Shoemans Trail

The quest for liberation

Tag: Sunset (page 1 of 2)

On Monday we shot the video with Dirga, carving and talking about himself, he was very exited and a nervous when talking to the camera. We made it happen however. It’s interesting even a man like him, self assure, very spiritual, always reflected, knowing about the ancient Sanscrit language and is able to read and to understand, always having an answer to our deep questions regarding religion, God’s and everything, even him was very nervous in front of the camera. We are all one!

It got very hot the next day, I stayed home and rested a bit, maybe also the coffee I had in the morning was too strong, but I needed to stay out of the heat, jo matter what. Maria came back around lunch with dragon fruits, yummy. She used the time of this week to get into carving again, her plan was to take back home 3 masks, and it’s a huge process, I tried a bit on my own, you need to be skilled and patient, for her it’s also a bit like meditation, I respect that and I also felt she needed to be in her element together with her spiritual and guiding master.

I also went diving again, a German dive school in Padangbai, one hour drive away from Ubud. I went early in the morning, the Refresh started at 9 am with 2 dives. My guide Komang was very nice and made the reintroduction very smooth for me. Visibility was great, we saw lionfish, octopus, shrimp, sepia, giant makrel, Napoleon fish, big frogfish, moray and many more. A shark also, but well only the guide did see I was busy with checking the depth and then it was gone.

The driving to the other town made me more comfortable being on the local road, you can be a bit pushy and go past the cars with the small scooter, also being on your own makes you more agile. 1 hour however in dense traffic is tiring and also the diving takes some energy, so I had a fast and long sleep for 9 hours.

We went to Dirga instead and then for a random drive together, found a sweet spot for the sunset. In the evening we did some relaxation and our Peaky Blinders watching.

The next day we packed, Dirga came quite early, like 3 hours, to help us with the moving, as the current renties of the Dewi house, the Russians, came back. We found a similar but more close to the city spot with a beautiful view. We just packed, and had a nice picnic with Dirga around lunch time and we moved. Togetherness and friends being there helping that’s what’s important and that’s how we move on to our next adventure.

Bali – behind the mask

Maria was up early after our late night arrival into the nice countryside home we chose for 2and weeks and already took care of getting the motorbike so we can move around freely. I was still so tired and fell asleep again after she left. Very slowly I got up later, when Maria came back from town fully energetic to start the day.

We went to Dirga, the master wood carver Maria was learning from in the 2 years she stayed in Bali. We directly talked about the project arthouse Berlin. A summer school with mask carving, Balinese dance and a final presentation.

A lot to be organized, so first we went to a dance teacher, but he was not speaking any English so we decided to not go any further with him although he might had the skills. We found a very well known English speaking teacher not so old as the other and still in business. We have a very good feeling with him. He can also organize costumes for the students and musicians and instruments, perfect!

The next days we went to organize a location for the workshop and also accommodation for the students. We found a nice resort and they ask for a fair price to support the project. We also went to check prices for the tools we need, like axe, hammer, chisels and so on, the paint, brushes and finish. All are scattered across the area, little shops specializing in that so we went out and explored together with Dirga, always good to have a local with a plan.

After 4 days we also adopted to the local time, the jetlag was a bit annoying, especially Maria was effected, not being able to sleep at night. When moving east it’s harder for the body to adopt as you “loose” time. Generally per time zone you can calculate half a day to adopt for the body, with 7 hours ahead of Berlin time you can do the math.

We have a great time and tried not to push too hard. We went to the beach on the way to the tools and also to the pool in the afternoon for a swim, with being the only guests it felt nice. We went to relaxing places to eat with a beautiful view of a rice field and relaxed at night in our house with garden view and the beautiful sound of nature.

The one day however it was a bit too much for me, as we also need to move our house and we’re searching for another one, going from place to place and the mid day heat is heavy here I suffered bit. I was also exposed to the sun too long I think.

