31 August 2013

Bali - British Grandmother one step closer to firing squad.

British grandmother, Lindsay Sandiford moved one step closer to the firing squad after hearing she has lost her final appeal yesterday in Jakarta’s Supreme Court.

At a closed hearing yesterday, three judges voted unanimously to reject her appeal against the death sentence, agreeing with the decision taken by the Denpasar District Court earlier this year. Sandiford now has two chances remaining to avert a death by firing squad; a judicial review of the top court’s decision, or a presidential pardon. It is rare for a drug offender to have their sentences reduced on appeal by Indonesian courts. The majority face a long wait in jail before the sentence is carried out. The exception is Scott Rush, on of the Bali Nine, who had his death sentence reviewed and reduced to life in prison in 2011.

Sandiford was found guilty of importing 4.7 kilos of cocaine into Bali last year. Her argument that she had agreed to transport the drugs to protect her children was rejected by both the Denpasar court and the Supreme Court. Two members of the Bali Nine are also currently in Kerobokan prison on death row, following their arrest in 2005 and Frenchman has also been on death row since May 2007 for drug trafficking. Sandiford is the first foreign woman to be sentenced to death.

30 August 2013

Bali - Miss World

Governor Made Mangku Pastika insisted that he would fully support the Miss World pageant in Bali next month, saying that there was no reason to reject it.

The participants and organizers of the Miss World pageant have agreed to abide to the requirements related to the bikini banning, so there is no particular reason to continue opposing this world-class beauty pageant. In one session, participants would be required to wear traditional Indonesian costumes and none of the contestants would wear a bikini.

Controversy over the pageant has been mounting in Indonesia, which has a reputation as a tolerant, pluralist society that respects freedom of expression. However, some hard-line Muslim groups in the country have protested the event.

Meanwhile, as seen from Miss World’s official Facebook and website, world audiences have started to pitch for their favorites. The 23-year-old representative from Nicaragua, Luz Merry Decena, is among the people’s choices, together with Miss Venezuela, Karen Soto, because of their beauty and talent.

With only a few weeks remaining until the Miss World pageant, the provincial administration and people in the tourist industry are gearing up to prepare all the logistics, including tight security. Around 1,000 police personnel will be deployed to secure the pageant. The security for the Miss World event is also a test case for safeguarding other important world-class summits and conferences in Bali.

29 August 2013

Bali - recipe Klepon, rice cakes

Klepon is a traditional rice cake, popular throughout Indonesia. It is boiled, stuffed with liquid gula merah (palm sugar), and rolled in grated coconut.

Klepon is green because it is usually flavoured with Pandan leaves. You need to eat Klepon carefully, especially if they are still hot, as the liquid palm sugar can squirt out when you bite into it.
If it is made properly, these delicious little coconut balls explode in your mouth with a nice melted palm sugar delight!

Ingredients: (makes around 30 balls)

1½ cup glutinous rice flour
¾ cup lukewarm water (or you can use coconut milk)
2-3 drops green food coloring
8 tsp dark brown sugar (gula merah)
1 cup grated coconut, mixed with ½ tsp of salt

Mix the rice flour with the lukewarm water and green food coloring until it forms a firm but flexible dough. Pull off one full teaspoon of the dough and shape it into a ball approximately 1-inch in diameter.

Push a finger into the center of the ball to make a hole, and put in approximately ½ tsp of brown sugar. Seal the hole and roll it back into the ball shape with the palms of your hands. Prepare all the balls and set them aside.

Prepare a pot half filled with water and bring it to a boil. Drop the balls a few at a time into the boiling water. Once they float to the surface, remove them with a spoon and roll them in the grated coconut until well coated.
Serve at room temperature or a little warm.

Bali - Pura Negara Gambur Anglayang

Pura Negara Gambur Anglayang in Kubutambahan village, Buleleng regency is a rare and unique temple.

Established in the 13th century, when the village was an ancient trade port named Kuta Baning, Pura Negara Gambur Anglayang is a place of worship for people of different faiths.

The temple has eight pelinggih (worship shrines) dedicated to different faith followers. There is a pelinggih named Ratu Bagus Sundawan for worshipers from Sunda (now in West Java). Another pelinggih is named Ratu Bagus Melayu, dedicated for worshipers from Malaya (Sumatra, Singapore and Malaysia). Yet other pelinggih are Ratu Ayu Syahbandar and Ratu Manik Mas as representations for Chinese and Buddhist followers. Ratu Pasek Pelinggih, Dewi Sri and Gede Siwa are for Hindu devotees. At the entrance gate is Ratu Dalem Mekah, representing traders from Gujarat in India.

The architectural design of the temple is similar to other temples in Bali. What makes it different is its pelinggih and interior ornaments. There is also a wall painting depicting a gold vessel sailing on the ocean. The painting records the journey of Ratu Ayu Syahbandar from China to Kubutambahan village.

During the odalan (temple anniversary), which falls every Buda Wage Kelawu (a day in the Balinese calendar that occurs every six months), thousands of local residents and people from numerous places come to pray at the temple. At the start of the anniversary rituals, there is a ritual at the beach to welcome the deities who will reside in the eight worship shrines during the celebrations. The worshippers also strongly believe they will spiritually see a gold ship passing by the sea near the temple.

Despite being unknown to many visitors, the temple is a genuine example of religious tolerance in Bali, the concept practiced by local residents and visitors alike for hundreds of years.

28 August 2013

Bali - orchids in our garden

Bali - The APEC summit in October

Fourteen of the 21 APEC economies leaders have already confirmed their attendance for the annual summit that will take place in Nusa Dua early October.

