31 October 2013

My handmade electric guitar, the body

Sunday morning I brought the body to the woodcarver. After 5 days of hard and concentrated work he just bring back something amazing......

Indonesia soon alcohol free?

According the conservative religious parties in Indonesia, the country drained soon. A law must ensure that the sale and consumption of alcohol in the whole country is prohibited. Although the proposal of the United Development Party (PPP) earlier this year was rejected, it seems that the bill now still can count on the majority in parliament.

With the elections in 2014 in prospect, it seems that the Islamist parties will support the proposal still in order to placate their constituents. When the law will actually be adopted, the drinker of a Bintang or a glass of whiskey can have a maximum sentence of two years in prison. On the production of alcoholic beverages the maximum sentence is 10 years in prison.

According to the PPP, the reclamation of Indonesia is needed because alcohol drinks have a negative effect on the country. PPP sees alcohol whatsoever as public enemy number one. A ban on alcohol would particularly affect the tourist spots, including Bali, which last year was visited by 2.9 million foreign tourists Also for the hotel industry in Jakarta a ban would be a sensitive stroke.

30 October 2013

Bali - to many beaches claimed by hotels and resorts

The rapid growth of tourist-related facilities along Bali’s shorelines, all clamoring for the best ocean views, is preventing people from accessing public beaches.

Jimbaran is now growing into an exclusive location for luxury hotels and villas, all of which have claimed beachfront areas as their own. Therefore, people are no longer allowed to enter the once-public beaches under hotel control. Surfers had limited opportunities to practice from public beaches as they were now parts of hotel or villa properties. These hotels and villas have been built along the coastline and have closed almost every access to the public. People have to use a very narrow alley between hotels or villas they we want to access the beach. This phenomenon had been taking place in most of Bali’s favorite holiday spots, such as Nusa Dua, Benoa, Kuta, Jimbaran, Sanur, Candi Dasa and other beaches. Former surf sites in Jimbaran (in front of Four Seasons Hotel) and Uluwatu, as well as Dreamland, were among the favorite and most beautiful surf spots and now almost completely unavailable to surfers.

For Balinese Hindu society, beaches are some of the most sacred sites, used to perform various religious ceremonies, including purification rituals. Thus, limited access to beaches affects the religious life of local residents. In addition, the closure of public beaches to make way for various tourist facilities has also had a life-changing impact on local fishermen. Fishermen find almost no space to moor their boats along these beaches.

Despite the government’s regulation prohibiting development along the island’s coastlines, investors continue to search for beach locations with stunning views for their hotels and villas. A lack of law enforcement has led to these massive bad developments on the island of Bali.

Visa run Singapore

Visiting Singapore on a Visa Run?
Here is the information you need.

Singapore is the most popular Visa Run location due to the efficient service of the Embassy and the holiday and shopping opportunities of the city-state of Singapore. Shop, eat and be merry could be the motto of the Lion City.

Indonesian Embassy Singapore
No. 7 Chatsworth Road
Singapore 249761
Tel. (65) 6737 7422
Fax. (65) 6737 5037 / 6235 5783
Homepage: www.kbrisingapura.com
Email: info@kbrisingapura.com

Tel. (65) 6733 5713
Fax. (65) 6737 5037
Email: imigrasi@kbrisingapura.com

Opening Hours
Visa applications are accepted ONLY in the morning and processed visas can ONLY be collected in the afternoon.

Application for Visas and Renewal of Visas (Submission of Requests):
09.00 - 12.00 hrs
Collection of Processed Visas:
15.00 - 17.00 hrs
Please Note

Visas take three days to process. The fee schedule is posted on the wall of the embassy. For a higher fee, many visas can be processed in one day: ask for ‘express service’. This is unofficial and costs about S$90.
Many people use the services of a visa agent who can collect your passport from your hotel and deliver it back to you the same day. Contact your visa business service here in Bali for details. This is by far the easiest and frees you from going to the embassy. On the safe side, photocopy your passport before giving it to any agent or the embassy.

Entering the Embassy
When entering the Embassy grounds all visitors are required to exchange an identity card (ID) for a Visitor Pass at the Security Counter. This needs to be something other than your passport like a driver’s license, etc.
The Embassy has a dress code and the following attires are not allowed inside the Embassy premises:
Shorts and Bermudas (except children below 12 yrs)
Singlet/strapless top
Plastic sandals (best to wear shoes)

Once Inside
Once you are inside, you need to find the forms you need to fill out. You can take a number from the number machine before or after you fill in your forms. This machine is similar with machines in banks: push the button for what you intend to do and wait for your number to be called for service. You need 2 passport size photos and support letters / documents from your visa agent in Bali or letters from whomever is sponsoring you. Pay your fee in Singapore dollars at this time.

