INDONESIA or WHAT IS HAPPINESS?
Java. Ascension. Above the heaven.
A majority of those arriving to Indonesia take no notice of this splendid island as they are in a rush to see Bali. By doing this, people deprive themselves of the exquisite chance to experience the natural treasures of the world that can hardly be found anywhere else.
Truly unique in its beauty and unforgettable experiences, the volcanic plateau Ijen, located in the Baluran National Park, can once and for all conquer your heart with its mysterious beauty. In the past it was a huge crater, 134 square km in area. Today the volcano is still active, though quiet. The western part of the plateau is covered with coffee plantations and some local settlements. Coffee grown in this region deserves particular attention, as those are the best varieties of Arabica and Robusta. Kopi Luwak widely noted as the most expensive coffee in the world is also produced on the Island of Java. The fermentation of the coffee beans is performed in the process of digestion; a small carnivorous animal Luvak (also musanga) eats the berries and flesh pulp of the coffee tree and later its excrements are gathered, washed and dried. This way we receive coffee for 1150 RUB per 100 g.
But let’s get back to the volcano.
The most remarkable feature of the volcano Ljen is its ability to curb self-confidence. Since when setting your goal to see the volcanic lake, located 2148 meters high above the sea level, you can hardly imagine the route that lies ahead. But clench your fist and cheer up recalling your old adventures; you’ll realize that it’s possible to get to heaven and beyond. Having conquered the top of the mountain, be careful, and may your happiness keep you away from conceit. As it is widely known, mountains teach us to live. Once you’ve decided to climb down the crater, summon your strength and keep in mind that vaporization of sulfur can damage your health. Do not compare yourself to collectors of these valuable minerals, they have to work through their hard route several times a day.
Once you’ve made up your mind to climb down, cover your mouth with a handkerchief or any other material at hand. Sometimes it happens that it becomes impossible to stay in some places because of suffocating cough. But the bullets shun brave men, so we climbed down the crater with no regrets.
Once you have tasted “the volcano fruit” it becomes hard to deny yourself new adventures. On our way to the north, having our minds set to see the volcano Bromo, we approach a city Probbolingo. Here we can find the most convenient route to the top of the mount Semeru. May Ljen forgive us, but sacred volcano Bromo will always stay in our hearts.
Have you ever dreamt of traveling to Bali? What do you know about it? Can you imagine happiness that wraps you like a blanket, happiness that you entirely belong to, happiness that is you?
According to public opinion polls the happiest people in the world live on this exotic island. Why here, on one of the Lesser Sunda Islands of the Malay Archipelago? It’s unlikely that it’s connected with the climate, culture or religion. Since you can find a variety of other stunning corners of the world that have similar features. Moreover those who visited Bali will agree with me that there are places even in Indonesia that have more crystal clear water and more spectacular beaches than Bali. Look, for example, at the three idyllic islands Gili that undoubtedly are the topmost in beach activities and glorious beauty of the Indonesian underwater world.
Why it’s not Goa, the place where citizens of big cities set up new settlements of pseudo happy runaways from the reality? Why is Bali the place where happiness is no longer a vague illusion, but rather a genuine crystal-clear source in your heart?
Amazingly, but the Balinese language does not possess past as well as future tense. It’s only THE PRESENT that exists. Only HERE AND NOW. Only this unique and unforgettable moment. Being Balinese means to live truthfully and openly. You neither have memories of the past nor hopes and dreams.You are grateful to God for the given real-life moment which has neither beginning nor ending. It’s simply. But to understand and feel this one can only after experiencing it, only after touching it. Bali gives us this chance. I’m so grateful to my life for I met a beautiful guy whose name is Surya (means Sun). He works as a teacher of the Balinese in the primary school. Besides Surya works additionally as a motorbike driver at his uncle’s travel agency. And frankly speaking his uncle’s sincerity is far from ideal (unfortunately negative features of the tourism can be noticed even in this beautiful place). Surya is the best driver I’ve ever had a chance to ride with as quickly as the wind. I’m telling him “Suksma!” (Thank you!) and rushing to learn about culture and sights of Bali. What else except happiness can traveling soul find in Bali? While exploring this island one would rather immerse a bit in the history of the island’s culture, or to be more precise a symbiosis of cultures.
When Majapahit, the representatives of one of the last kingdoms in Indonesia moved from Java to Bali, having taken their religion, rituals and huge cultural heritage with them, Bali has already had its religious views and moral principles of cultural life formed. Thus, forming a new layer of the existing heathen beliefs and eventually blending with them into one whole Javanese belief became known as the features of Hinduism in Bali. One should not forget about strong influence of Buddhism as well as about the fact that while walking down the tourist paths of Bali one can observe various Hindu spirits, such as Ganesha, the son of God Shiva (by the way I allowed myself to buy an elephant ivory head of this major Hindu deity).
So, if you are fond of temples, being on this island you may feel yourself as being kissed by one of the Balinese deities and confidently set off in any direction in search of Pura, i.e. temple.
In the Sanskrit the word “Pura” means “place surrounded by wall”. In each and every populated area there can be found at least three puras, with one of them being the main. Pura Basakih, which is situated in the foothill of the volcano Agung is considered to be main temple in the island and can often be called as Mother’s Temple.
And if you managed to curb one’s feeling of delight and stopped rushing around trying to take a picture, you’ll be able to find a chance to live through genuinely blessed moments of these Holy Places.
Travelling around Bali one shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit Ubud. A majority of tourists find this place to be convenient for departure to other sights. Don’t resist temptation to visit local souvenir market and you will definitely have wonderful time communicating with travelers from all over the globe. But the most important reason of coming here is to know the smell of Bali. And just to know the smell of life. That is an incomparable smell and words fail to describe it. It’s useless to look for all the metaphors in world, it is worth coming here and experience everything yourself. And once again it is worth coming here in order to learn what is to sleep in sarong, what Bali-style Easter egg is and why omelette can be green.
If suddenly on the eve of departure you will get a seemingly crazy idea to climb Balinese volcano – don’t resist it and bravely sett off to experience the feeling of altitude difference. It should be noticed that this pleasant feeling can be accompanied with less pleasant one. For instance, volcano sand which is constantly slipping away from your feet is not suitable for such strolls. But if there will be a person to raise his head and show you the Southern Cross you will believe in the safety of life. «…lest thou dash thy foot against a stone…(Bible/ Psalm 91:12).
And there are no doubts that there is nothing in the world that can be compared with the dawn met while being on the top of the volcano crater. Perhaps, the only thing that can be better is to meet the dawn with your beloved one.
Saying goodbye to Bali you will be overwhelmed with the same feeling of happiness as it was when you only stepped here for the first time, as this is the same instant, the same feeling. It can not be taken with us, though perhaps some of us will learn one day to appreciate what we have and perhaps somebody else will learn not to be afraid to loose one’s happiness.