29 September 2015

Visit north Bali

The Visit North Bali Alliance have launched a website dedicated to promoting Visit North Bali www.visitnorthbali.com. The Visit North Bali Alliance is comprised of three established companies operating on Bali’s northern coast. Dedicated to promoting the beauty and hidden tourism gems of Bali’s North, the website aims “to remind guests there is a part of Bali away from the hustle and bustle, rich in beauty and culture and offering stunning, interesting and diverse products coming from the regio.

The North Bali Experience, the facilities and services of the three founders are featured on the website: Atlas Pearls, BT Cocoa and Hattens Wines. All three businesses operate from Jalan Singaraja – Gilimanuk.

COCOA GROUNDS BT COCOA celebrates all things cocoa. A place to relish curiosity of everything cocoa with fun facts, games as well as chocolaty treats. Cocoa Grounds is embedded with Balinese culture including its people and its décor, providing a true Balinese experience for visitors. Cocoa Grounds aim is to be the go-to provider of all information relating to cocoa, a place to enjoy chocolate as well as an outlet to give back to the cocoa community. Visitors can also adopt a cocoa tree with any purchase of Cocoa Grounds souvenir. For a minimal purchase of Rp. 100.000 a donation is automatically made for the planting of 1 cocoa tree at the Cocoa grounds.

ATLAS PEARLS AND PERFUMES Atlas Pearls is a global leader in eco-pearling, specializing in the highly sought after silver and white Pinctada Maxima, commonly known as the South Sea pearl. Atlas has five farms spread across the Indonesian archipelago, with the biggest farm located in North Bali. A visit to North Bali can now include a visit to the Pearl Cultivation Center and a guided tour of a working pearl farm to view firsthand the pearling process from hatchery to harvest. Complete with a boutique, the facility is awe-inspiring: employing women of nearby villages and supporting hundreds of family members on the north coast.

HATTEN WINES The vineyards of Hatten Wines are just a few steps away from the pearl farm - 14.5 hectares under active cultivation from a total land area of 34.5 hectare. Cultivating their crops and also purchasing grapes from Balinese farmers, Hatten Wines has recently opened a Welcome Center at its vineyard. After 21 years of winemaking, Hatten Wines is an acknowledged pioneer in the Asian wine industry, producing 7 award-winning wines made from the grapes grown along Bali’s North Coast. Wines are produced from the Belgia and Alphonse-Lavallée grapes grown in the vineyards using in the pergola system, harvesting 3 crops each year. Grapes from the North travel across the Island to Hatten’s winery in Sanur where all their wines are carefully crafted. From the reception center, 45-minute tours of the vineyards are offered that include a visit to the Observation Deck that affords a breathtaking views of the vineyard and a wine tasting of the wines made from the grapes harvested in North Bali. In announcing the launch of the North Bali tour program, IB Rai Budarsa, owner of Hatten Wines said: “Every visit to our vineyards reminds me how pretty the North Coast is. This Alliance wants to protect and support sustainable development, hence we invite tourists to come now and see how beautiful it is up there. Hopefully we will later have more voices to support us in the conservation and protection of the North Coast’s beauty.

TOURING BALI’S NORTH Tours to Bali’s North originating from the South can be customized into a leisurely tour of several days or presented in a single day. On the way to the North travelers will drive through the beautiful mountain-lake district at Bedugul and Munduk. The three featured stops on the North Bali program are located within a 45-kilometer stretch along the coast with excellent dining and accommodation options within easy reach ranging from inexpensive home stays to five star luxury resorts.

More on www.balidiscovery.com.

No Bulldozers at Jatiluwih World Heritage Site.

The Provincial Government of Bali has taken firm action in response to reports of the rampant development and environmental destruction occuring at the Jatiluwih area of West Bali. Following a coordination meeting convened at the Governor office, a “Status Quo” or freeze on all development activities at the World Heritage Site of Jatiluwih has been ordered until a formal zoning code (RDTR) can be finalized for the area.

Attending the coordination meeting led by the Provincial Secretary Ketut Widja, were the head of Tabanan Regency’s Culture and Tourism Department Wayan Adnyana and Udayana University academician Wayan Windia. The “freeze” issued by the Province of Bali stipulates that no development can be carried out in the area of World Heritage Zone and its rice terraces at Jatiluwih before a comprehensive zoning plan is in hand. NusaBali reports that Widja will soon meet with Bali’s Governor to form a management committee for the World Heritage Zone. The “freeze” takes place one month in advance of an expected visit by a UNESCO representative coming to Bali to asses the success of local conservation efforts of the Jatiluwih Heritage area and following a call for a tourism boycott of Jatiluwih by subak activist Professor Wayan Windia.