Dates the Embassy is Closed
Please note, the Embassy is closed on Indonesian and Singapore National/Public holidays. Also, closed Saturday and Sunday.

29 October 2013

My hand made electric guitar, the neck, part 3

Last weekend  I finished the neck of my new guitar, so now it will be time to start with the body. The carpenter prepared the wood already.

Bali - Gilimanuk harbour, Karang Sewu

Among travelers and tourists, Gilimanuk is generally only known as a transit or crossing point between Java and Bali.

The village on the western tip of Bali hosts the island’s largest inter-island ferry port and is located about 130 km from Denpasar, or a three-hour drive. Gilimanuk is also the unofficial birthplace of a very popular Balinese dish, Ayam Betutu Gilimanuk, the ultra-spicy steamed chicken. The late Men Tempeh was the most famous Ayam Betutu Gilimanuk chef and nowadays there are food stalls in Gilimanuk that still claim to be the original and authentic descendants of Men Tempeh.

Despite its current status as a major transit point, Gilimanuk actually possesses several locations where travelers and tourists could spend hours enjoying the scenic landscape. One of these is Karang Sewu, just about 1 km from the main gate of Gilimanuk harbor. Since there is no road sign to direct visitors, it is best to ask a local resident.

The locals have for years used Karang Sewu as a place to hang out, go jogging or sightseeing, as it combines landscapes such as a grass field, mangrove forest and a calm bay. A flat grassy landscape, like a big football field, is the first sight greeting visitors. Shade is provided by the branches and leaves of the bidara (Chinese apple) trees, which form a natural parasol, under which a visitor could sit and relax. Local food and beverage vendors are found taking advantage of the shade to do their business. Goats also roam the field eating the grass. In the bay, traditional boats can be found. The local fishermen serve tourists wishing to explore the bay and mangroves in the area, charging Rp 200,000 per boat for 1-2 hours. There's also a small warung, with nice view over the bay, serving Ikan Segar (fresh fish) every day.

28 October 2013

Bali - the mysterious Rambutan tree

Word has quickly spread following the discovery of a rambutan tree in the village of Suwat that is mysteriously dripping water and believed to be holy.

In the days surrounding Galungan, Balinese have been traveling to the tree in the belief that the dripping water has healing powers. According to residents, the phenomenon was discovered by a farmer, seeking shelter from the sun. He thought it was weird because it felt like it was raining, but it had not rained for a week. The word has spread and now many people are coming to get a blessing with the holy water.

One of the residents climbed the tree to find the source of the dripping water but failed to reach the top. According the locals the water is more plentiful in the evenings until the early morning and villagers have now built a platform for offerings and spread a plastic sheet beneath to catch the drops. Some are even drinking it, believing it to have curative powers. During the day the drops are smaller so many people are coming at night to
collect the water more easily. The local villagers believe that the water has the power to cure disease and have plans to hold ceremonies at the site in the near future.

New App guide about underwater spieces

Conservation International (CI) announced the release of a new app, “Reef Fishes Of The East Indies”, a digital guide to every known reef fish species in the most bio-diverse region on the planet, based on the book of the same name.

The comprehensive information contained in the guide includes over 2,500 reef fish, of which 25 species are new to science. It summarizes 60 years of research and exploration and brings greater understanding and valuation of the immense biodiversity of reef fish in the East Indies. The authors, scientists Mark Erdmann and Gerry Allen, have spent much of their lives at sea discovering, studying and conserving some of the most rare and beautiful fish in the world. The proceeds of this CI-produced app will support CI Indonesia’s marine conservation program.

Designed for iPad and Kindle Fire, “Reef Fishes Of The East Indies” does not stream content, so can be used out at sea with no Internet connection required. The app contains many useful and interactive features including search, note taking and drawing features, detailed entries for each species, and photo sharing by email and social media.
This is the perfect digital guide for divers and nature lovers to use in the office, school, home or out on the open sea.

The coverage area of the app includes the Coral Triangle (including Indonesia, Bali, the Philippines, Malaysia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands), which alone boasts 37 percent of the world’s coral reef fish species — more than anywhere else on the planet. The research also covers the South China Sea (including Brunei Darussalam to Vietnam and Singapore), the Andaman Sea (including Thailand, Myanmar and the Andaman Islands of India) and Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. It covers all shallow water (0-75 meter) reef-associated fish species known from the region, including both obligate reef dwellers and those that are commonly observed passing through reef areas or in the soft bottom areas just adjacent to reefs.

