29 September 2013

28 September 2013

The regency's or Kabupaten from Bali

The province (provinsi or propinsi) is the highest tier of local country government subdivisions in Indonesia. Provinces are further divided into regencies (kabupaten) and cities.

Each province has its own local government, headed by a governor, and has its own legislative body. The governor and members of local representative bodies are elected by popular vote for five-year terms. Indonesia has 34 provinces, eight of which have been created since 1999, namely: North Maluku, West Papua, Banten, Bangka-Belitung Islands, Gorontalo, Riau Islands, West Sulawesi and North Kalimantan. The provinces are officially grouped into seven geographical units.

Bali is an island and a province of Indonesia. The province covers a few small neighboring islands as well as the island of Bali itself. It is located at the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, between Java to the west and Lombok to the east. Bali has its capital at Denpasar towards the south of the island.

With a population recorded as currently 4.22 million, the island is home to most of Indonesia's Hindu minority. 84.5% of Bali's population adhered to Balinese Hinduism while most of the remainder followed Islam. Bali is also the largest tourist destination in the country and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music. A tourist haven for decades, the province has seen a further surge in tourist numbers in recent years. Bali is divided into 9 regency's, each regency (kapupaten) headed by a regent, or Bupati. The regions are: Badung, Bangli, Buleleng, Denpasar, Gyanyar, Jembrana, Karangasam, Klungkung, Tabanan.

A couple of months ago I started to put a tag on each tourist destination and region, so just click, on the right sight of the screen, the region label and you get a complete list of all important destinations in that region.

Bali - tight security for Putin and Obama

The top of the country’s military and police attended a large scale security inspection ahead of the prestigious APEC Summit, being held early October.

The inspection was held at Puputan Margarana field in Renon, Denpasar, and involved hundreds of military personnel from the three branches of the armed forces, police, intelligence operatives, special forces, as well as pecalang (traditional security guards).

The inspection also saw Lt. Gen. Lodewijk Freidrich Paulus appointed as the commander of the APEC Summit joint security operation. Security operations will be led by a three-star general.

As the commander of the joint security operation, he will oversee the running of several task forces, including area security, sea and air security, intelligence and VIP security. Each task force will be led by a general or a senior-ranking military or police officer. The joint security operation will involve at least 14,000 military and police personnel. Should the situation demand, additional forces could be brought in to Bali from neighboring provinces. The Army has at least one brigade of airborne-qualified soldiers stationed in East Java, while the Navy also has a sizable force there, including specialized frogmen detachments with sea-borne counter-terrorism qualifications. Up to 15 warships and 16 jet fighters have also been readied to enforce a secure air and sea zone around Nusa Dua.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to bring a big entourage for his visit to Bali to attend the APEC Summit early next month. The president has confirmed he will leave for Indonesia on Oct. 5 with 300 delegation members and 70 journalists. The delegation will stay in the Mulia Hotel in Nusa Dua. Russia will also bring a bulletproof car to be used by the president during his visit in Bali. Putin is one of two head of states requesting to bring a bulletproof car to Bali, with the other being US President Barack Obama.
The US send already security forces to Bali, together with a plane from the American Air-force with weapons and communication equipment.

27 September 2013

Bali - Monkey Forest Ubud

Monkey Forest in Ubud represents a sacred Balinese Hindu site. In trying to understand Balinese Hinduism it is important to keep in mind that Balinese Hinduism is unlike Hinduism practiced in other parts of the world today. Balinese Hinduism combines aspects of Animism, Ancestor Worship, Buddhism, and Hinduism.

Some of the first evidence of extensive human in-habitation on Bali dates back to approximately 2,500 B.C. The religion of the Bali Aga (original Balinese) centered around both Animism and Ancestor Worship. Ancestor Worship represents the belief that prosperity is associated with a relationship that exists between the living and the dead (prosperity is something that can only be achieved through intense worship and obtainment of blessings from ancestors). Animism represents the belief that inanimate objects and other elements of the natural landscape can possess souls which can help as well as hinder human efforts on Earth.

It remains a mystery as to whether or not the Bali Aga ever inhabited the site that is now known as the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal. Currently, there are only a few remaining Bali Aga villages on Bali and none of them are located in the vicinity of the Sacred Monkey Forest. However, today many Balinese believe that ravines and forested areas are particularly notorious for harboring human and animal spirits. These beliefs probably originated from the Bali Aga and suggest that the Bali Aga may have considered sites like Monkey Forest to be sacred.

26 September 2013

Lombok - the Benang Stokel and Benang Kelambu waterfalls

Visitors are starting to discover two very special waterfalls in Central Lombok that, until now, have largely been the hidden domain of local people in the know.

Benang Stokel is located in the village of Aik Berik in Central Lombok, about 27 km east of Mataram and less than one hour’s drive from the capital. The village is easily reached by car or motorbike and is set amongst pretty scenery, with green rice fields and verdant fruit orchards. Benang Stokel is easily accessed by a short walk from the paved parking area at the start of this national reserve. There is a small admission charge, which helps maintain the park area and the limited camping facilities nearby. There are also small stalls selling snacks and drinks, and friendly young boys who work as unofficial guides and will carry your bags or picnic baskets for a small fee.

