We are going through very difficult times , times we all did never expect nor experience before . 2019 was a tough year and for lots of people we were happy to close it and start 2020 at scratch with new hope . Unfortunately the new year started more then difficult – one bad incident after the other – a huge fire in Australia where millions of animals were killed , earthquakes , Kobe Bryants accident with his daugther on the helicopter and early death , War at the Syrian border – really no good news but we did not know that even worse things were on the way .
Actually it started already end of December 2019 in Wuhan , in China , and became worse in the following weeks in China as well as in Hong Kong , Japan and South Korea – a virus called Covid-19 , Coronavirus , which was on the way to disrupt lives and economy in the whole world .
The virus was spreading fast , it was an unknown virus to the industry so that there was no experience nor a vaccine for this virus anywhere .First people started to get the infection , hospitals were not ready for such an emergency case and people ,especially elderly , started dying as they were in the highest risk group .
As we have friends in China and in Hong Kong we could one by one follow what they were going through with their families every day – being evacuated at their homes , schools and offices closed down, supermarket shelves empty ,no ATM working ,not knowing what the future will bring and how dangerous the whole situation will become . It was horrible to watch this and being not really able to do something . In the later weeks in February and March 2020 the virus was spreading westwards , especially to Europe and to the Iran but also to the US .
Each goverment was somehow surprised and not really prepared to take correct precautions and the right actions and the virus was affecting more and more countries and life in genereal – especially Italy and Germany got really hit .
Meanwhile all airlines have stopped quite some routes , most of the affected countries have shut down their borders , schools are closed , the shops and restaurants , cafes , governmental buildings ,everything is shut down besides few locations like supermarkets, pharmacies , hospitals . Lots of companies are also closed and people are working on line from home , pupils get their lessons on line as well .
The streets are totally empty and while we were in a modern World of Globalization and Global Trade just few weeks ago where everything was connected to each other , today you even do not have any connection to your neighbor as this already bears serious health risks. Unbelievable where we are at this moment .
Yesterday we were flying from one end of the world to the other , 10 thousands of kms from one meeting to the other while today we even should not get out of our flat which measures maybe 20 m from one end to the other .
While being locked down at home , maybe this is the reason why one of our long distance flights comes into my mind .One of our great trips that we have made throughout the years which was also very special to us , our trip to Bali , Indonesia , years ago .
Certainly Indonesia is really far away – the next location is Australia 🙂 bu since I love to be on the journey , especially privately , distance is not a problem at all .
To be on the plane , the train , the car or a ship is always a good opportunity for some self – reflection and time to relax , to watch and to prepare for the forthcoming event which I really do love .
So is our flight to Indonesia – we flew to Katar ( the airlines was so kind to arrange a 5 star hotel room with a great open buffet , tea and coffee to let us feel comfortable during our 5 hour stop over ).
We passed by Singapur and then flew to Denpasar , Indonesia . It was in November and the rain season was ongoing . Our hotel was in Nusa Dua , not too far away from the airport and while it iwas raining in the evening we drove to our hotel , a little tired . What made me already smile at the airport was the warm welcome of our guide who was hanging a necklace of nice violet local flowers around our necks .
After the long flight we were all just looking for a clean bed to rest but once we arrived at our hotel we were so delighted as it was a very nice one in Balinese style , an open reception area ,everything was wooden and there was a very nice Balinese painting at the inner roof .
The next day when we woke up for breakfast we recognized the beautiful surrounding – we were next to the seaside , the hotel had a gorgeous exotic garden and what was really best was the breakfast .
We really stayed at so many hotels and destinations worldwide but somehow the breakfast that we had in Bali , we remembered most as one of the Best – first of all the garden where the breakfast was served was really nice , secondly a group of musicians was sitting on the ground playing some local Balinese music , in the buffet you had so many different types of exotic fruit and so beautifully presented , people were so friendly and while we were listening to the music we had our breakfast every day and really enjoyed it .
On one of our first days we drove to Mount Batur which is a volcano just at the other side of the island which is still active from time to time .
From Nusa Dua to Mount Batur it is about 80 km but I think it took us half a day to get there.
The roads were simple and narrow and there were so many motorbikes on the road .Sometimes it was the whole family that was sitting on the motorbike , sometimes it was a young local lady breast feeding her baby while driving – the scenery could be really surprising .
