31 July 2016

"Balinese", a nice video

In Bali, we are all witness to the beauty of the Island of the Gods, but so many of us fail to capture it all, best we try. Filmmaker Brandon Li, however, nailed it in his short film entitled "Balinese." Broken up into a succession of themes, the ten-minute video shares breathtaking panaromas and intimate close-ups of Bali and its people from traditional ceremonies to lush rice paddies to a touring biker group and beyond. Li posted this video to Vimeo 11 months ago, but its recent posting by Fubiz on Facebook has been getting it some well-deserved shares across Bali social media lately. "Balinese" has also earned the Vimeo Staff Pick attribute since it was uploaded.

30 July 2016

Visit Singaraja

Singaraja is an old harbor town, centrally located at the north coast of Bali. It is the second largest town of Bali (approx. 100,000 inhabitants). It was once the former colonial capital of Bali and now the capital of the Buleleng regency. The Dutch colonial past of Singaraja is still apparent by the architecture of many of its buildings, especially those that are located in the old harbor district. White plastered warehouses still breath the atmosphere of the old days when the harbor was still busy and trade in spices, vanilla and tobacco flourished.

Since colonial times Singaraja has been an important educational and cultural center, with nowadays two universities in town. Singaraja is an attractive town to many, thanks to a lingering colonial 'feel' and some well-preserved colonial architecture. Mainly in the southern part of the town one will find tiny, winding backstreets which make for pleasant wandering. In 1995 Singaraja won a nation wide award for the cleanest and best maintained town in Indonesia. People here are extremely friendly and helpful. The center of the town lies at the intersection of the Jalan Gajah Mada and the Jl. Jen. Ahmad Yani. Here you will find banks, a post office, some accommodation, a number of small restaurants and the local market Pasar Anyar, which turns into a night market with foodstalls after sunset.

The harbor district of Singaraja can be found directly north of the center of the town. However not in use any more, there are still many old warehouses in the harbor district that date back to the Dutch colonial times. Before the opening of the international airport Ngurah Rai at Denpasar/Kuta in the 1970's, Singaraja was the main entrance port for tourists to Bali, where cruise ships with adventurous tourists used to land regularly.
In addition to the Dutch heritage there are remnants of Chinese and Muslim influence. The descendants of the Chinese, Arab and Bugis settlers still live in the harbor distict in areas nicknamed Kampong Arab and Kampong Bugis. A beautiful Chinese temple named Ling Gwan Kion can be found just off the Jalan Erlangga, close to the ocean in the harbor district of Singaraja. This temple is one of the few Chinese temples on Bali. It can be accessed via a bridge over a lotus pond and it has magnificent golden Buddha statues. The temple was founded in the year 1873 and has been renovated several times, the last one in 2004.

A unique lontar museum annex library, the "Gedong Kirtya", can be found at the Jalan Veteran near the center of the town. The Gedong Kirtya collects, copies and preserves thousands of lontar (manuscripts made of palm leaf), "prasati" (transcriptions on metal plates) and books that deal with various aspects of human life such as religion, architecture, philosophy, genealogy, homeopathy, "usada" (medical manuscripts), black magic, etc., in the Balinese, Kawi (old Javanese), and in the Dutch, English and German language. The museum and library are open to visitors during weekdays but it is closed in the weekends and during national holidays.

The Royal Palace of Singaraja "Puri Agung Buleleng" is located close to the lontar library 'Gedong Kirtya', at the Jalan Mayor Metra. The Puri Agung, which has been renovated several times, is now open to public who are interested in the history of Buleleng. Visitors can see a number of pictures of Raja (Kings) of Buleleng in the old house where the Raja and his family used to live. The descendants of the Raja's still live here.
The city statues of Singaraja are many and are certainly very varied. You might decide to do a city tour with a traditional dokar (horse cart), which is a perfect way to see most of Singaraja's statues and to absorb the atmosphere of the old town in an old fashioned way. A dokar 'station' can be found in the center of Singaraja near the Pasar Anyar II Market, at the Jalan Gajah Mada.

