eleven days I climbed a 9,900 feet tall volcano at sunrise;
drank coffee brewed with beans eaten – and excreted – by a native
‘toddy’ cat; attended a traditional evil-banishing Pagarwesi ritual
in full ceremonial garb; received a blessing at an ancient temple
accessible only at low tide; suffered approximately 246 mosquito
bites and crashed a moped which I was renting for just four dollars
a day. This is Bali: an absurd cultural melting pot teeming with
history and mysticism, yet simultaneously packed with outlets for
But dig a little deeper than the cheap drinks and tourist-heavy
beaches and you’ll discover a rich and ancient Hindu society, where
almost every surface is covered in beautiful carvings depicting
local deities and folklore. Your senses are continuously pulled in
different directions by people singing in the street; the taste of
fresh rambutan fruit; a man cutting up a manta ray in the Jimbaran
bay fish market; the sweet heat clinging to your skin and the wisps
of fragrant smoke from one thousand incense sticks dancing through
your body with every breath.
Despite the many western influences, I found incredibly quiet
and spiritual moments across the island. I managed to escape the
typical tourist route and walk through a temple alone, drive my
scooter to the edge of a crater or enjoy some black coconut rice
with my host family, trying to understand their broken English.
These moments of purity and calm are everywhere – if you look for
them, that is. I looked, and these are the images I captured.