30 November 2012

Bali - the Dokar

The 80s and 90s were the heydays for dokar coachmen. Around 500 coachmen were registered in the Denpasar Dokar Association back then.
Dokar was a popular mode of public transport for both vendors and buyers at the markets. The toughest competitors to the dokar were the three-wheeled bemo, which today have completely vanished from Denpasar. The three-wheeled bemo, nonetheless, are still a favorite for tourists and residents on the streets of Bangkok, Thailand.

Coachmen would be very grateful if the administration supported the preservation of dokar as public transport for tourists in the city, for example by setting dokar routes, a dokar price list, and dokar terminals.

Denpasar Tourism Agency’s head of tourism attractions acknowledged that there had been plenty of requests from the tourists to tour the city by dokar. The tourists demand certainty of routes and price. Tourists particularly enjoy touring around the heritage area of Gajah Mada, the Satria Bird Market, Bali Museum and the Denpasar Art Center by dokar.

However, at the moment his agency had no plans to revitalize the presence of dokar as a mode of transport for tourists. With the crowded traffic, it would be hard to promote more dokar in the city. The administration currently could only promote dokar once a year in a dokar decorating competition, in which they were decked out with colorful cloth and flowers, during the celebration of the city’s anniversary.

29 November 2012

Bali's 10 most photographed places

Bisnis.com has conducted a survey of a wide range of books on Bali, websites and the social media in
compiling a list of the ten most photographed locations on the island.

The ten places selected as Bali’s most photographed are:

- Kuta Beach with its long arched sandy beach almost always filled with tourist visitors, both foreign and domestic.
- Kuta Beach at Sunset – Kuta got mentioned twice by the survey, warranting a second mention as one of the favorite place to photograph a Balinese sunset.
- Tanah Lot, Tabanan – home to Bali’s sacred and iconic Pura Luhur Tanah Lot. The temple is “picture perfect” set a few meters off shore sitting atop a small rock island.
- Garuda Wisnu Kecana Cultural Park – located just south of Bali’s airport, the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Park (GWK) sits on the highest point of the Ungasan peninsula affording a 360-degree view to two oceans. Under construction on an on and off basis for many years, the plan is for the final erection of a statue of the Lord Wisnu sitting upon the shoulders of a mystical Garuda Bird. When completed, the GWK monument will rival in height landmarks in many of the world’s leading cities.
- Lake Beratan, Bedugul, Tabanan – “Danau Beratan” looks as if it were a floating Balinese temple on its volcanic lake home.
- Kintamani, Bangli – recently accorded UNESCO Geopark status, the community built on the edge of a caldera at Kintamani offer views of the Batur volcano and Lake Batur.
- Pura Besakih, Karangasem – The undisputed “mother temple” of Bali, Pura Besakih is a large complex of temple buildings sitting on the slopes of sacred Mount Agung.
- Taman Ayun, Mengwi, Badung – Surrounded by a moat, the Taman Ayung Temple is connected to Bali’s traditional subak irrigation system that feeds its reflecting pools. Set on a large expanse of land the multi-tiered roofs of the temple are a favorite subject for visiting photographers.
- The Rice Terraces of Jatiluwih, Tabanan – Recently names a UNESCO Heritage site, the rice terraces of West Bali are the manifestation of Bali’s ancient Subak irrigation system. The verdant rice terraces have been in place and filling the island’s rice bowl for at least a thousand years.
- Bajra Sandhi, Monumen Perjuangan Rakyat Bali, Denpasar – The Monument of the People’s Struggle Park in Bali’s capital of Denpasar was built in the 1990s. The center point of a large park used every day by recreating Denpasar residents, the monument at the center of the Park also houses a museum depicting the Indonesian struggle for independence.

28 November 2012

Bali beaches, free access for All

A number of hotels in Nusa Dua are being accused of expropriating their beach-fronts, turning these areas into private beaches off-limits to non-hotel guests.

The Bali Post highlights the problem, reporting that people straying onto some beach fronts at Nusa Dua are turned back by security personnel who warn that only hotel guests are allowed access to the beach front. And while some beach visitors protest, correctly insisting that all beaches are open to public access in Bali, the security guards remain steadfast in barring their passage.

Protest from local citizens have prompted the chairman of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association to issue a statement, saying: “The beach belongs to the public and cannot be closed or controlled by anyone. What’s more, there is the impression that several hotels who are subdividing the beachfront, something they cannot do. The beach is for the enjoyment of the public at all times. The public can visit any beach at any time.”