The night market of Singaraja, "Pasar Anyar II", is located at the Jalan Gajah Mada in the center of the town. This market certainly is worth a visit, especially during the cool morning hours around sunrise. The market has two floors. Every morning hundreds of local people visit this rural market to shop for vegetables, fruit, fish, meat and offering flowers. You will also find a section here where you can buy clothes for real bargain prices (also open during day time).

28 July 2016

High flying drugs

The “means of delivery” employed by those in the narcotics trade to move and transport their illegal contraband are becoming increasingly creative. Despite the best efforts of prison officials to remove and eliminate the narcotics trade at Bali’s infamous Kerobokan Prison, a very active trade in drugs continues to flourish within the penitentiary’s walls. The latest modus operandi for smuggling drugs into the prison is through the employment of the ubiquitous kites that populate in every corner of the sky in Bali, especially during the current windy mid-year period. Resorting to the use of kites to move narcotics was presumably made necessary when prison officials and members of the National Anti-Narcotics Agency (BNNP) put to an end the practice of people throwing bottles filled with narcotics over the prison’s wall. The chief of BNNP-Bali Police told how closer surveillance of both sides of the prison’s walls put a quick end to the practice of tossing drug caches into the prison compound. Undeterred, kite flyers are reportedly positioning high-flying kites over the interior area of the prison and allowing packets of drugs to fall from the sky into the prison grounds. As a result, BNNP-Bali, Police and Prison officials are collecting data from anyone flying kites anywhere near the Kerobokan prison. The chief is calling for an increased deployment of police and prison guards to ensure security at the prison and the elimination of any and all loopholes, such as kites flying over the prison, used to smuggle drugs into Bali’s largest house of corrections.

27 July 2016

Pasar Badung still not finished after fire

It’s been a long process rebuilding after Bali’s biggest and oldest traditional market, Pasar Badung, was devastated by a fire earlier this year. That process still has no end date in sight, according to Bali officials. Meanwhile, thousands of Denpasar merchants have been left in an awkward state of limbo since the February 29 fire ripped through the four-storey market, taking away their place of work. "We are urging that it’s built and completed in 2017. Now with 2016 budget changes, we have agreed to the preparation of the detailed engineering design, so that later in 2017 it can be erected,” told the regional council chairman. But the head of Denpasar Spatial Planning and Housing separately said it’s not clear in what year the market’s construction will be fully completed. He added that it is “depending on the budget”. The Denpasar government has already submitted a proposal amounting to Rp 240 billion to the Ministry of Trade for the market’s rebuilding. Guess we’ll have to wait and see how much funding Bali landmark is granted. 

26 July 2016

Pemuteran 7th best destination in Asia

Pemuteran in Bali has been recognized as one of Lonely Planet's best destinations in Asia.The list is based on reviews by the travel guidebook publisher's Asia-focused writers after they explored the continent's jungles, beaches and cities, CNN Travel reported. "The result is a varied hit list of classic destinations offering a fresh twist for travelers, regions packed full of action and edge-of-the-map places you may never heard of," said Lonely Planet spokesperson Chris Zeiher. Sitting at number seven in the ranking, Pemuteran is a village in north Bali’s Buleleng regency. The area, surrounded by a lush hilly landscape and bordering the Bali Sea to the north, offers a laid-back atmosphere and an abundance of marine life. No wonder it is mostly visited by divers looking to explore stunning coral reefs. The place also provides a great stop for those who want to explore surrounding tourist attractions, such as watching dolphins and the sunrise at Lovina or diving and watching deers on Menjangan Island. The Top-10 list below inspires travelers to unveil Asia’s most unique places this year. Lonely Planet's best in Asia for 2016:
1. Hokkaido, Japan 2. Shanghai, China 3. Jeonju, South Korea 4. Con Dao Islands, Vietnam 5. Hong Kong, China 6. Ipoh, Malaysia 7. Pemuteran, Indonesia 8. Trang Islands, Thailand 9. Meghalaya, India 10. Taitung, Taiwan

