31 March 2013

Bali - Ayam Betutu

If you are planning to travel outside of Bali via Gilimanuk Port, making a stopover to taste the super spicy ayam betutu (steamed chicken cooked with Balinese spices) at Men Tempeh restaurant is highly recommended.

The restaurant has been established since 1976 and is located inside the old terminal of Gilimanuk, around 1-kilometer before entering the seaport. In this area, there are many restaurants serving Gilimanuk dishes, with some of them using the legendary name of Men Tempeh. Actually, there is only one original Men Tempeh restaurant, with a photograph of the late founder - Men Tempeh. This restaurant is situated in a higher location than other restaurants.

Betutu Men Tempeh is well-known for its super spicy, rich taste. The chicken is cooked with a Balinese spice mix called base genep, consisting of onion, garlic, ginger, salt, shrimp paste, chili, black pepper, turmeric, lemongrass, candle nut, lime and coriander. The chicken, which is mixed with the spices, is steamed for two hours. Men Tempeh also serves fried betutu, in which the steamed chicken is fried for around 30 minutes until it browns.

There are two menu packages served in Men Tempeh restaurant with different sizes of chicken. One package consists of chicken, a basket of rice, a portion of vegetables, sambal (chili sauce), Balinese sambal matah and peanuts, and costs Rp 166,000. If that package is too much for you, you can order the half-sized package for Rp 60,000 and the quarter-sized package consisting of a smaller chicken, a plate of rice and a smaller portion of vegetable for Rp 28,000. The fried betutu packages are more expensive. One package consists of one basket of rice, a portion of vegetables, sambal, sambal matah and peanuts, and costs Rp 171,000. The half-sized package costs Rp 63,000 and quarter-sized package, consisting of a quarter chicken, a plate of rice and a smaller portion of vegetables costs Rp 30,000.
We mostly buy ayam betutu at a local warung on the main road Mendoyo to Negara, a super spicy whole chicken for just Rp 90.000, to take home.

Sail Indonesia 2013

Entering its 13th year, the annual international sailing event series Sail Indonesia will be held once again this year from 27th July to 9th September 2013. This year, the main highlight will be the Sail Komodo which will take yachts and ships into the beautiful waters around Komodo Island.

Sail Indonesia 2013 will depart from Darwin on Saturday 27th July 2013 at 11 am and during the following three months all participants are invited to participate in a linked series of Events and Cultural Festivals at the different stopovers across Indonesia on the islands of Timor, Banda, Buru, Ternate, Morotai, Lembata, Wakatobi, Flores, Sulawesi, Bali, Java, Kalimantan, Belitung and finally on to Batam or Bintan just south of Singapore.
At each of the stopovers, participants will be able to experience the diversities of peoples, cultures, lifestyles, arts, crafts, foods and beverages, and of course languages. Everyone is welcome to participate in all events and stopovers after the first port of entry, as the Indonesia Organizing Committee at each port will provide h hospitality, reception and festivities.

Sail Komodo will be the main event for this year and as in past years the Local Administration at each of the islands has planned a number of events at time of the arrival which often includes a ceremonial welcome and dinner as well as cultural and arts displays and also dance performances. Participants will get the chance to see some of the more secluded, interesting and less known parts of Indonesia as they sail across the archipelago.

As in the past years Kupang will be the first entry point located 420 miles W.N.W. of Darwin. From there, participants can follow the traditional western passage that goes through Alor, Lembata, Maumere, Mausembi, Maurole (Ende), Riung,Labuan Bajo, Lombok, Bali, Karimun Jawa, Teluk Kumai, Belitung and Bangka. Saumlaki at 300 miles north of Darwin will again be available as the port of entry into Indonesia in the Sail Indonesia 2013. From here, yachts and ships can sail to the west via Banda and Wakatobi then on to Flores or Bali to rejoin the group of yachts that first went to Kupang. Subsequently, they can join the traditional route known as the Western Passage that will take the course through the rest of Indonesia to Bintan or Batam.

The annual Sail Indonesia rallies, are organized by Sail Indonesia, a non-commercial institution , which is self supporting and has no sponsors. The mission of the organization is to raise awareness of Indonesia’s fantastic waters as a Marine Tourist Destination, both above and below the surface of the sea, and promote the Indonesian seas as a cruising arena for yachts, thereby introducing some of the islands’ historic, cultural and natural attractions. Sail Indonesia events across Indonesia are arranged with the cooperation and support of the Indonesian Government, in particular with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs and are supported by the provincial and district governments at the various ports across the country.

30 March 2013

Bali - giant snail

A residents of Pendem village in Jembrana discovered a snail 10 times bigger than normal.

Known in Latin as Achatina fulica, the giant snail was discovered on a tree near a home.

On first inspection it was just a shell and the snail was dead, but then he moved. The snail has a length of 20 centimetres and a weight of 0.5 kilograms.

29 March 2013

Pic of the week

Why Balinese have so many Gods?

Why do Balinese Hindus have so many Gods?

The question above is often asked by those who visit Bali for the first time and have heard about Lord Siva, Lord Wisnu, Lord Iswara, etc.

This misunderstanding occurs since Balinese Hinduism mentions the specific lord’s name when they are praying or deliver the offerings.
Even some Balinese declare that they are Shiva or Visnu worshiper. To clarify this misunderstanding many Hindu people from India and Bali as well have provided logical reasons why they have 36.000.004 names of the God.

In short, as other religions, Balinese Hindu community has the only and one God, Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa. However Ida Sang Hyang Widhi which is undefined whether female or male has manifestations based on the function. When Ida Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa creates all creatures in this world, people name it Lord Brahma. In preserving all the creatures God created, Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa has a new name, Lord Visnu.  In the manifestation which function is to destroy all creatures and things, Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa is named Lord Shiva.