Benang Stokel features two waterfalls falling more than 30 metres down a steep cliff face covered with ferns and jungle vegetation. Benang means “thread”, and describes the thin streams of water that gush down the cliff, like silver threads. The waterfall to the left is the higher of the two and is more powerful. The fall on the right side splashes into a small rocky pool at the bottom.

After relaxing on one of the berugaq (resting pavilions) and having a splash in the cool water, it is relatively easy to make the trek to the second set of waterfalls, around 30 to 45 minutes away. A small track leads up the incline through the jungle, twisting through the verdant rainforest of the surrounding hills. Although parts of the trek can be a bit slippery and arduous, the track is safe and can be navigated by most people. The view of Benang Kelambu at the end is worth every minute of the effort!

At the end of the track, a series of rock and cement steps leads down to the base of these magnificent waterfalls. As soon as you reach the steps, the view of the falls spraying mist across the green hillside is breathtaking. This sort of scenery is reminiscent of Amazon rainforests… totally natural and simply stunning!

Kelambu means “netting” and refers to the waterfalls, which spread out across the greenery like finely draped nets. There are five different waterfalls, each falling like veils through the lush ferns and jungle vines that cover the 40 metre high hillside.
Large boulders embedded at different levels on the slope break the falls, splashing spray into the air and providing perfect lounging places to rest and let the fresh mists cool your body.At the base of the falls, the water splashes onto rocks and runs in pretty streams down the hill to the river below. It is an idyllic place to relax, climbing the rocks and sitting under the falls to cool off, letting the water splash gently over you and wash away the stress, or sitting on the rocks at the base, gazing up at the sweeping sprays making rainbows above.

Bali - New lamps for old statues

Badung administration, in collaboration with PT Philips Indonesia, will install colorful decorative lamps on two statues to welcome APEC Summit delegates.

The Gatot Kaca statue found is on the first intersection encountered after leaving Ngurah Rai International Airport toward Sanur or Nusa Dua, APEC’s main venue. Dewa Ruci, the second statue, is the centerpiece of the main intersection in Kuta near the new underpass, where the major roads connecting Nusa Dua, Kuta, Benoa, Sanur and Denpasar converge.

The agency has begun the preparations for the installation. The administration was really grateful for Philips Indonesia’s enthusiastic support. They are hoping that the beautification project would be completed before the end of the Miss World 2013 pageant and before the start of the prestigious APEC Summit.

Philips Indonesia marketing manager said the lighting system would use energy-friendly lamps. The system and lamps use 50 percent less energy than other lamps on the market. The brand-new LED lighting system developed by Philips could reduce power consumption by up to 85 percent compared to non-LED systems, in addition Philips LED lamps could last for up to 15 years. Philips Indonesia was also involved in the lighting systems at the newly-opened Nusa Dua–Benoa toll road and Ngurah Rai’s airport.
The all-white Gatot Kaca, a character from the great Hindu epic Mahabharata, statue portrays the powerful hero as he stands on top of the horses that pull the chariot of his enemy, master archer Karna. Gatot Kaca met his tragic end in this battle. The Dewa Ruci statue portrays Bima, Gatot Kaca’s father, fighting a sea serpent during his search for the elixir of immortality.

PS, It's a nice idea, but the APEC delegates never see the second statue, because from the airport they drive directly  to the new tollroad..

Dewa Ruci

Gatot Kaca

25 September 2013

Bali - Sail Indonesia 2013 in Lovina

The jetty in Lovina was designed to serve as a mooring location for yachts, however the Rp 1.02 billion project has become neglected.

It was designed to provide participants of Sail Indonesia 2012 proper facilities to moor their yachts, but the water was too shallow, thus preventing large yachts and vessels from docking there.

In the coming days, participants from 17 countries will take part in Sail Indonesia 2013. During the competition, participants will stop at several sites, including Lovina Beach in Buleleng regency.
During their coming visit to Lovina, participants will not be able to moor their yachts at the jetty because of technical problems. Meanwhile, to welcome Sail Indonesia 2013, Buleleng administration will organize the Lovina Festival at Bina Ria Beach. There would be 88 yachts from 17 countries mooring at Lovina Beach.

Bali's Mandara toll road open

Yudhoyono waving to the people
Forget the annoying traffic congestion at Nusa Dua, Benoa Bay and Ngurah Rai International Airport.

The island’s first toll road, now officially called Bali Mandara toll road, has been opened to the public with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signing a commemorative plaque to mark its official opening on a hot Monday afternoon. The president and his entourage were the first to officially use the road.

Many names had been suggested for the so-called “most beautiful” toll road in Indonesia. The final choice "Mandara" is an acronym for the Indonesian words — Maju (move forward), AMan (safe), DAmai (peaceful) and sejahteRA (prosperous). The authorities are claiming that this is the fastest completion of an infrastructure project, taking only 14 months. The 12.7 kilometer-long toll road had been constructed over the sea and, in part, runs through protected mangrove forests.

Numerous academics, scholars and environmentalists had voiced serious concerns over the construction of the toll road, which deviated from its approved environmental impact analysis and badly affected both the mangroves and surrounding marine habitat. Local fishermen and nearby fishing villages also no longer have access to their previous fishing grounds.

