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Bull racing in Pamekasan

Bull racing in Pamekasan is one of two places for bull racing on Madura island. It is my second time on the island. During my first time on Madura, I visited Bangkalan on the north coast. At this time, I’m on the way to Pamekasan on the south coast of the island.  Pamekasan is a city almost on the east end of Madura.  The access to the island by car is via the Bridge of Madura from Surabaya.

All the time in Indonesia I had a wish to visit the bull racing event. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to visit Madura during the bull racing season. Bull racing is a special thing only on Madura and well known in Indonesia, especially in East Java. However, for this year the bull racing event takes place in Pamekasan. Unexpected heavy traffic and a huge traffic jam extended my travel time dramatically. Madura has along the south coast only one road.

Bull racing, in Indonesia called Karapan sapi, is a public event on Madura island once per year.

It seems everybody from the city is on their feet. Parking was a little tricky. To find a parking slot close to the racing course isn’t easy. A crowd gathering on the way to the main gate. However, street marketers selling all possible stuff right and left the narrow road.

Rules are easy, teams racing against each other. Two bulls have one rider. The rider sitting on a frame pulled by the bulls. Two competitors running straight away down a two hundred meters run. Of course, the first is the winner. It’s funny to watch how people anticipate in the race.

It was hot, dusty and noisy on the racing course. After all, I have seen the famous bull racing from Madura island finally.

The Milky Way our home galaxy

The Milky Way is only one of myriads galaxies in the universe. I believe our universe is the most fascinating place in our perception and imagination. Darkness covers our world each night. That gives the unique chance to see myriads of shining and blinking stars. The darkness is the mystic thing beyond to make that possible.

It isn’t really a big challenge to capture the Milky Way. No doubts the result are amazing pictures. Astrophotography isn’t so difficult. Because the sky is full of stars each night obviously. Many of these nebulas, interstellar dust or stars shaping the Milky Way. Our home galaxy covers a huge area of the firmament and is easy to find in the night sky.

Everything has to do with light and its counterpart which is one of the most mystic thing, the darkness.

However, a few things have to consider before getting impressive and amazing pictures from the night sky. Most important is the location. A place with low light or even better without light pollution is the right choice.

My choice is Ganga Island. An island in the Celebes sea in North Sulawesi. Due to the isolated location of the island, light pollution is very low here. Well, I think the nights on the island are dark enough to see the Milky Way very clear. Even to find a suitable place on the beach wasn’t so difficult.

Actually, the Milky Way is visible with the naked eyes but a long-exposure image shows much more details. Fascinated by people since ancient, the Milky Way is easy to capture in the days of digital photography.

The image is a long-exposure image. Shot on 2017/June/26 at 22:58:54 from Gangga Island near Manado, Sulawesi in Indonesia. The position is 1°45’43.42″ N, 125°2’57.86″ E. The altitude is 2.5 meter.

Ganga Island in north Sulawesi

Ganga island is an island located in the north of Sulawesi. It takes one hour by car to drive from Manado airport to the small village with a little harbour. From here it takes a half-hour again to crossover the sea to the island. The boat waits already and the crew is ready for the ride on a cloudy and windy day.

The crossover to the island wasn’t pleasant because of the windy day. However, the boat had to fight against the high waves and strong currents. Both engines ran loud at full power. At least lifebelt and life jackets are enough prepared on the boat.

This charming tropical island is a perfect place for watching dramatically sunsets or amazing stargazing. The blue ocean and the white beach gives the perfect image of a tropical paradise.

The islands around Ganga are all diving locations and well visited by divers. Another diving paradise is around Bunaken island. This island is more than an hour boat ride away from Ganga in front of Mando.
However, it’s a diving paradise and well equipped with a scuba diving center. The guys around Johann are lovely people. Always ready to help and support. Diving in the blue ocean is a great experience. All the colorful fishes, starfish and corrals are a fascinating underwater world.

During my first visit to Manado, I fascinated by the amazing and beautiful sunsets. Even from Ganga island the sunsets fascinating me so much again, all the time I spend on the island. It’s a stunning moment when the sun just drops into the ocean.

In the night the sky is so clear and with low light pollution, it’s so easy to watch the stars. The southern constellations and the Milkyway are easy to identify and stargazing could be so emotional.

The Tanah Lot temple

The Tanah Lot temple is one of Bali’s thousand temples. It’s not for nothing said, that Bali also called the island of a thousand temples. Obviously, the island is home to uncountable small and big temples.

