Bali, known as the Island of Gods, is an extremely popular destination that attracts millions of travellers every year. No matter what you are looking for, you will find it here: crystal clear water and white sand beaches with good waves for surfing; vibrant green rice fields and dense jungles to explore; majestic Hindu temples and spiritual practices for body and mind; and much more – Bali is a place for everyone.
As soon as one lands in Bali, will instantly get in touch with Hinduism. Indonesia is the largest predominantly Muslim country, but in Bali approximately 84% of the population is Hindu
The religion is deeply rooted in the Balinese culture: the families live together in beautiful villas, where they build their own private temples. They spend part of their days carefully preparing offerings to the Gods – small baskets made of banana leafs, filled with colorful flowers, incense sticks, rice, fruits and much more. Every morning the offerings are deliberately placed in front of rooms, statues of deities, or on the streets – It’s impossible not to appreciate the dedication and time that Balinese people spend preparing for their religious rituals. Big Hindu ceremonies happen regularly, and being invited by a local to join one of them it’s a unique experience: The sweet smells of incense, the colorful offering baskets piled up in tables, the locals properly dressed in traditional balinese clothes and the praying rituals, will take you to another dimension and make you truly believe that there is something above us
The number of temples on the island it’s a reflection of the importance of religion in the Balinese culture: With over 6000 temples, Bali it’s an appealing destination for those who want to explore the spiritual side of an ancient culture
There are different kinds of temples, and the differences between them depend on the purpose of the worship. Some will surprise you by their history, looks such as the popular Tanah Lot – a temple located on the south of the island that looks like a giant rock floating in the Indian ocean; others will surprise you by their unusual location – the Lempuyang Temple, located on the top of a mountain, it’s only reachable via a steep staircase of over 1,700 steps, with attractions along the way including several other temples and hordes of grey long-tailed macaques that inhabit the surrounding cool mountain forests.
In Bali, the temples are perfectly integrated with the nature, which demonstrates the interesting connection between religion and nature characteristic of hinduism.
From south up to the north, there is a lot more to explore, and the beaches are one of the main attractions. There is one to suit every taste: on the island’s south coast such as Kuta, you will find palm-fringed white sand beaches; towards Uluwatu, cliff-guarded ‘hidden’ shores; On the north and western shorelines, black sand beaches. The highly developed, crowded and touristic Kuta, contrasts with Saba, an undeveloped and non-touristic place with an interesting beach where the locals bury their bodies on the black sand until the neck – it’s believed that the shiny black sands have healing properties.
All over Bali, the waves are an invitation for the surf lovers, and the bright pink sunsets are the perfect excuse to stay longer on the beach.
On the island’s center, the perfectly arranged rice fields are abundant and the jungles hide beautiful waterfalls that deserve to be explored, and Ubud is the perfect example of it – the greener place in Bali, at all levels. Here, the nature surrounds you with immense beauty, and the healthy practices for body and mind characteristic of this beautiful village and it’s people, attract millions of travellers every year, in search for a more conscious and healthy lifestyle.
From raw, vegetarian and organic food to yoga classes, meditation or cacao ceremonies, Ubud is home to a big spiritual community that can change you deeply – inside and outside
On the north, the mount Batur is the perfect excuse for another adventure. Seeing the Volcano is, by itself, an experience, but it’s possible to climb it during the early hours of the morning and watch the sunrise from the top of it. The mount Batur is surrounded by a lake – a beautiful place for a bike ride to enjoy the volcano from a different perspective and appreciate the nature and small villages around it. The roads are bumpy, but they don’t have the chaotic traffic characteristic of Bali.
Roaming through the streets, between shops, markets and temples, the local Warungs and Padangs stand out – restaurants with delicious local food, prepared and cooked in a variety of ways. On Warungs the menu consists on the traditional local dishes: the famous nasi gorend (fried rice with meat), mie goreng (friend noodles with meat), Ayam Bakar (grilled chicken), and many more. On Padangs you pay for what you eat – The family that runs the restaurant will cook all the food for the day in the morning, and place the dishes in the window. They sit there all day until they are eaten.
The popularity of Bali grows more and more every year. The island of Gods has a lot to offer, and it’s estimated that over a million of foreigners have chosen Bali has their home away from home. But with popularity a huge development came and the big resorts, fancy restaurants, buses filled with tourists and a lot of traffic are a reality in Bali nowadays. The low-cost lifestyle attracts a remote workers and backpackers from all over the world, but the prices are slowly increasing every year and Bali is becoming a more expensive and westernized destination.
But Bali, it’s a place that deserves to be experienced – the beauty it’s not only in the places, but deep inside of its people.
Bali is one of the few cultures with origins in one of the great ancient cultures which is still alive – Arthur Erickson