While many hotels optimize their use of the beach panorama afforded by their location and place lounge chairs up and down the beach that give the mistaken impression of exclusive control and ownership of the beach. While in reality the beach belongs the undisputed right of all people in Bali to enjoy.

The PHRI-Bali chairman expressed the belief that hotels laying more than their rightful claim on their beachfront can, in fact, be encountered in many areas of Bali, not just in Nusa Dua.

27 November 2012

Lombok - Purah Lingsar, the rice war

Every year a very special war takes place at Lingsar Temple in West Lombok. This isn’t a riot between warring groups and it isn’t a real war, although the name “Perang Topat” translates as “Rice Cake War”.

Topat is short for “ketupat” and are small diamond-shaped parcels of rice, which have been wrapped in woven coconut leaves and boiled – a delicious local alternative to ordinary rice. In this friendly war, Hindus and Muslims stage a mock battle, hurling the topat at each other amidst much fun and laughter.

Built around 1714 and rebuilt in 1874, Pura Lingsar is located about 10 km northwest of Mataram and is renowned for its unique temple complexes. The temple was built during the reign of the King Anak Agung Gede Ngurah , a descendent of the kings of Karangasem from Bali, who once ruled this part of

Lingsar Temple is the only temple on Lombok where Hindus and Muslims gather to worship and pray together. The temple is considered sacred by both religions; it has been associated with fertility for centuries and is an important link to the island’s animist roots.
The ritual of Perang Topat has been performed at Lingsar Temple every year on the full moon in the seventh month of the Sasak calendar for hundreds of years, in a tradition that is passed down through the generations.

This year, Perang Topat will take place in the late afternoon on Wednesday, 28 November. Try to arrive around 3pm.

26 November 2012

Bali - Goa Lawah

About 43 kilometers east of Denpasar, on Padang Bai road, Klungkung, Goa Lawah temple is believed to be
one prominent temple in Bali.

One of the most sacred temples in Bali, which was built in the 11th
century by the high priest “Empu Kuturan”. It’s famous for its bat cave. Inside the temple, one will find a natural cave inhabited by thousands of bats hanging down from the ceiling, flying around, and singing as well as holy python snakes that often appear around the cave.
A story tells that the cave has an end at Goa Temple, Besakih.

25 November 2012

Pic of the week

    Cocks, Balinese man can talk about them for hours.

Bali - Tsunami sirens

The Technical Operations Control Centre has advised that Bali needs an additional ten tsunami sirens to avert potential disasters.

Six sirens have already been installed in Kuta, Nusa Dua, Seminyak, Sanur, Tanjung Benoa and Kedonganan.

The Head of the Centre said that Bali needs at least ten additional sirens
for the five eastern regions of Bali and another five for the west of Bali including Tabanan. The sirens were needed in the event of an earthquake measuring 7 and more on the Richter scale on land and more than 20 kilometers in depth on the ocean.

24 November 2012

New shopping center in Bali

The business group Lippo Group is now building three shopping malls targeting the middle class and tourists in Bali.

One shopping mall that has been completed is Lippo Sunset on Jl. Sunset Road in Kuta, which was last Friday.

Bali, as an internationally recognized destination and one of the largest towns in the country, have good potential for shopping malls.
The target market is the middle class, the local community living around the area and the expatriates and holidaymakers visiting the Island of the Gods.

It was no surprise that Bali was being fought over by domestic mall businesses competing to expand in Bali, such as the Matahari Hypermart group.
Generally, Bali has a climate conducive for business and thus parties are interested in investing. Despite competition in the mall world becoming fiercer, Lippo is not worried about the effect of their presence on other players as they all had different market segments.

22 November 2012

Bali - private villa rental decline in 2013

A Bali Property Outlook study by Knight Frank’s senior research manager Hasan Pamudji predicting that private rented villas in Bali will experience declining occupancies during the first half of 2013.

Predicting occupancies to dip by “around 9%,” Knight Franks cite increasing supply, lower booking levels and an ongoing price war as all contributing to lower revenues in Bali villa sector. The greatest competition is projected to occur in the three and four-bedroom segment of the market .

Against the background of reduced revenues will be higher costs incurred in villa operations as trained and qualified employees to work in the villa sector are seeking and getting higher wage levels.

This increasing need for better human resources has caused higher costs.