From the majestic manta ray, to the gorgeous, jewel-like mandarin fish, there are 2,655 species in over 3,000 high definition photos. Organized by classification, family and species, the app will be regularly updated to keep up with scientists’ new discoveries. Erdmann and Allen remain busy discovering new species, having most recently found a new species of “walking” Bamboo Shark (Hemiscyllium halmahera) in the waters off the Maluku Islands of Indonesia.

27 October 2013

UNESCO warned Bali about Subak

UNESCO has strongly urged the provincial administration to take concrete action to immediately preserve the subak traditional farming locations recognized as world heritage sites, an official confirms.

In a letter sent to the administration, UNESCO frequently reminded Bali of the importance of preserving subak and questioned its programs since the UN agency had declared its status in June 2012. In June 2012, UNESCO officially acknowledged Bali’s traditional subak agricultural system with its rice terraces and water temples as a cultural landscape, placing it on its world heritage list during the organization’s annual meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Subak reflects the philosophical concept of Tri Hita Karana, which brings together the realms of the spirit, the human world and nature. The subak system of democratic and egalitarian farming practice has enabled the Balinese to become the most prolific rice growers in the archipelago, despite the challenge of supporting a dense population.

Included in the UNESCO-recognized landscape are the 18th-century royal temple of Pura Taman Ayun in Badung, the Batukaru mountain reserve in Tabanan, the Pakerisan watershed in Gianyar and Lake Batur in Bangli, in total covering 19,500 hectares. Following the recognition of subak and other areas in Bali, UNESCO requires the provincial administration to enforce programs for their preservation. A year has passed, but no real programs have been implemented. Initially, the provincial administration planned to establish a board to oversee and manage the heritage sites.

The board was supposed to consist of numerous institutions, community-based organizations, scholars, farmers and other individuals. Another important concept was to enforce stricter regulations related to spatial planning and zoning of world heritage sites. None of these plans were realized or enforced.

A professor of agriculture and head of the Subak Research Center at Udayana University, said the administration lacked political will to preserve subak and agricultural sites. The government officials act very slowly and ineffectively in responding to UNESCO’s strong requirement for the preservation of subak as world heritage sites. UNESCO can revoke the status of world heritage sites at any time if the holder fails to meet its requirements to work on serious preservation programs.

26 October 2013

Check our new website, Hansen guitars Bali

On this website you can order your own hand made electric guitar with real Balinese unique woodcarvings. Your guitar is the only one in the world.!
Hansen guitars Bali

Pic of the week, babi guling......

On our way to Singaraja to celebrate Galungan with friends, we saw this ceremony at a small village, close to Siririt.

Bali - the tallest Buddha statue in Asia

A gigantic Buddha statue warmly greets visitors to Vihara Mpu Aspaka Temple in Jembrana regency, West Bali, some 100-kilometers west of Denpasar.

The 25-meter tall statue is claimed to be the archipelago’s tallest Buddha statue. Inaugurated on June 6 in conjunction with the Buddhist Waisak holy day, the white-painted statue symbolizes harmony between Buddhism and Hinduism. The Buddhist temple, located near Gilimanuk Port on the Hindu dominated island of Bali, was built in 1976.

The temple has a large tropical garden, which is a perfect place for meditation and other spiritual activities. The garden features large ponds resplendent with lotus plants, flowers and Koi fish swimming peacefully in the pond. In one corner of the temple, a tall Boddhi tree offers shade. The temple was named after the Buddhist priest Empu Astapaka who traveled to Bali under the invitation of Bali King Raja Dalem Waturenggong in the 16th century. Since then, Balinese Hindus and Buddhists have lived in harmony.

25 October 2013

Child-sex tourism in Bali...

Child-sex tourism has become more rampant in Bali and several areas in Indonesia, with practices involving tourist-related businesses, as well as the families of the exploited children.

Situations include a tourist taking a local child to their room or on an outing, local people taking children to a tourist’s room, sexually explicit photos of children in a tourist’s room, tourists taking local children to a hotel pool, tourists being very affectionate toward a local child or touching them inappropriately, tourists asking to be taken to a location that is known for child-sex tourism, tourists who are behaving inappropriately in the company of local children and expats living with under-aged children, just paying some money and a new telephone.

Bali and some other major cities have turned into child-sex tourism destinations because there are facilities that support the practices. Bali, Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Surabaya and Yogyakarta as examples of areas where commercial sexual exploitation of children and child-sex tourism had become a serious problem with various modus operandi. In many cases, the ‘recruiters’ of the underage girls or boys are family and friends. This has made law enforcement even more difficult. Based on observations, perpetrators often received help from so-called facilitators: pimps, parents and aides, who prostituted or exploited children, as well as from travel agencies, drivers and hotel staff.

