When Jack and Jane Photography visited Bali for the Fearless Photographers Conference they were hit by absolute foreign wonders and had a holiday to really soak in the diversity of Hong Kong and Bali. It was 15 days of exploration and experience, a combination of busy city life and an island holiday. Get your walking boots ready for this travel story, we’re going to take a long and immensely interesting walk with Jack and Laura Jane in the streets of these two destinations.
The Fearless Photographers Conference in Bali was around the corner and we decided to add a few days extra to the trip and make a holiday of it. We first went to Hong Kong and spent 5 days there. We stayed at the BP International Hotel next to Kowloon Park. Initially we thought that if we stayed right in the middle of Hong Kong we would have more access to all the most interesting places. We were wrong. Every square inch of Hong Kong is “The most interesting place in the world”. The sights, the sounds, and the smells. It is all a sensation(al) overload in every possible way. We absolutely loved Hong Kong, despite its 40 degrees centigrade and 2314% humidity on a cool day.The food experience in Hong Kong is hard to explain, you have to go there with an open mind. You will see things on menus that you won’t be able to comprehend. I would easily rate Hong Kong as one of my top three cities in the world. The second I left, I was already planning another trip back. We flew to Bali after our five days in Hong Kong, in expectation of the Fearless Photographers Conference. A small disclaimer; you spend at least 3 hours at the airport, they scan your suitcases at least 3 times, then it’s your visa and then onwards to passport control. This is a place where you will age significantly.
Once in Bali, the only way to get around is on a scooter, which is at the best of times, not for the faint-hearted. South African traffic is nothing compared to Bali. Nothing. Road signs and traffic lights are both obvious exclusions and crossing a road “normally” or turning right on any street can take up to 15 minutes. Unless you don’t mind extensive amount of damage to you and your vehicle. We ended up planning trips on the scooter that only included left turns and never crossing a road. I think, realistically, the only way to get around Bali is on a plane and a whole lot of prayer.Bali itself is a wonderful place, and the people are probably some of the most amazing people in the world. I adored the dog families we saw in Bali, they are a breed unto themselves and have a street spirit that you don’t see everyday. Most people told us that dogs hang out in front of their owner’s homes in the morning and evening. The rest of the time they all just wander the streets and show off their awesomeness. We decided to stay in Canggu, a small surfing area on the Westcoast. It was rural, local, natural and wonderful. Bali is well known for it’s art, and for some it could be the most beautiful, cultured and unique art in the world. To others it could be considered the biggest curio shop in the world. It really is one of those islands where you could easily spend a month or two. There is just so much to experience and explore.
We attended the Fearless Photographers Conference at the Hard Rock Café in Kuta. The town is very busy and could be considered as the “Little Australia” of the world. The Conference itself was beyond wonderful and inspiring. Considering that neither Laura nor myself are beach bums, we still enjoyed Bali. It testifies of the diversity of the place, there really is something magical for everyone. On our way back to South Africa, we spent another evening in Hong Kong – this time in Central Hong Kong (the island). It is definitely more local and the streets are littered with food stalls and interesting things. You find yourself saying “I don’t fancy that” in a British accent at least 15 times an hour.
The things people eat. Wow! And then you experience some things you thought you would never eat. Wow! There was at any given moment, one million people on a street corner, and it didn’t feel overcrowded. But that might be because you easily walk 18km a day and some rest is welcome. You find these huge arcades in Hong Kong that consist of small photo booths and we think that might be why kids in Hong Kong are obsessed with selfies! We were privileged to see the view from the 360 degree vantage points and we were in disbelief with the amount of skyscrapers in Hong Kong. Combine that with the hot shower of rain in the city and you will actually think the Skyscrapers are shaking off sweat on you. It was so interesting to see the pace of the culture even in the dining experience. This city’s food culture is so diverse and if you dare it, Hong Kong is an insane culinary experience. Most streets are lined with restaurants and food stalls. If you have a restaurant in Hong Kong with 2 open tables, it is considered an absolute failure. This makes it nearly impossible to find a seat at any restaurant, ever. There is this impossible amount of people that queue in front of restaurants. No matter the heat! Many of the food stalls have odd smells as locals prepare weird steamy broths of some sorts, especially in Mong Kok. At these places you can eat curry fish balls, intestines and smelly tofu. We did try to stay clear of most of the meaty foods as you cannot help but wonder what you’ll be eating. We did however have some incredible dim sum and buns and were in awe with the variety of foods that you can eat in Hong Kong, from Milk pudding, Egg tarts, Hot pots, Egg waffles, Milk tea and then some bizarre food types like Pig Lung Soup, Snake Soup, Shark Fin, Sparrows Saliva etc. Those last bits made us squirm!We also loved the whole Hong Kong shopping experience. The streets are described by what they sell, so you get streets like Sneaker street, Flower street, Bird street, Plumbing street, Camera street, Computer street, and also (You Name It) street. It makes shopping easier. It also makes it a gazillion times harder. Everything is right next door, but you can’t buy anything because you can’t help to feel that everything will be better and cheaper next door. The people are so friendly even though the shops are full, all day, every day. There isn’t a hint of frustration! I never saw a jewellery shop that wasn’t crowded, although I believe people just stood there because every jewellery shop is air conditioned. Did we mention the heat? At 11pm it was still 38 degrees. I never thought anything could be worth it in heat like that!
When in Bali, do as the Bali folks do. But, whatever you do, DO NOT, under any circumstance ride around in Bali after sunset. I have raced a 450cc Enduro Motorcycle across mountains in the rain, and it doesn’t even get close to the white knuckle fear I endured after dark on the streets of Bali on my trusty Honda Vario 125cc. My trusty Honda Vario 125cc saved my life more than one million times. We love the sunsets, the kites, and the sky littered with the colours of the kites. In the sunset the flags (every house has a flag) come to life and radiates the Balinese culture. We loved the dogs and their co-existence with the people, the tolerance and acceptance of every being in Bali is beautiful.
Necessities for the Trip
Pack your own portable Aircon. Seriously. Or visit when it snows! Pack an open mind, if you embrace the cultural differences you’re going to have a lot of fun. This type of trip needs to be revisited again and again so remember your camera and saved Google Maps so you don’t get lost! We would suggest you use Tripadvisor to get some perspective on what is in store for the trip. But use it as a guideline and not an absolute.