Threatening VolcanoAugust 20, 2012
After two or three days of straight textile tours, Emi, Mari, and I decided to take a little break to climb Mount Batur, one of the four prominent volcanoes on the island. Our guidebook warned that the residents around the volcano were a bit aggressive, and would do just about anything to get you to pay for a guided tour.Oh Lonelyplanet, I should never have doubted thee. Before we even reached the volcano two guys stopped us on their motorcycles to make sure that we procured guides before we climbed the mountain, and warned that bad things could happen to people who didn't follow the trail. We figured we could just brush off anyone by ignoring them, but once we got to the parking lot, three motorcycles started circling our van, threatening our driver, and warning that they would slash our tires. Out of principal, none of us wanted to be intimidated into paying for a tour, but seeing as we wanted to climb the volcano and we had already driven 1.5hrs to get there, and we wanted our driver to be in one piece when we got back, we ended up coughing up the $20 for a guide. Of course, once we got to the guide shop, all of the guides were the guys who had just been threatening us. Once we paid up they all changed their tune and tried to defend their earlier cajoling by saying the government was on their side, and gave a laminated letter as proof. However, the letter was just an account of two Americans who had had a good time while climbing the volcano. My advice if you go to Bali is to just skip Mt. Batur all together. Any tour you take of the volcano, whether prearranged or not goes through this one company (cartel), so it would be best not to support them in any way.
Our "tour guide" was just some kid who walked in front of us and talked about something that none of us could hear. He started out the hike with no water, shoes with no tread, and a cellphone blaring the same three Michael Jackson songs. Though out the hike he would ask us for water, and run up hills yelling CALIFORNIA...it was a strange hike.
The Crater. Mount Batur is actually an active strata volcano inside of a caldera inside of another crater rim....so meta