The Rp 2.480.000.000.000 highway has been built under a public-private partnership involving seven state-owned enterprises, the Bali administration and Badung regency administration. The toll road becomes fully operational on Oct. 1. From that date, motorists have to pay to use the road. Tariffs have been set at Rp 4,000 for motorcycles and Rp 10,000 for cars, with more expensive prices for trucks. It is predicted (or they hope) that daily traffic will reach 40,000 vehicles per day, 56 percent of which would be motorcycles.

24 September 2013

Bali - Kue Putu

Among the street food available on the island, Kue Putu possesses a special signature quality: Its cooking process releases a whistle resembling that of a steam locomotive.

Children across the island learn early to identify the passing street food vendors from the sounds they make. A tinkling sound produced by an aluminum spoon knocking against a porcelain bowl means that the bakso (meatball) vendor is around the corner. A clapping sound created by a bamboo stick hitting a wooden block means that the mie ayam (chicken noodle) seller is nearby. While a repeated high-pitched whistle means that kue putu seller is around.

The cake is made of rice flour, pandanus leaves and palm sugar. The pandanus leaves are boiled and the water is used to give the flour its green color and aroma.

In the past, the mixture of flour and palm sugar was placed inside short bamboo tubes before being steamed. Nowadays, kue putu sellers use the more practical, longer lasting, but less aesthetic and probably more dangerous, plastic pipe.
The pipes are placed over tiny holes drilled into the top of rectangular tin can. Inside the tin can is a burning stove and a pan filled with boiling water. The steam released through the tiny holes cooks the cake in no time at all. Kue putu is served warm with freshly grated coconut and are really delicious.

The rising landprices in Bali

It is surprising how many people come to Bali and buy property in a somewhat relaxed manner. They hand over huge amounts of money far more readily than they would back in a western country where systemic checks and balances provide protection. It is the tropical climate you know, it addles the brain

Under Hak Pakai foreigners can lease land for a period of 25 years. They have the right to extend this another 25 years and then again for another 20 years. The new proposal was to extend this total 70 years to 90 years. Recently it has been announced that the original proposal has been watered down and is not to extend the term but simply to make it easier to renew the lease so that at the end of the first 25 years it will be possible to carry out both the 25 year and the 20 year extensions at the same time. Reports are confused. In the meantime the existing law is very clear and is enshrined in the constitution and the Agrarian law of 1960. Foreigners cannot own land in Indonesia.

As it happens there are many expatriates living on the island that do not want it to become easier for foreigners to buy land. They do not want the right of freehold title (Hak Milik) to be available to foreigners. The reason is quite simple, they love this island and its people and that is why they chose to live here. They see that the huge influx of people from overseas with large amounts of money that are building and buying villas are unwittingly destroying everything that is attractive about this place. The streets are being overtaken by bland architecture and the beautiful nature of this place and its people are becoming part of the global homogeneity.

The Balinese have rules that insist that all new buildings have elements of Balinese design in them. Sadly many new buildings simply do not honor this simple request from our hosts, a little present to an official, a blind eye is turned and the law is flouted. If the destruction of Balinese culture in the daily life of the island is not bad enough a far more serious threat is insinuating itself on these people.

The cost of land is spiraling out of control. Of course the capitalist system dictates that prices find their own level, if people are willing to pay then prices will increase. But, in an ever increasingly globalized world, what of the local people? They are suddenly having to compete with foreigners who think nothing of spending $300,000 on a house sitting on three or four are of land (an are is 100 square meters). Just to put this into perspective $300,000 is around Rp2,850,000,000 which to an Indonesian earning Rp2 million a month represents their full pay for a trifling 118 years!

The price of land is now getting beyond the reach of most Balinese. Sadly the high prices tempt them to sell their land not realizing that they will probably never be able to buy it back. In Balinese culture land belongs to the family and is passed on from generation to generation. Each generation are only the custodians of land.

Naturally land prices vary according to where the land is but as a rule of thumb prices that people may expect to pay at the moment are as follows: In outlying village areas land can still be bought for around Rp25 million an are (100 square metres). In developing areas of Canggu, and the Bukit around 170 to 190 million an are. Sanur tends to be more expensive at 180 million on the West side of the bypass to 210 million on the Eastern side while Jimbaran tends to be probably around 300 million per are. At Candi Dasa land costs around 90 million an are, around Lovina 50 million per are. As soon as you get near the beach or have sea views prices increase markedly rising to 400 million an are.

23 September 2013

Bali - the long-tail Macaque

The monkeys within the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud are commonly called long-tailed macaques. Their scientific name is Macaca Fascicuiaris.

Macaques are found throughout Southeast Asia and many species of macaques live successfully in areas that are heavily utilized by humans. On Bali, there are Balinese long-tailed macaque troops (populations) that live in areas where they have little to no contact with humans and troops that come into contact with humans on a regular basis. However, despite the fact that many species of macaques thrive in areas that are heavily utilized by humans, there is evidence that the viability of Balinese long-tailed macaques (the ability of macaques to continue to thrive) may be dependent upon the conservation of Bali’s forested areas.

Within long-tailed macaque societies, females are typically born into and remain with a single troop for life. In contrast, adult and sub-adult males may migrate between troops (young adult males typically leave their natal troop between the ages of 4 to 8 years). In order for a migrating adult or sub-adult male to be accepted into a new troop, migrating males must align themselves with a troops’ females and be accepted by those females. Therefore, long-tailed macaque societies or troops are made up of ‘matrilines’ (‘matri’ is a root word that means ‘mother’).

