Bali Raw - Introduction

raw /rô/ - adjective
(of an emotion or quality) Strong and undisguised, frank and realistic in the depiction of unpleasant facts or situations.
(image format) Widely known among professional photographers a RAW image refers to a picture that contains data that have not been compressed or processed in any manner.

In photography the processing of an image actually already starts before it is taken and one of the most important decisions in this process is what and what not to include in the picture. A decision that has become more and more relevant to me ever since I live in Bali. As a landscape and travel photographer I am always striving to find and capture the singular beauty of a place and while there are certainly (still) wonderful sites and landscapes to photograph in Bali the undeniable truth is that the locations from where those can be admired unrestricted and uncluttered are getting less. The decision of what to exclude while framing the photographs I envision to make is becoming more challenging by the day if what I want to show is the wonderful, clean and unpolluted picture of Paradise that so many imagine when they dream of Bali.

I am certainly aware that I am part of the problem. The ever growing pollution, the never ending construction and the destruction of rural habitats and natural resources. The intent of "Bali Raw" however is not to criticise anyone or anybody in particular.
After 4 years on the island I had, unavoidably, also a look behind the facades of "Paradise" and it is not always easy to deal with a reality that is quiet different to what one reads and sees on travel websites, Instagram & Co. or the colourful brochures of travel agents. The articles of this project are a way to get off my chest what bewilders me and also, sometimes, makes me angry. They are a diary, my intent of self therapy, a collection of thoughts and images that I feel, would I not let them out, sooner or later would be too much to bear.

"2 AM and I'm still awake, writing a song If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to. And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud and I know that you'll use them, however you want to."
- Anna Nalick from the song "Breathe" -

"Bali Raw" is not part of my website that is accessible through the navigation menu. After all it is a personal project not really meant (at this point) for the general public. If you landed here it is most likely through a direct link that has been given to you or through almighty Mr. Google.
If you find yourself intrigued to look deeper into my raw impressions of the "Island of the Gods" you may find all articles here. If however you prefer to keep the beautiful memories you took home with you when you visited Bali or you simply want to see the Paradise that made it famous then please visit my Indonesia Photo Gallery.

Pantai Kayu Putih - Batu BeligThe beach that is somewhat closest to where we live. Most mornings we come here to walk our dogs. While it is not always looking like this especially in the rainy season it becomes a big pile of trash due to all the rubbish that gets washed out into the sea by the rivers and the offshore wind that blows the waste back to the beach instead of out to the ocean. The dog walk becomes a constant battle between avoiding broken bottles and light bulbs in the sand and trying to not loose sight of the dogs so they don’t eat anything suspicious they find among the garbage. In the background the quiet newly built Lv8 5 Star Resort Hotel Bali.

Footnote: The reason I am writing in English, also though German is my native language, is because my "daily language" at the moment is English and I tend to think easier in the language I do presently speak most also if that means that grammatically it might not always be correct. For all you nerds out there: My apologies but after all this is my diary.

Bali Raw - Tourist Atraction “Danau Biru Bukit Jaddhi”

It seems that when it comes to pollution and noise the tolerance limit of the average Indonesian is well above those coming from less populated countries. Able to sleep next to busy roads and having lunch just next to the usual traffic jams in open air restaurants is common place. Also not in Bali, but in East Java, this new and popular tourist destination is very unlikely to make it on some European bucket list. In an active stone pit some sort of a jetty has been carved out which is surrounded by rain water. Bus loads of local tourist floc to that place to have their picture taken on some rocks placed in the “lake”, where a guy paddles you over on a raft all while around you the heavy machineries hammer into the rocks, trucks are racing around the pit and guys with chainsaws slicing out blocs of lime stone from caves in risk of collapse. Of course there is an entrance fee and not only one but three times one has to pay for the spectacular sights and sounds. First entering the pit, second when driving up the hill to be able to have a look all over the hole and then again driving down to the bottom in order to get access to the splendid blue lake in the centre. Most certainly one has to pay once more for the raft that takes its passengers on a 3 meters journey from the jetty to some rocks from where the crowd takes their selfies but at this point I didn’t bother to ask.

Bali Raw - Christmas Mornings at the Beach

Guess no words are necessary here to describe the pleasure walking a beach like this one. This is the view on christmas morning of Batu Belig Beach in Seminyak just in front of the trendy 707 Beach Barn.

Bali Raw - "No one can serve two masters"

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and money." - Matthew 6:24

I am no religious person but I came across this Bible passage as I was searching for inspiration of how to start to write down my experience from today. Also I never had read it before I immediately felt appealed by the simple truth of this statement. This morning we went to the bank to transfer some money from one bank to another. As we didn't want to pay the horrendous transfer fees we decided to take out the money in cash and pay it into an account of ours in another bank. My wife already told me to be prepared for a very special ritual before we left from home. At the branch where we took out the money she explicitly asked the bank notes not to be wrapped with a rubber as it is the habit here and also for a slip to be printed out where all the serial numbers of the bank notes that we received where stated. The reason for her request became clear as we handed over the notes in the next bank.

Patches of Green (Paradise for Rent)

"Wash you eyes with beauty" once someone said to me not long after I had arrived in Bali. While one should think that this is a fairly easy on the paradise island I have found it to be a quiet difficult task. One in which I constantly have to try and blend out the big view in order to only focus onto the small patches of paradise that still are left. "Patches of Green" refers to the patches of rice fields that more and more get absorbed and overrun by construction. Little green islands of a rural Bali in a ever growing tsunami of concrete, asphalt and trash. One of the things I miss most here is a sky not disturbed by walls.

DikontrakanPatches of Paradise for rent as farming becomes unsustainable in a city that claims the last remaining islands of green.