Diving into Balinese Culture

Squeezed in between five locals on three tiny seats I am looking out of the bus windows, where Javas breathtaking landscape is passing by in front of my eyes. Volcanos shape the appearance of the one thousand kilometer long island and many of them are still active. Black smoke breaks the path out of the deep craters and remind me about my adventures of the past days.

The wheels of the airplane touched the ground with a loud zing. Two weeks ago i started my travels to Indonesia targeting mainly Balis underwater world. Chris, my 34 year old friend and dive buddy from Patagonia welcomed me with his huge smile on Denpasar’s airport. Together we set of to the sleepy village of Tulamben in the north east of Bali, where we planned to discover new underwater treasures. 


Read about my underwater experience of Tulamben in my Blog “Diving Tulamben, Bali”.

Chris left Tulamben after days of intense diving to make his way back to Thailand, I stayed and moved into the home of a balinese family.

On Bali, hospitality is capitalized.

Ketut, a local from Bali with a heart of gold would have wanted to adopt me as his son right away. Every morning I woke up to the delicious smell of a special balinese coffee called Luwak. His wife loved to cook the finest mouth-watering Indonesian dishes for me and his brother in law introduced me to Bali’s religion and the world of the many Gods.

An island with some hills

With over 3000 Meters of height juts the active volcano Agung over the north east of Bali. The mountain was already seen as a holy place for thousands of years. “Gunung Agung” as the locals call it or “giant mountain” stimulated the phantasy of the islands native inhabitants. They tried to explain the eruptions of the volcano by the power of the animistic gods living in it.
For a long time there were no modern religions on the island of Bali. Today, the island is dominated by Hinuds, Buddhists, Muslims and some few Christians. A remarkable feature of Balis Hinduism is the merge of Hinduism with the animistic believes of a distant past.

Wayan, Ketut’s brother in law is a an active Hindu, traveling to regularly to ceremonies in Tempels all over Bali. I had the great honor to join him and his family on one of his journeys. Dressed in a white sarong, a thin cloth which is wrapped around the waist and a kind of turban on my head we made our way to a new build Tempel at the foot of the infamous volcano Agung. Within a festive ceremony I got washed with holy water and got rice attached to my forehead, a symbol for wisdom.
The intimidating scenery of the Tempel, with an active volcano in the background had a strong impact on me and made me experience this moment with an unknown passion. I will never forget the feeling I had after the ceremony, because even if I am not belonging to any kind of religion I could strongly feel the spirituality which is so important to Balis people.

To be continued in “A celebration of Fire”