10 Most Photographed Places in Bali
Bali is a haven for photography enthusiasts, filled with personal and touching memories of a journey. This tropical island has a great collection of landscapes, seascapes and iconic landmarks that easily make it to valued frames and albums. The monsoonal climate also offers snappers the great opportunities year-round with blue skies mid-year and dramatic cloud-streaked scarlet sunsets in between. Stunning photo opportunities in and around Bali include famous spots such as the iconic sea temple of Tanah Lot and the flowing rice terraces of the island’s mid-west. Most panoramas are also provided by the island’s natural features as is the likes of the Kintamani highlands with its scenic volcano caldera lake and the Campuhan ridge in Ubud. Discover these idyllic backdrops with this compilation of the best picture-postcard spots in Bali and its surrounding areas.
1. Tanah Lot
A must-visit and must-shoot for travellers to Bali, the Tanah Lot sea temple is unmistakably Balinese, and is as impressive during the daytime as it is at sunset. The sunsets and panoramic views are one thing, while the many cultural offerings add much more to your temple shots. Pilgrimages and parades of devotees during the temple’s anniversary add even more stunning feature to the exotic background. Where to Shoot: Don’t be tempted to go too near the rocks as the crashing waves pose a great hazard. However, low tides allow for a striking foreground. Almost anywhere along the cliff offers great vantage points and this also counts the cluster of bars and restaurants where you can sink down on a cold one while waiting for the perfect moment to shoot.
2. Jatiluwih Rice Terraces
A flowing sea of green, the Jatiluwih rice terraces in the verdant rice-producing Tabanan regency offer panoramas like no other. Paddies extend along the slopes of Mount Batukaru and down as far as the eyes can see over the village of Wangaya. You will find the largest and most picturesque expanse of paddies in Bali and perhaps the whole of Indonesia here. Lush green views will already come into view upon approaching the region. Where to Shoot: One of the best spots to enjoy the view and take your snaps also happens to be a locally run restaurant where you can sip a hot cup of Bali coffee while admiring the view as you plan your next frames.
3. Ulun Danu Beratan
Another of Bali’s most iconic temple landmarks is Ulun Danu Beratan, on par with the exotic appeal of Tanah Lot, but on a lakeside up in the central highlands. At high tide, the smooth reflective surface immerses the base around the temple creating the overall dramatic illusion of a floating temple. Occasional thick mists descend from the nearby hills, adding to the magical scene. Where to Shoot: While the main attraction and most photographed subject is the lakeside mini temple complex, the name Ulun Danu Beratan temple also applies to the larger complex on drier grounds. You can get closer to the floating temple at low tide, while paved footpaths make easy spots for setting up tripods at high tide.
4. Jimbaran Beaches
Jimbaran Bay with its main stretch of sand, known locally as Muaya Beach, is one of Bali’s gorgeous and most accessible seascapes. It also features numerous dining spots, including Four Season’s Sundara, the local collection of seafood barbeque cafes and the Jimbaran Beach Club. Further south is Tegalwangi Beach where great angles can be achieved from both the base on the sand and up on the cliff. Balangan and Dreamland are also beaches worth discovering while in the area. Where to Shoot: Angles of Jimbaran Bay are greatly achieved right down on the sand in front of the seafood cafes, where you can include the curvature of the bay into the frame. The more ‘hidden’ beaches such as Tegalwangi and Balangan are great from above their respective cliffs.
While the western coasts such as Jimbaran offer great sunsets, Amed is the scenic viewpoint in East Bali where you can enjoy the most stunning sunrises. The seascape features the curving bay lined with colourful traditional outrigger boats and the outline of Mount Agung in the immediate background. In the mornings and during certain times of the day, the fishing boats and sailing cruises speckle the seascape. Where to Shoot: There are several hilly vantage points around the coast of Amed that provide you with the best angles over the curving bay and with Mount Agung clear in the background. However, the best spot is just several minutes south of Jemeluk Bay.
6. Sunsets on Seminyak Beach
Seminyak’s main beach, Petitenget, features a wonderful stretch of white sand that is level and wide. If you’re lucky, during calmer low tides, the surf reaches far in over the flat sand, leaving a mirror-like effect to its seascape. The scene is stunning with the blue sea, sky and white clouds during the day and golden with silhouettes at dusk with the setting sun. Petitenget offers a more secluded ambiance compared to its neighbouring beaches, making it great for cleaner shots. Where to Shoot: Go straight to the bridge between La Lucciola restaurant and Petitenget Temple, which leads you right onto the sand. From here, you only need to roam freely for your best angles. The most crowds are around sunset time, but you can frame your clear shot with ease.
7. Campuhan Ridge
One of the best spots for panoramic green valley shots up in Ubud is at the Campuhan Ridge. Getting there is a free and easy nature trek, with the majestic Gunung Lebah Temple welcoming you before the main pathways. Midway along the full nine-kilometre hill track, you can find vast views where you can easily snap away from the savannah-esque hills. Being on the peak of the ridge provides you with 360-degree possibilities for the perfect panoramic shot. Where to Shoot: Halfway up the length of the route and facing north, the unique hilly terrain and lone palms along the track add great features to your shots.
This scenic village is remotely located, quite a distance to reach up in north Bali, but worth the prize views of its panoramic ridge that runs down from the northern edge of the Bedugul highlands. The ridge overlooks two valley sides covered with verdant rice paddies and plantations. The sun setting over the distant hills also provides magical moments to frame. Where to Shoot: Besides scenic hill vistas that you can take from most spots, Munduk also has a waterfall that is surrounded by lush greenery, which is a frequent pre-wedding location. Don’t pass a chance for a refreshing dip in between shots.
9. Uluwatu Cliffs
Uluwatu Temple forms part of the collection of Bali’s sea temples set in stunning locations. From the edge of the main temple complex, sheer ocean views are topped with the outline of tiered shrines. Just south, an open amphitheatre is great for photo ops as Kecak ‘fire dances’ perform regularly as the sun sets over the horizon in the background. Grey long-tailed macaques roam freely around the complex, volunteering as photo models as well. Where to Shoot: Great cliff shots are achieved from the temple’s wall near its exit, and you can book your seat at the amphitheatre – secure your position on a higher spot in the middle for the best angle with dancers as subject and setting sun as background.