That God is only one but people name it differently. It is easy to interpret that Hindu people has only one Supreme God with thousand manifestation names. If you are still confused, try to figure this out: many people call Barrack Obama with ‘Mr. President’ because he is the US President. At home when spending time with his family, his daughters call him Father and his wife Barrack. Before assigned as the President, Barrack Obama was a lecturer, so his students will call him ‘Sir’. And his teacher and classmates in Indonesia called him Barry.

In short, all gods and goddesses are a form of the same divine energy. Hindu has only one God but has many names.

28 March 2013

Bali - Eco-tourism, the mangroves

For the fishermen’s group of Wanasari in Tuban, Eco-tourism activities at the Suwung mangrove forest have begun enlivening their hopes of a better livelihood.

Since the construction of the elevated toll road running over the sea started, many of the group’s 90 fishermen have been facing difficulties catching enough fish to earn a living. Thus, they have had to think of different way to earn money for their survival. Eco-tourism seems to be the answer.

The group is offering a number of tourism packages in the mangrove forest, such as mangrove planting and seeding, crab cultivation, trekking and a boat tour around the forest. So far, the group has built a 1-meter wide and 250-meter long wooden footpath. They plan a much longer path, though, as long as 2.5 kilometers to circle around the mangrove forest. If they manage to complete this path, it would serve as the longest mangrove trek in Bali. Earlier this year, two wood and bamboo bale bengong (gazebo) were built over the water, about 30 to 50 meters away from the almost completed elevated toll road.

Amid the dense mangrove forest, a couple of crab ponds are also being built. They are selling these mangrove crabs to the nearest restaurant. They also planned to develop a restaurant specializing in mangrove crab dishes for hungry visitors. The fishermen are cultivating five different types of the brown and black crabs.

The office of the Wanasari fishermen’s group is hidden from sight, located just before the traffic lights on the left side of the busy Jl. Bypass Ngurah Rai heading to Ngurah Rai International Airport. A narrow street, just wide enough for one car, brings visitors to a bamboo gate. Nearby, a brown mangrove crab statue stands as a welcome. A sign at the gate states “Community Development of Mangrove Eco-tourism, Wanasari Fishermen Group”.

The construction workers for Bali’s first toll road often rest at a small food stall nearby. The fishermen’s group has a small stand next to the stall, where you can ask further information about the mangrove Eco-tourism.

This hidden treasure offers not only a cool breeze off the mangrove forest but also the fascinating view of the elevated toll road being constructed and the airplanes taking off and touching down at Ngurah Rai airport, just a stone’s throw from the site.

27 March 2013

Bali - Foreigner arrested with exotic animals

After receiving reports from the local community, a team of Bali Police secured five endangered animals at Villa Pasti I in Perancak in Jembrana regency last week.

The five animals are one live estuarine crocodile, one stuffed estuarine crocodile, two live yellow-and-orange-crested parrots, and one live peacock. The live animals are in good health.

The animals’ owner, a Japanese man named Maruo Tokashi, 46, claimed that he was only the caretaker of the animals, not the owner. To the police, Maruo said he received the animals from an unknown person about six months ago. Maruo, who is also the marketing manager of Villa's Pasti, said that he decided to accept the animals out of concern for their welfare. However, no legal documents of ownership were presented to him during the handover.

If proven guilty, the Japanese man, whose wife is a Balinese from Gianyar, could be sentenced to one to five years imprisonment and fined Rp 50 million to 100 million for violation of Law No. 5/1990 on conservation of natural resources and ecosystems. However, the police acknowledged that Maruo was not yet a suspect. Along with three villa staff, Maruo is still a witness to the case.

Maruo kept the crocodile in a breeding pool surrounded by an iron fence in the compound of the villa owned by his in-laws. Both parrots were kept in bird cages in front of the villa, while the peacock roamed free in the villa’s backyard. The police alleged that the animals had been kept to attract foreign visitors to come and stay in the villa. The police pointed out that the presence of legitimate documents was crucial when possessing protected species.

This is an example if Balinese don't like your behavior, you will be reported..

26 March 2013

Bali - Bolu Kukus

During ceremonial days like Galungan and Kuningan, the Balinese use large quantities Bolu Kukus, steamed cakes.

They are used in offers and later served to family and friends.

Bolu Kukus, steamed cake recipe:

6 eggs
200 gram sugar
200 gram flour
half a teaspoon of fine salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
80 ml thick coconut milk
50 ml vegetable oil
color, red, yellow, green (or no colors)

Mix the eggs, baking powder, salt and sugar until the dough is creamy, then add the flour slowly.
Add the coconut milk and vegetable oil and stir with a spatula until dissolved.
Divide the dough into cake molds or paper cups and add some food coloring on top of the cake.
Put the molds on a rack in the steamer, make sure that the water in the steamer does not touch the molds and leave the cake steamed with closed lid for about 15 minutes.

Bali - plan no: 147, the Monorail

The Jakarta Post reports that the China Railway Corporation, who operate the national railway system for Mainland China, has expressed an interest in investing in a monorail system that would connect all nine regencies of Bali.

Bali governor Made Mangku Pastika related: “China Railway came to me several months ago, requesting information related to the plan to build a monorail.”

The governor warned that the study by the Chinese is still in the pre-feasibility phase to determine if the proposed rail system would be economically viable. The governor said he hoped the Chinese would decide to invest in a Bali monorail system as a means to connect all corners of the island and more evenly distribute the benefits of tourism to all regions of the island.

As earlier study conducted by the State Railway Company of Indonesia (PT Kereta Api) concluded technically and financially too challenging due to high land acquisition costs.

