A couple of chilled out days in Bali. That was the plan. So obviously the logical thing to do was to book a 12 hour overnight trek up a mountain for the night I arrived.
A 4am start in Melbourne, followed by a six hour flight and then two hours stuck in traffic before I reached my Airbnb in Ubud - I was pretty keen to get some sleep that afternoon, but my host was insistent on taking me on a tour of the area, so I ditched my king size bed for a Hindu Temple and made friends with a cat.
After a quick dinner, I met my driver to begin the two hour journey to the base of Mount Agung, (a very misleading name considering that upon my arrival home, I discovered that 'Mount' Agung is actually an active volcano, and not just a mountain...)
The warnings online stated that the trek was a hard one, (but mentioned nothing about the fact that the bloody thing could erupt under your feet and forever damn you in a molten lava hell) and that an easier alternative was Mount Batur. I'm not entirely sure why I have an incessant need to make things difficult for myself, but I was adamant that I wanted to be above the clouds, so Agung it was. (In hindsight, the very fact that I'd be climbing to heights above the clouds should have been the very reason to opt for Batur.)
It's not even a slight exaggeration to say that a mere ten minutes into my climb, I was considering telling my guide that I'd changed my mind. Logic stated that the climb would only get harder as we went on, and I was already struggling to breathe. The fact that I'm a stubborn little cow kept me going, especially as the guide looked like he was having serious doubts about taking me any further, and I knew I wanted to prove him wrong. Luckily for me, once we'd cleared the forest area, I was able to catch my breath more easily and we started making good time.
Skip forward six hours. We're about two hours from the summit, and the flashes of lightning that we spotted in the distance, are no longer in the distance - they're practically above our heads. The mists are so thick that we can barely see in front of us, the winds are doing a pretty good job of trying to knock us off of our feet, and the rain is cold - cold and wet. Spirits are pretty low when the guide exclaims 'I'm pretty worried, in my sixteen years as a guide this has never happened before, and it's too dangerous to go on..'
'Fantastic!' I thought, as we were forced to duck into a crevice, cuddle up for warmth and try to sleep until the storm had passed. It was a bit disorientating waking up some 2500m in the sky being spooned by a Balinese man that I'd only met hours before, but at least the storm had passed and we were able to make our way to the summit.
The atrocious weather meant that we couldn't even see the sunrise we'd spent hours climbing to see. We weren't above the clouds, we were in a massive cloud. Cold and wet, to say I was gutted would be an understatement. There were a couple more people with their guides at the top. We decided to wait for a short while and will the sky to clear. The winds up there were so strong that for a few brief moments, there was a break in the clouds and our tired legs didn't even matter.
As it was nearly 8am, and we still had a good six hours worth of descent to go, it was time to make a move. The further down the mountain we got, the more the weather brightened up and we managed to witness some beautiful views. Though, by this point, I was cursing myself for opting to put my feet and legs through hell. Before we'd even reached halfway, my legs had fully turned to jelly, and I still have no idea how I ever made it down. It was past 1pm when I finally crawled through the door of my room and practically passed out.
The rest of my stay in Ubud was a little more chilled out. A stroll through the forest at the end of my road resulted in me making some new friends, and at every meal I managed to practically eat myself into a coma. Just a couple of days in Bali wasn't really enough - lucky I'm going back in a few weeks. (But this time, no volcanoes!)