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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

22 February 2011

Happy Birthday Maureen

17th February 2011

For Maureen’s birthday we took a trip to Gunung Batur, the volcanic mountain in the middle of Bali. The guidebook warned us that the touts and guides are so avaricious and persistent around here that many people leave vowing never to return. What a birthday treat! In the event we only picked up one human leech the whole day, determined to show us a bat cave (for a small fee). Having shaken him off we then found the bat cave quite independently, and it was an astonishing sight with hundreds of them flying in broad daylight. Of course, up popped the guide as if by magic and acting as though he had led us right here. So he eventually got his Nuisance Removal Fee; the small amount that weary tourists sometime give undeserving pests just to get them to bugger off.

But on the whole I thought it was a great day. The drive up there included over an hour of wiggly mountain road full of pot-holes and thick with fog and cloud so that we felt our day was doomed. But as we reached the crater rim at the small town of Kintamani the sky before us was clear blue with scudding clouds. The crater is awesome. Within the perfect circular rim of wooded ridges and hills is a huge bowl, large enough to contain half-a-dozen villages and all their attendant farmland as well as a blue lake occupying the eastern quarter of it. And right in the centre of the bowl is a perfect little mountain, the current volcano, with it’s own big crater clearly visible at the top.

Kintamani straggles along one part of the crater rim, with a rambling complex of temples which today were full of worshippers making offerings and flags flying in the stiff breeze. Some mysterious yammering and chanting behind a high wall turned out to be neither a religious ritual nor a kecak dance, but a cock fight with all the men cheering on their favoured bird. We were nervous about spying over the wall until a passing local called out “Look, cock fight! Come take photo!”

Down in the crater is a huge market garden, with crops of tomatoes, cabbages, shallots, chillies, garlic and avocados in various stages of growth. Our lunch was grilled lake fish with a startling and delicious sauce of chilli, turmeric and garlic. I forgot that I’d had the headlights on in the fog earlier, so after lunch the battery was flat. Lucky our warung was half way up the crater rim! Everyone gave me a push and the car started as I disappeared off round a hairpin.

Once we had done enough exploring we stopped for rather melty ice cream at the only posh resort in the area, a hot water spa. Having seen zero tourists all day, we finally discovered where the westerners hang out! On our way back out of the crater the late light was perfect for photography and we all rather wished we didn’t have to go.

So, quite the opposite of the guidebook advice this time.

Happy Birthday my love!

3 Responses to “Happy Birthday Maureen”

  1. Jane says:

    I will say this, however ANNOYING my former mate’s anti-social ways were, they did save us beaucoup bux. He’d NEVER have paid that leech anything to make him leave. He would have just made him WANT to leave, or they’d both irritate me to the point that I’d blow up and scare leechman away. Rude was a specialty. Ugly Americans R Us.

  2. Jane says:

    OH! (duh) Happy Birthday, Otter!

    • shortclaws says:

      Thanks, Jane!

      It was a slightly unusual birthday, in the middle of our travels, but a fun day nonetheless. I was very lucky to be able to celebrate it with friends and family.


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