25 March 2013

Bali - more roads for Nusa Penida

Residents of Nusa Penida islet in Klungkung regency have asked Governor Made Mangku Pastika to provide them with more roads.

During a meeting with village residents, Pastika said that the implementation of any infrastructure project required an integrated program between the provincial and regional administrations.

Nusa Penida islets are located off the main island. Most of the people on these isolated islands live in deprived conditions. There is a wide gap in development programs between different areas within Klungkung regency. Nusa Penida and other islets in Klungkung are still underdeveloped with limited roads, healthcare and education institutions and job opportunities. Despite the people’s poor living conditions, Nusa Penida is rich in tourism potential.

24 March 2013

Bali receive more and more complains

The provincial government of Bali has been receiving an increase of complaints recently, from both domestic and foreign tourists.

The majority of complaints relate to traffic congestion, garbage and chaos at Ngurah Rai airport.

Traffic congestion in the tourist areas of Sanur, Simpang Siur and Nusa Dua are being addressed by the new road constructions. Hopefully, with the construction of the new underpass at the intersection of Dewa Ruci in Kuta, the traffic problem will be reduced. The Simpang Dewa Ruci underpass is scheduled for completion in mid-May, the highway connecting Benoa-Nusa Dua and the airport are scheduled for June. Problems at the airport are only temporary and hopefully will be resolved soon.

The garbage however remains an issue. The Department of Hygiene is overwhelmed. Every day they are transporting almost 5,000 cubic meters of trash.

Selamat hari raya Galungan dan Kuningan

23 March 2013

Bali - Tuna fishing

Five local Balinese wooden longline vessels enter Benoa harbour within the space of two hours. They have been fishing for yellowfin and bigeye tuna in the Indian Ocean for the past week and will offload today to a simple processing facility beside the quay, for export overnight to Tokyo, Japan.

On any night of the year there is so much longline laid out by the world’s tuna fishing fleets that it circumvents the world five times – that’s 200,000 km of longline. The last batch of fish from the latest vessel to unload this day comes ashore at 17.45. Each fish is inspected for freshness and toro (fat) content. Fish are rejected or approved at this stage, if rejected they goes to the restaurants in Bali and if approved they will be sent by plane to Tokyo tonight. Each fish which is approved is weighed and packed into standard-sized cardboard “coffins”.  These are then transferred to a waiting refrigerated truck, which shortly after is speeding on its way to Ngurah Rai international airport where its cargo is set for loading onto the 00.35 Garuda flight to Tokyo, arriving in Narita at 08.45 the following morning.

The crew are nearing the end of their two rest days and are preparing to head out early morning to search for and land fresh sashimi-quality tuna again in about seven to 10 days’ time. There are over 850 such tuna longline vessels based at Benoa.
This is the height of the Southern Bluefin tuna breeding season with their spawning grounds located to the South of Java. Though these fish range between the southern half of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, this is their only known breeding ground.

Strange things

Unmarried people caught having sex in Indonesia will face up to five years in jail under proposed new laws.

Indonesian Justice and Human Rights Ministry director general for legislation reportedly confirmed penalties for pre-marital sex were being considered as part of a revision of the criminal code.

The revision to the criminal code would also make it illegal for couples living together to have sex, with a potential sentence of up to one year in jail. But single people would be dealt with more harshly. It would be liable for up to five years in jail. The proposed changes reflected the prevailing norms in Indonesian society, our society is not like in the old penal code.
The proposal has the support of other members of the Indonesian parliament.

22 March 2013

Bali - Panyliksikan Google

Users who visit google.co.id now have the option of searching in Balinese as well as Bahasa Indonesia, Javanese, or English. Balinese is the second regional language after Javanese supported by Google.

200 students and language experts in Denpasar, Bali who are passionate about promoting the Internet in Balinese undertook the translation effort in March and April of 2012. The language-preservation NGO Basa Bali worked together in partnership with Google to make this possible.

“This would be a tremendous progress for Balinese as a part of the universe of languages as we hope it will develop the Balinese language, particularly among young people of today who like to use the internet and other information technologies. This will also create awareness for the latest generation to preserve and develop their mother language as a part of their life in the midst of globalization,” says Windhu Sancaya, head linguist for the Basa Bali NGO.

Head of Google Indonesia Rudy Ramawy said, “Google is happy to help these efforts to preserve Indonesia’s rich cultural and linguistic heritage. We are most grateful to Basa Bali for their dedication in helping us translate the search interface. As a regional language spoken by 4 million people, we hope the introduction of Balinese on Google will help make it easier for more people to go online and find the information they need.”

Balinese will be available on the Google homepage and search results, it is currently not yet available on Google Translate.

Fewer tourists for Bali in 2013

Bali Expecting Fewer Tourists in 2013

The Central Statistic Bureau for Bali is posting a more modes target for foreign tourist arrivals to Bali in 2013 – projecting only 2.8 million foreign tourist, a figure less than the 2.9 million achieved in 2012.

The chief of the Bali Statistic Bureau (BPS) said he estimated an average 220,000 foreign tourist would come to the island each month in 2013.
Official arrival statistics for the month of January 2013 showed only 212,657 tourists visited Bali in January, a figure lagging 14.35% behind foreign arrivals in the same month last year. The drop in January figures is to the fact that January is low season in Bali.

Arrivals have declined in January for the Australian, Russian, U.S., Mainland Chinese, Taiwanese, Malaysian, Dutch, French and Singaporean markets.

21 March 2013

Bali - Painters and Turtles

Around 42 painters grouped in Himpunan Pelukis Bali (Bali Painters’ Association) plan to organize an exhibition and auction of 1,000 paintings in an attempt to increase funding for turtle conservation on the island.