Among those scheduled to attend the APEC leaders meeting on Oct. 7 and 8 are President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, US President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The event organizing committee is still waiting for confirmation from the heads of APEC states: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Some confirmed are: Philippine President Benigno Aquino, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Korean President Park Geun-hye, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The CEO Summit will feature a program covering the key issues affecting the region.
The summit’s theme “Towards Resilience and Growth: Reshaping Priorities for Global Economy” is expected to provide a discussion forum for policy makers, business leaders and innovative thinkers on securing inclusive sustainable growth and achieving the aim of shared development and common prosperity for all. Among the thought leaders scheduled to attend are Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Nouriel Roubini of Roubini Global Economics and Kishore Mahbubani of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

The APEC Summit will start with the Senior Officials Meeting on Oct. 1 and 2, followed by the Ministerial Meeting on Oct. 4 and 5, the CEO Summit on Oct. 6 and 7 and conclude with the Leaders Summit on Oct. 7 and 8. All meetings during the APEC Summit will take place in the Nusa Dua resort complex.
In addition to the 21 heads of state and 46 ministers, the summit is expected to be attended by 5,250 economic leaders and around 3,000 journalists from across the globe. There are also around 182 preliminary meetings held ahead of the summit, attended by around 100,000 delegates.
To support this event, several infrastructure projects have been conducted in Bali. Among these is the Dewa Ruci underpass that cost around Rp 148 billion, the Rp 2.8 trillion expansion of Ngurah Rai International Airport and the construction of the Benoa–Ngurah Rai–Nusa Dua toll road, which cost Rp 2.5 trillion.

27 August 2013

Bali - GWK start finishing the highest statue in Indonesia

Dramatic performances by the famous Kecak Rina troupe, guitar prodigy Dewa Budjana, singer Trie Utami, up-and-coming dancer Keni Kurniasari, harpist  Maya Hasan and hundreds of local residents marked the groundbreaking ceremony of the Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) statue on Friday evening at Ungasan, Badung.

The performance was inspired by the Hindu tale of Garuda, an invincible bird of prey that searches for the elixir of immortality Amerta as a ransom to liberate its mother, who is being held captive by the dragons. Garuda defeats everything that stands in its path, from demons to gods, until Lord Wisnu the Sustainer offers it a deal that will see its mother released and also make sure the Amerta does not fall into the wrong hands. Garuda is given the role of the bearer of Amerta and agrees to be the mount of Lord Wisnu.

The ceremony marked a new chapter in the construction of the statue after a 16-year hiatus caused by a regime change, nationwide economic crisis, internal turf wars and lack of committed investors. The new beginning for the statue, designed to be Indonesia’s tallest monument and Bali’s new cultural icon, was made possible by giant property developer PT Alam Sutera Realty Tbk, which committed Rp 450 billion to finance the construction of the statue and other undisclosed funding to develop the cultural park and
integrated tourism facility in parts of the 60-hectare site of the monument.

The construction and installation of the GWK statue would take around three years to complete. The 75-meter-high statue, which is made of copper and brass sheeting, stainless steel framework and skeleton, is being constructed in the Sarijadi area, Bandung, West Java. The outer parts of the statue, some 22,000 square meters in size, and their stainless steel framework will be chopped into 700 modules before being transported to Bali. The modules will require 400 trucks to transport. In its final form, the GWK statue will be 75 meters tall with a wingspan of 64 meters. The statue will stand on a lofty pedestal that will bring the total height of the monument to 126 meters, some 30 meters taller than the Statue of Liberty in the US. It will weigh 3,000 tons and its volume will be 11 times more than that of the Statue of Liberty.

The Bali-born, Bandung-based Nyoman Nuarta first conceptualized the statue 25 years ago as a homage to his home island. The concept was supported by then minister of tourism, Joop Ave. A plan was drawn up and given to then-president Soeharto, who enthusiastically supported the project. In 1997 construction was started only to be stalled by the fall of Soeharto and a debilitating economic crisis.

26 August 2013

Bali - Budakeling, eco-tourism village

Budakeling, one of the villages designed with a community-based tourism concept, is ready to welcome more guests after completing the renovation of some houses. A total of 21 rooms in tourist-standard home-stays were now available.

Open for tourists since 2010, the village, located in Karangasem regency, has seen a growing number of European visitors, mostly from France and Switzerland. There are also some tourists from Japan and Korea. In the first year, it welcomed 16 people. This rose to 36 people in 2011 and 37 people last year. As of mid this year, 19 tourists had made reservations to stay in the village.

Tourists are usually interested in finding out about the daily life of the local people and interacting with them. Almost every day, groups of tourists are brought by hotels or travel agents to visit the village for a short trip. The tourists usually buy silver and gold handicrafts made by local residents.

Budakeling village is situated on a hill between Tirtagangga water palace and Bebandem in Karangasem regency. Overlooking the east coast of Bali, with Mount Agung in the background, it is well known among the Balinese for its high priests. For tourists, it is a village of farmers, artists and craftsmen – from dancers and painters, to stone sculptors and engravers of Sanskrit lontar manuscripts.

The village offers an interesting holiday package. As guests arrive in the village, they are welcomed with traditional snacks and beverages. The next morning, at around 6 a.m., guests are offered a visit to the traditional market to buy meat and vegetables for their lunch and dinner that they will then cook together with the locals. After going to the market, guests return to the homestay to have breakfast with the owner. They spend the entire day around the village enjoying the panoramic views and cool weather, while watching villagers going about their activities in the rice fields, schools, village administration office and in craft workshops.