Reduced demand from Europe is, to some extent, being redressed by growing demand for villas from the Australian and Asian markets. The report said the highest demand for villas is occurring in the one-bedroom segment of the market with prices increasing in some instances by 21% for these units. Seminyak, Canggu, Bukit Jimbaran and Tabanan are the most popular areas for rented villas with Seminyak and Canggu the hottest areas, but also the most expensive, in the villa rental market.

Bali - I Gusti Ngurah Rai

Thousands of people, including War of Independence veterans, attended a solemn ceremony on Tuesday at Margarana Heroes Cemetery in Marga, Tabanan, to commemorate a historic battle 66 years ago, in which scores of Balinese soldiers led by the charismatic I Gusti Ngurah Rai staged puputan (a battle until the last man falls) against Dutch forces.

The battle, in which Ngurah Rai and 95 elite members of his Ciung Wenara regiment perished, would be later known as Puputan Margarana. Born into a ksatriya (warrior) family, Ngurah Rai followed in the footsteps of the island’s traditional warriors, who consciously opt for puputan instead of surrendering to the enemy.

Led by Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika, the participants at the ceremony — officials, soldiers, students and relatives of the fallen heroes — bowed their heads in a silent prayer of remembrance and gratitude toward those brave men and women who gave their lives so their descendants could stand tall as citizens of a free nation.

Surat Saksi, the famed letter Ngurah Rai sent to a senior ranking Dutch army officer, was read out in the ceremony. It was in this letter that Ngurah Rai, born of a Balinese royal family, who learned the art of warfare at the Dutch colonial infantry school, rejected Dutch advances for a negotiation, famously stating that: “Negotiation is a matter that we have entrusted to our [political] leaders in
Java … On behalf of the people, I only wish the disappearance of the Dutch from Bali and we promise that we are willing to fight forever until that wish is fulfilled.”

In Indonesia from now, Ngurah Rai was officially acknowledged as a national hero and awarded a posthumous rank promotion to brigadier general. His name was enshrined as the name of the island’s international airport, a university and a highway.

Toward the end of the ceremony, the villagers of Kelaci carried colorful fruit offerings in a religious procession to the heroes’ final resting place. Most of the graves are symbolic in nature because they contain no corpse, since the bodies of Ngurah Rai and his men were cremated in a Balinese Hindu ceremony.

21 November 2012

Bali - Tubing and ATV riding in Jatiluwih

Bedugul is not just the only choice for those who want to adventure in the nature, Jatiluwih also offers area many exciting adventure activities.

Complementing the beauty of its rice terrace that is recently inducted into UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List, Jatiluwih is not just a good place for rice field trekking and cycling activity, but it also offers exciting tubing and ATV ride activities.

Tubing activity in Jatiluwih takes place in Soka River that runs through the famous Jatiluwih rice terraces. It gives you a chance to enjoy the beauty of Jatiluwih rice terraces while drifting in a small river. Soka River also offers a more challenging section where you can experience a surge of adrenaline while negotiating the rapids and exciting drops. Tubing activity is a unique way of enjoying the beauty of the nature as well as getting the excitement of an adventure.

There is also ATV Riding activity among the paddy fields and deep into the forest of Jatiluwih. It will surely give you an exciting experience of spotting birds, getting to know various tropical plants and sampling exotic tropical fruits along the way if you come in the right season.
Jatiluwih also has a purposely designed ATV track among the rice fields for those who do not have enough time to get into the forest.

20 November 2012

Bali - Schapelle Corby probably not free

Australian Schapelle Corby has seen her hopes of an early release from Bali’s Kerobokan prison dashed by a ruling that parole applications for foreign prisoners cannot be processed due to contravening rules from the immigration department.

The Jakarta Globe said that parole application for all foreign prisoners are now being held in abeyance until an authoritative legal clarification is in hand.

Apparently, in order for a foreign prisoner to be released into the community on work release or house arrest that foreigner must have a valid work or stay visa for Indonesia. Most foreigners in Indonesian prisons are “guests of the state” without benefit of visa. A new regulation from the immigration department forbids the issuance of visas to foreigners on parole
from prison. As a result, a prisons official said: “We have suspended parole requests by foreign prisoners as the new immigration law contradicts a current regulation.” While the principle of parole is to socialize prisoners back into normal society, he continued, “But if they have no visa, they will either be placed in a detention center or they will be deported, so they won’t be able to follow the (parole) regulation.” he added.

The Justice Ministry is now exploring how the regulations can be amended to allow foreign prisoner to be paroled.
Schapelle Corby, 35, has been in prison since 2005 following her highly publicized conviction for smuggling 4.1 kilograms of marijuana from Australia to Bali. Originally sentenced to 20-years imprisonment, various remissions and sentence reductions means she could now be released in 2017.

