ABOUT BALI, INDONESIA
Many people say that Bali is an Island paradise because it has a rich and unique Hindu culture. Bali is also very special as there are thousands of temples through out the island and there are always some sacred ceremonies taking place. Bali is just a small island in Indonesia but is a well know tourist destination. There are still many beautiful and natural sights to experience all of which can be done at an affordable prices.
Ask around and you are almost sure to get the reply, “Come to Bali for its culture, its beauty”. That seems to be the subtle message that the people themselves convey about their fables island. It’s a message from the heart, for the Balinese are truly proud of the splendors of their island. Visitors soon realize that Bali is no longer a frontier waiting to be discovered, instead it needs to be re-discovered, over and over again.
Bali is situated approximately on latitude 8 degrees South and longitude 115 degrees East, and together with the nearby island of Lombok, are the most westerly of the Little Sunda Islands. They are part of the nearly 13,700 islands that make up the Republic of Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago.
The island of Bali remains fiercely attractive to the visitor. They come here in search of character; their own perhaps! More significantly the journey to Bali should be undertaken to seek an understanding of a way of life that is truly unique.
This journey cannot be undertaken in a short, jet-hop span, rather you soon realize that you could spend a lifetime in Bali and still feel there is more to be seen, heard and understood. No matter how often you watch a barong performance, or the kecak, or hear the gamelan, each time you are there, something deep inside you reminds you that it’s a new happening, a re-discovery.
There are several other dances that could excite you. There is the gambuh – a classical form of dance-drama, the topeng, which is traditional masked dance, the Baris or the warrior’s dance, legong, the Dance of the Heavenly Nymphs, the kebyar which is a flashy modern dance and the Shanghyang Dedari, the ritual trance dance.
To first time visitors, who has been fed on leaflets and travel brochures, Bali appears as a holiday retreat, of beautiful beaches, a place in the sun. it can even be mistaken for a land on a perpetual holiday. But Bali is more than that.
One goes to Bali for experience, a journey of a lifetime, to come face with a remarkable people, their customs and traditions, their beliefs, their hopes and their eternal search for peace.
You never seem to have enough of Bali. There is a yearning to “see” more. You feel the mysticism and get drawn in, like a magnet, forever attached to its people, to its beauty. It’s the beginning of your search for the true meaning of the balance of the cosmic forces.
You are spell-bound by the dainty movements of the dancers, stunned by the roughness of the demons, you follow closely the trail of the spirits, wondering what other creature will appear of the scene. You wait, almost with bated breath for the final conquest. And when the performance is over, you feel you want more.
Prayer is central in the life of a Balinese, as it is important to keep all the forces in a balanced state. Every object, be it a mask, atone, even fire, has a spirit. There are mystical forces at work that can be molded for the benefit of mankind. To the Balinese such forces, both good and bad, emanate from one source.
The Balinese are Hindus. They practice a blend of that religion that was originally brought by Indian kingdoms of old. However Hinduism in Bali is quite unlike that in India. Over the centuries, the Balinese have incorporated elements of their indigenous beliefs and practices, with traces of Javanese influences as well. There are also strong elements of Buddhism in the island, and which perhaps like no place on earth has blended and intertwined perfectly.
Of course there are those who practice other religions as well on the island. One has to be reminded that Indonesia is the largest Moslem nation in the world, while in this island, the majority of the population are Hindus. It is this Balinese Hinduism that dominates all aspects of life here.
Death and the cremation rites are important to the Balinese. Cremation is not a sad occasion, rather it is one of joy, as the person now has the opportunity to reach the higher realm. The cremation ceremonies draw huge crowds, and many foreigners as well these days.
Bali is whatever you want it to be. A tourist haven, with splendid beaches, a friendly people, a warm climate, cool mountain air, a slow pace. You get told stories of old, you find new meaning in the simple things of life. You can hike up trails, watch the birds, visit temples, buy your gifts. You can fill your own treasure troves with the memories, with recollections of your own enlightenment when you stood and faced the mountains and gazed at the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.
Bali is also about color, sound, smell and texture. The people churn out a bewildering array of garments, which thankfully remain at non-inflated prices. Little wonder why this remains a buyer’s haven.
There is music as well here. With music, naturally there is dance. And in Bali, the dances repertoire is seemingly endless. The music and dances vary from village to village in form and contents as well. It may surprise you to learn that many ways the people of Bali truly are individuals, for what is practiced in one village is quite unknown to the person from the next. Yet, within this diversity, there is unison in action, in thought and in common beliefs, hopes, and aspirations.
Welcome then to Bali, perhaps the last place on this earth that still conjures images of mystique, of beauty, of peace and goodwill and way of life that is unique in this modern day and age. Here you get a deep sense of satisfaction. It’s an environment; it could possibly even be the hospitality that envelops you. You are bewildered by the hues of color, sound and natural beauty. Bali, the last frontier, where the search for the true meaning of life can begin.
Bali as your holiday destination.
A vibrant culture, unique arts and ceremonies, a friendly people and scenic beauty make Bali an island almost unreal in today’s changing world and is therefore the main destination for pleasure tourists to Indonesia. Bali’s international airport, Ngurah Rai, is the nation’s eastern gateway, served by numerous international airlines and charter flights.
Sanur and Kuta are located on the eastern and western coasts of the southern part of the island. The Nusa Dua peninsula on the southern tip is still growing as a tourist resort.
Bali’s culture is based on its unique form of Hinduism called “Hindu Darma” which has been retained after the Islamization of Java, since then developed through the centuries. Though the caste system is observed, it is notas rigid as in India. Religion is the source of traditional customs in family and community life. Its influence is also strongly felt in the arts. With a completely different lifestyle from the rest of Indonesia, the Balinese have managed to preserve their culture despite the overwhelming foreign influences brought by the increasing number of visitors.
Bali’s “rajas” and princes were deprived of their kingdoms by the colonial government in the early part of this century, but many of them still own their palaces and are respected as patrons of the arts. The classical dance drama is based on the old Hindu epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabarata, or on local folklore (such as Barong dance).
The island of Bali is mountainous in the center with a cluster of volcanoes of which one is the active Mount Agung and considered sacred. Terraced rice-fields dominate the landscape, with small streams bringing water for irrigation.
The attraction of Bali is its unique art and culture. It almost seems that every person is an artist in some form, whether it is painting, weaving, carving, basketry, etc., or even in decorations which are done at many shrines in public areas, on roads, paddy fields or in homes. Villagers spend their free time in these arts which are taught from a very young age.
The soul of the Balinese is in his religion, so it finds its expression in the arts. A friendly people, the Balinese who are more exposed to international tourists, generally speak more English than people in other parts of Indonesia. Keeping pace with the number of visitors and the need for their accommodation, more hotels have been built, from small bungalow types for the budget traveler to the luxurious Nusa Dua tourist resort area. Water sports have gained in popularity : surfing on Kuta, wind surfing at Sanur, sailing and scuba diving at several other tourist parts.