Samstag, 15. Februar 2020

Bali 2019 (Video)

This video presents the amazing places and landscapes Julian and I have seen along our journey through Bali. I didn't have much time to set up my tripod, so most of the footage is run and gun. Though it was super fun to shoot, and I couldn't have asked for a better travel buddy.

So here is what we uncovered on our adventure.

Lots of love,


Mittwoch, 22. Januar 2020

Bali 2019

On November 4th at 10 o'clock I left my apartment to start a new adventure.

First I took the train from Hannover to Frankfurt Airport, from where I started my journey to Bali.

My good friend Julian was also there again. As it is always the case with a journey, something always has to go wrong. Just like this time with Julian.

Because he missed his train, he had to take a connecting train, which almost caused him to miss his plane as well.

Luckily everything went smoothly in the end and we were able to board our plane together.

From Frankfurt to Amsterdam, from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and from Kuala Lumpur to the island Bali. We were on the way for almost 30 hours.

As soon as we arrived in Denpasar, the capital of Bali, we had to change our thinking! Typical for the Asian region people try to sell you something at every corner. From food to jewellery to massages to taxi rides, surf courses or short trips.  On Bali they trade what they can.

We also had to get used to the traffic. There are hardly any road signs and the one who is faster has the right of way.

But the prices are insane! A 60-minute Balinese massage for less than 6€, rent of a scooter per day - 2,50€, petrol - 0,60€ per litre, a whole meal for about 1€, fresh mangos and huge papayas for less than 0,50€.

Even things that are not common in Balinese households, like fresh salads, cereals, chips and sweets were usually even cheaper here than at home. As an example: For a huge Pizza Vegetale, for which in Germany you easily pay 10-12€, I only paid the equivalent of 5€.

But sometimes you still have to be careful not to pay too much. For an airport transfer by taxi to the nearest hotel some inexperienced tourists pay around 20€.

Bargaining is the magic word. And since you can trade almost everything on Bali, the rule is: If you can negotiate well, you will save a lot of money.

Bali is definitely a tourist island. You notice that immediately when you arrive in Denpasar. Nearly every street is flooded with souvenir shops and even in November, one month before the rainy season, there is a lot going on concerning tourism.

On the second day of our trip we left Denpasar and took a taxi for about one hour to Ubud for about 20€. Ubud is the tourist town of Bali. It was even the case there that you saw more tourists on the streets than locals.

Because the accommodation on Bali is so cheap, you tend to spend more for your accommodation. On the one hand this is really nice, but when we were alone in Ubud in our super chic hotel with pool and all the comforts, Julian and I had to realize that we missed Hostel Life a little bit, which we had enjoyed together in Panama for example. It's the simple things in life, like contact with other travellers, that make the most difference.

In Ubud we visited the typical tourist places. The Monkey Forest, the Tegallalang Rice Terrace, the Tegenungan Waterfall or the Ubud Market were probably the most noteworthy places we visited in Ubud.

A great, but at the same time frightening experience was surely to rent scooters to maneuver through the chaotic traffic, which was especially present in downtown Ubud.

Apart from the fact that I still don't have a driver's license today, I hadn't been able to fully process my scooter crash in Thailand a few years ago, so I drove very carefully.

Some locals on the other hand drive with 40km/h through the traffic in the already crowded city center.

But accidents hardly seemed to happen here. Anyway, we did not notice this once. As Julian had said so nicely, this is probably due to the fact that "nobody pays attention to nobody, but everybody pays attention to everybody". Just a perfect chaos...

What I was looking forward to most during the vacation was the ascent of Mt. Agung. With over 3000 meters it is the highest volcano on Bali. Unfortunately it erupted in June 2019 and was still closed due to the danger of scree.

Our host also said that even the people who climbed Agung regularly to pray were not able to do so anymore. He told us that in the middle of the crater there was a remote temple which was probably completely destroyed by the eruption.

Nevertheless, we didn't let this slow down our wanderlust and instead booked a Sunrise Trek on Mt. Batur, the second highest volcano of Bali with almost 1700 meters.

On our last full day in Ubud we started. At 2 am a guide picked us up by car from our hotel. In the car we met Krys and Will from the Netherlands, who had also booked the tour.

It took us about three quarters of an hour by car until we finally arrived at the starting point of the trail.

