Browsing Category

Bali

Diving Around Bali
Adventure, Bali, Diving, Indonesia

Diving Around Bali and Why You Should Not Miss It

Diving around Bali is probably the most awesome thing you can do if you travel to this beautiful place! Dive sites are beautiful, marine life is teeming with life, a few shipwrecks to see – from 130m ship to a small boat and most of the dive centers are really professional so you will have no problem with that! I had a pleasure to dive with a friend of mine called Branko from Bali Aqua.

Diving around Bali is probably the most awesome thing you can do if you travel to this beautiful place!

On the dive boat
As an underwater photographer I will try to show you how it’s like when you submerge yourself under the Indian Ocean and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. If you are a fellow diver and you have already did some diving around Bali, then just enjoy these cool photos of the most amazing creatures you can find in these waters.
Let’s start this with the most popular diving spots you can find here…

 

USS Liberty Shipwreck

USS Liberty boat was hit by a Japanese torpedo. After the hit it was able to float so they navigated towards Bali in order to save all the cargo on boat. It was stranded on the beach, but after the earthquakes and volcano eruptions it went down to deeper waters. A long time ago people lived and fought on this boat and now it’s surrounded by corals and rich marine life. The shipwreck is about 130m long but a good part of it is under the sand by now.

A long time ago people lived and fought on this boat and now it’s surrounded by corals and rich marine life

USS Liberty Shipwreck

USS Liberty Shipwreck

Part of the USS Liberty Shipwreck
Just before the shipwreck there is a garden of eels. Make sure to stay as lower to the bottom as possible, so you can approach them without scaring them. If you don’t do that, they will just hide in the sand.
This dive spot is very popular among divers, so make sure to reach it as early as possible.

trumpet fish

Manta Point – Nusa Penida

Do not miss this one! If you ever go there and don’t see some manta rays then you really have bad luck! The chance of missing mantas is an equivalent to winning the lottery, really slim! I had two dives there and both times it was really wavy with powerful surges but it was worth it – for the second dive there were probably about 20 manta rays!

The chance of missing mantas is an equivalent to winning the lottery, really slim

IMG_4295-Edit
When you jump off the boat and dive to that spot, there is absolutely nothing special, you reach a big rock and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a huge manta ray swims above your head! That’s just a beautiful sight to see. Just a friendly reminder: while you watch that amazing creature check out around a bit to see if a surge didn’t take near the rocks like it happened to me. A wave surge smashed me to a big rock, but luckily my tank took the hit and I recovered with no problem.

manta ray at manta point
Why do mantas come here if they can swim really deep and why do they hang around these rocks? Well, the answer is simple: the rocks are cleaning stations for them. A cleaning station is a section of the reef which is home to reef-dwelling marine life which, as you can guess from the name, clean large fish like mantas, sharks and larger bony fish. Cleaning helps mantas maintain healthier life since the ‘cleaners’ eat all the dirt, bacteria and other harmful things that mantas pick up during their swimming.
This is a ‘must go’ diving spot if you plan to dive around Bali!

manta ray at the manta point - bali

Gili Tepekong

Want to see some sharks? This is the place to search for them! Gili Tepekong is the biggest offshore island in Amuk Bay. The safest way to approach the dive spot is to take a boat from Padang Bay.

white tip shark - bali
Marine life is good here and visibility was cool, though currents can be strong. Usually you can see white tip sharks at around 20-30m, but the ones we have seen were far away and scared of us. There are lots of reef sharks under the boulders sleeping since they are nocturnal animals. You can also expect to see a lot of eels, turtles, mantis shrimp, etc…

boat at gili tepekong
Longhorn Cowfish

Turtle swimming around the shipwreck

Free-diving around Bali

Do you love free-diving? Going deep with no tanks, regulators, BCD’s – just relying on your breath? Probably the best places for that are in north-east of Bali. Many free-diving centers are located around Amed and Tulamben as this area is probably the most awesome for free-diving. I haven’t done any free-diving courses, but my friends are crazy about it and many of them have become free-diving instructors by now. Checkout Apnea Bali for more information and find out what it’s like to depend only on your breath and your mind skills to achieve great depths!

Find out what it’s like to depend only on your breath and your mind skills to achieve great depths!

Conclusion

Whether you are an experienced diver or just a beginner, Bali is perfect for you to plunge yourself into the world of diving or free-diving and see animals that most of the people miss out when they travel to exotic places.