25 July 2016

New parking rules in Ubud

Police and traffic officials in Ubud begin the introduction of new traffic rules aimed to ease traffic congestion at the popular Bali tourist destination. In order to socialize the new rules, traffic officials enacted no-parking rules in the area surrounding the Catus Pata Ubud roundabout. The head of the Transportation and Information Service said the timing of a mass cremation was chosen to introduce the new no parking rules. Working together with the Gianyar Police the public were told that parking is no longer allowed on three roads: Along Jalan Raya Suweta from Puri Ubud to the north. People wishing to park in these regions are now directed to the central parking facility at Pura Batu Karu. From Catus Pata to the east until the Ubud Camat Office. From Catus Pata to the south until the Ubud field. Some 70 personnel from the Transportation Service, working with the police,  began to enforce the no-parking rule on the three roads. The parking prohibition applies for all kinds of vehicles, including motorcycles. Commencing in August 2016, the enforcement of the new Traffic Law No. 22 will come into full effect, with cars parked illegally subject to towing and ticketing.

23 July 2016

Best water park Kuta Waterbom Bali

Out of all the water parks scattered around the globe, Kuta’s Waterbom Bali has been named second best in the world and number one in Asia by travel planning and booking site TripAdvisor for its 2016 Traveler's Choice Awards. If you’ve got the unbending patience to face the long lines and swerving, dropping water slides are your thing, then Waterbom is certainly worth a visit according to the thousands of people who have reviewed and ranked the attraction so highly on TripAdvisor. This is the third year in a row that Waterbom has taken the Asia title and for the global list, it only comes behind Siam Park in Adeje, Spain. TripAdvisor winners were identified based on an algorithm of a 12-month period that looked at quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for water parks around the world, a TripAdvisor press release explained. If you’re around in Bali for awhile, then you should wait until October or November for your trip, according to the website. “Travelers should look at spending their fun-filled holidays at the park in October or November when our data tells us it’s the most affordable time to visit, and they should plan ahead by booking their one-day passes on TripAdvisor."

22 July 2016

Rising sea

The beach abrasion along Soka Beach in Tabanan, West Bali continues to make itself felt with an estimated 700 square meters of land owned by villages in Atap disappearing into the sea since 2012. One Atap villager told that the erosion has carried away 7 ares of village land and a coconut tree. Each year, little by little, the land is being swept away into the sea. In the past erosion of village land by waves was not a problem. In 1989, the shoreline was still some 20-meters from the fish weighing station. But rising sea levels over the years have now halved the distance of the station from the ocean waves to only 10 meters. If there are big waves on the shoreline, the fish weighing station and performance pavilion are surrounded by seawater. The chief of the Fisheries and Shores Service has surveyed Soka Beach and reported his findings to his agency. The problem of shoreline abrasion was not the sole responsibility of his agency, with any solution requiring assistance from other government bodies as well.

21 July 2016

Power shortage in Java and Bali

President Joko Widodo is worried that the islands of Java and Bali will experience an electrical power shortage by 2019 if an additional need for 21,000 megawatts in electrical power remains unaddressed. President Widodo said at the groundbreaking for a new power plant in Banten “If we look at the needs for Java and Bali there is still a need for 21,000 megawatts, a major requirement that must be met. If we do not accelerate the process of meeting this need by 2019, there will be a critical shortfall of electrical power in Java and Bali in 2019". The President warned that a failure to meet the power needs will necessitate a  regular series of planned black outs in Java and Bali. What’s more, President Widodo said power shortage would have lead-on effects reducing investments, industrial development and the building of new factories. The President also emphasized that providing electrical power to members of the public still living off the power grid remains a main priority of the government.