Budakeling is one of seven villages developed under the concept of community-based tourism, in which tourism is managed by the villagers. The other six villages are Penglipuran, Bedulu, Jasri, Blimbingsari, Pancasari and Pinge.

By visiting the villages, travelers get the rare opportunity of first-hand experience with local communities. They spend quality time in areas rich in culture and biodiversity, and immerse themselves in the day-to-day lives of local, indigenous villagers. Under this scheme, villagers earn income as accommodation managers, entrepreneurs, tour guides or in other related occupations. In addition, a portion of the generated revenue is set aside for projects benefiting the community as a whole.

25 August 2013

WOJ Nieuwenkamp, Dutch painter in Bali (1874-1950)

WOJ Nieuwenkamp (born July 27, 1874, in Amsterdam in The Netherlands, died April 23, 1950, in San Domenico di Fiesole in Italy) was a Dutch painter, woodcarver, graphic artist, illustrator, art collector and a lot more. He was a globetrotter and the area he favoured mostly was Asia. His motto was in Latin ‘Vagando Acquiro’, ‘while wandering, I acquire (knowledge, ideas)’. The name of his houseboat was, not surprisingly, ‘De Zwerver’, ‘The Wanderer’. Between 1898 and 1937, he visited The Indies six times, which resulted in numerous drawings, etchings, prints, paintings and books, which he edited himself.

During his travels he made extensive notes and sketches in small and large booklets, which he worked out later in his artistic work and books. He gives us a picture of the way of living and thinking, of the rituals and the arts of the people in the countries that he visited. It differs from what an ethnologist, anthropologist, art historian or civil servant charged with a survey would write or report in the early 1900s, because he observed with the eyes and mind of an artist. The beauty of what he saw made a deep impression on him.

Nieuwenkamp is important for our knowledge of Bali at the beginning of the 20th century. He paid long visits to the island in 1904, 1906-7, 1917-19, 1935 and 1937. On April 4, 1904, during his first visit, he wrote: ‘there are so many beautiful things to see and to portray, which have not yet been noticed as beautiful, let alone discussed. Therefore I have decided to make a book with plates about Bali, the loveliest land I know’. This would become the album ‘Bali en Lombok’. The first part of it was published in the beginning of 1906.

He travelled by bike, by foot, on horseback; he stayed with Dutch civil servants, in pasanggrahans, in palaces, but also in a makeshift tent covering his camp bed. It appears that he was the first person in North Bali riding a bike. The people of Kubutambahan were so surprised, that they depicted Nieuwenkamp, with a mustache and a topee, on a relief of the Pura Madue Karang.
Wijnand Otto Jan Nieuwenkamp
Extensive preparations were made before embarking on his travels. He read about balinese culture, religion, history and literature, as much as what was available at that time. The Balinese drawings on paper commissioned by H.N. van der Tuuk between about 1880 and 1894, kept in the Leiden University Library, were studied so thoroughly that he was able to reproduce and draw them. His Balinese hosts were very much impressed by it. It is not impossible that this was the main reason why they treated him differently. During his first and second visit to Bali, Nieuwenkamp had contact with North Balinese artists who worked for Van der Tuuk, and bought drawings from them. This is important for my personal quest (Hinzler 1986-7) to find out more about these artists. When he visited the house of a woodcarver in Singaraja, he noticed a drawing of a ‘palm-wine tapper in a tree’ in the domestic sanctuary of the family. It resembled one of those from the Van der Tuuk Collection. It turned out that the drawing had been made by the carver’s father, I Ketoet Gede, who had worked for Van der Tuuk.

The second trip to Bali coincided partly with the Dutch military expedition to Badung and Tabanan in 1906. On July 6, he had permission to travel on board of one of the ships on their way to Bali, but he was not allowed to go ashore during the landing because of danger. He did not want to wait any longer, so he went by himself from Surabaya straight to North Bali by the end of July. In September, however, he met the Dutch in Denpasar. When he noticed that wooden parts of gamelan instruments were being used as firewood, both by the Dutch and the Balinese, he stopped them and rescued the beautifully carved pieces. In the Dutch newspaper ‘’Algemeen Handelsblad’’, he wrote articles about the destruction of the palaces and the killings (‘puputan’) in a very critical way. While walking around, he discovered the large bronze kettledrum, the ‘Moon of Pejeng’ in the Ubud region. He made sketches, drawings and rubbings of it, which he worked out later in the form of woodcarvings. In May 1925, he visited the Ubud region again. He was the first person to make drawings of the then recently (1922 or 1923) discovered rock carvings and sanctuary of Goa Gajah near Bedulu.

During his five travels to Bali, Nieuwenkamp ordered and bought drawings, objects, woodcarvings, doors, baskets and textile for museums and institutions in The Netherlands, as well as for his private collection. Because the origin, and in some cases the makers and artists, are named, and also because the process of manufacture is well documented in his diaries as well as books and articles based on them, the collection is very important.

Nieuwenkamp’s work is of great importance for North Bali. He made sketches, and produced woodcarvings, etchings, and a few paintings of temples, gateways, views, ships, people, textile and dancers. So far, a great number of them have only been reproduced in his books and articles which, by the way, were only published in Dutch. It was only in 1998 that an English edition appeared about the ‘First European Artist in Bali’, with reproductions of a selection of 321 drawings made during his whole career, 197 of which are pertaining to Bali. No separate issue exists yet on his work done in North Bali.

