Having been back from the Philippines one day. Sure, let’s climb a mountain, that seems like a great idea! Having flirted with the idea of climbing the 3061m peak for almost a year, Judy (59) and I booked it 6 weeks ago. My half hearted instruction of “make sure you do 100 squats a day and we’ll be fine”, may have been famous last words . Mt Agung is the highest peak in Bali and a sacred spot tothe Balinese Hindus, it is said that Mt Agung is in fact a part of Mount Meru split by Hindu God Pasupati many moons ago (Mount Meru being the centre of the universe according to ancient Hindu teachings ). There are two routes to climb Mt Agung, a route via Pura Besakih (Bali’s holiest temple, also known as Mother Temple ) or Pura Pasar Agung near Selat which starts at a higher elevation.
We commenced our expedition from Pura Pasar Agung at the wee early hour of 1.30 am, we were on the trail. At that point, I was quietly thinking, “what are we doing”? The surroundings at that time are obviously covered in a blanket of darkness and your focus and attention is solely on the foot steps before you. However, we enjoyed the night lights views across the valley on the way up, stopped for breaths and chocolates. I would say and I think Judy would agree we were lulled into a false sense of security given how well we were doing …. Then it hit! We were out of the scrub and stepping over quite a precarious little rock step ,that with a slip of the foot was potentially fatal. (Insert deep breath here).
The last hour is all scrambling and as the dawn breaks, I’m not sure seeing the magnitude of the risks before you is something I enjoyed, ofcourse the views were breathtaking. That said, we did it! Just as the sun was rising, we had conquered the mountain. The view was spectacular and I really think this is where the heavens start, as much as I appreciate a calming ocean view, the mountain top is my heaven every time.
Of course being on this sacred site, we could not attempt our descent without first paying our respects to the Gods. So our guides Ducky and Gede lead us in an Odalan at the peak, when all the other climbers had gone. The feeling of offering your gratitude to God from such an awe inspiring place with not a sound around except maybe a monkey flitting by (they were just hanging out up there) was simply enlightening.
What goes up must come down. Miss Judy was not loving the fact there was only one way down and neither were some other climbers (in the dark, ignorance is bliss but in the bright light of day those cliffs were quite confronting ). After a polite reminder that she was in fact a mountain goat and as such had to lead me out, we were away.
The descent is defintely the hard part and having climbed Mt Batur (Bali’s easier and more popular peak climb) I was surprised at how long and arduous it was. Again we stopped to enjoy the views and Gede and Ducky explained the importance of this great place and recommended we do it again from Besakih (let’s just get through today shall we.) Judy was being an absolute trooper and when I was convinced we were 10 mins from the end (Ducky pointed out it was closer to an hour) you could tell she was feeling every inch of the trek and so was I. Honestly, the resilience, determination and perseverance she displayed made me burst with pride. Whist she joked we were no longer friends, I am so pleased we did it together, it was a wonderful experience.
So if your in Bali. Make the trip it’s truly sensational, not just a walk in the woods so if your like me, maybe get down to the gym a bit more before you do it . I highly recommend Bali Trekking Adventure. I’ve used them 3 times now and they are absolutely brilliant, on time, great guides, reliable. A special mention to Gede and Ducky who were absolute legends , great english, informative on the history and landscape and just a good laugh. They’re safe, fun and know the mountain like the back of their hand. What else do you need in a guide.
Yours in Faith,
The Unlikely Pilgrim