20 July 2016

Tooth Filling ceremony

Bali’s Governor Made Mangku Pastika attended a “mass tooth filing” in Denpasar held on Sunday. The ceremony saw 344 people, predominated by young men and women in traditional dress, have their teeth and canine teeth filed flat in a ceremony that is a mandatory right of passage for every devout Balinese.Speaking at the ceremony Pastika said he hoped the tooth filing ceremony will precipitate adult behavior and more thoughtful actions among those participating in the ritual. The Bali-Hindu religion “mepandes” ceremony, or tooth filing, is typically done when children enter their teenage years or for older teens on the threshold of adulthood. By filing the rough edges off one’s smile, the ceremony is also meant to usher in a more refined deportment free of ill-mannered behavior. The Governor took the occasion to express his thanks to the organizers of the mass tooth filing who provided a simple ceremony that was conducted in accordance with religious and cultural norms.50 “sangging” or traditional tooth filers performed the ceremony for 344 people.

19 July 2016

Illegal money changers in Kuta

The village community of Kuta in South Bali has organized a special team to monitor the activities of moneychangers working in their area. The village chief of Kuta Village said the decision to form the supervisory team was taken at a village gathering held in june. The teams delegated to monitor and detect unlicensed money changers perpetrating fraud against visiting tourists were tasked to operate for a two-year period 2016-2018. The monitoring teams to close down illegal moneychangers in Kuta will coordinate their efforts with the Bali branch of Bank Indonesia. In a joint statement, Bank Indonesia and the traditional village of Kuta pledged to help socialize the licensing requirements for businesses offering money exchange services; to work together in the supervision and control of moneychangers in Kuta, and to exchange information on the operation of local moneychangers. Working with a team of 30 Kuta village members, around 19 illegal money changers have already been forced to close in Kuta. Warnings have also been issued to landlords who rented shops or counter space to illegal money changing operators. The continuing work of the community-based teams monitoring illegal money changers would help protect Kuta’s reputation as a top tourism destination.

18 July 2016

Why you should go to Lovina

When thinking Bali, the first thing that usually comes to mind is Kuta or Nusa Dua. After all, these are some of the most popular spots on the whole island. But, if you want to experience more than just the tourist-filled South, we recommend going beyond the beaten path. Lovina is a coastal area on the northwest side of Bali. The Lovina beach area is about two and half hours away from the real hustle and bustle of Bali, so you’ll be sure to find a quiet spot to relax. And, when the family is up for a something adventurous, the area is surrounded by many awesome attractions!

1. Gitgit Waterfall. Not too far away from Lovina Beach is a beautiful, 40-meter high waterfall. Gitgit Waterfall is located in the heart of Sukasada sub-district, about 10 kilometers from Singaraja proper. A kilometer from the falls, there are loads of warungs that sell souvenirs and cheap clothing. If you haven’t packed extra clothes, you can buy cheap stuff from any of these warungs before a refreshing swim at the cascading waterfall. 

2. Dolphin Watching. Dolphins are always a hit amongst kids. If you want to go dolphin watching, you can talk to a local boatman for a tour. Most locals offer tours near the beach. Usually, the boat leaves at 6am, so pack your bags before the break of dawn and make sure to bring your camera! 

3. Buddhist monastery. When you explore the hills of Banjar, you’ll come across the largest Buddhist monastery in Bali. Brahma Vihara Arama is filled with a mix of Balinese designs and Buddhist architecture. Right in the monastery, visitors are encouraged to meditate, say a little prayer, and maybe even explore the abbey. 

4. Hot springs. Since you’re exploring Banjar, why not head to the local hot springs? The famous hot springs have sulfuric water coming out of large water sprouts. This is a popular tourist spot, so expect a few more crowds than in Lovina. We recommend going early, just before breakfast. After a refreshing dip in the hot springs go to the nearby market for local eats! 

5. Beji Temple. From the east of Lovina, you will come across a variety of Balinese temples. Some must-visit temples include Beji Temple in Sangsit –  dedicated to the Rice Goddess, and Jagaraja temple – commemorating battles with the Dutch. To the west of Lovina is the Pulaki temple, which is full of monkeys! 