Of course, there are many more awesome dive spots in Bali but these are my favourite ones.
Did you dive in Bali? What is your favourite dive spot and how did you like it? Write it down in the comments!

Bonus photos so you know what to expect when you go diving around Bali

One eyed Joe - bali
school of fishes

Beautiful Coral in Bali

Couple of Surgeonfishes

IMG_3529
Adventure, Bali, Indonesia

Highest Bridge in Asia and Unlikely Encounter

If I ever wanted to feel like a celebrity, the first place I would go to would be Tukat Bangkung bridge in Bali – it is one of the highest bridge in Asia. When I said ‘one of the highest bridge in Asia’ you are probably thinking it must be amazing looking at it but in reality it’s just a nice looking bridge… I wanted to write about my funny encounters with Balinese people at the bridge, but before that I feel obligated to write a few words about this bridge which Balinese people like visiting.

 

Tukat Bangkung bridge in a few words

The bridge is 360m long and 71.14m tall, which, to be honest,doesn’t sound that tall at all… It was officially opened by president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2007. It doesn’t have any special history but it has a very good purpose – it connects three districts: Badung, Bangli and Buleleng and it is the pride of local people since it provides access to their villages.

Just before the Tukad Bangkung Bridge

Just before the Tukad Bangkung Bridge

The first part of the bridge name Tukad means “River” and the second, Bangkung, means “Female pig” or “Breeding sow”. Apparently it means “River of female pigs”. Does it have something to do with the Balinese who like eating pork or should I say Babi Guling. I could not find more information about the name, but if you know anything about it, please write it down in the comment section below.

The first part of the bridge name Tukad means “River” and the second Bangkung means “female pig” or “breeding sow”. Apparently it means ‘River of female pigs’?

By now you have been thinking either Balinese people are strange and what the hell is so special about that bridge. Well, Balinese people are kinda strange but in a good way, the way I really like it. The thing about this bridge is that it’s not popular with foreigners – I was drawn into visiting it because everywhere on the Internet it said it was one of the highest bridge in Asia but it doesn’t even come close. So what is special about it you ask again, feeling irritated that I’m prolonging this too much. Well, the special thing are the people… They fell in love with it, it’s where they go with their families on a day trip for a some kind of picnic or for lunch at 3-4 restaurants around it.

Tukad Bangkung Bridge Bali

Tukad Bangkung Bridge Bali

When you go to the bridge you cannot see it until you come out of the curve and it’s there like 30m from you. At first sight kinda magnificent, but when you look better – not so much. I parked my motorbike, got my camera and went for a stroll. I noticed people watching me and it didn’t take me long to figure out why – I was the only foreigner (bule) here and by the looks of them not many of us went there. So as I was walking a few people smiled and said “Hello” and I did the same.

At first sight kinda magnificent, but when you look better – not so much

All of a sudden, I noticed this guy standing up and walking to me and I was thinking “Ok let’s see what he’s gonna try to sell” and to my surprise he asked me if he could take a photo with me. I was caught off guard, but yeah why not… Everybody in his family was laughing, but kinda happy laughing, not at me (at least I hope so). So he thanked me, went to take a seat next to his family and they were all thanking me… After walking for 20m I thought of all the scams and pickpocketing techniques and started checking my belongings and everything was there. “Well, that’s cool” I thought to myself.

 

Meeting the awesome family

I continued my stroll, taking photos of the bridge, saying hello to people greeting me and thinking to myself that was kinda awesome. This bridge is actually a nice meeting place for families to enjoy their weekends, for local shops to make some money and street sellers also to get a buck or two. This is a meeting place for local Balinese and what is funny… there were not really many cars passing by, considering it connects three districts!

Offering before the Tukad Bangkung Bridge

Offerings before the Tukad Bangkung Bridge

So I finished my walk to the other end and I headed back to my motorbike. On the way back I noticed the same family still sitting at the same place and this time I decided to take a photo of them to see what their reaction would be.

They were waving and laughing and saying goodbye like I was the closest family member

The reaction was quite funny – all of them posed with two fingers (like a peace sign) and they took that pose instantly! I laughed and went on my way… After a few minutes after taking more bridge photos I heard motorbikes honking like crazy and thought what the hell was going on, and all of a sudden it was that family packed on three motorbikes waving and laughing and saying goodbye like I was the closest family member. I waved back and I smiled but I was still in disbelief. Just to clarify this, I enjoyed every moment of it, it is funny how simple things can make your day or even a year! It has almost been a year ago, and I’m writing about it now and thinking about it like it was yesterday.

