27 February 2016

Canang sari, the daily offering

The canang sari is a daily offering made by Balinese Hindus to thank the Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa (God Almighty) in praise and prayer, which is believed to create a mutual relationship between humans and spirits. It is a familiar sight in puras (temples), shops, small shrines in local houses and even on the sidewalks and steps.
The term canang sari is said to derive from Balinese words: sari (essence) and canang (small palm-leaf basket). Originally, canang sari's main materials, also known as peporosan, included betel leaf and nuts, gambier, lime and tobacco, in which each element represented four Hindu gods.
The colors of the flowers used as offerings are said to symbolize different gods. The white flowers are a symbol of Iswara, red is Brahma, yellow is Mahadeva and the blue or green ones are Vishnu. The mini baskets also come in various shapes and designs.
Balinese Hindu principles are known to revolve around obtaining balance and harmony between different elements in life and afterlife, also known as dasar asasi. Small efforts such as making and giving offerings are believed to have an impact on maintaining balance between humans, nature and the spirits.
For this reason also, if one day you visit Bali and stumble upon an offering tray on the sidewalks, do respect the offering by not kicking it or stepping on it.

25 February 2016

Expensive Sekumpul Waterfall

Visitors to the waterfall located at Sekumpul, Sawan in North Bali are complaining about being required to purchase three separate tickets when visiting the area. The exotic and naturally beautiful locale features two separate waterfalls one of 90 meters in height and another of 60 meters.
The location is seldom visited by visitors to Bali, due to a lack of promotion and the wider recognition of the Git-Git waterfall located on the road between Bedugul and Singaraja.
Those who do manage to find the Sekumpul waterfalls are greeted by a place of great natural beauty and, sadly, insistent demands from locals to pay for admission to the location three times. The first ticket is sold at the entrance gate near the main road, located before the parking area, where Rp. 15,000 is demanded from foreign tourists and Rp. 5-10,000 from domestic visitors. As visitors approach the waterfalls by foot a second ticket must be purchased at roughly the same cost as the first ticket. Two paths diverge leading to the two waterfalls, with a ticket purchase demanded to those taking the path to the right and again if they choose to see the second waterfall by walking down the path to the left.
A local guide explained that the only official entrance ticket is the one purchased at the main road entrance, with the tickets near the waterfalls representing a local initiative lacking any official authorization.
When tourists complain about the additional ticket requirement local citizens insist they have every right to seek payment from those who pass over and through their private lands to view the waterfalls.
An official from the village of Sekumpul confirmed that the ticket sales taking place near the waterfall are illegal, frustrated by the failure of past efforts to stop the practice. The only official admission fee is that collected at the entrance to the parking area, part of which is given to the local village of Lumukih.

20 February 2016

March 9 2016, Nyepi, the day of Silence

On March 9 this year, Balinese Hindus will be celebrating Saka New Year 1938, known locally as Nyepi (Hindu Day of Silence).

In other traditions and cultures, the New Year is marked by lavish and glittering fiestas. Not in Bali! The Saka New Year is seen as the door to refreshed spiritual enlightenment and an enriched soul. It is a time for contemplation and the four abstinences of Nyepi — amati geni (refraining from lighting fires and turning on lights); amati karya (refraining from work); amati lelanguan (refraining from indulgence) and amati lelungan (refraining from traveling outside the house) for 24 hours.

Immediately prior to the Day of Silence, Balinese Hindus hold a series of elaborate rituals, starting with melasti — a procession to the sea, or closest river or lake, to purify the body and soul, as well as all the temple paraphernalia; mecaru — cleansing homes and villages to appease evil spirits that could disrupt the harmony of the universe and, on New Year’s Eve, Tawur Kesanga, or Pengerupuk, to drive away all the evil spirits.

Pengerupuk takes the form of boisterous processions organized by each hamlet’s male youth group, with the evil spirits represented by ogoh-ogoh — gigantic, hideous caricatures of evil with bulging eyes, enormous bodies and scary faces.

The ogoh-ogoh parades have become a tourist attraction in their own right and well-known parade locations are inundated every year with locals, domestic and foreign tourists keen to see this energetic ritual that lasts into the night.

On Nyepi, the whole island ceases all activities — there are no inbound or outbound flights, the ports and harbors are closed, no-one is allowed to travel outside their household complex or hotel and even cable television channels are suspended between 6 a.m. on March 9 and 6 a.m. the following day. This “inactive world” is intended to convince any evil spirits that Bali is uninhabited and of no interest, while coincidentally significantly reducing the island’s air and noise pollution.

The uniqueness of Nyepi has attracted the interest of many local and international scholars, who study the impact of this incredible religious event on the people’s physical and spiritual wellbeing, as well as on society and the environment.

