Having a less touristy day and avoiding crowds in Bali is not impossible. The most popular hike will involve mt. Batur, but it doesn't have to. If the steep ticket prices and lines of tourists doesn't appeal to you there are alternatives. Luckily for me, I met Deemul, an Indonesian woman organising a trek up one of the lesser known mountains, Mt. Plagga. After a moderate 1 and a half hour hike we'd head down to the closeby waterfall NungNung rather than the busier GitGit Fall.
Canggu to Mt. Plaga
We'd meet at 6a.m. even with the light morning drizzle. It's Bali, but the early morning ride is a bit chilly. Pack a sweatshirt. I made my way up from the Inn Calm hostel in north Canguu to our meeting spot in Mengwi with my rental scooter. Deemul was there to greet me on the first meeting of the Jalan santaiyuk hiking group. She spoke the most English of the group. Three other young men met up with us who spoke very little English.
From Mengwi we 5 took off further north on 3 scooters. The road was nice and paved countryside road. An hour later we arrived in the middle of Bali in the little town of Plaga. The hills got steeper and one of the guys was struggling to keep his scooter climbing. I watched from behind as he ground to a half and Agus hopped off the back. He ran towards me with a large grin.
You, me, Okay?
He pointed to the back of my bike.
He hopped on the back and we continued on. Some of the last stretches were really steep and my bike started to struggle but we made it to the entrance. No gates, no entrance fee at the base; a welcome sight in Bali.
UP MT. PLAGA
The climb is easy with carved out steps. The ETA to the top was an hour and a half but we took a bit longer.
All mountains are sacred in Bali
One of the boys explained. We stopped early at a large tree with an orange cloth wrapped around it's trunk. Banana leaf boat scattered all over its base.
Deemul pulled out a bag of sweets and placed an offering in one of her own boats and performed a sweeping hand gesture towards the tree.
All mountains in Bali are sacred. We believe that humans and the Earth can live together in peace.
Along the way we picked up any trash we’d come across. Agus and his friend enthusiastically collected any bottle caps they came across. It was Rhino celebration day he kept telling me as if that made more sense. They worked at the Bali Safari and would use them to make art.
After half an hour of hiking we reached a plateau with a nice view of the sun coming out. There was a shrine with littler everywhere and we cleaned up as much as we could. A large tree had fallen over a chasm that presented us with a perfect photo opp for the group.
AT THE TOP
The rest of the climb was didn't take too much time. We found ourselves alone on the top. Over the edge thick clouds rolled along the rim. Faint voices approached and from within the clouds two Americans appeared.We heard some voices coming from the clouds and soon two Americans appeared. They had taken an alternate route through the clouds.
An old Balinese man appeared from the temple with a bright smile and greeted us. He was the head priest there building the temple. Although we were alone at the top he told us many people from the village will be arriving with materials for the temple. This is how the temple gets built, little by little with the help of everyone in the villages nearby.
After the Bali man insisted on a group photo, we decided to head down before it got too crowded. It was too late. One by one men and families would appear with stacks of building supplies over their shoulders. We headed down while everyone was headed up. Agus insisted I greeted everyone
Om Swastiastu (May God Always Bless You)
He promised they would reply with great smiles. We made our way down slowly, dodging not tourists, but a procession of villagers with heavy loads.
NUNG NUNG WATERFALL
The sun was now high and perfect for the promised waterfalls. The famour GitGit falls were in the area but Deemul assured me Nungnung would be nicer. I short trip down the road brought us to the falls. Unfortunatly, there was a gate and entrance fee(10 000IDR).
After the days hike the group looked down at the stairs and groaned. 509 steps down brought us to a beautiful waterfall crashing down in a cold pool belong. Best of all there was barely a soul there. The falls was high and strong. Too strong to go under safely but we all went for a nice refreshing swim and hung around until it got too cold.
Once we dried off and got dress, Agus asked
"Are was ready?"
"For JFC!" (Jaya Fried Chicken)
"Of course!" Been meaning to try some.
Thank you to the Jalan crew for taking me with them. @jalan.santaiyuk Hope you grow and climb all of Bali. Terimah kasih