10. Nusa Penida Islands
Bali’s offshore islands of Penida, Lembongan and Ceningan south east of the mainland offer wonderful seascapes with shallow coasts and crystal clear waters. Limestone cliffs provide vantage points over these dramatic views. Lembongan, the most popular among the islands, features exotic beaches, the likes of Mushroom Bay, Jungut Batu, Crystal Bay and the aptly named Sunset Point, which provides unobstructed views over the sun setting into the ocean. Where to Shoot: Lembongan’s Jungut Batu is a hilly area on the northwest coast where you have blue waters dotted with watercraft and traditional jukung outriggers in the foreground, and the outline of the Bali mainland with Mount Agung on the horizon.
Saturday 07 October 2017
10 Traditional Balinese Dance Shows Live Theatre Performances in Bali
Here are all of the great theatre and live shows in Bali. These range from culturally insightful traditional dance performances staged against ancient and majestic temple backdrops, to modern theatrical shows that are intricately choreographed, including dramatic lighting effects and soundtracks. Themes range from local folktales to ancient Hindu epics, while contemporary shows blend storytelling with lively dance troupes in elaborately designed costumes, and even aerial acrobatics. Like any form of storytelling, the best theatre in Bali can transport you to other worlds, take you on fantastic journeys, or simply showcase the many different facets of exotic culture and traditions through dance and drama. Live shows in Bali are held regularly and are often a great highlight of your trip, with many located in exotic places. There’s no better way to introduce yourself to Bali’s rich cultural heritage. Tickets for each show are available at their respective theatre counters, while some others can be booked on our site.
1. Uluwatu Temple Amphitheatre Jimbaran
Uluwatu Temple remains among the greatest places on the island to watch Bali’s legendary singing and dancing ritual known locally as Kecak, with its main open amphitheatre run and performed by the local Pecatu villagers’ cooperative. There are two Kecak dance troupes performing at the Uluwatu Amphitheatre, namely the Sekaa Tarian Kecak and Sekaa Tari Kecak Karang Boma dance and gamelan groups. The acapella dance involves over a dozen or more male performers dancing and rhythmically chanting, “chaak, chaak, chaak”, hence the name. Kecak performances are held regularly around sunset, 18:00-ish, and usually run for an hour.
2. Surya Mandala Cultural Park at Tanah Lot Tanah Lot
The dedicated amphitheatre at Tanah Lot Temple comes to life at sunset, and is a popular attraction for visitors to enjoy after admiring the sea temple. The show features Bali’s famous Kecak ‘fire dance’ performance, which depicts a major episode in the Ramayana epic, with dancers performing to the background music provided by a circle of male singing-dancers chanting acapella. The Surya Mandala Cultural Park is located to the west of the Batu Bolong Temple.
3. Bali Agung Show at Bali Theatre Gianyar
This theatrical art performance at the Bali Theatre, a modern purpose-built indoor theatre at the Bali Safari & Marine Park in Gianyar, is loosely based on a Balinese legend, and is brought alive through lively dance choreography, vibrant costumes, dramatic music compositions and state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems. The unique aspect of the show is that it combines traditional and contemporary dances, traditional shadow puppetry using modern techniques – and features the animals of the Bali Safari Marine Park, such as birds and tigers, as co-stars of the show.
4. Devdan Show at Nusa Dua Theatre Nusa Dua
Devdan is a 90-minute theatrical show that tells of a boy and girl who decide to break away from their mundane tour group, only to stumble upon an enchanted treasure chest filled with various cultural objects from the different islands in the Indonesian archipelago, hence the shows subtitle, ‘Treasure of the Archipelago’. Their adventure goes on from there, as each ‘discovery’ of an item from their treasure chest brings on a corresponding scene onto the stage, complete with acrobatics on the floor and even aerial silk dancers suspended from the ceiling.
5. ARMA Open Stage Ubud
Open stage performances at the ARMA Museum in Ubud range from Balinese trance dances, Legong, Balinese masks, the popular Barong and Kris dance, and different variations of old traditional dance and drama. The Legong (a classical royal Balinese court dance) is a must-see here, highlighted during full moons and new moons, which give the onstage presence a special aura, and is performed by local maestros from the neighbouring village of Peliatan. Cultural dinner packages are also available.
6. GWK (Garuda Wisnu Kencana) Cultural Park Jimbaran
Besides offering a day out in a massive open park venue that is home to the construction of one of largest statues in the world, the GWK offers live cultural performances in its open amphitheatre, highlighting regular Barong (a dance drama depicting the eternal battle between Good and Evil) and Kecak (depicting a scene from the Ramayana epic, accompanied by the chanting choruses of male dancers), from 18:30. Other cultural performances include bamboo orchestras, Joged (a social dance) and the mesmerising Legong dance performed by petite dancers in vivid costumes.
7. Jambe Budaya Barong Dance Batubulan, Gianyar
A different kind of Barong dance performance, the Jambe Budaya Theatre in Batubulan shows its version of the dance much like a play. Many of the performers are local residents of Batubulan village, and unlike common Barong performances in the area, the antics of the comic reliefs (acting as monkeys and other animals from the Ramayana monkey forest episode) can be quite hilarious. The setup of the stage is also modern, laid out with carpets and supported by advanced lighting and sound systems.
8. Putra Barong & Kris Dance Batubulan, Gianyar
This local stage in Batubulan shows the popular Barong and Kris dagger dance performances, and is a great addition to your tour of the Ubud area, including the goldsmiths and silversmiths commune of Celuk and Mas. The shows are held daily and in the mornings only, with dancers and the gamelan troupes from the local village. The show is presented in five episodes, each depicting a scene from the Calonarang epic that tells the battle between the Rangda and Barong, aka a classical tale of good versus evil.
9. Sahadewa Barong Dance Batubulan, Gianyar
Showing Barong and Kecak dance performances daily in the Balinese artists’ village of Batubulan, the Sahadewa dance theatre has two stages, enabling shows to be performed in any weather. The stage is also one of Bali’s pioneering local stages. Established in 1972, the show has been performed daily ever since. The Barong dances are mainly shown at its open stage, while the indoor stage hosts cultural dinners as well as varieties of traditional dances such as Legong, Jegog and others.
