the old culture from balinese and all i know will show in this blog

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Bali Overview

Bali, a tropical island in the Indonesian archipelago, is an ideal holiday destination for all ages. It has a wonderful blend of modern tourist facilities combined with excellent shopping opportunities and a rich heritage. A unique aspect of Bali is its active Hindu culture. Many Hindu-Balinese rituals are reflected in daily life and can be seen in numerous ceremonies, Balinese festivals and magnificent temples and palaces.

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If you are a surfing enthusiast, Bali is definitely the place for you as some of the best surfing beaches in the world can be found on the western side of the island. Conversely the eastern side is a wonderful haven for families, with beautiful white sand beaches and gentle seas with little more than a ripple breaking the calm surface of the water.

A shopper's paradise, Bali is well known for casual and tailored clothing, locally-made jewellery, handicrafts, antiques and artefacts. Leather ware is one of the unexpected local bargains with everything from handbags to tailor-made leather jackets, all at unbelievable prices.

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For those who enjoy water-related activities, Bali has world-class scuba diving and snorkelling day trips to fantastic sites. Enjoy a romantic moonlit dinner and watch a spectacular Balinese Fire Dance or Kecak Dance. If you want to dance the night away Bali certainly knows how to party and nightclubs are scattered everywhere.

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For those more culturally inclined, Bali can offer the peace and tranquillity of Ubud high in the hills where the scenery is nothing less than spectacular. In Ubud, one can discover all sorts of cultural treasures in this art capital of Bali and perhaps of all Indonesia. Jungle, picturesque hillsides, rice terraces and the magnificence of Kintamani Volcano are also waiting to be discovered.

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If you want a break from idyllic beaches, you can experience golf in the mountains or going for a paddle or white-water rafting down the beautiful Ayung River; bicycle through scenery you will never forget, or trek through the jungles on foot to discover a side of Bali most tourists never encounter.

Bali is a truly international destination, offering every standard of accommodation ranging from modest bungalow style hotels in lush gardens or bustling towns, to exclusive, sophisticated hotels in either the jungles or along open stretches of beach or hidden in small bays.

Climate

Bali has a tropical climate all year. The average temperature hovers around 30 degrees Celsius year-round. There are dry and rainy seasons - dry from April to September and rainy from October to March - but it can rain at any time of year and even during the rainy season, rain is likely to pass quickly. In general, May through August is the best time to visit Bali. At that time of year the climate is likely to be cooler and the rains lightest.

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Around the coast, sea breezes cool the heat coming off the land and as you move inland you also move up, so the altitude works to keep things cool. It can get very chilly in the highlands and a warm sweater is a good idea in mountain villages like Kintamani or Bedugul.

History

The Balinese people are descendants of a prehistoric race who migrated through mainland Asia to the Indonesian archipelago. To this day, they retain their own individuality, having adapted different aspects of various dominating civilisations which best suit their own spiritual values.

The first inflow of changes recorded were due to Indian traders and travellers who brought with them the Hindu learning and religion. The most persuasive influence of Hinduism came from nearby Java. With the fall of the Madjapahit Kingdom to Islamic influences, many thousands of Hindu priests, nobles, soldiers, artists and artisans fled from Java to Bali to escape their Muslim conquerors. This gave a fresh force to the already strong Hindu culture, which has continued to flourish. It wasn't long before rivalries led to feudal years between the various kingdoms that followed.

Up until this point in time few western contacts had been made with the island. In 1585 a Portuguese ship, foundered off the coast of Bukit. Most of the ship's company drowned and the few survivors settled on the island. Twelve years later, the Dutch explorer Cornelius de Houtman paid a visit. This brought forth the first substantial amount of information about Bali to the western world. Despite the intermittent visits of Dutch merchants, Bali was relatively neglected by the European world until the beginning of the 19th century.

Assorted French and English interests tried for many years to obtain a foothold in Bali unsuccessfully, which only served to alert the Dutch to the potential existing within the island. Civil war and anarchy were rife amongst the royal courts, and a period of cloudy history ensued, of which few accurate accounts are available.

Continual attempts were made by the Dutch to force the Rajas of Bali to recognize the sovereignty of the Netherlands in return for protection against their enemies, but in general, despite a multitude of documents that were duly signed and witnessed, they met with general animosity. It was at the court of Buleleng that the sentiments of the Balinese were finally expressed to the Dutch Commissioner, who was visiting Bali to demand ratification in 1844.

In words that were to immortalise him as the modern hero of Bali, Gusti Ketut Djelantik, the younger brother of the Raja of Buleleng and Karangasem, told the Dutch Commissioner "Never while I live shall the state recognise the sovereignty of the Netherlands in the sense in which you interpret it. Not by a mere scrap of paper shall any man become the master of another's lands. Rather let the kris (sword) decide".

Both parties realised, upon the delivery of this impetuous message that war was not far away. The Dutch began readying an expeditionary force, and the Balinese began making military preparations. Once the powerful Dutch army set out to subdue Bali the ultimate outcome was obvious, but little did they realise at what expense. It took three campaigns and sixty odd years to shatter the Balinese defences and morale. There were a number of tragic "puputan" battles in which the Raja, his entire royal court, women and children plunged into battle, armed with kris and spears, killing each other on the battlefield rather than be taken captive.

These rather shocking events had great psychological effects on the Dutch, and from then on they ruled in Bali with a lenient hand, doing their best to keep to an "ethical" policy and a whole new generation of administrators developed, who regarded themselves not only as the agents of modernisation, but as the protectors of Bali's traditional culture.

In accordance with their policy of cultural conservationism, the Dutch Residency was reluctant to allow evangelists and missionaries to practise in Bali. They were also concerned about the effects of opening the door to international tourism. Actual organised tourism came to Bali in the 1920's. By 1930 up to 100 visitors a month were arriving and their ecstatic reports were so positive that by 1940 this figure had increased to about 250 per month.

K.P.M. opened a tourist office in Buleleng (1925), bought the government rest-house in Denpasar and established the Bali Hotel (1928), as well as acquiring the Kintamani government rest-house as a mountain stopover. By the 1930's they had taken over American Express and Thomas Cook, and virtually dominated the tourist scene.

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Pre-war tourists usually came by sea, landing at Buleleng on the north coast, or Padang Bai in the south. It wasn't until the 1930's that two enterprising Germans started up the ferry service between Banjuwangi and Cilimanuk and a road was built connecting Gilimanuk to Denpasar.

Air travel became possible in the 1930's, but it was very risky. The first survey flight made by the Royal Netherlands Indies Airways crashed into Mount Batukau and the first airport, built in Bukit, was too dangerous for landing except in the calmest weather.

In 1938 a new airport was built at Tuban on the site of the present airport, and Bali became an overnight stop on the weekly flights to Australia and Sulawesi.

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With such a tumultuous past, it is amazing how Bali continues to prosper and preserve its culture. Today Bali contributes considerably as a rich source of international tourism for Indonesia as a whole and is the most popular destination in all of Indonesia.

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