Last winter, me and some friends went on a ski holiday in the French Alps. We were quite lucky with the weather, as it was snowing almost every day and the snow over the roofs of houses grew to about a meter thickness. I used the opportunity to film a scene of the falling snow and to make a video of it. It can be seen here: https://youtu.be/v_JyzOVZVM0
On the last day of skiing, the only snowboarder in the group and my great friend, decided that he was going to rest. Brilliant! I had wanted to try getting on a snowboard for a while now and seized the chance. He gave me a few basic lessons that I practiced for a while and then I jumped on the lift. Soon I was staying up on the board and sliding for a a few minutes, without falling and I was enjoying it so much that I was converted. I decided that I am going to get myself a board and learn how to ride properly. I never got really good with the ski anyway and only really enjoyed speeding down the slopes 😉
This year I happened to be in England exactly at the right time for the blooming bluebells. I have long had the idea to film this incredible natural beauty. I was incredibly happy and lucky to see them densely covering the forest floor all around the nearby forest in Hertfodshire. I spent a few days getting up early in the morning before sunrise, driving to the place and walking around the woods for almost the whole day, filming different scenes, breathing the faint fragrance of these delicate flowers and recording the spring songs of the birds there. After a few days of carrying the heavy photographic rucksack all day, my back started to hurt and I had to stop and give it a rest. Fortunately, I have already collected a big variety of footage in order to make a three hour long video, with no repeating scenes in it. I was extremely happy with my success and this is still one of my most favourite videos, that I sometimes play at home to create a relaxing atmosphere when I need it. You can watch this enchanting natural beauty here: https://youtu.be/IsPBplWLImI
On a cold, gray winter day, I was wondering where I want to go next and I thought to myself: “I want to go to some very wild tropical islands, with no towns and cars and crowds of tourists”. So I googled “wild tropical islands” and started looking at the pictures that came up in the search. I saw one picture that looked amazing. After a quick research, I decided – “That’s it, I am going there!”. The islands, that I saw on the picture were a part of a big protected are in West Papua, called Raja Ampat and within the Borders of Indonesia. In order to get there I flew to Bali and then took an internal flight to the furthest eastern side of the Indonesian archipelago. I must say that this pristine natural paradise, exceeded my expectations – it is just a place of pure natural paradise.
The coral reefs there were the most abundant with life in all shapes, colors and forms, that I had seen. I was so blessed to dive into this incredible underwater world for more than two weeks. As I wasn’t a certified scuba diver, I didn’t hire any equipment and I just did snorkeling. Nevertheless, having enough experience in freediving, I managed to record some pretty amazing stationary underwater scenes by putting my camera with it’s underwater box on a tripod onto the ocean floor. It wasn’t an easy task and involved a lot of diving, but for the whole duration of my stay, I filmed a large enough collection of underwater scenes, that made it possible to make a three hour long relaxation video with no repeating footage in it. You can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/uyb0wW0ln_g There’s also a one scene only version of it here: https://youtu.be/_05mQPHk46Q
Unfortunately, I also saw coral reefs that were dead, lacking their colours and abundant life. It made it clear to me, that coral reefs and in BIG danger and we can loose a whole world of incredible biodiversity in the length of just one human lifetime!
I was staying in different beach hut, with different hosts taking care of my accommodation and food. Conditions were very simple and I quickly learned to properly tuck my mosquito net under the mattress and to make sure that there are no holes in it so that I don’t get any unwelcome insect visitors at night.
The Papua people that lived on those islands, were nice and friendly. Be careful to arrange all prices in advance though, so that you are not unpleasantly surprised in the end.
The food was also very basic, but tasty and very nutritious. I have never in my life eaten so much fish and bananas in all sizes and shapes 🙂 It was so tasty though and I was so hungry from diving, that I enjoyed it every time.
What really liked seeing is the life that the kids there had. They were playing outside all day, swimming and fishing. They didn’t have ANY modern devices. In fact in many places there was even no phone signal. But those kids looked very healthy, warm hearted and cheerful. There were no cars or even roads in those villages. People were travelling only by boats… Which reminds me of my only disappointment… I came to these islands in order to escape from the noises from all the machines that exist everywhere in our modern world. I wanted to record clean nature sounds, but as it turned out, boats were travelling between the island all day long. So, after many frustrating hours of attempts, I managed to successfully record some good sounds and footage. Here you can see different scenes from an incredibly beautiful and wild beach, where I stayed for a few nights: https://youtu.be/UyZfCrrdbm8
On this same beach, twice I was woken up by a loud bird song around 4 or 5 a.m. The second night I got up and recorded it: https://youtu.be/lFVsoRmQWSc
In order to get to Raja Ampat, I flew to Bali, stayed there for two nights and took the flight to West Papua. On the way back, I stayed in Bali for another three weeks. I had made a mistake with my fight dates back to Bulgaria and had booked a date that was a month further in the future. I managed to arrange to change the date, but I still decided to give myself two weeks more than the initial week and a bit, that I was planning to stay there. I just wasn’t so keen in staying in a place that was so touristy and popular, like Bali. But after being there for a while, I decided to give it a chance and explore the island further.
Kuta and all of the Denpasar Area is very urbanized, with lots of traffic and tourism. When I saw it initially, I thought that I will never drive there. Ubud, where I stayed the second part of my visit to Bali, amazed me with it’s ancient architecture, lively traditions and amazing little shops. The streets we covered with rice and flower offerings every day and the air smelled of incense sticks. The local people were honoring their hinduist traditions very strictly and certainly not for tourist show.
Getting more used to the traffic in the South of Bali, I got braver and hired a scooter with which to explore the island. I quickly got used to riding amidst the craziest traffic and learned the local ways of behaving on the road. Almost every day, I would ride to a different place, but the island is quite big and I managed to see only a small part of it.
The people of Bali are quite positive, relaxed, friendly and helpful. I made some local friends and learned more about their life and culture. I happened to experience the Balinese New Year, where for a whole day, you switch off all lights and stay quietly at home. There are even special people patrolling the streets to make sure that no one goes out.
I also spent a few days filming the monkeys in the specially designated local park. These creatures are quite interesting and funny to watch and the little ones are just adorable. But make no mistake to think that they are friendly to humans. They are only interested in getting something to eat out of you and can be very aggressive. Once I was trying to shake off the monkey that got on top of my rucksack and tried opening the zipper. In an instant another monkey darted towards me and bit my leg. Fortunately, she didn’t manage to brake the fabric, but I still got a bleeding bruise and went to the medical station for them to disinfect it. They assured me that these monkeys are all healthy and don’t carry any diseases, but just bear in mind to be very careful when interacting with them. In the end, I collected quite a bit of footage of these monkeys, but the final video is still in the making, as some of the files got damaged.
After all, I was quite amazed by the colorful life of Bali, it’s diversity of landscapes, beautiful traditions and the lovely and welcoming locals. I will certainly want to go back and see and film more of it.
I am preparing a few videos with the footage, I managed to film on the island, but for the moment only one is ready and available: https://youtu.be/JdlTsEoJtLA
Some footage from Bali can also be seen in this one hour long collection of aerial shots, that I have filmed over the last few years: https://youtu.be/Wiw5kYi1TL0