10. Sari Wisata Budaya Barong & Kris Dance Pemogan, Denpasar
The privately-run Sari Wisata Budaya stage, located in the village of Suwung Kauh that is in between Kuta and Sanur, features a semi-open stage where the Barong and Kris dagger dancers are performed daily. Pamphlets are handed out before the show, which explains the episodes of the performances inspired by the legendary Calonarang tale of the struggle between the powers of good and evil, represented by the two main characters known as the Barong and Rangda. A lively gamelan orchestra accompanies the dances, and photo sessions with the performers clad in their dazzling traditional costumes onstage follow after the show. Shows are held in the mornings, starting at 09:30 for approximately an hour.
Wednesday 04 October 2017
10 Free Things to Do in Bali
Here’s our roundup of the best things you can see and enjoy in Bali, without needing to spend even a dollar or Rupiah bill. After all, who doesn’t like keeping the budget down while on holiday? In compiling this list, we wanted to include not only the obvious free attractions and activities available, but also the odd and unusual that you might’ve not even heard about before. Bali’s affordability is one of the factors that make it a favourite holidaying destination and it offers many things to enjoy on the cheap. Getting around might require you to shed just a bit off your travel money, but trips spanning popular beaches to scenic hills and valleys provide great value for budget travellers, as the discoveries on each journey end don’t cost you any extra!
1. Walk the beaches… and malls!
Bali owes part of its fame to its collection of beaches, mostly public and easily accessible. The popular ones, such as Tuban, Kuta, Sanur and Nusa Dua have additional footpaths that allow for leisure walks at any time of the day, especially sunrise and sunset. The cliff-fringed beaches of the southern limestone Bukit peninsula require much more effort to get to, with stone pathways and crags, but with scenic views and quieter scenes. Kuta Beach is more urbane, with modern malls the likes of Kuta Beachwalk on its northern half and Discovery Shopping Mall on its south – both freely accessible from the beachside and great for window shopping after a day out on the sand
2. Ride the waves… or go under
While in Bali, surf to your heart’s content. Surf spots abound, and range from sand breaks to challenging (barrelling) reef breaks – there’s a fair share beginners and pros around. Surfers from across the globe bring their own boards and head to these favourite spots as soon as they get out of Ngurah Rai Airport. You can enjoy the underwater wonders of Bali’s colourful coral gardens by snorkelling for free, too.
3. Hike mountains and discover hidden temples
If you’re the adventurous type, Bali’s mountains are free to climb but the more gruelling ones such as Mount Agung and Batukaru, two of the island’s highest, usually require an acknowledgement or permit from the local village community organisation or the forestry department (for safety issues). No extra charges, however. Some lower mountains offer ‘modest’ climbs, such as Mount Lempuyang in Karangasem, East Bali, with its lush forests, hordes of timid grey macaques, and the prized discovery of an ancient temple named after the mountain at its peak.
4. Walk the Campuhan ridge
As one of the best attractions in Ubud, the Campuhan ridge is free to access. It’s also a relatively easy nature trek, with a well beaten trail that leads you into the vast green valley expanses of this highland area. While the hike lets you enjoy cool fresh air and probably the most gorgeous hillside vista in the region, it also allows you to shed off some calories too with its nine-kilometre hill track. Some consider it a must-see and do while in Ubud, just to escape the urban and traffic scenes of town and discover a more pristine side of Bali.
5. Witness the creation of a masterpiece
Make your stop at any of Bali’s major art markets where you can find stall after stall of arts and crafts, curios of different shapes and sizes. Then consider how they are made. A visit to any of Bali’s artistic villages and communities of craftsmen, such as the Pakudui village in Tegallalang, or the gold and silversmith communities of Celuk and Mas, south of Ubud, can be eye-opening where you can see how woodcarvers shape intricate Garuda statues, or how silversmiths craft gemstones into their shiny and sophisticated jewellery pieces. Most workshops allow you to witness the process (in hopes that you buy something in the end… well, that’s all up to you).
6. Learn about sea turtles at Kuta
There are two major turtle conservation sites on the island that are free to visit, and one happens to be in a convenient spot in Kuta Beach. The Bali Sea Turtle Society (BSTS) has a conservation centre right next to the Balawista lifeguard tower and the Headquarters Beach Club. The conservation centre has a huge nursery in the shape of a giant sea turtle, which contains a sand bed with clusters of eggs rescued from contiguous nesting sites, in order to protect them from natural predators and human beach activities. Consider yourself lucky when they release hatchlings out to sea – you can freely participate!
7. Absorb the local traditions, up close
You’ll most likely encounter a Balinese Hindu procession during your visit, whether a funeral, or a village temple ritual that has a whole village in temple attire fleeting along roads from or to temples, while carrying elaborately crafted heirlooms and towering fruit offerings on their heads. The idea of going to a funeral on holiday might sound strange, but, unlike the west, these are actually festive occasions where you get the chance to mingle with the locals and learn about village rituals. Wear a sarong and sash around the waist as standard respectful attire.
8. Visit lively communal halls
Each village in Bali has its sub-village community gathering hall where youths regularly practice performing arts, from traditional Balinese dances to gamelan orchestras. Outside visitors are usually welcome to drop in and watch. It’s a great alternative to those dance shows where you actually have to pay tickets! Also, around the month of March coinciding with the Saka New Year preparations, you can witness giant ogoh-ogoh effigies being crafted by the villagers in these same halls.
9. Test your nerves at a ‘ghost town’
For a truly offbeat experience, head to Bali’s collection of weird sights – some totally free to access. These include a vast abandoned amusement park north of the Sanur Beach proper, a collection of ‘lost planes’ in some of the weirdest places, and several cave-like temples. Some are eerie and mysterious – great for the adventurous type looking for a dare. We’ve compiled the odd places to visit in a special page.
10. Join a festival
Most of the annual festivals in Bali are free to watch, particularly the Bali Arts Festival opening parades, which are a great opportunity to witness the arts and vibrant cultures of the island in one single street procession. Another is the annual Bali Kites Festival, which is held during the windy season, around the months of June to August, following favourable weather conditions. The community of Sanur rejoices yearly with the Sanur Village Festival, a week of various agendas that are mostly free admission.