The life of Indonesian child prostitutes was portrayed in a photo exhibition titled “Daughters of the Night” by Alexandra Radu in Sanur, a photojournalist from Romania. The photos, taken from July to early October, captured the situation of child victims of sexual exploitation.

24 October 2013

Bali - Taman Ujung Soekasada

Once part of the grand palace of the king of Karangasem, Taman Ujung Soekasada Park is now a cultural and tourism trademark for Karangasem regency in east Bali.

It is located five kilometers from Karangasem’s capital of Amlapura, overlooking the sea, the island’s highest volcano Mount Agung and Besakih, Bali’s mother temple. Many design and building experts remain eager to explore its distinctive architectural styles.
Built under the commission of I Gusti Bagus Jelantik, the king of Karangasem, in the year 1919, Taman Ujung was designed to be a retreat for Karangasem royalty. Designed in three different architectural styles, Balinese, Chinese and Western, Taman Ujung, also known as the water palace, is a fascinating site for architectural study. The palace, designed by Dutch architect Van den Henz, Chinese architect Lotto Ang and several undagi (Balinese traditional architects), exemplifies architectural elements and unparalleled details in each of its structures. Three large ponds are connected with each other by two long bridges. There is a rest area for the king and a circular gazebo for family members to enjoy their leisure.

The park’s construction was completed in 1921 and officially inaugurated in 1937. The king also built Tirtagangga water palace nearby and Puri Agung Karangasem in Amlapura. However, the disastrous eruption of Mt. Agung destroyed most of the structures in the grand water palace. Meanwhile, a few years ago, major renovations started to return the park to its glory. The patriarch of the present Puri Gede Agung Karangasem family, Anak Agung Bagus Ngurah Agung, is proud of his ancestors art and cultural legacy. His father, Anak Agung Gede Agung, was the eldest grandson of the last king of Karangasem, Anglurah Ketut Karangasem.

Bali weather forecast for November

23 October 2013

Bali - swimming pool

It was warm the last couple of days, so time to take a swim in the public swimming pool in Delodbrawah.

Intercontinental Bali resort in top 10 family resorts

For the third consecutive year, InterContinental Bali Resort has been ranked one of Bali’s top 10 family friendly resorts. This poll was conducted by Holidays with Kids, one of the Australia’s leading family travel magazines and websites.

Readers were asked to vote for the best family friendly resorts they had experienced based on various aspects and their personal experiences. The availability of activities and facilities for children, babysitting services, hospitality, safety, standard of accommodation and location were all taken into consideration. The survey also covered the two essential areas of value for money and overall experience.

To be ranked among one of Bali’s top ten family friendly resorts is indeed a major achievement. InterContinental Bali Resort has always been a favorite for family vacationers across the globe. Many parents appreciate our secure location and expansive landscape framed by a white sand beach. Planet Trekkers, a dedicated children’s facility caters to the holiday needs of young travelers.

22 October 2013

My hand made electric guitar, the neck, part 2

This week has been busy, I drilled the holes and cut the slots for the frets, painted the neck  and the woodcarver has already made a beautiful carving. Later I need to cut the frets custom and make them a little bit round.

Bali - Sujadi village

Sudaji village in Buleleng regency, north Bali, is one of the remaining spots on the island that is proud of its rural, agricultural life.

Located 15-kilometers east of the Buleleng capital of Singaraja, Sudaji is renowned as the regency’s rice basket, producing high quality and original rice varieties such as beras Sudaji, Salah Bulu and Cicih Gundil rice). The village, however, has not been immune from modern farming systems with the excessive use of “western” produced seeds and chemical-based fertilizers that boost rice production but endanger the environment and threaten the village’s original rice varieties. Realizing the downsides of modern cultivation on the environment and harvest yields, local farmers started to reuse their age-old farming style — organic farming using original seeds and planting methods. The results have been promising with more Eco-friendly and sustainable farming. Sudaji is also renowned as a center for tropical fruits, such as mango, mangosteen, durian and many others.

Over the last few years, Sudaji has developed as an eco-tourist destination involving the local community in rural tourism activities. Visitors to the village will be invited to stay in modest accommodation, many of which are the homes of local farmers. Rows of houses still maintain traditional Balinese architectural styles. From early morning, they will experience life in a Balinese village. Visitors will also mingle with the locals when visiting the village market, which sells traditional Sudaji meals and delicacies such as embutan, mixed vegetables in a spicy sauce.

21 October 2013

Bali - extremly warm weather

The weather in Bali has been extremely hot over the past several days, much higher than normal, with high temperatures prevailing from morning to late evening.

The high temperatures have caused residents, as well as tourists, to adjust their daily activities to cope. The famed Kuta Beach has also been impacted, with the number of tourists visiting the beach falling by around 50 percent. Sunbathing is no longer the favorite activity on the beach since the high temperature is too much for the tourists. Tourists continue to sunbathe, but do so under the trees rather than in open areas. The high temperature is also disturbing residents on the island.

