Religion in Bali

Many visitors who arrive in Bali do not realize that Bali is
very different religiously, to the rest of Indonesia.

Balinese people have been Hindus for eight hundred years,
since the remnants of the Majapahit empire were forced from
Java by the spread of Islam. They follow a branch of Hinduism
that owes a lot to that of India, but is quite different. The
most obvious discrepancy is that the Balinese eat cows, but
there are numerous others.

Religion in Bali is interwoven with everyday life. Time and
time again, Balinese friends cancel appointments because they have to attend a ceremony, or take other family members to a ceremony. And, ceremonies seem, from the foreigner's
viewpoint, to be never ending. As well as the obvious ceremonies for births, deaths and marriages, and celebrating aspects of the rice harvests, there is a day for blessing machinery, one for blessing education, etc... A neighbour recently told me that he has a ceremony every fifteen days!

Many of the tourist attractions that busloads of travellers
attend have a religious origin. For instance, the Barong dance
tells a story of good versus evil, which, actually, is the
basic theme in most Balinese dances and legends. It is
performed as a part of many holy events.

Numerous visitors watch segments of the Ramayana Ballet, a
Hindu epic story about good and evil, and love, in many venues
around the island. Travellers with a little extra time should
consider a side trip to Prambanan temple in East Java.
Watching a performance of the Ramayana in the amphitheater
there, under a full moon, is truly a religious experience.

In Bali, cremations in particular, are popular with visitors.
Personally, I avoid funerals of all religions, but...
Recently, in Ubud, I observed street sellers convincing
tourists of the need to buy a sarong to watch a cremation.
Sarongs are not necessary for watching a procession, but are
mandatory when entering the grounds of the temple where the
actual cremation occurs. Because most visitors visit a temple
at some stage, the purchase of a sarong early in a trip is a
good investment.

A common occurrence in Bali is the traffic jam. Most traffic
jams are caused by a Hindu ceremony of some sort, because, as has happened in villages, since before Hinduism took root, the road is blocked off, even if it happens to be the main street
of Kuta, Sanur or Ubud! The Balinese understand priorities,
and expect non-Balinese to do likewise.

The important thing for visitors to understand, and remember,
is that cremations and other ceremonies are not tourist
attractions, but are genuine religious events. That the Balinese allow outsiders to be part of them does not detract from their religious significance.

There are many major dates in the Balinese calendar, which is
much shorter than the Western one. Late September, this
Western year, sees the arrival of Galungan, the celebration of
good fighting evil in Bali, and ends, ten days, later with
Kuningan. This period of the Balinese year sees a slow down in
some businesses, because the owners are involved in far more
important things. The morning of Kuningan sees most of Bali's
Hindu population visit the temple at Turtle Island, near
Sanur. It is a fantastic sight, if you can get near it.

Besakih temple, in East Bali, is the "mother" temple of Bali.
The other three important temples are at Uluwatu, Kintamani
and Tanah Lot. All of them are fantastic to visit. There are
other important regional temples, then, in each village there
is a temple for life at the mountain end of village, and one
for death at the end nearest the sea. Then, there are family
temples, temples in particular sacred places, and shrines
everywhere, including most houses.

Recently, near Pemuteran, in north Bali, I took a wrong turn
into the hills, and found myself at the bottom of some steps
leading up, out of sight. The 710 steps (I counted them on the
way down) lead to a small temple half-way up a mountain.
Despite being exhausted, I was exhilarated by the views across the hinterland and out to sea. The Balinese who carted the materials for building the temple, and the steps, up that path
were amazing.

An incredible experience, for me, was a trip to Tirta Empal,
the holy bathing pools in Tampaksiring. A Balinese friend said
she was going there to be "purified". I asked if I had to do
something wrong first, to accompany her, but she assured me
that all ordinary mortals can do with some occasional
purification. We were accompanied by a woman from Tabanan, who, while not a priest, is recognized as an expert in helping people carry out the ritual.

In the moonlight, we bathed under the water jets, and then
followed the old woman in carrying out the purification
rites. In the silence, punctuated only by the running water,
with the smell of incense lingering, I could sense a
"presence". It was magical.