Saturday 30 September 2017
Bali Best Festival
Great Annual Bali Events
These best festivals in Bali can add much colour to your visit, whether you’re looking for unique moments to capture or immersive gatherings with likeminded individuals. These annual events range from arts and cultural happenings to a rave beach party in one of the world’s top electronic music festivals. Feast your eyes upon the many different facets of Bali’s rich arts and culture through a month-long festival in Bali’s provincial capital of Denpasar, or head down to Sanur in August where the whole coastal village is pretty much alive with a variety of exhibitions and fun and games on the sand that you can also take part in.
1. Bali Arts Festival Denpasar (June-July)
The Bali Arts Festival is a cultural treat for lucky visitors who are in Bali until mid July. The festival traditionally starts on the second Saturday of June and runs through the month of July. It is the perfect moment to witness Bali’s wealth of performing arts together with various cultural highlights from other islands in Indonesia. As one of the main highlights in Bali’s calendar of events, the annual celebration features various artworks and cultural achievements, inviting locals and international visitors to the Taman Werdhi Budaya Arts Centre in Denpasar where most of the daily exhibitions and art performances are focused. On regular days, a visit to the Denpasar Art Centre is a small tour to admire magnificent sculptures and Balinese architectural features as well as a venue of choice for photo shoots with exotic backdrops. But throughout the Bali Arts Festival in June and July, the complex becomes alive with colourful traditional bamboo and coconut leaf decorations and banners. Crowds gather in front of its open stages, auditoriums and outdoor pavilions to witness a variety of traditional and contemporary dances, shadow puppetry, music compositions and youth competitions that fill the festival agenda. Hundreds of artisans from the Denpasar municipality, Bali’s eight provinces, other neighbouring islands and even art troupes from abroad participate and showcase their talents. Now in its 39th year, the Bali Arts Festival returns June 10 to July 8.
The Bali Arts Festival traditionally kicks off with an opening parade in front of the Bajra Sandhi monument in Denpasar. At the Ardha Chandra stage of the Bali Arts Centre, witness a series of stage performances by the Indonesia Arts Institute (ISI) of Denpasar. On the following days up to July 8, the various stages and different venues come to life with the wide and colourful variety of performances from different art groups from all over the island and Indonesia. The month-long festival offers you the best showcase of Balinese and Indonesian arts and culture in the entire year!
Enjoy traditional music and gamelan recitals at the Ayodya and Angsoka stages, as well as evening Balinese documentary film screenings at the Ksirarnawa auditorium. Balinese children’s Gong Kebyar gamelan jam sessions at the Ardha Candra amphitheatre is also a unique highlight, with vocal, musical and dance collaborations by troupes from Denpasar and the Tabanan regency. Also find handicraft, painting, sculpture exhibitions and traditional culinary bazaars featuring favourite Balinese dishes. The Bali Arts Festival customarily closes with a lively ceremony with an evening traditional ballet known as 'sendratari’, held at the Ardha Candra open stage from 20:00.
2.Bali Kite Festival Sanur (June-August)
The Bali Kites Festival is a series of kiting events that take place annually between July and August (sometimes through October), notably at the start of the windy season. The kite festivals are one of Bali’s major provincial calendar highlights presenting unique cultural scenes on par with the preceding the Bali Arts Festival. The festival is slated for various dates, with main events customarily taking place along the eastern coast of Padanggalak, just north of Sanur. Main preliminary events are usually held near the end of June and confirmed following favourable weather, therefore planning ahead to witness the event is usually a last-minute deal. Hundreds of competing kite troupes gather from all over the island to pilot their traditional kites, alongside international teams with modern kites in various shapes and sizes. What started off as a seasonal agrarian festival thanking the heavens for abundant crops and harvests, has become a competitive ground for communal ‘banjar’ youth groups who send their ‘sekaa layangan’ kite teams to participate and win prize money from sponsors. A competition is also usually held for ‘new creation’ kites, which may include detailed three-dimensional figures and unusual designs, from Hindu gods, cars and motorbikes, to mascots and brand sponsors. A gamelan orchestra accompanies each troupe, adding to the joyous spirit of the Bali Kites Festival and the drama of take-off and landing sequences.
The Balinese traditional kites are gigantic and have evolved into increasingly bombastic proportions over the years, measuring up to four metres in width and 10 metres in length. Some other versions, such as the ‘janggan’ type have impressive flowing ribbon tails often reaching 100 metres or more in length. Jointly built at the communal ‘banjar’ village halls all over Bali, skilled youths, supervised by elders, craft bamboo frameworks for weeks up to the major event. Lightweight fabrics are selected according to an agreed-upon colour scheme and some are fitted with intricately carved heads. The final results await transport – usually by truck and requiring special escort along small Balinese roads – towards the Bali Kites Festival flying grounds on Padanggalak Beach. The ‘bebean’ type is the most common design with a traditional outline of a fish, and is the common ‘giant kite’ of Bali that dominates the skies. The ‘janggan’ somewhat resembles birds with shorter and rounder wings and their long flowing ‘kedeber’ ribbon tails often outshine the kite’s body once airborne. In each competition, the task of assembling and flying the entailing ‘kedeber’ is major challenge for the piloting troupe that normally comprises a dozen or so boys and men. Categories to win include ‘best launch’, ‘best design’ and the ‘longest flight’. Occasionally, the kites descend over nearby rice paddies, and team members must dash through the coast onto the fields to retrieve the hard-earned and painstakingly built kite before it gets soaked.
Although the skies over Padanggalak are dominated by these flying giants during the Bali Kites Festival, you’ll witness kite-filled skies on any given day between June and August - every year. At this windy time of the year, the skies over Bali are just as elaborately decorated as any Balinese procession. Some kites are even fitted with sound instruments in the form vibrating bows called ‘guwang’, which generate a resonating hum that can be heard from far. Enjoy Bali’s windy season sights and sounds! Don't worry if you missed out on the main opening festival events in July. There are various competitions to witness throughout the second half of the year, which are also highlighted annually as part of the festivity. Following is the tentative line-up of 2017 Bali kite events, as announced earlier in the year by the Bali Kites Association or Pelangi (Persatuan Layang-Layang Indonesia, Bali chapter).
