Sunday, 19 May 2013

A Volcanic Crater, Bali, May 16th 2013

Can I see Clearly Now?

At least the rain has stooped, but still nothing spectacular to see as the place is shrouded in clouds. According to various Internet sources I should be on the rim of a volcanic crater looking across and down onto some stunning scenery and of course the real live volcano - nothing doing right now, maybe this afternoon on the way back. Well, having made it this far, might as well take a look at life inside the crater, or caldera as is the correct term.

It's pretty easy to navigate, just take the next left, and the only way is down. Plenty of trucks heading down too, equally plenty of trucks coming up making life on the scooter interesting at times. Thankfully this scooter has a significant thrust factor thus helping me out of a few potential jams! Cloud base at about halfway down, and visibility extends onto  a scenic lakeside village, and now I can see some of the volcano with its associated lava flow from the last eruption.

Keddison is the village at the bottom. Left around the lake and towards the volcano or right into the village and further around the lake. Left, since I want to maximise this volcanic experience. Climbing it is a 2 hour mammoth effort according to research, but not today. Just getting up close will be good enough and if I can get a few decent photos then mission for today accomplished. Quite an experience to be among what was once a lava flow and clearly a dangerous place to be looking at the debris of rocks across the landscape. Surprising then that there are communities living in the shadow of this volcano, and one that has the potential for a big eruption, soon. Anyone thinking of hiking around here alone is in for a rough time, from touts who want to recommend a guide. Arriving at the information centre and the pressure is on to book a guide for the 3am 2 hour hike up the volcano in the hope that there are no clouds to obscure the sunrise, at a staggering £30 minimum.

Leaving behind some glum faced volcano guides I continue  clockwise around the lake, overtaking more trucks fully laden with black sand - next time I should buy some goggles! The trail ends in a village, just as the heavens open and a torrential downpour forces drastic action - ride for cover. Stuck, under what seems to be the village communal scooter parking shack, leaking roof for completeness! An interesting couple of hours actually, as authentic as Balinese life can be seen here in this rather quaint village underneath an active volcano - far removed from the heady situation in Kuta. Chickens scratching in the garbage, dogs roaming around risking life and death, kids leaving school and about 20 giant spiders hanging on the overhead wires.

Back on the road heading back towards Keddison and the beginning of the  ascent. But just before that, let's take a look at the village here, a closer look at the lake and life associated with it. About 50 shades of green as the place has plenty of fertile land with a good variety of crops. Onions, cabbages and rice among others, oh and chilli patches too. Another aspect of rural Balinese life here, a significant distance from the volcano and with the lake inbetween.

An interesting day here, more for the chance to see authentic Balinese life than looking at the volcano. Life that's relevant, the kids playing in the streets with their kites, old timers chewing the fat on door steps, people going about their business. Little shops serving local needs. This is not some oldy worldy type put up tourist job, not a tourist coach in sight, actually not a tourist spotted all day. A local Bali coffee before embarking on the ascent and the 90 minute bone shaking ride back to base, via the rice terraces.

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