On the weekend we went to Made Cat and filmed his dancing skills, pretty amazing and it all looks so easy and seamless. We med an Indian American lady that is studying music and dance here in Bali at his house, she was dancing then as well, you could really see the difference, although she is studying since some time already. Maria shared her process with her, which was an eye opener, for both.

Sunday we took our time off and visited a nice little waterfall some 30 min away from Ubud, lots off locals, not many foreigners, we had an amazing and refreshing swim and finished our first week like this, being around waterfalls always makes my spirits rise, might be the positive neutrons or just water being my element, who knows, main thing is to be happy and to spread the happiness around.

Aegina – Island life

Because of the weather situation we decided on visiting a Greek island, Aegina is easily reachable by ferry in 80 minutes from Piraeus the port of Athens which is basically a town on its own and not a filthy one!

Sunny side up we sat on the deck, riding along with the wind, classic! Our first mission was getting to the Temple of Aphaea before the crowds; we succeeded and had the very well preserved and partly reconstructed ruins just for us, priceless!

The cruise along the islands coast was another highlight with spectacular drops and beautiful lookouts and plenty of curves.

We also went to Paleochora, a place where the island population retreated from pirates and in modern days, just the churches survived the weather and island conditions, some can still be visited and bare a certain charm, the air smelt of herbs, bees were humming and birds flew all around, such a sweet day in spring.

Our last mission for the sunset was to climb the highest peak of the island, Mt. Oros. Up on 500 m we had a 360° lookout over the whole island and all the way back to Athens, the Peloponnese and the surrounding islands, incredible!

The night we spend in a boutique hotel named: Aeginitiko Archontiko and I would definitely recommend everyone in visiting at least to see the 200 years old house and to meet Rena the owner, she was like a mother to us, preparing even cake and cooking homemade marmalade for breakfast!

For more information about the island: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aegina

The website of the hotel: http://aeginitikoarchontiko.gr

Olympia & the Ionian Sea – Home of the Olympic Games 8.2.17

Casing the sun we travelled to the western Peloponnese to see Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Lots of old stones but not that many intact structures and the old cinder track can be visited. The whole area is on flat ground and beautiful old trees flank the even older remains of the once so beautiful town. Birds twitter and the air smells like spring, warm and full of sunlight.

A short trip to the Ionian see and the empty beach was the 2nd highlight of the day, best light ever, just one hour before the sun went down, pretty picturesque!

To learn more about ancient Olympia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympia,_Greece

Komodo – World-class Wicked Diving

I always wanted to go to Komodo to see the dragons and since I’m addicted to diving now, the area is even more interesting as the tropical waters host some of the world’s best dive sites. The Pacific to the north and the Indian ocean to the south are actually at different heights, so the flow of currents from the Pacific to the Indian during tidal exchanges makes the currents among the strongest in the world and creates a rich marine diversity!
Staying on a Live aboard within the boundaries of the national park makes more sense as it’s a day trip for the best spots from main Flores.
Wicked Diving has the perfect budget option and offers great service, safety and knowledge for the money, no I don’t get paid commission but I really liked my stay on the boat called CB, it was the good people and the sweet energy they spread. So cheers Marcus, Connie, Mike, Katie, Becky, Rod, Sarah, Marcel and all the others that made the time unforgettable!

The second site we dove the first day is called “Makassar” or “Manta Point” and that is exactly what we saw, so many manta rays gently floating in the currents that we lost count, maybe it’s been 40 to give you an idea. The currents although at medium strength – for me full on ;).  At one spot we just hold on to the rocks and watched the spectacle, unbelievable! The giants came so close and circled just some centimeters above my head, so impressive!

The most spectacular dive site the next day: Castle Rock!
After fighting again with the strong currents and hanging on to rocks we got to see an incredible amount of white tip reef sharks swimming past and getting cleaned, maybe it was 30. Also big schools of fishes were playing with the current.

