Midnight to Midnight

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My final day in Bali started bright and early – actually, dark and really. Like before sun up early. Try 12:00am, midnight, when the clock struck Feb 14th.

12:00am
I woke up from my 3 hour nap and got online. The Internet has been super dodgy since I have arrived in this country (it’s not because of me-you’ll probably have the same problem) so I sometimes need to leave it and then return to my computer later. Then I started preparing for the hike, changing my clothes, packing my bag, filling up my water bottle, putting band aids onmy wounds. Then I went downstairs.

1:00am
Our driver Nyoman showed up to drive us to the base of the volcano. Rei-Rei, my Norwegian hiking buddy, and I climbed into the car. Both of us slept during the 2-hour car ride there.

3:00am
We start going up the mountain. There was absolutely no wait time. Our tickets were paid for (something we didn’t realize at the time but more about the later) and as soon as we got out of the car, our guide Jera introduced himself to us, gave each of us flashlights, and and we were on our way up.

4:15am
We reach the first sunrise look out. Jera moved fast, which was awesome, so we just stayed right behind him. More and more people started to gather as we rested and soaked in the starry sky above us. Then our guide took us up to the real peak. He said 80% will stay at the first point but only 20% will go all the way to the top.

5:23am
We reach the top. Everything is still dark and awesome and the stars have never felt closer. Rei-Rei and I settle in to our front row sunrise seats and buy coffee from a nice serving food and drink from a little hut. We had a second cup later. Best coffee I’ve ever had! We also decided this was the best way to spend Valentine’s Day and nothing else could beat it.

6:00-6:30am
The dark sky becomes a deep blue out on the horizon and the stars gradually begin to fade in honor of the approaching daylight. Soon the clouds on the horizon are tinted with shades of pink and orange as dawn begins to break. The clouds are soon bordered in the light, and the distant ocean mirrors a golden globe slowly moving upward. Everything is bathed in the gentle light and the sky explodes with the brightness from the rising sun. You can almost feel the mountainside singing. It’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

7:00am
Jera takes us down the mountain by a different route. He tells us everything about Mt. Batur and shows us all the craters where the volcano has exploded at different times. We feel and hear active volcanic rocks and literally run down the paths of volcanic soil. The entire mountain is transformed by the sun. It is no longer the unknown rocky path we climbed by flashlight.

8:45am
We’re back at the bottom. Jera tells us that this is the first time he’s led such strong women on this hike. The farm scene down at the base is absolutely enchanting to walk through. Our bodies are completely warmed by the sun, sweat, and volcanic steam.

12:00pm
We’re back at the Bali Surf House. This is when we realize we overpaid our guide. Rei-Rei and I didn’t realize that the money our driver collected from us was for the hike, not for him. Oh, well. It was Jera’s Valentine’s Day gift. I go back upstairs to my room where I chill, get on the computer and nap.

2:00pm
I go to the beach one last time. The drive there is sunny and gorgeous. The tide is high so the beach is different and everything is absolutely beautiful. It’s a peaceful time under the sun and in the waves, listening to the ocean and watching the surfers. I walk the beach one last time. A lady approaches me, offering a half hour back massage. I don’t refuse. It only felt right to end my vacation this way.

4:00pm
I leave the beach. It’s time to go. I walk over to the grocery store and buy post cards and make a final trip to the ATM. Then I take a shower to freshen up, since my flight is over night. Re-packing everything (After all the shopping I did!) is quite the process, but I get it all to fit.

6:00pm
It’s time for the daunting task of returning the motor bike WITH my two big bags, one strapped to my back, the other shoved in front of my seat. It’s really going to happen. After having to turn around twice, I finally make it to the rental place in Jimbaran, pay them extra money due to my mishaps, and get in a taxi that takes me to the airport.

My vacation has truly come to a close.

11:45pm
My flight from Jakarta to Taipei has been delayed by two hours. New departure time is 1:45am. It’s been a long day. I just want to go home…

How I learned the Indonesian word for beautiful

When I was at the beach on Wednesday, these two local males wanted to take pictures with me on their phones. They got too close for comfort of course and then tried to talk me afterwards. He kept saying something to me: “Victoria, jandik. Understand?”

It turns out he was saying candik. (In Indonesian, the c is pronounced “ch.”) I learn this up on Mt. Batur when I ask one of the locals how to say beautiful. He old me, “For the view, you say indah. For a girl, you say candik.” THEN I understood.

Travel notes:
From my experience, it seems the ATMs in Bali (and Indonesia for that matter) rather limit how much you can withdraw at one time. The maximum I withdrew at one time was 1,500,000 rupiah, which is only 150USD, a rather small amount as far as traveling is concerned. So, for anyone who makes the trek out to these parts, I would suggest bringing a sufficient amount of cash to exchange if you like to avoid ATM machines and the fees they entail.

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