Head of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said that the scorching temperature was caused due to the current position of the sun, which was directly above Bali. This is an annual phenomenon caused by the earth orbiting the sun. The sun is now heading south, away from its current position along the equator. The orbiting of the earth caused the sun to be directly over the equator twice a year. Last September, the sun reached the equator, causing an area of West Kalimantan lying directly below it to be hit by extremely high temperatures. From the equator, the sun is now heading to the south. Bali is located to the south of the equator. This is why we have high temperatures now.

Bali - Give Peace A Park

Plans for the location of the former Sari Club, destroyed by a terrorist bomb on October 12, 2002, to become a memorial park have resurfaced again.

The bombing leveled the Sari Club and badly damaged Paddy’s Bar, located a short distance away, leaving 202 dead and scores badly injured. Past efforts to build a park in the now vacant plot of land have been thwarted by land ownership and funding issues.

The latest plan for the park included a place of worship for Moslems, Catholics, Protestants, Hindus and Buddhist. Australian Made Wijaya has been selected to design the park. He says the park will draw its inspiration from an Australian arts group who plant tens of bamboo in such a manner that they create a wind-chime effect. The wind-chime at the Bali Peace Park would be made of metal for durability. A garden wall will feature the names of the 202 who died in the Bali bombing.

20 October 2013

My hand made electric guitar, the neck, part 1

A couple of weeks ago I started a new hobby, making my own custom made electrical guitar, with the help of our carpenter and a very talented woodcarver.
The coming weeks I will place some pictures of the process.

The wood already prepared by Pak Tono, the carpenter.

Bali - Penyajaan Ganungan, Galungan cookies

Penyajaan Galungan for Balinese is always a day full of cookies, Bali is covered with cookies.

As its name suggest, the words “penyajaan” is derived from the word “Jaja” which means “cookies. Various fried rice dough cookies are made for offering on Galungan. The creativity and patience of Balinese women are put into test when making these cookies since they usually have intricate pattern with different shapes and colors. Heaps of cookies are everywhere, in traditional markets, in roadside stalls and of course every house compound is filled with half processed cookies.

Penyajaan Galungan is also devoted for meditation and self control. Ancient lontar scripture, Sundarigama, describes this day as “Pangastawaning sang ngamong yoga samadhi.” This means “the day for those who practice yoga and meditation”. On this day the second personification of three evil forces (Bhuta Dunggulan) comes to the world to temp the human being. It is believed by Balinese that on this day, evil force (Bhuta Dunggulan) will temp humans with lust for power and control over someone else. For Balinese, self control and meditation are the ultimate weapons for fighting the temptation of the evil force.

19 October 2013

Bali - Galungan and Kuningan, the most important Balinese days

Every day is always a celebration for Balinese Hindus. But as the biggest and most important holidays, Galungan and Kuningan, are getting closer, the entire society is gearing up to perform a series of rituals and present ornate and elaborate offerings dedicated to welcoming ancestral spirits.

Galungan celebrates the victory of dharma (virtue) over adharma (vice). It is the time for the spirits of deceased relatives to return to their former homes. Their living relatives are obliged to prepare the best offerings, meals and decorations to please the visiting ancestral spirits. Galungan and Kuningan are celebrated every 210 days, according to the Balinese lunar calendar. Galungan will fall
next Wednesday on Oct. 23, while Kuningan will be observed ten days later on Nov. 2.

When it comes to preparing offerings and decorating houses and public places for religious celebrations, the Balinese know no price or economic boundary. Simplicity and modesty will be out of their dictionary. Despite the rocketing price of staple foods, fruits and vegetables, all necessary in their offerings, the local people will find a way to get the goods, no matter what. Sugihan Jawa marks the beginning of the Galungan celebrations. The ritual aims to cleanse the earth (bhuana agung) and was held on Wrhaspati Wage Wuku, six days before Galungan. During the ritual, families cleaned up ceremonial utensils, places of worship and the houses to be used for Galungan prayer and celebration. On Friday, another ritual, Sugihan Bali, will be performed all over the island. Sugihan Bali is intended as purification of one’s self before performing any ritual.

Back in real life, the price of agricultural commodities is increasing sharply. Fruit prices, especially bananas, oranges and apples, are soaring uncontrollably. Rice, flour, sugar, brown sugar, beans and green beans are all being sold at very high prices in traditional markets. Worst of all, Bali has to procure most of these commodities from Java and the neighboring islands of Lombok, Sumbawa and Sulawesi. Transportation costs have contributed to the rising price of these staple foods.