The event is a contribution from the artists and the island’s art world to support one of the island’s most endangered species. The exhibition and auction will take place from May 11 through May 19.

The Balinese people were known as “turtle eaters and slaughterers”, which is untrue. In the past, the turtle trade had flourished in Bali, especially in the early 1990s when an estimated 27,000 to 30,000 turtles were caught, slaughtered and traded annually. At present, the turtle trade has already decreased by 90 percent from those numbers. Increasing awareness among local people has contributed to the decrease in the turtle trade and turtle smuggling. Currently, there are several vulnerable spots for illegal turtle trading, including in Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggara, where turtles have not been fully protected and are abundant.

The coming proceeds from the exhibition and auction will go toward supporting various turtle conservation projects through the Save Our Turtle program. About 50 percent of the proceeds will go to the turtle project, while the remaining funds will be used to support other environmental programs, such as the mangrove rehabilitation. The Save Our Turtle program will also closely monitor turtle breeding to control the turtle population on the island. People, including tourists, often disturb the turtle habitats and breeding grounds by sunbathing and being active around those places. In Bali, turtles are among several rare animals previously used as part of religious rituals.
Some of the painters have already produced numerous works during the Nyepi holiday.

20 March 2013

Bali - Gado-Gado

Gado-Gado is an Indonesian vegetable dish served with peanut sauce on top. It is often sold and enjoyed on the street. (and my favorite dish)

Ingredients (for 2):

One pack of lontong (steamed sticky rice)
50 grams green beans
50 grams cabbage
4 or 5 fresh lettuce leaves
50 grams bean sprouts
1/2 cucumber and 1/2 tomato

Fried tempe and/or tofu (sliced dice size or a bit bigger).
1 boiled potato
1 boiled egg
Prawn crackers and/or emping

30 grams of peanuts fried in some oil
3 fried chilies and a red pepper (sliced before fried)
250 ml Coconut milk, salt, 1/2 spoon of tamarind sauce, 1/2 spoon of traditional palm sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of terasi (fermented fish paste), daun salam

How to Make Gado-Gado

Grind fried peanuts, fried chilies and red pepper along with terasi and palm sugar to a paste. Pour all the ground spices into the pan of coconut milk and boil on a small fire, adding half a spoon of tamarind sauce, salt (according to taste) and daun salam and keep on stirring to prevent the sauce from coagulating and then take it off the stove when the sauce changes into a yellowish color and becomes fragrant. Boil the green beans and cabbage after chopping them (beans in about 4 cm long pieces, cabbage double dice size). Blanche the bean sprouts. Cut the lontong (steamed rice), fried tofu, tempe and egg into chunks.

Serving up your Gado-Gado

Arrange lettuce leaves at the bottom of the plate and pile up the dice size lontong, fried tofu, tempe, vegetables, bean sprouts as well as emping and prawn crackers and finally top the gado-gado generously with the sauce.

Bali - Salak wine

Drinking Salak wine, it may sound a little bit strange, because generally wine is made from fermented grapes.

A small village in Karangasem, Bali, really producing wine from salak. The village of Sibetan is one of the villages in the world that produces wine from salak. The village lies in Karangasem Regency and has a long historie for growing salak. Since a few years, people in this village make also salak wine.

Tourists who come to the village are able to see the process of making salak wine. Precisely in Banjar Dukuh, the salak wine brewery is open for visitors who want to know the process of processing the salak to becomes wine.

First of all salak, already peeled and in slices, are placed into barrels together with yeast, granulated sugar, and mineral water. The process of fermentation takes two weeks. After that, the content inside the barrel is filtered to produce liquid only. Then, the liquid is placed into aging barrels for six months. Every month the wine is filtered again. Then they can start the process of filling the bottles with wine. After being sealed and labeled, plus customs seal, the salak wine is ready to be sold.

19 March 2013

Three Bali hotels on the Tripadvisor top 10

Three hotels in Bali have made the TripAdvisor top 10 list for the most luxurious hotels in Asia, based on travelers’ choice votes.

The Samaya Seminyak, The Samaya Ubud, and the Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah (Ubud) made the list of top ten most luxurious hotels.

Furthermore, a number of other hotels in Bali placed highly in the top 25 rankings, beating out stiff competition from luxury hotels in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and even the Maldives. According to TripAdvisor, the coveted spot of number one most luxurious hotel went to The Upper House in Hong Kong, followed closely by the An Lam Ninh Van Bay Villas in Nha Trang, Vietnam.

In third position came The Samaya Bali in Seminyak, thanks to renowned high levels of service and luxury. The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah in Ubud came next in fourth position, and The Samaya Ubud, came in a respectable sixth place.

18 March 2013

Biznet Bali International Triathlon 2013

Biznet Bali International Triathlon

Sunday, June 23
Biznet Bali International Triathlon
Race date will be June 23.
Registration is open.

Important course, event announcements throughout the year.
Olympic Distance Race 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run.
Sprint Distance Triathlon 500m swim, 20km bike, 5km run.
Team relay for 2-3 athletes 5km Fun Run.

Email: info@balitriatlon.com

Bali's north coast most at risk during Tsunami

Bali’s Disaster Mitigation Agency says north Bali shoreline most at risk to Tsunami.

Bali’s northern shore is at “great potential risk” to a catastrophe from tsunami. To help avoid unnecessary loss of life, the Bali Provincial Disaster Mitigation Team (BPBD) in cooperation with the regional government of Buleleng recently posted evacuation routes in the village of Pengastulan, Seririt in North Bali.

The reason for posting evacuation routes in the sub district of Seririt is because that, after carrying out a scientific survey, it was determined that the Seririt area was most at risk of tsunami. But, in fact, the entire northern shore of Bali is at risk of damage from a tsunami.