Lastly, the daily evidence of the importance of Hinduism to
the Balinese is shown by the innumerable offerings everywhere. As well as the three main manifestations of God, Siwa, Wisnu and Brahma, there are other incarnations. Dewi Sri, the goddess of the rice harvest, is a major Balinese deity, and is still paid homage in Muslim Java. Ancestors, former kings, and guardians of sacred places are other deities. Almost every house, business, road intersection, government building, etc., has offerings to the gods and spirits of Bali placed in a shrine everyday. The small banana leaf baskets, containing flower petals, rice, and other gifts for the gods (even Oreos!) demonstrate the way that the Balinese daily live their religion.
READ MORE - Religion in Bali


What grows well in tropical regions, becomes an alternative
for wood and defines the local atmosphere like nothing else? Bamboo! Looks lovely in your garden, is used in constructing your local house and get this: Makes also a delicious tongue twister in the kitchen.

Visible anywhere on the island, its fiber-root has protective
qualities too in agriculture. It works similar to nets that can
protect every inch of the land. So they are usually cultivated
in the side of a river or creek. Then of course for a nature
based-accommodation, bamboo is a creative choice that is
easily constructed. The pillar, the wall, structures above up
to the roof all look fantastic in bamboo.

Bamboo is also a versatile raw material for furniture where
large size bamboo is used for making chairs, wardrobe and
beds. Such an interior product is now widely produced at Bona village, near Batubulan, Gianyar. This village is endlessly growing to become the center of bamboo handicrafts in Bali and its products have entered large export markets.

While others use bamboo to make musical instruments. Such as bamboo xylophones and flutes. This ethereal rhythm orchestra mixed with wavering flutes usually accompanying Joged Bumbung or the Jegog dance. This kind of music stays in your memory long after you'll leave Bali. It is to typical for an afternoon sitting on a verandah in Ubud overlooking the rice paddies. Once you like it you will miss it forever.

Farmers usually use bamboo sound to dismiss the birds that
eat their paddy in the rice field. A tall bamboo pole is
holed along the length on the upper side or using a separate
short bamboo log put on topside. When blown by the strong
wind it will sound like a saxophone. To find the right blows,
they will put a tail of plaited coconut leave on the upper
edge of the pole. The tail will adjust or navigate the
direction of the pole to get enough wind.

Bamboo can also be a delicious cuisine on the table of your
dinning room. In the village we liked to try the recipe of
this kind of bamboo shoot. Select the youngest bamboo shoot that is still wrapped. Uncover the sheath then wash in the fresh water. Slice thin and make it like a matchstick. Boil it until soft. Fry a simple sauce of scraped coconut, turmeric, shallot, chili and garlic then mixed together with the soft shoot.

Food - furniture - music!, bamboo is everywhere in Bali. A
material so typical for the island you will connect it with
Bali anytime while thinking about the time you had here. I
usually don't fall in love with materials that consist of
atoms, this one comes close.
READ MORE - Bamboo

Bali a Shopper's Paradise

Guideline for the casual holiday shopper and the "shop till
you drop" hard liner.

Shopping is rarely a motivation to go anywhere that far away
from home as Bali, unless you are doing it for business.
However if you are visiting the island it can be great fun
to see large ranges of fancy handicrafts and other unexpensive
items that are produced locally on the island. It will keep
you busy for days.

Not everything sold here is originally Balinese in nature
however, since the influences of foreign designers and
companies that are producing in Bali are so strong, as you
can see in textiles, ceramics, gift articles or furniture.

The first rule, "pay only attention if you are interested" is
essential for your survival in the shopping jungle. Your first
contact with the shopping world is most likely after your
first breakfast the first morning after you leave your hotel
for a orientation walk. If this happens to be in the Kuta
area, be careful whom you pay attention to. There are hundreds
of road sellers that are offering small goods like sun glasses
or watches.

If it's your first time in Bali, you might be pleased that you
are receiving so much attention, and so many people are eager
to talk to you. If you have been here before, you will already
know that a comment such as "that's too expensive" signals
somehow a certain level of interest to your opponents, and
from now on these boys will be determined to make you buy one
of their goods by asking "what's your last price ?" If you
accidently name a number, they will not let you go without
making a deal.

The correct way to treat them is to look briefly on any
merchandise and only talk if you are interested, as talk means
willingness to negotiate. "No thanks" may sound polite, but
translates into their language as "make me a better offer"
Silence means there is no interest whatsoever on your side,
and they will not bother you.