21 September 2013

Bali - the 10th Ubud Writers and Readers festival 2013

This year the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival brings with it the spirit of coming home, pulling together the best Indonesian, South East Asian and international voices as it celebrates its 10-year anniversary from 11-15 October.

This October, the Festival will welcome more than 180 brilliant writers, performers, artists, musicians and visionaries to the magical setting of Ubud, to speak across all forms of storytelling – from travel writing to songwriting, plays, poetry, comedy and graphic novels.

Joining the line-up – and in his first Festival appearance in the region ­– is bestselling UK author Sebastian Faulks (Birdsong, A Possible Life), Lionel Shriver (We Need to Talk about Kevin), publishing entrepreneur and Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler, legendary Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig will make an appearance and Festival favourite Richard Flanagan will return. The Festival will also welcome 2013 Man Booker long-listed authors Ruth Ozeki (A Tale for the Time Being) and Tash Aw (Five Star Billionaire) as well as India’s first literary 'popstar’ Amish Tripathi. Other international guests include David Vann (Legend of a Suicide), two-time Miles Franklin winner Kim Scott (That Deadman Dance), American talent Nami Mun, and one of France’s most prolific writers Alain Mabanckou.

The 2013 Festival will also celebrate dangerous ideas and the lengths that writers are prepared to go for their beliefs. Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho is an internationally awarded writer who has endured torture, rape and incarceration for exposing politicians involved in international child sex-trafficking networks. Together with Egypt’s progressive female thinker Mona Princeand and Indonesia’s leading expert on the jihad movement, Solahudin, these writers join with former Sinn Féin director of publicity Danny Morrison in what is sure to be a compelling session about dangerous ideas and how to communicate them.

Along with the 75 panel discussions of the main program held daily at the Festival’s three main venues, more than 40 other venues across Ubud will play host to special events. The full program will see 18 book launches, 15 literary workshops, 16 special events and 6 film screenings. Free children’s and youth programs including a special workshop with bestselling children’s book writer Morris Gleitzman ­will engage visitors of all ages.

Over the five days and nights, Ubud will come alive with a live music and performances, food and art markets and parties that run late into the night. Special highlights will include a tribute night to Kartini, the now infamous UWRF Poetry Slam, a new Twilight Festival with music and drinks overlooking Ubud’s stunning panoramas, The Kitchen with daily cooking demonstrations from Indonesia’s top chefs, a Street Party showcasing Balinese dance and music, and the free Closing Night Party at Blanco Renaissance Museum.

Sanur, the new Kuta from Bali??

As Sanur must become the second Kuta, the government want to divide Sanur into three different zones to control the uncontrolled development in the village, famous for being an upscale resort with a substantial population of expatriates.

The establishment of these zones is part of an area project co-funded by the Tourism Ministry and the Denpasar administration. The project will address several critical problems identified by the local community. Among these problems is the unchecked development of budget hotels that the locals fear will damage the image of Sanur as a high-end destination and the uncontrolled rise of land prices. Udayana University tourism research consortium head said that each zone would have a different set of limitations and requirements that developers must abide by.

Based on the zoning provision designed by the research team, the first zone, stipulated as Beach View zone, is the area along Sanur’s shoreline. This zone is earmarked for resort facilities only. Requirements for such resorts are an allocation of 60 percent of the resort’s land for green areas, buildings no higher than three stories in height and a minimum room size of 30 square meters.

The other zones have similar green area and minimum room size requirements. In the second zone, called Beach Access zone, which covers the area along Jl. Danau Tamblingan, investors will be allowed to build not only resorts but also hotels and restaurants with a maximum height of four stories. In the last zone, the Bypass Ngurah Rai zone, which covers the area along the road with the same name, developers could construct buildings up to five stories high.

Sanur is Denpasar’s biggest tourism asset. Around 91 percent of the total 44 star-rated hotels in Denpasar area are found in Sanur. Forty percent of the total 277 non-starred hotels in Denpasar are also located in Sanur.

Sanur has been designated as a Strategic National Tourism Area (KSPN). In 2012, the central government officially established 88 KSPN across the country. In Bali, Sanur was placed under one KSPN with Kuta and Nusa Dua. This KSPN is expected to be a model for others for the implementation of a destination improvement project co-funded by the central government and local administration. Early next year, the government will start an project aimed at increasing the appeal of Sanur as a tourist destination. The central government will provide Rp 5 billion, while the city administration has earmarked Rp 10 billion from its annual budget to finance these projects.

20 September 2013

Bali weather forecast October

Bali - Mount Batukaru

Gunung Batukaru is also called ‘The Coconut’.

With 2276m Mount Batukaru is the second highest mountain in Bali with spectacular scenery, rich cultural heritage and deeply spiritual people. It is a tropical paradise of spirits culture with gorgeous land and seascapes. It has a perfect nature’s beauty. In this area, all local temples have a shrine dedicated to the spirit of the mountain.

Mount Batukaru is perfect for a gentle walk into the largest rainforest in Bali or day trek to the top of the mountain, it also a lush tropical “food forest” of cacao, coffee, vanilla, and jungle fruits with spectacular panoramas to southern Bali. You can swim in the lodges natural waterholes with cascading waterfalls or just sit back, relax, and enjoy the beautiful views.
Some come to unwind, some come to retreat, some come to be inspired, and some come to soak in the green. But all leave with more than they came with.