In fact, Bali is different from Java or Sumatra. The majority of the population belonging to the Hindu religion in Bali. That’s why these temples belonging to Hinduism. However, Bali has more than temples only. Nature, jungle, and volcanos, and in between the spirit of the Balinese lifestyle.

The Tanah Lot Temple is one of the most famous temples in Bali. The temple locates on a conspicuous rock and is only accessible by low tide. The temple is a major tourist spot. Bali is the Island of a thousand temples and Tanah Lot is only one of them.

Tanah Lot is one of seven temples. All seven temples built along the south coast of Bali. Als these temples devoted to the Balinese sea gods. In opposite to the temple rock, a small cave is the home of a couple of sea snakes. The story tells that the sea snakes are the guards of the temple.

The access to the temple rock depends on the tide of the ocean. During high tide no access is possible. However, even during low tide, the way to the temple is a walk through passing 30 cm deep water. Even the temple is a tourist attraction, the temple is still in use to celebrate ceremonies.

The holy spring at the foot of the rock is a freshwater spring in the middle of the salty ocean. The water donates by priests as holy water. However, surrounded by the Indian Ocean the place is full of spirit. The holy snakes in a cave and the holy spring makes this temple exceptional.

Tegallalang rice terraces

The magic island of Bali has a lot of interesting places to visit. Such one place is the Tegallalang rice terraces. The rice terraces are not far from the city of Ubud. Just a couple of kilometres north. Ubud is the centre of Balinese art and culture.

Tegallalang village is famous for its rice terrace. The small village is a traditional Balinese village. The location is on the main road between Ubud and Kintamani. However, Tegallalang rice terraces are in a valley beside the road. Along the road, many little shops have settled and waiting for customers.

Besides the real purpose of rice farming, the rice terraces are a tourist highlight and hotspot today in Bali. Many visitors stopover here to visit the unique way of agriculture.

The amazing view of the beautiful cultivated rice terrace gives an insight view into the culture of rice farming. But not only a view of the culture also into the capability of the rice farmers as well. As a result of the work of generations, the rice terraces are also a testimony to Balinese contemporary history. Of course, space is limited on an island. That’s why the farmer uses the space wherever it possible to build terraces.

The skills to pile up, prepare and watering the rice terraces are impressive. In the hilly area like Tegallalang, it’s the only way for rice farming. Where in Tuban the land is flat, the rice terraces have only two or three little steps. But in Tegallalang the terraces have 10 and more steps.

Like everywhere in Asia rice is the most common dish and served to all meals. In fact, farming is an important economic factor on Bali Island. Moreover, around half of all working people are farmers or employees with a job in Bali’s agriculture.

Kintamani Bali’s northern part

In 2015 I had no luck with the weather when I visited Kintamani. Rain around the clock was on the agenda this day. However, this year Bali’s weather god is with me.  Blue sky, beautiful white clouds and pleasant temperature that is exactly what I expected. Kintamani village in the northwest of Bali located is a great destination. The village locates on the edge of the huge Batur caldera. However, the caldera consists of the active volcano Mt Batur and the Lake Batur today.

Even in Bali, everybody can feel and see the power of the earth’s natural forces. Bali is part of the “Ring of Fire”. Volcanic and seismic activities have a strong influence on the island. The east sloop of Mt Batur has a black colour. That’s the footprint of Batur’s volcanic activities recently. The burned soil from the last eruption shows impressively these natural forces.

The Batur caldera is actually a collapsed volcano. Over thousands of years, water accumulated in the caldera and shaping lake Batur today.

The boats on the lake and the stalls with fresh fish guessing that the lake is a fishing spot. The entire area has a pleasant climate. The lake and high elevation make that happens. For sure, the best place to get a nice overview is Penelokan village. The panorama over the lake and the volcano is amazing form here. But even the road on the lake’s shore is a nice tour.

The place in 1500 m height with sufficient rain, is extremely favourable for agriculture. Therefore, you can find everywhere besides the roads little fruit and vegetable markets. But not only vegetables and fruits growing here. Moreover, the conditions for coffee are excellent. Mostly Arabica coffee shrubs growing here. And yes, the extraordinary coffee Luwak comes from here as well.

