On the third day of my short five-day stay in Bali, I climbed Mt Batur, an active volcano from which steam still spews. As a geography student in lower secondary, I've attended countless classes on the geology of volcanoes and drawn innumerable diagrams about volcanic formation. However, as novel and as interesting as books and lectures may be, they had never caught my and attention imagination as vividly as did the impressive view of Mt Batur and its accompanying caldera lake.
After a two-hour climb with a friendly and informative local guide, I found myself looking over the rest of Bali at an altitude of around 1700m. At the recommendation of my guide (and at an additional fee), we hiked along the ridges of the mountain to the other, less explored, face.
I also saw a family of monkeys along one of the ridges. When I approached, they started, arresting my movement. But after a few seconds of silence and stillness they seemed to accustom to my presence just as any human being would by going on with their normal activities. I spotted one of the monkeys (I am no zoologist but I presume it's the mother monkey) having her baby safely wrapped in her arms. At that moment I remarked subconsciously to my guide the human nature of animals - or rather, as I immediately realized, the animal nature of humans.
Philosophers and scientists alike have been trying for the longest time to distinguish homosapiens from animals. I have subscribed to many of such theories and assertions in the classroom. But as I climbed Mt Batur all these notions seemed to evaporate, and in its place came a startling realization that no matter how we try to distinguish ourselves, humans are, after all, still animals. And we should have a greater awareness of being animals instead of gods, of respecting the environment instead of exploiting it.
I am Ziren Wang, a student from Raffles Institution, Singapore. I picked up a camera in January 2009 in my school's photographic society, and I have never looked back. Years later, I have explored various different forms of photography, from event coverage, to fashion, to documentary, to photography using DIY lenses, and most recently, to film.