H.I.R.Hinzler, Leiden, March 2009
Carpenter, B., W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, First European Artist in Bali, Uniepers, Abcoude, 1997.
Nieuwenkamp, W.O.J., Bali en Lombok, album 1, beginning 1906; album 2, January 1909; albums 1,2,3, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1910.
Nieuwenkamp,W.O.J. Zwerftochten op Bali, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1910.
Nieuwenkamp, W.O.J., Zwerftochten op Bali, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1922.
Nieuwenkamp, W.O.J., De Olifantsgrot bij Bedoeloe op Bali, Nederlandsch Indie Oud en Nieuw, No. 10, 1925: 333-341.
Nieuwenkamp, W.O.J., Bouwkunst van Bali, H.P. Leopolds, Den Haag, 1926.
Nieuwenkamp, W.O.J., Beeldhouwkunst van Bali, H.P. Leopolds, Den Haag, 1928.
Nieuwenkamp, Boukunst en Beeldhouwkunst van Bali, H.P. Leopolds, Den Haag, 1947.
Nieuwenkamp, W.O.J. (grandson), Leven & Werken, Bouwen & Zwerven van de kunstenaar W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, opgetekend door zijn kleinzoon, A.W. Bruna & Zoon, Utrecht, 1979.

24 August 2013

Secret Balinese dances in Ubud

In a secret location well away from the bright lights of Ubud, a group of special guests were treated to the grand rehearsal of an event that will be seen by millions of viewers around the world in September.

Under the art direction of Indonesia’s most famous haute-couture designer, musician, philosopher and artist, Harry Darsono and director, Nyoman Budiartha, chairman of the conservatory and Tri Pusaka Cakti arts foundation, a series of Balinese ballet and musical performances underwent a few last tweaks ahead of opening in three world-class Bali events slated for September and October.

The troupe will perform during the inaugural international Lion’s Club ANZI Pacific Forum, followed soon after by performances during the first ever Miss World competition in Southeast Asia, to be held in Bali and Jakarta in late September, then a further performance for the opening of the APEC Summit in early October, probably attended again by Obama and Poetin.

As Indonesia’s foremost haute-couture designer, Darsono, who has crafted gowns for leading French fashion houses including Oscar de la Renta and Lanvin, has created the costumes and imagery for the production.
This extraordinary man, who has created gowns for Miss World contestants from Indonesia, England, Turkey, Norway, Wales and China, is clearly excited to be working with the Tri Pusaka Cakti troupe under the direction of Nyoman Budiartha.

23 August 2013

Bali - recipe Martabak Telur

Martabak is a favorite Indonesian dish that is sold at warungs and markets, mainly during the evening.

This is the recipe that Nyoman use when she make it for me.

For the filling:
8 tbs. oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1½ lbs. minced or ground beef
2 medium-sized shallots, minced
1 medium-sized onion, halved and sliced
2 tbs. chopped Chinese celery leaves
1 tbs. curry powder
4 eggs
1 stalk green onion, finely sliced
Salt and white pepper to taste

Dough Ingredients:
2 cups white flour (unbleached preferred)
3 tbs. oil
¾ cup water
Pinch of salt

Prepare the dough by combining all dough ingredients and kneading them into an oily elastic dough. Cover and leave at room temperature for 2 hours. Divide into 4 and roll each piece into a ball. Pull out with lightly oily hands on an oiled or marble surface to make a large thin circle, a sort of thin pizza.

While dough is resting, make the filling. Hear oil and saute garlic and shallots for a few seconds. Add ground beef and stir fry over medium high heat until the meat changes color. Add onion and celery leaves and continue stir frying for another 2 minutes. Add curry powder, mix well and cook another 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

To finish it up, divide the cooked filling among 4 bowls. Add 1 egg, green onion, salt and pepper to each bowl and mix well.

Heat a large heavy frying pan or griddle with 2 tbs. oil. When it is hot, put the thin circle dough at the middle of the griddle, and fill the center of the dough with the mixture filling. Spread it to side lightly, then fold in the sides and ends to completely enclose the filling envelope fashion.
Fry on the griddle until golden brown on one side, turn and fry the other side. Cut into pieces and serve, if desired, with Vegetables pickles and sliced chilies.

Makes 4 martabak.

22 August 2013

Hypermart opens new shop in Lombok

Lombok has a brand new, modern supermarket with the opening of Hypermart.

The newly opened store is part of the Central Plaza shopping complex on Jl AA Gde Ngurah in Cakra. Central Plaza is still under construction and more stores will open in the coming months.

Hypermart is already open for business, as are several other stores in the main building including Boston Drugs, Solaria Resto, Optik Melawai, Mokko Factory, and a few specialty stores. But Hypermart is the star attraction at the moment. The huge store is well laid out with spacious aisles and a vast array of stock. There are an electrical department, home wares, kitchen ware, toys, stationery, a small selection of gardening and pet supplies, tools, and small furniture and storage items, body and hair care products, cosmetics, bedding and towels, shoes, and ladies and mens apparel (including swimwear).

The rest of the store is dedicated to the supermarket. Of particular interest are the dairy, fresh produce and fresh meat departments. Here you will find everything from milk, cheeses, yoghurt, sausages and deli meats to large selections of fresh fruit and vegetables. The large meat department has pre-packed chickens and cuts, fresh meats, and whole fresh fish on ice, as well as packs of filleted fish. Large freezers stock frozen meals, vegetables, meats and fish, as well as specialty products such as Häagen-Dazs and Baskin Robbins ice creams.

Bali - Tumpek Landep, Saturday, August 24

Around 150 kris, double-edged daggers, from across Indonesia will be displayed during a special parade to commemorate Tumpek Landep, a Balinese Hindu day dedicated to worship Sang Hyang Pasupati, the god of steel.

The ceremony will fall on Saturday, August 24, and will be commemorated by Balinese families cleaning all metallic instruments, especially family heirlooms such as swords, kris, spears and, nowadays, cars, motorcycles and other metal instruments.