Windia has been an outspoken critic of plans to build a luxury hotel near the scenic rice terraces of Jatiluwih and the bulldozing of terraced areas to make way for development projects. As part of UNESCO’s recommendations for the future development of the World Heritage Area, accommodation in the area should be reserved exclusively for home stays owned by local residents.

More on www.balidiscovery.com.

The Death of Bali's cultural tourism.

The State News Agency Antara reports that Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika has warned that tourism on the Island cannot be detached from the concept of “cultural tourism” as provided for under provincial and regional rules and regulations.

The Governor, speaking before the Bali House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali), said the whole world knows the greatness of Balinese culture, but limitations exist in opportunities to see and experience the Island’s cultural traditions when visiting the Island. Referring to a recent Bank Indonesia – Bali survey that shows only 22% of the tourists coming to Bali have an interest in cultural tourism, Pastika said such results require further examination inasmuch as Bali’s main tourism draw is its culture and natural beauty. Saying that the variety of cultural attractions in Bali remains limited, Pastika commented: “If someone comes to Bali, how many times do they want to watch a Barong Dance? If they come for a second time, would they want to watch another Barong Dance? That is not a certainty, and most probably they would not. This is what’s meant when we say we need new ‘destinations.’”

Governor Pastika sees an increasing tendency for tourists to seek out spectacular experiences, with younger tourist less attracted to traditional cultural programs and presentations. Continuing and referring to the month-long celebration of the arts held in Bali each June, Pastika said, “Each year we host the Bali Arts Festival in order to develop, explore and seek new creativity.” Members of the DPRD-Bali are asking the government to carefully review the Bank Indonesia survey that said 56% Bali’s foreign visitors are interested in "created" tourist attractions, and only 22% each are drawn to nature or cultural objects.

More on www.balidiscovery.com

21 September 2015

Qantas returns to Bali

Qantas has announced that a new seasonal service between Sydney and Bali to address increased added demand for Bali holidays.

In December 2015 and January 2016 Qantas will operate four flights a week for a total of 33 return services between Sydney and Bali flying Boeing B737 aircraft.

This, is in addition to the 65 flights per week flown by the Qantas subsidiary Jetstar, bring to a total of 603 services flown by the two airlines during the busy holiday period.

The seasonal flight marks a return to Bali for Qantas after abandoning the route to Jetstar seven years ago.

Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans said his company was please to be able to offer travelers a full service, premium travel option between Sydney and Bali.

Unlike the many budget airlines operating from Australia to Bali, Qantas passengers will enjoy full service, a checked baggage allowance, in-flight entertainment and food and beverage, all included as part of the fare.

Economy customers will experience the new economy dining experience with more choice and faster service. A Rockpool designed menu served on Marc Newson tableware and Kate and Jack Spade amenity kits with Aurora Spa ASPAR products will be offered in Business Class.

Qantas’ new seasonal Bali services will operate on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from 4 December 2015 to 29 January 2016, inclusive.

During the above period QF43 will fly Sydney to Denpasar on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays departing at 5:10 pm Sydney time and landing in Bali at 8:50 pm local time.

The return leg on QF44 will fly Denpasar to Sydney on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays departing at 10:40 pm Bali time and landing in Sydney the following morning at 7:40 am local time.

More on www.balidiscovery.com.

Why tourists avoid Besaki temple

Half of the people who visit Bali’s sacred Mother Temple of Pura Besakih are reporting their disappointment via social media.

“As much as 55% of tourist visiting the Besakih complex are complaining about the experience. This information is from 'Trip Advisor,'" explained the chairman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) for Karangasem.

While visitor have endless praise for the inspiring views and sacred setting of Bali’s most religious site, they have little regard for the treatment they must endure or how visits to the sacred site are organized.

Because of the failure of Pura Besakih to compete in terms of the visitor experience with other leading tourism sites around the world, Tama, who also serves a member of the Karangasem House of Representative (DPRD-Karangasem), is calling for the urgent formation of a Besakih Management Board being considered by the Besakih Community and the Regency of Karangasem. The Management Board will be able to address the complaints of tourist visitors.

