to many is the land of a thousand gods, a thousand temples, and
a thousand dances. Some others see the island as perhaps the last
frontier, waiting to be discovered, for its beauty, its culture,
its way of life. Others arrive here and undergo an experience, one
that will etch a life-long impact and draw them back to its shores,
again and again.
Ask around and you are almost sure to get the reply,
"Come to Bali for its culture, its beauty". That seems
to be the subtle message that the people themselves convey about
their fables island. It's a message from the heart, for the Balinese
are truly proud of the splendors of their island. Visitors soon
realize that Bali is no longer a frontier waiting to be discovered,
instead it needs to be re-discovered, over and over again.
Bali is situated approximately on latitude 8 degrees
South and longitude 115 degrees East, and together with the nearby
island of Lombok, are the most westerly of the Little Sunda Islands.
They are part of the nearly 13,700 islands that make up the Republic
of Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago.
The island of Bali remains fiercely attractive
to the visitor. They come here in search of character; their own
perhaps! More significantly the journey to Bali should be undertaken
to seek an understanding of a way of life that is truly unique.
This journey cannot be undertaken in a short, jet-hop
span, rather you soon realize that you could spend a lifetime in
Bali and still feel there is more to be seen, heard and understood.
No matter how often you watch a barong performance, or the kecak,
or hear the gamelan, each time you are there, something deep inside
you reminds you that it's a new happening, a re-discovery.
There are several other dances that could excite
you. There is the gambuh - a classical form of dance-drama, the
topeng, which is traditional masked dance, the Baris or the warrior's
dance, legong, the Dance of the Heavenly Nymphs, the kebyar which
is a flashy modern dance and the Shanghyang Dedari, the ritual trance
To first time visitors, who has been fed on leaflets
and travel brochures, Bali appears as a holiday retreat, of beautiful
beaches, a place in the sun. it can even be mistaken for a land
on a perpetual holiday. But Bali is more than that.
One goes to Bali for experience, a journey of a
lifetime, to come face with a remarkable people, their customs and
traditions, their beliefs, their hopes and their eternal search
You never seem to have enough of Bali. There is a yearning to "see"
more. You feel the mysticism and get drawn in, like a magnet, forever
attached to its people, to its beauty. It's the beginning of your
search for the true meaning of the balance of the cosmic forces.
You are spell-bound by the dainty movements of
the dancers, stunned by the roughness of the demons, you follow
closely the trail of the spirits, wondering what other creature
will appear of the scene. You wait, almost with bated breath for
the final conquest. And when the performance is over, you feel you
Prayer is central in the life of a Balinese, as
it is important to keep all the forces in a balanced state. Every
object, be it a mask, atone, even fire, has a spirit. There are
mystical forces at work that can be molded for the benefit of mankind.
To the Balinese such forces, both good and bad, emanate from one
The Balinese are Hindus. They practice a blend
of that religion that was originally brought by Indian kingdoms
of old. However Hinduism in Bali is quite unlike that in India.
Over the centuries, the Balinese have incorporated elements of their
indigenous beliefs and practices, with traces of Javanese influences
as well. There are also strong elements of Buddhism in the island,
and which perhaps like no place on earth has blended and intertwined
Of course there are those who practice other religions
as well on the island. One has to be reminded that Indonesia is
the largest Moslem nation in the world, while in this island, the
majority of the population are Hindus. It is this Balinese Hinduism
that dominates all aspects of life here.
Death and the cremation rites are important to
the Balinese. Cremation is not a sad occasion, rather it is one
of joy, as the person now has the opportunity to reach the higher
realm. The cremation ceremonies draw huge crowds, and many foreigners
as well these days.
Bali is whatever you want it to be. A tourist haven,
with splendid beaches, a friendly people, a warm climate, cool mountain
air, a slow pace. You get told stories of old, you find new meaning
in the simple things of life. You can hike up trails, watch the
birds, visit temples, buy your gifts. You can fill your own treasure
troves with the memories, with recollections of your own enlightenment
when you stood and faced the mountains and gazed at the natural
beauty of the surrounding countryside.
Bali is also about color, sound, smell and texture.
The people churn out a bewildering array of garments, which thankfully
remain at non-inflated prices. Little wonder why this remains a
There is music as well here. With music, naturally there is dance.
And in Bali, the dances repertoire is seemingly endless. The music
and dances vary from village to village in form and contents as
well. It may surprise you to learn that many ways the people of
Bali truly are individuals, for what is practiced in one village
is quite unknown to the person from the next. Yet, within this diversity,
there is unison in action, in thought and in common beliefs, hopes,
Welcome then to Bali, perhaps the last place on
this earth that still conjures images of mystique, of beauty, of
peace and goodwill and way of life that is unique in this modern
day and age. Here you get a deep sense of satisfaction. It's an
environment; it could possibly even be the hospitality that envelops
you. You are bewildered by the hues of color, sound and natural
beauty. Bali, the last frontier, where the search for the true meaning
of life can begin.
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