Bali, the island of the gods.
The island is approx. 153 km wide (east to west) and approx. 112 km from north to the south. Bali’s central mountains contains several peaks of more than 3,000 metres of which the highest is Mount Agung at 3,031 metres, known as the “mother mountain” and an active volcano.
The largest city is Denpasar, near the southern coast, followed by Singaraja located on the north coast.
The main tourist locations are Kuta (with its beach) and its nearby suburbs of Legian and Seminyak, the east coast town of Sanur and Ubud in the centre of the island (the cultural centre of Bali) and the newer development of Nusa Dua, where many of the five stars resorts are situated.
More than three quarters of the population practise Balinese Hinduism, a combination of local beliefs and Hindu influences. The Balinese Hinduism is a composite belief system that embraces theology, philosophy, mythology, ancestor worship, animism and magic and pervades every aspect of the Balineses’ traditional lives.
Balinese Hinduism has roots in Indian Hinduism and Buddhism and these influences strengthen the beliefs that god and goddesses are present in all things. Art and rituals are a notable feature of religious expression of the Balinese.
I have been to Bali a few times and for this trip we stayed at the Courtyard by Marriot in the Nusa Dua area. It is a relatively new hotel with a beautiful swimming pool, a necessity when in Bali, as after a hot day sightseeing, a soak in the pool is indeed a most welcome relief.
From the Nusa Dua area, it is short walk (about 20 mins) to the nearby shopping area, where you will find a lot of shops selling the usual touristy things and some good restaurants.
No matter how many times I have been to Bali, I always arrange for a visit to one of the temples. The Tirta Empul Temple (Holy spring temple) is one of my favourites. And if you are a photographer, you are in luck, as not only the temple is beautiful but the balinese dressed in their best are beautiful subjects too especially, when they are usually quite receptive to being photographed.
For the way out from the temple, you are forced to negotiate through all these shops selling touristy things as there is no other way out. This has been a common cause of complain for many visitors but since most of the things are usually quite cheap (a few dollars), we usually don’t mind making a small contributions to the general Balinese economy by buying a small souvenir.
We also visited (actually coerced) a small coffee making place. The frying and pounding of coffee which you see from the photo below is actually done for the benefit of tourists like us. They will try to sell you the expensive Luwak coffee but you may decline and opt for a cup of cheaper brew instead and everybody is happy.
The Tegalalang Rice Terrace is another interesting place to visit. If you have never seen before how rice are grown, this will be particularly interesting. The best time to visit will be before sunset.
The Tanah Lot temple is another must visit place especially at sunrise or sunset.
The Ulun Danu Bratan Temple is another great place to visit. The temple is located in Lake Bratan.
One of the great things about staying in the Nusa Dua area is the beach. Although not all hotels in the Nusa Dua area are located at the beachfront, all of them have their own stretch of private beach and bar. Usually, its no more than a 5 mins shuttle bus from the respective hotels to their private beaches.
Bali has always been one of my favourite holiday destination. Even though I have already been there a few times, I always yearn to return. The things that makes me want to return to Bali are the Balinese people, their culture and their graceful and decorous behaviour.
Whilst Balinese are very religious people, it is the graceful way that they practises their religion that fascinates me. Balinese Hinduism is deeply interwoven with art and rituals and the rituals are a notable feature of religious expressions among the Balinese. You can witness examples of these rituals in the little baskets filled with rice, flowers or other offerings that are left on the side of roads/in front of shops all over Bali.
All photos shot with a Leica X2.