He warned that the formation of the planned Management Board should not be solely about profit. The profit, he promised, will come when Besakih is properly managed.

Contacted separately, the head of the Culture and Tourism Department for Karangasem did not deny that many visiting tourists are finding their visit to Besakih an unsatisfactory experience. Moreover, he said that the problems plaguing Besakih are of long standing.  Adding, “The object is excellent, but there are a number of problems that give rise to complaints.”

When asked to elucidate, he mentioned aggressive traders who prey on visitors and illegal guides who coerce “tips” from tourists. He explained that this behavior is also found even among registered guides who are not ashamed to be extorting tourists.

More on www.balidiscovery.com.

Tanah Lot, believe it or not

Believed to trace its roots back to its building in the 16th-century Dang Hyang Niratha Dynasty – Pura Tanah Lot sits on a pinnacle of land surrounded by the Indian Ocean a stone’s throw from shore. Local lore says that King Naratha once slept on the island, decreeing after his stay that it should become a place of worship dedicated to the Lord of the Sea – Dewa Baruna.

Connected by a landbridge to the mainland prior to a massive 1919 earthquake, Tanah Lot is one of seven sacred sea temples that dot the coast of Bali.

Myths Connected with Tanah Lot

Gathered from The Bali Post and other source, there are a number of interesting fables, myths and folklore embraced by locals worth sharing,
Many believe that if you bring your romantic interest to Tanah Lot the relationship is doomed to soon end. Conversely, couples that have formally married and started a family seem unaffected by the threat of a breakup.
Pregnant or menstruating woman are considered “unclean” and must not visit the temple. Local legend contends that the natural land bridge that once connected the Temple to the shore crumbled into the sea when a menstruating woman tried to cross from the shore to Tanah Lot.
Water drank from a source at the temple’s base is considered to bring good fortune.
Venomous Sea Snakes found on the nearby shore line, and believed to the living embodiment of King Niratha’s sash (selendang), are said to make the short migration each evening through the water to spend the night guarding the temple.

More on www.balidiscovery.com.

13 September 2015

10 best things to do in Ubud

For those of you who plan to go to Ubud, here are 10 best things to do while cruising around the area:

1. Doing yoga

Many people travel to Ubud to practice yoga or to join a yoga retreat to practice yoga every day.

Most renowned yoga centers offer public or private yoga classes. But you can also join yoga classes at Yoga Barn, Taksu Spa, or join small classes at Pramesti Bungalow Yoga Retreat, which offers many classes daily, or you can have a total yoga retreat at The Como Shambala Estate, and do yoga close by Ayung River.

2. Going organic

One thing that fits well with such soul-cleansing efforts is eating healthy food. Feel totally rejuvenated by eating organic food or perhaps go further by becoming a vegan or even by eating raw food during your stay in Ubud. Forget caipirinha for a moment, healthy elixirs are perfect for detoxing and making you feel refreshed. And don’t worry about the taste. Since Ubud has gained a reputation of being a holistic center, many healthy food chefs pack their bags and move to Ubud to serve yummy, healthy foods, which perhaps can make you forget that you’re eating raw vegetables.
Go to Alchemy to get raw food or Sari Organik for organic food.

3. Getting a spa treatment

A spa treatment is very beneficial, not only for the skin, but also for the body's organs.

Try to find spas that use organic based products and choose ones with good views to find a natural feeling. Some of Ubud’s best spas are Tamarind Spa at Murni’s House and the Spa at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, that has introduced a new concept incorporating authentic spiritual traditions, such as chakra balancing, Balinese Ayurvedic practices, yoga and meditation.

4. Walking around Monkey Forest

After visiting the monkey sanctuary, Monkey Forest, take a walk around the area to see interesting artwork such as crafts, painting, accessories and clothes. The Monkey Forest area is located in the heart of Ubud where you can find interesting shops or visit Puri Ubud, Ubud Palace and the traditional market in front of Puri Ubud.

5. Seeing cultural performances

Get enchanted with the eloquent movements of Balinese dancers. This is the reason why many artists fall in love with Bali and decide to move to the island. Reservations will be needed if you expect to watch traditional dances, which are performed during holy ceremonies. Most of the performances are shown during sunset. Learn about life wisdom and philosophy through the stories in movements and listen to the enchanting traditional music that accompanies the dances. You can also watch other cultural performances such as wayang kulit. Tickets are mostly sold by people on the street near Puri Ubud and Pasar Ubud.