19 November 2012

pic of the week

Everyday a woman selling fish stops at our house. Yesterday we bought a kilo
Udang besar, wonderful to see, a heaven to eat....

Bali - dangerous cosmetics

During an operation on Saturday, dozens of harmful cosmetics in some rural stores where found. This is becoming dangerous, because the range of cosmetics is now getting a wider circulation.

The cosmetic products in question were in the form of powder, skin creams and oils, which are harmful to consumers if used. Unfortunately, traders caught selling cosmetics were not willing to admit where they obtained these goods.
I do not know the person, it’s six months I have been selling the cosmetics. I didn’t know they were harmful, said most traders.

In addition to stores in rural areas, officers also found similar cosmetics in shops and with traders in the urban market. They also found food and beverage products that have expired but are still for sale. Traders who are caught selling cosmetics with hazardous materials, including food and beverages that have expired will be given guidance by officers not to repeat their actions.

18 November 2012

Bali - Le Majeur, Belgian painter

In a quiet part of Sanur, just by the beach, lies a museum that stores not only beautiful artwork but also memories of a passionate love between a Belgian painter and a Balinese dancer.

The painter, Le Mayeur, was born into a Belgian royal family in 1880. He studied under Ernest Blanc Garin and traveled across the world, including Italy, Morocco, Tunisia, India, Thailand and Tahiti, to seek inspiration for his paintings. In 1932, he arrived in Singaraja in north Bali. Enchanted by the beauty of the island, he traversed the island’s breadth to Denpasar, where he rented a house in Kelandis hamlet. It was a move that would change his life forever.

The hamlet was famous for its dance troupe and the prima donna of the troupe was none other than the beautiful Ni Nyoman Pollok, a master of the classical court dance of Legong. Pollok’s beauty mesmerized Le Mayeur who asked her to pose for his paintings. Later on, Le Mayeur asked for her heart and Pollok complied happily. They married in 1935 in a simple Balinese wedding ceremony.

The new, and very much in love, couple moved to Sanur, where, in a 32-are beachside plot, Le Mayeur constructed their home. Indonesia’s first president and avid art lover Sukarno and Indian prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru were two of several great figures who visited the house and admired Le Mayeur’s works.

The painter passed away in 1958 and his grieving widow ordered his bust be made of ocean rock. Local sculptor Made Panti crafted a very convincing likeness of Le Mayeur. A marble plaque on the pedestal of the bust was inscribed with “In Loving Memory of A.J. Le Mayeur de Merpres. Born: February 9, 1880, Bruxelles, Belgium”.

Visitors can now see, next to the bust, a sculpture of Le Mayeur’s most beloved wife, Ni Pollok, who passed away in 1985. The compound now houses 88 works of Le Mayeur painted from 1921–1957. Most of them are in poor condition after years of being ravaged by the salty sea climate and humidity. The museum does not have a professional painting restoration expert on its staff nor sufficient funds to finance such an endeavor.

Bali - Kopi Luwak

Although civet coffee possesses huge potential to enrich and diversify Indonesia’s premium coffee products, the world’s most expensive coffee is still struggling in keeping its quality and authenticity.

Civet coffee, locally called Kopi Luwak, is coffee made from the undigested coffee berries that have been eaten by a civet cat and passed through its digestive system before coming out in its droppings. The berries are then cleaned and processed to become a premium coffee.

Kopi luwak dates back from the 18th century, when the Dutch brought coffee seeds from Yemen to be cultivated in Indonesia. The Dutch forbade the local coffee farmers from consuming the high-class beverage. Nonetheless, the farmers found their way to enjoy it, as they accidentally discovered that they could process the undigested coffee beans dropped by the civet cats into an even tastier beverage. Since then this coffee has been known as kopi luwak (luwak is the Indonesian word for civet cat). The price range is between Rp 2 million per kg and Rp 15 million per kg, depending on quality. Prices could be as high as Rp 250,000 a cup, preventing many locals from being able to afford a sip of the coffee.

Luwak, the Asian palm civet whose Latin name is paradoxurus hermaphroditus, is an omnivore that eats insects, chickens, eggs, fruit and, occasionally, coffee berries. When it does snack on the berries, it uses its sensitive sense of smell to pick only the best quality coffee berries. Naturally, the best kopi luwak beans only come from the luwak that live in the wild. Kopi luwak is judged not only on the way the luwak lived, but also based on whether the beans were the
higher-grade Arabica or the filler type, Robusta.