Bali - Padangbai

Padangbai is known as a stopover point for visitors who want to journey to Lombok. But if you choose to stay for a while, you will find that this small bay is a great little getaway spot.

When you hear about Padangbai, the first thing that probably pops into your head is “ferry port”. Padangbai is the sea gateway to Lombok with its ferries connecting it to the island of Bali. The hourly ferries carry passengers, vehicles, and other contents to the port of Lembar and back to Padangbai from the early morning to late at night.

As a port, Padangbai is very busy as it is one of the most important ports in Bali, but as a holiday destination it is a perfect secluded place to stay. Padangbai is a small fishing village in the Karangasem region, a 90 minute driving from Ngurah Rai airport via the Ida Bagus Mantra bypass on the east side of Bali. The landscape is quite similar to its neighboring island of Lombok, surrounded by green hills with less construction within the area, not like in the southern area of Bali where construction fills almost every part of it.

Padangbai is that it seems like life is very simple in this little village. There are no glamorous shops, hedonistic advertising, or too loud music. The ambience is peaceful and not too crowded, although there are a few vehicles passing on Jalan Silayukti, the main area in Padangbai. The people of Padangbai are very friendly, It is not hard to find a place to stay in Padangbai, as the accommodations along Jalan Silayukti suit every budget, from backpacker beds till splurge villas at Blue Lagoon. Food is not hard to get also. If you are a fan of pasta, pizza, or sandwiches, these foods are all available at the restaurants along the road.

The most convenient thing in Padangbai is that you can explore the area by just walking around. The main beach is used to park the boats of the fishermen and the diving operators. In the afternoon the main beach is quite busy, full with people that gather or just walk along the beach. When the tide is low the shore on the north part of the bay is wide enough for relaxing or sunbathing. The best beach to relax at is Bias Tugal, a beach located on the south part of the harbor separated by a huge rocky reef. This small beach has a few warungs were you can buy snacks and beverages and it’s less crowded compared to Padangbai’s main beach, although the waves are usually bigger there.

Go exploring in the hills on the north side of the bay where you can take a walk up from the main road and turn right towards the Tanjungsari Temple. There is small forest around the temple that has a challenging footpath with slopes up and down the hill. When it is dry, the footpath is dusty and using the path can be dangerous especially with the many bushes and cactus along the way. If you follow it, the path ends at the rocky reef overlooking a bay called Tanjung Jepun, a famous snorkeling point within the area, where local people usually come for fishing when the tide is low.

Padangbai is also known as one of the most visited underwater destinations in Bali, because this village connects the diving locations on the east coast of Bali with Nusa Penida. Usually the divers stay in Padangbai in order to continue diving in different spots, therefore there are also plenty of dive shops that are used as a place to refill oxygen tanks and park the boats. And just like on the land, Padangbai offers a lot to explore under the ocean. There are five diving points from beginning to advanced divers, named Biaha, the Canyon, Tepekong, Mimpang, and the most popular site Bleu Lagoon, with various reef types and coral. The current is mild as it is protected by the reef more than the islands off the east coast, with clear visibility up to 20 meters in perfect weather. At some points, diving can sometimes be very dangerous as currents coming from the Lombok Strait create unpredictable water movements that can result in a washing machine effect.
If you just want to go snorkeling, the best way is to go on a boat with a local fisherman, which will only cost you around 250.000 Rp. They also rent snorkels, masks and fins so there is no excuse for not getting yourself wet.

18 October 2013

Bali - Bebek Van Java

Bebek van Java was born in 2006 in Bandung, West Java, as an anything-but-fancy diner.

Years later, its delicious and varying duck-based delicacies have catapulted the once roadside food stall into a popular diner set in a decent building.

In Bali, its outlet lies 100 meters north of the Benoa intersection. Duck-based delicacies have steadily gained fans among the island’s food lovers, especially after the explosive rise of the Ubud-based Dirty Duck and Tepi Sawah, luxurious restaurants that have become a must-visit place for the tourists and the local wealthy population.

In Bebek van Java, a customer could pick from various duck-based dishes cooked with unique spices. For instance, bebek Kalasan, deep fried duck with a spicy mixture unique to Kalasan in Central Java, or the popular Peking duck. The diner also serves duck satay, still a rarity on this island. The signature dish of Bebek van Java is bebek guling (roasted duck), tender cubed meat served with peanut sauce and slices of fresh tomatoes. It boasts a well-balanced, sweet and spicy taste, a factor that makes it very popular among the diner’s regular customers. Prices range from Rp 26,000 to Rp 127,000 for a large portion of Peking Duck.

Bali - light the candles again

Bali residents have been asked to conserve electricity as maintenance on the Gilimanuk power plant will disrupt supply in the coming week.

