Snapshots of Bali – Part 2
Soon after I posted Part 1 of my Snapshots of Bali news filtered through of the devestating earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Palu and Sulawesi. The pictures on TV have been utterly heartbreaking.
With 2,000 people killed and another 5,000 still missing this disaster is one of the deadliest since the massive Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. I’ve donated to the disaster emergency appeal and hope that my contribution will go some way to helping the people of Sulawesi cope with this tragedy and start rebuilding their lives.
It’s with a lot of sadness then that I’m sharing this second post of pictures from my recent visit to neighbouring Bali. I’m featuring another set of pictures that show some of the highlights of my trip with my daughter. Following on from my first post, here then are words and pictures depicting another six themes of life in Bali.
In Ubud, the cultural centre of Bali, we visited Monkey Forest, home to several hundreds of monkeys. This is the number one visitor attraction in Ubud and pretty touristy. Despite this, it’s in a tranquil location just south of central Ubud, where the monkeys roam free around the forest and temple.
They look cute enough from a distance but if they’re hungry, or simply like the look of something you might be carrying, then they certainly won’t hesitate to jump up and grab it out of your hand. We quickly walked away when one monkey took a fancy to my daughter’s bag, baring its teeth. I can’t imagine why some visitors were willing to let the wild monkeys sit on their laps and heads.
Bali’s stunning waterfalls are firmly on the tourist trail. Many are easy to reach and have the added attraction of a cooling swim after the walk in. This is Nung Nung waterfall, north of Ubud. Our driver suggested it would be quieter than some others and we were fortunate to be there with only a handful of other visitors around.
The water thunders down to an inviting pool 25 metres below, spreading clouds of fine spray that pick out the shafts of sunlight shining through the canopy of trees.
The north east of Bali is dominated by evidence of recent volcanic activity. We took a trek, starting off at 3.30am, to catch the sunrise near the summit of Mount Batur. The pictures really don’t do justice to the absolutely stunning view. Although there was a cold wind at the summit we sat entranced as the soft dawn gradually heralded a new day.
Visitors are obliged to hire a local guide, all employed by a single consortium. A number of paths converge at the top, starting on rock which then becomes (slippery) volcanic sand as the gradient steepens. Unfortunately the paths are becoming quite eroded and I hope that remedial work takes place soon.
Mount Batur is a double caldera, in other words a crater that sits within a much larger crater 14km across. From it’s peak at 1,717m we saw the sun gradually rise to pick out three other volcanoes, all in a row. From left to right in the picture below you can see Mount Rinjani (3,726m high, around 60km across the sea in neighbouring Lombok), Mount Abang (2,152m) and Mount Agung (3,142m). You can see the black lava that has fairly recently spewed from Mount Batur in the picture underneath; the last major eruption was in 1963. However, Mount Agung erupted in February 2017 and the Foreign Office still advise staying at least 4km away.
Scooters are everywhere in Bali. It’s expensive to learn to drive and buy a car but almost everyone can afford to buy a scooter. And in an island where there’s little or no public transport, they’re pretty essential to getting around.
Scooters are therefore where you see can see real life being played out. People commute to work on them. In rural parts you see scooters piled high with grass or palm leaves. Kids sit on their mothers’ laps being taken to and from school. And you see whole families – including sleeping children – travelling from A to B.
Instagram has a lot to answer for. Jungle swings, bamboo lookouts and a range of existing temples and stone gates are must-see attractions for visitors of a certain age.
Given my daughter belongs to the Instagram generation we couldn’t resist either, taking suitable snaps at the Wanagiri Hidden Hills Lookout. Overlooking a lake and mountains beyond, it’s a great location. There are several different swings and bamboo constructions that make for impressive pictures. (What you don’t see of course, are the platforms and steps just out of view, giving the impression that people are standing on the top of a cliff with nothing between then and the water below).
I take my hat off to the enterprising locals. Seizing a business opportunity to help the hoards of Instagrammers part with wads of cash, they charge handsomely for the privilege. Great fun, but an expensive photo op!
We saw some wonderful sunsets during our stay on the island. Seminyak beach looks due west and I love this picture of a guy contemplating the waves and fading light.
And how better to enjoy the sunset than to sip on a posh cocktail at a beachside bar?