Mount Batur and the legend of Kebo Iwo

Kebo Iwo was a “Hangry” Giant.


A long time ago on the island of Bali, there lived a giant called Kebo Iwo, he was an essential part of the community, building houses and temples, helping with the crops and rice fields. Kebo Iwo was a large and powerful giant but kind of heart, all he ever asked in return for helping the people was food to eat, unfortunately feeding him was not an easy task; in one sitting he could eat as much food that could feed 1000 people. If ever he did not receive enough, he would become angry and violent, destroying everything in sight.


One dry season was particularly rough and the crops were scarce, Kebo Iwo became increasingly Hangry, wreaking havoc in the villages, eating the cows and even the people. The islanders were very scared and did not know what to do to keep the hungry giant fed, there simply was not enough food. After brainstorming, they came up with a solution.


The villagers asked Kebo Iwo to dig  a great big well and find a water source to water the fields in the area. They told him that if he rebuilt the houses and temples he had destroyed, and then dug the well, he would have enough to eat for the rest of his days. Kebo Iwo was so glad to hear this that he rebuilt all destroyed constructions and started digging the well straight away.


After many days of digging, Kebo Iwo did not complain of hunger knowing that once the water source was reached, the villagers would give him all the food he wanted. The villagers were a sneaky bunch and were keeping watch on Kebo Iwo, once the hole slowly started to fill with water he fell asleep exhausted from all the digging. The people had prepared large limestone rocks around the hole and proceeded to bury the giant under them.


In his slumber he did not realize what was happening and when he awoke it was too late and he drowned in the water at the bottom of the lake that grew around him. All the earth he had dug up was piled next to the lake and that is what is now knows as Mt. Batur.


This next part is not part of the story but I like to think that the volcanic activity inside Batur is Kebo Iwo´s spirit wanting to avenge his untimely death.

Photo by William Cho

Big Kiddo and volcanoes


Like most kids his age, Big Kiddo loves volcanoes.


He loves learning about them and inventing stories about them. He also loves visiting them. Here in Bali there are three important volcanoes, the greatest of all is Mt. Agung, everything about Balinese culture revolves around the location and power of this volcano.


Second to Agung is Mt. Batur, my favorite.


Big Kiddo really wants to do the early morning hike up to the crater to see the sunrise, we’re not sure if he has the uphill walking stamina for it so dad has been taking him on power walks to get him ready.


He made a checklist with a drawing of Batur. They hope to have done 20 power walks before they do the hike on a full moon dawn. Big Kiddo loves checking off the walks with a green highlighter.


The Batur double crater is inside a caldera with a rim you can drive around and at the base of the caldera is a crescent shaped lake that gets covered in fog in the early mornings. On the lake shore there are a couple of temples, most importantly Pura Batur; one of the most important on the island.


On one of our family weekend getaways we went to stay in a nice hotel in Munduk, a beautiful mountain area in Bali. In the room, along with the amenities and fruit we found a cute rolled up piece of paper that said “Bedtime Story”; the kids and I were intrigued instantly. That night we discovered the story of Kebo Iwo and the legend of Mt Batur and it’s crescent lake.


Eating Pancakes and Drinking coffee on a Caldera Rim


Some of the weekend outings take us to the Northest part of the island and usually on the way there or on the way back, we take the road via Kintamani and have coffee and a snack at the Lakeview Restaurant. We all love it because the terrace overlooks Mt. Batur and the lake.


The craziest thing about this place is that its usually quite cold and our shorts and t-shirts aren’t enough to keep us warm. The last time we were there, I ended up buying sarongs to wrap ourselves with.


I actually like this little bit of cold mountain weather, only an hour away from our constantly very hot coastal neighborhood.


Today Big Kiddo checked his fourth powerwalk. Maybe in a month, he will be ready!