The starting point was a kind of covered camp, which served as a meeting point for hikers. A huge mass of tourists suggested that we certainly should not be the only ones to climb Batur.

Our driver brought Julian, Will, Krys and me to a free table and there we met Rob and Simpson from Australia and our Balinese guide. After a small breakfast we all set off together towards Mount Batur.

It was still pitch dark, so the guide handed out flashlights to us.

It seemed that every hiker who marched up the mountain carried a flashlight with him because Batur was brightly lit.

Since so many people were climbing up the mountain at the same time, the progress was very slow. There was more queuing than climbing the mountain.

Nevertheless the atmosphere in our small group was very good, because we had a lot to tell each other.

At about 6:00 o'clock, when we were on the mountain and the sun slowly rose in the sky, we had a real feeling of happiness. How the first rays of the sun moved over the valley and how the gentle wind caressed your skin. Life can be so beautiful.

But at some point we started the descent on the same path back again. Again it was more of a polonaise with the many people than a hike.

The last section was by far the most dangerous, because most of the scree was here. I was just waiting for something to happen and just before we reached the bottom it happened.

Rob slipped on the loose stone floor and sprained his ankle. The last meters he had to be carried by our group and two other guides.

When we were all together at the foot of the mountain, Rob was picked up with a scooter and transported a bit further towards our car.

Together we drove to some hot springs. While Simpson, Julian and Will enjoyed themselves in the bath while Rob had a beer, Krys and I had a massage.

In the evening we all met again for an epic dinner. Surprisingly Rob was able to walk again.

At some point Julian and I went home because we were exhausted from the long day.

As beautiful as the view of Batur was, I can't recommend the Sunrise Trek. It simply makes more sense to climb up the mountain a few hours after sunrise when there is less activity. It is also very dangerous with so many people on a trail with so much scree.

The next day we went with a shuttle service to Munduk into the jungle.

The drive to Munduk was beautiful. As the traffic slowly decreased and the scenery became more rural, I knew that now the holiday really started for me.

Our shuttle service dropped us off right in front of our accommodation, the Made Home Stay.

What was immediately noticeable was the climate of 23°C. A pleasant change to the over 30°C in Ubud and Denpasar.

After we checked in Julian and I explored the area a little bit. We noticed immediately that there were almost no tourists around and in general there were hardly any local traders.

Munduk is located about 800 meters above sea level, which meant that almost all the roads here were very steep.

We visited three more waterfalls in a jungle section where one was more beautiful than the other. The water temperature in the rivers and the waterfalls was different than the sea water, pleasantly cool. But at some point it got dark and we returned home.

The next morning we rented a couple of scooters for the day and just headed off. A really good decision! The jungle landscape around Munduk was breathtakingly beautiful.

We also passed some small villages where people waved at us from their small houses as if they don't see tourists like us here very often.

We also visited the two lakes bordering Munduk, Danau Tamblingan and Danau Buyan.

I was so excited to take a little dip in the water but when we reached the lake via a very unmaintained trail, a fisherman armed with a hunting gun told us that we were not allowed to swim here.

So we explored the surrounding jungle on our own, where we almost got lost. On our way we discovered a small fishing village, which we did not explore any further, because somehow everybody was walking around with a gun.

I tried to count the turnoffs on our way there, so that we would find our way back the same way, but somehow it didn't quite work out. Some of the turnoffs only revealed themselves to us on the way back. But sometime we finally made it back to the starting point.

The next day we went on to the coast in the north of Bali, to Lovina. For the shuttle we had to prove our negotiating skills once again. Our host first wanted to have 500.000 Indonesian Rupiah for a crossing to Lovina and in the end we paid together just about half the price.

Arriving in Lovina, everything was once again different from the places we had visited before. There were hardly any tourists here and also merchants who approached you were less here than in Denpasar and Ubud.

Because of the good price of just 10 € per person we booked a nice hotel for the next three days via Airbnb. The Grand Raka Homestay. The pool was definitely the highlight of the hotel and most of the time we spent in Lovina we probably spent here.

The quiet time at the pool was really nice. Only the neighbour's dog was barking from morning till evening, which could get really annoying. But who could blame him. He was kept on a short leash the whole day.

In general it was like this for many animals here. Birds that were kept in cages and chickens and pigs that were crammed together in small spaces.

