2.45am is a time I equate with sleeping, the occasional booze-fuelled late night and Elliot Smith. But in Ubud, Bali, it’s at this time that I find myself sitting on the side of the road awaiting a pick-up to take us out to Mount Batur. One of Bali’s two active volcanoes, it’s one of the best spots on the island to see sunrise, with promised views of the towering Mount Agung and the island of Lombok.
While early starts are inescapable on the road, this is certainly our harshest in four months. There’s chance for a snatched 45 minutes of extra kip in the back of the Land Rover before we’re dropped off at Bangli, at the foot of Batur.
With torches, a full moon and our local guide Nyoman to help us on our way, we’re soon traipsing through the jungle and upwards through jagged igneous rocks and fertile farmland.
Unsurprisingly, we’re not alone. Torchlight dots the path as we head up, Nyoman leading the way at a pace which can only be politely described as brisk. Stopping briefly to neck water and peel off layers as we begin to perspire with the early morning effort, rows of fellow travellers trudge past, grim faced and tired.
Those looks all slip, however, once we reach the crater. Although its still just 5.15am and dark, the sky is slowly turning crimson, still dotted with stars. We’re led to a higher viewing point, thankfully away from the crowds and given a breakfast of sweet coffee and banana sandwiches, before settling down to watch sunrise in all it’s glory.
And when it comes, we’re certainly not disappointed. Although high stratus clouds streak the sky and obscure the sun, we’re still treated to a breathtaking show, as the mountains of Lombok light up and Mount Agung looms menacingly on the other side of lake Batur.
Soon we’re up on our feet and making our way down, moving through cool,lush forest and back to Bangli. The time is just 8.30am when we reach the car, broken and starting to droop with the effort of it all. But with views like those at the summit, it’s hard to justify staying in bed and missing out. Sleep can come later.