Monday, December 31, 2007

Bali Tradition

According to the legend, a one time King of Java, angry with his disobedient son, banished him into exile. The legend tells us that the King waited until his son had disappeared over the horizon, and then drew a line in the soil with his finger. The seas to the north and south joined at this place, and the island of Bali was born.

It is said that the Great God, Sang Hyang Widi created the first true Balinese couple, from whom descended the nearly three million people of Bali today.

Bali enjoys a rich culture, its history recorded in legends and preserved in its religion and the peoples adherence to the traditions of their ancestors. Temples are everywhere, especially in the mountains. The most revered temple is on Gunung Agung, the tallest mountain, and according to legend, "the navel" of the world.

Hindu Bali is a religion which owes its origins to India, but which has developed independently from its forebear. Hindu Bali celebrates its rituals in a highly dramatised form, which can be witnessed by visitors in the form of dance and performance at traditional festivals, and at secular performances.

Dynamic and agile, Balinese dance is exciting theatre, filled with sharp corner-turnings, intricate coordination of eyeball, finger, neck and shoulder movements. Entertaining, elegant and captivating, the dances are performed according to strict tradition; the players are forbidden to improvise the movements learned and perfected since early childhood.

The crisply percussive gamelan which accompanies the dancers, shares their dynamism and agility. Each village that can afford it owns their own gamelan orchestra. The ambience of a balmy evening, strolling or sitting on your balcony with the sound of the gamelan orchestra emanating from the village "banjar" (meeting place) in the background is near perfect.

The traditional style of paintings depict aspects of religious life or mystical characters, painted in sombre hues of yellow, red and black, or sometimes in plain charcoal. Contemporary adaptation and external influences have resulted in new themes: often in vibrant colors, featuring people, animals and abstract imagery, that are different yet uniquely Balinese.

The Balinese consider art to be a natural activity. Peasants by day, artists by night, they are masters in expressing their religious beliefs and rituals into items of great artistic value; from simple masks, statues and jewellery, to wall sized panels using materials such as wood, stone, coral, bone, silver and gold. Painting and performance complete the picture. It is no exaggeration to say that there are as many artists in Bali as there are people. (writer by

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bali Island

Bali, a tropical island in the Indonesian archipelago, is so picturesque and immaculate it could almost be a painted backdrop. It has rice paddies tripping down hillsides like giant steps, volcanoes soaring up through the clouds, dense tropical jungle, long sandy beaches, warm blue water, crashing surf and friendly people who don't just have a culture but actually live it. In Bali spirits come out to play in the moonlight, every night is a festival and even a funeral is an opportunity to have a good time.

Bali Island, the perfect holiday destination for all ages offers something for everyone. This tropical paradise has a unique blend of modern tourist facilities combined with wonderful shopping and a rich past and heritage. The Balinese people are proud of having preserved their unique Hindu culture against the advance of Islam, the dominant religion throughout Indonesia. This is still reflected in day to day life and can be seen in the numerous ceremonies, Balinese festivals and magnificent temples and palaces. Some of the best surfing beaches in the world can be found on the western side of the island whilst conversely the eastern side is a wonderful haven for families, with beautiful white sand beaches and gentle seas.

Bali Island is a shopper's paradise particularly for casual and tailored clothing, locally made jewellery, handicrafts, antiques and artifacts. Leather ware is one of the unexpected local bargains with everything from handbags through to tailor made leather jackets and coats, all at unbelievable prices. In fact, prices are so inexpensive, you're sure to need more room in your suitcase! Try bargaining at the street markets of Kuta, Sanur of Nusa Dua or fixed price shopping at a Denpasar department store. Bali has it all.

For those that want to stay wet, Bali Island has world class scuba diving, snorkelling and wonderful day trips out to Nusa Penida for beach sports and coral viewing.

When the sun sets, the choices are still hard to make - a quiet romantic moon lit dinner or watch the spectacular Balinese Fire Dance or Kecak Dance. For those that want to party, Bali Island has it all with bars, discos and nightclubs.

As a truly international destination attracting visitors from all over the world, restaurants in Bali are extremely cosmopolitan yet inexpensive. Experience not only local delicacies like Nasi Goreng and Sate Campur but also Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, Italian/European Greek, Moroccan and even Mexican cuisine. We must not forget Bali's wonderful seafood - local lobster at such prices that you will want to keep coming back for more.

For those more culturally inclined, Bali can offer the peace and tranquility of Ubud high in the hills; the spectacular Mother Temple at Besakih; the ancient capital of Bali, Singaraja and the floating palace at Ujung near the pretty beach area of Candi Dasa. The Scenery is nothing less than spectacular. Jungle, picturesque hillside rice terraces and the awesome magnificence of Kintamani Volcano.

The more active, wanting a break from the idyllic beaches, can experience wonderful golf courses in the mountains at Bedugul and beachside at Nusa Dua, the thrill of white water rafting or kayaking down the beautiful Ayung River; mountain cycling amid scenery you will never forget and organized rice paddy and jungle treks to see the side of Bali most tourists never encounter.

Bali Island, a truly international destination, offers every standard of accommodation ranging from charming yet modest bungalow style hotels in lush tropical gardens for the budget minded through to arguably amongst the most exclusive and sophisticated hotels in the world!