The Gilimanuk power plant needs maintenance to ensure future supply. The maintenance will cause electricity shortages starting from yesterday until October 22. PLN have advised that if each of their clients cut their consumption by 100 watts during peak hours of 5pm to 10 pm there will be enough for everyone. If it doesn’t happen PLN will be forced to conduct rolling blackouts.

To address the increased demand for electricity, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono inaugurated four new power plants in East Java yesterday, which will create additional electricity to service Java, Madura and Bali in the coming years. The plants are expected to be finalized by 2014, as part of a Presidential mandate with the state-owned PLN.

17 October 2013

Bali - the rain season is on the way

The Denpasar office of Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BKMG) is predicting that the rainy season in Bali will start gradually in October, encompass all of Bali by December and reach its peak in February.

The BKMG breaks down the Bali weather map into 15 zones.

According to BKMG, the rainy season began in October in parts of Tabanan, Ginayar, the middle of Badung and a part of Bangli. During the first to third weeks of October the rainy season will commence in the southern portions of Jembrana, parts of Tabanan, eastern Buleleng, eastern and northern Gianyar, northwest Bangli.
The region of Bali receiving the least rainfall is the Nusa Penida islands, receiving rain for only 3 months of the year due to reasons of topography and the low amount of vegetative cover.

Meanwhile, Tabanan traditionally receives the largest amount of rainfall in Bali, reflected in the high level of rice cultivation found in that region.

16 October 2013

Bali - Goa Garba

Goa Garba may be unfamiliar to many visitors and tourists to Bali. The place is not as popular as Goa Gajah, the elephant cave, or Gunung Kawi archaeological site in Gianyar.

Yet, Goa Garba is one of the most important historical sites on the island. It is believed to contain the historical remains of Kebo Iwa, the prime minister of the ancient Bedahulu kingdom. Goa Garba is located in Banjar Sawagunung in Pejeng Kelod, in the Tampaksiring district of Gianyar regency, around 40-minutes drive from Denpasar.

Goa Garba is part of the Jaga Pengukur-Ukuran major temple, believed to have been built in 1116, during the reign of king Jaya Pangus. Many people believe that the temple is where Kebo Iwa practiced his war skills, having had to go through a series of challenges before he obtained his physical and spiritual powers. During the training, he defeated his opponents, leaving their bodies on the ground. This is why the village was named Sawagunung. Sawa means dead bodies and gunung means mountain. This historical account of Kebo Iwa has resulted in Goa Garba becoming popular with people who want to gain physical and mental powers.

There are two routes to enter Goa Garba. The first is entering the temple heading to the back yard and descending to reach the cave. The steps are made of natural stone, believed to have been put in place by Kebo Iwa. The second route is taken from the south and does not require visitors to enter the temple’s interior. There are two water springs, Petirtaan Telaga Waja, used to cleanse the temple during temple celebrations. On the way to the cave, there are several hollowed outsites, usually used for meditation.
There are also old inscriptions with writings that are not fully understood even today.
Many people find visiting Goa Garba to be a spiritually enlightening time.

15 October 2013

Kecak Rina, best Balinese Kecak dance

The most beautiful, spectacular and dramatic Kecak dance on Bali is performed by the group Kecac Rina, from the dancer-choreographer Ketut Rina.

Unfortunately, this group has no fixed playing schedule, playing performances all over the world and is seen in Bali usually only on special occasions. Here is a video of a performance at the Garuda Whisnu Kencana culturel park.

Bali - successful coral reef project in Pemuteran

Since its start in 2000, the Pemuteran coral restoration project has received local and international recognition for its successful community-based effort to restore the damaged coral reefs at Pemuteran Bay, which have suffered from overfishing and natural and man-made disasters.

Located 150-kilometers northeast of Denpasar, Pemuteran Bay in Buleleng regency is home to the island’s richest marine biodiversity. The Pemuteran project involved the community-based Karang Lestari Foundation, together with Global Coral Reef Alliance, which claimed the project was the world’s largest, longest running and best coral reef restoration project.

Thanks to German and American scientists Wolf Hilbertz and Thomas Goreau, and local fishermen, the project became a reality. The project has involved planting around 70 bio-rock structures to help restore the coral reefs and fisheries of Pemuteran Bay devastated due to unsustainable fishing practices.

Previously, the project had received numerous accolades, including the Konas Award from the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry for the Best Community Based Coastal Management in 2002, the Asianta Award and Kalpataru Award from the President of Indonesia in 2005, the Pioneering Award from the Bali administration in 2007, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold Award in 2008, and the Tri Hita Karana Award in 2011. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also bestowed the Equator Prize for a coral reef restoration project.

