Every society is based upon lies. Our society of today is based on conflicting lies. The man who lived in a simple, stable, single-lie society absorbed the single-lie system into a unified self and spouted it for the rest of his life, uncontradicted by his friends and neighbors and unaware that ninety-eight percent of his beliefs were illusions, his values artificial and arbitrary and most of his desires comically ill-aimed.
> Luke Rhinehart
One of the highlights of a recent trip to Bali was Lake Batur: a simply beautiful lake with an ethereal ambience at dawn when the mists slowly lift to reveal the lake’s incredible beauty and the high walls of a vast crater rim.
While walking around the lake I came across a bunch of kids treating a stray and mangy dog in a manner which, well, would not exactly win commendations from the RSPCA.
The poor blighter was being used for target practice. Direct hits scored 25 points and a headshot counted double. So I picked up a stone to join in the fun. But as much as I tried, I simply couldn’t do it: the Western indoctrination and brainwashing that has afflicted me since early childhood seemed to kick in at the critical moment, rendering me completely impotent.
Westerners of course get highly agitated when it comes to the topic of animal rights. And more than 90% of pet owners in Canada even consider their pets to be an equal member of the family! (are we really that mad?) Some play the role of the Good Samaritan (like Bali's Street Dog Foundation) and save stray dogs, while others suffer months of torment as they mourn the loss of a pet moggy.
But such delusion is quite bizarre when you think about it. Because just imagine how many human lives could be saved in Africa if pet owners in the West spent less on pampering their cats and dogs and gave the money to charity instead. Trade a cat’s life for a human’s life. Sounds like a good idea to me!
Visiting Lake Batur
Lake Batur is incredibly beautiful but it’s not for everyone. For a start, the accommodations are pretty basic and a run-down Indonesian style motel is not to everyone’s taste – especially if you’ve just been staying in a swanky place in touristy Ubud or Kuta. There’s also pretty much nowhere to eat and when you can find a restaurant don’t be surprised if: 1) the cuisine doesn’t extend to much more than instant noodles or fried rice and 2) they overcharge you.
Where to stay
Hotels with the best views of Lake Batur are located on the main road in the Penelokan area (although most of them are pretty grotty and way overpriced). Adding to the negative vibe are some of the most aggressive handicraft vendors you are ever likely to encounter this side of the equator - they stick to you like fruit flies to cow dung! Far better to just pass through and drive down the windy road to the lake and stay instead in the quiet lakeside village of Kedisan or, a bit further up the road, at Toya Bungkah.
Hotels in Kedisan
Segara Bungalows. Cheapish. Five basic rooms from Rp150,000-Rp200,000. Awful restaurant.
Segara Homestay. 33 rooms. Rp300,000-Rp650,000. Clean, bathtubs, hot water. Not a bad restaurant and they serve margaritas and other mixed drinks!
Surya Homestay and Restaurant. 22 rooms. Good views of the lake. Rp200,000-Rp250,000 with cold water (freezing!); Rp400,000 with hot water.
Climbing Mount Batur
It is possible to climb Mount Batur but what could be a pleasurable experience has been transformed into an ordeal thanks to a policy which only allows tourists to do the climb if they are accompanied by a guide (at a ridiculous price of course!). If you try and bargain the price down, the guides get angry. Not nice at all. There are two types of climb:
Sunrise climb: 4am-8am; “fixed” price: Rp150,000/person
Main crater climb: 4am-10am; “fixed” price: Rp200,000/person.
The base for the climb is the lakeside village of Toya Bungkah. There are about 15 or so basic places to stay in Toya Bungkah. Here are some of them:
Darma Putra Homestay & Restaurant. 10 rooms.
Awangga. Small rooms. Quiet, enclosed courtyard.
Arlina's. Telp: (0362) 51165. Just past the Art Center. Hot water, breakfast.
Tirta Yatra. Very basic.
Nyoman Pangus Homestay & Warung.
Asri Inn. Telp (0362) 753645.
The Art Center. More expensive, nicer. European toilet!!!!
Fishing at Toya Bungkah
From Toya Bungkah you can get a boat across the lake to a Bali Age village called Trunyan. This is home to Balinese “aborigines” and they are known for their bizarre mortuary traditions – rather than cremating or burying the dead they just leave the bodies lying around to decompose naturally! Yucks. Not a very pleasurable experience, the fee for the boat ride is a rip off and the people are unfriendly. Give it a miss.
The hot springs at Toya Bungkah are a better idea but most enjoyable of all is just driving around the lake and enjoying the ethereal ambience of the place. Remember this is a volcanic area and the last time Mount Batur blew its top was in 1917 when thousands of people were killed. Fingers crossed that it won’t erupt when you are there!
See the Lake Batur Map to help you plan your visit.