Lovina was also full of stray dogs. One small dog I was even about to take back to Germany. At another time I would certainly have done so, but it just wasn't meant to be.But the little one hardly seemed to be hungry, because he hardly touched my food, which I had bought for him from a local nearby.

On the last day in Lovina we visited our first temple, the Brahmavihara-Arama.

In the morning we took a shuttle via Munduk and Ubud back to Denpasar.

Our driver dropped us off at the harbour from where we wanted to take the next speedboat to the neighbouring island Nusa Penida.

What was immediately noticeable when we were back in Bali's capital was the incredible contrast. 
Unlike in Lovina you were approached from all sides by traders and taxi drivers.

So you felt metaphorically spoken again, like a running banknote.

The next boat was coming soon and after about an hour of driving we were on Nusa Penida.

Also at the landing stage we were immediately attacked by a bunch of taxi drivers who wanted to take us somewhere.

But since our Airbnb was, at least it seemed to be, close by, Julian and I walked the distance.

A big mistake, as it turned out. Not because on Nusa Penida you wouldn't be able to get there on foot. It was simply that our accommodation was almost untraceable.

We asked several locals where the accommodation could be but nobody could tell us. Also the given phone number seemed not to work.

Shortly before we decided to look for a new place to stay for the next night I finally got an e-mail back from our host who gave us the exact location.

Tired and exhausted from the tiring strains of the long journey we fell into our beds and made plans for the upcoming day.

The next morning we rented two scooters again and set off for the famous Kelingking Beach.In the first curve I had to realize that my brakes were hardly on. Great! But I didn't want to turn back in any case. So I had to drive extremely carefully.

But this time I also managed to reach the destination without an accident, unlike in Thailand. So slowly I had been able to develop confidence in riding the scooter again.

Kelingking Beach was breathtakingly beautiful. The way to the cape or down to the beach was extremely dangerous and exhausting. But it was worth it all the time.

In the evening we drove back to Denpasar in a beautiful Airbnb, which Julian had found.

So we decided to spend our last days here. Just for relaxing the whole days.

But before we went back to Germany we had to go shopping for souvenirs and of course I had to get a new tattoo.

On November 17th we went back to Germany again.

In the afternoon Julian and I sat in our plane to Kuala Lumpur. Now we had about five hours to do something and I first thought that I would use the time to visit the world famous Batu Caves, but at the airport in Denpasar a local told me not to do this, because he said that the traffic there and back can be unpredictable and so I decided against it.

But somehow we managed to pass the time and around midnight we were sitting in the second plane to Amsterdam.

Since it was bedtime anyway, the flight went by quite fast. Nevertheless, when we arrived in Amsterdam the next morning around 6 o'clock we were absolutely exhausted. Besides it was really cold when we got out of the plane. A problem we hadn't been in contact with at all during the last two weeks.

Well, always having our own bed in mind, we had to let time pass for the next two hours until we finally went on to Frankfurt.

When we landed at Frankfurt airport Julian and I drove to the main station together and then we separated. He took the train to Braunschweig and I went back to Hannover where my bed was already waiting for me.


And what experience could I take away with me this time? Above all, that it was long overdue to explore once again a country in Southeast Asia.

The majority of the people who live on Bali live more modestly than us Europeans in many respects, no question. Nevertheless, the Balinese people live a very happy, contented and, especially from a social point of view, very communicative life. It is simply priceless to have these insights in front of your eyes again and to reflect on your own life afterwards.

And the fruits! Yes, the fruits are absolute madness. And everywhere they grow freely accessible on vines or trees. What I could see among others were coconuts, pitahayas, star fruits, mangosteen, bananas, mangos, citrus fruits, papayas, berries and even dragon fruits. Surely I have forgotten the one or the other fruit here and I don't even want to go into the vegetable selection.

In addition, the open culture, the culinary diversity, the generous hospitality and the interesting landscapes might tempt me to return to the island of Bali at some point. Who knows? And if not Bali, then in any case the more untouched neighbouring island of Lombok, for which unfortunately the time of our stay would not have been enough to explore.

Finally, I would like to give you a little tip. It is the Hotel Booking App Agoda, that was recommended to me by Krys during our trip. Similar to Airbnb, only much more popular in the south-east Asian area, one really finds unbelievably cheap accommodations and more with Agoda. Just check it out yourself when the next trip is coming up!

- Dominic