Family that wanted to take a photo with me

Family that wanted to take a photo with me

It is not highest bridge in Asia but…

After arriving back to Sanur I was thinking about that moment a lot. Why the hell was I thinking they wanted to steal from me? Even in the touristic places there are not many people really wanting to steal from you. I left my stuff on all of the places on the beach and never got anything stolen. And why did I ask myself what they wanted? They probably live in some kind of village and this may have been a rare occasion to see a foreigner in a place where foreigners don’t usually come that often. Or maybe they just wanted to make me feel welcome here and enjoy it more. They did succeed in it.

Well, they don’t want anything from you, they just want to meet you and that is all

When people approach us directly we usually think what they want from us. They must be up to something… Well, they don’t want anything from you, they just want to meet you and that is all. It made me change my approach in traveling where everybody says you should always be on your toes about people trying to steal from you or something. During my trip I don’t think I ever experienced it.

That night I felt sorry I did not try to have a few words with them because it would probably be fun.

Did you visit the highest bridge in Asia or did you have any interesting meeting situations with awesome people like I did? Let me hear your story, write it down in the comments.

Bali, Diving, Indonesia

Bali and 10 Amazing Things About It

People in Bali

I have traveled across a good part of South East Asia and I can say that the people in Bali are the most awesome people in all aspects! They are pleasant, good, fun and always ready to help! Even my experience with the shadiest people of Bali has never made me worry about anything, feel unpleasant or threatened. They are constantly laughing, they say ‘hello’ and of course they like you even more if you are a foreigner or should I say “bule” (an Indonesian name for foreigners).

Balinese family enjoying their day trip on one of the highest bridges in Asia

Balinese family enjoying their day trip on one of the highest bridges in Asia

 

Naming their children

The most common name in Bali is Wayan. Wondering why? The answer is that the first child is always named Wayan, the second child is named Made (pronounced Ma Day), the third is named Nyoman and the fourth Ketut. It’s simple, four names for the entire island. Imagine if the people in your immediate family were named those four names, and in the family of your friends, and the whole island! Trick question: What happens if somebody has 5-6 kids? It’s simple – they just start all over again – Wayan, Nyoman etc. “Ni” is added in front of female names, Ms, Miss.

 

Religion

Religion is the nicest aspect of Bali. Many Balinese use every chance they get to show their worship of their gods. One example is that you can see offerings all over Bali – in front of shops, houses, hotels, etc. These offerings are for the spirits. Usually when you offer something, you expect something in return, but in this case they just want demons to go away.

Bali is full of temples, and really beautiful temples at that! You can see people leaving their offerings to the gods and praying every day. There are many religious ceremonies and if you visit Bali you will run into one for sure!

Temple Besakih

Temple Besakih

 

Nature in Bali

Are you bored with city crowds, touristic places, concrete and the city heat? In Bali every hotel has its own small garden which is really pleasant and made for enjoyment. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about when it comes to the nature of Bali. The eastern part of the island is really beautiful, from the vast rice fields to rice terraces, to the peasants who will always say “hello”. There is also one special place in Bali – Agung mountain, which is actually a volcano. What it’s like at the top of the volcano – read here

Rice Terraces

 

Bali Beaches

Do I need to talk about this? When you say Bali that’s the first thing that comes to your mind! The beaches in Bali are best when you visit them between April and October. That is the dry season and it’s best to go at that time and enjoy surfing, kite surfing, bars, swimming, etc. The most popular beaches are Nusa Dua, Kuta and Balangan. Bear in mind that all beaches have something special and different about them, so try to visit as many as possible. Some beaches are not popular just because they are far away from touristy areas, but they are really beautiful.

bali panorama

bali beach

Yoga

Are you the kind of person who likes a healthy life, peace and meditation? Then Bali is the place for you, although I must be honest, I don’t think yoga lovers have that healthy life after all. Most of the yoga people I met were dead drunk, maybe that’s a kind of different way of seeking inner peace, but hey, I don’t judge, I just join the party.

But still, all yoga studios I have seen looked cool and would have certainly made me go for a class if I had not found my inner peace in diving. To be honest, I’m sad I did not try some yoga.