16 November 2012

Wonderful Indonesia

More than 250 London “black cabs” are plying the streets of London emblazoned with the slogan “Wonderful Indonesia.”

The branding campaign was launched by the Indonesian government to coincide with the World Travel Mart (WTM) held in London.

The London cab campaign is being used to strengthen the image of Indonesia in the English and international markets during the course of WTM.

WTM is one of the leading international travel shows credited with gathering nearly 46,000 travel industry professionals, government officials and members of the media in London.  Astuty revealed that Indonesia is targeting to welcome 200,000 English tourists in 2013.

This is the second time that Indonesia has used London taxicabs as an advertising media. In 2010, a “Remarkable Indonesia” exhibition at London’s landmark Harrods Department Store was promoted via promotional slogans displayed on the U.K. capital’s cabs.

14 November 2012

Bali - The mangrove forest

Scores of activists from various communities in Denpasar and Kuta braved the formidable stench of the swamp to collect plastic trash from the mangrove forest, a popular tourist destination in Suwung.

The forest is at the core of ongoing public controversy following the provincial administration’s move in granting a private company the right to manage the tract.

The cleanup drive was initiated by Dapur Olah Kreatif (DOK), a forum comprised mainly of Denpasar’s authors and musicians, and the newly declared Generasi Putih, a youth organization aimed at mobilizing local youths to do voluntary work to conserve the island’s nature.

Wearing latex gloves and masks, the participants descended into the forest and started collecting plastic trash, mostly in the form of colorful shopping bags. The trash was put into large black trash bags. It took them only one hour to stuff hundreds of trash bags with plastic garbage.
The mangrove forest, locally known as Tahura (People’s Forest Park), is a 10-hectare, open-to-the-public tract, designated as a tourism, educational and research area. It is part of more than 1,300 hectares of conserved mangrove forest stretching from Sanur to Suwung. The Tahura is currently managed and run by a government agency.

Plastic trash is an omnipresent sight in the forest. The trash covers the trunks and roots of the mangrove, a plant deemed critical in preventing sea erosion and seawater intrusion, and which softens the impact of tsunami. This is a very dangerous thing because mangroves breathe using the roots. Once the roots are covered by plastic trash then it is only a matter of time before the plant dies. Most of the trash came from the nearby sea, which is not only hosting the island’s largest general-purpose harbor and oil depot, but also borders the island’s biggest open landfill and the tourist beaches from Sanur.

When the sea water rises, the water brings the trash into the mangrove forest. When the seawater recedes, most of the plastic trash gets stuck in the mangroves.

13 November 2012

Bali - Walter Spies

Afterhours Books, publishers of the luxurious Walter Spies Collectors Suite published to commemorate the legendary German expatriate painter, photographer, choreographer and anthropologist who lived in
Ubud, Bali in the 1930, has won the “Benny Award” in the Best Category for Art Books at the 2012 Premier Print Awards—the world's most prestigious, oldest and largest worldwide graphic arts competition.

Now in its 63rd year, the annual contest recognizes published creations and productions of superior print communications. First-place winners in each category of the competition receive the Benny Award, named after Benjamin Franklin. This year, more than 2,800 entries were received from printing and
graphic arts firms from around the world.

The Walter Spies Collectors Suite—the first of its kind art book in Indonesia, was conceptualized and designed in Jakarta, Indonesia, and printed by Artron Enterprise in Shenzhen, China to commemorate the iconic artist who made Bali his home and various celebrities of the 1930s and helped sparked the creative economy of Bali before his premature death in 1942. Spies was one of the founders of the famous Balinese Kecak dance.

The limited edition showcases the best in design, printing and packaging.
The “Benny Award” is the first time an Indonesian book has been so honored.

12 November 2012

What day today??

Sometimes it happen lounging on a sun bed sipping a fresh cut coconut.

It can happen over a plate of nasi goreng at a local warung. It may even happen breathing in the fresh air as it blows from the sea. It’s that simple, little question: “What day is it today”?

Yet in Bali, people seem to be overcome by the Magic Island’s uncanny power to drain the mind of what should be automated thought processes. It’s not just me that suffer this condition, but my local Balinese friends too. I always get the same response – they pause, their eyes rolling upward as if searching for some form of guidance from the powers above. Only after sequentially rattling off the days of week they finally able determine what day it is today.

