Bali is rightly called the “island of the gods” or the 1000 temples. Every second building is a temple or shrine and the Hindu culture permeates the everyday life of the inhabitants. Every morning, the scent of incense flows through the narrow streets and at every door and every shrine are small offerings – small cups of woven palm leaves filled with rice, flowers, oils, salt and often betel nut. Bali is the only Indonesian island shaped by Hinduism and not Islam.
Diving on Bali
But Bali is not only a popular holiday destination for its green landscape, its terraced rice fields and beautiful beaches, but also for its ideal conditions for surfing and diving. Bali is located in the Coral Triangle that extends from the Solomon Islands in the east, via New Guinea, parts of Indonesia and Borneo to the Philippines. The area has the highest biodiversity in the world. This fact is only diminished by the fact that some years ago the local fishermen fished with dynamite. This has left a considerable amount of damage to the coral reefs.
I took advantage of these ideal conditions and exchanged the desert climate of India for the depths of the sea and extended my Padi diving certificate in Tulamben and Permuteran. From now on I can dive up to 30m and explore the underwater world.
On my dives I explored the shipwreck USS Liberty. The Japanese fleet torpedoed this in 1942. Destroyer of the Alliance pulled the ship to the beach of Bali, where it was looted and disintegrated. At the eruption of the Agung volcano in 1963, the ship slipped into the sea and is now considered one of the most popular dive sites in Bali. Likewise, I have admired countless turtles during my dives and looked into the eyes of several sharks.
The most exciting encounter with these animals was during a night dive. Suddenly, a 2m long Blacktip Reefshark emerged from the darkness in the torchlight. My thoughts were occupied only with the fact that he hears my hectic heartbeat and laughs about me: delicious dinner! To top it off, a few days later on another dive on Gili Trawangan five Whitetip reef sharks swam out of a cave. And I can confirm you: looking into the eyes of these animals in the open ocean is very exciting! The eyes and the shape of the jaw do not invite you to cuddle them. It should be said, however, that reefsharks are more of a peaceful nature and do not attack humans, let alone kill them. So all arms and legs are still there. Climbing career secured!
Silent Hill in the forests of Bali
Bali has not only beaches, but also many forests and mountains. I did not climb a volcano in Bali, but I enjoyed nature in the mountains at a three-day psytrance party. Unfortunately, the musical enjoyment fell by the wayside. Throughout the night, the bass sound of the mainstage droned over the campground, giving one the feeling of having landed in a horror movie, stumbling in the dark through a misty forest, fleeing from something unknown. The computer game Silent Hill came very close to the atmosphere. Since then I call the festival only PsychoTrance Festival. Nothing of positive enlightenment, far too much negative energy. I was grateful for having traveled with people who spread positive energy instead. This offered the longed-for balance of this family-like festival.
Gili Trawangen – the party isle
Gili Trawangen is the largest of the three Gili Islands in the north of Lombok. It is a popular destination for backpackers and divers. The special thing about the island is that there are no motor-powered vehicles on it. That means the streets are populated by small carriages and countless bicycles. It is possible to cycle the island in less than an hour.
So what can you do on the island? Diving, snorkeling, stand-up paddling, cycling and, above all, partying. The island is considered the party island of the three Gili Islands (Meno, Air) and also attracts appropriate tourists.
So what did I do on the island? I dived, drummed Djembe and, above all, after months, I finally celebrated and danced again on a fullmoon party.
One of the specialties of the island is definitely the Kopi Luwak, also called civet coffee. This coffee is one of the most expensive in the world. Meanwhile, one kilo of Kopi Luwak coffee costs 1000 € on the world market. Of course, this also causes a lot of black sheep, who misclassify the coffee. For some years, however, there are ways to distinguish false coffee from real. Of course, I was also on a Kopi Luwak coffee farm, since I’ve developed quite a passion for good coffee since my time in Istanbul.
The Kopi Luwak got its name because of a certain asian palm civet, the Musang luwak. The animal eats the coffee cherries. The beans are excretes half digested. The special taste of the coffee is obtained by the wet fermentation in the intestines of the civet cat. This creates small craters on the surface of the bean. Digestion changes the chemical composition of each bean, affecting its taste. The quality, however, depends not only on the coffee bean, but also on how long the bean was on the forest floor, precipitation and drying.
How does the Kopi Luwak taste? The coffee is a bit earthier than other coffees. But as it is the case with coffee – everyone has slightly different tastes. But I am more than curious to know – as with many other foods and drinks – why someone has come up with the idea to collect the feces of animals and make it a drink. Already in 1883 the Kopi Luwak was first described in books. In the past, only the locals drank this kind of drink predominantly because the plantation coffee was reserved for the colonialists or intended for export.
On Bali there are unfortunately many of these Kopi Luwak coffee farms. The animals are kept in small cages and fed exclusively and not appropriate to the species with the coffee cherries. So if you want to visit such a farm, you should make sure that the farm is characterized by an ecological and animal welfare-friendly production.