On climbing Mt Batur in Bali to watch the sunrise and finding magic in this world

Mt Batur, Bali

I have always believed that the world is a beautiful, magical place. Perhaps I am just too naïve for my own good. In saying that, I have experienced for myself plenty of tragedy, as many of us have. But I have never let it stop me from having an endless faith in all that is good in this world.

But I know all too well how easy it is to get so caught up in our own little bubble of problems. We don’t know how we’re going to survive another day at work. We want to go out but don’t have anyone to go with us. We are worried about all the bills coming up. We don’t want to pay a mortgage any more. We eat too much food. We don’t exercise enough. We drink too much alcohol. We spend too much money on clothes or food or holidays.

We wake up each morning and maybe we see it as “just another day.”

But making it to the top of Mt Batur in Bali one early morning in August all huddled up with black coffee and banana sandwiches, it certainly didn’t feel like “just another day.”

In fact, the day we climbed Mt Batur made me fall in love with all that is good and beautiful in this world.

Climbing Mt Batur:

On holiday in Bali with a couple of girlfriends, we booked ourselves on a guided trek up 1717m high Mt Batur to see the sunrise. This involved waking up at 1:00 am and being driven across the island from our hotel in Seminyak, ready to start the trek by 3:30 am.

The climb was tough, even for someone with relatively good fitness as myself. A lot of the struggle for me was finding my footing and doing my best not to slip, with only torchlight to lead the way. Endless amount of faith was required to make it through the darkness of early morning. It helped that we had the most loveliest guide. While sadly his name eludes me now, his upbeat nature helped make the climb a lot more bearable.

Mt Batur sunrise trek in Bali
The sun peaking out from the horizon.

A brilliant sunrise show at the top of Mt Batur:

Two hours later, we made it to the sunrise viewing point, deciding not to climb right up to the top. Now that we were no longer moving, the cold suddenly seeped into our bones as the wind whipped against our skin.

But sitting in the darkness, waiting patiently for morning to break through, I had such a strong feeling of content that reminded me of all the times I’ve spent out in nature such as my trip to the Blue Mountains in New South Wales or my time navigating through the mud filled jungles of Chiang Mai.

Suddenly the dark blanket of night started to break apart with hues of orange flickering through. Despite the hundreds of people up on the mountain, it was very quiet as everyone just watched, enchanted by the show. Soon there were incredible blues and purples dancing around in the sky as morning arrived, revealing the most wonderful sight: another volcano, Mt Gunung Angung standing proudly across the lake.

The stumbling and climbing through the darkness had definitely been worth it for this amazing sight.

Good morning after a trek up Mt Batur to watch the sunrise (Bali)
Good morning from Mt Batur.

The Road Less Travelled vs The Path of Least Resistance:

Reflecting back on this climb, a verse from one of my favourite poems comes to mind. This poem is called Poem of the Matukituki Valley, written by New Zealand poet James K. Baxter:

Therefore we turn, hiding our souls’ dullness
From that too blinding glass: turn to the gentle
Dark of our human daydream, child and wife,
Patience of stone and soil, the lawful city
Where man may live, and no wild tresspass
Of what’s eternal shake his grave of time.

It is in this poem that Baxter laments the choices of humans to choose the path of least resistance over the road less travelled and just simply settle for what comes to us easily.

And while watching the sunrise, I realised this world is far too magical for us to just settle and invest in lives that don’t excite us. That maybe we need to take the road less travelled every now and then instead of sticking to that path of least resistance. Maybe we need to take more risks in life instead of playing safe and small.

It’s probably why I love travelling so much, especially if it’s a bit more intrepid, and why I love hiking and being out in nature. Travel gives me that sense of heading out into the unknown and discovering traits I never knew existed within me.

Making the descent down Mt Batur, Bali
Making the descent down Mt Batur.

I’m not saying travel is the answer for everyone. Perhaps you’ll find your magic in books. Perhaps you’ll find it exploring your own city or town. Perhaps you’ll find it through meditation and yoga. Perhaps you’ll find it in volunteer work with animals or children in need. Perhaps you’ll find it simply by taking the time to wake up every now and then to watch the sunrise or go for a walk or run.

Perhaps you’ll find it just by changing your mindset and deciding the world simply is a magical place regardless of what you do, where you live or where you go.

No matter how you find that magic, once you find it, enjoy it and hold on to it.

Holding on to that magic certainly won’t be easy. It’s not like you can go climbing volcanoes every day.

I know all too well the struggle of motivating yourself to get out of bed on those days when you’re back to the everyday grind and a life of routine. But hold fast to the beautiful memories and feelings that created the magic.

That magic will be just the thing you need to wake up every day bouncing out of bed, ready to take on the world.


Booking a sunrise trek up Mt Batur

At 1717m high, Mt Batur is an active volcano located in the northern part of Bali.

If you’d like to do a sunrise trek, you must go with a guide. You can book a trek as late as one day before through reception at your hotel. If travelling from the southern parts of Bali such as Kuta or Seminyak, you will need to be awake for your midnight/1am pick-up time in order to make it to the mountain in time for the 3:30 am descent. Prices average around $70 which includes transfer to and from the hike as well as visits to places such as the Batur Hot Springs and coffee plantations in Ubud (depending on the tour company you book with).

Make sure to take plenty of water and warm clothing – you’d be surprised by the difference in temperature from the tropical heat by the coast to the cold mountain air.

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