Conquering the top

June 13, 2009 § 2 Comments

Sunrise at Mount Batur

As far as I can remember my childhood was not one filled with much physical activity. In schools where brains were considered superior to braun, I always saw P.E (Physical Exercise) class as a waste of time and I would usually lie and tell the teacher it was the painful time of the month to opt out of doing anything other than sit on my lazy ass. Outside of school, ‘exercise’ was limited to:

– Walking to the front porch to get into the car.

– Playing badminton with my brother over the front gate of our house.

– Riding my bike about three blocks from my house.

When I moved to America, imagine my horror when Gym class was introduced to my lackluster body and I was later even more horrified when I discovered that it didn’t even include real gym. So in my years there, the hardest thing my body ever had to do was run a 2km stretch every week, cleverly engineered by the ex-army teacher who thoroughly enjoyed telling me I was running all wrong. Beyond that all my future attempts at ‘sport’ has been complete and utter fail. I have tried all manners of it – archery, basketball, netball, volleyball, bush-walking et cetera but the only thing I ever succeeded in finding out was how poorly I was in all of them.

Now in 30 years of my body being so allergic to physical activity, how on earth I convinced myself to scale a volcano I do not quite comprehend. In a moment of madness filled with an alien vigour I set the alarm clock for the ungodly hour of 1am in order to be able to start the ascent at 4am. It was a 2 hour drive from the hotel and it was essential we began at that time so that we could catch the sunrise from the peak. And so with sleepy eyes and a small prick of nervousness, we began our climb of Mount Batur.

Along with a cheery Indonesian guide Peter and my equally enthusiastic climbing companion, we set off in the pitch black darkness of the jungle with a couple of other small groups. Not half an hour into the trek, I began to question my earlier enthusiasm. After about an hour groping in the dark and trying to catch up with everyone else (so as not to be the last – too many ghost stories), all excitement had but vanished into thin air. In the end Peter literally had to pull me up the rest of the volcano. The sunrise was almost at hand. It took more than 2 hours since I had to stop about a million times. My companions were patient. We finally made it to the top, just barely to see a sunrise masked by clouds, but spectacular nonetheless. With a mixture of pity and amusement, Peter presented me with a breakfast of eggs and bananas cooked by the heat of the volcano. It was surreal.

By around 8am we decided to descend, which I harboured renewed happiness about as I foolishly thought it would be a breeze going down. However my legs and feet had totally disengaged themselves from my body by that time, and amidst struggling not to tumble head over heels down the steep black rocks, poor Peter had to give me a helping hand once more. Although my stopping was less frequent, I trailed so far behind that at moments I was quite alone in the deathly silence of Mount Batur. I could vaguely hear my (subtle) companion and Peter snickering way ahead but I took my time and in utmost physical pain I dragged my jelly feet along kilometres of unruly paths and beaten roads filled with awful smells. Finally civilization in the form of some huts began to emerge and all I could think about was the nice white fluffy hotel bed.

Anyway that’s the story of the first mountain/volcano I’ve ever scaled. So for a true city girl, I think I did ok, though it would have been nice if my lovely companion hadn’t been making fun of me the entire trek. Next time, the story of my second attempt at snorkelling.

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