50,000 Minutes

50,000 minutes.

That’s the number of minutes spent not at my desk. Not in Jakarta. And loving (nearly) every minute of it.

We covered around 1700km, took around 45GB (3500+) photos, and for once never had a single bout of “Bali Belly”. (you may remember I befriended an amoeba last summer). As I mentioned, this trip we made our ‘base’, the sand and surf area of Seminyak, north of Kuta. This trip also proved to be a bit more productive in some possible future plans; but that’s another story for another day.

I’ll be resuming work on Monday for better or worse, and will be online most days once again. I hope I haven’t lost too many followers due to my lack of updates, but I think it’s important to define a holiday as just that – a break from nearly every part of your normal existence in order to fully refresh, recharge, and shake off the past years’ stress.

And with that, we now return to our regularly scheduled program.

Well hello there.

So I guess I’ve been away a bit longer than I’d planned. It’s a rough life waking up every day, heading to the beach or for a day trip around Bali. The ‘net has been the last thing on my mind. My apologies to those of you who’ve wondered where I’ve disappeared to.

Although we’ve managed to soak up some sun, we’ve covered about 1300 kilometers so far; our travels have included: Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud, Sanur, Tampaksiring, Kintimani, Lake Batur, Lake Braten, Ahmed, Tirthagangga, Candidasa, Padang-bai, Tanah Lot, Uluwatu, the west coast, and so many small trips in between. It sounds like a lot of ground to cover but over the span of 5 weeks it’s not as bad as it seems.

We’re primarily staying in Seminyak this time for the beach rather than our beloved Ubud. However, I’m currently sitting in a house overlooking a stunning rice field in Ubud at the moment, having finally found a wireless connection. (the owner of Cafe Kita kindly relinquished the password free of charge).

I’ve managed to capture some new material this trip, having taken about 40GB worth of photos with my Canon 5D. I’ve been pretty happy with the resulting images, but don’t know when I’ll have a chance to go through them all properly. Once I get back to Jakarta on Aug 10, work will hit me with a swift kick in the arse for the next month or so. Having said that, it’s quite nice having a job that offers such wonderful holiday time.

Just for kicks, been looking at homes and villas for sale… Only a dream? I’ve met some intriguing people that seem to think it may not be impossible for me to make a living here if I so desired…

One more week and I’ll be back in the Big Durian. Updates and photos will flow rapidly soon thereafter.

balinese dream

Bali and Lombok for a month…

We’re leaving tonight for Bali and Lombok. I have five weeks of holiday time, but am not sure how long I’ll be away. I’m bringing all of my photo gear this trip, including my Canon 5D. It’s the first time I’ve actually brought that camera, cause I’m always so paranoid about theft/damage. Generally I’ve relied on a 350D. I’m going to revisit some spots I’ve been in the past to get some better photos, either from fresh perspectives or different times of the day.

We’ll most likely be around Seminyak, Kuta, Ubud, and possibly the northeast coast. If anyone is interested in meeting up, email me.

I should be able to check in periodically and hopefully update the blog a bit. I think upon my return I’ll share some interesting information…

Hope you all are enjoying the lazy days of summer.

1600 photos later…

I’ve returned from Bali with 1600 photos and a sore butt. Before you crack the jokes – the soreness is from Waterbom’s water slides. I must have gone down the slides at least 30 times, bruising my arse to a nice deep azure.

1600 photo in 5 days seems excessive surely, but this is one of the first times in all my trips to Bali that I had a chance to focus so much time and energy into taking pics. As I said, I had to use a Canon 350D instead of my 5D, but overall things worked out quite well. I did hit the limitations of the 350D a few times, especially in regards to the lower noise of the 5D at night. One problem I had was switching lenses frequently during action shooting. It makes me wonder if I should pick up a 350D or 400D to compliment the 5D so I can, for example, leave the ultra-wide 10-22mm on the 350D and a different focal length on the 5D.

As far as lens choices for this trip, I found myself doing a lot of low light shooting – hand held, so my 85mm f/1.8 came in quite handy. I’d say 50% of the shots were taken with this lens this time. Next was the 70-200mm f/4, with probably 35% taken with this lens. It performs as expected with the known limitations of f/4. I found this indispensable for many of the close-ups of dancers, but really had to crank the ISO up to get a sharp image. (this is where i really missed my 5D). It made me seriously consider if the f/2.8 IS or non-IS would be worth the extra cost. Last but surely not least was the 10-22mm ultra-wide. I love this lens, but as many of you may know, cannot use it with my 5D – it only fits the cropped sensor cameras (basically most of the Canon line). I haven’t brought myself around to sell it yet or trade for the 17-40mm in case I decide to get a second body. Although I used it only for about 15% of the shots, when I did need it there was no replacement. Granted had I brought my 5D, my 24-105mm would likely have been sufficiently wide (equal to 15mm on the 350D) for the majority of wide shooting.

