Sound Travel

I finally got to a decent internet cafe and was able to upload my audio recordings of the past few months. They were made mostly with the Rode iXY through my iPhone unless stated otherwise. I usually had the gain set pretty low, so you’ll have to jack up your speakers to really hear the quality. If the audio doesn’t play (or you don’t see play buttons for the audio), you probably need to update your browser.


Taman Negara – Malaysia


The first track was recorded when Olga, Jasmine and I were walking back to our guesthouse on the border of the national forest, Taman Negara. The bugs were very loud and I believe sitting in a puddle.

The second track was recorded during a solo hike in the forest. I was probably picking leeches off my legs while it was recording!

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Kuta Storm – Bali

Simply an awesome lightning strike during a storm near my hostel in Kuta


Tulamben – Bali

Edwin and I stayed in Tulamben, a small town on the main highway in North-East Bali. We dove three or four times per day for a few days! Just before sunrise, around 4:30 or 5:00, the forest to the South would awaken and become amazingly loud with animals. It would quiet down only 15 minutes later, so I had to set my alarm right to catch this.

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Reggae Community – Gili Trawangan








I found a true reggae community on the North side of GiliT. I don’t remember the name, but Payu was the frontman, so to speak, and I loved the sound so much I came back two days later to record some of their songs (with their permission, of course). After an hour of figuring out how to transfer the files to their computer, we played the recordings back over their stereo drinking beers in the makeshift bar on the beach. They all lit up when they heard the tracks and were super interested in the microphone – and even wanted to buy it from me – which I would have sold to them, but figured it would be a bad idea because it’s not too simple to use and transfer files across.

I really regret not taking a picture of these guys – they all looked like Johnny Depp out of Pirates. Waist long dreads with beads and trinkets placed so they made sounds as they walked. So you’ll just have to use your imagination!


Balinese Prophet

Finally, the audio recording of the Balinese prophet where Mira, Marco and I went to become purified on the new moon. I felt strange recording the audio as it felt pretty personal, but it’s an experience I won’t forget. This was recorded with the built-in mic of the iPhone so the quality isn’t so good.

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Goa Luwah

My final recording is of the Bat Cave Temple (Goa Lawah) along the East Coast of Bali. This was on my bike route, and the day before I met up with Mira I ventured into temple. Everyone was pretty surprised to see a guy on a bicycle AND to have his own sarong. I could tell they were disappointed to see that I didn’t want to buy a sarong or whatever else they were selling, but after being excessively friendly, they came around and saw me as more than a rupiah sign.

The cave had a massive amount of bats, completely covering the visible walls in the cave. I wasn’t allowed to enter the cave for religious reasons. I’d see a bat fly into the swarm on the wall and displace another bat or two, which would then fly to another part of the wall and displace another bat or two…it looked like a hive!

Bats!

Bats! – But a bad picture.

Into Australia

I finished my short bike tour of Bali! Luckily, no flat tires or any real problems. People were always super nice and smiled at me all the time. I learned a very basic set of bahasa, and combined with some hand motions, communication wasn’t a problem. The penultimate day of the tour, Mira and I planned to meet up south of Padang Bay and spend the night on a black sand beach.

It took a while to meet up because when a white person asks for directions, the locals will always point some direction, not always the correct way! I imagine that I’m pretty difficult to understand, though! We finally meet up at a park where I’m drinking a coconut drink. Mira rolls up and starts slicing up mangos for a snack. She’s mango crazy – we bought a few kilos of the best mangos you can imagine at the market.

We slowly make our way to the beach , only to find massive amounts of garbage swept up from the ocean. Sometimes the ocean gives the trash back. We found a surf retreat resort not far from our entry point, and they cleaned the beach directly in front of the resort. Strategically, we set up out tent very close by and went for a swim to cool off from the hot day. I’ve been lucky with no rain both times I camped.

The next day, we ride back to Ubud in blistering sun. I got news of my holiday working visa in New Zealand and was in a great mood when we rolled into Ubud. I spent the next day relaxing and saying my goodbyes to Mira and Ari and took a shuttle us to the airport.

Flights to New Zealand go through Australia, so I decided to spend a few days in Perth before I start my job at the end of the week.

Perth is in Western Australia and the entire area is a stark contrast to Bali. It is much drier here, drinking water is a precious commodity. Population density is very low. Prices for everything is high – the cost for two days of mediocre food will buy an entire month of high quality Balinese food. Buildings are drab and uninspired with no hint of the craftsmanship I got accustomed to in Bali.

