Who Am I?

Max Wanger
Max Wanger

I’m Max Wanger. Long time software engineer and hobby photographer turned full time travel junkie. For years I sat at a desk staring at a screen for 10+ hours a day. After saving for several years, I decided to quit my job and pursue life on the road.

Max drinking coffee
Sipping a fresh brew

For the last several years I’ve been living in Bali and just recently decided to chronicle my travels. I enjoy the simple life. Picking and harvesting my own coffee and conversing with the locals on a daily basis.

The Coffee Connection

So what brings me to Bali? Well, I’m a coffee junkie and the island is heaven on earth for coffee enthusiasts. I visited Bali many years ago as a young backpacker, but the island wasn’t even remotely known for its coffee at the time. Today it has evolved into one of the top coffee destinations in Asia – maybe even in the world.

The first thing I noticed when arriving on the island is that everyone sells coffee. And not just any kind of coffee – excellent, high quality specialty grade gourmet coffee beans.

I was ready to do one of two things: create a masterpiece or end up in an insane asylum from drinking awful tasting hotel room drip coffee for too long.

The Recipe for Perfection

Coffee to me is multi-sensory experience. I taste, smell, and see the coffee before drinking it. So in addition to brewing the perfect cup of coffee (which is very simple with a manual pour over), my eyes and nose are what separates an excellent cup from just okay tasting water. To me, a great cup of coffee must look delicious as well. Visually, the pour over technique takes center stage here because you can use light and shadows from the flame to direct your attention towards subtle details in the micro-foam bubbles that form on top of your freshly brewed cup of coffee.

I’ve tasted many flavors in my life, and the best ones share a common trait – they make me feel alive. This is why I have to taste and smell my coffee before drinking it. The majority of flavors that we associate with food or drink come from our sense of smell. If you close your eyes and try to imagine what dark chocolate tastes like or how a rose smells, you’re imagining these flavors based on how they smell.

The other part of tasting a coffee to me is the aftertaste it leaves behind (or finish as most coffee aficionados will call it). Black coffee has no real flavor, comfort food or not. However, take one sip and hold it in your mouth for 10 to 15 seconds and you will notice flavors that you never knew existed.

Coffee tourism in Bali is alive and well, and there are hundreds of coffee shops.

While many establishments offer poor quality or stale beans roasted months ago, some actually serve top notch specialty grade freshly roasted bean on a daily basis with various origins and roast profiles. I have dozens of shops that I love, but the one that stole my heart is Black Bali Coffee. In addition to serving delicious organic coffee, they employ and empower local Balinese women (and men) who might otherwise not find employment in a country with high unemployment rates.

I can’t say that I was adventurous before coming to Bali.

My life the last few years has been very structured. I left my job in 2015 and made plans to spend time traveling for a while before settling into my next career.

Life abroad quickly showed me what it means to be adventurous and that there’s so much more than just seeking out new experiences. Adventure is also about finding serenity, peace and enlightenment within yourself at any time, no matter where you are in the world.

I’m not sure when I first heard of Bali, but it felt like it was always on my radar for some reason. The more I researched the idea of living here, the more intrigued I became with the possibility. After a couple months of planning, in late 2016 I moved to Bali and have never looked back since.

It’s amazing how different things are here compared to living in the US. Where you can go out to eat and there’s so many options like burgers, pizza or Chinese food – there’s just not that variety on this side of the world.

Food is mainly rice and curries. There are a lot of places to get fresh coconuts everywhere too, which I drink every day – either for breakfast or with dinner.

Bali some amazing nature. There are mountains, rice paddies and tons of beaches.

I’m always amazed at how much wildlife is here too – From monkeys in the trees to bats in the caves. If I had one wish for something new to see it would be a Komodo dragon!

Hiking is one my favorite activities when I have time off work. The best place – hands down – is Nusa Penida. It’s the next island over from Bali and takes 1 full day to cross on a boat. There are only two places that offer organized trips, so you can’t miss it!

Max diving
Max scuba diving in Malaysia

I also love adventure. Here I am scuba diving with an enormous sea turtle off the cost of Malaysia. I’ve been living in Asia for the past 3 years, and can confidently say that it’s my favorite country on earth. It’s cheap, the people are friendly, and the culture is vibrant. It has everything you need!

iceland waterfall
Visiting a waterfall in Iceland

I love experiencing people and culture, but I enjoy nature above all. There’s nothing more invigorating than plunging into a frosty waterfall in Iceland!

max in the desert
Taking in the views of the dunes

I’ve been traveling since I was a teenager. My beautiful memories are what make travel amazing to me. Nowadays, people are very busy with their daily lives and careers to take time off to see the world. Yet, I believe that every person should experience the world – it’s an invaluable experience.

I’ve seen firsthand how travel can enrich your life in so many ways! Travel has introduced me to new cultures, cuisines, languages, and excites my creative inspiration to paint and create music. It also enables me share my personal story through my blog about what I experience in various places around the world.

Travel is an adventure not everyone can share but it is worth all the hard work of living out of a backpack and trying to find the cheapest prices possible for food, accommodations, and transport – trust me on this one. Traveling is not always easy but it’s life-changing!

The benefits of travel are only made greater with friends and family who enjoy exploring new places with you. When I go out of the country alone, it’s hard to make friends with locals and I find that people don’t appreciate my company as much, compared to when I’m with a group of people.

My advice is go explore the world! Live the life you’ve always wanted. There’s nothing like waking up in a new place every day with endless possibilities for experiences even if your bank account is low on money. Traveling is a great reason to make memories, experience new things, and find that inner inspiration that was always there but you never realized it because you were too busy with school or work.

Wherever life takes me I try to fully immerse myself in each experience. Hot or cold. Good or bad. Every second is an opportunity to learn something new in this brief life. To be fully present. To be connected. This is to experience life.