14 October 2013

This is also Bali

An article in the Bali Daily (The Jakarta Post) underlines that among the “lessons learned” by Bali over the past decades is that tourism development has an equal propensity for bringing both benefit or calamity to a destination.

The article “Bali’s tourism, not all dazzling stories” urges other areas of Indonesia to consider carefully in formulating their tourism plans. Quoting an economic affairs official from the Bali provincial administration, Ketut Wija said a number of negative cultural, social and environmental impacts have resulted from Bali’s rapid rate of tourism investment. “Any province must have a strong commitment to preserving its culture and nature, as well as the enactment of relevant legal requirements before planning tourism development in their area,” Wija warned.

Most tourist facilities in Bali are owned by foreigners and non-Balinese from other parts of Indonesia. The rapid rise in accommodation development has also created more employment opportunities, but not necessarily for the Balinese who continue to suffer from a high rate of unemployment.

The real estate boom in Bali is also marginalizing the Balinese who are no longer able to purchase land on their ancestral island. Moreover, those Balinese who still own land are increasingly being compelled to sell their property due to a rapid increase in property tax rates that they can no longer afford.

He also cited how development and traditional religious practice are often finding themselves at loggerheads with each other. Long religious processions cause traffic jams on roads crowded with tourists and newcomers. At the same time, developers intent on creating “illegal” private beach-fronts are thwarting access to shorelines once used for religious rituals. “For Balinese people, beaches are sacred sites for them to spiritually cleanse their body and soul. With so many new buildings, access to beaches is closed and restricted for residents.

He also pointed out development has cost Bali 1,000 hectares of productive farm land annually in years past, a figure now down to an average of 350 hectares per year. And, while tourism has brought wealth and prosperity to Bali. The distribution of wealth and development is far from equal. Only a few people living in tourist destinations benefit most from tourism. Unemployment in Bali stood at 2.4% and nearly 4% of the people in Bali still live below the poverty line. He explained how Indonesia's policy on regional autonomy has largely been a disaster in Bali, with each regency making its own rules and regulations, oftentimes to suit the whims of new investors.

Finally, he warned that the mistakes made in Bali are now being repeated in other parts of Indonesia. The case of Bali is now being replicated in some other places, such as Labuan Bajo and Komodo Island in East Nusa Tenggara. Investors have already acquired strategic land along coastal areas,

Governor Made Pastika, bring Bali back as it was!!! A new expensive toll-road, a tunnel, new airport, a Apec top that cost millions of dollars, the Balinese don't want it!!.

Funny Balinese t-shirts

In the last years, Balinese youth have created their own fashion statements, donning creative pop-art T-shirts emblazoned with witty words and colorful graphic prints.

Instead of putting words in the Indonesian or English languages, these unique tees bear amusing Balinese phrases. While it is unclear who started the fashion trend, the products created by U-Rock could be declared one of the fashion pioneers for these youngsters. The distro (local boutique selling fashion merchandise for young customers), located on Jl. Imam Bonjol, looks outstanding with its creative decoration in the pop art style.

Owned and operated by famous local musician, popularly known as Nanoe Biroe, U-Rock sells a huge collection of T-shirts of various sizes and design concepts, alongside other merchandise. One T-shirt bears the quote: Sing Mabuk Sing Muleh (which literarily means, We Don’t Come Home If We Are Not Drunk Yet). Other T-shirts bear the words: Lacur Sugih Patuh Gen Yen Meju Mengkep (Be Poor Or Rich, You Still Hide To Defecate).
The price for a T-shirt is around Rp 100,000. U-Rock also sells various accessories, like necklaces, stickers and fashion items.

13 October 2013

Pic of the week

Bali - the Dulang

The tight schedule of ceremonies for Hindu families in Bali has increased demand for ritual paraphernalia, turning its making into a lucrative business opportunity.

One of the items that is used in ceremonies is the Dulang, a carved pedestal bowl.
People used to make dulang out of wood, but now this has become increasingly rare. Since the fiberglass bowls were introduced to the market, they soon gained a positive response because they were lighter and more practical and the price is also 10 times cheaper and it takes some 30 minutes to make a fiberglass dulang.

First, all the materials, including resin, fiber, talc and catalyst, are mixed for two minutes to make the putty. The putty is then carefully placed around a mold made of rubber. After this process of around 15 minutes, the next step is sanding the polished bowl with sandpaper. For the finishing touches, the bowl is painted with base colors before being refined with colorful patterns. The products are distributed throughout Bali, including to Gianyar, Singaraja, Jembrana, Denpasar, Badung, Karangasem and Bangli.
A bowl is sold for between Rp 250,000 to Rp 400,000, depending on the size and crafting.