28 February 2013

Bali - the turtles from Perancak

Severe abrasion along beaches in Jembrana has posed threats to a turtle breeding center on its coast.

According to government data, at least eight kilometers of the 60-kilometer coastline had been affected by the erosion. Villagers carrying out the turtle conservation program urged local authorities to handle the eroded area because it significantly affected turtle survival. In Perancak, a local people grouped together as Kurma Asih have been actively conserving turtles since 1997. They save turtles that come ashore, protect the eggs by keeping them in a safer area and release the baby turtles back into the sea.

There are currently 249 turtle nests in Jembrana threatened by the worsening abrasion, but nothing has been done by the authorities. The nests are predominantly on Perancak Beach. There are also turtle habitats in Pengambengan, Delod Berawah and Candi Kuning, as well as other locations. The spawning season, from April to September, would reflect how severely the abrasion had affected the turtle habitat. The peak of the spawning season usually falls around May to July.

The public participate in the conservation by adopting the nests. Relocating the eggs should be carried out around four to six hours after they are laid, in order to provide the eggs with a bigger chance to hatch. Perancak is an important site for turtle conservation in Bali as many turtles lay eggs on the beach. The turtles are usually green turtles, hawksbill turtles, olive ridley turtles and leatherback turtles. The olive ridley turtles are the most dominant species there.

According to data from ProFauna Bali, 252 turtles came ashore at Perancak and there were 17,054 baby turtles released into the sea during 2011. In 2012, there were 200 nests, each with 50 to 100 eggs. So far, Perancak has the highest number of turtle nests in Bali. Since 2012, ProFauna Indonesia has helped Kurma Asih group with turtle conservation through educational and awareness raising activities. In Perancak, many local people still take the eggs for trade or consumption, although it is illegal. ProFauna invites the public to support the group’s activities by donating money in their donation boxes, as well as avoiding consuming the meat and buying any souvenirs made of the animal’s body parts.

27 February 2013

Bali - The Melukat ceremony

Melukat ceremony is a ceremony for purifying mind and soul inside human body spiritually and mostly done before Nyepi.

The ceremony is carried out on a good day and it is a tradition, which have been done by Hindus in Bali generation to generation until now. Purifying spiritually means a process to remove bad influences or “Klesa” in human. Klesa means dirty. There are four klesa, they are “Awidya”, soul darkness because they perceive themselves as smart, rich, young, strong, noble, beautiful, or handsome. “Asmita” is egoist and the body only stress on releasing desire. “Dwesa” is hatred and revenge. “Abhiniwesa” is fear. If those five bad thinking's dominate human life, thus they go through dirty life.

The meaning of Melukat ceremony is inside every human there are bad and dirty things, so they have to be purified and cleansed. Melukat is derived from Sulukat. “Su” means good, and “lukat” means purification, so Melukat means to purify oneself to get advantage and happiness.

There are many stories about why people carry out melukat ceremony, one of them is the story of Dewi Uma who is cursed and became a horrifying creature placed at gandamayu cemetery and named Ra Nini. Next, Batara Guru appeared by entering Sadewa’s body to purify Ra Nini so that she returned to her former body as Dewi Uma.Then, Dewi Uma taught people how to cleanse any sins and harm.

26 February 2013

Bali - yellow watermelon

Last weekend we bought just outside Lovina two yellow semangka (watermelon), just fresh from the land.

They are a little bit sweeter and have more 'bite' then the red ones and have less seeds. And with a little bit sugar and some thick milk you make a heavenly smoothie.

Pic of the week

The new MS Rotterdam in Bali

The SS Rotterdam in Rotterdam

And the oldest Rotterdam

Bali - Where are the dolphins?

After praising the forestry minister’s action for shutting down a dolphin attraction at Akame Dolphin Bay Restaurant in Denpasar, the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) now criticized the slow reaction of the ministry in following up on its policy.

For the 10 days following the ministry’s announcement about closing the dolphin attraction, Akame Restaurant continued to hold its commercial dolphin shows, leading to a local protest at the site to question the commitment made to immediately release the dolphins to their rightful natural habitat.

On Saturday the two dolphins were transported to Wersut Seguni Indonesia (WSI) dolphin facility in Weleri, Central Java, by truck, the activists claimed. The Forestry Minister previously promised that the dolphins would be relocated to a dolphin rehabilitation center in Karimun Jawa, before being released into the wild. The dolphins are now currently on a truck, to be transported inhumanely for over 20 hours or more to be put in a condition even worse than that noted by the minister as being ‘cruel and unacceptable’. They are understood to be headed back to the original dolphin captivity center for the traveling circus in Weleri, Central Java. The owner of the travel show has its holding station there, and it is widely documented that this is where the dolphins were originally kept and sold to unlicensed commercial exploitation facilities around the country,” wildlife rescue and rehabilitation manager and founder of JAAN, Femke den Haas said.

Instead the dolphins should have been, as promised, transported by helicopter accompanied by the expert team that was arranged, who have been waiting voluntarily and patiently in Bali for more than 10 days, on a journey that would have taken only three hours and would have brought the animals home, to be nursed and released to their families and their natural environment, where they so rightfully belong. All the equipment and a helicopter had been prepared since the initial announcement. Groups and experts had been mobilized, flown in from around the world, and prepared in urgency to assist the minister with his admirable commitment to relocate the two dolphins to Karimun Jawa rehabilitation center.

The manager from Akame Dolphin Bay Restaurant denied that the two dolphins had been transported. “It’s not right. The two dolphins are still in the pool at Akame Restaurant,” said the man, who is also a senior trainer at the WSI. He said that he was still waiting for action by the ministry staff to transport the two dolphins. “But the two dolphins will likely be transported to Weleri, as the ministry has said that the rehabilitation center in Karimun Jawa is unfit,” he said.
To be continued..

