It’s only a few hours after midnight and I’m hiking in complete darkness, the path illuminated by nothing more than our flashlights.
Spoiler alert: when it comes to Asia, there’s really never a bad time to visit.
If you don’t go in search of an adventure, chances are you won’t find one. The same can be said for Bali in Indonesia – a fantastic destination that’s reputation for adventure travel has suffered thanks to the ugly face of tourism that a very tiny part of this tropical island attracts. Yobs or bogans, whatever you call them, we all know the types. They make us cringe when we see their culturally insensitive actions and inappropriate, bordering on stupid, behaviour – but Intrepid’s Dom Morgan explains why you shouldn’t let an ignorant few influence your impressions of Bali…
“It’s not a place I ever thought would be worth going. Why go to Bali when in other parts of Asia you can scale the Great Wall, explore the temples of Angkor or indulge in ramen in Kyoto? So what got me over the line? I’ll be honest – cheap airfares and really making the most of a couple of days of annual leave. Like most skeptics, I didn’t have great expectations – I was just excited at the prospect of waking up on Monday morning and going for a swim rather than switching on a computer and sitting dormant for 8 hours. That and an airfare sale, was enough to get me on that plane.
It might seem crazy to attempt a mountain climb at night, but Jess Klaebe, from My Adventure Store in Brisbane, Australia, has set her sights on this for a long time and couldn’t wait to experience the unusual pre-dawn trek in Indonesia…
“It’s dark outside, the air is hot and steamy. It’s 2:30am and my group is waiting for our transfer to Gunung Batur – one of the many active volcanoes in Indonesia. Our first stop is a little house in a local village where coffee, tea and banana pancakes are served. The perfect kick-start snack to wake you up and get you ready. Then the trek begins. In pitch black, and merely by the light of our head torches, we start walking.
Introducing an amazing woman who knows a thing or two about challenges… after Robin Lim’s sister and her sister’s baby died from complications during childbirth several years ago, Robin and her husband sold their home in Hawaii and moved to Bali to ‘reinvent their lives’. It was there that Robin soon learnt she could help make a big difference to the life prospects of pregnant women and their newborn babies.
In 1994 Robin opened a clinic, Bumi Sehat, so that impoverished local mothers could give birth safely and be treated with dignity and respect. Nearly 18 years on, ‘Ibu’ (meaning mother) Robin has helped to safely deliver thousands of babies. In acknowledgement of her extraordinary work, Ibu Robin has recently been bestowed the wonderful recognition in being named the ‘2011 CNN Hero of the Year’.
The Galungan festival is one of Bali’s most important religious ceremonies and the next festival will be held 1-11 February, 2012. It symbolises the victory of Dharma (Virtue) upon Adharma (Evil), and honours ancestors as well as the creator of the universe. Though it is a Hindu festival, participation of people from all castes and denominations is all part of the fun, as Erin Secomb discovered…
“Bali’s people are very religious, in the truest sense of the word – their beliefs are reflected in the way they live their lives daily and hourly, and they happily devote much of their time to preparing and giving offerings, and especially to the celebration of their favourite festivals.