6. West Bali National Park. The West Bali National Park is Bali’s largest nature reserve. It features a colorful variety of flora and fauna and is a great place to check out various species of birds, including the very rare Bali Starling. However, you will need a guide. There are only two trails that tourists are allowed to hike, as there are many protected species in the park.

17 July 2016

Local fashion

Thinking of shopping for the collections of local designers in Bali? Here are four of the island's indie designers who create unique styles that might suit your quirky tastes.

Amiga Through Amiga, founder Ami Zijta wants to convey Marilyn Monroe’s philosophy to dress tight like a woman but loose enough to be a lady. Amiga’s designs are elegant, vibrant, colorful and are made to suit different tastes in styles. Having sold her dresses through friends and concepts stores, Ami recently celebrated the opening of her own store at Lippo Mall Kuta. Those seeking to have an exclusive design could also opt to purchase a custom-made dress. Price range: Rp 200,000 for tops, Rp 500,000 for dresses, Rp 1.4 million for silks.

NurkamayaIt’s not just style that Maya Nursari wants to showcase through her label, but also an eco-fashion concept. Nurkamaya’s style is casual, edgy and simple and it’s only available in dual color tones: black and white. All of the clothes are made from bamboo fiber fabrics so that they don’t leave as much of a carbon footprint as clothes made of cotton. Aside from that, Maya applies a fair-trade policy to the production. Available online, Maya’s collections can also be found at the To~Ko Concept Store at the Rumah Sanur Creative Hub at Jl. Danau Poso 51A, Sanur. Price range: Rp 165,000 to Rp 380,000 if purchased within Indonesia.

SijiSiji is the creation of Myra Juliarti. She refers to it as a style for introverted people. Unlike other brands that have flowery styles, siji is loose, simple and relaxed. It’s for those who love to hide yet also reveal their uniqueness through Myra’s edgy designs that are mostly available in soft, neutral colors. Shop online or head to Ubud to get siji’s collections, available at Bisama on Monkey Forest Road, Warang Wayan on Jl. Dewi Sita, and at Pasar-pasaran in Uma Seminyak on Jl. Cendana, Seminyak. Price range: Rp 400,000 to Rp 600,000.

Tuvee. The best way to describe Tuvee’s style is that the clothes set you free. It’s not too girly, but feminine enough. Devianna Meliala, the designer, loves to create casual style with fresh twists using light printed fabric. Endless Summer, out of one of Tuvee's collections. Tuvee is the brand-child of Devi and Ratu Ayu, who once had a shop on Jl. Benesari in Legian, Kuta, but they closed it in 2015. They later put their collections online on Berrybenka, but those interested to try on the clothes can go to Clara Bella in Sanur, Loverancor in Canggu, or the Bodag shop in Ubud. Price range: Rp 150,000 to Rp 500,000.

16 July 2016

New Laid Back places in Bali

Thinking of running away from the hustle and bustle of South Bali? Check out these three new destinations that boast laid-back atmospheres and great service quality.

Finns Canggu. Located on the western side of Seminyak, Canggu has slowly become the new playground for travelers seeking a laid-back holiday near the beach and now beach lovers going to Canggu can expect to enjoy beachfront luxury thanks to a newly opened club. Like its sister, Finns Canggu boasts a rustic bohemian atmosphere and impeccable service. The building itself is unique and has a distinctive structure made from bamboo. Built facing the ocean, its highlights include a 30-meter infinity pool, a daily DJ session that starts at 4 p.m. to accompany guests while they are viewing the picturesque sunset and choices of classy cocktails on the bar menu that guests can sip while marveling at the ocean view and dark sandy beach.