While we were driving through the little villages and the nature there were plenty things to see – starting from shops doing unbelievable nice wood carvings or furniture , nice local houses with little gardens , sculptures everywhere , small locations for worshipping , flowers , decorations, exotic trees , colorful people .
Our mind was not able to register all since what you could see was really ENDLESS …
At lunchtime finally we arrived at our restaurant in Kintamani which is a location at the southwest ridge of Mount Batur .
The volcanoes highest point is about 1700 m and the last eruption was in 2000.
What a gorgeous clear view that we had to the volcano and the lakes around and a great lunch with some good fish and local vegetable and rice of course .
We enjoyed our meal and the nice sun and made us on the way back .
On the way home certainly we did a stop at a kind of a special coffee shop – an exotic garden which was – of course – serving the worlds most expensive coffee – LUWAK Coffee .
No need to say that the location was awesome – a wide green garden with any kind of exotic trees and fruit , a little cage with the Luwak cats which are needed for the coffee , a nice menu with different types of tea and coffee .
Actually the Luwak coffee gets its name from the Luwak cats which are eating the coffee beans , digesting it and when the coffee beans are leaving the body , they are collected , cleaned up and roasted and prepared as the Luwak Coffee .
It is said that the digestion way in the body of the cat gives the coffee the special taste and is therefore very valuable all over the world .
We drank our teas and coffees in this wonderful garden . I tried the Luwak , but honestly speaking the taste of it was not that impressive to me .
We then left as we still wanted to see the rice terracces of Tegallalang before it would be too dark .
I think it was one of the most impressive moments during all my travels when we arrived at the rice terracces here – the road that we were stopping at was quite simple and narrow and we were looking down into a deep valley of such a nice Green that one cannot imagine ! It looked like a painting.
Terrace over terrace full of rice , green in all shades , leaves from other exotic trees like banana trees that were unbelievable huge – it seemed that someone had especially cleaned up all the trees , rice and flowers around as the whole picture was superbright and shining .
It was AWESOME what we saw and what we did not expect. For me these terracces should be under the protection of the Unesco as a World Heritage site similar as the rice terracces in the Phillipines which are also protected .
In later years I saw many rice terracces in different countries but none of them was so beautiful as the rice terracces in Bali .
The Tegallalang Rice Terracces are close to the famous location of Ubud and are famous for their irrigation system. The traditional Balinese cooperative irrigation system , also called Subak is said to have been established in the 8th century.
In some recent reports I just saw that the rice terracces are more and more disappearing on Bali due to the growing tourism industry and the need for hotels which would be a great pity because these terraccess should be really protected as they are of a very unique beauty .
We left for the hotel and one of my unforgettable memories of Bali were then our nights at the open lounge bar .
After the dinner we always went there with friends .To have a nice drink in this nice location was great accompanied by some music but what the best was the strong rain that was falling down every evening around 9pm onwards . Since we were sitting in a high open lounge you could hear the sound of the big rain drops touching the huge babana leaves and it was so cosy to be protected under the beautifully painted wooden roof of our location and were then tired falling into our beds as all the impressions througout every day were immense .
Another day we went to the Uluwatu Temple to watch the very famous and special Balinese Kecak dance .
But first we needed to get through the monkey forrest .You needed to get a kind of sari around your belly to cover your legs – this is valid for everybody – man and woman – even if you have trousers or any other long dress you need to wear this cover .
Actually it was not that easy since the forrest is huge and you needed to manage yourself betwen springing monkeys which are holy for the local people here but who wanted to steal either your bag , your sunglasses , even your shoes , flip flops whatever they could get and they were really professional in doing this 🙂
When you offered them a banana they maybe would give your belongings back , if not , there was a guard who was watching them and asking them to get back whatever they have taken – my Godness , a little bit stressy as the monkeys could get agressive as they had their monkey babies with them as well and it was very difficult for you to control them as they were everywhere !
Once you crossed the forrest you arrived at the beautiful coastline of the Temple as this was the place where the ritual dance started when the sun set started .
We just took our seats on the ground in a circle around the stage and started to wait for the ceremony .
The man with their traditional clothing in black and white checks and their red flowers behind their ears were coming first and starting to sing and dance.
The Kecak dance is a kind of Hindu Balinese dance and drama that was developped in the 1930s and is based on the story of Ramayana . At the beginning of the dance , the dancers are shouting -kecak , kecak , kecak .
