We had been thinking about climbing the holy mother mountain, Gunung Agung already since we came to Bali. Because of the rain-season we waited until the end of our time on Bali. As a “warming up” we climbed Gunung Batur link to see how we would like it and how fit we are. Rino has no real climb/hike experience and Iris a bit more from Norway, but climbing experience you can barely call it. After Batur we knew that we are absolutely fit enough, Iris is a bit scared sometimes of the hights, but that doesn’t stop her from wanting to climb more.
Sarah had already said yes to the challenge and at a beach party we met Claas, a Dutch guy who also would like to climb with us. Team Mount Agung was formed! We started making plans together with our guide, whom we also used for Batur, but faith wanted our plans to change. A few days before the climb an uncle of our guide died, this makes him (our guide) impure and unable to climb the holy mountain for 12 days according to Balinese Hinduism. What to do...? We made contact with a good rated guide in the Lonely Planet, he replied and wanted to be our guide. He asked for our experience and made the suggestion that we maybe should not take the longest track to the very top, but a little shorter track to a top on the east-side of the volcano crater. 150m lower than the top and no 360 view, but according to him still fantastic view and good view on the crater. This track was 4-5 hours instead of 6-7. It also had been raining on the mountain a couple of days, so we decided to take his advise. Now nothing could stop us anymore.
We were picked up outside our house at midnight so we could start the climb at 2am. We had all been sleeping a little bit earlier that evening and eaten a big meal to build up some energy to stay up all night. With our backpacks and pockets full of snacks we cheerfully started the hike to the top of Bali. The starting point was at 1600 meters, almost as high as the top of Batur. It didn't take us long before we absolutely loved and trusted our guide Pak Gung Bawa. A tiny build Balinese with tons of climbing experience and a open and heartwarming smile and spirit. And smiling he did, all the time, jumping up the mountain with quick and light steps. He referred to the monkeys as our masters, light steps and using both hands and feet for walking up the steep mountain. It did help and made the climb easier. Keep smiling, think about noting else than right now and the goal of coming to the top and feel the energy from the mountain. Hug and embrace the mountain when you climb up a steep part, it will recharge your batteries, he said. We did, and we felt it. “We don’t concur the mountain, we concur ourselves” were his wise words. Especially for Iris, who gets afraid once in a while when its steep, learned a lot from Gung Bawa that night and morning. You have all the power to decide how to feel and think at each and every moment, as long as you’re aware of it. It is all in the mind!
We had brought snack with us for the walk, but at each short break Gung Bawa offered us snacks of all imaginable sorts, bananas, Oreo cookies and all kinds of small energy boosts. The climb was hard but we were in good shape all of us and it actually went very well the whole way up to the top. Gung Bawa had a perfect tempo and was a great motivator and company to walk with. Showing us how the continues smile from the inside and out can help you in reaching a goal. And we reached our goal, after around 4 hours we saw the top and made a monkey sprint up the steep big rocks. Full of adrenalin and out of breath we reached the top of 2890 meter.
Together with other people we watched the sunrise and just took in the impressions of being on the top of Gunung Agung and the breath-taking view. Gung Bawa made a prayer and an offering while the sun was rising. Adding a beautiful extra dimension to the whole experience, considering how holy and important the mountain is to the Hindus.
On the way up as well as the way down, we met a lot of Balinese people, aged teenagers to old men and woman, in traditional clothing and flip flops, climbing to the top to do their offerings. Gung Bawa told us that they also once in a while bring a cow or a goat alive up to the top to sacrifice/offer it into the crater. How do they do it??
After the prayer Gung Bawa pulled more stuff out of his magic backpack, this tiny man carries a lot of kilos up the mountain for his customers. We drank coffee and thee and enjoyed fried bananas and delicious cakes. We realized again that we had hit the best guide we could get, nobody else on the top were spoiled so much by their guide as we were. Besides that we also had a lot of fun together, which made everything feel easier than it maybe sometimes was. Here a short clip from us having fun on the top, Iris explains a song to keep warm from Norway :-)
On the way down, all of us could physically feel it ace more than on the way up, in the knees, hips, shoulders and feet. Gung Bawa kept the spirit high and we slowly made our way back down to starting point. 11am the broken but happy team arrived back at the car to go home, take a loooong massage, order pizza and zzzzzzzz! :-)
Thank you Pak Gung Bawa and thank you Gunung Agung for this experience! And thank you Sarah and Claas for the great company and the shared experience!