Looking at it scientifically, the threat of a tsunami is greater on Bali’s northern shore than it is on the south and west. This is because of the tectonic plates located near Buleleng and to the east between Bali and Lombok demonstrate that an earthquake of greater than 6 on the Richter scale will have a great potential for generating a tsunami. By comparison, the threat to Bali’s south and west is somewhat less.

17 March 2013

Pic of the week

Bali - Bangli and Pura Kehen

Traveling from the southern coasts of Bali up the mountainous region of Kintamani overlooking spectacular Mount and Lake Batur, one passes the town of Bangli.

Once a very important town in the kingdom of Bangli, today Bangli is a quiet town that comes alive only on busy market days and temple ceremonies, when people from surrounding areas converge in the town’s market place and temples. Bangli is an old city believed to have been built as early as AD 1204 judging from a stele found in the famous Pura Kehen temple, which is believed to have been built even before construction of the town, and now lies at the outskirts of the city. The town itself is dominated by the royal houses spread around its main square.

Pura Kehen is the royal ancestral temple of the Raja of Bangli, one of the eight most important royal houses on Bali. Literally meaning the Temple of the Hearth or the Household, this refers to Hyang Api or the God of Fire, symbol of the Hindu god Brahma. Here worshipers burn offerings on a small hearth. Pura Kehen is one of the most beautiful temples on Bali standing above a steep slope. To reach the entrance gate one must climb a stone staircase with 38 steps guarded by stone statues on either side, all the way up to the gate. Unlike other Balinese temples where the entrance is a split gate, Pura Kehen has a large triangular shaped gate. Passing the gate, a large, old banyan tree with wide protecting foliage and hanging roots dominates the outer courtyard. A kulkul or bamboo drum hangs from its branches and among its roots is a stone altar for offerings. Like Pura Besakih, Pura Kehen is built on several levels. Here are eight stepped terraces, where the top level is the most sacred sanctuary. There are no less than 43 altars on the various levels of Kehen with the most prominent  covered with a tower that has 11 thatched roofs or meru, dedicated to Sang Hyang Api. While at the northeastern corner there is a huge three-compartment stone throne, carved with intricate reliefs.  During the temple’s anniversary, called odalan, devotees from around Bali come to pray in this temple.

Bangli is also known for its Arts Center, or the Sasana Budaya, where regular kecak or wayang performances are held. Typical to Bangli is the Baris dance, or the dance of the warriors.  Although also known in other regions, Bangli has developed its special Baris choreography, known as the Baris Jojor (8 men carrying spears), the Baris Presi or Tamiang (8 men in a circle carrying leather shields) and Baris Dadap, all of which are performed especially during odalan.

16 March 2013

Cristiano Ronaldo Bali's new mangrove ambassador

Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is named as the ambassador to the Bali Mangroves by the Mangrove Care Forum last weekend.

The Mangrove Care Forum is a mangrove conservation movement in Bali which is backed by five concerned citizens in the south of Tanjung Benoa, Bali. The Mangrove Care Forum will be inaugurated in May 2013 with the aim to raise public awareness of the importance of the mangrove forests, encouraging the active participation of the public in order to preserve the mangroves, and restore ecosystems and biodiversity of the areas.

Ronaldo’s appointment as Ambassador to the Bali Mangrove was conducted at a meeting in Madrid, Spain, by Tomy Winata, who is in Europe to attend a conference of the 56th UN Commission on Anti-Narcotics and Forbidden Drugs (UNODC / United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), which also held key policy cooperation for the conservation of wildlife and prevention of deforestation.

Tomy Winata stated, “I am truly excited and happy that Ronaldo agreed to fully support our activities in order to preserve the mangrove forests in Indonesia. Ronaldo, being the Mangrove Rescue Ambassador, is appropriate given that he has a charm and is a great role model. We expect the message “Save the mangroves, Save Earth” to reach all walks of life, young and old, rich and poor alike.”

In the field of conservation, mangrove conservation is an important thing to do, but often neglected, and nowadays people increasingly do not have the time to worry about such things. The condition of mangroves in Indonesia is quite negative, and Indonesia has lost two million hectares of mangrove areas already. Mangrove conservation not only saves the environment, it is important to save the lives of so many people.
The Ministry of Forestry estimates that Indonesia has more than nine million hectares of mangrove forests, about 70 percent of which have been lost and turned into farms and oil palm plantations, or used for rural and urban development.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo said: “I feel privileged to play a role in preserving mangroves in Indonesia. I went to Aceh after the tsunami tragedy and the devastation that I saw, leaving memories in myself. I understand that in many places overgrown mangrove ecosystems formed to protect against big waves, so many lives could be saved and there would be less damage.”

15 March 2013

Bali - Cricket fighting

There will be no day that passes without a cockfight for many Balinese men.

Every day, they tenderly care for their fighting cocks. Owners of the champion cocks pamper the birds with daily massages, carefully bathe them and feed them a nutritious diet. In short, there is a popular belief that Balinese men love their cockerels more than their wives.

However, children have a passion for mejangkrikan — or the art of cricket fighting. Cricket and cockfighting are the most popular and passionate pastimes for Balinese men — with many gambling on the games. These two traditional types of fighting are also common in many other parts of Indonesia, as well as other countries in the Southeast Asia region. In China, cricket fighting even has a very long history, dating back almost 1,000 years to the famous Tang Dynasty in the 12th century.

Every day the crickets (Jankrik) get a special diet called sadeg, a mixture of various grains. The crickets are placed in colorful bamboo tubes with air holes for ventilation. The cricket owners train the insects for the battles and pamper their pets through these holes.