In the shops there are non of these hassles, and prices are
usually fixed these days. However in the smaller shops there
might still be a possibility to negotiate the price, try and
you will find out. Outside the main shopping areas without
fixed prices, negotiation is a must, otherwise you will pay
way to much. On markets 25% of the asking price is a good
start for a negotiation, and 35%-40% a good settlement.

Shops are carrying large ranges of swim wear, summer wear
clothing and textiles, leather goods, local fabrics and
sarongs, jewelry from sea shells and silver with stones,
artworks, woodcarvings and handicrafts from all around the
island. Staff often does not have the authority to negotiate
the price here, you have to talk to the manager or owner.

And there are of course such things as duty free items and
CD's for sale, here you have to carefully compare the prices
if they actually provide savings or not in comparison to
discounters at home.

One thing you should ask while purchasing a nice bottle of
duty free wine for the small celebration tonight on your
hotel's verandah: "Can I take away this bottle straight away,
or will I have to collect it on departure at the airport?"
Since the last case happened to us, you want to make sure
before going through the Australian Chardonnays.

All areas in Bali have supermarkets, so typical household
and bathroom items are available as well, you do not actually
have to bring anything. Especially clothing sold in Bali is
unexpensive and suitable for the local climate, therefore
there is no use to carry around heavy suitcases from home.

The more interesting boutique style textile shops are in
Legian and Seminyak, Kuta and Legian have lots of surf wear
and a few good leather shops that tailor custom sized jackets
in one or two days. If you look at the best leather quality
available, savings over a similar jacket bought at home can be

Department stores around Kuta Square carry a well organized
collection of shoes and textiles. The general rule goes
something like that: If the available sizes includes XL it has
been made for the export market and prices go along with that.
If the largest size is somewhat smaller than you might expect,
it's local for locals, and if it still fits, great - buy it,
or a few of them because of the low price.

Good buys are also Balinese lace, as this type of handmade
artistic cloth is very expensive outside of Bali. As well as
silver jewelry, if you can distinguish between good and bad
quality you can really save a lot of money to buy these here
in Bali. Gold jewelry is sold mainly in Denpasar.

Smaller items made from wood such as carvings are cheap and
toys are also unexpensive. Interesting is the furniture market
however more suitable for the professional buyer, because the
shipping cost for only one or two pieces might be too high and
erase the savings. If you are buying enough furniture to fill
a complete container however, you would pay several times the
price for a similar furniture collection at home.

Good furniture shops are in Kerobokan, along the road between
Kuta and Sanur and in the Ubud area. Also in the Ubud area on
the way to Tegalalang you will find countless shops for
everything around the "woodcarving" theme, usually cheaper
than in Kuta. Ceramics are also available in roadside shops.
And don't forget, everything can also be "made to order" so
your 6 foot tall smiling dolphin statue for your entrance hall
might finally come into realization.

Ubud of course is a great source of artistic and decorative
paintings in all styles and tastes. Since they can rolled and
carried they make great souvenirs that catches and preserves
something unique Balinese.

Worth wile objects to carry home are also Batiks and Ikat, a
handwoven cloth for decoration and collection. Woven grass
baskets, bags and household items are really cute and keep the
"natural touch of Bali" alive back home.

Collector items such as antiques are for sale everywhere in
the larger Kuta area, but again this requires experience to
buy because there is an equal large industry that produces
"made to coder antiques" that look just as real.

Most of the larger hotels have their galleries and shopping
areas. They have two advantages, one is they already
pre-selected a few high quality items for you, and secondly
therefore save you lots of time locating them yourself.
This can be of help because not everybody has the time and the
determination to dig through "tons of average quality" in the
villages to find one nice piece.

There are really nice things to buy in Bali as a souvenir and
you might find actually many more not mentioned here in the
shops, new items are being created overnight by creative
product artists and new shops are being build all the times.