Menjangan Dynasty Resort. The northwest coast of Bali is the perfect place to look for an unspoiled environment. The surrounding area is especially famous for its pristine nature, both on land and underwater, that has attracted divers as well as nature lovers from around the world to stay in the area. For those looking for a unique experience, Menjangan Dynasty Resort, Beach Camp and Dive Centre is set to offer a luxury laid-back atmosphere of glamping (glamorous camping) starting this August. In addition to providing 24 beach-camp African safari tents and four cliff tent-villas complete with flat screen TVs, minibars and hairdryers, the property also allows guests to reconnect with the surrounding nature and enjoy uninterrupted views of the ocean, Menjangan Island and West Bali National Park, as well as amazing sunsets with Mount Raung, Mount Ijen and Baluran in Java as impressive backdrops.

Le Pirate, Nusa Ceningan. Nusa Ceningan is a small island that can be reached by crossing a yellow bridge from Nusa Lembongan. It is particularly famous for its fantastic golden sandy beaches that are hidden by the surrounding area. Overlooking seaweed farms in Nusa Ceningan waters, Le Pirate offers a fantastic sunset view, soothing music and eclectic cocktails in a naval-inspired beach club. Guests can opt to stay all day to enjoy snorkeling, swimming and sunbathing, or simply observe the local seaweed farming. Those who love to hunt for a sunset will be rewarded with an amazing view of the sun setting behind the horizon, while morning people can stay over at Le Pirate's cute huts to wait for morning to arrive.

15 July 2016

Balinese Traditions

Whether you’ve been visiting Bali for years or you’re planning you first trip, there are plenty of things about the Balinese people that you probably don’t know. Customs and traditions unique to the Balinese have been passed down from generation to generation for centuries, and many of these customs still hold fast even with the most modern generations. Here are some Balinese Customs you might find interesting:

Long Hair Don’t Care. When a woman becomes pregnant her husband is forbidden to cut his hair until the baby is born. In many villages this also goes for the wife, but it is less noticeable for them than it is for men who might normally wear their hair short. If someone you know is usually well groomed but suddenly looks in need of a good hair cut, chances are his wife is pregnant! It seems it’s just thought to be bad luck.

Where do all the Bodies Go? This is shocking for some, but most villages have mass cremations every 5 years as it is very expensive to pay for a single cremation. But what happens to the deceased in the meantime, you ask? Well…family members are buried and given a small funeral and then the night before the mass cremation the men in the village will dig up the bones in preparation for cremation. Up to about a month before a mass cremation bodies will be buried but after that it is considered too soon to include them in the cremation as the body won’t have time to decompose enough to be exhumed. These souls have to wait another 5 years in the ground.

Everyone Has a Twin. When babies are born in Bali, as soon as the cord is cut their placenta, or ari-ari, is whisked off to the family compound and buried in the family temple or in front of the family home. The placenta is considered to be the twin of the baby and will protect them throughout their life. The placentas of male children are buried on the right side of the house and females on the left. Offerings are left on the burial spot and a candle or lantern is kept burning above the placenta for the first 42 days of the baby’s life.

Don’t Touch. As in a number of other cultures, in Bali it is very rude to touch someone on the head. This isn’t really an issue amongst adults, but many Westerners forget and pat or rub children on the head out of affection. It is not something most people will get angry about if you are foreign and aren’t aware of this faux pas, but out of respect please try to remember heads are the most sacred part of the body and should not be touched.

Pillows are for Heads. Leading on from number 4, you also don’t want to sit or put your feet on pillows. By all means if you are in your hotel room go ahead, but if you happen to be in a Balinese household bum and feet = dirty/spiritually unclean. Pillows are for your head, which is the “cleanest” part of your body so using them for lower bits of your body is a no no.

A Different Type of Bull Riding. Can you imagine if you saw someone climb on their mother or father’s coffin at their funeral and ride it to the cemetery? That’s exactly what you’ll see during a Balinese cremation. The son or other male family members climb atop the bull (called a lembu) or tower, which carries the body of the deceased. The black taurus is brought to the cremation place, a child of the family riding on it. The ride isn’t a smooth one either, so you’ll see the rider hanging on for dear life. The men carrying the coffin will run, spin it and bounce it around to confuse bad spirits that might try to get to the deceased on the way to the cemetery.

