Continuing our journey up north, this coming destination is also one of the most beautiful in Bali. Roughly about 2 hours drive from Kuta, you will reach this spot called Kintamani, which is famous for Bali’s volcanoes. It is a highland area in the north of East Bali.
Well, because Kintamani is high in the mountains, the temperature is usually about 15 degrees cooler than down on the coast. We were there during the evening and besides the comfortable temperature, the panoramic view of the Mount Batur and Lake Batur was absolutely stunning and breathtaking. Mt Batur is roughly about 1.7km in height and it’s also interesting to note that it is still active and new eruptions have even surprised backpackers who were climbing to the summit. An interesting thing we saw in Mt Batur, was that there was an island of greens on the left side of the volcano (you can see it in the first photo we took). Seems like the little village is safe from the previous eruptions. Lake Batur is Bali’s largest crater lake. A smaller stratovolcano juts out of the water approx 700m away and frequently reminds the local villages that they are situated on top of a geological time bomb.
Apart from those horrific things I’ve just mentioned, the unspoiled countryside and dynamic volcano ambiance sets Kintamani apart turning an ordinary island adventure into the extraordinary. The cool air there really helped a lot in conjunction with the constant hot weather during the entire day trip. According to Fann, when she came here previously with her family, they had lunch with a magnificent view of Mt Batur. Unfortunately, her seat was indoors and she can’t really remember what happened during her previous Bali trip. Without doubt, this was one of the most beautiful sceneries I’ve seen so far in my life.
After snapping a couple of shots at Kintamani, Boby took us higher up to another spot nearer to another volcano called Gunung Agung. From Kintamani, you can actually see part of Mt Agung. The Balinese believe that Mt Agung is a replica of Mt Meru, a sacred and very important mountain in Hinduism. It is also believed that Mt Meru is the center of all the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes. However, we were not there to climb the summit nor are we there to see Mt Agung. We were heading to the Mother Temple of Bali, called the Besakih Temple. As we got closer, Besakih Temple stood majestically but was rather eerie due to the lack of sunlight blocked by the grey clouds and the sun was also beginning to set. There weren’t many tour vans of buses and it felt somewhat awkward.
There was a problem at Besakih Temple, it was a place full of people preparing to rip you off. All they can think of is just money and will try everything they can to get into your wallets at a very high price. From the entrance, you are required to pay IDR15,000 per person for entrance, IDR5,000 for parking, IDR25,000 for sarung rental, then comes the ultimate thief of all Besakih, the ‘donation’ of IDR200,000 per person. As we walked up after getting our sarung, the ‘guardian’ has a stall right before you enter the Besakih Temple. They will greet you with a friendly smile and explain to you. They will tell us how lucky we are to come today because there is a big ceremony going on and we are expected to witness it. Then with all the sweet talk they will ask for a donation and will show you the guestbook whereby all the tourists before us has paid about IDR800,000 to IDR1 million as donation to them.
Due to my sharp eye for fonts and handwriting, I noticed that those figres have been tampered with and felt rather uneasy. So, I offered a IDR100,000 as donation to them when they started to get rather fussy and aggressive. They saw that my wallet had a RM20 and they asked for it saying that the donation accepts Ringgit as well. I was getting really angry but didn’t wanna spoil the entire trip, so I gave them my RM20 and they provided me with an English guide up to the temple.
Thankfully, the guide was pretty good and fluent in English. He was a nice guy unlike those at the ‘cheating station’. The Besakih Temple was a really beautiful place, but one thing I noticed was that the temple was unlike other temples in Bali, it was black in colour. The guide told us that Besakih Temple was built from the black rocks from the Volcanic Mt Agung, therefore it had a dark tint to it. Besakih Temple is situated on the slopes of Mt Agung.
It is also interesting to note that Mt Agung last erupted on 17th March 1963 killing about 17000 people under its pouring lava while others were burnt by searing hot clouds that rolled down the mountain slopes. However, Besakih temple, just 6km from the crater, was hardly damaged. The saving of the temple is regarded by the Balinese as miraculous, and a signal from the Gods that they wished to demonstrate their power but not destroy the monument the Balinese faithful had erected. The guide told us that Besakih Temple is a huge complex made up of 22 temples that sit on parallel ridges. The stepped terraces and flights of stairs ascend to a number of courtyards and brick gateways that in turn lead up to the main spire or Meru structure, which is called Pura Penataran Agung.
The guide brought us to tour around the temple and he was pretty interested with Fann’s Fujifilm Instax camera and asked if that was a new camera. He told us that he was also a photography hobbyist and he has an old polaroid camera at home but it was hard for him to find polaroid films in Bali. So, we somewhat went off topic for a while despite touring the magnificent Mother Temple of Besakih. According to him, the temple has some family temples that are off limit to tourists.
As we reached the highest peak of the temple, we waited for the sun to set and took a few beautiful shots of the pagodas around. The view was awesome. After chatting with the guide, he finally took us down back to our van. He asked for a tip after the tour and I gave him some money. His service was very good and was worth another tip of his own.
We are almost at the end of our 2nd day tour. As we are heading back to our hotel, Boby took us to have dinner at a restaurant he told us that had delicious food. The both of us were already very tired from walking and carrying our equipments. After an hour, we reached the restaurant called Jazz Bar & Grille. We ordered Nasi Goreng special and Gulai Kambing. The food was simply delicious, they had the best nasi goreng I’ve ever had in my life. It came with few sticks of fat satays and it was so tasty. I will definitely come back to this place again, the next time I visit Bali. The mutton soup was pretty bad ass too. It is rather pricey but I think it’s well worth the money.
After dinner, we headed back to our hotel for a good night’s rest. Boby told us that he will coming to fetch us the next day on a later time for us to rest. So, after our bath, we just collapsed on the bed and was pretty exhauseted but excited with the beautiful photos we took.