Another great spectacle out of this world was diving at “Batu Bolong” or “The Fish Bowl”.  A rock in the middle of the ocean, strong downward currents on each side – this is what the fish cherish!  And already when entering the water I couldn’t believe what’s going on down there. Such a high concentration of fish, sometimes it was hard to spot the big fellows due to the massive amount of small ones swimming all over! Again we saw white tip sharks, sea turtles, colorful hard and soft coral and a lot of shit while zig zagging our way up. Such a great way to start the day!
When finishing the dive my eyes were wide open with a big smile on my face!

The other dives were also great with awesome hard and soft coral, turtles en masse, moray eels, unicorn fish, pygmy seahorse, frogfish, stingray’s, sea slugs, nudibranchs, sweetlips, napoleon wrasse, scorpions fish, puffer fish and the typical reef suspects – simply an unbelievable amount of marine creatures,  such a colorful world down in the Komodo waters. In the evening a dugong mother with his child was even swimming in the bay where the CB is anchored!
Together with Raja Ampat I had the time of my life diving in Indonesia, best diving ever, simply WORLDCLASS!

Don’t worry there will be a video, I just hadn’t had the time yet, so stay tuned, there is going to be an update to this page soon!

The Philippines – How I felt the country

The last cities I visited after Legazpi and before heading back to Manila were Naga and Lucena, both not touristy at all and me being the only white guy around.
Naga was the most honest city in the Philippines I’ve been at, the tricycle was 8 pesos for one ride, everywhere else it cost at least 20, mostly 50! At the time of writing 52,5 pesos convert to 1 euro. I saw poverty on the street, children begging, the prices for goods the lowest ever and still people were friendly wearing big smiles, pavement dwellers next to western dressed college guys walking past the fruit lady selling mango’s for 20 pesos, crowds of worshiper heading for the evening prayer and the street jammed with everything that moves – that’s the Philippines!
I could feel the stares, being the only European person all around made the people check me out – a few might not have seen a stranger like me with a big red beard 🙂 at some stage the stares were pinching and I felt distracted, I could not look the people in the eyes anymore…strange energy!

Quick facts about the country:

  • English is spoken throughout the whole island state
  • Churches are dominant all over the place, big catholic belief!
  • Jeepney’s (old converted American truck’s) used as public transport – most of the time they have a Mercedes or Volkswagen emblem in front – tuning is king 😉
  • The tricycle is the Filipino answer to the Thai Tuk Tuk and the Indian moto rickshaw
  • Double moral: Riding a bike with a helmet is mandatory but riding on top of tricycles is allowed too
  • Loud two-stroke bikes keep noise-polluting the streets
  • Generally a lot of fumes in traffic and bad traffic jams in the big cities
  • Everything looks fancy on the outside but if you look behind the façade it’s crumbling, that applies to material things but also to people…
  • More expensive than India and Indonesia and also
    • More chains in restaurants, fast food and groceries, like 7 Eleven, Mc Donalds, BK, Wendy’s, …
    • People are dressed more western and got bigger bellies
  • Food is all about meat with lots of fat and oil
  • Karaoke is widespread and somewhat of a national sport, it also happens that people spontaneously start to sing on the street
  • Whitening products are heavily used, which results in white faces but a more darker taint on the rest of the body
  • Liberal in terms of gender topics, being gay is not a big deal

But what really struck me the most; it’s a retirement place for mostly western man. You’ll see so many with a Philippine lady on their side. When I talked to them, most seem to hate the country and consider the local dumb and lazy. Of course some people aren’t the smartest and I saw a lot of women working their asses off while the man fool around but the ignorance of those westerners was just so wrong! The only thing which came to mind: White trash!

Although the Filipino’s are very friendly and talkative I’m sick of answering the same questions: “Where you’re from?”, “Name?”, “Age?”, “You’re single?”, “Not married?”, “No wife?”, “No children?”, “Why?”  I did that for half a year now but still in India it wasn’t that offensive and Indonesia was more gently, somehow I’m tired of repeating it over and over again. I’m also sick of the typical American words and slogans used more often. Every guy is a “Sir”, but I don’t want to be a Sir! “Thank you for shopping with us, Sir” or ”Come again, Sir” no I won’t come again, even if you’re crawling more up my ass! That’s a thing I didn’t like in the states either…

