A day trip to Kintamani, promises mountains, lakes, the chance to get out of of Kuta and see some of Bali. The reality of a trip to Kintamani is a 3 hour ride along main roads, parking next to other tour buses, eating lunch and the main tourist restaurant, overlooking the lake. You will be accosted by sarong and souvenir sellers, and that’s without venturing into the crater.
Batur crater is in my opinion a very cool place, in itself. Imagine a comminity of people who fish and farm at a fresh water lake, inside a volcanic crater! It seems part fantasy, part reality to us westerners. The 2 big problems with venturing into the crater are, the round the clock dump trucks servicing the quarry, on the west side of the lake, and the very aggresive ‘mountain guides’. The truck run about once every 2 minutes, in and out, creating a cloud of fumes, dust and noise. The mountain guides have combined to give Mt. Batur a bad reputation and many guide books have sections dedicated to warning people about the bad treatment they should expect.
Here in Seminyak a small number of people from Kintamani have plonked themsleves here in order to beg for money. Its rather pathetic, rather like me getting on the plane to the US, and sitting outside a mansion in Beverly Hills. For the people involved its complete culture shock, and for the people who live in Seminyak, another person to say no to. At Bintang supermarket there are 2 ATMs. A coulpe of ladies sit outside it with their hand out. one told me she was from Kintamani.
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The other night at Poser’s Pub in Legian, while interviewing Dallas Finn, a line of kids about 12, passed by and jabbered at me in Indonesian, to buy stuff. I joked about tidak ada uang (don’t have money) and made a game of it. I feel sorry for them, but someone either in their banjar, local government, island government, whatever, needs to stand up and create a program to educate these people. I was reading an article today about a Kuta shop owner who turned to growing organic rice, as a way to beat the tourist slump. The people in that crater could grow some unique things and market them as unique.
My advice for visiting Kintamani: Drive to Blandingan, on the outside northern rim and do a relaxing, free, pleasant hike, viewing the ocean and the lake simultaneously. Also drive into the crater and explore the western side. There are lava fields and orange groves as well as a couple of villages. I would not waste my money hiking Gunung Batur.