A Summary: If you are coming to Bali for a holiday, remember
that you don't have to bring suitcases full of textiles and
things. Everything is available here at low cost, you only
have to care about 3 things on the way to the airport:
passport, ticket, money. Everything else is secondary and can
be bought later in Bali. Now the half-empty suitcase you came
with starts making even more sense, and sure enough will be
packed with all sorts of colorful things on your way home.
READ MORE - Bali a Shopper's Paradise

Treasure Island of Lembongan

Perhaps there has been much information about Bali Island as a travellers destination. But information about its " sister
islands" is still very limited. Bali has four sister islands,
three of them are located on the southeast of Bali (Nusa
Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan) and another on the west near Gilimanuk harbor called Menjangan Island. Nusa means, "island " in Balinese words. For this month's edition we will choose Lembongan Island as the topic.

Lembongan and Bali Island are separated by Badung strait and can be reached by traditional motorized-jukungs via Sanur, Kusamba or Padangbai. Due to the current development of tourist resorts in Lembongan, some daily regular cruise lines that are based in Benoa Harbor with the capacity of some 300 passengers now visits it regularly.

Lembongan Island belongs to the territory of Klungkung
regency. As its neighboring island, Penida and Ceningan, it
has low rainfall all the year round. And moreover the land is
consisting of barren limestone highlands covered by cacti and
shrubs. Consequently only limited crops can be grown here such as beans, cassava, maize and tobacco.

In keeping the growth of tourism industry, Lembongan Island
has developed as a new seaside resort outside Bali Island,
owing beautiful coral beaches and transparent blue-green
waters. Many marine activities are centered on this beaches
such as snorkeling; banana boat rides et cetera. This
situation has given many new jobs and opportunity to the local

One activity at this destination worth visiting is seaweed
farming. It is widely cultivated by the local people on
suspended media on the salt water. Each root is fastened on
the single rope that is stretching among two bamboo poles.
There are two varieties of seaweed that is generally
cultivated here, the large one called green kotoni and the
smaller one called red pinusun. After harvesting, the farmers
dry the seaweed on their yard under the sunlight. Seaweed is
becoming reliable export commodity of this island to Hong Kong for use in the cosmetic industry.

Another interesting destination is the Underground House that
was dug by a puppeteer inspired by the great epic story of
Mahabrata. In the story it is called Gala-Gala cave where
Pandava passed through when they saved themselves since the Korava family intended to burn them. The cave's replica itself was prepared and constructed for some eight years. By digging a layer of solid white limestone in his yard, he succeeded to build a sleeping room, kitchen and guests room. It is also completed with some ventilation for the airflow. This house is not inhabited and tends to be an expression of art. Visitors are allowed to visit this house by stepping down the ladder to get there. Such a house is the only one of its own on the island and even on the main island of Bali. In terms of its simple construction, it will remind us of the ancient time where people still inhabit the caves for their settlement.
READ MORE - Treasure Island of Lembongan

Bali's Beaches

One of the main reasons for attracting so many visitors is
Bali's image as a beach destination, with white sandy beaches
all around.

Most of it is true, we like to help you to distinguish the
different beaches to see if they fit your particular needs.

Kuta Beach - The most popular white sandy beach located in
south Bali attracts all ages and nationalities. It stretches
from the airport in Tuban over main Kuta, Legian, Seminyak,
Kerobokan all the way to Canggu.

This beach is good for sun bathing, "instant surfing" long
walks on the beach (great at sunset time and also at 5 AM)
and general socializing and "beach life". Everyone comes here
at sunset, central Kuta is the most crowded part of it.

Kuta Beach is not the perfect beach for untrained swimmers
because of unpredictable underwater currents. Close to the
beach they appear to be harmless, but be warned if you swim
out they can be tricky and making it hard at times to swim
back to the beach. Don't swim alone here, and stay close to
the beach, unless you are a surfer who "has seen it all".

Better for swimming is the Tuban part of it, with hotel life
guards and a less hyper active beach scenery than Kuta.

Calm are the waters on the other side of the airport to
the south at Jimbaran Bay. The beach is as white and sandy as
in Kuta but no big waves here. This sleepy fishing village
with only a few hotels and resorts make this area a perfect
spot if you are looking for a remote and relaxed beach life.

Moving further south to Bali most southern coastline you will
find a few remote beaches around and on the way to Uluwatu.
Some of these beaches are suitable for swimming, generally
more popular with experienced surfers, and Uluwatu itself has
a rocky coastline with great views from high above sea level.