6. Visiting museums

Ubud’s museums show a great heritage. See paintings from Ubud maestros such as Antonio Blanco, Lempad and Walter Spies at The Blanco Renaissance Museum, Puri Lukisan or Agung Rai Museum of Art. Keris collections can be found at Neka Museum or various types of masks and puppets at the House of Masks and Puppets in the village of Mas.

7. Visiting artists’ workshops

Visit artists’ workshops and see how their creativity has sparked some wonderful artwork that is available for purchase. You might be able to create your own artwork or at least find a piece to decorate your home, or give it as a present to loved ones. Balinese artists’ workshops can be found everywhere in Ubud and you will soon notice their signs on the road.

8. Wandering or cycling

Ubud is full of hidden paths, which will lead you to its real gems: beautiful terraced rice paddy fields, fountains, real Balinese villages, lush tropical forests, rivers, or many beautiful things that can't be found on frenzied main roads.

Discover the real Ubud by taking any lanes heading north from Jl. Raya Ubud. You can also take a trek to Tjampuhan Hill from the bridge or to a temple in front of Blanco Renaissance Museum, which will reveal a beautiful hill along Wos River.

9. Learning a new skill

No matter how old you are, learning a new skill can be useful and exciting. Be it dancing or cooking, or maybe just a small course like making an offering or breeding birds. You can visit villages such as Tjampuhan and ask for local painting or silversmith class. Blanco Renaissance Museum also offers interesting classes such as bird breeding or orchid caretaking.

10. Eating, eating and eating

Ubud is famous for its culinary heritage and there are hundreds of authentic restaurants for you to enjoy. Imagine eating pork rib at Naughty Nuri’s, spicey nasi ayam kedewatan and crispy babi guling by Ibu Oka. You might prefer crispy duck a la Bebek Bengil or go for some fine dining at the Mozaic restaurant for special occasions. Culinary trips in Ubud should not be missed.

08 September 2015

Bali nature experience at Menjangan

Waka Hotels & Resorts (WHM) has announced the opening of NusaBay Menjangan by WHM located in the blissful beachside seclusion of the West Bali National Park.

The Resort caters to travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-track experience within a wild and supremely beautiful part of Bali.

The property, formerly known as Shorea Beach Resort, is under the management of WHM and has undergone extensive renovation. Six Lanai Cottages and one 2-bedroom villa are now ready, with 8 more Lanai Cottages and one more villas slated for renovation in the near future.

Each lanai cottage is elevated above the ground, just footsteps from the beach and is comprised of an air-conditioned bedroom furnished with a king-size canopy bed, an ensuite bathroom with a monsoon shower, and a private balcony. The 2-bedroom villa occupies an absolutely beachfront position in a private sand-floored courtyard replete with an open-sided ‘bale’ pavilion for relaxation or private dining.

The master bedroom boasts a king-size bed and an ensuite bathroom fitted with a soaking tub, an indoor monsoon shower, and an outdoor shower open to the sky. The second bedroom is self-contained and has an ensuite bathroom with monsoon shower.

The Resort’s facilities include a reception pavilion, swimming
pool, restaurant, spa, and an ocean recreation centre operated by a certified dive company.

In keeping with NusaBay Menjangan’s ecotourism commitment a range of specialist activities tailored to the area are on offer. These include ranger-led nature treks in search of sightings of birds, deer, wild boar, monkeys and the endangered Bali starling. Just a ten-minute boat ride from the Resort are world-class snorkeling and scuba diving trips at Menjangan

More at www.balidiscovery.com

Tabanan uses air rifles for stray dogs

In the escalating effort to eliminate stray dog populations and stem the spread of rabies, officials in the regency of Tabanan, West Bali are devising new tools that include modified air rifles to supplement the use of blow-darts to euthanize canines.

The head of the livestock section of the Tabanan Regency administration said, “The innovation is being undertaken to ease the elimination of stray dogs and to safeguard officials working in the field.”

As reported by Beritabali.com, the modified air rifles have been designed to allow officials to cull hard-to-catch stray dogs that have proven hard to eliminate using nets or blowguns.