25 February 2013

Bali - celebrate Nyepi with the locals

The Balinese believe that time, and life for that matter, is a never-ending cycle punctuated by a brief pause of silent non-existence. That’s probably why they celebrate the end of a year and the start of a new one in a unique ritual known as the quietest religious ritual in the world.

On that day of Nyepi, Bali will look like a deserted island as the Balinese Hindus observe the four abstinence's: Amati Geni (refraining from lighting any fire or using electricity), Amati Karya (refraining from conducting any work), Amati Lelungan (refraining from traveling outside one’s family compound) and Amati Lelanguan (refraining from partaking in any pleasurable activity).

Offices, supermarkets, schools, and even harbors and airports will be closed. Television and radio stations will stop their broadcasts and the whole island will spend a night in complete darkness. Only members of the Pecalang (traditional security guards) will roam the empty and dark streets to maintain security. Everyone in Bali, including tourists, is not allowed to go outside their house or accommodation. For a Balinese, Nyepi is the day to stand still, to keep quiet, to close the eyes, and to start a wordless conversation with the inner-self. It is also a time to spend intimate time with the most important persons in their lives: their children and loved ones. For some, it is a good excuse to just lie on the couch.

For the foreign visitors, who happen to be in Bali when Nyepi arrives, which this year is on March 12, Nyepi is the perfect opportunity to immerse themselves in a genuine Balinese experience, stay a couple of days in a local home-stay or guesthouse. The best way to do immerse yourself is by arriving at that home-stay three days before Nyepi. This will give you ample time to get acquainted with the family’s members, which in could mean four adults, two bright children, one hilarious maid, three suspicious looking birds and two curious dogs with obscure pedigrees. It will also give you time to watch the loud street procession on the night before Nyepi. Known as Ngerupuk, the local youths parade menacing-looking giant Ogoh-ogoh around the village to ward off any evil spirits.

They will be accompanied by fast-paced bleganjur percussion ensembles and girls with bamboo torches. It is a lively parade that will scare any mild-mannered demons away. The stubborn ones will immediately depart once they see the youths set the effigies ablaze at midnight, a strong message to the devil community. On the following day, the guests could observe Nyepi with their host family and experience firsthand that the withdrawal syndrome is not an exclusive suffering for the heroin addict but an inclusive occurrence among BlackBerry, iPhone and other modern gadgets users. Those tourists, and expatriates, and non-Balinese, and an increasing number of wealthy Balinese, who don’t
want to suffer that withdrawal syndrome could head to one of the luxurious hotels that offer special Nyepi packages. Over the years, the island’s hotels have developed unique Nyepi packages specially tailored to provide their guests with a spiritual experience without cutting too much of their physical comfort.

22 February 2013

Bali - playing with monkey's

If you are heading from Denpasar to Singaraja or Lovina through Bedugul, playing with wild monkeys could be fun while taking a rest from the drive.

The stopover is located in Wanagiri village, Banjar, Buleleng regency, some 1.5 hours drive from Denpasar. After you pass Beratan Lake on the right and later Buyan Lake on your left, when the street begins to go uphill, you are almost there.

The monkeys roam along the side of the street, sitting on the road signs and tree branches. Although they are wild, they do not cause any harm. However, although they are not as wild as the monkeys in Uluwatu, you need to be aware and pay attention to your belongings, particularly your hat and sunglasses. Many people passing this way stop to play with the monkeys, take pictures and feed them. There is a hut selling food for them, such as bananas and peanuts, priced from Rp 2,500 to Rp 5,000.

As indicated by its name — Wanagiri means forest on the hill, there are a large number of trees in the area. At night, the monkeys go into the forest, while going out onto the road during the day. There are at least three spots to stop and see the monkeys. After the first stop, near the hut selling the monkey food, you can also stop near a small temple, but this second spot is not really safe as it is situated on a bend in the road and a quite steep slope. The best third stop is located at the top of the hill. You can stop here to enjoy local food, like meatballs or boiled corn, as well as fruit and the cooler weather of Bedugul, while gazing at the beautiful landscape of Beratan and Buyan lakes, before continuing your trip to Singaraja or Lovina.

21 February 2013

Lombok - new ferry route to Ampenan

The provincial administrations of Bali and West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) plan to collaborate on opening a new ferry route connecting Karangasem in Bali with Ampenan in Lombok.

Currently, the two islands are connected by public ferry on the sea route between Padang Bai Harbour (on the northeast of Bali) and Lembar Harbour (on the southwest coast of Lombok). Bali and NTB provincial administrations would soon formulate development plans for Amed Port in Karangasem and Ampenan Port in Ampenan.

It was becoming difficult to increase the terminal capacities at the current ferry ports in Lembar, Lombok, and at Padang Bai in Bali. On the other hand, the flow of passengers through both ports continues to rise annually. It is hoped that the new sea route will accommodate the rapid increase in passengers that travel between the two islands. The NTB government hopes that the development will bring new life to Ampenan port, which has laid dormant since Lombok’s main port facilities were moved from Ampenan to Lembar Harbour in 1976.

Today, only ruins of the old port are visible, with rotting pylons extending out into the sea being the only testimony to the once-thriving port that serviced ships from around the world and was the main port of trade for Lombok. The eventual opening of the Karangasem - Ampenan ferry will offer an alternative to people who wish to travel between Bali and Lombok and would shorten travelling times for many. Lembar Harbour is around one hours’ drive south of the cities and over an hour from Senggigi, whereas Ampenan is less than 15 minutes away from both key destinations.

