Adding to the growing list of reports of Russians misbehaving in Bali is news of a group of more than seven foreign tourists who climbed to the volcanic crater of Sacred Mount Agung on the morning of Saturday, 18 March 2022.
Major national news sites and Bali websites, including detik.com, report that a Russian tourist marked the occasion of his successful climb by pulling down his trousers and raising his arms in a victory salute. His naked “triumph” was photographed and posted to social media.
The peak of Mount Agung is an active volcano and the highest point in Bali, measuring 3,031 meters above sea level. A stratovolcano, Mount Agung is held sacred by devout Balinese who view the Mountain’s peak as the central axis or umbilical of the universe. Bali’s most sacred religious site – Pura Agung Besakih, is a temple situated high on the slopes of the Mountain.
The 1963-64 eruptions of Mount Agung directly killed between 1,500 – 2,000 people while also precipitating widespread starvation in the months that followed.
The 16 May 1963 cataclysmic explosion added to the mystic regard in which Mount Agung is held when pyroclastic flows claimed 200 lives, many of whom were praying at a mountainside religious ceremony and were covered by molten ash. Miraculously The lava flow diverted at the last moment and made a detour around Puri Agung Besakih.
While lesser temples abound in every area of Bali, Pura Agung Besakih is inarguably the “Mother Temple” of all Balinese Hindus who visit the sacred site at least once yearly.
I Wayan Widi Yasa, the coordinator for climbing and trekkers at Mount Agung, said the errant group ascended the volcano without the required company of official guides via the Pengubengan Trail in Desa Besakih. Due to their failure to enlist a local guide’s mandatory services, the tourists’ names were not recorded in the official climber registration book.
“Based on reports from traders working on the Pengubengan Trail, a group of foreigners estimated to be more than seven climbed the mountain on Saturday, 18 March 2023, when no guards were on duty to enforce climbing protocols,” explained Widi Yasa.
The climbers are believed to have camped on the top of Mount Agung and descended the Mountain on Sunday, 19 March 2023. Widi Yasa, referring to postings on social media, said he thought the group comprised Russian tourists.
Balipost.com confirms that the Criminal Cybercrime Division of the Bali Police is gathering information on the climbers pursuant to any eventual criminal complaint.
Widi Yasa, reflecting the view and mood of many area residents, said he was extremely disappointed by the actions of the group of climbers on the peak of sacred Mount Agung. He underlined his comments, saying the official guides of Mount Agung have steadfastly tried to preserve the sanctity of Mount Agung, particularly by preventing acts by climbers that disregard the sacred status of the Mountain.
“We feel these climbers tricked us. We hope the authorities will soon locate the perpetrators and depart them from Indonesia,” said Widi Yasa.
Meanwhile, bali.tribunenews.com quotes the chairman of the Hindu High Council (PHDI), Nyoman Kenak, who characterized the incident as both insulting Bali and disrespectful of the sacred nature of Mount Agung. Adding, “Foreigners, or anyone who cannot value Balinese culture, must experience a strong rebuke. If these people are foreigners, deport them!”
Kenak said that any punishment against the offending foreigners would fall short of the damage and suffering they inflicted on the Island and its people. He explained how the people living on the slopes of Mount Agung must now undertake elaborate and expensive religious ceremonies to cleanse the site and restore the balance between the physical and metaphysical worlds.
The PHDI official called on the people living around Mount Agung to increase their vigilance to control the behavior of both domestic and international visitors.
Russian Envoy Objects to VoA Revocation
Bali Deports Harlots & Driving Instructors
Nude Russian Riding Elephant Causes a Stir
Naked to the World from Bali’s Mt. Batur
Police Campaign Against Errant Motorists
Bali Unites to Rein in Errant Foreigners
Stay Informed on Bali Tourism-Related News: Subscribe to Bali Update