Today's alarm sounded at 2:00am. Excitement for the day ahead overshadowed our lack of sleep. Bedu had asked us if a fellow American girl could join and of course we said yes! An instant friendship was made with Catrina, even at 2:30 in the morning. A gorgeous and positive Florida native, who has recently moved to Australia to pursue her love of traveling. She shares our sense of adventure and fit right in.
We met our hiking guide Adi, lit our "torches" and started the ascent to the peak of Mount Batur. In the pitch black we scaled rocks and at other times steep slopes of volcanic sand. Many people choose to stop halfway to avoid the most difficult part but we were determined to reach the summit. It was a treacherous and challenging hike but we made it with smiles on our faces. Adi brought us coffee and banana sandwiches while Bali slowly came to life with the sunrise. This magical view included the largest lake and mountain in Bali, villages, the Gili Islands, Lombok and the Indian Ocean. We explored the volcano's crater, holy cave, hot steam spots and visited with the gentle monkeys. It was a blessing in disguise that we could only see step by step on our climb because descending in the daylight, we quickly realized how precarious our hike really was.
Afterwards our only break was a quick but mandatory coffee stop before visiting Tirta Empul Temple. Lucky for us it was a black moon which enabled us to witness holy ceremonies and traditions. We visited another temple, Gunung Kawi known for it's lush surroundings and many steps. Both of these temples were majestic and unforgettable.
At only 2:30pm Shawna and I were back at our bungalow, sitting pool side, munching on a Balinese lunch and sipping on a surprisingly yummy Arak cocktail.
After a bit of lounging in the sun, much needed showers and two strong coffees, we headed to town to have sushi with Catrina and Bedu. We could have chatted for hours but Shawna and I had tickets to a traditional Balinese dance performance. We watched in awe as elaborately dressed men and women chanted, danced and acted out what is basically their version of Romeo and Juliet. The finale was a man stomping burning pieces of coconut with bare feet. We looked at each other midway and mouthed, this doesn't happen everyday in LA!