20 February 2013

Bali - watch out for scams

There could be nothing worse than being ripped off while you are enjoying your Bali holiday.

Unfortunately almost anyone that has traveled to Bali can recount at least one situation where they have been taken advantage of. Here are a few of the common small scams.

1. Money Changer Scam
There are a large number of unscrupulous money changers around Bali and they are easy to spot. They are generally the smaller operations that offer a slightly higher exchange rate than average. Avoid these places like the plague. They will give you your money in small denominations and they will use distraction and sleight of hand to trick you out of your cash.

2. Taxi Scam
Bali taxi drivers have plenty of scams up their sleeves and most of them are common throughout the world. A relatively new scam Bali's taxi drivers are employing is the lack of change. If they are paid in a high denomination note they will claim that they are unable to make change for the note they have received. They will then make no effort to seek this change from somebody else. And they will wait for the customer to offer the remaining amount as a tip.

3. Rental Scam
When a punter rents a motorbike, car, surfboard etc it will seem to be in perfect condition. When they return the rental it has some small fault. The tourist is then expected to pay for the repair of this fault. And they are inevitably charged an inflated price for this repair. Example: Small surfboard rental businesses on Kuta Beach sometimes put one Balsawood fin in the surfboard. This fin breaks after a few moments of use.

4. Commission-Gathering Scam
The driver on a private tour will sometimes tell his customers that he knows a cheap family owned place for them to shop, eat, or to do a tour. What he won't say is that he receives commission for taking tourists to these places. And that he is willing to drive them, at their expense, miles out of their way to get them there.

5. Pressuring Scam
People selling in Kuta will sometimes try and pressure a potential purchaser into buying their product. They will enlist the help of others to achieve this. The customer finds themselves surrounded by two or three people and the product is forcibly pushed onto their person. Bracelets are a good example of this. You should never allow anyone to tie a bracelet to your wrist. Once you are wearing it you will be expected to buy it.

19 February 2013

Balinese massage Plus Plus

The full service massage has a long history not only in Asia but also in western society.

In the past it was used as a form of treatment by physicians and psychiatrists on both sexes. For male patients its purpose was to help release tension. For female patients it was utilized to induce birth, amongst other things. It is interesting to note that the use of this therapy led to the invention of the vibrator.

Although this kind of massage may now be deemed a solicited and unsavory endeavor in western culture, Asian society would seem to be far more understanding of its positive health and societal advantages. For many this type manipulation is considered a relaxation technique rather than a sexual encounter.

Bali is famous for its Happy Ending massage parlours. They are spread around Kuta, Seminyak and Sanur. They can also be found in the smaller suburbs and more out of the way places around Denpasar. Any establishment advertising massages may provide this service, but some will not. Any Taxi driver on Legian
street will know where these are. For a small fee they will wait for their fare while they receive their massage. It is rumored that some of the female masseurs working in upmarket spas also accommodate women.

The full service massage is also available to gay men in Bali. These men should look for the massage parlours predominately staffed by males or that have names hinting at the service they provide. One that springs to mind would be Banana Massage. The back roads around the Seminyak and Sanur area is where most of these establishments can be found.

A subtle way of asking for a happy ending massage is to ask for a massage plus plus (ploes ploes). Most masseuses working in Bali will understand this reference. For the less shy, another technique is to totally disrobe before the massage. This generally sends the required message.

18 February 2013

Bali - three headed cobra shows up in Rambut Siwi temple

People about to perform prayers at Rambut Siwi Temple in Jembrana were shocked by the appearance of a three-headed cobra at the entrance of the temple’s cave.

“Many people have seen the cobra. One of them even took a photograph,” said the temple’s priest, Jero Mangku Wania.

Wania said the cobra turned up at around 3 a.m., when some people arrived to perform their prayers. He said the temple’s caretakers had tried to find out about the cobra through supernatural ways and had declared that it came from three strands of hair from Danghyang Nirartha, the founder of the temple hundreds of years ago.

“In the past, the hair was kept and respected by locals. The hair has reincarnated into the cobra.” After the incident, local people agreed to make a statue of the cobra in the temple.

Balinese ceremony's - Sapuh Leger

The Balinese people strongly believe that every single day brings its own fortune. This, of course, means there are both fortunate and unfortunate days that affect their lives. Thus, being born on one of the so- called unfortunate days could result in a life of troubled times.

Within Balinese society, people’s fortune is believed to be predictable based on the day they were born, according to the wuku, a seven-day period based on the Balinese lunar calendar system, which has 30 different wuku that form a cycle of 210 days.

Those who were born on wukuwayangare are believed to have a life overshadowed by bad luck. But not to worry, the Balinese believe in many rituals, including those that have the power to ward off negative elements. Sapuh Leger is a balancing and purification ritual with the purpose of eliminating negative forces that could be hanging around waiting to cause trouble in a person’s life.

After completing the ritual, the temple priest lit incense in five clay bowls, while participants walked through the thick curtain of smoke produced from the burning incense, a symbolic gesture of purification by fire. The priest then sprinkled holy water on the participants and covered the participants’ heads with a cloth on which were written sacred letters.
Sapuh Leger could not automatically dispel misfortune, it depends on their karma. Balinese are strong believers in the Hindu law of karma, which holds that one’s actions, good or bad, are sure to rebound upon their instigators in this life or the next.

17 February 2013

Pic of the week

Bali - fresh grilled fish in Lovina

Bali is not only the hotspot for arts, culture and panoramic views, but also the rich culinary delight of the coastline community: grilled fish.