During the annual parade held at Puputan Park in Denpasar, a number of artists and dancers from the Indonesian Arts Institute Denpasar will perform a special dance.
The theme of the event will be Taksu Keris Bali, Pusaka Budaya Nusantara (The Spiritual Power of Balinese Kris, the Nation’s Cultural Heritage). The launching of a new book entitled Jelajah Keris Bali (Exploring Balinese Kris), written by I WayanGriya, will be held also.

21 August 2013

Bali - retirement visa, Kitas or Kitap

As I had already written on my blog, if you are 55 or older (one partner may be younger), you can apply for a retirement visa, called Kitas. A Kitas is an annual residence permit, but you're not allowed to work in Indonesia and you need someone as a housekeeper, besides of course your own financial facilities and insurance. After 5 times a Kitas you can choose, or you continue with a Kitas or you can apply for a Kitap, as I have done now.

Continue a Kitas means you have to leave Indonesia, for example to the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore. A Kitap is a five-year residence permit, thus cost five times the price of a Kitas. A Kitas application currently costs 6 million rupiah, a kitap 30 million. When you apply for a Kitap you can just stay in Indonesia, you don't have to leave the country, and you don't have to go every year one or two times to the immigration office. Seen from a financial point of view, a kitap is too expensive, but you don't have to travel and less hassle.

The Kitap application takes about 4 months and you will need the following documents:
Original passport
Original Kitas
Original Blue Book
Original SKLD, police registration

Domicile letter from the village where you living
Proof of land/home ownership or rental agreement, in Bahasa Indonesian
For rent, copy KTP (identity card) from te landlord
Copy KTP housekeeper
Copies of income, bank statements, retirement letters, etc.
Copy health insurance
Copy liability insurance
Copy death insurance
Map of the area residential address

Balinese Hinduism: Agama Hindu Dharma

Foreign conquerors and visitors may come and go, but Bali’s culture remains.

For almost a thousand years, the native Balinese have followed a unique form of Hinduism, now known as Agama Hindu Dharma: a direct descendant of the religion brought to Bali by visiting Hindu gurus.

The rhythms of the Balinese religious calendar dictate island-wide days of obligation, temple-specific feast days, and daily personal rituals that connect every native Balinese to their families, communities, ancestors and gods. The religious needs of the populace ensures the preservation and continued popularity of thousands of temples and altars all around the island, ranging in size from simple family shrines to the “Mother Temple”, the Pura Besakih on Gunung Agung. And you’ll find their myths re-enacted in Balinese dances all over the island.

The strong link between the Balinese and their religion ensures that Bali retains a unique identity among Southeast Asia’s island destinations. Thanks in no small part to its unique culture, Bali has successfully resisted (to some degree) the commercialization and homogenization suffered by islands like Boracay in the Philippines or Phuket in Thailand. Balinese temples, dances, and ceremonies define the Bali tourist experience as much as its beaches or its surfing.

20 August 2013

Bali - Yeh Sanih in Kubutambahan

View from the pool
When you visit Buleleng, a coastal regency in north Bali that is known as a hot zone, you should make the time to enjoy the Yeh Sanih springs, where you can swim in the cold water, fresh from a natural spring, while enjoying a beautiful beach view.

Yeh Sanih is fed by natural spring water and has become one of the favorite destinations in north Bali. It is located right by the sea in the village of Kubutambahan, around 30 minutes from Singaraja, the old capital of Bali and Nusa Tenggara during the Dutch colonial period.

The uniqueness of Yeh Sanih is its location near the beach. Despite being located by the sea, the pool there offers fresh, not salt, water. The spring is never dry, even in the dry seasons.The spring water is not only used for Yeh Sanih, but is also distributed to several villages around the area. As there is a huge amount of water produced naturally from the spring, the city tap water company distributes it to many houses around Buleleng.

There are two swimming pools in the 26 hectare plot of land at Yeh Sanih springs, one for adults and one for children. The adult pool is larger and is 1.5 meters deep. For children, there is a small pool that is only 0.5 meters deep. The pools are built of natural stone. The water is always clean, as it flows directly from the spring. The management from the Kubu Tambahan customary village also cleans the pool twice a week.

19 August 2013

Bali - Get Schapelle Corby an early release?

Schapelle Corby's chances of an early release from prison have been given a massive boost with corrections officers in Bali recommending her for parole.

The green light from the Bali corrections board (BAPAS) increases the likelihood that the convicted drug smuggler could soon be released from Kerobokan jail to live with her sister Mercedes in Bali.

Corby has shown good behaviour while in prison, that local society and officials could accept her and the family is ready with guarantee. She now has a chance to walk free on parole. The crucial recommendation will now be passed on to the Law and Human Rights Ministry before final approval, which could come within weeks.

Corby has been eligible to apply for parole since last August but her legal team had baulked at lodging an application after the Indonesian government introduced tough new conditions for prisoners convicted of serious crimes including drug trafficking. But the recommendation from BAPAS is a massive boost and all but clears the way for Corby to gain parole.

Corby would have to serve out the remainder of her sentence in Bali, which would see her remain on the island until mid-2015, so long as she continues to win the maximum eight months per year in remissions.

The recommendation from BAPAS, revealed today, comes after corrections officers visited the home of Mercedes Corby on Tuesday to assess whether it would be a suitable place for her to live. It's understood the officers also inspected documents related to Schapelle's parole, including an unprecedented guarantee letter from the Australian government. Corby, who was caught in 2004 attempting to smuggle more 4.1kg of marijuana into Bali, was sentenced to 20 years in jail but had her prison term slashed by five years by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Source: AAP

Bali - new coral reef species found

Bali has now been immortalized in the name of a new coral reef species found around Padangbai and Candidasa waters in Karangasem regency.