This scenery remains persistent all the way to Nusa Dua, where
again white sandy beaches deliver the promise of a perfect
beach holiday. They offer excellent swimming in a protected
lagoon. The private beaches of the local resorts dominate the
beach life what limits access for non-staying guests.

North above Nusa Dua stretches Tanjung Benoa with white
beaches and again a bit busier waves, that make this area
perfect for water sports. You can rent boats and hire services
like parasailing, that is a perfect adventure above the ocean.

Further north at Sanur Beach we reach again a quiet lagoon
area of both white and black sands. The area between Grand
Bali Beach hotel and Bali Hyatt is accessible via a beach path
and the calm waters make this beach suitable also for
children just as in Nusa Dua.

Candi Dasa has not many beach areas except the private
constructed areas of some hotels, where else Lovina Beach in
the north again has a very long sandy coast with tranquil
coves. The ocean is calm and suitable for swimming and
READ MORE - Bali's Beaches


If you are going to Bali to watch the sunset and waves on
the beach, you will have lots of fun. An increasing number of
visitors want to see more than Kuta or Nusa Dua, and no doubt
Bali has an abundance of cultural and historical places to
visit, the following are the better known and famous ones:


One of the villages on the main road north from Denpasar
(towards Ubud) that is known for its fine crafts. Batubulan is
acknowledged throughout Bali for its Barong dance and its
fine stone carving. It is home to three famous Barong troupes
who perform five times each week. Also many great furniture
shops and terracotta pots.


To see the rainforests, Mt.Batukaru area will interest you,
it dominates the entire area around Tabanan.
If you want to get off the beaten track, drive up the southern
slopes to the village Jatiluwih, where you can take in the
stunning views or relax in the mossy shade of Pura Luhur
temple, which has served as sanctuary since ancient times.
Along the way you'll encounter towering trees, bubling hot
springs, fern-laden grottos and incredible serenity.


When the heat and humidity finally get to you, the place to
escape is Bedugul, Bali's highland retreat, tucked into the
crater of an extinct volcano, 1400 meters above sea level.
Here, three lakes provide everything from recreation to the
water for the springs, river and rice fields below. Lush pine
forests seem to create a freshness in the air. Bedugul is
known for the quality for its fruits, vegetables and flowers.
Another perfect place to play golf as well. Visit the
botanical gardens.


Besakih is home to the most important and sacred of Bali's
many temple. Sighted on the high slopes of Gunung Agung, the
highest and most significant volcano in Bali, Besakih enjoys
spectacular views to all of southern Bali. Pura Besakih is not
a single temple, but rather a sprawling complex of shrines and
compounds, united through ancient rituals into a sanctuary
unmatched importance in Balinese culture. Badly damaged in the
1963 eruption of Gunung Agung, the temple has been fully


Between Gianyar city and Blahbatuh you'll find Bona, where you
can see every variety of bamboo furniture imaginable - and at
reasonable prices. Bona is also famous for its dances,
especially for the fire dance, which is staged regularly for


Candi Dasa represents one of the fast developing tourist
destinations in east Bali, though it still offers an escape
from the hassels of the more populated tourist areas. You'll
find lot's of hotels, losmens and restaurants here. You can
also hire boats for a day snorkeling. Relaxing and stimulating
for some, not eventful enough for others, ok granted there are
no discos here.


Just north of Denpasar, Celuk is the Balinese Centrex for gold
and silver jewellery. Almost every shop has a large team of
jewellers at work out back, filling orders for other shops or
export orders. There's many shops to choose from, bring some
time to filter the quality shops from the ones with "standard
mass designs" Quite often the shops with the largest space for
parking busses display the most uneventful collections. For
artistic quality and design try the smaller galleries.


Many first-time visitors to Bali make the mistake of skipping
Denpasar in their tour of the island, but there's really lots
to see and do in this ancient city, rebuilt after the puputan
massacre of 1906, when the royal families of Denpasar
committed suicide rather than surrender to the invading Dutch
Denpasar today is a bustling city of some 600,000 inhabitants
and more vehicles per capita than Jakarta. There's an
excellent art centre, a museum and a colorful (and cheap)
market in Jalan Sulawesi, also popular to buy gold jewellery.
There are also several department stores. Early mornings are
recommended as the midday sun can be draining. If you are new
to Balinese traffic, don't come with your rented car, hire a
driver or taxi.