3. Nyepi Eve Island-wide
Nyepi Day in Bali is a New Year celebration unlike anywhere else on the planet. Bali’s celebrates the Saka New Year as the Bali Day of Silence, an ultimately quietest day of the year, when all of the island's inhabitants abide by a set of local rules, which brings all routine activities to a complete halt. Roads all over Bali are void of any traffic and nobody steps outside of their home premises. Most Balinese and visitors regard it as a much-anticipated occasion. Some expats and those coming from neighbouring islands prefer escaping Bali for the day rather, due to restrictions that surround the observance. Some visitors check coinciding dates ahead before their Bali trip, avoiding it altogether. Anyhow, Nyepi is worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime, especially since the preceding and following days offer rare highlights to behold!
A Different Kind of New Year Celebration
The unique day of silence marks the turn of the Saka calendar of western Indian origin, one among the many calendars assimilated by Indonesia’s diverse cultures, and among two jointly used in Bali. The Saka is 78 years behind the Gregorian calendar, and follows a lunar sequence. Nyepi follows after a new moon. Village meeting halls known as ‘banjar’ and streets feature papier-mâché effigies called ogoh-ogoh, built throughout the weeks leading up to the Saka New Year. Youth groups design and build their mythical figures with intricately shaped and tied bamboo framework before many layers of artwork. These artistic creations are offshoots of the celebration since its dawning in the early 80s, which stayed on to become an inseparable element in the island-wide celebration that is Nyepi Eve.
Before the Silence
Before ‘the silence’, highlight rituals essentially start three days prior to Nyepi, with colourful processions known as the Melasti pilgrimages. Pilgrims from various village temples all over Bali convey heirlooms on long walks towards the coastlines where elaborate purification ceremonies take place. It is one of the best times to capture on camera the iconic Balinese processions in motion, as parasols, banners and small effigies offer a cultural spectacle. Then on Saka New Year’s Eve, it is all blaring noise and merriment. Every Balinese household starts the evening with blessings at the family temple and continues with a ritual called the pengrupukan where each member participates in ‘chasing away’ malevolent forces, known as bhuta kala, from their compounds – hitting pots and pans or any other loud instruments along with a fiery bamboo torch. These ‘spirits’ are later manifested as the ogoh-ogoh to be paraded in the streets. As the street parades ensue, bamboo cannons and occasional firecrackers fill the air with flames and smoke. The Nyepi Eve parade usually starts at around 19:00 local time.
When the Whole Island Shuts Down...
However on Nyepi Day, complete calm enshrouds the island. The Balinese Hindus follow a ritual called the Catur Brata Penyepian, roughly the ‘Four Nyepi Prohibitions’. These include amati geni or ‘no fire’, amati lelungan or ‘no travel’, amati karya ‘no activity’, and amati lelanguan ‘no entertainment’. Some consider it a time for total relaxation and contemplation, for others, a chance for Mother Nature to ‘reboot’ herself after 364 days of human pestering. No lights are turned on at night – total darkness and seclusion goes along with this new moon island-wide, from 06:00 to 06:00. No motor vehicles whatsoever are allowed on the streets, except ambulances and police patrols and emergencies. As a hotel guest, you are confined to your hotel premises, but free to continue to enjoy the hotel facilities as usual. Traditional community watch patrols or pecalang enforce the rules of Nyepi, patrolling the streets by day and night in shifts.
Ngembak Geni, the day after Nyepi
On the day after Nyepi, referred to as 'Ngembak Geni', head down to the village of Sesetan in southern Denpasar for the omed-omedan, roughly known as the ‘festival of smooches’. This is a much-localized event, pertaining only to Sesetan's Banjar Kaja community. Youths take to the street as water is splashed and sprayed by villagers, and the highlight being two throngs of boys and girls, in a tug-of-war-like scene. Successive pairs in the middle are pushed to a smooch with each shove and push.
4. Galungan and Kuningan Island-wide (varies, following local calendar)
The Balinese celebrate the day of Galungan, which commemorates the triumph of Dharma over Adharma, or good against evil, this April 4 to 6. Second in significance after the Nyepi or Saka New Year, this observance comes twice a Gregorian year, as the Balinese use a 210-day calendar system known as the Pawukon that is the basis for their daily rituals, temple anniversaries and holidays.
What Happens and Where?
This year the Galungan festivity starts on a Tuesday on April 4 and November 1, when bamboo poles decorated with young coconut leaf decorations line the streets all over Bali. This is a unique welcome to Bali if you happen to be on the island around this time, and usually lasts until Kuningan, another associated observance that comes 10 days after on April 15 and November 11. Traditionally, Galungan day sees the slaughtering of pigs for communal feasts, as well as baking traditional rice cakes and erecting iconic 'penjor' bamboo poles. These intricately decorated poles, naturally curved at the top, comprise harvest items such as rice, fruits, coconuts and coconut leaves. The men of the households erect their ‘artwork’ at each household gate on the eve, resulting in an impressive view throughout all village roads. Celebrants in traditional attire attend temple ceremonies with their families, bringing with them offerings of fruits to temples and family shrines – which they share and enjoy after prayers. The celebration climaxes on Wednesday, April 5 and November 2, when people put on their finest clothes to visit family and temples. The day of Galungan is important for the Balinese, similar to a new year, when everyone returns to their families and home villages. The following Thursdays, Manis Galungan, like Boxing Day, is a day to visit friends and relatives or for fun family trips. Kuningan, on the other hand, marks the end of the 10-day festival. The ceremony surrounding Kuningan refers to special offerings made of yellow turmeric rice. Yellow is also the colour of the god Wisnu, the protector of the Hindu trinity. The Kuningan celebrations are most significant at Sakenan Temple on Serangan Island, southern Denpasar, which coincidentally celebrates its piodalan temple anniversary peak celebrations on the same day. The occasion features a series of sacred dance performances and rituals, with pilgrims attending from all over the island.