While the locals, including non-Hindu residents, are required to stay home and abide by customary village laws, visitors may continue their activities, provided they stay inside the hotel premises.
Many hotels, resorts and villas offer special Nyepi packages for tourists choosing to experience this special occasion in Bali.

More at www.thejakartapost.com

17 February 2016

Uber taxi banned from Bali

The Provincial Government of Bali through the Transportation Service has officially ban Uber Taxi from its operation in Bali starting today, after it had talks with the regional transport organization (organda), Bali Freelance Driver Association, Uber and Grab Car representatives, as well as the police.
Uber Taxi is considered to take no account of the local condition in Bali. The vehicles that partner with Uber do not have any tourism permit like any other public transportation companies.  The majority of the vehicles used are originated outside of the region, and the fare is charged by the minute and kilometer.
The Uber Taxi representative in Bali is reluctant to comment on the ban and said that Uber will be dealing with the matter.

14 February 2016

Bali must stay green and clean

Denpasar (ANTARA News) - The tourist region of Kuta, in the Indonesian island resort of Bali, in 2016 needs reform and management in various supporting sectors such as traffic management and environmental hygiene. The Kuta tourist area will face a great challenge in the future because from year to year the traffic there continues to get crowded. Therefore, the government and stakeholders in the tourism sector should all move to improve tourism in Bali, particularly in Kuta. If the iconic tourism of Bali is not properly managed, it is feared that the tourists will be bored of coming to Kuta and find another destination instead.
Bali is famous for art and culture since the ancient times. However, if it is not accompanied by comfort and security, domestic and foreign tourists will look for the other tourist attractions outside Bali. In addition, the government and stakeholders should pay attention to hygiene, because the presence of garbage is in the spotlight in the world of tourism.

11 February 2016

High parking fees at Ngurah Rai airport

Parking fees at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport are set to increase in January 2016. The hourly parking fee for four-wheeled vehicles will increase from Rp. 3,000 to Rp. 4,000 for the first hour. For the following four hours the rate will be Rp. 3,000 per hour. Those leaving their cars more than five hours at the airport will pay an hourly rate of Rp. 15,000 per hour. The hourly parking fee for two-wheeled motorcycles has increased from Rp. 1,500 to Rp. 2,000. Motorcycles parking at the airport for more than 12 hours must pay Rp. 1,000 per hour. Those wishing to use long-term parking passes or passes valid for use over the course of a year must now pay Rp. 8 million per year. The yearly parking pass cost only Rp. 750,000 per year prior to the latest increase. Motorcycles using the airport on a daily basis must pay Rp. 42,000 per month. If motorcyclists want a yearly pass they are asked to pay 11 x Rp. 42,000 or Rp. 462,000 per year. The airport is defending the decision to dramatically increase parking fees as realistic and based on a thorough business review.

07 February 2016

Bali and the Zika virus

Denpasar (ANTARA News) - The management of Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali has installed two thermoscanners to measure body temperatures, in a bid to prevent the spread of the feared Zika virus.

Arriving international passengers will be screened to determine whether they might be carrying the infection.
Since the monitors were installed, the airport management has not discovered any passengers registering high body temperatures.
However, if passenger with high temperatures and possible carriers of the Zika virus are detected, plans call for them to be brought to an isolation room or nearest hospital.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared a global emergency in acting to control the outbreak of Zika virus.
Officials note that the virus has been spread by the Aedes aegepty mosquitos, causing high fevers and rashes among infected people.
In Jakarta, Health Minister Nila F Moeloek warned pregnant women to place mosquito netting in their bedrooms as protection from the Zika virus.
The spread of the virus-like dengue fever occurred in several countries in Africa, America, and Asia Pacific.

Bali by camera

02 February 2016

Balinese holidays 2016

List of National Public holidays of Indonesia in 2016
Friday January 01            New Years Day
Monday February 08       Chinese New Year   Imlek.
Wednesday March 09      Hari Raya Nyepi      Balinese New Year
Friday March 25               Good Friday            International Catholic holiday
Sunday May 01                Labour Day             World Labour day
Thursday May 05             Ascension Day       40 days after Easter
Thursday May 05             Isra Miraj
Sunday May 22                Waisak Day           Birth of Buddha
Monday July 04               Cuti Bersama           Extra holiday
Tuesday July 05              Cuti Bersama           Extra holiday
Wednesday July 06         Hari Raya Puasa      End of Ramadan
Thursday July 07            Hari Raya Puasa      Eid Al-Fitr
Friday July 08                 Cuti Bersama           Extra holiday
Wednesday August 17   Independence Day  Marks the start of the revolution against the Netherlands in 1945
Monday September 12  Idul Adha
Sunday October 02        Muharram              Islamic New Year
Monday December 12    Maulidur Rasul      Marks the birth of the Islamic prophet Muhammed
Sunday December 25     Christmas Day
Monday December 26    Cuti Bersama           Extra holiday