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Mount Agung: Fata Morgana on the Mountain

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I lost the race to the sun. I was not ready.
I descended as fast as I could. That’s the least I could do.
The tingling sensation was still there. I didn’t feel better.
The sun was out. The weather was getting hotter.
Perspired. Sweat rolling over.
I almost lost my mind but at the end, I was getting stronger.

Read: A Glimpse of Light on Mount Agung for the first part of the story.

Uncertainty On The Mountain

“I have to start moving to finishing point now”

There was no one around and the wind was strong up there. I couldn’t imagine if I were on the summit. It was already morning and all my surrounding can be clearly seen without my headlamp. The path was sandy, full of loose small stones which caused it slippery. I lost count on how many times I slipped. Descending was much more challenging than climbing up.


I remember there was a big tree trunk where I had to climb over it which right after I had to step on a few small rocks to climb up and down. But I didn’t remember I walked through this. I looked around, the path I was going through seems UNFAMILIAR to me.

“Err….I don’t remember there is such a big tree here”

“Am I on the right path? But this is the only way”

“Where are those tree with flickering fire?”

“I was in doubt.”

Obviously.

I felt I had walked for very long and I started to feel pain on my both toes. But I kept going, knowing that there was only one way to ascend to the summit and descend back to the post. Countless times of steps from the hikers had left the path cleared from the grasses, I followed that.

Fata Morgana On The Mountain

“It might be a mirage or fata morgana.
I saw something that wasn’t real!”

Little did I know that I’d experience what people called fata morgana or mirage. I thought it would only happen in the desert where people who lost their way and desperate of water, they will start seeing an oasis. That’s what I know from the…movies. When I told my friends about it, most of them commented that I had seen ‘things’. You know what I mean, don’t you?

When I tried to google, I only could find one writer, Irwan Zalukhu, mentioned on his blog about the same experiences that he and his friends had when they were on Mount Lawu. And they experienced it more than five times! For me, three times was more than enough.

First Fata Morgana: A Group Of People

I was sheltered by the tree branches which prevented the direct sunlight to my body. But the earlier long walk under the sun did make me feel thirsty. I took out my water bottle from my backpack and drank up to the last drop. I kept the empty water bottle back into my backpack. It’s finished. I continued the journey.

I looked at a far distance ahead of me and hey, I saw a group of people wearing colourful jackets was gathered on the bridge! Although the distance was as if I was sitting in the back row in one concert hall where I could only see the singer’s outfit and hair colour while the face was not clear, I looked at it again, YES! THERE WAS A GROUP OF PEOPLE OVER THERE! It cleared all my doubts and I continued to walk confidently.

After a few meters ahead, I stopped and checked how far I still had to go. But hey, they were gone! I tried to get my eyes focused on the direction where I saw them earlier. I saw nothing. Only the leaf from the trees which were moving because of the wind. It did look like people moving around at one glance.

“I must have seen it wrongly.” I thought.

Second Fata Morgana: A Gate And A Trishaw

I saw no other way in front of me,  so I continued to walk following the path. I reached an open area where I could feel the sun heat again. And…

“Eh..?”

From a distance, not too far from where I stopped, I saw a gate. It looked like the entrance gate. And there’s one trishaw parked near to it.

“Eh..? Trishaw? Trishaw on the mountain? It can’t be!”

It was still there when I looked at it one more time. Then I thought, probably, I just didn’t know that trishaw was available here, around this area. While still bearing the pain on my knees and my toes which had also started bleeding – I felt wet on my both socks around my big toes, I walked heading to the gate. But when I stopped and wanted to check if I was almost there, It’s gone! I had mistaken the shadows of the trees and leaf as what I saw as the gate and trishaw.

Again? What’s wrong with my eyes?!

Third Fata Morgana: A House With Terracotta Roof

The weather had turned warmer as I walked. I slipped a few times but everything was alright until I seemed to see a house, not too far in front of me. It was standing among the trees and I could only see the red terracotta roof which is commonly found in Indonesia, clearly.

“Looks like the villagers’ house. Or maybe it’s the post!” I thought so.