Lesehan Tanjung Alam in Lovina, northern Bali, is worth a visit because of its great taste and affordable prices. Most domestic and foreign tourists who come to Bali have always ensured they made time to dine at the high-end priced grilled fish restaurants along Jimbaran and Kedonganan coastlines in the southern part of Bali, where they can dine with the backdrop of the Balinese sunset.

You can also get such a luxurious dining atmosphere at much more affordable prices at Lesehan Ikan Bakar Tanjung Alam located at the edge of Lovina Beach, about 15 kilometers from Singaraja city. Usually, this spot serves as the resting spot for those making the journey from the east to the west of Buleleng regency. A number of gazebos for laid-back dining, lesehan-style, are made available along the beach.

Besides the champion dish of grilled fish, it also serves grilled calamari, grilled prawns, chicken, fried rice and fried noodles. Local and foreign visitors come and go from lunchtime to dinnertime. Diners can pick their own favorite fish. The restaurant always prioritized selecting the freshest fish to purchase from the fishermen in Lovina and along nearby beaches.

The price for a plate of grilled fish is Rp 30,000; the same goes for each of the other plates of grilled calamari and grilled prawns. They are all served with a complete set of Balinese sambal. White rice is Rp 4,000 per plate, while a bowl of fish soup is Rp 10,000.
What could be better while completing the whole feast than sipping coconut water right from a whole young coconut for only Rp 12,000? Other beverages, like iced lemon, iced orange, soft drinks, beer, and even wine, are also available.

16 February 2013

Bali protect local textile industry

Bali provincial administration plans to aggressively preserve and protect the island’s rich textile tradition as part of its cultural legacy.

The preservation and protection efforts, conducted by the province industry and trade agency, will comprise of identifying and registering the entire range of textile patterns and styles, registering their intellectual property rights and developing and supporting the current traditional textile production. Every part of the island produces its own distinctive styles of woven textiles.

Tenganan indigenous village, home to a Bali Aga community in Karangasem, is renowned for its centuries-old geringsing textile, a double ikat cloth. The textile, regarded as sacred cloth, has a palette of red, dark brown and black. The production of geringsing, believed to have been brought here by the kings and warriors of the Majapahit kingdom in East Java in the 13th century, has been facing many challenges as young people in the village no longer show interest in textile making.

Nusa Penida islet is famous for its cepuk ceremonial cloth, while Singaraja, Klungkung, Karangasem and Gianyar are famous for their exquisite and refined songket woven clothes adorned with gold and silver threads, usually worn by the island’s royalty and well-to-do families.

Endek single and double woven cloth is also part of the island’s textile heritage. But there are many problems. Human resources are one of the crucial problems. Most of the present textile weavers are elderly. Only a very few young people are interested in continuing their mothers, there is no smooth regeneration process.
Raw materials and weaving equipment are also important challenges, with threads and dyeing materials having to be imported, while looms are the old manual style.

The first step is to register the Balinese textile patterns to obtain the intellectual property rights. This is so that it prevents other parties or countries from making any claim on our textiles. Neighboring Malaysia has been pursuing property rights for many traditional textiles commonly found in Indonesia, including batik.
The administration will work together with an intellectual property rights team from Udayana University to survey legal requirements.
The administration has delivered four new looms to traditional textile producers in Klungkung, Buleleng and Karangasem regencies. Until January 2013, the agency had registered 38 products created by individuals or manufactured to ensure their property rights.

In Nusa Penida islet there were still some dedicated traditional cepuk weavers in three villages — Pelilit, Karang and Ampel. But they produce the textiles after they receive orders. They cannot continue producing as they do not have money to buy raw materials for the textiles.

Dolphin circus in Bali closed

Amid mounting public pressure demanding the government to stop the exploitation of dolphins for entertainment, the forestry minister finally caved in.

On Wednesday afternoon, he visited Akame Dolphin Bay Restaurant, a tourist spot near Benoa Port, and announced that he would shut down its dolphin attraction. He ordered his staff to confiscate the dolphins and to move them to the Dolphin Rehabilitation Center in Kemujan, Karimun Jawa, as soon as possible.

The floating restaurant, which is shaped like a ship and has a 130 square-meter pool in the middle, attracted hundreds of tourists who came to watch the dolphin show every day at the facility that was opened four months ago.

The 1.7 meter-long dolphins were estimated to be seven to nine years old. They were caught in the northern part of Java sea. The Akame Dolphin bay restaurant had pocketed a permit that was issued by Wesut Seguni Indonesia, a Central Java based conservation organization. The management of Akame Dolphin Bay Restaurant had placed the dolphins in a bad environment. Indonesia is regarded as home to the world’s last remaining traveling dolphin circuses. Indonesian dolphins (bottlenose and stenella species) are protected under a government regulation on plant and animal preservation that was issued in 1999.

There are two other facilities in Bali that still offer dolphin attractions, one at Serangan Island in Denpasar and another one at the Melka Hotel in Lovina.
These captive dolphins are mostly bottlenose and stenella dolphins, classified under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as a protected species.

15 February 2013

Video - Macroworld of Bali

An amazing video about the underwater world of Bali.

Macroworld of Bali from globaldivemedia.com on Vimeo.

Bali - the Taman Ayun temple

As Taman Ayun Temple in Mengwi has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site, Badung administration plans to redesign and beautify the areas outside the temple.

The administration had allocated Rp 11 billion from its 2013 regional budget to carry out the project. The project is aimed at giving a facelift to the temple’s surrounding areas, to make them more attractive to visitors and, of course, to worshipers. The project will include the construction of pedestrian sidewalks in front of the temple. All vehicles will be banned from passing the street where the temple is located. Consequently, the administration will develop a new alternative road.