Brief History and Legend
As local legend goes, Galungan commemorates a Balinese victory that involves the central figures of Indra (the Hindu god of thunder, rain and lightning) and the Balinese king, known as Mayadenawa, who denied his subjects the worship of Hinduism. So powerful was the king that no one could overcome him. The conquest of Java's Majapahit army back then had little effect. Battles ensued until finally Indra descended from the heavens to defeat the king. The battle raged in Tampaksiring, Gianyar, where the king was finally subdued. While under siege, he tried to escape by various ways including via supernatural means such as turning into a statue, a stone, and a wild boar. He easily fooled the troops, but not Indra. Mayadenawa then retreated to the jungle leaving behind disguised footsteps, hoping his assailants would not easily track them. Indra's magic arrow put an end to the rebel king. The legendary site where he bled to death became a freshwater spring, the current-day site of the Tirta Empul Temple. The king’s slanting footprints gave the name to the valley area, later pronounced as Tampak Siring – ‘slanting footprints’. The Balinese and Majapahit armies honoured Indra, commemorating the defeat of the king as Galungan, the day of victory of dharma over adharma. The decorative bamboo poles signify upheld Hinduism and wisdom. So traumatized were the people that they were not easily convinced of the king’s defeat, believing that he had probably used his magic to turn into a statue, tree or even another animal. To overcome public fear, an official announcement of the defeat was made 10 days later, commemorated as the day of Kuningan, which has two meanings, ‘to announce’ and ‘of yellow’.
5. Perang Pandan East Bali (June-July, following local calendar)
Perang Pandan at the village of Tenganan in Karangasem, East Bali, is an age-old tradition unique only to this well-preserved Balinese village in East Bali. Also referred to locally as 'mekare-kare' and 'megeret pandan', Perang Pandan is a mass coming-of-age ritual, dedicated to the Hindu god of war and the sky, Indra, which sees friendly duels between all male villagers, who bout each other armed with a small rattan shield in one hand and a tied packet of thorny 'pandan' leaves in the other. The event is held annually, adhering to its own local calendar.
Tenganan comprises two sub-villages, Dauh Tukad (loosely translated as, 'west of the river'), and Pegringsingan. The latter is best known for its prized heritage Geringsing ‘double ikat’ cloth, which female villagers wear as part of family regalia during the rituals, and which you can witness their making process on tours to Tenganan anytime of the year. During the height of the event that regularly coincides in the months of June and July, the special duelling arena is set up, village houses are gracefully adorned, and girls ride large man-powered wooden swings as part of the festivity. Around this main arena will be packed with cheering villagers, visiting spectators and photographers. Inside, brave boys and young men take turns in pairs to 'fight' each other, inflicting each other’s bodies with lashes from the leaves' sharp thorns – there will be blood. Yet surprisingly, each contestant shows no pain. Rattan shields seem to be mere accessories. Wounds are simply treated with an herb, turmeric and vinegar mix, and which miraculously help dry up wounds in minutes. Those with a faint of heart may opt to see other highlights of Tenganan village, such as local food stalls displaying a huge array of tasty traditional cakes, or the making of ‘lontar’ palm leaf manuscripts, carved calendars and intricate art called ‘prasi’, and shop for intricate handicrafts such as woodcarvings and masks that are produced by the villagers, or even hunt for a unique piece of locally produced double ikat (using a technique known as resist dyeing) for the living room back home. The village of Tenganan is within only 15 minutes' transfer north from the main Jalan Raya Candidasa road. And many hotels along the Candidasa coast, such as Alila Manggis, Candi Beach Resort and Spa, and Rama Candidasa, often provide shuttle transfers, especially during such major calendar events, to the village as part of their guest activities and tour options.
Source : http://www.bali-indonesia.com/magazine/best-festivals-in-bali.htm
Saturday 23 September 2017
BALI’S TEMPLES BY THE SEA
Nestling beachfront, jutting into the sea, or overlooking the vast Indian Ocean, these temples lure visitors with their grand architecture, captivating sea backdrops, and compelling tales.
Of course, when talking about sea temples, the famous Tanah Lot will immediately spring to mind. Probably the most photographed temple in Bali, Tanah Lot attracts not only the Balinese Hindu pilgrims, but also the non-Hindu residents and visitors to the island to admire its beauty – making it one of the most visited attractions in Bali.
The story of Tanah Lot dates back to the 16th century, when a Javanese Hindu priest, Dang Hyang Nirartha was on his pilgrimage journey in the southwest coast of Bali. He spent the night on a small rocky island he found near the mainland, and the next morning he asked the local fisherman to build a shrine to worship the God of the Sea, for he felt a holy atmosphere there.
The temple is considered to be another one of the most sacred places in Bali and the main compound is not accessible to visitors but reserved for religious pilgrimage only. When the tide is low, crowds usually gather at the beach between the rock where the temple stands and the cliff of the mainland. The caves have also become another famous attraction as legend has it that a giant snake lives in one of them. At the base of the rocky island there are many poisonous sea snakes, believed to be a transformation of Nirartha’s scarf, guarding the temple from evil spirits and intruders.
Also in the Tanah Lot complex is another temple, Batu Bolong Temple. Meaning ‘hollowed rock’, the small shrine is built on a rocky promontory that is said to protect Tanah Lot. This site on the north of Tanah Lot has its own allure, though it’s quite underrated if we may say. So the next time you visit Tanah Lot, be sure to walk up north and visit Batu Bolong as well.
In the coastal village of Pemuteran, in the eastern part of Buleleng regency, a visit Pulaki Temple is a spectacular experience. Upon entering the temple, you will find the mid-court. From here the beguiling blue of the Javanese Sea can be seen clearly with beautiful green hills to the right and left. There are more stairs to climb if you wish to enter the main court where people place their offerings and pray. Always alive with activity, the main court is the favourite hangout spot for mischievous monkeys awaiting their next chance to nab some fruit. Despite the noise of the monkeys, people still manage to concentrate fully on their prayers; they must be used to it!
During the rainy season, the dry brown mounds behind the temple transform into sparkling green hills. Black and white stones make up the temple walls, as if the hills themselves were being carved to create it. Monkeys roam around inside and outside the temple, disrupting the people bringing offerings. A good portion of the beach across Pulaki is covered by pebbles, where just like in the temple, a horde of resident monkeys can be found playing around on.
