Bali is one of the most
popular tourist destination in the world.
A huge number of honeymooners and holidaymakers come to
this island. Famous for its dance and music, many
carvings, paintings, leather as well as metalworking are
quite popular here.
The rapid growth of development in tourism has had a big
impact and influences to Bali tradition and lifestyle.
Interestingly, Balinese culture is still as what it was,
growing along with the of globalization.
Truly beautiful tropical island inhabited by a
remarkably artistic people who have created a dynamic
society with unique arts and ceremonies. It is the
Balinese civilization what makes the island different
from other destination.
Geographic & Climate
Geographically, Bali lies
between the islands of Java and Lombok. Bali is small,
stretching approximately 140 km from east to west 80 km
from north to south. The tallest of a string of volcanic
mountains that run from the east to the west, is Gunung
Agung, which last erupted in 1963. Lying just 8 south of
the equator, Bali boasts a tropical climate with just
two seasons (wet and dry) a year and an average annual
temperature of around 23C to 33C.
High humidity can be expected during the Wet Season
between the months of October - April. The Dry Season
between the months of May - September have also the
The Wet Season brings daily rain and quiet overcast days
with the most rain recorded between December - February.
Occasionally rainfall can also be expected during the
dry season but usually at night or very early morning.
June - August there is usually a very refreshing cool
breeze all day long. The central mountain area is
typically cooler than the lower coastal areas mainly
especially at night.
People & Religion
With 3,409,845 million
people (Statistic 2008), Bali is a very densely
populated island. The population is almost all
Indonesian, with the usual small Chinese contingent in
the big towns, a sprinkling of Indian merchants, plus a
number of more or less permanent visitors amongst the
Westerners in Bali.
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.
Unlike any other island in
largely Muslim Indonesia, Bali is a pocket of Hindu
religion and culture. Every aspect of Balinese life is
suffused with religion, but the most visible signs are
the tiny offerings (canang sari) found in every Balinese
house, work place, restaurant, souvenir stall and
airport check-in desk. These leaf trays are made daily
and can contain an enormous range of offering items:
flowers, glutinous rice, cookies, salt, and even
cigarettes and coffee! They are set out with burning
incense sticks and sprinkled with holy water no less
than three times a day, before every meal. Don't worry
if you step on one, as they are placed on the ground for
this very purpose and will be swept away anyway. (Any
ants enjoying the feast may not appreciate your foot
quite as much though!)
Balinese Hinduism diverged from the mainstream well over
500 years ago and is quite radically different from what
you would see in India. The primary deity is Sanghyang
Widi Wasa (Acintya), the "all-in-one god" for which
other gods like Vishnu (Wisnu) and Shiva (Civa) are
merely manifestations, and instead of being shown
directly, he is depicted by an empty throne wrapped in
the distinctive poleng black-and-white chessboard
pattern and protected by a ceremonial tedung umbrella.
An empty throne of Sanghyang Widi Wasa, with poleng
cloth and tedung umbrella, Ubud The Balinese are master
sculptors, and temples and courtyards are replete with
statues of gods and goddesses like Dewi Sri, the goddess
of rice and fertility, as well as guardians and
protecting demons like toothy Rakasa, armed with a club.
These days, though, entire villages like Batubulan have
twigged onto the tourist potential and churn out
everything imaginable from Buddhas to couples entwined
in acrobatic poses for the export market.
Balinese dance and music are also justly famous and a
major attraction for visitors to the island. As on
neighbouring Java, the gamelan orchestra and wayang
kulit shadow puppet theatre predominate. Dances are
extremely visual and dramatic, and the most famous
Barong or "lion dance" —
a ritual dance depicting the fight between good and
evil, with performers wearing fearsome lion-like
masks. This dance is often staged specifically for
tourists as it is one of the most visually
spectacular and the storyline is relatively easy to
follow. Barong dance performances are not hard to
Calonarang — a
spectacular dance which is a tale of combating dark
magic and exorcising the evil spirits aligned with
the witch-queen Rangda. The story has many
variations and rarely are two calonarang plays the
same. If you can find an authentic Calonarang
performance, then you are in for a truly magical
Kecak or "monkey dance"
— actually invented in the 1930s by resident German
artist Walter Spies for a movie but a spectacle
nonetheless, with up to 250 dancers in concentric
circles chanting "kecak kecak", while a performer in
the centre acts out a spiritual dance. An especially
popular Kecak dance performance is staged daily at
Legong Keraton — perhaps
the most famous and feted of all Balinese dances.
Performed by young girls, this is a dance of divine
nymphs hailing from 12th century Java. Try to find
an authentic Legong Keraton with a full-length
performance. The short dance performances often
found in tourist restaurants and hotels are usually
extracts from the Legong Keraton.