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Story: In 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 western tourists.
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.
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