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Bali: No Superficial Beauty for Bert Vierstra

Bali 3D, 360 Degree Panoramas of Bali. Warning: These Images Might Make You Dizzy!

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(5/19/2006) wishes to thank Michelle Bienias of [] for providing materials for this article.

* * * *
Dutchman Bert Vierstra's love for his adopted home is reflected in the images of landscape, family, culture and people of the Bali on his blog-style website, [Bali 3D]

Homesick for Bali

Bert Vierstra explained: "When I first came to Bali, about six years ago, I was totally knocked off my feet by the island," adding, "I never knew the meaning of the word 'homesick' until I landed in Amsterdam after my first holiday on Bali; I almost felt physical pain."

Vierstra, who only recently got involved with Virtual Reality (VR) photography, doesn't have a specific "program" in mind for his Bali website, preferring instead to shoot when the mood and location inspires him. As such, the dozens of panoramas found on Bali 3D presents 360 degree insights into "off the beaten track" locales in Bali, including shots taken at the home of his Balinese in-laws or that of his wife's 117 year old grandfather caught taking a nap. Back on the main tracks, there's are shots of Bali Galleria, a shopping mall complete with an artificial sky and a Balinese temple.

Views of Bali are organized in terms of geographic location with images available in three formats: medium-resolution full screen QTVR, high-resolution full screen QTVR, and high-resolution full screen Shockwave.

Sleeping Grandparents

Warning: You'll need a fast broadband connection to download Bert's files, but once they're loaded take your mouse and zoom around the picture of Bert's in-laws taking a mid-day nap, enjoying what must be akin to a house flies daily perspective. [See: Grandparents Napping]

South Kuta Beach

Bali's well know Kuta Beach was one of the first places encountered by Vierstra when he first landed on Bali. "I was overwhelmed by the beach hawkers, and I wondered what this island really was about," he writes on his website, before explaining the turbulent history of the area and its rapid growth from a small village in the 1970s in the 1980s and its current dubious honor of a "tourist ghetto" in the first decade of a new millennium. Be careful, searching around this image can bring on a quick case of vertigo.[See: Relaxed Kuta Beach ]

Ogoh Ogoh

Large effigies of monsters, called Ogoh Ogoh and made from bamboo, Papier Mâchè and other materials, often symbolize the many evil spirits Balinese believe one can encounter. On the day before the celebration of the Balinese New Year, Nyepi, these monsters are carried around Bali’s villages and finally burned as a way of exorcising evil." [See: Ogoh Ogoh ]

Kampung Bugis, Singaraja, North Bali

In North Bali there is an area called Kampung Bugis comprised of fishing families descended from South Sulawesi. According to Bert: "The atmosphere in this part of Singaraja is quiet and friendly. The people seem very poor, the streets and houses are small and colorful. You find many, many jukungs (small fishing boats) on the shore." [See: A Catch of Tuna]

Buddhist Temples

"The Buddhist temple and Monastery in Banjar North Bali, near Lovina, is still used for training monks.[See: Brahmavihara Arama Banjar Lovina Bali]

While Bert Vierstra obviously is enchanted with Bali's natural beauty and splendor, he is also concerned that tourism is taking its toll with the commercialization of the local culture. Bert, who also runs [The Bali Expatriate Forums] says: "The dynamics of all influences and changes on Bali, the strong Hindu culture, the beautiful landscapes but also the pollution, make Bali a very interesting environment for doing Virtual Reality (VR)photography. If I could, I would do VR on Bali everyday for the rest of my life."

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