live slow, love nature, be adventurous

Friday, January 30, 2015

My Favorite Pictures from Bali, Indonesia

It's been half a year since my trip to Asia last summer and I still haven't quite gotten around to writing about it - that's how crazy behind I am on blogging! But now that grey January is coming to its rainy end, I figured many of us could use a reminder of sunny summer days and went through my photography folder to share some of my favorite pictures of the beautiful island of Bali in Indonesia with you. Visiting Bali was my first foray into Southeast Asia and I quickly noticed that all the talk on the internet was certainly true: Bali is beautiful!

I was in Bali for ten days and spent a couple of nights each in completely different regions of the island.  Bali may not be large, but with majestic volcanoes, lush rice fields, steep cliffs and sandy beaches the landscape was so varied that staying in just one place would have felt like too much of an restriction. Bali is an amazing travel destination, no matter your budget and I would even argue that I have never been anywhere else that offers such good value for money. The food is great, even if you follow a special diet, the people are friendly and the nature is fantastic - Bali does have the complete package! There are some parts that can be quite crowded and touristy, but getting off the beaten track in the back-country is really easy.

But if you're still not convinced that you should visit Bali one day, maybe the following pictures will get your wanderlust flowing!

The view from our fantastic homestay in Munduk in the north of Bali. 

Munduk's Main Street || Melanting Waterfall

Danau Buyan

The temple Pura Ulun Danu Beratan in Bedugul

At the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Pura Taman Ayun

Street Scene from Ubud

Ubub's Monkey Forest - keep your glasses safe, these guys are known to be vicious! 

Religious offerings - you'll find these everywhere in Bali, even on the windshields of cars! 

Sunrise Hike to Mount Batur

One of many fresh young coconuts that I demolished during my time in Bali

Balinese Dancing in Ubud

Pura Tanah Lot, one of the most unique religious sides I've ever seen

Scenes from Uluwatu

Jimbaran - will I have a week as pretty on my next birthday?

Have you been to Bali before? Would you want to visit?


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Finding My Way Out of an Existential Crisis

I know I have mentioned it here and there already, but the second half of 2014 really wasn't the easiest for me. I have avoided talking about it on the blog, because I was just too ashamed of the feelings that had manifested in my soul and I tried rationalizing it to myself as not wanting to come off as a downer or - worse - an ungrateful bitch. But I have come to realize more and more, that I am not the only one that struggles, that I am not the only one that sometimes feels lost in this world and if me opening up helps someone else in the same situation to be a little less lonely and a little more hopeful than surely this post cannot be for nothing.

My second semester in Norway was truly one of the best periods of my life. I was living in a beautiful place - it was probably the first time in my life when I was genuinely loving the place where I was living - and I had some great friends, but I especially didn't have a lot of commitments. I did have some classes to attend, some papers to read and some exams to write, but for the most part my life was pretty stress-free. Living for the moment and not worrying about the future was easy.

The seven weeks I spent traveling around Asia immediately after packing my bags in Bergen were a good distraction from the change of pace that was inevitably going to happen once I was back in Germany, but they still couldn't quite take away from my fears: I still remember sitting alone in my hostel room in Singapore and skyping my boyfriend back in Europe, because I suddenly had a nagging feeling of panic. Things turned around a little bit once he joined me in Thailand and during the first few weeks back in Germany when I was interning at a law firm, but once I moved back to my university town and was confronted with the stark reality of my serious law student life again, shit got real pretty quickly.

It wasn't like I didn't like being in school - I always really liked academics - but coming back to Germany turned my attention back to the fact that I wouldn't be a student forever and that I didn't really have a clue what I wanted to achieve in life. What was I truly passionate about? What were my goals? I felt like I couldn't quite answer these questions and this lack of direction in my actions kept me from moving forward for many months.

In the following weeks, I spent a lot of time in the library. There were intense exams to study for and while I probably never worked harder on academics before, it just never seemed to be enough. I always felt like I could study more, but at the same time I was also beating myself up for not updating my blog enough, for not heading to the gym enough and just in general for not having a proper work-life balance. Things got easier over time, but I still couldn't shake of the feeling that I was stuck in a slump.

I'm probably blowing things out of proportion here - after all it's not like other people don't struggle with exactly the same problem all the time. Not feeling sure of one's aims and purpose may just be the most normal thing in the world. But in the past, I was usually able to not let the uncertainty of life hinder me from believing in myself and from being optimistic that no matter what happened I would find a path that was right for me. No matter how confused I felt, I always just knew that I would be alright. But these days, it sometimes feels like the opposite is the case.

But you know what? I'm tired of it. I'm tired of letting my insecurities get the best of me and I'm tired of letting my feeling of being lost keep me from living my life. I'm tired of feeling crippled by my own sense of fear. I may never find the answers to my questions, but I want to be okay with that again. I want to be able to trust myself and my abilities enough to know - deep down in my heart - that everything is and will be alright.

That's obviously easier said than done. But I'm working at it, one step at a time. I'm trying to focus on doing more of the things I love - more photography, more writing, more reading. I'm reminding myself of why I started doing what I'm doing in the first place and that I don't have to choose only one thing to do the rest of my life. And I'm trying to be more communicative and to not shut out people because I'm too ashamed to admit that I don't have everything figured out.

I finally want to truly embrace what the rational side of my brain seems to have figured out already: That there are many different right paths for everyone and that not having all the answers doesn't have to keep me from leading an interesting and remarkable life.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

An Early Morning on Charles Bridge, Prague

On my first morning in Prague, I headed out early to shoot some pictures of Charles Bridge during sunrise. I am not a morning person - I always hate getting up in the morning, no matter how much sleep I have gotten - and it took some convincing for me to roll out of bed, but as soon as I was strutting through the deserted alleys of the Old Town, wrapped in my oversized blanket scarf to keep the chilly January air at bay, I felt energized by my uncharacteristic morning behavior.

Charles Bridge was quiet and calm, a far cry away from the chaotic place it would turn into a few hours later, as I set up my newly acquired tripod and contemplated which direction to point my camera first. Occasionally a local would pass by, paying no attention to the few other people that were awaiting the rise of the sun, and in less than half an hour the sky slowly started to change color from blue to purple and eventually to gold.

I had never seen the sky shining in such vibrant colors before and in that moment was once again convinced that there was no bigger artist in the world than nature. And while I also knew that I would never be a morning convert, I truly understood the hype around early morning light for the first time. Seeing a city sunrise one day should be on the bucket list of every person - it really is a bit of a magical experience.

Some people say that spending your time behind a camera keeps you from really taking in and living in the present and maybe that is true for some. But for me the exact opposite is the case: Photography has helped me appreciate and notice the little things in life; has caused me to seek out special moments like this morning in Prague that I otherwise probably would never have experienced. And that is what makes photography so meaningful and special for me.

But then the moment disappeared again as quickly as it had come. One minute I was getting ready to pack up my tripod and the next the glow of the golden hour was gone again. The scenery was still very much impressive... but not quite as spectacular as it had been before. The streets were still quiet when I headed back to our rental apartment, but as the smell of roasting Trdleniks from a nearby bakery hit my nostrils, I knew that my day had begun the right way.
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