So why the blankness? Some may attribute it to the mystical aura that hovers incessantly over the island, the one that infiltrates every aspect of Balinese life and perhaps consequently, every soul and mind too. Others may suggest that the lack of awareness is a reflection of Balinese people and their lifestyle; the Balinese are famous (or perhaps infamous) for their relaxed yet comical persona. There is no sense of urgency to get things done in Bali. Nevertheless, the Balinese continue to smile and laugh — especially when they finally do figure out what day it is — the final stage of their answer to my seemingly simple question is instinctively a bashful giggle.

The lack of time awareness is actually quite refreshing. With the sense of urgency removed, so too is pressure. Everyday stresses are a thing of the past. The truth is, it doesn’t really matter what day it is because in Bali you acclimatize to its own, unique time zone. Each day seems to run into the next. This feeling of freedom is unique and empowering. It is experienced across the island every day, just don’t ask me which particular day.

11 November 2012

Balinese praying

If you ever wonder how the praying of a Balinese high priest sounds,
here is an example. For the ones who like it, it's on the radio, 3 times a day, 365 days a year.....

10 November 2012

Bali - Tirta Gangga

Owned by the Karangasem Royal Family, Tirta Gangga is a water palace that can be reached in 20 minutes from Candidasa Town.

Located at the northeast of the town, the route also leads to Karangasem town. Along the way, one can enjoy the iconic view of terraced rice fields. As a matter of fact, the water palace is quiet modern. The last king of Karangasem built the Tirta Gangga in 1948. The bathing place is beautiful with rice fields all over. The architecture is a blend between European, Chinese and traditional Bali.

Tirta Gangga can be visited at the morning or in the evening. Students can often be seen visiting the place and so do local and foreign tourists. The access to the site is also easy as it is located right besides the road so one can use motorbike, taxi or public transportation to go there. The overall size of the place is about 1.8 acre, divided into three main landscapes from west to east. It is also close to Puri Karangasem and Taman Ujung Karangasem.

08 November 2012

Bali - Bakso

Bakso, a soup of meatballs and noodles, is arguably one of the most popular foods in Indonesia.

Bakso stalls could be found almost everywhere, from the city’s shanty areas to its glittering shopping malls.
The tinkling sound made by the bakso vendor as he strikes a ceramic bowl with a spoon while pushing his cart through the residential areas has become a sort of collective memory for the country’s children, including the boy who later grew to be the president of the United States of America.

As the number of stalls and vendors keeps increasing, competition has become tighter. Naturally, many vendors experiment with the old recipes to craft a new kind of bakso. Among the well-known innovations borne out of the experimentation is bakso granat, literally a grenade meatball, a ball of ground meat with a hefty quantity of chopped chili stuffed inside it. When the chili explodes inside a food lover’s mouth, he instantly realizes why the bakso is named after a fragmentary explosive. The most recent innovation in the bakso realm involves fresh mushrooms.

Bali - Hot, hot, hot

Although the rainy season is expected to begin in Bali’s capital city of Denpasar early next month, hot temperatures are predicted to continue until the beginning of next year.

So, for those who cannot stand the heat, be sure to carry an umbrella on both sunny and rainy days in the months to come.

The sun is currently shining on the southern side of the equator, where the southern region of Sumatra, Bali, Java and Nusa Tenggara are all located. The sun will stay there until January next year. Thus, these hot temperatures will possibly stay until January.

The average maximum temperature in Denpasar during October was 33 degrees Celsius. On Oct. 13, they recorded temperatures as high as 34.2 degrees Celsius in Denpasar. There may be more to come. It was the second-highest temperature recorded this year in the city, following highs of 35 degrees Celsius in January.

While some parts of the island, especially the highlands like Bedugul, have started to welcome the rainy season, Denpasar is still waiting for rain to fall at the end of this month or in early November. Denpasar is hotter compared to other regencies in Bali, not only because of its geographical location but also because it has the island’s highest emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), which is the main contributor to greenhouse gases.

07 November 2012

Bali festivals

Bali is loaded with festivals until the end of the year, all of which are expected to attract more visitors to the paradise island.

After the conclusion of Kuta Karnival, the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival and the Sanur Village Festival last month, more festivals have been lined up, including the Batur Lake Festival in Bangli, the Lovina Festival in Buleleng, the Tanah Lot Festival in Tabanan, the Nusa Dua Fiesta, the Serangan Festival and the Denpasar Festival.