The administration will also construct two gelung kori (traditional Balinese arches) on the east and west side of the temple. Meanwhile, spacious parking lots will be available to the eastern and western sides of the temple courtyard. The project will start soon, as required by UNESCO prerequisites for a world heritage site.

Based on UNESCO’s consideration, heavy traffic on streets adjacent to the temple’s location may lead to physical damage of the temple. As a world heritage site, Taman Ayun Temple must be protected and conserved from any man made or natural disaster. To provide visitors with comprehensive information on Taman Ayun Temple and its cultural and religious significance, a new museum will be established near the site. The redesign project will also cover a new site arrangement for food stalls, souvenir shops and other facilities run by Mengwi residents. A new art market will also be set up to encourage local artisans to promote their artistic products.

Located about 18 kilometers northwest of Denpasar, Taman Ayun Temple is set beautifully in gardens surrounded by a large fish pond moat so it looks as though it is adrift on the water. Built with a multistory roof and Balinese architecture, Taman Ayun is one of the most important architectural heritage sites on the island. The wide, beautifully landscaped garden in the front courtyard greets all visitors who come to the temple. The name Taman Ayun literally means “garden of the mind”. It is probable that the temple was designed not only for religious purposes, but also as a work of art that could be used as a place to relax and refresh the soul of the king, as well as the worshipers and those who pay homage to their ancestors there.

Taman Ayun Temple was constructed in the 17th century during the reign of Tjokorda Bima Sakti Blambangan, a feared warlord and the founder of the mighty kingdom of Mengwi. The garden temple was designed by Kang Choew, an architect of Chinese descent and the king’s close confidante.

Taman Ayun temple draws an average of 500 tourists per day, a large majority of whom are foreign visitors from Europe. Entry tickets cost Rp 15,000 for foreign visitors and Rp 10,000 for domestic ones.

14 February 2013

Making lontong


1 cup medium rice
1/2 cup long-grain rice
Banana leaves or grape leaves
aluminum foil
pandan leaves, cut into strips

Wash the rice under cold water in a sift and drained. Put them in a saucepan and cover with water. Dip your forefinger in to measure how much water you should use. If the water is coming up to your first knuckle, drip a little more of water until it's coming a bit more up about 3mm from it. Cook on the stove on medium heat and stir occasionally as not to catch the rice on the bottom of the pan. When it's boiled, turn the heat down to very low, stirring occasionally. When you see water has been absorbed, removed from the heat and cover until cooled a bit.

Prepare the banana leaves. When using grape leaves, you need to wash off the fluffy stuff that covers.

Put the aluminum foil as the outer layer, then cleaned grape leaves, strips of pandan leaves. Spoon the cooked rice on top of the edge of the wrap. Roll to cover and sealed both sides, so you will get nice and firm cylinders. Prick them with a pointy knife several times in different location, make sure you don't make big holes all around, just enough little tiny holes to give water introduced into the cakes and help it boiled and hardened.

Cook for about an hour and a half, using pressure cooker. Give more time if the cakes are not firm to touch and check the water. I add up more water with boiling water from the kettle every time I top up. These cylinders have to be cooked in the water, not floating.

They are ready when they are firm to touch. Remove from the pan, and cool them on a wire rack. When they are cooled, peel off the foil and and cut into slices. Eat with your favourite curry, sauce, satay, gado-gado or whatever comes to your creative imagination!

The Balinese Manx cat

In Bali many cats walking around with a deformed, short or no tail. Many stories go around: the Balinese cut the tail to make a difference between a house cat and a street cat, or that it's done for religious reasons. Nothing is true, it's just a cat breed that inexplicably ended up in Bali.

Source: Wkikipedia
The Manx cat, in earlier times often spelled Manks, is a breed of domestic cat (Felis catus anura) originating on the Isle of Man in the British Isles, with a naturally occurring mutation that shortens the tail. Many Manx have a small stub of a tail, but Manx cats are best known as being entirely tailless; this is the most distinguishing characteristic of the breed, along with elongated rear legs and a rounded head. Manx cats come in all coat colors and patterns, though all-white specimens are rare, and the coat range of the original stock was more limited. Long-haired variants are sometimes considered a separate breed, the Cymric. Manx are prized as skilled hunters, and thus have often been sought by farmers with rodent problems, and been a preferred ship's cat breed. They are said to be social, tame and active. An old local term for the cats on their home island is stubbing. Manx have been exhibited in cat shows since the 1800s, with the first known breed standard published in 1903.

13 February 2013

The bad roads of Bali

The central government and local administration are expected to repair the national transportation route connecting Denpasar and Gilimanuk, which has caused heavy traffic jams and numerous accidents over recent years.

Gilimanuk Port is the main entry point for inter-provincial buses and commodity trucks carrying supplies and perishable items from Java to Bali, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) and East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).

The poor condition of the road has hampered the distribution of goods and services to and from the island and has, thus, hurt Bali’s status as a popular tourism destination. The distribution of goods was often hampered by two key factors: bad weather that disrupted shipping between Ketapang and Gilimanuk, and the road between Gilimanuk and Denpasar.

The Denpasar–Gilimanuk route has become heavily damaged again and is unable to accommodate the current number and size of vehicles, including large trucks containing staple commodities and construction materials. The road is narrow and winding, with sharp inclines at some points. Such conditions prevent vehicles from moving quickly. As many of these large trucks are heading to Lombok, NTB, they can travel on the Singaraja route or by ocean ferry.
The head of Benoa Port similarly suggested that Bali needed to increase the functions of the seaport to provide for the smoother distribution of commodities to and from Bali.
The poor state of the Denpasar–Gilimanuk route had indirectly led to fewer travel agencies taking their guests to tourist destinations in the western region of Bali.

