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

Saturday, 12 June 2010

The Overview Of Bali

Bali is part of the Indonesian archipelago, and every aspect of this island is fascinating. Formed millions of years ago by volcanic action, the Bali landscape is dominated by mountains, coastal lowlands and limestone outcrops that drop from great heights into the sea. Beside the spectacular landscape, Bali is better known for its rich culture, surf and sparkling beaches.
The mesmerising sounds of the gamelan, the countless sacred and secular dances, beautiful textiles, the wayang style of painting are among some of the elements of Balinese culture that have long captured the hearts of visitors. Sometimes, tourists will stumble upon a parade of people in stark gold, pink and purple costumes, carrying baskets of fruit and flower arrangements as offerings.
There are also ample opportunities to ride the most exciting surf in this part of the world, take leisurely walks in peaceful jungles, go diving, shop, trek volcanoes and enjoy lip smacking food. Eating and drinking should definitely be an unforgettable experience in Bali. The seas around the island are abundant with marine life, some of which ends up in the kitchens of restaurants. Fertile soils and heavy rainfall coupled with abundant water from mountain springs have allowed rice, vegetables, fruit and many other crops to grow. This cornucopia of ingredients allows a great variety of dishes to prepared.
The Indonesian archipelago stretches from the islands of Sumatra in the North West to Irian Jaya in the East, and Bali is situated between highly populated Java and idyllic Lombok. In a way, Bali captures much of the soul and identity of Indonesia yet it has evolved a unique culture of its own, making it a very special place.
Amongst the 13,700 Indonesian islands (900 of which are inhabited), Bali is the only Hindu province, and the rich blend of tradition and culture has an incredible impact. Moreover, Bali is the last island running east to have a distinctly tropical Asian environment. Any island east of Bali lies east of the Wallace line and the people and life forms show signs of having a greater Australian and New Guinean influence. Strangely enough, it is also considered to be the most western of the Lesser Sunda Islands, which stretch as far as New Guinea.
Geographically, Bali is the ideal location for such a colourful and deeply spiritual culture. In fact the rich geography of the island has actually been responsible for extensive and fascinating cultural development.
Even though it is relatively small, approximately 5,000 square kilometers in all, Bali boasts a whole range, of different environments. This compact landscape centers on a line of active volcanoes with alluvial slopes that spill down to coastal plains. Tropical rainforests fringe the mountains, eventually giving way to carefully cultivated rice fields and crop growth. Further down on the plains, water logged mangrove swamps lead to the ocean. A number of different rivers and streams, in turn, wind their way through a cross section of these environments and down to the coast, carving deep chasms as they go.
Bali enjoys a consistently warm climate, which is particularly mild in the dry season, and the mountains ensure there is a steady rainfall to periodically cool the island down through the rainy season. The mountainous regions maintain a refreshing temperature all year round, and can provide a great break from the greater heat and humidity of the plains.
The people of Bali, as diverse as the geography of the different regions and yet united by their strong religious beliefs, draw their strength and their meaning from this wonderful environment.
The mountains are the focus of all daily activities, with holy Mount Agung as the great heavenward inspiration. All villages, temples, family compounds, houses and furniture arrangements are designed to face "kaja", or towards the mountains. The seaward direction "kelod", on the other hand, is considered to be less sacred and at times impure, although the sea itself is not considered profane.
Mountain slopes provide the ideal setting for the luminous terraced rice fields, which then transform into vast paddied fields. The Balinese have an ingenious irrigation system controlled by village organisation called the subak that keeps these paddies well watered, and the rich nutrients from the volcanic ash ensure these fields are also well fertilized.
Rice is the staple food for all Balinese people, and sampling the steamed rice (nasi putih), red rice (nasi merah), or even coloured yellow rice (nasi kuning) is a must. Or try a mixed rice dish served with different condiments (nasi campur) or fried rice (nasi goreng), even some sticky rice patties. Rice also has sacred significance, and it is offered back to the gods in the form of brightly coloured cakes, or even simply as a few grains sprinkled on a banana leaf. Dewi Sri, the Balinese rice goddess, features strongly in local mythology and religious observance, and she often appears as a "cili" figure cut and bound from rice stalks.
The rivers are a focus for rural village life, as they are a source of water for both work and domestic activities. You'll often find whole villages bathing in the rivers, washing their clothes, washing their cars, fishing from them, or simply splashing around and having a great time. Further down the river path, many of the mud flats near the sea continue to be used by small family groups for making salt, an essential condiment in Bali.
At the edges of the land, the oceans are a source of holy water and the channel for preparing the dead for their afterlife. But there is still a great fear of the sea as the unknown, so even though fishing and seaweed farming are reasonably widespread and many activities revolve around the surrounding ocean, it is treated with great respect.
As a visitor, it is difficult not to be drawn in to the inherent magic of a place where the people and the land interact so closely, where the people draw so much meaning from the land and its spirits. You can see this magic in the long processions of flower and fruit laden villagers on their way to the temples, or in the glittering dancers acting out an ancient Hindu story. You can hear it in the lively clashes and clangs of the gamelan orchestra, or the quiet whispers of continually offered prayers.
It is easy to sense the magic in the tastes of an island with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, and the aromas of sweet incense. And, naturally, the magical feeling is palpable.
While in Bali, you may choose to participate in this magic by visiting one of the large number of temples, with ancient Hindu symbols carved in huge slabs of stone. Or you may be lucky enough to have the opportunity to observe a temple festival or public cremation. You will, most likely, want to see at least one of Bali's famous dances.
Grab the opportunity if you can, to see the graceful welcoming dance, in which young girls tilt their heads and move rhythmically to the gamelan beat, sharing their flower offerings with all.
Another must see is the kecak dance, a hypnotic chant performed by scores of men circled around a large coconut oil lamp, where scenes from the Ramayana are re enacted. Or the legong dance, which includes a series of different dance scenes and styles, is always worthwhile.
The more adventurous can go trekking, fourwheel driving, white water rafting, and ride elephants or camels! There is nothing quite as exhilarating and spectacular as rushing down a river canyon or trekking through thick matted forests. It is always possible to feel some of that tribal Balinese magic when you venture out into the more wilderness of Bali.
Or you may just be satisfied to enjoy the beautiful beaches and countryside, knowing the spirits are with you. How can you miss it when there are constant reminders of their presence?
Wherever you are, and whatever you choose to do, enjoy the warm smiles and open embrace of a people who appreciate their whole way of life and would love to share some of its magic with you.
The traditional prayer position of the hands and bow from the heart are welcoming gestures designed to recognize and honor your soul, and they are a true indication of your importance as a visitor to Bali.


Marvelous Hotels said...

Credits cards and charge cards are also accepted in most retail establishment, at hotels and on airlines. In some cases, a service fee is included when charging a purchase to your card. However, when travelling to the villages, take Rupiah with you. Keep small change handy when riding in bemo (public minibus) or buying drink at the warung.