19 September 2013

Bali - The new terminal at Ngurah Rai airport open.

Work on the Ngurah Rai airport expansion is now complete, and as of today international arrivals will be processed in the new terminal. International arrivals will be moved to the ground floor of the new terminal tomorrow.

Outlining the facilities, there will be additional baggage claim areas, more counters for visas on arrival, 26 immigration counters and expanded customs facilities.
Advanced technology for baggage handling and electronic check-ins are also featured.

The new terminal will be able to handle the growing number of visitors expected, with Bali experiencing a 6% increase in arrivals in the last twelve month period.

18 September 2013

Bali - Ngurah Rai Airport closed during the APEC Summit

If the number of presidential aircraft a country brings to the APEC Summit could be used as a measure of power, then surely the US and Russia are the current top global powers.

While the other participating countries confirmed that their respective heads of state would bring one aircraft each, both the US and Russia have informed the Indonesian authorities that they will fly two presidential aircraft each to Bali. As many as 15 heads of states have confirmed their attendance, including US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It was reported earlier that hundreds of private jets would also be flying to Bali as global CEOs and delegations from 23 countries would attend the APEC CEO Summit.
Angkasa Pura I, the airport management company, has prepared areas in the nearby Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java, and Lombok International Airport, to park these jets.

During the APEC Summit, Ngurah Rai International Airport will operate with scheduled closures to commercial flights to regulate heavy air traffic during the event. The airport will be temporarily closed for several hours on three days — Oct. 6, Oct. 8 and Oct. 9.

On Oct. 6, the airport will be closed for all commercial flights from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
On Oct. 8, the airport will be closed again to commercial flights from 1 p.m. through 8 p.m. While on Oct. 9, the airport will close to commercial flights from 7 a.m. through 2 p.m.

17 September 2013

Lombok - Air Bali flies to Gili Trawangan

Air Bali Helicopter Charters have announced their new Bali to Gili Trawangan service, making it faster and easier than ever to travel between Bali and Lombok!

Air Bali plans to operate regular services between Bali and Gili T every Friday and Sunday. Additional flights will be available on Wednesday, subject to passenger numbers. Of course, charters are available on any day for guests wanting to charter the helicopter privately. Lombok transfers, possibly direct between Senggigi and Bali, are also planned for the future.

There are no airport hassles or delays, as you fly direct from the state-of-the-art Heliport in Benoa Harbour, and you land directly on Gili T, at the existing helipad on Paradise Sunset Beach. With 20 years of flying experience in Bali and a 100% safety record, Air Bali offers tours and charters using a Bell 206 Long Ranger Helicopter operated by Western pilots and engineers, with seating for up to five passengers.

Air Bali also offer specialized tours of majestic volcano's and scenic beaches, as well as private picnics, helicopter weddings, hotel transfers, and other flights, whether it be getting to the golf course on time or life-saving air lifts and medical retrieval flights. On board the comfortable helicopter, guests flying on the Bali - Gili T route will enjoy a bird’s eye view of Bali’s stunning scenery as the helicopter flies along the north-east coast of Bali, with views of Mount Agung on the left and Lembongan Island to the right.

On the approach to Gili T, passengers have their first glimpse of Mount Rinjani, Indonesia's second highest volcano, dominating the landscape of Lombok. The three, brilliantly white Gilis lay below, fringed by reefs and surrounded by a clear sea that graduates from turquoise to deep azure. Touching down at Paradise Sunset Beach, friendly local faces are waiting to greet guests and whisk them off to their hotel or villa by horse and cart (there is no motorized transport on the island).

For more information: www.airbali.com

Bali - Angseri hot spring

A wise man once said that the beauty lies in the journey and not in the destination, a fitting statement for the trip to Angseri hot spring.

Trying to reach the spring from the village’s center means navigating miles of severely damaged road. At some points, the road is so damaged that even the SUV preferred by the military would have to give its best, and more.

Another available route is through downtown Tabanan, turning right to Penebel. The road is much better and the route also takes the visitor along one of the island’s centers of chicken farming in Senganan (don’t forget to close your window) and the island’s only butterfly park in Sandan. This route is longer than the first one, but more feasible for those who don’t travel by Land Rover.

From the parking lot, visitors walk down a concrete path to the hot spring compound. The winding path is flanked by beautiful scenery, terraced rice fields, towering trees, sprawling ferns, humble fungi and an open-air food stall that offers chilled beer to soothe the visitor’s palpitated heart and drawn out breathing.

The compound comprises two large pools, one for kids and another one for adults. A not too tall, but impressive, waterfall poses next to the adult pool and forms a narrow stream that adds charm to the compound. The entrance ticket is only Rp 5,000, which also entitles the visitor to unlimited use of the public pool. Those who want more privacy could book one of several available rooms for Rp 20,000 per hour. Each room is equipped with a private pool that could accommodate 4-6 people. Two of the rooms offer a direct view of the opposing hill with its lush tropical vegetation. There is also a villa available for rent on the nearby higher ground. The villa offers a private hot pool and one fully-furnished master bedroom for Rp 350,000 per night.

16 September 2013

Bali - Mangsi Coffee

At a glance, Mangsi Coffee looks similar to various other coffee houses. However, the newly opened coffee house has been established due to the owner’s desire to preserve Balinese culture.