It’s lush near the ocean, though:
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Elephant Rocks

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The distances around Perth are so large and the sun so strong that I opted for a cheap rental car instead of the usual bicycle. I filled up the gas tank for $75 after touring around the south of Perth. Beautiful beaches, pastures, and many national forests. I saw more kangaroos on the back roads than cars!

 

Salt lakes

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Only one way to go…..

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Stirling Range, Western Australia

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When in Australia….

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Freediving and Bali Goodbye

I completed my Freediving course today. The most recent dives I completed were to 25 meters (82 feet) and they were spectacular. I tried all sorts of permutations on different descents: pulling down on the rope, finning down, eyes closed, hands only ascent.

It’s a eerie feeling as the same breath which swelled your chest on the surface feels like a full exhale at depth. I had to keep reminding myself that yes, I did have the full breath of air in me, it was simply compressed. I feel contractions in my diaphragm as my body alerts me to CO2 buildup, which are initially jarring but I learn to accommodate the movements, as these also trigger the body to lower the heart rate and restrict blood flow to the non vital extremities.

The descent is very different from scuba. It’s fast – for me very fast. Luckily I don’t have a problem with equalization, so I kick down fast and efficiently. Initially, there is resistance to the downward motion, but you quickly build momentum. I’m going faster and faster until I stop kicking – realizing at around 18 meters that I am very negatively buoyant. The lungs have compressed enough that I continue down the line at an amazing one meter per second, unaided! The world gets darker and darker, the lungs get more compressed. Closing my eyes at this point is a very zen period: coasting into the dark abyss with one breath of air, which feels like an empty chest now. Finally, I reach the bottom if the line. I don’t spend much time here, just enough for a forward roll to reposition myself for the ascent. I must fin hard to raise myself, feeling lactic acid burn in my quads. Finally the ascent gets easier and I pop up to the buoy, breathe deep, and prepare for the next dive. It’s very addicting.

Now, a few pictures of me with Mira back in Ubud prior to my departure to my next adventure: Australia.

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Our campsite on the black sand beach. Some trash was cleared away…

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Mira and me enjoying Es Champur (Mixed Ice) in a market

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Babi Guling

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Painting in a strange building that Mira and I found.  The Dutch invaders fighting a properly dressed and armed Balinese woman.

 

Everything is so ornate here:

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Classic Mira

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Magical; classic Bali

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Sunset illuminating a cloud over Amed

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Cafe near the Ubud river

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Don’t I look great with Mira’s glasses?

Freediving

I’ve pulled over in Amed to get training in free diving (apnea diving), something I’ve been pretty interested in for a while. Imagine diving with no tank, no regulator, no vest…no bubbles.

It’s romanticized for good reason – pulling yourself head first into deep blue with closed eyes on a single breath is quite a mental and physical test. The world at the bottom of the line opens in such a natural way unachievable with scuba.

I’m tired after the first day of training so I’ll end it here with sunrise on East Bali.

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North Coast

Day three of the tour is complete! I’m a little East of Bondalem on the North coast of Bali. The ride was almost all downhill today and the sky was clear on my descent from 1300 meters.

The island is so populated it’s actually difficult to feel like you’re in nature. All along the roads there are warungs, small markets, and small shops. There’s usually no definition of a city, they all blend together in a way that is strangely reminiscent of Los Angeles. In contrast, Europe had well defined cities with a partition of farmland or forest. I know the roads near Ubud are nicer so I’m planning on getting back to that area and exploring more.

People are super friendly, nearly everybody yelling hello as I bike by. The few who have push bikes usually follow me. About half of the time I kindly ignore, but the other half I’m playful and coax the to go faster to catch me and ride along. I need to learn “you ride like a grandma!” In bahasa for added effect (sorry grandma, I bet you could a bike pretty quick!)

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Oh, bats and chameleons on the side of the road. Normal. I almost ran into these guys.

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One of the lakes in central Bali

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Kitty took interest in my mie goreing (fried noodle)

Highlands

Today’s ride was tough. I now know why Balinese call bicycles “push bikes” trudging up ridiculous grades to a mountain pass. Luckily I have time and my backpack isn’t very heavy. Add rain, a sore throat, and a feeling of low energy and this day was pretty short!