Officials say that Bali’s stray dogs run whenever officials bring nets to catch them, while officials fear self-contamination with lethal poisons when using blowguns.

The modified air rifles are proving substantially more effective in deliver poisons to stray dogs in trial operations around the Kerambitan area of Tabanan.

The official budget to purchase strychnine, needles, and protective clothing is Rp. 100 million (US$47,400)

Acknowledging the elimination of stray dogs to eliminate rabies in Bali remains highly controversial, Tabanan officials have asked for public support by not allowing their dogs to run free.

More on www.balidiscovery.com.

Bali's Sababay wines wins Honors in China

Sababay Wines has again won honors at the 2015 China Wine and Spirits Awards (CSWA) recently held in Hong Kong.

Sababay’s White Velvet (White Wine) and Moscato d’Bali (Sparkling Sweet White Wine) were awarded Silver Medals, while Ludisia (Sweet Red Wine) garnered a Bronze Medal.

The heavyweight blind tasting by a panel of wine experts resulted in Sababay Winery competing alongside famous brands, including Scotland’s Haig Club; Australia’s Wolf Blass and Peter Lehmann; Chile’s Vina Ventisquero and Aguirre; France’s Bernard Magrez and Les Grand Chais de France; Italy’s Feundo Arancio and Cantine San Marzano; New Zealand’s Saint Clair and Marisco; Portugal’s Casa Santos Lima and DFJ Vinhos; South Africa’s Distell and La Motte Wine Estate; China’s Chateau Nine Peaks and Spain’s Williams and Humbert, and Rioja Vega.

The Annual CSWA focuses on the fastest growing wine market in the world: China. With 37 million adults poised to attain drinking age within the next five years (more than the entire population of Canada), experts say that sales in the Chinese marlet segment alone could skyrocket by as much as 200%.

Commenting on the medals won by Sababay in Hong Kong, Yohan Handoyo, deputy CEO of the Bali-based winery said: ‘We are extremely proud of our recognition at CWSA 2015. The most renowned brands in the world compete and it is an honor to see that our wines compare with the best in the industry. A CWSA Medal is a trusted badge of honor. We have always been committed to quality, but this further bolsters our desire to craft the best products possible.’

More on www.balidiscovery.com.

06 September 2015

New from Bali, Civet Cocoa

One of the oldest coffee producer in Bali, Bhineka Djaja, is making innovation by introducing civet cocoa (cokelat luwak). The chocolate is claimed to offer different kind of delicacy. According to Bhineka Djaja Director, Wirawan Tjahjadi, the chocolate has been patented in 62 countries.

“If there is civet coffeee, why don’t we try to make civet cocoa,” said Wirawan when met at the 2015 InterFOOD Bali Hotel & Tourism.

Wirawan added that the chocolate that has been eaten by civet is has no bitter flavor.

“Therefore this is a sugar-free chocolate,” Wirawan promoted, adding that international tourists from China, Japan, and Korea are fans of the chocolate.
“Locals are still reluctant to spend more money on chocolate. It is priced from Rp100,000 to Rp400,000 , and not many Indonesians are buying it. Therefore, our segment is more of foreign tourists."

Despite of the expensive price, Wirawan said, he had sold around 5,000 packages of civet cocoa.

“We continue hopeful that the civet cocoa would help empowering local farmers. In addition, we want to establish our distinctive culinary,” Wirawan said.

03 September 2015

Garuda Wisnu Kecana statue will be 120 meters high.

Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) Cultural Park in Bali is set to revive the landmark project of the huge statue of Vishnu, the Hindu god of creation, riding the mythical bird Garuda.

Following an acquisition by PT Alam Sutra Realty (ASR) in 2013, the park’s management company PT Garuda Adhimatra Indonesia (GAIN) has started building a new statue, which will be finished by 2017.

Since the project started in 1997, the park development has been stagnant due to a lack of funds, the Asian financial crisis in 1998 and political changes.

The new statue will weigh 4,000 tons. It will trump the 93-meter Statue of Liberty in the US in terms of size.
The Statue of Liberty and the statue of Jesus in Brazil are slim. The GWK statue is planned to be bulkier and grander with magnificent carvings.

Nestled at one of the vantage points in southern Bali, the huge statue will be visible from 20 kilometers away, including from Tanah Lot.
A museum will also be built, displaying the documentation of the statue’s two decades of development.