The word mangsi refers to the black residue from oil burned in an oil lamp.
In the olden days, parents put mangsi on the foreheads of their children who often played outside, to symbolize the god Brahma’s protection over the children from any kinds of danger.

The coffee house, situated on Jl. Hayam Wuruk 195 in Denpasar, serves only original Bali coffee harvested from Kintamani and produced in the own factory. So visitors should not expect imported coffee or any other type of coffee from outside Bali to be served there. The regular menu at the cafe includes original coffee, espresso, cappuccino and coffee latte. Favorite items include Kopi Tubruk Stamina, Special “Coffee Vitality”, and Special “Coffee Spirit”.

The cafe is run along the motto “Murah, Enak dan Banyak” (cheap, tasty and large portions). Prices range from Rp 2,000 to Rp 20,000, except for Kopi Luwak Arabica which is tagged at Rp 30,000 per cup. The interior is dominated by tables and walls made from second-hand wood, covered with used newspaper and magazine pages.

Bali - Kedisan and Lake Batur

Kedisan is a small rural village nestled at the foot of the Mount Batur on the island of Bali, at the edge of Lake Batur, the largest lake in on the island. The village sits amidst the panoramic setting of the crescent shaped lake and the majestic volcano filling the skyline above.

It is one of 15 villages in the Kintamani Region, about 2 hours north from Denpasar, capital city of Bali.

Located between Lake Batur’s shore and the magnificent Mount Batur, Kedisan’s soil is well irrigated by the river and incredibly fertile due to the volcanic ash. That, combined with the cool mountainous climate makes it the perfect crop-raising terrain. It’s no wonder, therefore, that this region is inhabited largely by those that make a living by farming. Kedisan’s colorful patchwork of agricultural produce includes onions, cabbages, peppers, tomatoes and much more. Some residents of Kedisan also work as fisherman, as Lake Batur is home to quite the abundance of fish.

The Kintamani region has been well known since the 9th century, as is proven by various royal edicts engraved on copper plates found throughout Kedisan and the other villages around Lake Batur, such as Trunyan, Songan and Buahan. Kedisan is a rugged, mountainous region, so make sure to bring the appropriate shoes and clothing. The best time to visit is during the summer, as the paths tend to be slippery during the rainy season.

One of the main attractions of Kedisan Village is Terapung Restaurant: a restaurant that floats on the surface of Lake Batur. This floating restaurant is the only restaurant around Lake Batur, and offers the seating choice of floating gazebo, or a floating lounge. Savor the delicious menu of freshly caught fish, fried or grilled with a delectable blend of Balinese spices to a backdrop of the clear blue lake and Mount Batur towering above. A crisp and spicy flavor, coupled with the beautiful scenery and cool mountain breeze creates a serene and romantic ambiance that will not easily be forgotten.

Given its location at the foot of Mount Batur, this village is a great stopping place before setting off up the mountain. Kedisan is approximately 6 kilometers away from Toya Bungkah, another village commonly used as a climbing point of Mount Batur. Toya Bungkah is also known for its natural hot springs, believed to relax the muscles and nurture healthy skin. A small pier is built in Kedisan Village on the banks of Lake Batur. Many small boats dock at this pier, ready to take you on a tour around the lake, or across the lake to the other surrounding villages. From this dock, you can also cross over to Trunyan – a village famous for its unique burial traditions. Unlike most parts of Bali, the people of Trunyan do not cremate their dead, but instead embalm them in the oil of the Taru tree and store them in large stone basins.

Aside from being an agricultural village, Kedisan produces many wooden handicrafts that can be purchased as souvenirs. These crafts include a variety of shapes such as cats, elephants and even miniature Buddha statues. While in Kedisan, you can also observe the entire process from the wood selection, to the carving process, to painting, and finally, the final product. In addition to wooden artifacts, mosaics and other glass crafts can also be found.

15 September 2013

Bali - Ogoh-ogoh museum

Twenty ogoh-ogoh (giant effigies) are on display in a semi-open area called Museum Ogoh-ogoh located in Soka Indah, a large rest area on the main road connecting Denpasar and Gilimanuk.

The museum opened after this year’s celebration of Nyepi, the Balinese Hindu day of silence, the eve of which is when the Balinese usually parade ogoh-ogoh around the streets.

The effigies exhibited in the museum were created by local people in the surrounding villages to observe Nyepi last March. The symbols of buthakala (the evil spirits) are usually burnt after the parade. However, the village residents around Soka Indah agreed to keep the effigies and exhibit them to showcase the creativity of the locals.
The management of Soka Indah had funded the village residents to create the effigies, which cost between Rp 2 to 10 million each, depending on the materials and accessories.
The names of the creators and the customary villages they are from are displayed by each ogoh-ogoh, as well as the story behind the characters. The ogoh-ogoh range in height from three to six meters, and there is ample space between each of the effigies.
The museum has now become an attraction for visitors to the rest area, which also provides a restaurant, minimarket and some bungalows.
The entrance fee to the museum is only Rp 5,000. In addition to looking around the museum, visitors can also enjoy views of black sandy and rocky beaches on the island’s west coast.

Bali - the shrine of Sangket

Bali is a place with many unique tales and rituals. In the customary village of Sangket in Buleleng regency, the village residents have built two vehicle-shaped pelinggih (shrine).