For years, the public and transportation experts have urged the local administration to divert heavy vehicles to the Singaraja route, starting from Gilimanuk and moving along the island’s north coastal regions. The suggestion went unheeded with the reason given that the northern route was longer and would add additional costs to truck operators. Such a stance may soon change, however, as the regular and lengthy traffic jams on the Gilimanuk-Denpasar route have begun to exact a financial toll on trucking operations.

The Denpasar-Gilimanuk route is a national road, which is the responsibility of the central government. Nonetheless, the Bali administration is currently preparing a short-term solution by scheduling special hours for large goods trucks to use the road. Trucks may only be allowed to use the road at night or early in the morning so that tourist buses and other private vehicles may use the road during regular daytime hours. Once a final plan is decided, it would be officiated in the form of a provincial regulation.

12 February 2013

Bali - the Munduk waterfall

Munduk waterfall is a great and relatively unexplored site you should not miss when you visit the quiet village of Munduk in Buleleng, some 90 kilometers north of Denpasar.

Some people call the waterfalls the Red Coral Falls, others remember the site as Melanting waterfall. You may not find Munduk waterfall in many tourist book, as it is located in a fairly remote village currently being developed as one of Bali’s community-based tourist destinations.

The 20-meter high waterfall has a large volume of water rushing over it endlessly. It starts as a series of low cascades on the river, eventually tumbling over the edge in a dramatic drop. The deep pool at its base is very picturesque. Children and adults often swim in the cold pool. The cold climate of Munduk village supports successful clove and coffee plantations, the spicy fragrance of which spreads through the air.

Visiting the waterfalls is quite challenging for first-time visitors, even if they use a GPS service. The village is located on the way from Bedugul to Munduk - Siririt. Once you drive up the hilly Bedugul roads, you may find a narrow and winding road to the left heading to Buyan Lake. Only a very few signs are placed to direct visitors to the site.

Despite the lack of signs, both local and foreign tourists have started to flock to Munduk’s waterfall, seeking a more pristine location, far away from the crowded destinations in south Bali. Blessed with natural beauty, fertile plantations and green rice fields, Munduk village is now starting to transform itself into a natural asset for Buleleng regency. Water from the falls feeds the village’s rich farming area, providing the locals with both tranquility and prosperity.

11 February 2013

Bali - The history of Kuta

Kuta had a long history before it turned into a center for night entertainment. Unfortunately, many parts of its history have now been forgotten.

No travel agent or community pays special attention to developing the historical aspect of Kuta to make it a tourist attraction.
An official history book from Kuta subdistrict states that Kuta was first mentioned in 1336, when Gajahmada and his troops from Majapahit landed on the south end of the beach. This area is now known as Tuban, the same as a small city on the East Java coast. Local people started to refer to this area, located in Banjar Segara Kuta, as Pasih Perahu, which means boat beach. The area that used to be a harbor has disappeared due to coastal erosion. Evidence that this location used to be a harbor is found at Pesanggrahan Temple. At the front of the temple, there is a miniature ship built in 2002.

A number of books on Kuta mention that during the Dutch colonial period the area was a trade center for the island. A Danish trader named Mads Johansen Lange was harbormaster in Kuta. He is immortalized by a tomb and a narrow road that bears his name. The tomb, built in the Balinese style, is called Mads Lange Memorial, while the road’s name is Jl. Tuan Lange, both are located near Jl. Bypass Ngurah Rai. A stone and concrete monument more than 2 meters tall is the centerpiece of the Mads Lange Memorial.
In 19th century Bali, Mads Lange was an influential trader, the trusted adviser of the island’s kings and princes. He rose to be the trade agent for the King of Kesiman, the most influential and powerful among the traditional rulers of Badung, a kingdom that ruled, among other places, Kuta, where Lange established his house. Lange passed away in 1856. It is said that he was poisoned. He was reportedly survived by several wives and a group of children.

Meanwhile, a testament to Kuta’s multicultural history is the Dharmayana Monastery. Built in 1876, the monastery is one of the oldest buildings in Kuta. Now 136 years old, the monastery has always been well visited and is an interesting photo subject whenever Balinese Hindu rituals take place.

10 February 2013

Pic of the week

Bali - riding bike and the police

The first thing a policeman will do is snatch away the motorbikes ignition key. They will supposedly do this to stop you fleeing.

The real reason they take the key is to secure a bargaining tool. The policeman will tell his victim that their key will only be returned after they have attended a court case. This is generally a bluff designed to create a panic payment. Beat the policeman to the punch. As soon as you are pulled over take the key out of the ignition and place it in your pocket. Policemen in Bali have the eyesight of predators. They are always watching for wallets brimming with tourist dollars and euro's. Anyone riding a scooter should always carry a small amount of cash separate pocket. They should then pull this money out while telling the policeman it is the only cash they possess. You can’t give what you don’t have.

Make sure that the cash you have for fines is in small denominations. And be visible handing it over. The policeman won’t want to be seen counting the money. And it is easy to fool them into thinking that they are receiving a larger amount than they are actually getting. It is always wise to be polite to any policeman that stops you in Bali. Indonesians do not like to lose face. And policemen in Bali expect to be treated with a certain level of respect. Address a Balinese policeman as Pak or sir and always smile. It will go a long way to reducing your fine. If you are pulled over you may be threatened with court, a large fine or confiscation of the vehicle. It is important to remember that in Bali most problems can be solved with the transference of cash. Remain calm, non-confrontational and remember it’s all about the money. (50.000rp will be enough.)