The fights have quite strict rules: The fighters must be of similar body size and in a healthy condition, meaning that all the body organs were complete. When all the fight requirements are met, the two competing crickets face off against each other in a fierce fight. The cricket that survives this miniature blood sport is declared a legendary champion. Meanwhile, the owners place bets of between Rp 10,000 and Rp 50,000 per three-minute game.

Despite the influx of high-tech video games and flashy electronic-based entertainment, the age-old tradition of cricket fighting remains alive and kicking among Balinese youth.

14 March 2013

Bali - Taman Usada

Some 800 meters from the main gate of Eka Karya Botanical Park in Bedugul and right after the park’s beautifully arranged orchid garden, lies a 1,600-square-meter plot of land filled with the rarest and most-treasured plants and trees for the Balinese. All of them have medicinal properties as described by the ancient lontar (palmyra leaf) scripture of Taru Premana.

This land, called Taman Usada (Garden of Medicine), is one of the park’s few precious endeavors. It is aimed at preserving, documenting and researching the plants that for centuries had been used by the Balinese, kings and commoners alike, to treat a wide variety of ailments, ranging from common colds to mysterious sicknesses caused by black magic. The plot houses some 300 species of plants. A small wooden placard containing information about each plant and its medicinal efficacy identifies each species. Unfortunately, most of the placards are a bit battered.

A huge placard set in the center of the garden provides a brief description of balian (traditional healers), the origin of the word usada and the existence of some 50,000 lontar manuscripts on traditional healing and medicines, as well as the myth about Taru Premana.

Visitors to this garden also have the chance to sample Balinese traditional herbal concoctions made from the plants. A small cafe next to the garden offers various herbal drinks, including one made from the extract of secang, cinnamon, cardamom and palm sugar. The sweet drink is believed to be the potent medicine for fever.

Bali - dry season 2013 start half May

The Meteorologist, Climatological and Geophysical Agency BMKG expect that the dry season start in early May in large parts of the country.

According to the head of the BMKG, this year there will be a surplus of water, although this will be relatively few in eastern parts of the country.

By unpredictable changes in the seawater temperature in the Indian Ocean and a relatively cold Pacific Ocean from March to May this year, eastern Indonesia is relatively dry. It is expected that La Nina in the Pacific will hold until June of this year, so the dry season will begin on time.

The areas that started with the dry season are Aceh and other parts of northern Sumatra. This year, the dry season is expected to hold only a few months in many parts of Indonesia. Only in the areas to the east of Sulawesi have a possible dry season from April to October.

Bali - Video

Bali, Je t'aime! from Artisland on Vimeo.

Bali in 5 minutes, good movie, good music. A surprise for us, halfway the movie there's a young girl wearing a blue shirt, the daughter of my wife Nyoman.

08 March 2013

Pic of the week

One of our plants. He have flowers and fruits on the same time, but we have no idea what kind of plant it is.

07 March 2013

Bali - Rujak

Rujak, a traditional Indonesian tropical fruit salad, is a favorite dish of many communities in Indonesia, as well as some of its neighboring countries, like Malaysia or Singapore.

The slices of assorted fruit, such as fresh mango, jambu air (water apple), starfruit, young papaya, pineapple and pommelo (a kind of pink grapefruit), mixed with a hot spicy palm sugar dressing may look and taste especially inviting during the hotter weather.

In Bali, rujak is also very popular, with various fruit mixtures and sauces available. There is a delicious pommelo rujak, locally known as rujak jerungga.
Pommelo is also known as Jeruk Bali — the Balinese citrus fruit. Pommelo is considered to be the king of citrus fruits for its sheer size: Some varieties are the size of a small basketball, while others are like an enormous grapefruit. Pommelos also vary in color, from dark green on the outside to a coral-orange color and sometimes even yellow. The skin can be very thick, up to 2 inches, depending on the hybrid. Some come to a peaked top (where the stem joins the tree), while others are completely round. The inner fruit ranges in color from white to pink.

Bali - Resa Art in Kerobokan

Visiting Reza Art in Kerobokan is like a walk back into the past.

Mountains of old, wooden, collectible items are scattered all over this antiques shop, pleasing the eye of any antiques addict. In one corner, hundreds of vintage metal chairs are displayed.

Some of the chairs and furniture need major repairs, but not to worry, artisans and craftsmen working at the shop are more than ready to do the work needed for buyers who really have the passion for those aged legacies. Reza Art buys and sells old things, ranging from silver cutlery, dinner sets, gramophones, radios and television sets, to sewing machines, lamps and parts of old cargo ships, such as portholes, anchors and compasses.

Owners of caf├ęs, exclusive boutiques, opulent villas and hotels have become his loyal clientele. Among the shop’s favorite items are old tin dinner sets and food containers with abstract designs on their surfaces.

For antique lovers hunting for high quality, Reza Art offers no comfortable shopping atmosphere. The hot and crowded shop relies entirely on its boast of a vast choice of unique goods at bargain prices. So, be ready to dive in for a sweaty journey to the past to find your dreamed-of antiques.
Reza Art, Jl Kerobokan 22, Kerobokan, Bali.

06 March 2013

Bali - Tanah Lot

Listed among the possible sites to visit for the upcoming Asia-Pasific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit delegates, Tanah Lot is ready to host the international guests.

Tanah Lot, located in Beraban village in Tabanan regency, is about 30 kilometers from Denpasar. It has long been a favorite destination, close on the heels of Kuta Beach.
Last year, Tanah Lot welcomed 2.55 million visitors, 45 percent of whom were foreigners. The 36-hectare site mainly offers panoramic views of Tanah Lot Temple and rugged natural scenery where visitors can enjoy a stunning sunset. There are five other temples on the site, namely Pakendungan, Batu Mejan, Batu Bolong, Jro Kandang and Enjung Galuh.