One of the shrines is an old-fashioned troop transportation vehicle and the other is a white sedan.
Most shrines use statues of beautiful women, handsome men, scary demons or a variety of animals. However, the village residents firmly believe that the unseen forces, or niskala, that are such an integral part of Balinese life and protect the village, locally took the form of soldiers and officials.

The locals had often seen strange-looking men dressed as soldiers crossing the village. The village had always remained calm, even during the ogoh-ogoh parade and local elections. Neighboring villages have seen unrest, but here it stays calm. Many people have seen the security officials guarding our area. Every full moon and new moon, ritual blessings and prayers are made at the shrines, as with all shrines in Bali. According to the local people, on Saraswati Day, the sound of a vehicle horn came from the truck shrine, further convincing them that their own unseen security force is protecting their village.

14 September 2013

Bali - The Kulkul

The Kulkul is a big bell made of wood or bamboo and used by various social organizations of the Balinese society.

It is used to indicate time of meetings, ceremonies, when someone die and to inform people during a strain time resulted by conflict or criminal.

Organizations in Bali are various, based on tradition, religion, profession or hobby. The type of the sound must therefore different and typical for each organization, so each member of the organization will understand to whom the bell is rang. For the need of traditional organizations the kulkul is made from selected wood such as jack-fruit tree or orange tree.

In all events normally the sound of the kulkul is made as "duang tulud" meaning two rounds. One round of sound starting slow, then quicker and quicker, then slow again. When one of the village members died, the biggest kulkul of the banjar is knocked in three rounds. Since dead is the obligation of all members of the organization within a village to participate in the activity of burial and ritual. This kulkul, called Bale Kulkul, is placed at the temple.

Pic of the week

A large trunk, a hatchet, hammer and chisel is all it takes to make a Jukung, a traditional Balinese fishing boat.

13 September 2013

Recipe martabak manis (sweet)

Martabak manis is a popular snack in Indonesia. These sweet, thick pancakes are as "martabak manis" ("sweet martabak").

Other Indonesians call the pancakes "terang bulan" or "kue pinang bangka". These pancakes are also known as "apam balik" in Malaysia. Usually made by street vendors in the evening, martabak manis are pan-cooked in a very large amount of shortening. A thin batter is poured into a specially shaped pan. After cooking, the pancake is ready to be topped: often with cheese, shortening, chocolate or peanuts.

Serves: 4
Ingredients for wrapper
230 gr Self-raising flour
 20 gr Tapioca Flour
375 ml Warm Milk
150 gr Sugar
2 Eggs
11 gr instant yeast
1 tsp Baking powder

Sweet Condensed Milk
Chocolate sprinkle
Shredded tasty cheese
Coarse Ground Peanuts (optional)

Mix self-raising flour, tapioca flour and sugar. Mix yeast with warm milk, stir well. Add into the flour mixture and stir until well combine. Add in the eggs one by one while stirring continuously until well combine. Close the mixture using warm wet tea towel and put it in warm place (or in warm oven) for about 20 minutes until it is bubbling on top.

Divide the mixture into four. Heat a Teflon skillet (20 cm / 8 inch diameter) with low heat, grease the skillet with margarine. Pour in one part of the mixture. Put on the lid (best using glass lid as you could see what happen inside). Cook for about 10 minutes or until the top is full with holes and dry. Sprinkle some sugar, put on the lid for 5 seconds and take it away from the heat.
Take out from the skillets and put onto a flat surface, grease the top with some margarine. Drizzle with sweet condensed milk, sprinkle with coarse ground peanuts, shredded cheese, chocolate sprinkle. Fold into half circle, spread the outside skin with margarine again and cut into 8 pieces.

Bali - Watersports at Tanjung Benoa

Under the scorching sun, dozens of domestic and foreign tourists enjoy a plethora of water sports.

Some were jet skiing, others played on the banana boats or went para-sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving.
Water sports are perfectly suited to Tanjung Benoa’s sea, and with calm waves and crystal clear water, it is quiet safe for snorkeling and diving. Water sports businesses offer a variety of packages and numerous buses drop off the tourists who love the seas.

Most of the operators are registered with the Association of Water Sports Operators and Owners and prices are usually in line with the association’s standards. Meanwhile, a once serene water sports area, Tanjung Benoa is under the local, national and even international spotlight following the controversial plans for a gigantic tourism project.

Environmentalists and the water sports industry have expressed their deepest concern over the planned project that could affect the currents and waves, ultimately influencing water sports and related activities. However, hope remains that Tanjung Benoa, if well maintained, will continue to provide visitors with great memories of their vacation on the island of Bali.

12 September 2013

Bali - Pandawa Beach

Once known as the secret beach due to its inaccessibility, Pandawa Beach is now open for visitors and beach lovers as the road heading to the site has been repaired.

Pandawa Beach is located in Kutuh village, around 20 minutes drive from Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park in Jimbaran.