Singapore one of the Four Asian Tigers

Singapore, also called Lion City is one of the Four Asian Tigers. Together with South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, they are the Four Asian Tiger states. The city locates close to the equator. Singapore is one of the most important financial and trading places in Asia. All in all, Singapore is an island, a city, a state, and a country all in one.  The tropical country in South East Asia locates on the south end of the Malaysian peninsula. The Strait of Malacca separates Sumatra and Malaysia.

Moreover, a cosmopolitan city joined by traditional and modern styles. That is Singapore. Different cultures and multiple ethnics live in the city. Close to the equator the city has a tropical rainforest climate. Due to the rainy season from November to January the humidity is very high. The temperature within an average of 31 °C is quite constant all over the year.

Singapore, a mix of different cultures, a tropical garden and a shopping paradise. However, there is much more than just shopping.

Changi Airport connects the city with the rest of the world. Moreover, Changi airport is the hub between Europe, Australia and New Zealand. However,  another important economic factor is tourism. Since millions of tourists per year visit the city-state, tourism became a very strong economic factor.

Not all in Singapore are business and trading stuff. Clean and well maintained the city is a beauty. Many parks, trees and green areas wherever it is possible. The Botanic Gardens, the Garden by the Bays and others help to makes the city green. Not only Downtown and Chinatown but also Little India is a place to visit. Sentosa Island with all its attractions and beaches are worth a visit. The beautiful zoo is a highlight as well. Indeed it’s a gorgeous place.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Singapore Botanic Gardens are a botanical paradise and an extraordinary place in Singapore.  Singapore calls itself a garden city and that is obviously true. The city close to the equator has a tropical climate. The everywhere lush green gives the city that unique outfit and such an enjoyable atmosphere.

Singapore is a city of superlatives. That is obviously, all over the city. In fact, Singapore Botanic Gardens is one of these superlatives. Singapore botanic gardens locate almost in the centre of the island. It is quite easy to come there. Either by MRT, bus or by taxi. Even walking is possible. Well organised is public transportation and everywhere present.

The gardens also linked to Sir Thomas Raffles. He was the founder of Singapore’s first botanical garden.

Singapore Botanic Gardens is more than one hundred fifty years old. With such a history, the gardens show today impressively its long evolution. Divided into several themes the Gardens spread over an 82 ha huge area. Some of the themes, for instance, are the rainforest garden, the ginger garden or the orchid garden. Another enjoyable place is Symphony Lake. But that is not the only lake. There are two more lakes.

However, the orchid garden is for sure a highlight of the botanic gardens. So many different blossom shapes and different colours are hard to imagine. Moreover, the pleasant smell is a fantastic experience.

Not all orchids like the tropical climate. Some orchids especially from higher regions like a more cooler climate. For that reason, there is a coolhouse with lower temperatures inside. The coolhouse simulates the environment for orchids from cooler tropical highlands regions.

One special thing about the gardens is the opening hours. The botanic gardens open until twelve o’clock in the night. What else, Singapore’s national flower is an orchid indeed.

Ubud the cultural and spiritual centre of Bali

Ubud the cultural and spiritual centre of Bali is full of spirit. Temples are everywhere and Hinduism is part of daily life. Ubud the city in the middle of the island Bali is not like the capital Denpasar in the south. While Denpasar converting to modern styled capital, the small towns and villages still keeping the Balinese way of life.

Compared to Denpasar the city is more the cultural and traditional art centre of the island. That’s obviously on each corner. It’s a matter of fact, that tourism is the major source of income in Ubud. However, the town surrounding rice fields, forest and many small settlements. Ubud connects Denpasar by a road with the north of the island. Bali’s location close to the equator gives Ubud a tropical climate.

As a cultural centre, the town has many temples and museums reflecting the Balinese tradition and culture.

Ubud’s monkey forest is a natural forest and pure wildlife. It’s the home for wild living monkeys. Take care of yourself. The monkeys know exactly what you have and what they want. For sure, they will take it if they get a chance. The monkeys living in and around the temple area. The huge tropical trees spend a pleasant shadow during the daytime. It’s the right place to escape the hot temperatures in the afternoon.

While Denpasar is the busy capital, the city of Ubud is completely different. No doubt, Ubud is the cultural centre of Bali. The Balinese dance and Gamelan music is one of the most famous Balinese traditions and attractions today. Many museums and craft workshops have their home here. So far, famous handicrafts are pottery, artwork and Batik. But one of the famous Balinese handicrafts is painting. Many little shops offer paintings for sale not only with Balinese motives.