You will see a number of locals riding without helmets. If you are a tourist in Bali the same rules do not apply. Policemen in Bali love nothing more than pulling over tourists without helmets. Policemen in Bali do not move around a lot. And Bali has a rabbit warren of small roads that lead to the place you are heading. Make a mental note of where the police are stationed. Then use the back roads and alleys to get to your destination.

Solve all problems by purchasing an international driver’s license in your home country. They are not expensive and they are recognized. An international driver’s license will save you a great deal of hassle and cash. And remember, use always a helmet!

09 February 2013

ASP World Championship surfing in Bali

ASP International has announced the sanctioning of the Oakley Pro Bali at Keramas as an ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) event for 2013.

The event will be the fifth on the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour and the first elite tour event in Indonesia since the Rip Curl Pro Search in 2008.
This will be the first ASP World Title-deciding event at Keramas, an internationally recognized venue of high-performance surfing.

While the righthand reef break of Keramas will serve as the primary venue, Oakley has green lit the performance-oriented beachbreaks of nearby Canggu as a backup location. The Indonesian island paradise is a recognized host to a bevy of world-class breaks, making the Oakley Pro Bali one of the most anticipated events of the 2013 schedule. Keramas is the most high-performance wave on the planet, according many surfers.

- Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast – March 2 – 13, 2013
- Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach – March 27 – April 7, 2013
- Billabong Rio Pro – May 8 – 19, 2013
- Volcom Pro Fiji – June 2 – 14, 2013
- Oakley Pro Bali – June 18 – 29, 2013
- Billabong Pro Teahupo’o – August 15 – 26, 2013
- Hurley Pro at Trestles – September 15 – 21, 2013
- Quiksilver Pro France – September 27 – October 7, 2013
- Rip Curl Pro Portugal – October 9 – 20, 2013

08 February 2013

Bali - Beer, Wine and Arak

In restaurants you'll pay for a large bottle of local beer between 12,000 and 80,000 Rupiah (plus 21% tax and service charge in hotels). A small glass of mediocre Australian table wine costs 50,000 to 80,000 Rupiah.

Prices for a bottle of any better wine start between 280,000 Rupiah and 600,000 Rupiah, depending on where you are. Prices for wine and champagne in many hotels are outrageous compared with Western countries. In general, all imported alcohol is (too) expensive in Bali.
The good news is that the choice of available wines from Australia, California, Chile, France, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal and South Africa has recently increased. If you think the prices of these imports are too high, you should at least try the HATTEN wines, one rosé wine and two types of white wine made from grapes grown in North Bali and sold in restaurants for 160,000 to 200,000 Rupiah and in hotels for sometimes 450,000 Rupiah or more per bottle. The same company is producing also a rosé sparkling wine named "JEPUN" with a refreshing fruity taste. "JEPUN" is about 50% to 100% more expensive than HATTEN Rosé. HATTEN's newer white sparkling wine named "TANJUNG" is also getting quite popular.

Most foreigners like the local BINTANG beer. Many restaurants and pubs also serve BINTANG "draft". Other locally produced beers are ANKER, CARLSBERG, SAN MIGUEL and the less popular BALI HAI beer. In hotels and supermarkets you can also find well-known brands imported from Australia, Germany, Holland, Japan, and even China (Tsing Tao).
Beer is available in all supermarkets and many smaller shops. Wine is very expensive in supermarkets but nowadays there is a number of specialized wine shops where you can find a good choice of imported wines at more reasonable prices. Have a look at the WINE HOUSE at Jalan Kerobokan opposite KAFE WARISAN, the BALI WINE SHOP, Jalan By-Pass 546 in Sanur, BALI DELI in Jalan Kunti and the BALI LIQUOR STORE, Jalan Kunti No. 18 in Seminyak, and at BEST WINES & SPIRITS, Jalan Tangkuban Peradu No. 15D, Kerobokan. The best source to buy Cuban cigars is CIGARS & CIGARS at Kuta Poleng Mall B-5, Jalan Setiabudhi at Jalan By-Pass in Kuta.

Tuak (about 5% alcohol) is a sweet palm wine made from the juice of the coconut palm flower which is stored for about one month for fermentation. Brem is made from black glutinous rice and coconut milk; the alcohol content is about 7% to 9% after three days fermentation. Most popular with foreigners is Arak: a colorless, sugarless spirit distilled from either Brem or Tuak with 20% to 50% alcohol content. A whole bottle costs about Rupiah 40,000, and it is usually served 'on the rocks' as "Arak Attack" or "Arak Madu" (Arak, lemon or orange juice, and honey). You should try it at least once. There is no hang-over as long as you don't mix your drinks, and many visitors don't order anything else after they have discovered Arak.
But be carefull with arak, there is a lot of illegal, bad quality arak in Bali, sometimes mixed with methanol.

07 February 2013

Bali - Frangipani flowers

Bali is home to tropical flowers and the Balinese people use a large variety of flowers for their daily offerings.

Frangipani flowers are very often used in the banten, or religious offerings. In almost every house in Bali, people will plant various species of frangipani trees adorned with colorful flowers in various hues. After praying most woman put a flower behind their ear.

 But now, people also pick the flowers as a profitable commodity. Nowadays, frangipani flowers are one of the most sought after items and their price has rocketed on domestic and international markets. The dried flowers will be shipped to China to be used in a herbal tea called Liang Tea. The herbal tea had great medicinal potency, including high fever, coughs, constipation and other sicknesses.
In other areas, frangipani flowers are used as the raw material for spa and cosmetic products, incense sticks, fragrant candles, perfumes, essential oils and mosquito repellants. The price of frangipani flowers is now set at Rp 150,000 per kilogram, far higher than the price of cloves, vanilla and even coffee. The export quality consists of dried frangipani flowers with a water content of no more than 10 percent. In the past, the price of frangipani flowers was only Rp 30,000 per kilogram. Now, the flowers have become an export premium for Bali.

