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Besakih
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Home Page > Travelogues > Indonesia > Island of Bali

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Click on the colored areas of the map to access a travelogue.  The colors indicate different regions of the Indonesia -- scroll down for explanation and introduction for each location. (Original map comes from Microsoft Expedia)

IntroductionWelcome to the Island of Paradise!  The Island of Bali is a great Indonesia experience -- wonderful food, terrific atmosphere, and some of the world's most breathtaking scenery!  It is also a land of art, music, and dance, with rituals and traditions that date back centuries.  The Balinese are well-known woodcarvers, producing unbelievably massive and ornate sculptures that commonly appear throughout Indonesia.  Jewelry, gold and silver, is also a major industry.

But unquestionably, the Balinese survive on tourism.  In fact, Bali is so reknowned as a tourist destination that many visitors don't realize that it is not a separate country unto itself.  The southern part of the island is dominated by hotels, restaurants, bars, and markets -- most of them geared towards visitors.  The further north you go, the more native you get, with increases in traditional markets and the absence of brand name wares.  People come for many different reasons -- to catch a wave on Bali's great surfing beaches, to enjoy the white-water rafting available on the lakes, or to witness Hindu celebrations at its many puras, or temples.

This section contains 14 separate travelogues based on locations I visited during two separate trips in 2002 and 2003.  It covers about twenty different locations throughout the island and neighboring islands -- the SE Coast travelogue, for example, covers the beaches of Candi Dasa, the Dutch plantation house at Taman Ujung, and the bat cave of Goa Lawah).  Most are worth visiting -- whereas a couple of them might fall on your once-we-did-everything-else list. 

Recent events (particular the bombing of Kuta in 2002) have raised questions in some people's mind about the security situation and perhaps has discouraged potential visitors.  Although I am not in a position to comment on such matters directly, I can say from my personal experience -- having returned there in January 2003 -- that immediate steps were taken to prevent further incidents, and I felt perfectly safe.  Naturally, I strongly encourage anyone with concerns about travel to any destination (not just Bali), to consult with your foreign ministry or equivalent to get the latest information.

Travelogues.  The coloring of the locations on the map above indicate different locations in Indonesia, as shown below.  Some of these travelogues were contributed in part by Veronica Siwi.

GREEN:  Southern Coastal Region.  The vast majority of visitors will spend their time in the very south.  The airport is on the isthmus between Kuta Tall Cliffs of Ulu Watuand the Nusa Dua peninsula, and most of the public harbors are here, loaded with cruise ships to take people to the other islands or on dinner cruises and other entertainment.  It is also where most of Bali's best-known shopping resides, where nearly all the clubs are (Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Cafe, etc.) and the five-star resorts.  It would not be hard to stay in the south for the entire vacation -- but there'd be a lot you would miss!  Travelogues in this region include the lovely cliffs and Hindu temples of the Ulu Watu (pictured above) with its Sunset at Jimbaranmonkey forest (and mischievous macaques), the resort beach district of Nusa Dua and its miniature islands and shopping centers, the lovely beachside restaurant resort of Jimbaran (pictured below) that allows diners a perfect sunset view and an outdoor seafood feast unlike any other, and Kuta -- referred to by the locals as "downtown", where most of the tourists hang out. RED:  Central Artist Region.  It is only a short drive to the north where the tourist kitsch dissipates and the real nature of Balinese art and music takes center stage.  Here, each village has iMusicians Practicing in Ubudts specialty -- some in woodworking, some in painting, others in jewelry.  The galleries are basic and the markets are truly native, simple large huts where goods are stacked high to the ceiling.  Bali's major art center is Ubud (pictured above), which is the second-largest tourist region on the island.  Ubud is far quieter and much more relaxed than Kuta, but offers gallery after gallery of beautiful art.  The nearby city of Gianyar is the region'Elephant Cave of Goa Gajahs business center, where a number of small Indonesian businesses set up headquarters on Bali.  Gianyar is typical of Balinese towns with its large temples and huge statues decorating the streets.  It is also near Bali's famous Elephant Cave (or Goa Gajah).  Tanah Lot is on the west coast of Bali and is probably the best place to catch a sunset, with its lovely island temple just off the beach (separated from land during high tide).
BLUE:  Volcanic Interior.  Further north are Bali's towering (and thankfully inactive) volcanoes that are home to large lakes and beautiful temple sites.  One of the most common day trips for visitors is to the seven-level temple of Besakih (shown above), facing Mount Agung, Bali's tallest volcano.  Volcanic lakes figure prominently, and two are offered here -- Lake Batur and Lake BratanTemple on Lake Bratan (shown below) -- which are both surrounded by temples and small villages that offer a truly exclusive getaway.  Finally, there is the Presidential Palace of Tampaksiring, which is open to visitors only with Indonesian guides.  Tampaksiring has one of the most beautiful and ornate temples on Bali and the palace grounds are lovely to walk around. PURPLE:  Eastern Coastal Region and Lembongan Island.  The eastern coast has some interesting destinations, but is Bat Caves of Goa Lawahnot as developed as a tourist haven, though Bali is trying to change that based on the need to relieve the crowds in Kuta).  I grouped several spots together in a piece called Southeast Bali, including the bat caves of Goa Lawah (shown above), a Dutch View of Eastern Bali from Lembonganplantation yard in Taman Ujung, and the resort beach front of Candi Dasa.  Lembongan Island (shown below)is a common day trip for scuba divers, and the home of some very private and secluded resorts.  Finally, there is the eastern city of Klungkung, which like Gianyar is a business center with tremendous Balinese architecture all around.