Mainly men were taking place at this event while woman later in the 2000s began to join the ritual .
As far as I understood these male dancers are representing an army of monkeys that are helping Prince Rama to rescue Princess Sita.
The ceremony takes place everyday in the evening at about 6pm and lasts about 1 hour.
As the ceremony also covered a fire dance it was magnificent to watch the event at this special location with this colorful group of people .
Lateron the other characters like Prince Rama and Princess Sita were joining the stage.
While the night was getting dark , the colors of the different masks were getting more and more bright .
The masks and the long nails as well as the music were quite scary in the dark.
This ceremony is famous for Bali and is played throughout the different villages and temples on the Balinese island .
We were quite impressed by the performance and were happy to have a closer look to the performers , their costumes and masks and the beautiful female dancers.
Another event that I definitely needed to mention was our visit to the Temple of Tanah Lot which was about 20 kms from Denpasar .
It was also one of the most well known temples in Bali . Tanah Lot in Balinese language means -Land in the Sea= and is refering to a temple that was built on a cliff in the 16th century . The specialty of this location first is the beautiful location that it has at the coastline , secondly due to the tide the temple is located in the sea when the tide is high but on the shore when it is low tide .
The most beautiful time to visit Tanah Lot was again shortly before sunset but you needed to be very careful as there was a trick that you should know .
Before the sunset when the tide is low it was possible to visit the temple which was carved into the rocks and you were offered some rice corns .
It was a bit difficult to get there as there are a lot of natural holes in the cliffs and you needed to be careful where you walk as these holes could be quite deep and have also sharp edges .
While the sun set started people were overwhelmed by the view and did not recognize that the waterlevel is rising.
While everybody was taking photos at the outer edge of the cliff at the temple all of a sudden a guard was whistling loudly to warn the people but first of all nobody realized this . After very few minutes you found out that the waves and the current suddenly were getting very strong and high tide started . You cannot believe how fast the water was and so you needed to really hurry up to get back to the shore which was difficult due to these holes in the cliffs that I described .
Very carefully for not getting injured you needed to walk back while the waves were covering your legs stronger and stronger .
When you finally arrived at the shore you understood the whistle of the guard .
The experience was great and the environment was really breathtaking which should be not missed out .
Last but not least there was the beautiful coastline and nature of Bali and the world of animals which is very specific here .
I defintely need to mention 2 of them in special .
First is the Fragimani Flower in Bali which is the symbol of the universe for the Balinese people .
The flower as such is a part of nature and the nature is a part of the universe and therefore also holy for the local people .
This is why they put a Fragimani white flower first bewteen their two hands and later behind their ear when they are praying .
Secondly I would like to point out the animal world with many different animals which are very unique for indonesia and the islands that you might not be able to see anywhere else and therefore it is worth to dive into this matter as well .
I by myself lost my heart to a 5 months old little Orang Utan baby in one of the national parks .
I was allowed to have it on my lap and I was so surprised that it was immediately covering my neck with its little hands like a human baby .
It was a feeling that I will never forget and which reminds me that we all are responsible with any other life on earth other then human life and that we need to protect and take care for wildlife .
All this was a journey today out of our todays CV reality and I do wish that at earliest stage all the world comes back to normal.
Maybe this CV case is somehow an alert to show more value to everything in our life and to remind us how precious everything is – how precious it is to go to school , to the office , to the university , to the supermarket .
How precious it is to shake hands , to be clean and healthy .
How precious it is to have friends and family around .
It reminds you on how rich you are if you can travel to other countries and meet people and culture .
What is not precious ?
In the past decades mankind has lost its ballance for value – millions of trees being cut down , rainforrests burnt down , oceans and the atmosphere getting superdirty and full of plastic every day , people escaping on boats to other countries with their kids and babies risking their lifes while nobody really cares , wars here and there , soldiers dying for nothing and again nobody cares .
Maybe this is an incident that captures us in few square meters giving us the opportunity and time to think of what we are doing . It is locking us down and asking us maybe to come back to consciousness and appreciate people and routine life and nature …. who knows ..at least these are the thoughts that I have in mind while being locked at home .
I do wish everyone healthy and lucky days ahead and that our governments and medical staff and lab staff have the strenghth and power to overcome these serious difficulties very soon .