I won’t miss my experiences; even the bad ones made me grow! Some brilliant moments still happened and a handful of good people I met, but I’m looking forward for a change, Indonesia here we go again…

Legazpi – home of a perfect volcano

Mt. Mayon looking over Legazpi, wherever you are, you’ll spot the perfect cone shaped stratovolcano. Measuring 2.462 meters in height and being super active with the last eruption just 3 years ago Mayon is a buddy to count on. More info https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayon_Volcano

I went all around with a motorbike, the so called Mayon 360°, roughly 80 km. It can easily be done in half a day with stopping at some scenic spots in between, all offering great views of the mighty mountain that killed 5 trekkers on their way to conquer the summit during the last eruption. Since that tragedy climbs are prohibited. Looking at the perfectly shaped mountain from its base, offers better view anyhow…
I stopped at the Cagsawa Ruins, a former town that was destroyed by the volcano in 1814 killing more than 2000 people and Daraga church, the place where all remaining people moved after the deadly eruption.
Riding on the highway was a bit of a mission as cars, van, trucks, tricycles and people share one lane and the highway is busy as, going all the way north to Manila, the capital city. Dust, dirt and exhaust fumes were 50 % of my air consumption 😉 After I followed the signs for Tabaco City I rode in peace leaving the busy highway behind. The road went uphill in a wide open valley, always the symmetrical Mt. Mayon to the right and Mt. Masaraga to the left, an extinct stratovolcano. The clouds were moving in just in the left of the valley and the wind was pushing through, taking care of the chill. I could even smell the rain but didn’t feel it. Tabaco city itself is not a place to hang around for long; the name is still from the former Spanish era where the area was used to grow tobacco. Humidity levels and temperatures rose again when I went the last leg along the cost.
Finally I have to admit the almighty mountain really had the same shape all around, just the texture and color changed when riding it 360!

The city itself has a small beach boulevard with restaurants and again nice volcano views including the sleeping lion hill, named because of its shape, after a couple of beers one could maybe see the lion in the mountain I didn’t 🙂

Views from the tallest peak within the city limits Lignon hill are spectacular as well. But the most scenic spot I found was the Quitinday Green Hills, a bit out of town, small green hills most of the same shape and a lot of them next to each other. The place that offers the climb is very cautious about conservation. Steps just hewn in the soil, no wood or rock was used, bamboo rails, small bamboo huts with palm leaf roofs! And the way to get there, also a little adventure on its own, the concrete road is getting smaller and smaller until a rough dirt road takes you the last kilometers.

Ecologically green and fantastic, if all the touristy locations would be like that more people would get the idea!

Donsol – Swimming with Whale Sharks

A small rural beach town on the main island of Luzon is in the tourist focus from December to May each year, that’s when the whale sharks migrate through the area. There is also another town in the Philippines advertising whale shark tourism but there the animals are fed and they stopped migrating and just stay in the area, plus they’re not properly treated with too many people swimming around them and boat numbers are not limited, this should not be supported!
In Donsol it happens a more ecological way. A so called Butanding (Filipino word for whale shark) Interaction Officer, a BIO, is assigned to each boat, advising the people and watching that the animals are treated the right way (no touching, no feeding, no underwater flash, max 5 min interaction, one boat at a time,…). The big fish still get a bit distracted and sometimes hurt when multiple boats with tourists venture out every morning, wanting to see the gigantic fish and chasing it, the back fin can get hurt by the boats propeller as the whale shark swims close to the surface to feed or the fish just gets distracted while feeding with some humans swimming close by. That’s why the tours just happen in the morning from 7 to 11. One must decide for his own good if this can be supported. The whale sharks come around this particular area every year though and haven’t chosen another spot that looks as they still like it here and are treated not that bad.