Euphyllia BALIensis species was discovered during a coral reef survey conducted by a group of scientists led by Lyndon Devantier. The survey was part of the Bali maritime quick review program.

The new coral reef species was discovered in 27 meters to 37 meters depth. It is a type of hard coral reef that has the endurance to survive along coastlines with strong ocean current. The Euphyllia Baliensis species can only be found in Bali. After a three months study, it has been confirmed to be a new species. It has unique characteristics. It looks like frangipani flowers. Because it is a strong hard coral, it secures the island well.

Compared to other species of the same euphyllidae genus, E. baliensis has relatively smaller corallites, with an average diameter of three milimeters, shown from its thinner and shorter branches, which are slightly calcified. The species has blunt red and brown tentacles, with a greenish cream base color.

The Bali maritime quick review program has also identified around 406 types of coral reef that live in the waters of Bali, including Nusa Penida. There are dozens more of coral reef species that require further taxonomy analysis.

17 August 2013

Bali - Eco-tourism

The Indonesian central government is planning to provide funds to turn 45 villages in Bali into Eco-tourism destinations.

In 2012, the government provided US$ 500,000 to 53 villages around the island for the same purpose, with the highest concentration in Bangli, Buleleng, Tabanan, Karangasem and Gianyar.

This year, the government has announced that it will be providing close to US$400,000 for 45 more. The program is very important and greatly benefits villages striving to become tourist destinations. It helps with planning, management and marketing. Local communities create proposals themselves, but, the provincial government will support them in every way.

For villages that have been earmarked as beneficiaries, the money means development of tourism facilities such as parking lots for buses, the installation of public toilets and the improvement of village roads. Workshops and training sessions are also provided to villagers to help them better understand tourists’ requests.

16 August 2013

Bali - great new Sababay wines.

Last week I saw at the supermarket in Negara a brand new rose wine, Sababay.

In Bali there are not so much good rose types, only a lot of very expensive imported wines. So I take two bottles home, Rp 140,000. per bottle, and I must say it tastes excellent.

The rose is made from Alphonso grapes by the first French winemaker in Bali. Highly recommended.

Bali's new toll road soon open

Bali’s toll road connecting Benoa Harbour, Ngurah Rai International Airport and Nusa Dua, is expected to be opened to the public at the end of August 2013.

This will happen after the regulatory agency, the Ministry of Public Works, has confirmed that the highway meets all technical requirements. The physical construction of the highway is complete. Now it is being checked to ensure it is up to specification. Hopefully, that process will finish at the end of August.

This inspection is essential. The road surface, signage, substations and patrol personnel must all be ready. The 12.7 kilometer long toll road will also accommodate motorcycles in a dedicated lane. The road, which passes over coastal waters for much of its length, is part of a package of infrastructure improvements designed initially to facilitate the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which takes place in Nusa Dua in early October.

Source: Kompas

15 August 2013

Recipe Acar, pickled vegatables

ACAR (Pickled Vegetables)

1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1 medium cucumber, cut in matchsticks
1 medium-sized carrot, cut in matchsticks
10-15 bird's-eye chilies
10 shallots, peeled and quartered
Pinch of Salt

Combine water, sugar, vinegar and salt in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, simmer 1 minute and then allow to cool. Mix vegetables with the dressing. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving at room temperature.

The Balinese kris or keris

Although classified as a weapon, the Kris has a ceremonial function. The oldest ones come from the Buddha age, between the 6th and 7th centuries. There are approximately 20 periods, named according to the kingdoms that commissioned them, up to the present day. Each has their own distinctive markings. At the end of the 15th century the Majapahit kingdom was responsible for the spread of the Kris to Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Even today a real Balinese Kris is regarded as sacred and believed to possess sakti and have magical power called tuah. They are heirlooms. A man is not considered a real man unless he has a Kris. A Kris can increase bravery, help avoid illnesses and protect the owner from black magic and misfortune. They can be worth as much as US$100,000.

13 August 2013

Bali - and they all come back again

A total of 10 people have died during this year’s Lebaran migration (in 6 days!!) on the island of Bali according to authorities.

In addition to the 10 fatalities, traffic accidents resulted in 10 serious injuries and 26 minor injuries. All casualties were traveling on motorbike. Most of the traffic accidents occurred in the “line of death” which is the route between Tabanan and Gilimanuk.
Police had been urging motorcycle travellers, especially mothers and their children, to use buses. Despite the fatalities, the situation has greatly improved from 2012 where 115 traffic accidents were recorded with 20 deaths, 57 seriously injured, and 127 minor injuries.

Bali - The story of priest Dang Hyang Nirartha

Pura Perancak
The story of Dang Hyang Nirartha, the man behind the rise of Balinese spiritual consciousness, may sound more like a tale than a true story. but the Balinese believe it's a part of their history.

It was chaos in Java by the mid 15th century. Feuds were happening everywhere and the Islamic expansion had reached almost all areas of Java. Some Javanese Hindus sought refuge in the eastern parts of Java such as Pasuruan, Blambangan, Banyuwangi, Tengger, Bromo and Kelud. Others traveled as far as Bali, including Dang Hyang Nirartha, a famous Hindu priest who had a broad knowledge of religions. He was a handsome and powerful yet humble priest, and not only did he understand the values of Hinduism but he was also familiar with Buddhism and Islam. Along with his wife and seven children, he made the dangerous trek to the island of the gods.