The wide variety of festivals exposing the uniqueness of each regency on the island for a more positive outlook of the country’s tourism industry. Every region has its own uniqueness and excellence that serves as a magnet for tourists. Such events, festivals and carnivals are playing a major role in encouraging tourism.

This year, the ministry is targeting to welcome a total 250 million of domestic visitors and 8 million foreign visitors.
Aside from local, national and international meetings hosted around the island, the festivals also provide a place for Balinese artists to be recognized and appreciated.

06 November 2012

Bali - warning for convective clouds

Bali’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has warned locals to be on alert over the emergence of convective clouds, which cause strong winds, locally known as puting beliung.

The head of BMKG, said that the convective clouds were now moving around very fast.

Last Sunday, strong winds hit an area of Denpasar, causing significant damage. Earlier this week, strong winds also affected Buleleng regency.
Bali is now very hot, with temperatures ranging between 32 and 35 degrees Celsius. People must be very watchful for the possibility of puting beliung.

Balinese offerings

For Balinese people, a religious ceremony is like a celebration. It involves not only unique rituals, but also a range of paraphernalia that is always interesting to observe.

One example is the traditional snacks that come in various bright colors, including pink, yellow and orange. They are made in unique shapes that resembling dragons, a tiger’s head and some other surreal shapes. It is quite difficult to make these snacks and not many Balinese do it anymore. For practical reasons, most prefer to buy them.

The dough, made of rice flour, is boiled until it had a clay-like texture. Then colorants were added to the dough and it was formed into a variety of shapes. After all the dough is colored and shaped, then it is fried. Surprisingly, this process does not fade the colors. The fried snacks can last for several days. It takes less than 30 minutes to complete the entire process.

These sacred snacks are one of the mandatory parts of the paraphernalia required by Hindu people every time they hold a religious ceremony, unlike Gebogan (fruit offerings usually carried on the head), which are optional.
In every ceremony, there should be at least 21 kinds of snacks. Nowadays, however, most Balinese women can only make three kinds.

05 November 2012

Bali - the "Art Shop" on Jl Bypass

Those stuck in the daily traffic jam at the Simpang Siur intersection in Bali at the Dewa Ruci underpass project may have seen an “Art Shop” on the south side of the Jalan Bypass, roughly opposite the BIMC Hospital and just after the parking exit from Bali Gallaria.

The Art Shop is a small shop offering a truly unique range of products. Step inside the store and be greeted by row after row of special cages housing hundreds of live snakes, largely poisonous, that once selected will be fried, roasted or turned into soup at the customer's pleasure. Most popular is the python snake and the spices used in frying a python are very similar to those used in fried chicken. The basic ingredient call for garlic, shallots, sweet soy sauce and ginger.

Those preferring their snake served as sate marinate the meat in sesame oil, sweet soy sauce and then cooked over coals.Snake soup uses a wide range of herbs and spices, depending on the specific type of soup ordered.
Other exotic meats served from the shop include monitor lizards, monkeys, bats and crocodiles. Presentation is also important, each serving is decorated by tomatoes or other decorative vegetables. The average prices ranges from 150.000rp for Cobra Soup to 300.000rp for Crocodile Sate. The above prices do not include 10% tax and service.

The shop also stocks a range of traditional medicines available for sale to the public.
While a chef is in charge of the kitchen, the majority of the staff are women accustomed to handling poisonous snakes, bats and other exotic species in the course of their day’s work. In slaughtering the reptiles and animals, special care is taken to reserve the fresh blood, a substance much sought by customers for its perceived medicinal and healing powers.
The Art Shop is open daily from 9:00 am until 10:00 pm.

04 November 2012

Bali - Tenganan

While Candidasa does not provide glamorous beaches like the beach towns at the southern part of the Bali Island, it offers different kind of relaxation and enjoyment.

The main attraction for more cultural-minded travelers can be the cultural attractions in the form of water palace at the center of the town and of course Tenganan village.

Tenganan village is a Bali Aga community that still guards the age-long tradition inherited from their ancestors. The people are much older than the current, dominant Balinese that scattered around the Island of the Gods. Bali Aga people still maintains the cosmology, ancestor worships and other animist beliefs. Their language is even different from other Bali Aga community who inhabit the famous Trunyan village at the shore of Lake Batur. So secluded the village is that after dark there is nobody allowed to be outside, including its own inhabitants. They have, however, pura or temple, the most important of which is Pura Puseh (temple or origin) outside the walls of the village.