On the other side of Pemuteran, in southwest Bali, you can find Rambut Siwi Temple, located approximately ten kilometres from the city of Negara in the regency of Jembrana. It sits at a beautiful location, directly on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. Near the rear of the property is a steep set of steps leading down from the main temple area to a small prayer grotto nearer sea level. Perfect for meditating, this is a lovely site well worth visiting, for the temple offers a calm, peaceful and tranquil oasis.
This temple was already built by the time Dang Hyang Nirartha (the same Hindu sage who built Tanah Lot) stumbled upon it in his travels during the mid-sixteenth century. Nirartha stopped here to pray one afternoon and he quickly entered into a deep state of meditation. During his meditative prayers, the walls began shaking. They continued shaking harder and harder, until the entire temple complex collapsed around him. The temple was in total ruins and the unruffled Nirartha sat in the middle of the shambles, unscathed. Of course, Nirartha restored the temple to its original condition. He gave a lock of his hair to the temple guard and told him to plant it in the centre of the temple grounds and then pray that the temple would be restored and that the restored temple would be much stronger than the original one.
The guard did as he was instructed. He dug a small hole in the centre of the temple grounds, planted Nirartha’s hair in it, covered it with fresh dirt, patted it flat, then began to pray. Much to his surprise during his prayers the temple walls began to grow up and out of the small pile of dirt covering Nirartha’s buried lock of hair. The walls kept creeping out of that hole and assuming their original position until the entire temple complex was totally restored. And that’s how it remains to this very day, exactly as Nirartha promised, virtually untouched by the ravages of time.
Source : http://nowbali.co.id/balis-temples-sea/
Wednesday 20 September 2017
Essential Bali travel tips: what to know before you go
From navigating the crowds to being monkey-savvy, there are a few tricks to getting the best out of a trip to Bali. We’ve rounded up 15 top tips to bank for your next visit to the Island of the Gods.
One of the most touristed islands on earth, Bali isn’t exactly an untouched paradise. But while it can be difficult to escape the throngs of south Bali and Ubud, determined solitude seekers will be pleased to find loads of secluded corners beyond these primary tourist centres. Tip: head to the central mountains, or Bali’s more chilled-out north and west coasts.
Choose your base carefully
It pays to put some thought into your Bali base, as chaotic traffic and hot weather are likely to make you stick close to your hotel or guesthouse rather than wander far on foot or sit in stuffy taxis. If you’re looking for real R&R, Kuta probably isn’t your thing. If you want to shop up a storm and eat more than your body weight in fine food, a week on Nusa Lembongan isn't likely to leave you fully satiated. Find your perfect spot with the help of Lonely Planet's 'first time Bali' guide.
Don’t fret about 'Bali belly'
Strict dietary habits are no longer required to prevent spending your Bali break within two steps of a toilet. Once upon a time, salads, cut fruit, ice cubes and most meats were on the danger list, but hygiene standards have improved markedly across the island, and many kitchens offer good quality organic produce. While dodgy prawns will always be out there, by staying hydrated, avoiding notorious local liquor arak and consuming street food with a degree of caution, the dreaded Bali belly should be kept at bay.
Dress for the occasion
Beachwear doesn’t always cut it in Bali – many higher-end bars, restaurants and clubs enforce a dress code. If you’re unsure, call ahead to save the potential embarrassment of being turned away.
Respect religious customs
Religion rules the roost in Bali. Don’t get your knickers in a knot when a street is blocked off for a ceremony or your driver pulls over mid-trip to make a blessing – this is all part of the magic of the island. Plan accordingly if your travel dates fall on Nyepi when everything in Bali (even the airport) shuts down for the day, and always dress modestly (covering the shoulders and knees) and conduct yourself appropriately when visiting temples and holy sites.
Prepare for a mixed bag of price tags
It’s still possible to visit Bali on a shoestring by staying in guesthouses, dining at warungs and shopping at local markets, but you can just as easily blow your life savings as drinks, meals, spa treatments and room rates at high-end establishments are priced similarly to that in Australia, the UK and the US. Look out for online discounts and happy hour deals.
Be cautious of wild and stray animals
Give wild and stray animals a wide berth. They may look cute, but rabies and other diseases are serious risks in Bali and monkeys are notorious for their thieving ways. Bali’s stray dogs are numerous, and often in pretty bad shape. If you’re keen to make a difference, consider making a ‘doggy donation’ to Bali Dog Refuge (balidogrefuge.com) which helps to rescue and rehabilitate the island’s stray pups.
Avoid plastic water bottles
Bali’s heat and humidity calls for constant hydration, but consider the environment before purchasing another bottled drink. An estimated three million plastic bottles are discarded in Bali each month; help reduce this figure by investing in a stainless steel bottle that you can refill; most good cafes and restaurants have a water filter available that you can use for free or for a small fee. Earth Cafe in Seminyak has stainless steel bottles available for purchase.
Learn some local lingo
A few basic words of Bahasa Indonesia will take you a long way in Bali. Try selamat pagi (good morning), tolong (please) and terima kasih (thank you), for starters.
Remember that low season often means rainy season
Be mindful of Bali’s rainy season (January to April and October to November) when planning your trip. Discounts can be great, but if you end up spending your holiday cooped up indoors, you may be left wondering if making the trip was worth it. Fortunately, the rains are often limited to brief afternoon downpours, so your holiday isn't likely to be a total write-off.
You can bargain for many items and services in Bali, but do so respectfully and with a smile on your face. You’ll know when the vendor has reached their limit, and at that point don’t push it. When in doubt, walk away – if the seller doesn’t come after you, you can be sure they aren’t prepared to drop their price any lower.
Get your head around the current visa situation
In early 2015,Indonesia waived its standard 30-day tourist visa-on-arrival (VOA) system for 45 countries; visitors from most other nations (including Australians) must purchase the VOA. While extending a 30-day visa is possible, it can be a tricky business. Speak to a reputable visa agent on the ground, or contact your nearest Indonesian consulate prior to departure. At the time of publication, 60-day visas could be arranged in advance, but not in-country.
