A Journey Up Mt. Agung On A Small Windy Road

Rice Paddies Near Mt. Agung

On a beautiful, hot sunny day in October, we decided to venture forth and look for Pura Besakih, a temple near Mt. Agung. We climb on to our rented moped and make our way onto the busy road, headed north towards our destination.

As we hurtle towards Mt. Agung (approximately 1 hour from Candidasa), I take note of the terrain: incredibly beautiful rice paddies, jungle, hills, mountains in the distance, and small villages scattered in amongst it all.

Rice Paddies in Bali

The road winds it's way through sudden hillsides with steep ascents and descents - potholes litter the highway, traffic swerves sharply and passes on even the sharpest turns, children precariously dangle off scooters with a smile and a wave, and an obscene amount of garbage is seen at most intersections and road edges.

From what I have noticed, there is generally less education of the general public in third world countries about garbage and litter - I'm not sure if there is much infrastructure in place to deal with it, anyways. It's fairly common for cooking fires (these light up around 4:00pm) to have an extremely acrid smell to them, causing my eyes and nose to become irritated.

As we wind along the road, the traffic gradually disperses. Branches precariously overhang the road, villages make way to agriculture, and the number of dwellings decrease.

Almost suddenly, we begin our ascent and the poor scooter begrudgingly hauls our weight up some extremely steep slopes. I am confident that I would have killed us in a heartbeat had I been driving - the heat alone made the trip difficult, but there were sections that were greater than 45 degree angles, and I had to close my eyes.

I must have lost sense of time (likely lost in panic), when suddenly we were approached by two small children dressed in rags. We slowed down on a section of somewhat flat ground, and it was clear that they really wanted to chat us up.

We stopped, and the kids practiced their conversational English with us for a small amount of time, insisting on shaking our hands before we parted ways.

A short way further up the road, we arrived at our destination: Pura Besakih. We were greeted by a number of "tour guides" wanting to vend their services and provide us with a tour for a nominal fee. We politely decline, pay our admission fee, and start up the slope towards the temple complex.

Apparently the origins of the temple aren't really known, but historians reckon that it dates to pre-historic times. In fact, the stone bases are at least 2000 years old. Super cool, right? I definitely understand why they decided to build the temple overlooking Mt. Agung.

Mt. Agung from the Pura Besakih temple complex.

Unfortunately, there was a lot of rubbish neglected along the path, but the sun was setting along the horizon and we managed to score a lot of incredible photos.

A beautiful stone carving at Pura Besakih temple.

I would definitely go back again to visit - we didn't have enough daylight to explore the entire complex, and apparently a large number of the temples further up the hill require a few hours worth of trekking through monkey-infested jungle, but I'm willing to bet it's worth it.

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