 

Diving

Are you a diver or do you  want  learn to dive? Bali is perfect for that! With numerous dive spots and a magnificent marine life (manta rays, mola mola, white tip sharks) Bali is probably one of the most favorite places for divers and also free divers! If you visit, you can go to manta point (which is a cleaning station for mantas and you can even see 20 mantas at one place) or dive at the shipwreck site of the USS Liberty which was sunk by a Japanese submarine and witness how amazing marine life around Bali is!

manta ray

USS Liberty Shipwreck

USS Liberty Shipwreck

 

Surfing

Yoooo dude, surfs up! In Bali you can, pretty much, surf anywhere. Uluwatu, Kuta, Legian, all of those places are really cool to surf at. Renting a board is cheap and people working there are all friendly. While you rest you can talk with them, have a beer and just have an awesome time! Watch out for the big waves – as an inexperienced surfer I had a few hard hits, but it takes more to get me out of the water.

Yours truly.... Trying to surf...

Yours truly…. Trying to surf…

Prices

I was amazed by the prices in Bali. I always had a feeling it is a very expensive place to visit but I was wrong – which, in this case, is really a good thing! Finding accommodation is cheap (as long as it is not a really touristy part of the area), food is cheap – make sure to visit night markets. The only thing a bit more expensive is alcohol. Beer-like products have affordable prices, but if you are on a budget don’t go near the wine section! Turn around and walk away to the nearest beer aisle.

 

Sunsets and sunrises

Sunsets and sunrises are really awesome, you cannot get enough of those! They are really beautiful and enjoyable. If you are in a quiet place near the water it is mesmerizing. You forget about everything, all the worries go away and you become a truly nice person with a smile slowly cracking through your lips.

sunset in bali

Sunset

 

That’s my few cents about Bali! I want to hear from you now! What’s is your favorite thing to do in Bali? Any suggestions for the people going there? Leave your comments in the comment section below and check out my 500px for more awesome photos!

Mini temple at the top of the Agung where guides pray last time on this venture before heading down
Adventure, Bali, Indonesia

Climbing Top Of The Bali – Volcano Agung

Bali is known all over the world for its breathtaking scenery, the beaches, the diving, the surfing and fun. People don’t come to Bali to climb mountains. But when they hear they are overshadowed by a mountain which is in truth a volcano, and that this is also the highest peak in Bali, they soon change their mind and venture out on the slopes.

Agung story starts before the climb

Our story begins on the morning before our venture. Tony, Caty and I have been talking about climbing the Agung for a few days. Since this was our penultimate day in Bali, we had to climb it the next morning. At first we could not find an agency with a reasonable price to organize us a tour. We continued searching until we ran into a guy who gave us a good price. While Tony and I were discussing if we should accept the price, he lowered it a bit more and, of course, who could say no to that. We had a deal, and were to leave around 11pm.

Enjoying the sunset before the climb

Enjoying the sunset before the climb

We split up and went for a rest and some sleep. You can be sure we did none of that. We roamed around Amed and found a good party, which is extremely rare for the place. We decided to stop along and have a beer, I had two. Unwillingly we left the party, got our bags, while I packed some extra stuff that I did not want to reach the top without. We waited for a car and Tony, Caty and me were on the way to conquer Bali.

A little bit of sleep, a few conversations with the driver, and we were there around 12 o’clock, at the place where the climb begins – the Pura Pasar Agung temple. We have prepared all of our gear and while waiting for our guide, we looked up and saw the stars – it was beautiful and everything around us was pitch black. I started thinking about how amazing it must be at the top.

Pura Besakih Temple - Another temple from you can start the climb

Pura Besakih Temple – Another temple from you can start the climb

The guide arrived and we started walking, and were soon at the temple entrance. The guides stopped us so they could say their prayers. They were praying we would arrive at the top safely and for the gods to forgive us if we do any warm to the mountain.

During the eruptions 1963-1964 Pura Besakih was missed just by few meters. Locals claim it was simply gods displaying their powers

There is another temple from where the climb also begins – the Pura Besakih, which was spared during the eruptions of 1963-1964, when the lava missed the temple just by a few meters. Locals claim it was simply the gods displaying their powers by not destroying the temple.

Agung Ascent

The guides finished their prayers and we started the ascent. Along the way we overtook several people, and had the feeling that our group was the fastest one. I have to say that during my travels I has been eating and drinking too much, and did not have enough activities. Where did I feel it the most? While climbing the Agung, of course. At the beginning it was easy, but later it would get steeper and steeper, dirt paths changed to rocks and the temperature was getting lower.

Climbers reaching top of the Bali

Climbers Reaching top of the Bali

While we were climbing we joined another group of people, and in that group there was this really obnoxious girl from America. Every conversation that I tried to have with anybody else she would jump into, and explain how she did this and how she did that. Maybe I would not hate her as much if she had not destroyed my photo at the top of the mountain with her photobomb. I noticed it while I was checking it on my computer – ooops, too late.