The priest was first to arrive on the island and while waiting for his family to follow he built a temple called the Perancak Temple. When they arrived they continued their journey to the eastern part of Bali. Along the way they came across an enormous dragon with its mouth wide open. Dang Hyang Nirartha decided not to kill the dragon and instead entered the body of the dragon. The dragon suddenly disappeared and the priest appeared with his body glistening in gold. His family was terrified and ran for their lives.
For days Dang Hyang Nirartha tried to locate his family, and every single day he believed that he would be able to find them. He finally found his wife and six of his children, but he learned his oldest daughter had died when her soul came to him asking for forgiveness for letting fear overcome her. Not long after learning about the loss of his daughter, the priest lost his wife. Both his wife and daughter’s souls became the guardian angels of the village where they died and they are honored at the Melanting Temple.

The priest and his six remaining children continued their journey to east Bali. Day after day they came across Balinese people who at that time still practiced Animism, and Dang Hyang Nirartha patiently tried to convert them. He taught them that statues should not be worshiped because there is only one great power in this universe, which is “Ida Sang Hyang Widi Wasa” or God. The statue itself is only a symbol of God’s will and power.

To avoid any misinterpretation of Hindusim, Dang Hyang Nirartha created the concept of Padmasana, which has since become the main part of Balinese temples. Padmasana is a place where the power of God stands strong and is worshiped by Balinese Hindus. Dang Hyang Nirartha was also the one who introduced the use of fire (incense), holy water, and fresh flowers as part of the Balinese prayer culture. These materials (fire, water and flower) were believed to be the best tools to help people to channel their souls to the greater power when performing their prayers.

Year after year the priest continued to teach and build temples around the island, including the Rambut Siwi Temple, the Tanah Lot Temple and the Suranadi Temple in Lombok. Before his life’s journey came to an end, Dang Hyang Nirartha went to a beach in Kerobokan. He decided to bury his tobacco box (it is customary for Balinese Hindu priests to chew tobacco mixed with areca nut and lime, and it is believed that the tobacco boxes owned by the priests have powerful energy) and requested that the terrifying spirit who lived there guard it. Since the giant spirit guarded his tobacco box in a grim place, the priest named that place “Petitenget” (grim box).

Dang Hyang Nirartha then continued his journey south to a village called Pecatu, where he was finally able to reach Moksha (being freed from the karmic suffering of the world) at a location that is now known as the Uluwatu Temple. Until now, the concepts taught by the priest are still followed by Balinese Hindus. These concepts keep the balance of life in Bali and add richness to the culture of the island. For that, the journey of this priest will always be remembered by Balinese Hindus.

Bali - Makepung buffel race

Last Sunday it was very busy in our small village, when 215 pairs of buffalo joined the makepung (traditional buffalo race) at Delodbrawah village to compete for the Jembrana Regent Cup.

On the field, the committee divided the groups into two teams, West Ijogading team and East Ijogading.

Thousands of spectators watched the race, including foreign tourists, (and me) and witnessed the East Ijogading team win over the western team. Jembrana Regent I Putu Artha handed over a prize of Rp 17.5 million to the East Ijogading team, while the West Ijogading team received Rp 12.5 million. The winning buffalo pairs in each group also received prizes ranging from Rp 3.5 million to Rp 4.5 million.

Makepung is traditional to Jembrana and originated from farmers staying busy after bringing in the harvest. To celebrate the excitement of a successful harvest, the farmers would tie a pair of buffalo to a small cart and race at high speed. Races between buffalo owners take place on an ongoing basis, while the Jembrana Regent Cup is the largest race and is held once a year.

12 August 2013

Bali - Walking day

Today was the annual final "walking day" in Bali, for schools, students, sports clubs and other cultural groups. The group that walks the best, or shout the loudest, may go to the finals next week in Denpasar.

Bali - what is Withlocals.com

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Most beautiful sunrises according Lonely Planet

Gunung Batur in front, Gunung Agung in the back
Kicking back on a beach, cold beer in the hand while watching the sun go down is one of travel’s finest pleasures.

But there’s something far more rewarding about heaving yourself from bed in the pitch black and blearily traipsing to the top of a mountain or the edge of a cliff to see the sun rise in all its glory. Head to one of these amazing spots and you’ll be dazzled.

1. Uluru, Australia
Central Australia’s most stunning natural wonder is best seen as the sun rises behind it.

2. Mount Batur, Bali
If you’re desperate for a Balinese mountain sunrise, but aren’t super fit, then skip the steep challenging Gunung Agung and head for a pre-dawn clamber up nearby Gunung Batur instead.

3. Inle Lake, Myanmar/Burma
Spend a night in a stilt house on Burma’s vast Inle Lake and you’ll be treated to a sunrise of spectacular beauty without having to move more than the five meters from your bed to the balcony.

4. Bryce Canyon, USA
Easily reached by car or a special park shuttle, Bryce Canyon’s Sunrise Point offers early-morning views which you’ll struggle to beat anywhere in the lonesome west.

5. Okavango Delta, Botswana
Sunrise is one of the best times to see Botswana’s diverse fauna in all its glory. Try a sunrise safari walk with a local guide and you’re more than likely to have a truly unforgettable travel experience.

6. Mount Fuji, Japan
Climbing Japan’s highest mountain is by no means easy. Unless you’re a hardened walker, you’ll need to do so in the official climbing season which runs from July-August, when Fuji is free of snow.