But…

I slipped again and landed on my butts very hard this time. I stood back and I tried to find the house. But I couldn’t find it anymore. It seemed to disappear just like that! Then I stopped and sat down. At that moment, I know that my condition was already not OK.

“I have to stop. I can’t define what’s real and unreal anymore. I have to call for help.”

I was calm and I was glad that I was. To my surprise, I managed to get network reception on the mountain because usually, it’s very difficult to get a network connection. The reception was weak but I was still able to send a message to Ayuk, the agent which I engaged in arranging this Bali trip. She contacted the guide who was with me to find me.

The only thing I was worried about was that I would cause others to miss their flights if I was lost. Because our flight back to Singapore was in the evening on the same day. But I was glad it didn’t happen.

The End Of The Journey

About an hour later, I heard voices from far behind. Fast footsteps sound. I saw two of my friends were making their way down. I was very glad! At least I know that I was in the right way. I joined them. But because of my knees and toes were such in pain, I walked very slow. I tried to walk sideways to cut the pressure on my toes hitting my shoes, but didn’t help much. And that’s when my guide, Komang, turned up and smiled at me. He guided and helped me through to the finishing point.

It’s not easy, I slipped many times. I couldn’t really step on firmly and I grabbed on the tree roots and anything that could help me not to slip. I ‘stole’ bottled water from my guide as I was so thirsty! I was glad that my guide was very patient. He said that it happened before there’s a girl who was crying on her way back. He didn’t know I was about, too! Although tough, I did it. We did it. We reached the real gate, the real finishing point, and it was almost 1 pm.

“Is it very tough?” he asked.

“The mountain actually is not really far but the path may not be easy.”

I agreed with him. We had the last glance at the mountain before we left the place on his motorbike back to the post. Yes, a motorbike and not a trishaw. I felt like I was just out from a battlefield when I reached the post. My energy level was very low then. I was hungry and thirsty but I had no appetite to eat. I was sleepy, tired, dirty and smelly but time does not let me wash up before I got ready for the next task. There were many happenings around me which I couldn’t care much anymore. I slept in the car on my way to the airport.

Be it a fata morgana, mirage or whatever. As what the writer, Irwan Zalukhu, and his friends concluded about their experiences, all that happened because we were too tired and wanted to get back to the post as soon as possible to rest. Because of that high expectations, we started to see something that did not really exist. It is more about the psychology issue rather than a mystic.

I agreed with them. At that time I was in pain, tired and thirsty, and I just wished that I could get out from there as fast as I could. In other words, this situation can happen anywhere.

Although I am not a frequent trekker, it won’t stop me from coming back to this mountain and going for another hiking and trekking trip. Just that next time I have to make sure that I am in good condition to go and not forcing myself, not also because of the sense of responsibility.

And you, will you come back again to the mountain after all these experiences?

Tracy Chonghttps://about.me/chongtracy
I love nature and I wish to swim with whales one day. If I am not exploring and working in front of my laptop, most likely I will spend the day trying out new recipes or spending time with family or friends.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Some people think hiking is just walking, but this post illustrates the skill that can be involved. I’ve never experienced mirages like that, it must have been scary, but I have had the feeling of not being sure if I was on the right track and that was scary enough. Glad you came out of it relatively ok:)

  2. The results of hiking are always worth it! Glad you made it safely and that you got to experience such beauty at the end. I’ll be in Indonesia soon so it’s nice to ready about places like these.

  3. Beautiful write up and never heard of the mountain. Would love to visit this place now. I love hiking and loved reading about your experience.

  4. Mirages like that are so weird. You rightly said it..impossible to make out the difference between reality and imagination. I have never heard of this kind of thing before !

  5. An interesting experience you had there. The imagination can be weird at timesand play tricks on us. You’ll remember this adventure for a long time yet.

  6. Loved reading the post and the narrative was gripping. I was riveted to the post from the first paragraph which talks about your race with the sun. I never knew that Fata Morgana was a type of mirage. What a fascinating phenomenon, which of course could be vexing when you yourself experience it.

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