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Bali

 

 

 

 

Bali

 
۞ About Bali


Bali's eternal appeal is its discovery. It unveils itself layer by layer. The first appeal is made by its glorious surf-pounded coastline, its waters dark with seaweed, its powdery white beaches, each with its own character, throbbing nightlife and dive spots. Having drenched the traveler with the joys of the ocean, Bali then does what the traveler loves best. She reveals her inner core. The cultural discovery of Bali follows, with rambles through the galleria of Ubud, the culture capital of Bali, to wood-carver's villages, to its glorious seaside temples where its ancient dance forms are performed in obeisance to Siwa and Wisnu. You can't beat Bali for selling its inner core. After all, when the only Hindu society in South-East Asia is located in the middle of the world's largest Muslim nation, a unique hybrid tradition is bound to emerge. And, it doesn't hurt that this fusion occurs in an almost dreamlike tropical paradise. It's only appropriate that, in the land where among the highest selling tours are lessons in the art of Balinese wood-carving and sculpture, what will be the largest Wisnu statue in the world is being built on its southern shores.

Bali's third layer comprises the sights some distance away from the beach HQ of Kuta and the culture HQ of Ubud. This paradise is an emerald green hinterland of rice paddies dominated by volcanic peaks. Tallest among them is a sacred mountain, down whose slopes the gods will descend when they come to Bali. Beyond these mountains are the rain-drenched jungles of Bali's national park and a northern coast dotted with coral reefs and black sand beaches. The HQ of this third layer is Lovina, queen of the north.


۞A Brief Context:
Though Hindu and Buddhist influences on the island date back as early as the 9th century AD, the first wave of Hindu settlers came to Bali in the 15th century from Java, where the Hindu-Buddhist Majapahit Empire was rapidly losing its power to Sumatra's Islamic rulers. It was at this time that a distinct Balinese culture began to emerge, drawing upon Hindu and Buddhist, Javanese and original Balinese traditions alike. This culture thrives today and the Balinese take their religious customs very seriously. Making a trip to Bali feels like a crossing of worlds — from the serene mosques of lava to the colorful, riotous temples of Bali. Bali's traditional name, Pulau Seribu Pura, means island of a thousand temples.
When the folks from neighboring Australia 'discovered' this paradise in their vicinity, unique among Indonesia's Islands with far greater tolerance for tiny swimsuits, they all but colonised the Island with their own Paradise Air that links many Australian cities to the island. Mere, there's jasmine in the air, coral in the sea, Intense in the temples. It's so easy to pretend that Bali is a Utopian place. everyone offers a welcoming smile, even the smallest cafe is aesthetically pleasing, all budgets are accommodated here.  It's even easier to ignore the dramatic impact that mass tourism has had on the land and on the traditional lifestyle of the Balinese. A stark reminder 1 that there is no such thing as Utopia' came on 12th October, 2002, when a bomber rained destruction in the entertainment HQ of Kuta. But Bali weathers all storms. Keeps smiling. And still takes all comers, so the party goes on. Yet, despite the island's suggestive bikini shape, it retains an integrity that the likes of its' rivals like Phuket, just don't have. No doubt it caters to all vices, but it astutely and successfully dons the cloak of Indonesian conservatism whenever necessary.

There are a million and one reasons to visit the island and even more things to do. You can swim in blue-green waters, , watch a Balinese dance performance in a sun-lit temple courtyard, eat roast duck in a shack by the beach, dance the night away in a Kuta club, walk along the rim of a volcanic crater, or meander amongst rice terraces or forest sanctuaries. Where you choose to drop anchor and where you spend your time depends only on who you are, or what your mood is.
 

۞ Orientation

Bali is too large to call it a destination. It is in fact a region, large enough to need three STD codes. The heart of tourist Bali, its most happening core area, is just north of the airport. This is Kuta, with its beaches of Legian and Seminyak. South of the airport is the popular Jimbaran Beach where you will come to have a meal from the vast open-air grill on the sand. Further south is the ancient Uluwatu Temple where you will come to marvel at its location atop a steep cliff or watch a Balinese barong dance. To the east of Jimbaran is Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa, the upmarket tourist area of Bukit Badung. East of Kuta are the beaches of Sanur, past Bali's capital city of Denpasar.

North-east and slightly inland from here is Ubud, the arts centre and home to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Further north-east of Ubud, in North Bali, is the Gunung Batur volcano and Danau Batur lake, which are east of the black sand beaches of Lovina, located on the North Bali coast. North-east of Lovina is Singaraja, with traditional wet markets and bargain stalls.
 

۞ Fast Facts

When to go Best Oct to Feb, Mar to May is hot and the rest is rainy Bali Tourism Authority offices
•JI Surapati 7, Denpasar
•JI Benesari 7, Kuta
•JI Raya, corner of Monkey Forest Rd, Ubud. Very informative and helpful for local goings on; dance schedule pamphlets.
•Police Station, JI Raya Lovina Kalibukbuk. Brochures for local activities available. Good first stop

Travel agencies Every other storefront on Poppies Gang 1 in Kuta is a travel agency; try Balijapa Tours (Jl Lebak Bena); Kharisma Tours (No. 2, Poppies Gang 1)

Currency exchange
Denpasar Banks all over intersection of JI Arjuna and JI Gajah Mada; Moneychangers on JI Sumatra
Kuta Moneychangers and ATMs everywhere in Kuta. Be extremely cautious since Kuta moneychangers are notorious for cheating tourists. You are better off using an ATM Ubud Banks, ATMs and moneychangers all over Monkey Forest Rd Lovina ATMs all over the place and the most convenient option. Though moneychangers all over JI Raya Lovina and JI Binaria offer better rates than the banks.
 

۞ Getting There

Air: A huge statue of the mythological character Ghatotkacha greets visitors at Ngurah Rai Airport, just south of Kuta, served by both domestic and international airlines. Garuda Indonesia, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Thai International and Korean Air all connect Bali to South-East Asia, and then to India. Domestically, Garuda Indonesia, Merpati Nusantara Airlines, Bouraq, Pelita Air Service and Mandala all have domestic connections from Jakarta, Medan and Jogjakarta.

Note: On departure from Bali, you have to pay a Passenger Service Tax

Boat: There're ferry services between Java, Bali and Lombok. Ferries are available from Ketapang in Java come to Gilimanuk on the northwest coast every 15-30 min, 24 hours a day, and ferries to and from Lombok (every 2 hrs) come to Padangbai, south west of Candi Dasa, on the east coast.
 

 
 

 

 

 

 
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