Over the past two years, Tanah Lot has been undergoing a number of renovations to better serve visitors. Among the improvements is the construction of sidewalks, footpaths and ditches, as well as a parking lot expansion, among others. As many as 30 security personnel and 45 pecalang (traditional security guards) now also guard the site 24 hours every day.

Tanah Lot is on the list of planned places to visit for the APEC delegates. Other destinations were Tampak Siring and the Sanur Village Festival. Tanah Lot was considered for its beautiful natural panorama, while Tampak Siring is loaded with history and cultural elements. However, security will surely be tightened by engaging presidential security, the Bali Police and other related stakeholders. Tanah Lot already had extensive experience of being visited by representatives of international conferences held in Bali. Despite the rapidly approaching date for the APEC Summit in October, Bali Tourism Agency had not received any confirmation on which locations the visiting APEC delegates had chosen to visit.

As an international tourist destination, Bali has a lot of potential places to visit. According to the regional tourism agency, Bali has around 270 tourism attractions, which are already, or will be, developed.

Bali - Pura Besakih, the Mother Temple

Rising majestically on the western slopes of Mount Agung, and referred to as the Mother Temple of Hindu Bali, is Pura Besakih, or the Besakih temple, covering a vast area that offers breathtaking mountain scenery surrounding this beautiful and artistic temple complex.

On the slopes of the Gunung Agung’s highest peak, believed to be the abode of the gods, and located at an altitude of 900 meters, Pura Besakih is built in the village of Besakih, in the eastern part of Bali. The name Besakih comes from the word “Basuki”, derived from the word “Wasuki” which means salvation in the classical Sanskrit language. Whereas, in the Samudramanthana mythology, the same name “Besuki” in fact refers to the Dragon-God “Naga Besukian”, who inhabited Gunung Agung, the main volcano in Bali.

This grand temple complex has been revered as a holy place since ancient times. The first recorded mention of its existence comes from an inscription dating back to 1007 AD. It is known that since the 15th century Besakih was regarded as the central temple of Hinduism in Bali.

Pura Penataran Agung, or the “Great Temple of State” is the center of the temple complex and is is Bali’s main place of worship, a complex comprising twenty-two temples on six rising terraces set on parallel ridges. This complex expresses the essential belief of the Balinese known as Tri Hita Kirana, meaning that life on earth must be lived and kept in balance and harmony between man and God, man and society and his fellow human beings, and man and his natural environment.

During a full moon, Balinese and pilgrims throng to the temple. During the festival of Odalan, the temple is most elaborately decorated. Odalan is celebrated on every 210th day. Away from the loud parties of Kuta Beach, leaving the thrilling waves of Uluwatu behind and the modern facilities of Nusa Dua, then traveling beyond enchanting Ubud, a visit to Pura Besakih is truly a spiritual experience into the heart of Balinese religious and cultural life.

05 March 2013

Balinese and paying tax

The Bali office of the Taxation Directorate disclosed that most of workers residing on the island had yet to pay income tax.

Only 12.3 percent of workers had registered themselves as taxpayers, while the remaining 87.7 percent had not.

Given that the number of registered taxpayers on the island is very small, we are quite eager to engage all stakeholders, including the regional administrations, to spread information on the importance of registering and paying taxes, the head of the tax office said, after accompanying governor Made Mangku Pastika and top provincial officials to submit their annual tax reports (SPT).

Data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) showed that 2.9 million of the island’s 3.9 million residents are employed. However, the number of registered taxpayers was only 365,000 individuals. Out of the registered taxpayers, only 229,000 have annually submitted their tax reports.

This is paradise....

Garuda opens new London route

President director of Garuda Indonesia recently announced that direct flights connecting Jakarta-London would be launched in the fourth quarter of 2013.

There would be six flights a week. The Boeing 777-300 Extended Range with a capacity of 314 passengers (eight in first class, 38 in business class and 268 in economy class) would service the route. The aircraft would have WI-Fi facilities and chef-on-board service.

The London route will add to the other international routes, Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam. Garuda would also expand its flight network in Europe through a code-sharing agreement with other international airlines, including Etihad Airways, which will open access for its passengers to fly to seven other major cities in Europe. The UK is regarded as one of Indonesia’s largest markets, possessing the potential of 160,000 passengers traveling to and from the region for business and leisure.

Bali Tourism Agency data shows that visitors from European countries formed 22.42 percent of the total number of foreign visitors traveling to the resort island in January-November 2012. Two European countries, the UK and France, were among the top ten contributors of visitors to the island.
Two thirds of European passengers are tourists. Those who want to take leisure usually wish to be able to arrive in Bali, while those on business would expect to touch down in Jakarta. The European market has continued to display positive growth. For years, countries like the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and France have contributed huge numbers of visitors to Bali. They have a long vacation period, between two weeks to one month. And they have huge interest in the Balinese culture.

04 March 2013

Bali - Galungan and Kuningan

The entire island of Bali will be gaily decorated and festive activities held across the island from 27th March to 6th April 2013, when the Balinese celebrate the religious festivals of Galungan and its pinnacle, Kuningan, concetrated on Bali's many temples, including the island's mother temple, Pura Besakih.

Celebrated every 210 days according to the Hindu Saka Calendar, Galungan symbolizes the victory of Dharma over Adharma or virtue over evil which has its origin in the mythology of “Mayadenawa”. It is believed that during the ten days of Galungan, all the gods, as well as the supreme deity Sanghyang Widi, will come down to earth and join the festivities. The Balinese also believe that the spirit of ancestors and deceased relatives return to visit their homes, thus various rituals and offerings are conducted to welcome them. During the festival, the whole island sprouts tall bamboo poles called "penjor" – that are usually decorated with fruit, coconut leaves, and flowers, and set up on the right of the entrance of every home. At each gate, one will also find small bamboo altars set up especially for the holiday, each one bearing woven palm-leaf offerings for the spirits.

