Lake Batur Cultural Tour
It’s not often I’m outside awaiting a ride at 6.30am, but it was an early start for this tour.
C.Bali Canoeing & Cultural tours begin at dawn, when they collect their guests from the South of Bali and head North to Mt Batur. It’s a two-hour drive through busy towns, travelling past Ubud and Tegallalang to the very top of Kintamani, and making a sharp turn left to take the windy road down to Lake Batur.
The entire drive is scenic, as the people of Bali begin their day heading to the rice fields or their place of work. The hills offer glimpses of the majestic mountains and terraced rice fields, and on a clear day you will see the troublesome Mt Agung.
Once arriving at Segara Hotel in the town of Kedisan, the views of the lake in the shadow of Mt Batur are breathtaking.
Mt Batur is an active volcano, towering 1700m above sea level, its last devastating eruption occurred in 1968, but it has had activity as recently as the year 2000. The lava field is still visible today. To the people who live around the lake and the mountain, it is a sacred site. The community derive income mainly from agriculture and fishing, and to some extent tourism. But this isn’t a busy tourist area.
After a delicious banana pancake for breakfast, the bike ride begins. Down the main street of Kedisan and past the local school, we ride past the land which is used for farming, and see tomato and chilli plants brimming with fruit, past massive trees which are a hybrid Fig/Banyan and form one of the sacred sites within the village
Our first stop, is at a local home, and we are welcomed by the elderly couple who live here. As we offer the traditional hello, hands together at chest level and head bowed, we are greeted with beautiful smiles.
Their home is simple, a dirt floor and their belongings meager, yet still they offer the group fresh fruit and a chair to sit on. The woman is checked by Rachel, our guide, as she suffers from diabetes. A pin prick shows her levels are high, but her daily meals consisting mainly of rice are not ideal. The makeshift stove, with an open fire has a large pot brewing, I ask the old man if I may take a photo, to which he happily agrees. Then asks me to do it again as he poses and stokes the fire while smiling at me. His smile was large, and my only dismay is that with my excitement for him, my photo was blurry. I had to laugh, the pot of food was actually for the pigs they keep out back.
From here it’s a comfortable walk through the village. Through narrow lanes and past local homes. Some ornate in design and others basic and simple. The dogs are many, same as everywhere in Bali, and along with the chickens and roosters, we wandered while being explained the many intricacies to everyday Bali life. Temples within homes, where the ashes of ancestors lie, and where a baby is presented in its first days. Learning about the offerings which are laid outside door ways, the Canang Sari are a daily part of life for the Balinese. Little baskets of colour offered to the Gods to bring good health and prosperity to the families living within.
Located amongst the large community temples, is the Local Banjar area. A place for the community to meet, for the girls to practice their dancing and the young boys learn the discipline of Gamelan playing.
As we ride to the edge of the lake to the nearby village of Buahan, we find fields planted with more chili. The soil closest to the water is planted with cabbage and being tended by two older women. Boats lay close to the shore, as a dog frolicked in the shallow water. Food carts attracted the locals as they purchased their lunch, sitting nearby to eat and chat. At the time of writing, 11km away as the crow flies, Mt Agung is still threatening to erupt. A woman explained how many had evacuated to camps in fear of the damage that may be caused. Unfortunately, it’s a waiting game for so many others.
Riding along the shoreline, we returned to the
local school. It was prayer time, and the children stood with their palms together and eyes closed, except the cheeky ones who knew we were visiting and waved discreetly. An impromptu lesson inside a classroom on the different Balinese names and the different castes, where the children sat beside us, not learning but intrigued by their visitors. It was interesting to learn this was one of the few schools teaching Bahasa Balinese, alongside the Indonesian language taught elsewhere. When the bell rang, a loud roar erupted as the kids waved goodbye, the end of a school day seems to be appreciated world wide.
Back to the hotel and the tour was over, ending with another tasty meal of Nasi Goreng served with chicken skewers and sate. It was delicious.
Our trip back to reality took the same roads.
Occasionally the towering peak of Mt Agung would poke through the clouds. It really is a massive force of nature, and we can only hope it settles and remains dormant for a long time. And hopefully soon.
The many communities in the surrounding areas rely heavily on farming, fishing and tourism, and even with just the threat of activity from the volcano, they have been severely affected already.
And so I say keep visiting Bali, the people need you and will welcome you with open arms.
To book your day out with C.Bali Canoeing & Cutltural tours, click here.
Follow me on Instagram @jojoinbali for more of my Bali life in photos.