So early in the morning I got in the boat with 5 other guys, hardly 10 min later in the open water Jerry our BIO told us to wear the fins, snorkel and mask and sit on the side of the boat, ready to jump. 2 min later we were all kicking with our fins, following Jerry, heads down in the murky water and yes there he was, the first whale shark, massive in size I could not see the complete fish at once as the visibility wasn’t that great but it was a magical moment swimming along the giant which just dove down after a couple of seconds.
Having a white belly the rest being grey, the skin marked with pale yellow spots and striped, individual to each – it just looks friendly. The largest fish on the planet can grow up to a size of a bus! In Donsol they range between 5 and 10 meter. More info’s on the worlds largest fish: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whale_shark

The second time we were more lucky swimming a minute next to it and getting quite close. We cruised around the area for about 3 hours and got to jump in the water a couple of times, sometimes we missed the giants as they dove down, sometimes we saw them so close almost able to touch and there was that moment where we got into the water as we saw another group already swimming with the fish for some time. We could trace the route of the whale shark got in some 20 meters ahead and all of a sudden the only thing I saw was the fish swimming straight at me with its big mouth wide open – uaahhhh!
They use the area as feeding ground and mainly feed on plankton and grill just opening their mouth and swimming. I knew that fact but still in this particular moment I was a bit scared and swam aside as fast as I could seeing the mighty fish slowly swimming past.
The last one we saw didn’t swim that fast so I could keep up with him and let me fall back, filming the tail, a couple of kicks later I would be back at his mouth investigating the cleaner fish around and checking his teeth and eyes, magnificent, swimming a couple of minutes next to the biggest fish on earth and also the biggest one we saw today, maybe 10 meters in length – just an unforgettable experience!

Raja Ampat – One step closer to heaven

The islands are nothing but a natural beauty, a paradise in Papua, above and under the water! I often needed to look twice to check if it’s real; it’s just insane, so sick, incredible and beyond belief!

The spectacle was already starting when flying in from Jakarta to the capital of the Maluku island chain named Ambon, big cloud formations and the sun rose bringing light to the new day in almost all spectral colors. From Ambon the next flight took me over so many small islands, sometimes even just as big as a house, until the plane came down in Sorong the hub for the Raja Ampat islands. All further travels from this point – by boat. In Waisai I met Githa my local contact who put me forward for a nice homestay, that’s the cheapest option for accommodation over here if you don’t want to stay in a resort charging 200 euros a night. Githa also co owns Arborek Dive Shop together with her husband Marcel.
Round about a hundred people living in the community and it takes 20 minutes to walk around the island, which is about the size of 7 football fields and has everything basic you’re looking for: a well with salty water, not as salty as the sea though, lovely bucket shower – living in paradise with the least effort ever, so good…small shops to buy juice, candy or a beer, sunsets and sunrises right at the doorstep, friendly locals & lovely children jumping around asking for your name, enough shade to beat the midday sun, probably the best seafood ever, lovely beaches and an incredible coral reef, made for snorkeling (In an afternoon session I even saw 2 black tip reef sharks and a small marble ray beside the usual suspects and the wonderful coral) – I love it! As the Batak at Lake Toba, Sunday is a pretty important religious day for the community. No one works and half the island in best clothes, holding the songbook or the bible and going to church, singing accompanied by guitar.

This is how a sunset on the island feels…in time-lapse 😉

https://youtu.be/9DxvNnYGl_Y

 

From Arborek I went diving for 2 days with Marcel, felt sweet just going down with one buddy who’s also the guide. The first time we got in the water and it was just insane! Fish everywhere, visibility of 30 meters, coral gardens until get no, colorful as spring flowers so many different species of soft and hard coral living wherever they could fit, just one square meter had so much living organisms I saw in the Andaman’s within one dive! Unbelievable! Everything here is on big scale! We saw turtles, massive schools of different fish, black tip and white tips reef sharks, multiple manta rays getting cleaned in front of our eyes, the biggest one measuring 5 meters! Magnificent animals! Also eels, lion fish, stone fish, scorpion fish, frog fish, marble rays and dolphins. Fuck yeah it’s been a hell of a ride! I gathered the best clips and made a small movie, go check it out…

 

With Githa and our always smiling boatman Baba Saurab we went to Piaynemo the other day, another natural phenomenon of small rocks covered with plants surrounded by clear emerald blue waters – it’s one of those spots in catalogs and we went there early to beat the heat and the crowds, I could even squeeze in a meditation before the first people came up and inhale the place properly.

