spot close to our villa that I always worried about finally won!  It took me out!   My last trip on the path and the loose gravel took my tire, spun out, and landed me AND Addyson sideways.  It was SO scary.  We landed towards the concrete wall and I am just so thankful that Addyson's head missed the wall and for the most part, she came out unharmed!  For me, it was scary after we landed as we were in a daze and trying to get up I kept hitting the gas and spinning the tire.  I was worried about her leg getting caught or getting burned.  Thankfully the villa owner was right behind me and came running to help.  Also, the villa that we landed outside of, the people came running out to help!  They took me in to clean me up and give me medicine.  WOW!  What an ending in Ubud is all I can say!

SO, at lunch it was nice to put my leg up and take a deep breath!  I also had to chuckle at Ethan.  He is now in the habit of taking off his shoes at every restaurant we go to even if we aren't sitting at one of the floor tables!  You know you have been in Bali too long when.....
The pictures here don't do the view justice!  This is a Must Do stop if you are in the area!
Another stop highly recommended is a "Agriculture Tourism" stop.  There are several of these stops along the route to Mt. Batur.
Here you take a tour of a coffee/ fruit/ herb plantiation.  They walk you through and explain the process of coffee roasting to you and you get to see how some of the fruits grow!
 You can also take a try at roasting coffee!
Our guide was explaining the different herbs that are grown and how they are used.  He was talking about one as a healing herb that keeps germs out!  The then took some and covered my scooter wound with it!!!
The back of the plantation, around the sitting/ coffee drinking area, was SO lush and beautiful!   The beauty that surrounds us in Bali is unbelievable and hasn't gotten old yet!
At the end of your tour you get to sample the several flavors of coffee and tea that they make!  There was even a green tea for the kids to try!
The whole reason for coming though was to sample the luwak coffee!!!  The coffee bean that is eaten by the civet, pooped out, washed off, roasted, and made into drinking coffee!!!  This is for sale at then end of your tour and of course we had to try come!!!
After sampling the coffee, we wondered around to check out more of the beauty that surrounded us!  One of the workers was even offering to climb the tree to pick fresh fruit for us!
What I didn't get a picture of was the sleeping civet in the cage.  At first I was sad to see that they had a civet caged up until I started asking more questions.  These animals are nocturnal and at night their cage is opened up for them to go wander around the property in the back to forage and explore and then they come back up in the morning to sleep in the cage!  So they are free range civets!  That made me feel better!  We also asked how do they gather all of the feces.  Several guys go out every morning looking for poop piles!  Imagine having that jobs!
As we were leaving we saw the largest month we have ever seen!
From the coffee plantation we made the rest of the drive to Mt. Batur!  We stopped to get a picture of the volcano in the distance before we drove down the steep, winding road to get to our hotel!
One of the 3 volcanoes in the area.
We were SO happy to finally make it to our hotel!!!  The pool area was surround by the lake and the volcanoes as backdrop!  Pure beauty!
The area is also known for hot springs!!!  Our hotel had 3 we could take a dip in!!!  A lot of people come to this area just for the day.  They come in early, hike the volcano, and then stop by one of the hot springs to soak their bodies before heading back to their hotels!
When reading the guide book it mentioned that there isn't much to do in the area and that most people don't spend a lot of time here.  We went against their suggestions of staying a short time and booked 4 days in this area!  Shortly after arrival we soon realized why people don't stay here and that for us to stay 4 days would be a stretch!  This was the ONLY store open in the area of our hotel....
And this was the only restaurant!!!
They had a huge menu but after talking to the owner/cook we realized that the menu must have been from back in the day when there were lots of tourist that stayed.  Really, we only had one option.....
Fish!  Fresh fish from the lake!   We were able to pick one of three ways to have it cooked!  That was our only option!!!  We have decided to make the most of this adventure.  However, I think we will probably be looking into leaving this area earlier than expected!
One of the perks of the restaurant, our view!!!  I have a feeling we'll be eating here again tomorrow night.  I wonder what will be on the menu?!?! : )