The first order of business today was to watch the launch of SES8 on the Falcon 9. I woke up around t-minus 30 minutes. Amazingly, I watched a live broadcast of a rocket going to space from a handheld device on an island across the world. The future is now! I got on my bike to visit the Uluandu Balinese temple perched on the coast of a mountain lake. I have to say it was fairly unremarkable, but I’ve certainly been desensitized after seeing so many beautiful temples all around the island. I slowly see the demographic change to more Muslim as I head into the north.

I ascended to about 1300 meters, only slightly below a thick cloud layer. I suspect this cloud layer is permanent in this rainy reason. Although it shielded me from the sun a bit, it made views less spectacular. On the descent, I passed many shops selling civet coffee, I’ll let you google that. I ended up rolling into an all-in-one homestay restaurant tour agency and tattoo parlor (why not?….) around 5:30. The price was better than I expected, about $11, and has a really nice view of the mountains and western accommodation (hot shower, electricity, towels, toilet paper)

The prices of massages here are awesome, so I’m going to get a Balinese massage in an hour. If only I had this luxury in Europe! Touring in Bali is pretty different than Europe in many ways: first, the roads are steep and unsigned. I use an awesome application, pocket earth, which caches offline map data from OSM and OCM so I can see where I’m going without asking people at every intersection.

Second, there’s not really any stealth camping spots. Roads are pretty busy everywhere, and I think I’d have a tough time camping most nights. Accommodation is everywhere, though, and because a tour of Bali is so short the accommodation doesn’t add up to be super expensive.

Third, it would be silly to carry any cooking gear. Food is everywhere, delicious, and very inexpensive, $1-$3 for a good meal at a warung.

The locals drivers accommodate bicycles much better than any European county I biked through!

This guy is cooking my sate with a fan.

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Cool temple

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Rice, Rice, Baby! The flags are attached together with string, so when the guy pulls on the string, all the flags move and birds are scared off!

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After riding my way up a ridiculously steep hill, I passed a bunch of men and (gorgeous!) women. Turns out I was at the end of a big ceremony!

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Compression

Edwin joined me in Bali and we quickly took a taxi up to Bali dive central: Tulamben. The ride was pretty pleasant and our taxi driver was pretty cool with the exception of an offhand comment about rolling someone into a ditch.

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Tulamben is dive central, but good luck finding anything else. It’s a town along the main costal road alternating dive shop and restaurant for a few hundred meters.

We dove our brains out – saw the USAT Liberty wreck, the Boca wreck, and nice muck diving in Syriah and nice walls. Shore diving is pretty awesome – much more rewarding than boat diving.

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After diving most of the Tulamben sites, we took a boat to Indonesian Dive Mecca – the gili islands. Half party island and half dive island, it’s a weird mix here usually with quite a bit of overlap. Diving here is more expensive and less awesome than Tulamben, no doubt. But there’s a glut of five star PADI shops and resorts, so I decided to do my rescue course here.

Edwin doing as the locals do.

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Dive shop games

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No motorized transport on Gili Trawangon.

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Soccer game

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After a few days in the busy east side of the island, I rented a bicycle and took a hour ride around the circumference. I ended up at a real reggae spot on the north of the island. Five guys with dreads down to their waists were jamming and I joined the circle. They were so talented I came back the day after to record them with my Rode microphone. Check it out! http://snd.sc/1c4R7vp

Cultural Overdose

Bali is an amazing place. I’ve never felt like I was in such an exotic environment.

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Hindu statues are everywhere. Around every corner, in the street, in the dry cleaners. Indonesia is almost 100 percent Muslim except for the island of Bali which is Hindi. Stonework on the island is intricate but the basic pieces seem easy to cast.

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Coconuts are plentiful and are good for hydration and a quick snack. Apparently falling coconuts kill a few people per year.

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Uluwtu, a Hindi temple. This is a view from the temple.

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There’s plenty of five star resorts here, but you won’t see the typical concrete block hotel. Traditional building thrives here! Intricate structures built with bamboo and local wood.

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Worlds most beautiful laundromat?

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Sacraments are everywhere – outside temples, in the street, in the doorways of businesses.

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What is going on here?

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Street food at the religious event.

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I rented a bicycle, not an easy feat considering everyone rides motorbike here. Riding in traffic felt like second nature after my Europe tour!

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Kuta beach! Reminds me a bit of Hermosa beach. Includes the same surfer dudes sporting short boards and AC/DC tank tops.