Noon, 22nd August 2007. 30km northwest of Besakih, 70km north of Kuta, we abruptly stop at the roadside.
Nope, it’s not these colourful fruits, which I’m sure are yummy, that we are after.
But this … Lake Batur, formed inside a caldera caused by a gigantic volcanic eruption some 30,000 years ago. Sumatra’s Lake Maninjau is another caldera lake (see HERE).
And to the left, active volcano Mt Batur at 1717m, a midget compared to the huge monster which exploded to form Lake Batur next to it.
There are four calderas atop Mt Batur – three dormant while the active one is to the left, somewhat hidden. In 2000 this caldera spewed the whole she-bang, and the dark earth to the extreme left is actually solidified lava.
After soaking in the splendid lake-volcano view (and fending off roadside vendors), we head towards the township of Kintamani, along a road which rides the rim of the huge ancient caldera.
Kintamani, on the rim of the lake caldera, is purely a tourist trap, full of pushy street vendors and pricey restaurants. But excellent location.
CAUTION: Bring your own packed meals if possible, because restaurants here charge obscene amounts of money for mediocre fares. Also avoid street vendors who are very persistent, just like the horde outside Taj Mahal in Agra.
Piper at the back of a tourist-fleecing restaurant.
We are in the northern part of Bali and weather here tends to be different to the south, where ominous clouds always hang.
Another perspective of Mt Batur, and the single active caldera can be clearly seen here. Note the huge expanse of lava flow from the 2000 eruption, now solid black rock.
Great view of Mt Batur (1717m) and Lake Batur (1031m). So you only need to climb 700m to reach the summit.
On the eastern side of the lake, old volcano Mt Abang, 2153m, is covered in clouds. At the far end lies a settlement of the original natives of Bali.
Kintamani done, we make our way back to Kuta, and I do a quick stop at this traditional village, with it’s walled homes.
Every home has its own family pura …
… and the govt-issued entrance plaque provides address and occupants’ details. 16 people live here – 8 males, 8 females. This village is Seribatu.
One thing Indonesians are good at is to commercialise their orchards and vegie farms, as cottage industry.
Here we see our first ever ‘vanilla plant’, actually a type of orchid whose pods produce the stuff which becomes vanilla.
And Aina spots her first cocoa fruit too, and salak (snakeskin fruit) palm.
The whole place is well-groomed and it’s a pleasure roaming the orchard.
Invariably at a place such as this, there would be huts where visitors can take a breather …
… and be served drinks made from locally-grown produces such as coffee, tea, cocoa and ginger, all gratis. If you like the samples, you can stroll over to the store in the bushes to buy some (at inflated prices) to take home. Good marketing.
We have seen the vanilla orchids, and here are the dried pods of the orchids which contain vanilla.
Next to it, trays of famous spices which drove the Europeans of yore to cross oceans to get. We do not buy anything here but help ourselves to wonderful coffee, chocolate and ginger drinks before leaving. Cheapskates that we are!
> To be continued …