North of Mt. Batur, overlooking the Petanu river, is Goa
Gajah, site of an intriguing archeological mystery. The man-
made caves found here date from the eighth century and feature
Buddhist inscriptions and carvings, even though Buddhists are
not known to have ever lived in Bali. Above the entrance to
the cave is a giant head, with floppy ears, thought by many to
be an elephant of which there is also no record in Bali. This
is a special place, especially if you can avoid the crowds.


On the western side of the Bukit, Bali's southern peninsula,
lies once sleepy fishing village of Jimbaran, now the site of
international 5 star resorts.
Take a walk along the beach, perhaps a sunset drink at one of
the big hotels, which all welcome visitors, and have a fish
dinner at one of the beach restaurants. A must. An offshore
reef offers protection from the wave action, providing
excellent swimming waters. Jimbaran is known for its
spectacular sunsets and numerous original seafood restaurants.


The spectacular mountainous region around Kintamani - with its
deep crater lake and bubbling hot springs makes this region a
must on any Bali itinerary. Lake Batur is the largest lake in
Bali and the region offers some of the most spectacular views
to be found anywhere on the island. Lake Batur also provides
water for an underground network streams and springs across
the southern slopes of the mountain. This district is the
earliest known kingdom in Bali, dating from the 10th century.
The evenings can get cool up here but it's well worth the stay
overnight to climb and watch the sun rise.


This important town was once home to Bali's illustrious line
of kings. The remains of this kingdom can be seen today at the
Kerta Gosa Hall of Justice. Most of Bali's royal families are
descended from the old Klungkung dynasty, for it was here that
the Majapahit empire gathered in exile in the 16th century as
their kingdom in Java crumbled. It was the centre of the
"Golden Age" of Bali when the Gelgel dynasty held power for
over 300 years and the art flourished. In Klungkung itself,
visit the Kerta Gosa court house with its richly painted
ceiling and the Bale Kambang (floating pavilions). The nearby
village of Kamasan specializes in traditional paintings, the
origin of which can be traced back for 5000 years.


Since the 18th century Kuta has served as the entry point for
foreigners visiting southern Bali. In the 1830s Kuta was a
thriving slave market, attracting a wide variety of
international "lowlife" and some would say that nothing has
changed. Since its rediscovery by hippies and surfers in the
1960s, Kuta and Legian have expanded so rapidly that the
district is now one of the busiest tourist areas in the world.
Hundreds of hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops provide for
all tastes and budgets. Recently one also could notice a
movement "back to Kuta" of visitors living in luxury secluded
hotels visiting Kuta at least for sunset and afternoon tea or
dinner. Love it or hate it, but not visiting for a while makes
us unsure if we are still in Bali, since most foreigners
started their Bali experience here one way or another.


West of Singaraja on Bali's northern coast is a beach resort
spread across four adjacent villages. Lovina is for those who
like still waters (no surf). You may even encounter some local
dolphins. Many cheap losmens and hotels are available right on
the beach. Visit the Singsing waterfalls. Lots of day trips
available from the local travel shops.


Some 20 kilometers north of Denpasar lies the woodcarving
centre of Mas, a village of high caste Brahman families. Mas
has a special place in Balinese history but today this village
is home to many shops with excellent examples of Balinese wood
carving and furniture.


The most recent of Bali's resort centres, Nusa Dua located
on the island's most southern tip, is quite unlike anything
else in Bali. A dreamland of coconut palms, five-star hotels
and perfect beaches. A great place to relax in the sun and be


Just an hour away from Bali by boat, Nusa Lembongan is an
idyllic escape offering beautiful coral and sand beaches,
crystal clear waters and relaxed atmosphere. It is also home
to several world class surf breaks. The views of Gunung Agung
and east Bali are spectacular.


Bali's first beach resort, Sanur is a place of many high class
hotels and restaurants and also villas of foreign residents
can be found here. More organic than Nusa Dua, a lot more
relaxed than Kuta.


This is home to some of the most spectacular views in Bali.
Sayan is in fact, little more than a ridge, just west of Ubud,
which has been chosen by many foreigners as home, a place
where the dramatic views - of rice paddies sculptured into
hillsides - can be appreciated. Steps lead down to the river,
which is fast following and clean enough to bathe in.