My spirit rose again, still can’t believe what I saw during those wonderful days – looking at the pictures makes the memories last but the feeling will stay in my heart…

Before I forget:

  1. The music in the videos is from a friend, check out his sound cloud page
    https://soundcloud.com/m-inc-to 
  2. The island I stayed has a website, go check it out
    http://arborek-rajaampat.com

And now go for the amazing pics!!!

Pulau Weh – Back to island life

I went to Pulau Weh by plane, Pulau is the Indonesian word for island. Flying over Sumatra was just gorgeous, lush green hills and bigger mountains of Gunung Leuser National Park and the northern province of Aceh, so beautiful from above! The half crowded propeller plane touched the tarmac of the country’s most northern island after an hour’s flight. Let the adventures begin!

Despite of relaxing on the beach, snorkeling and scuba diving, there is not that much to do, perfect conditions with 20+ dive sites, just around the corner. I did another 10 dives at Lumba Lumba Dive Center and was directly greeted by the owners Marjon & Ton when checking in. I met more lovely people during my stay, Sanni from Berlin a very relaxed Dive Master – how come I meet so many Berliners the last 2 weeks, something the universe wants to tell me? 🙂 I also dived with Phoebe & Lee and the Pro’s Johan, Sophie, Stefanie & Mike helped me with some diving theory. The diving buddy I got most comfortable with is Jean-Pierre, we spent value time above and below the surface, cheers for the sweet talks with never ending topics and to seeing A LOT OF SHIT down below 😉 great diving, always a pleasure.
Jean-Pierre and Lee were also the ones who joined me on my first beer after 50+ days of cleansing and being straight, perfect to start drinking again with an Irish and a Belgium friend, I felt quite drunk after the first sips; in the end I had three Beer when staggering to my bed 😉

During the dives I saw multiple moray eels – honey comb, zebra, black and spotted ones, banded sea snakes, different sizes of puffer fish, multiple stingrays & octopus, black tip reef sharks, different shrimp, jelly fish, multiple lobster, coddle fish, scorpion fish, stone fish, sea turtles as well as big fan corals, brain corals, multiple soft corals, anemone’s and many more – lovely underwater scenery with big drops and dark blue waters, different as in the Andaman’s, so yeah it’s been great!

If you dig the music, check out my friends soundcloud page: https://soundcloud.com/m-inc-to

My diving is getting better as does my skills on the scooter, when not floating underwater I rode along the rebuilt roads. Almost 8 years after the devastating Boxing Day tsunami, which hit the island pretty badly with lots of damage in infrastructure, it’s slowly improving. Perfect biking conditions now, many curves and hills, the street snakes up and down, left and right. Some sweet beaches on the way and brilliant lookouts were to be found, but still the island is not that developed which adds a unique feel and on top the locals are so friendly, greeting, waving hands as I pass by, especially when leaving the big road and riding the small trails through villages. The monkeys along the road just waiting for food, otherwise they leave. Sometimes I even saw guys with rifles, but no worries, they just go on the animal hunt – for dinner, of course 😉

On the northern tip of Weh I found kilometre 0, the first kilometre of the country, a monument is being built for 2 years already I wonder when they finally finish…

Also the food is great, a lot of seafood, at lunch times the local eateries have some kind of buffet with rice, vegetables, chicken and fish curry – very yummy and good value for the money. Plus finally avocado is growing here, not to be found in India I get my dosage now every day, the juice is so delicious, you can also add chocolate sauce, or get a salad – mhh come and get some!
One more thing, the rain! It’s raining quite a bit, still alright with temperatures round the 30’s – now I see why it’s called rainforest 😉

It’s been a wonderful week with awesome people, sweet diving, surrounded by natural beauty – a perfect start to the land of the many islands, I’ll keep on walking…

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