Luckily I picked up an extra 4GB card before leaving and for the first time used my iPod as a backup as I cleared my shots from the cards (didn’t feel like dragging around the Mac this time). For those who’ve said it’s no good using the iPod as a backup, I completely disagree. If time is not a factor, it worked like a charm! Some people online have said that they could only transfer 1GB on a battery charge. I’m not sure what they were doing wrong, but I managed to transfer my (full) 4GB card to the iPod on one charge! It was close – my battery was on its last bar – but I didn’t lose a thing. I highly recommend this method for those of you not wanting to drag around a laptop on your next trip; it sure beat having to burn them to CDs or DVDs at some shop.

I know that I technically could post a new photo a day for the next 5 years, but 95% of these will never see the light of day. If there’s a shortage of fresh photos on this blog, it’s not because I’m not taking pics – it’s because I simply haven’t had a chance to go through them all. I’m sure that once I leave Indonesia, I’ll have a chance to go through my archives more carefully and put together a proper visual feast of my journeys.

A quick rundown of what I captured on this trip (yes, I’ve already done all of these in prior trips): three dance performances including a great Kecak dance at Uluwatu, Tanah Lot, Taman Ayun, Ubud artists, landscapes, rice fields, Kintamani, Gunung Batur, and a variety of other potpourri. Sounds busy? It was. We were non-stop from about 8am till 10pm every day for 5 days.

Upon my re-insertion to Jakarta, I met my sister, Courtney, at the airport only hours from my own landing. She’ll be staying for a month.

The month of May is the most busy of all the year for me, so I may be a bit sporadic in updating. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to begin posting photos from this trip – I hope you’ll enjoy them. Keep checking in.

Off to Bali

I’m leaving in a few hours for five days in Bali. Just a short break, but we’ll be busy every moment. I’m bringing a Canon 350D instead of my 5D out of fear, considering there will be many times I’ll have to leave the gear in the hotel (rafting, etc) – a bit of a bummer, but it’s still a great camera. I hope to return with some decent shots from the majestic island. (I have a bit of a love affair with Bali – as do many others)

Things seem to be coming together well lately in most aspects. I hope this is a trend that’ll continue well into the distant future…

Kuala Lumpur – Suggestions?

We’re considering going to Kuala Lumpur for a week in March. I’ve only been through the airport, so I really have no idea if this is a good idea or not. Do any of you have any advice? I considered Bangkok, but it’s quite a bit cheaper to head to K.L. via AirAsia, unless of course going to Bangkok is well worth the difference in price. The catch is that I have to book it by tomorrow.

If we head to K.L., is a week too long? What should we absolutely see when there? Are there many photo ops?

Thanks for any help you may be able to offer!

Gunung Gede Volcano – Panorama

Gunung Gede Volcano - Panorama

The view from Gunung Gede – one of Java’s largest volcanoes. My friends and I hiked it in May; truly an amazing experience. From the top of this giant, the skyscrapers in Jakarta looked like Legos. Both the north and south coasts of Java were visible, as were many other major volcanoes.

More information on Java’s volcanoes and photos from my explorations may be seen here. This image was the result of stitching 5 photos together and using Photoshop’s Photomerge feature. It goes without saying that the larger size would be more stunning. See it here.

A friend of mine, Ian, just blogged about his experience traveling to Mt. Bromo – the well known volcano in East Java. He took some gorgeous pics (the photo above is his, not mine!) and, as always, descriptively conveys what it’s like to be there through well-written posts. I was hoping to go with them on this trip, but failed miserably at planning ahead of time.

The third sign of Java’s vigorous population appeared at the popular scenic overlook where people gather to watch the sunrise over the volcanic bowl which contains Bromo and other volcanic cones. We approached the lookout at five in the morning after driving for an hour across the “Sea of Sand”, the most desolate piece of land I have ever driven across, and inching up some of the steepest chunks of pavement I have ever inched up. Near the summit we were greeted by a sea of people, actually not a sea because a sea spreads out, there is not much spreading on top of a mountain, so it was actually a huge blob of people.