Balinese ceremonies during March 2013

11 March - Ogoh Ogoh parades (in the afternoon)

12 March - Nyepi, day of silence

27 March - Galungan

06 February 2013

Bali - Kubutambahan new airport site

The Regent of Buleleng has confirmed the coastal village of Kubutambahan, some 10 kilometers east of  Singaraja in north Bali, as the designated location for the planned construction of Buleleng International Airport.

In a speech during his visit to Majapahit Health Academy early this week, he said he had just met with officials from the Transportation Ministry and state-owned airport management company Perum Angkasa Pura in Jakarta and had received comprehensive plans from the central government regarding the planned construction of the new airport in north Bali.

Previously the central government had conducted feasibility studies in several places in Bali, including in Jembrana, Karangasem and Buleleng regencies. Kubutambahan village is considered the most appropriate site for the new airport given its land structure and strategic location. The next step is to discuss the plan with the Bali governor. The first concern is the people of Kubutambahan and Buleleng in general. They should benefit from the development of the new airport as subjects not just passive viewers.

05 February 2013

Bali - Lake Beratan

If you are looking for a getaway to the perfect holiday location in Bali, just come to Beratan Lake, one of the three Lakes in the Bedugul resort area along the border of Tabanan and Buleleng regencies, some 60 kilometers from the provincial capital of Denpasar.

Adored for its beauty, the lake offers an altogether softer and calmer landscape. It is a truly green, relaxing and revitalizing area for families to vacation and recover from their busy schedules.

Located around 1,200 meters above sea level, the lake attracts thousands of visitors every weekend, especially during holiday seasons, but that does not disturb the area’s beauty, charm and tranquility. Visitors love touring the lake on small boats. In the middle of such a lake trip, they can stop by at the historical and major Balinese Hindu water temple, Pura Ulun Danu Beratan, a sight commonly seen in many tourist books and on post cards.

Thought to have been built in the middle of the 17th century, the temple has an 11-tiered Meru (temple tower) and is dedicated to the worship of Dewi Danu, the goddess of fertility, who is believed to bring prosperity to the island through abundant water resources.

The lake is surrounded with breathtaking views of Mount Batu Karu, and is close to a botanical garden that has a vast collection of rare and protected plants and vegetation, a local vegetable market, a golf course, spacious strawberry and flower fields, as well as camping and fishing grounds.
The area was once a hiding place for the Japanese occupation troops who dug numerous man-made caves there.
Wonderful woodland walks, pedal boat trips and bike rides are among the lake’s attractions. A line of food vendors selling inexpensive meals, such as meatball soup and noodles, to luxury restaurants and cafes are available for visitors who get hungry during their vacation in the area.

Whenever you feel bored and tired of the busy city life, Beratan Lake is waiting to offer you a real sanctuary!

04 February 2013

10.000 rupiah become 10 rupiah?

The implementation of a plan to simplify rupiah denominations by the Ministry of Finance and Bank Indonesia seems to be finally underway, as the government and central bank begin the socialization process.

Ultimately resulting in fewer zeros on rupiah banknotes and coins, the scheme is dependent upon this socialization (public consultation) phase to make sure the Indonesian people are ready for re-denomination. According to Finance Minister the country is ready for the plan, stating that; “the condition of the Indonesian economy is good, so that it is conducive to the implementation of a re-denomination”.

Meanwhile, op-posers of the plan argue that there is bound to be confusion about this discourse from bankers and the public. In view of the sprawling archipelago and Indonesia’s sizable population, the process of educating people on the re-denomination would be a complex task. Currency experts disagrees though, citing Bali as an example of how currency simplification can, and does work. In Bali, they often replace three zeros with a ‘K’, on goods and products. That’s how the West simplifies thousands – on economic data, financial statements etc.
This example highlights how people can easily adapt to changes in currency re-denomination, but a 'K'  is not actually a realistic option for the government or central bank.

01 February 2013

Bali - the tooth filling ceremony

Since early yesterday morning our neighbors are busy preparing to perform one of the most important Manusia Yadnya (Balinese rituals), the Metatah (tooth filing) in common Balinese or Mepandes in the high Balinese language.

Dressed in lavish and elaborate Balinese traditional attire, the siblings would symbolically leave their childhood years behind and enter adulthood through this ritual. Led by Hindu high priest, the metatah ceremony is aimed at symbolically eliminating negative human characteristics. The tooth-filing ceremony is a very important life passage for all Balinese and must be completed before they get married. Sometimes, it is incorporated into the wedding ceremony or as an event prior to a ngaben (cremation) ritual.

After the high priest chanted his prayers and offerings were presented to the gods, the people lay down on a low platform surrounded by their parents and relatives, there to give them spiritual support. A traditional dentist, or sangging, performs the actual tooth filing by filing down the canine teeth, which the Balinese strongly believe represent animal-like characteristics in humans.

During the tooth filing, which takes around 10 to 15 minutes for each participant, the sangging places a small piece of sugarcane in the corner of the mouth to keep the jaw open during the process. The upper canine teeth are filed first, followed by the lower ones. This ritual is supposed to prevent humans from having the sad ripu, or six destructive desires. The sad ripu consist of kama (lust), lobha (greed), kroda (anger), moha (anxiety), mada (conceit) and matsarya (envy).
Not all Balinese youth have the same opportunity to perform the ritual as they enter adulthood. The high cost has caused many Balinese families to delay until they have enough money. Finally, the entire family brings all of the elaborate offerings and paraphernalia to be thrown out to sea.