Bali, for the foreign traveller, has changed much over the past 20 years, but so have many popular places around the world. Journey away from the crowds to find the real Bali.
Commonly referred to as the “Island of a Thousand Temples”, “Island of Gods”, and “Bali Dwipa”, Bali island is the most visited Indonesian island by foreign travellers. While most travellers start and end their Indonesia journey in Bali, often fixated on their luxurious tourist resort and spas, Indonesia is much more than Bali. Many seasoned travellers to Indonesia will argue that Bali is not Indonesia. Bali is uniquely Bali, and not typical of Indonesia.
As a starter, while most Indonesian people are Muslim, the Balinese people practice Balinese-Hinduism. The Balinese-Hindus celebrate about 60 religious holidays a year, so they commonly organise their lives around the practice of their religion with almost every aspect of their lives involving prayer, worshipping, and offerings to their gods.
Different ceremonies form an essential part of every Balinese person’s journey through life, a journey of colour, aromas, and celebration. Their culture is vividly expressed through their traditional arts, dances, festivals, and religious offering ceremonies.
The island of Bali lies just over three km east of Java island, separated by the Bali Strait. The island has the shape of a sick chicken facing west towards Java, with a land area of almost 5,800 km².
Bali’s central mountains include several peaks rising over 3,000 metres in elevation, with Mount Agung, or locally known as Gunung Agung, the highest at 3,031 metres. Mount Agung is an active stratovolcano which, prior to the current eruptions, last erupted in 1963, one of the most devastating volcanic eruptions in the modern seismographic history of Indonesia. The cone-shaped peak dominates the surrounding area, even influencing the rainfall patterns. Since September 2017 there has been an increase of seismic activity around the volcano which has resulted in the evacuation of thousands of residents from the surrounding areas. At the time of writing (November 2017), the volcano is spewing ash clouds, mudflows and fire. Locals remain on high alert.
Bali is known for its beaches. Those in the south tend to have white sand while those in the north and west have black sand, ample evidence of Bali’s historic formation and reshaping by volcanic eruptions. The big swells make for great surfing, and being surrounded by coral reefs makes diving one of the main attractions for many travellers flocking to Bali.
READ ALL ABOUT BALI IN THE DECEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF GLOBEROVERS MAGAZINE