The festival is preceded by several days of preparations which begin three days before the festival, and is called “Penyekeban”. Literally meaning “the day to cover”, Penyekaban marks the preparations for Galungan where families cover green un-ripe bananas in huge clay pots to speed up the ripening process. The second day is called “Penyajahan” which marks a time of introspection for the Balinese, and more prosaically, a time to make Balinese cakes known as jaja. These colored cakes are made from fried rice dough and are used in offerings, and are also eaten specially on Galungan. The last day of preparation is called “Penampahan” or slaughtering day. On this day, Balinese slaughter the sacrificial animals which will be used in the rituals.

During Galungan, a ceremony known as Ngelawang is performed in every village. Ngelawang is a ritual to expel evil and any negative spirits, which is performed by a "barong" - a divine protector in the form of a mythical beast. The barong is invited into houses as he makes his way through the village. His presence is meant to restore the balance of good and evil in the house. The residents of the house will pray before the dancing barong, who will afterwards give a piece of his fur as keepsake.

The last and a pinnacle to the ten day festival is called Kuningan. It is believed that on this particular day, the supreme god Sang Hyang Widi descends to earth to give blessing for all the people. As closure to the series of Galungan rituals, Kuningan also marks the return of all the gods and ancestors to their own realm. As one of the most important religious activities on the island, Galungan provides the best opportunity to observe the most fascinating part of Bali’s unique culture. A visit to Bali during the festival will surely be a treat for all the senses.

03 March 2013

Bali - the Gitgit waterfalls

On the way from Denpasar to Singaraja, there are many attractive places to visit. If you are interested in waterfalls, the Gitgit twin waterfalls in Sukasada district, Buleleng, could be your ideal destination.

It takes some 40 minutes from Bedugul botanical park, passing along a road that wends its way up and downhill through beautiful countryside, with trees, hills and lakes, until you eventually come to a sign reading “Gitgit Twin Waterfalls, Air Terjun Campuhan” on the left-hand side, on the right hand is a big parking lot with restaurant.

You have to walk down about 300 meters of steps and pay a Rp 5,000 entrance fee before eventually reaching the waterfalls, which are managed by the local customary village. Shady trees, the chirping sounds of birds and cool weather will accompany you on your way to the Campuhan waterfall. Many tourists like to take pictures in front of the falls, with the cliffs towering above them, while some enjoy bathing under the pouring water. According to the villagers, it is not only tourists that flock there, but also local people who want to perform Melukat ritual cleansing, especially during and in readiness for religious celebrations, such as ahead of Nyepi (the Hindu day of silence).
After seeing the Campuhan waterfall, you can go further down to the Mekalangan waterfall, located not too far away. It only takes 5 minutes to get there, but it is difficult to reach the bottom part of the waterfall. For safety reasons, many people opt not to go. Around the Mekalangan waterfall, there are some springs where you can drink the water and refresh your body after the sweaty trip.

A public toilet is available too. You can also take a look around the local souvenir shops managed by the villagers. The shops also sell food and beverages at normal prices for local people and domestic tourists, but different prices for foreigners. The shops also sells photo albums made of recycled leaves with prices varying from Rp 35,000 to Rp 100,000 each.

02 March 2013

Bali - the shoe maker

Walking around while carrying two boxes with repairing equipment on his shoulder?. He serves those who want to prolong the lives of their shoes and sandals.

The main “weapon” is a needle, a thick nylon thread and a grater used to make a thin mark surrounding the sole before it is sewn with the nylon thread. Marking the sole makes it easier to insert the thread into the sole. If the needle cannot pierce the bottom part of the sole, the sole needs to be sewn from the side to allow the surface of the shoe to adhere with the sole. You can prolong the lifetime of your shoes and sandals just by fixing the sole or the surface.

Shoe repairers can establish their “offices” anywhere along the street. However, there are hard days when they have no customers at all, even after walking around all day. Shoe repairers, walking around the city with equipment on their shoulders, are rarely found as many of them choose to rent a space and wait for customers. charges are only Rp 5,000 to Rp 10,000 to fix shoes and sandals, depending on the difficulty of the task. 

Bali - bridge in Nusa Lembongan collapse

The bridge connecting Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan collapsed with a mighty roar yesterday, leaving residents stranded on either side.

For four days the 140-metre span bridge was noticeably moving as high winds and massive swells raged through the waterway separating the two islands off the coast of Bali. It finally collapsed yesterday in a mass of concrete and steel. Built in 1991 by the provincial government, residents say the steel framework was showing signs of rust and rot.

The residents of both islands hoping that the government will repair the bridge and build an emergency bridge in the meantime so that residents can continue their activities. The bridge is the only link between the two islands and currently residents are forced to make the crossing by boat.

01 March 2013

Bali - new motorbike ambulance

BAWA, Bali Animal Welfare Association gets a new motorbike ambulance, donated by an Australian.

Bali - Gilimanuk get a giant Buddha statue

Gilimanuk, the most western port on the island of Bali and departure point for ferries to East Java, will soon be home to the largest Buddhist statue in Indonesia.

Erected at a cost of Rp. 1 billion the 25-meter-high statue of the Lord Buddha will be housed in the Empu Astapaka Monastery. The statue will be formally inaugurated on June 6, 2013.

The Empu Astapaka Monastery commemorated the visit of a Buddhist scholar who traveled in Bali in the 15th century and whose family traces to the Siwaistic Brahmin family of the island.