IKIMASHO!

Beautiful Bali: In the Shadow of Gunung Agung

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Beneath a sacred volcano lies a simpler way of life soaked in tradition

The Balinese believe that Mount Agung is a replica of Mount Meru – the sacred Hindu mountain considered to be the central axis of the universe. Mythical tales tell of it being 672,000 miles high – with the sun and the all planets of the Solar System revolving around it as one single unit. It’s the be-all and end-all of everything. The centre of all the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes. In short, a pretty big deal.

Looming over the east side of the island, the volcano overshadows everything below and provides a stunning backdrop for the vast array of local life scattered all along the coast. Traditional seaweed farming can still be found in some areas, particularly Nusa Penida and some parts of Lembongan. Villagers are poor, so many have turned to cultivating the seaweed to earn their living. It makes sense, especially considering the insanely bad condition of the land here. It’s hard to grow crops, and even harder to harvest.

Many people have told me they didn’t like Bali because there were “too many tourists.” These people are idiots. Yes if you head to the tourist spots you’re going to get tourists. Duh. But if you want to get away from it all and immerse yourself in local life it really is just as easy. Quite often all it means is climbing round a cliff to a different part of the island or just walking through some undergrowth to discover a hidden bay.

Bali is waiting to be discovered. So go, discover.

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