A Photographic Journey Through Wondrous Bali and Java

I had the pleasure of spending a month in Bali, and even going for a few days to the Borobudur world wonder. Enjoy the photos.

People

Indonesians are proud, traditional, cheerful and have a strong identity.

Group of girls waiting to start their performance at a school play.

A game of 3-on-2 at the local pitch.

Taxi, taxi! Most taxi drivers ask you “where are you from?” to get you to talk so they can sell their services to you. This guy had a better strategy.

What the Industrial Revolution was in the West, the scooter is in the East. It’s used to transport the whole family, to carry construction material, ladders, chickens, you name it.

Man overlooking his crops.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a more genuine smile. This man saw me taking photos around his village, came up to me after working — what looked like a hard day’s work in the rice field, shook my hand and welcomed me to Bali, exchanged a few words in English, and went on his way.

Temples double as a place for recreation.

For now, kites are still more popular than PlayStations among kids.

Football — the world game, not one of those weird egg shaped ball games — is without doubt the number one sport in Indonesia.

Cute, cheeky little brats! 😊

“Mr, mr, can we take photo with you?”


Atmosphere

It’s been called “magical voodoo spirit island of Asia”. That’s pretty spot on. At the same time it’s beautiful and at times weird and creepy. The statues and masks give off an aggressive vibe.

At his age I would’ve shat myself. The kid was cheekily giggling through the whole ceremony.

Nothing like a stock photo printed on a laser printer to decorate a local Warung (restaurant).

Geckos a.k.a the homies that take care of insects.

Top: Hubud coworking space. Possibly the coolest place to work from.

Bottom left: Local taxi mafia doing what taxi drivers in Western countries wish they could do, and instilling fear in anyone using Über.

Bottom right: Anyone who played Civlization V will know.

Colours of Bali.

My trusty scooter, the Vespa-inspired Honda Scoopy.


Landscape

Volcanoes, rice paddies, cliffs, volcanic rock, black sand, mist, sun, jungle, and many, many kites in the sky. A photographers’ dream.


Wonders

Borobudur — while completely overrun by tourists — is still a magical place. I was too lazy for the 4am sunrise tour so I had to bump shoulders with the thousands of other tourists. Best time to go is probably in May for Vesak day, where hundreds of flying lanterns are released at night.

Straight out of Tomb Raider. A magnificent bridge in Monkey Forest, Ubud.

Prambanan temple, an iconic Hindu temple in a valley scattered with ruins of old Hindu and Buddhist temples, coexisting peacefully side-by-side for millennia. Other religions take note!

The restoration and preservation of Borobudur is — without doubt in my mind — one of the greatest achievements of UNESCO. Major respect to the politicians for not fucking that one up. Centuries ago, the Dutch were planning to cut up Borobudur and send parts of it to places around the world. Luckily, common sense prevailed. Today the temple is Indonesia’s #1 tourist destination.

Did I mention what a magnificent restoration effort this was? Indonesia could do even better though. There are thousands of tourists touching these statues daily, and even kids sitting on them!

Artefacts like this would be behind a double-glass shield in the West. I appreciate being able to walk through this space, but these artefacts won’t last 50 years unless the authorities step up. Half a dozen security guards asking people to get off the statues won’t do the job. Why’s it so hard to respect a millennia old world wonder?

That I don’t understand about Indonesia. It’s the most iconic historical site, yet the people slowly desecrate it. To their credit there’s been talk of closing Borobodur to limited tour groups. While that’s not a perfect solution, it’s a start. I hope they manage to make it happen. No point in the magnificent UNESCO preservation effort if your own people are going to desecrate the place over the next century.

Bliss.


If you like my photography you can check out more on Flickr, although Medium might end up being the place I’ll post most of it in stories like this one. I’m also on Twitter.

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