Although they are secluded in their village, Tenganan people are remarkable when it comes to craft. The most well-known works of this people is their ikat fabric called Geringsing. This fabric can be very expensive in the international market as the ethnic atmosphere presents very deep in the fabric. Other cultural attraction is the blood sacrifice. This comes in the form of ritual combat where the combatants use thorny pandanus. The weapon is slapped to the bodies of the enemy and the resulting blood is seen as the offering to the ancestors and the gods.

Pic of the week

Woman selling goods at the Legian beach

03 November 2012

Just Balinese

While thousands of local licensed tour guides speak a second language, an industry group says that there is still a shortage of guides who can speak Mandarin and Russian, among several other languages.

Only 5,200 of more than 8,300 licensed tour guides that have been registered with the Bali Tourism Agency were currently active in the field.

More than 1,300 of the registered guides speak English, a further 1,300 speak Japanese, 790 speak Mandarin, 650 speak Korean, 269 speak German, 169 speak French, 145 speak Italian, 111 speak Russian, 101 speak Spanish and 73 speak Dutch.

Although there are plenty of tour guides, they still having shortages, especially in Mandarin and Russian. The shortages are felt especially during the peak season period.

That's Balinese, first more tourists have to come, and when they finally are here, they don't have the guides for them.

Lombok - New road to Senggigi

Work has commenced on the long-awaited roadwork project which will upgrade the main road from Meninting to Senggigi.

The local government has been promising to widen and repair the main road linking Senggigi to Ampenan and the cities for a number of years. The project will include repairs to the existing road, widening the lanes on both sides of the road verges and resurfacing. A major part of the project involves the building of a second bridge across the Meninting River, which will create a dual carriageway to ease congestion on this notoriously dangerous section of road.

The project is expected to take around 6 months to complete, so expect delays when traveling this section of road for some time to come. The final result, however, will be well worth the inconvenience! But even sand trucks roll down from the bad road...

02 November 2012

Bali - the local pruducts law

The Bali provincial administration is drafting a bylaw that will require all tourism players to use local products.

The local products included agricultural products, textiles and handicrafts. The government is collecting input from a number of institutions, such as the province agriculture office, tourism office, cooperatives and small and medium enterprises.

The proposed bylaw is expected to protect local businesspeople, farmers and artisans from the flood of imported goods and stiff competition from overseas players. The bylaw will apply to hotels, restaurants and tourism-related businesses. Some hotels and restaurants in Bali buy already local products, including fruits, vegetables and meat, but the amount is not significant enough to boost local farming and small-scale businesses.

Hotels and restaurants are reluctant to use local produce, claiming they were of low quality and below international food standards, but the quality of fresh produce from local farms is as good as imported items, but there is always a misconception that local products are of lower standard.

01 November 2012

Golf courses in Bali

Bali is a golfer's paradise and there are four major courses in diverse locations each with its own unique challenges and attributes.

Bali Golf & Country Club is a superb 18-hole course set amidst tropical palms and coconut groves, and is conveniently located within the Nusa Dua enclave which offers world-class hotel accommodation. Superior facilities include imported shoes, clubs and carts as well as a stylish clubroom, restaurant, villa accommodation, swimming pool and spa.

Bali's most impressive course is the Nirwana Bali Golf Club which is part of an integrated resort that covers 101 hectares of prime land including a 5-star hotel, spa and exclusive residential villas. The course was designed to championship standard by legendary golfer Greg Norman. It takes in sweeping views of the Indian Ocean, the sacred Hindu sea temple of Tanah Lot on the 7th hole and has lush rice terraces incorporated into the green giving a real Balinese touch. Nirwana is the only course in Bali that has a Course Marshall and a team of all-female caddies that come from the surrounding local villages.

Bali Handara Kosaido Country Club is in the cool mountainous hills of Pancasari village. This 18-hole course provides a welcome relief from Bali's humid weather with average daily temperatures of 16 - 20 degrees Celsius. The course is a fairly demanding one that was designed back in the 1970's by a renowned golfing architect. Bali Handara has the reputation of being a panoramic green and due to its rather isolated location, a small hotel and collection of rustic bungalows is available for overnight stays. Other facilities include a traditional Japanese bath for a hot soak after an invigorating round on the course.

The Bali Beach Golf Course located at Jalan Hangtuah - Sanur, set in an environment of very mature, tall trees, has been given a face lift, with the introduction of lakes, mounding and features, including newly designed and constructed greens all of which add to the aesthetic beauty of the course. The Bali Beach Golf Course is a course that will provide challenges to all golfers of all skill levels.