Sunrise at the top of the Agung

Sunrise at the top of the Agung

While we were walking I checked the sky a few times and noticed something strange and thought to myself: “impossible”. But yeah, it was the milky way! It didn’t look like what you see in photos, but a lot weaker. The rest of the people said it was just a cloud but when they looked at it a bit better they agreed with me.

As time passes every step is heavier and heavier, and I felt more and more tired. I have to admit one thing: I was the slowest one in our group. As trouble never comes alone, my flashlight decided to slowly die. When the rest of the pack turned around it was hard to see me and they started yelling “Milooo” (although my real name is Miloš, pronounced Meelosh) as I was going through the trail with the little light that I had. I switched my flashlight and continued our journey, and again I continued to be slow. When they saw I was a long way behind, they started yelling and I would yell back telling them that I’m still there and alive.

Guides prepare breakfast at the top of the Agung

Guides preparing breakfast at the top of the Agung

Reaching the top of the volcano

During the trip the guides stopped at a few more places for more prayers. It’s really nice to see that, it is not done for the tourists, it’s done because they really believe.
After 5 hours of walking we came out of the woods onto the rocks where there is almost no trail, you just need to find an optimal way and this is really difficult. On the way up we noticed a few people who started the climb a lot earlier, and now they were sleeping near the top because they started up too early.

After 5 hours of walking we came out of the woods onto the rocks where there is almost no trail

We could see the top, but it seemed like the 15 minute climb was more like a one hour climb. Some more climbing and then we noticed we are almost at the top, and you get this rush of adrenaline while you look all around. We were above the sky! This was the first time I was up this high, not in an airplane! The guides prepared us breakfast and tea, so we could replenish our strength and get a bit refreshed. The sun was coming out, a magnificent sight, and it was going up relatively quickly. The color of the sky changed from black to dark blue, blue, purple, orange and the very known yellow! You could hear the sighs all around and finally everybody was rewarded for the trouble they went through. We noticed a few monkeys around, who seemed to live there, and they didn’t look surprised to see us. From the top you can see the Rinjani mountain on the island of Lombok, mostly through the clouds, and on the other side you can see the lights of Denpasar.

Bintang tastes much better when you reach the top

Bintang tastes much better when you reach the top

The guides started their prayers at the miniature temple at the top. When our guide finished the prayer, I showed him what I had in the bag – 4 cans of Bintag (Indonesian Beer). First he could not believe the fact that I carried it to the top, and then started yelling “BINTAGAAAANG” and all of a sudden there were more guides around us and everybody started yelling. While we were drinking they explained that “bintang” means star.

I thought ascend was hard but descend is nothing easier

When the sun warmed us a bit and all the guides finished their prayers, we started our way back. I was thinking it’s was going to be much easier than going up, but boy was I wrong. Every step was a knee killer – step  by step. Again I was last in the group. I went to this trip with about 85kg and was in shape, and I came home with almost 100kg and in no shape at all. Well, it was mostly a pear shape. There are no excuses for not training. Too much of the travel life.

Tony and me goofing around and recreating scene from movie 300.

Tony and me goofing around and recreating scene from movie 300.

On a few occasions I noticed I recognize parts of the trail, and I thought we were close and was hoping that at every moment we would reach the Pura Pasar Agung temple, but that happened in little over an hour.
Slowly I could see parts of the temple and finally we had arrived.

Mini temple at the top of the Agung where the guides pray last time on this venture before heading down

Mini temple at the top of the Agung where guides pray the last time on this venture before heading down

What was the best part of this venture?

When did it feel the best? When we reached the temple at the bottom. Why? Because the view of the top of the mountain was amazing, looking at it through the temple entrance. Thinking that a few hours ago we were at the top, at the top of the vulcano above the clouds! That feeling gave me a sense of accomplishment!

Pura Pasar Agung - Where we started climb from

Pura Pasar Agung – Where we started and ended the climb. This photo was taken just after the climb

We said our goodbyes to the guide, gave him a few extra rupees and started our way back, feeling very happy. Happy that, for us, traveling is not only partying and getting drunk, but seeing places like this, places that will always stay in our memories. Bules went to the top of Bali!

And yeah, I was trying to tell Tony that we should go with our motorbikes to the temple and ask for the guides there, but we were lucky we did not! I could not feel my legs and sitting on a bike after all that night’s climbing would be a stupid way to die.