7. Shetland Isles, Scotland
The most northerly islands of the UK afford some of Europe’s best sunrise views. The remote beaches make the perfect spot for seeing the sun come up.
Beautiful sunrise at Gunung Batur

11 August 2013

In Bali everything comes in 3, a lesson in Balinese living

The Balinese conceive of everything as having a tri-partite structure (Tri Harta Karena). They are not alone in attributing three as a special number. Christianity does: the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Freud attributes everything to the father, mother and child. The ancient Egyptians were also very interested in the number three.

The Balinese divide everything into:
A high or sacred part (swah).
A middle or everyday part (bwah).
A low or unclean part (bhur).

An understanding of Balinese spatial symbolism explains many features of Balinese life. The Balinese also see things as belonging to: the Outer World or Bhuana Agung, or the Inner World or Bhuana Alit. They are connected. Something amiss in the Outer World can cause problems in the Inner World. Some examples of the tripartite division as it appears in the Outer World are: heaven, where man's spirit will return after cremation. The middle world of man and the underworld, where man's spirit may be punished according to his karma.

Bali has:
High, sacred mountains, where the gods reside.
The middle ground where men live and work.
The low, impure sea.

Every village is laid out in three sections, each section having its own appropriate temple:
The most sacred is towards the mountains with the temple, Pura Puseh, dedicated to Wisnu, the god of water, where the village worships its deified ancestors. In the center is the village temple, Pura Desa, dedicated to Brahma, the creator. The most profane towards the sea and away from the mountains, is the cemetery and the temple, Pura Dalem, dedicated to Siwa, the god of destruction and rebirth, or his wife, Durga, where the deceased who are not yet fully purified, through cremation, are remembered.

Temples are usually laid out in three sections: The inner sanctum, called the jeroan, higher than the rest, where the holy relics are kept, located at the far end. The middle section, called jaba tengah, is the transitional section, where the storerooms and kitchen are to be found and pavilions for storing offerings before they are taken into the inner sanctum. The lowest part, called jaba, is the most secular part, where blood sacrifices to the demons are made and cockfights held and where people eat, chat and play cards.

Images on the temple walls follow the same pattern: At the top of the walls are symbols of the gods and the upper world. In the centre are scenes from the human world. At the bottom are pictures of serpents. Serpents coil around the foundations of the world in Balinese mythology.

The family temple with its shrines to the gods and ancestors must be in the northeast, and separated by a wall. The living areas are in the middle. The kitchen, animal pens and garbage pits are at the southerly kelod end. The kitchen will be placed further kelod than the rice-barn, because rice is sacred, whilst eating is animalistic. Walls give protection against evil spirits.

Each building has three parts:
A roof.
The bale, the tower, which carries the body of an aristocrat to cremation, is in three parts.
The lowest is characterised by a serpent or turtle.
The middle part displays a mountain, indicating the earth.
The top part is a pavilion representing the atmosphere.

Padmasana are seats for Sanghyang Widhi Wasa, the Supreme God, and are divided into three: the base is carved with Bedawang Nala, the turtle, which supports the world with two snakes. The centre represents the world of man, where his daily activities are sometimes carved. Various aspects of God are displayed at the top.

Offerings are constructed so that there is:
A base.
A place for food.
At the top some symbolic representation of the gods.

Balinese language is divided into three separate languages: High Balinese, derived from Sanskrit, used when speaking to priests or referring to sacred objects. Medium Balinese, a mixture of High and Low Balinese, used when speaking to strangers or persons of a higher caste. Low Balinese, derived from Malayo-Polynesian dialects, is the language of friends and family. High castes speak Low Balinese to Sudras.

The Balinese view their own selves as the cosmos in miniature.
A head, the seat of the soul, the most sacred part.
A body or middle part.
Profane feet and lower parts.

Life comprises:

This code, a mix of altitude and orientation, leads to a code of etiquette and manners, which it is important to observe. The difficulty for foreigners, new to all this, is that the Balinese are unlikely to put them right. It would be exceedingly impolite to tell someone that they were being impolite!
The following matters of etiquette, which arise out of this view of the world, should be observed:

Take off your shoes before entering a house.
Don't pat anyone on the head.
Don't let a baby touch the ground for the first six months.
Don't point with your foot.
Don't put clothes on a temple wall.
Don't walk under a clothes line, which may contain underwear, which would then be above your head.
Put underwear on a low rung on a clothes line.
Sit lower than sacred objects and honoured guests, especially higher castes and priests.
Carry offerings and holy water on your head.
Don't step over an offering or a sacred object, such as a shadow play puppet, mask or gamelan.
Don't sit on a pillow.
Sleep so that your head points north or east, which is kaja, to the mountains.
Source: Murni

Seven of the most treasured souvenirs

Tired of snow-domes and T-shirts? Have a few too many fridge magnets? In an entirely non-scientific survey, Lonely Planet ask fans on Facebook to tell about their most treasured travel souvenirs. It turns out that the best keepsakes are often the things that pesos and pounds can’t buy…

1. A partner
Awwwww. A new boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife was the most common travel souvenir.

2. Experience
Sure, it’s cheesy, but the Facebook fans agree that the experience gained through travel and exposure to foreign cultures has changed them as people. You don’t know until you go…

3. An injury
Travel souvenirs aren’t always a reminder of the happy times. On the bright side, once you’re no longer in pain you can laugh about it.

4. Tattoos
Sometimes a regret, but always something to talk about – tattoos rank high in the list of treasured travel souvenirs. Just be sure to double-check that really is the Chinese character for peace.

5. A gift from a stranger
Often the story behind a souvenir rather than the object itself that makes it special.

6. Accidental souvenirs
Things that weren’t meant to be souvenirs but, well, they wound up heading home with you anyway.

7. Prehistoric shark teeth
Maybe it’s not the most popular souvenir on the list, but definitely something to show the grandchildren.