If not many, for sure one not so simple thing differentiates us from animals – the need to understand everything around us. Our intrinsic curiosity and willingness to explain everything made that no single thing in this world be without a story.

Some are good some are ..not worth mentioning. But they are there and knowing this, while talking to one of the villagers in Kintamani the other day, i asked about mount Batur and how it came to be there.

The official story is that Batur is one of the multiple active volcanoes in Indonesia, being located between 2 concentric calderas located NE of Mt. Agung (yes, the crazy one that disrupts holidays and flights and creates panic across the world, except in Bali). Below you can find on short what Wikipedia says about it and no point in me rewriting it, isn’t it?

“The eruption that brought this volcano to be visible above the ocean is one of the most forceful across the earth. This volcano is marked by a collapsed top, called a caldera.
The southeast wall of the inner caldera lies beneath Lake Batur; Batur cone has been constructed within the inner caldera to a height above the outer caldera rim. The Batur stratovolcano has produced vents over much of the inner caldera, but a NE-SW fissure system has localized the Batur I, II, and III craters along the summit ridge. Historical eruptions have been characterized by mild-to-moderate explosive activity sometimes accompanied by lava emission. Basaltic lava flows from both summit and flank vents have reached the caldera floor and the shores of Lake Batur over its history.
The caldera contains an active, 700-meter-tall stratovolcano rising above the surface of Lake Batur. The first documented eruption of Batur was in 1804, and it has been frequently active since then, most recently in 2000. The substantial lava field from the 1968 eruption is visible today when viewed from Kintamani, a town on the southwest ridge of the caldera.”

Now, what this science dudes don’t know is that underneath the mountain lies the body of a giant. Kebo Iwo by his name, this fella wasn’t a bad giant. Not until he was hungry, at least. And he was hungry a lot and a bit too often.

You can imagine that having such a big appetite, before befriending the villagers he was eating everything, villagers included. I am sure that those of you who have anger issues caused by hunger can relate with the poor thing.

So they made a deal, the villagers and Kebo Iwo. He was helping them with the crops, building houses and temples, hunting and whatever the friendly balinese folks needed; and in return the villagers were giving him food.

The arrangement went alright until one hot and dry year. The crops were scares, animals were dying of thirst, there was barely enough food for the balinese to feed their children. How could they feed one big giant that was eating in 1 day as much as a 1000 balinese were eating in a year?

Kebo Iwo tried to understand and struggled to keep his hunger in check…but in the end he gave in to his animal instinct.

Days on end he went raviging the villages of Bali, eating and chewing on everything he could, just to try to stop his hunger.

Desperate, the balinese gathered and came up with a plan. A sneaky one indeed.

So they met again with Kebo Iwo and proposed another deal.

“If you build a well deep enough to reach the water, we will be able to water out plants. And if you rebuild the temples and the houses you destroyed, the Gods will be pleased and our crops will grow again. This way you will have enough food to satisfy your hunger till the end of time”. Said the village chieftain.

Hearing this, our friendly, hungry and somehow silly giant, rejoiced. By no means he wanted to kill those villagers…but he was hungry. Real hungry. So he agreed to rebuild everything and dig the well.

Day after day, night after night, he worked on rebuilding the island. He was hungry, but he knew that by listening to the villagers he won’t have to worry about food again.

He left the digging of the well at the end of his work. A big mistake, because in the moment the whole was big enough the villagers pushed him in and all the soil he dug up they used it to bury him.

The poor friendly hungry giant, died there ..buried alive. I would say…not very nice, considering he was just hungry.

I am not sure who exactly won here. The villagers lost a good damn workforce, but didn’t have to feed the giant. The giant…well..he lost everything, so i don’t blame his tortured soul if now and then puffs a bit, causing an eruption, panicking locals and tourists alike.

Since we are talking about mythical creatures that can anytime come to life, I do hope that now he’s not hungry anymore. Or at least, not while I’m here. Wouldn’t want to end my travels by being eaten by a giant.

 

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