This area was chosen as the home of world-famous artist Walter
Spies who settled here in 1930's. These are also some the most
beautiful areas of Bali, with fertile soils and the ever-
present powerful Gunung Agung in the background. It is
also an area that suffered badly from the 1963 eruption of
Gunung Agung.


In the time of the Dutch occupation, Singaraja was Bali's main
port. But now the traffic has moved south, leaving the area in
peace. Clean, quiet and culturally distinctive, Singaraja
still retains a colonial feel to its streetscape.


The Tabanan region offers a wide range of landscapes, from
volcanic mountains to rich rice plains. This is the rice bowl
of Bali, with higher yields of rice than anywhere else. From
the deserted, black sand beaches to the tropical rainforests,
Tabanan is an area rich with visual offerings. Visit the 17th
century royal palace in nearby Krambitan to capture the rich
past of royal Balinese life. Just headup into the hills for
breathtaking views of southern Bali.


This is another village famous for its wood carving and craft
skills. The water here are believed to have curative powers
and the local villagers have been enjoying this sacred spring
water for over than a thousand years. The Tirta Empul temple
is worth a visit, with its surrounds covered in green moss.


On the coast, west of Denpasar, is Pura Tanah Lot, a temple
simple in its construction but dramatic in ocean front
location and one of the most important temples to be found
anywhere in Bali. The temple is built on a small promontory
which is only accessible by foot at low tide. Take a scarf
and dress with respect. Poisonous snakes live in the nearby
caves to "guard" the temple and contribute to the temple's
"dangerous" reputation.
Sunset is the best time to visit Tanah Lot, when the golden
red skies frame the temple and the waves crash into the rocks.
Try to avoid the tourist crush here as it can be severe.


Located just west of Candi Dasa is the village of Tenganan,
and a visits here is trip back in time. This is one of the
home of Bali Aga (original Balinese), the first inhabitants of
Bali. The Tengananese believe they have been chosen to honor
the royal descendants with offerings, sacrifices and rituals,
and by administering the surrrounding lands. Only recently has
this society opened itself up to outsiders, although strict
rules still apply, especially concerning marriage to
"foreigners". The area features wonderful fabrics, including
the world famous Gringsing double wave ikat cloth.


This the site of a beautiful water palace, built by the last
king of Karangasem, Anak Agung Anglurah Ketut, in 1947. Much
of the structure of the palace was destroyed by the volcanic
eruption of Gunung Agung in 1963, however the famous bathing
pools remain intact. This the place of great peace, and an
excellent stopover when touring east Bali.


One of the lake Batur's villages, Trunyan is inaccessible
except by boat. At the lake side village you'll be met by a
greeting party of locals wanting money. The Trunyan people
believe they are Bali Aga, a part of the original inhabitants
of Bali. Hidden away here is the largest statue in Bali, the
Pura Gede Pancering Jagat. Cremation is not practiced in
Truyan, the dead are simply placed against a sacred tree by
the lake, which stops the decomposing body from smelling.


Some 25 kilometers north of Denpasar, Ubud has become known
worldwide as a centre of and heaven for the arts. With a
spectacular setting among lush rice paddies and the stunning
hillsides of central Bali, Ubud offers a special atmosphere.
Here you'll find wonderful palaces and temples, two museums,
dozens of shops and excellent restaurants. There are almost
nightly performances of traditional dances and plenty of
hotels to stay at.


The famous landmark on Bali's southern peninsula, the Bukit,
is the Uluwatu temple, a classic expression of ancient Bali in
a spectacular setting, high above the crashing waves. This is
one of the oldest and most important temples in Bali, one of
the six original "Sad Kahyangan" (territorial) temples on the
island. Uluwatu has, in recent years, become equally known as
the site of a renowned surf break which offers real challenges
(experienced surfers only) in the water, and spectacular views
from the warungs (restaurants) perched on the cliff.

Art of life on Bali island

These articles by local resident and expat writers describe the daily wonders of life on this tropical island of Bali.

What appears to be a wild stream of sensations of unknown Balinese customs, flavors, wild mixtures of ever changing colors and smells to the unprepared visitor, are better explained to you by people that spent years here already.

A worthwhile introduction for holiday planning and dreaming. Just take a few notes while reading these articles and you have already your first basic orientation about what to do, where to go, and what to look out for when you get here.
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