Badung regional administration seems to be serious in promoting Pandawa Beach as a new destination in the regency. Hundreds of palm trees have been planted on both sides of the main road to beautify the route. Pandawa Beach, overlooking the Indian Ocean, has astonishing natural beauty with hard-sand cliffs and crystal clear water. A number of new tourist facilities are being constructed on the way to the beach. Several plots of land are already being prepared by investors for various tourist-related projects.
The beach was named after the five Pandawa brothers (Yudhistira, Bima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sadewa) from the famous Indian epic, Mahabharata. On one side of the cliff are several statues portraying the five brothers. Unfortunately, it is very hard to distinguish which is Arjuna or Bima as the statues look very similar.
For those who are searching for a quiet, beautiful beach faraway from the crowded Kuta or Sanur beaches, Pandawa Beach may be your best choice.

11 September 2013

Bali - again the toilets!

As many as 25 wives of APEC delegates visited Klungkung’s Semapura art market yesterday and had major issues finding suitable toilet facilities according to reports.

At first glimpse, the market seemed to be prepared for the VIP guests with a large banner welcoming them. Potholes were freshly repaired and everything was cleaned for the delegates. The delegate’s wives reportedly enjoyed their time at the market and a few traders even sold their wares to them.

After being at the market for some time, some of the wives reportedly began to look for the restroom facilities and what they found wasn’t anything they wanted to use. The only toilet that seemed to have running water was in the parking lot and soon a long line developed. Head of Trading Cooperatives said that the toilets were the responsibility of a contractor and that the contract was going through a transition.

A large security force was also deployed to guard the wives with an entire platoon of military personnel, a platoon of police and municipal SATPOL units guarding the group.

10 September 2013

Bali - Vihara Satya Dharma

Located on an 8,200 square meter plot of land near the entrance to Bali’s port of Benoa and the new toll road, the ornate Chinese temple Vihara Satya Dharma is dedicates to Ma Cho – the God and Protector of the Seas.

Built at a total cost of Rp. 4 billion, the Vihara was erected with donations gathered over a six year period from people in Indonesia, Japan, Thailand and Taiwan.

Many of the accessories used to decorate the temple were imported directly from China. The temple is also intended to serve as a place of worship for the thousands of sailors transiting the nearby port of Benoa.

Bali on highest alert

As from last weekend, hundreds of police officers, army personnel and pecalang (traditional Balinese community-based security guards) were securing the island’s most critical points, such as Gilimanuk port in Jembrana regency west Bali and Padangbai port in Karangasem regency east Bali.

Gilimanuk port connects Bali and Java, while Padangbai links Bali to Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara.
The police had added personnel to safeguard the port, considered a vulnerable spot due to its limited security equipment. The terrorists responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings, in which 202 people were killed, admitted they transported explosives to the island by minibus traveling through Gilimanuk. The terrorists were able to transport the deadly explosives into Bali because there was no proper security equipment at Gilimanuk port to detect chemical explosives or drugs.

The installation of X-ray machines is expected to reduce the possibilities for those attempting to transport bombs or other explosive materials into Bali, but to date, the machines have yet to be installed. To combat security threats, around 50 personnel are in charge of security at the port on every shift. The security personnel comprise members of Jembrana Police, the Mobile Brigade and the Indonesian Army.

09 September 2013

Bali - want a nice picture?

Around 100 meters from Beratan Lake, Nengah Widiarta, a local resident, has a photo studio offering visitors the chance to pose with rare animals.

He asks visitors for Rp 50,000 per photo shot. Clients may pose with one of the 30 animals in his collection, including a python, bat, iguana, hedgehog, squirrel, parrot, lizard and turtles. He will immediately process the photo and it can be printed on a white T-shirt or on a mug for an additional fee, starting from Rp 80,000 per piece. It takes at least 15 to 20 minutes to print the pictures on various media.

Widiarta is an animal lover. He always takes great care of his pet animals. The python is used to living in a warm habitat, while Bedugul has a cool climate and therefore Widiarta has to create a warm cage for his snake. Food and vitamins are important to keep the animals in prime physical condition too.

Circumstances also have to be considered. Take the iguana, for example. During the mating season, these animals are used to fighting each other, damaging their skins. People cannot take their picture with an iguana during this season as they may get hurt. If you visit Bedugul, you may be interested in experiencing a close encounter with these animals —if you can pluck up the courage to do so.

08 September 2013

Final Miss World moved to Bali

Increasing protest from hard-line groups over the 2013 Miss World beauty pageant – which is slated to be held in Bali and Bogor in West Java from Sept. 8 to 28 – has seemingly forced the government to drop Bogor as one of the event hosts.

Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister Agung Laksono announced on Saturday that now all of the pageant events, from the opening ceremony to the coronation night, would be held in Bali.However, contestants, he continued, would be allowed to visit other provinces, but not as part of the program series.

In the initial schedule, after the first week of events came to an end in Bali, all 129 contestants from around the globe would then travel to Jakarta, where they would compete in different events culminating with the final on Sept. 28 at the Sentul International Convention Center (SICC).

The contest, however, has drawn protests from Islamic hard-line groups across the country in the days leading up to the pageant. The groups protested the decision to host Miss World in the country, calling it as an “immoral event”. The absence of a bikini round in the contest has failed to appease the hard-liners. Again....

Bali - that good old Vespa

Yesterday and today, Sunday, are the Vespa days in Negara. Hundreds of owners of vintage Vespa's from Bali, Lombok and Java come together to admired the creations, to buy spare-parts, to have fun, eat and listen to music from performing bands.

Some try to make their creations as bizarre as possible but there are also dozens of beautifully Vespa's to.