I know that somebody is gonna ask: “Isn’t the weblog about China?”. I answer: “Yes, it is. Too. But the elsewhere part is gonna take place in style…”. Let’s go?
Think of a place that is unique, exotic, enchanting, solar, unforgettable, incredible, magic…Bali is all that and much more!
Life there goes slowly, complacent, peaceful, smooth. Your inhabitants make us feel really close all the delicacy of their kindness and respect. The religiosity and worship of local gods is constant, as well as a magical atmosphere of this province, that has on surf tourism and on rice cultivation its vwmain income.
Bali is one of the 13.667 islands that form Indonesia, and its main touristic destination. It has the most of Hindu population of the country, that shares with Islamism the religious preferences. The name Bali derivates from the word Wali, that in sanskrit means “act of worship”, “sacrifice offered to gods”. This worshipping to gods is, by the way, a chapter by itself. In each house, commercial establishment and temples there are small offerings made by themselves to gods, in order to attract good luck and prosperity. In general, those are made with fresh picked flowers, rice and incense sticks , and they really take it seriously- the gods must be always satisfied!
The geography is really interesting, and offers plenty of options for every taste: besides the famous beaches there is a collection of 12 volcanos to explore, most of them still active. The higher is Mont Gunung Agung, with more than 3.000 meters. Tourism agencies offer group hikes to watch the sunrise from up there.
To those most in the mood of relaxation, there are infinite options with this purpose in massage and alternative therapy spas. Those are really good and cheap. There are always a few ladies offering this service right on the beach, but this ends turning into a body scrubbing, because you’ll probably will be already covered in sand…
The predominant mean of transportation is the motorbike (thousands of them), and the driving is on left-hand. The locomotion is more chaotic day by day, because there are no longer ways for the road to expand, and the already tiny roads have to carry a growing number of visitors and inhabitants (wish I could fit on this category…), so the motorbike is the best option indeed.
Bali is said to have more than 22.000 temples, which are indispensable tourism when you’re there. If you’re not appropriately dressed, they can always have you dressed with a purple sarong beautifully finished with a yellow “belt”, to make your visit even more mystical. The most famous are the Tanah Lot Temple (that goes through the sea) and the Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple (monkey temple)- on this one you can see a lot of monkeys passing by, but take care, they’ll try to steal your stuff!
At the Uluwatu Temple, that is above a big cliff that makes all around even more unforgettable, there is a very beautiful and touching spectacle of typical dancing, and takes place daily by sunset time. It shows the typical balinese dance Kecak, that’s not accompanied by any musical instruments, only by sounds made by almost 70 seated men, and typically dressed dancers, who gracefully perform the dancing. This spectacle is an adaptation of an ancient purification ritual, that incorporates parts of the Hindu epic Ramayana.
Kuta is the most central and crowded place of Bali, but today is very “commercial” and decadent, and a lot agree that it has lost its ancient charm. There are many options for shopping, and you have to bargain a lot, because for sure you’ll get out really happy with your brand new cheap purchases (try to begin by offering the half of the price! I mean it!). It was in Kuta (Legian) that happened the bomb attempt to the Sari Club, in 2002. On the former club, they built a parking lot, and in front of it, was built a wall with the names in tribute to the 180 deaths.
The sparkling neighborhood of Seminyak has the best options of restaurants, bars, and shopping, and it’s one of the most visited. Well designed places, with the typical cozy balinese atmosphere call the attention, as well as the never-ending congeniality of the locals!
The famous Warungs are family owned places that offer shelter and food, little restaurants with local food and drinks. By the way, don’t miss the Nasi Goreng, made with rice, vegetables and chopped meat (chicken or seafood as well), with a local salty snack on top of it. The Mi Goreng is an option, almost the same, but with instant pasta and egg.
The woodcarving is one of the most impressive characters of the typical decoration, that’s happy, vivacious and always fanciful and full of details. Small colorful umbrellas full of pendants play a great role on the local atmosphere, as well as the scowls -that keep away the bad spirits and the wood-carved gods. The Garuda is the most famous one, and the symbol of Indonesia. A mythological creature of Hinduism that means “snakes destroyer” (the bad spirits in figurative language). It appears constantly in temples and woodcarvings.
To the countryside, there are a lot of options too, like the cities of Ubud and Celuk, famous for its silver manufacture and woodcarving.
A very interesting thing about Bali is the names that are given to the children: there are only 4 names! The first one is always Wayan, the second is Made, the third, Nyoman and the youngest is Ketur. If you have more than four kids, it’ll start all over again. For women, there are some few adaptations, and everyone knows each other for nicknames or family names.
For surfers, Bali is considered one of the Meccas of the sport, offering perfect waves in every size and style: Uluwatu, the most famous and dangerous (very shallow reef barrier), Padang Padang, Canggu, Balangan, Bingin, Kuta Reef and many others; attracting every time more and more lovers of the sport. And whoever goes once, will never stop coming back!
This place is for sure fey, filial of heaven. The spirituality and simplicity of its people are touching. Its beauty is of an impressive naturalness and strength.
When there, wait to be surprised by details that nowadays are so rare, like sincere smiles, eyes that see deep inside, the nature in its most perfect and beautiful side, scent of incense that’s gonna last for a long time provoking smiles, sentiments of peace and serenity that a huge, green and soaked rice field evoke, assuring us that everything is in the perfect place, asking us to accept this perfection as a part of a whole, just like this, smooth and naturally…This is Bali!
I hope to have achieved my goal of transmitting a little bit of the emotion I felt when visiting this place, and when you’re there, remember just one thing: to that place, your soul will eternally long to come back!
PS- special thanks to dear friends Harumi and Renato!