Benalla Ensign photographer Karl Phillipson recently returned from a tour of Bali and Malaysia with a swag of amazing pictures.
Karl initially made the decision to leave most of his equipment at home, so he could enjoy the trip from a wider perspective than simply through the lens of a camera.
However the shutterbug in him took over and and he couldn’t help but document his travels.
‘‘The plan was originally to be a holiday with some friends,’’ Karl said.
‘‘It wasn’t meant to be a photographic journey — but it ended up that way.
‘‘Bali is such an inspiring place, it’s close to Australia, it’s affordable and the people are great.
‘‘And I’d always wanted to do the Straits of Malacca in Malaysia.
‘‘So it was an amazing adventure from start to finish.
‘‘I’ve been to Bali many times before, so I thought I wouldn’t mind leaving the camera in the hotel.
‘‘But there is always something new to photograph and I ended up documenting the whole trip.’’
While in Bali, Karl made Legian his home base — using it as a jumping off point for a variety of adventures.
‘‘One day trip we took was to see a Hindu temple called Tanah Lot, which is on a little island just off the coast,’’ he said.
‘‘As part of that trip we visited a monkey forest called Alas Kedaton.
‘‘It was an experience to see monkeys in the wild — and quite a few fruit bats live there too.
‘‘Later that week we took another trip to see what’s called the mother of all temples in Bali — Besakih Temple.
‘‘It is actually within about five miles of the active volcano Mount Agung.
‘‘It currently has an exclusion zone as it has been unpredictably erupting.
‘‘The local Balinese people are plying the mountain with offerings, in order to keep it from erupting further.
‘‘It erupted about 56 years ago and decimated that whole area.
‘‘Right now there’s plenty of earthquakes and mini-eruptions going on, so the people are justifiably concerned.
‘‘It’s causing structural damage to buildings and from time to time volcanic ash has been raining down on the villages — so it’s a pretty dangerous place even without a major eruption.
‘‘Besakih Temple is within 5km of that exclusion zone. There are other temples within the zone, but tourists can’t get to them, even if they want to.’’
After capturing some magnificent shots of Bali, Karl headed to Malaysia where he found a whole new culture.
‘‘I spent three days in in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown, then travelled by bus to the Strait of Malacca and spent three days there, too,’’ he said.
‘‘The cultures are quite different in that they are religiously different.
‘‘Bali is predominately Hindu, whereas Malaysia is mostly Muslim with a little bit of Catholicism, Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism thrown in for good measure.
‘‘I went to one of the biggest Hindu temples in Malaysia, which is called Batu Caves. It’s incredibly colourful.
‘‘There must be around 1000 steps to get up to the cave itself, and you’re besieged by monkeys.
‘‘Malacca is a beautiful old Dutch enclave with lots of different influences like British, Portuguese and, of course, Dutch.
‘‘It’s kind of romantic in that it’s quite run down, and it’s a World Heritage area.
‘‘The cuisine is unique for the people who colonised that part of Malaysia.
‘‘I enjoyed meeting the people. You’ll find the real flavour of a country when you get off the beaten track rather than the tourist brochure version, and that’s what I try to seek out.’’
To explore for of Bali and Mayalsia, see the full gallery of Karl Phillipson's photos.