Stories and Features:

Kecak Dance.  Art and music is deeply rooted in Balinese culture and religion.  There is no Kecak Dance greater evidence of this than their beautiful and symbolic dances, mostly based on stories of Hindu origin that tell of heroes, heroines, war, and magic.  The Kecak Dance is a prime example, telling the story of the warrior Rama and his quest to reclaim his kidnapped love Sita.  The dance is performed routinely on Bali island, and some towns have regular performances (such as in Batubulan, where I watched it).  This is a wonderful way to spend an evening on Bali! Kuta Bombing Site.   I had the chance to revisit Kuta three months after the Scene from the Kuta Bombing Site terrorist bombing of 12 October 2002.  It was interesting to see how the island of Bali had changed, and how it remained the same, during that time.  It was also noteworthy to see how the tourist industry has worked to overcome concerns about security and safety in order to bring the tourists back.

Stories and Features:

Kecak Dance.  Art and music is deeply rooted in Balinese culture and religion.  There is no Kecak Dance greater evidence of this than their beautiful and symbolic dances, mostly based on stories of Hindu origin that tell of heroes, heroines, war, and magic.  The Kecak Dance is a prime example, telling the story of the warrior Rama and his quest to reclaim his kidnapped love Sita.  The dance is performed routinely on Bali island, and some towns have regular performances (such as in Batubulan, where I watched it).  This is a wonderful way to spend an evening on Bali! Kuta Bombing Site.   I had the chance to revisit Kuta three months after the Scene from the Kuta Bombing Site terrorist bombing of 12 October 2002.  It was interesting to see how the island of Bali had changed, and how it remained the same, during that time.  It was also noteworthy to see how the tourist industry has worked to overcome concerns about security and safety in order to bring the tourists back.

LinksThe below links connect you to external sites.  The Country Links and City and Town links are official sites sanctioned by the national, state, or local governments unless otherwise indicated.  The Travelogue links from Yahoo! Travel provide information about hotels and other services for major locations.  (These links open a new window.)

Country Links:

bulletIndonesia Tourism Page
bulletUS Embassy to Indonesia
bullet

US Consulate to Indonesia (Bali)

bulletUS Consular Information Sheet about Indonesia
bullet Indonesian Embassy to US  

 

Travelogues from Yahoo! Travel

bullet Country Guide to Indonesia 
bullet Island Guide to Bali 
bulletVillage Guide to Kuta 
bulletVillage Guide to Nusa Dua
bullet Village Guide to Ubud 

Regional and City Links:

bullet

Bali Tourism Site

bullet

Page on Balinese Dance and Music

bulletJakarta Tourism Site

 

   
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