The Smiles of Kintamani

This view. This view is just one of the things that make me more than just a little nostalgic as I’m sitting inside, staring out the window at the patches of snow on frozen ground. It’s only been a week, and I already miss Indonesia. But the good news is, now that I’ve conquered jet lag and my body has ended its indignant protest against the polar vortex, I’m back to blogging! And I can’t wait to relive all of the amazing experiences through photos.

So back to the view. It wasn’t easy getting to it, but oh, was it worth it. We woke up before the sun, at 3:40 am. And by 4:15 am, we were beginning our ascent of Gunung Batur, Bali’s most active volcano. (From what we understood, the eruptions have been small, with very little lava flow.) Our guide had torches for us, and that was the only light we had. Even though it was close to morning, the stars in the sky were still shining as brilliantly as ever. The entire expanse of atmosphere was covered in little tiny stars. The stars you can only see when you’re far far away from light pollution, and when it’s a completely clear night. They were so breathtaking that I must’ve stopped 15 times in a span of 30 minutes just to stare up at them. We even saw a few shooting stars.

The pitch black climb was definitely strenuous, but the hardest part was not knowing where you were stepping. As the incline increased, the stability of the terrain decreased – which was a great combination. Ludmila was amazed at our elevation – she had never climbed a mountain before!

After about an hour and a half hike, we finally made it to the top, just in time to see the sunrise. It was a little too cloudy to see the sun itself, but the colors were beautiful, and when the sun came up, the surrounding landscape was stunning. Our guide cooked us a simple breakfast of hard-boiled eggs and banana sandwiches, which we shared with a few animal visitors…

this curious little mouse…

a timid but tenacious puppy…

and a family of monkeys. The baby monkey was even making little crying noises because he was looking for food! (In hindsight, it definitely was not a good idea to feed the wild monkeys, but the guides seemed very accustomed to the practice in order to get the monkeys close enough for the tourists to see.)

Before heading back down the mountain, we wandered around to see the crater, where sulfur gas spews menacingly from openings in the rocks.


And then, it was a long hike down. Mind you, we walked a whole lot faster this time, since momentum and gravity were on our side. But the overall time just about evened out, because I stopped to snap photos every 2 seconds. In the daylight, the unstable terrain looked even more challenging!

Our guide was usually a few hundred feet ahead of us at any give time. Here he is looking out at the volcanic rock formations below.

Speaking of volcanic rock…

And here’s a view of what we tackled…

We certainly felt accomplished afterward!

A quick nap was all we needed before heading out into Kintamani village, which is nestled next to Danau Batur (Lake Batur), which is not only a great spot for fishing – it also provides water for the surrounding villages.

The joy of the people in Kintamani was contagious. Before taking photos, I always made sure to ask if it was alright. Nearly every person I asked was more than willing to oblige, and their joy shone through in their big, beautiful smiles. I was touched by how they treasured every moment, and how they found happiness in the smallest of things…

These men at the bus stop were incredibly chatty, but unfortunately, I couldn’t understand what they were trying to tell me!

Pineh, a man who owns “Pineh Colada Organic Farm,” was nice enough to give us a tour of the place. I had never seen raw peanuts before. This bunch was freshly pulled from the ground.

Cows in Bali are not used for meat or milk. They are almost exclusively used for farm labor.

The lake wasn’t a very busy spot, but those who were there were hard at work.

This woman is washing her clothes using a wooden plank as a scrubbing surface. Others were bathing or fishing.

These young boys were doing as boys do, wrestling playfully on a pile of building material. Within a few seconds after snapping this photo, they stood up and dusted themselves off to look presentable for the camera. I like this candid shot much more.

This mother and her daughters giggled as I poked my camera lens into their front yard.

I spotted this man pushing his cart down the road, and jogged to catch up with him. He was selling Bakso, which is Indonesian meatball soup.

We also ran into a rowdy group of construction workers who were building a wall for what looked like a new hotel or lodge. It was evident wherever we went that Indonesia is in a period of economic growth, what with all of the buildings and businesses popping up left and right.

I stopped to shoot this still life – chili peppers were the most prevalently grown crop in the village. (I could have guessed that based on the amount of Sambal – Indonesian hot sauce – in every restaurant!)

I would describe this man as an Indonesian hippie. He lived in San Francisco for a few years, but moved back because he missed his home. He sells his artwork to tourists for a living.

I love the carefree vibe of this photo. I wish I knew where these two boys were headed!

This girl was carrying water from Danau Batur to her home. She had learned a good deal of English in school, and was really sweet to us! While a young girl with a bucket of water on her head was a strange sight for me, two tourists walking around the village turned just as many heads!

This grandmother was thrilled that I wanted to photograph her son, and she was even more thrilled when I showed her this shot.

Really, everyone loved seeing themselves in photos – I guess there’s something universal about photography. It’s amazing how it can capture the hearts and moments that make life in this seemingly ordinary little village so extraordinary.

[[© Lani Furbank and Lani’s Cup of Tea, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of photos or written material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. The site may be referenced, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lani Furbank and Lani’s Cup of Tea with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.]]

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