Play by the rules
The Indonesian legal system may seem confusing and contradictory, but it's best not argue with police if you are accused of an infringement that may feel unjust, and pay ‘fines’ with good grace. Do not expect any special treatment for being a foreigner, and it goes without saying that having anything to do with drugs is a very bad idea.
Respect the ocean
Even if you’re an avid beach-goer and surf worshipper, Bali's powerful waves, strong currents and exposed rocks can be treacherous, so take care, and don't swim alone unless you are completely confident in doing so. Show equal respect for the beach by not leaving any garbage (including cigarette butts) behind – when the tide comes in, it'll be sucked into the ocean at great cost to the marine ecosystem.
Bali is generally safer than the headlines suggest, but with close to four million tourists hitting its shores every year, it’s statistically natural that some travellers may have problems. Party safe, always wear a helmet when riding a bike or scooter, be respectful, and don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in your home country, and you're on track for the holiday of a lifetime.
Lonely Planet Writer
Source : https://www.lonelyplanet.com/indonesia/bali/travel-tips-and-articles/essential-bali-travel-tips-what-to-know-before-you-go/40625c8c-8a11-5710-a052-1479d277522a
Monday 18 September 2017
Flower Lagoon 🌸🌸 Make your romantic stay memorable with the pool full of flower in One Bedroom Villa with Private Jetted Pool at Aleva Villa.
Saturday 09 September 2017
Bali: Bikinifox X Aleva Villa
"The perfect villa for two"
In the heart of Seminyak lies the beautiful Aleva Villas. Aleva is a small array of one bedroom villas just 1.5km from Seminyak Square Shopping Mall. Upon arrival we were greeted from Alevas incredible staff along with gorgeous miniature rabbits which run around the villas pathways and for those animal lovers yes you are aloud to bring these little cuties into your villa. Each villa features your own private pool, hammock, TV unit including multiple DVDs available at the front desk and are accessible anytime. Theres a large spa bath overlooking the villas pool, have a dip and go straight into the bath. The staff were extremely friendly always offering a helping hand or booking taxis when we needed they also have a free shuttle service to the surrounding area which comes in handy for sight seeing and shopping. The in villa kitchen was equipped with your very own dishwasher and oven. Other amenities included a microwave, coffee machine and kettle.
The daily floating breakfast was definitely a highlight with the menu providing a variety of choices for any appetite. You are in Seminyak however to get to the popular areas you will need to get a local taxi or a bike. Due to the villas being located off a main road there is a little bit of noise of the vehicles passing by.
Overall we had an amazing experience at Aleva, we couldn't thank the staff more for their friendly service. We highly recommend Aleva Villas for a wonderful Bali experience. If you have any questions about our experience please feel free to email.
Tuesday 29 August 2017
Special Promotion - Campaign Aleva Villa
Plan your memorable trip in Bali
Book your stay in One Bedroom Villa with Private Jetted Pool at Aleva Villa, get special benefits:
- Pick up at Airport
- Flower in the Pool and Bath Tub
- 1 x floating breakfast
- 1 x afternoon tea
- Free wording on the bed upon arrival (Happy honeymoon or anniversary or birthday)
Term and conditions:
- Booking period: immediately - 30 September 2017
- Stay period: 1 Oct-10 December 2017
- Valid for direct booking and new booking only
- Minimum 3 nights stay required
- Nonrefundable with full payment in advance
- Not combine with other existing benefits and package
For further information, please contact us at:
Visit website www.alevavilla.com
Tuesday 22 August 2017
Top 10 Best Tours in Bali
These are the best tours in Bali, with something for pretty much any type of visitor. Exciting excursions and unique sightseeing opportunities are plentiful on Bali, from the cultural to the action-packed. Adrenaline junkies can cruise down challenging rapids and immerse themselves in the scenic rural countryside of Bali’s interiors, while those into history and cultural discovery can admire the collection of majestic temples through full day tours. The most popular tours in Bali cover various highlights across the island’s eight different regencies, from the cool uplands down to the coastal waters. Here, we’ve narrowed them down to help you decide on the best options available so you can plan your stay in Bali ahead with a half or full day out to experience the very best of Bali’s sights and sensations.
1. Tanah Lot, a pilgrimage site and temple set dramatically on a rock in the sea. Watch the surf crash around the base of the temple as the sun sets on this picture-perfect scene.
2. Kedaton Monkey Forest and Sanctuary, where hundreds of gray macaques swing from the treetops and approach visitors.
3. UNESCO-listed cultural site of Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave) and wonder at the detailed sculptures of mythological creatures carved into the cave entrance.
4. Batubulan Village, famed for its stone statues and sculptures. While there, watch the lively Barong dance, a piece of Balinese mythology with ornate costumes, traditional dancing, and unique musical instruments.
5. Combine a wonderful cruise on the magnificent Bali coastline with a delicious dinner aboard the Bali Hai Cruise. Absorb the scenery around Bali and see your surroundings set against the backdrop of a spectacular sunset.
6. Splash down the rapids of the Ayung River, paddling along with your expert guide as they lead you between lazy pools perfect for swimming and Class III falls sure to get your heart pumping. Afterward, warm up with a hot shower and enjoy a delicious buffet lunch with stunning valley views.
7. In a dramatic location on the slopes of an active volcano, Mount Agung, sits the one of the most sacred Hindu temples of Bali—Mother Temple of Besakih.
8. Kintamani, where you can admire the lush panoramic sight of Mount Batur and the glistening volcanic crater lake of Danau Batur. At lunchtime, find a local restaurant with magnificent views of the volcano.
9. Lembongan Island, the boat anchors by a private pontoon where you can enjoy a buffet lunch and try any number of unforgettable experiences. Take to the sea in a kayak or banana boat, dive in for some snorkeling, or don a diving helmet to take a walk with the colorful fish.
10. Enjoy a high-speed cruise out to Nusa Dua and Uluwatu's coastline for a magical encounter with native dolphins. See dolphins swim and jump in synchronizing harmony and listen to their unique way of communicating with each other via the boat's high-quality underwater sound transmitter.
Source : http://www.bali-indonesia.com/tours/top-ten.htm
Monday 21 August 2017