Cockfighting Superstitions. On the way to a cockfight men will look very closely for signs that their luck will be good. If they pass a broken penjor or if a pregnant woman waves at them they will immediately turn around and go home because those are some of the worst signs. It is a requirement for each temple on the island to host a cockfight every year. The spilled blood is considered a sacrifice and the only way to ensure good harvests. A sign we might take as the worst luck but they see as fantastic is if a dog pees on their cock’s cage their luck is in that day! One of the wonderful things about visiting or living in Bali are the unique customs and traditions. This is what makes Bali so interesting to foreigners and one of the most amazing cultures in the world.

14 July 2016

Bali 1928, the recordings

The last piece: An original 78 rpm record from the historical recordings of 1928-1929 with information on the label printed in Balinese script. This particular record contains “Pubupuh Adri” and is the only existing disc in the world. It is a story nearly 90 years in the making that has taught a large number of people, from prominent scholars to village musicians, how a past legacy can invigorate present tradition. The story began in mid-1928, when representatives from German recording company Odeon and Beka traveled across Bali to record the traditional music and songs of the island, which by that time had become known in Europe as a bewitching tropical paradise in the East. It was a crucial time in the island’s musical history. Bali was in the midst of an artistic revolution with kebyar becoming the new dominant style of music. Gamelan orchestra groups had their older ceremonial instruments melted down and reforged in the new style. Intense competition between villages and regions stimulated young composers to develop impressive innovations and techniques.

The recordings were made under the guidance of Walter Spies, a German painter and long-time resident of Bali. Spies possessed an intimate knowledge of the island and knew most, if not all, of Bali’s top artists and musicians at the time. In 1929, the diverse sampling of new and older Balinese styles appeared on 78 rpm records with subsequent releases for international distribution. Although the medium limited tracks to three-minute excerpts, the records contained remarkable examples of a broad range of musical genres — vocal as well as instrumental — and outstanding composers, performers and ensembles of the period who are now famous teachers of legendary groups. It was the first and only commercially released recording of music made in Bali prior to World War II. Unfortunately, it was not a commercial success and quickly went out of production. The information on the labels was printed in Malay, the lingua franca of the archipelago at the time, and in some cases in Balinese. The ambitious plan to develop an indigenous market was a complete failure, however, as few Balinese were interested in the new and expensive technology — especially when there was a world of live performances happening daily in temples and households across the island.

The present generation of Balinese artists would not have had the opportunity to listen to the magnificent music contained on the records if not for the hard work and perseverance of an American scholar. Edward Herbst first visited Bali in 1972 to study wayang and gamelan palegongan, gong-making techniques and Balinese classical dance drama. Later, Herbst had the privilege of studying under other great Balinese masters. He was a passionate student and meticulous researcher, two qualities that enabled him to overcome numerous obstacles in his next task: searching for the “missing” discs.
In July 2015, the Bali 1928 Repatriation Project launched a collection of five CDs and DVDs containing the remastered music of 111 discovered matrices of Odeon and Beka.
Photos courtesy of Bali 1928

13 July 2016

Tumpek Landep

On Saturday, July 9, 2016, Bali celebrated Tumpek Landep – one of five separate Tumpek days that include Landep, Uduh, Uve (Kandang), Kuningan and Wayang. Each Tumpek day is celebrated once every 210 days on the Balinese calendar set aside for paying respect to different fundamental components of the physical world. Landep is a day for honoring the tools of our trades, including any kind of transportation; Uduh respects living plants and the crops that sustain us; Uve or Kandang is a day set aside for paying homage to the members of the animal kingdom, including a family's livestock and pets; Wayang offers deference to the many puppets used in portraying ancient tales; and Kuningan is an all-purpose Tumpek day to give thanks for all the components of the physical universe – especially those items possibly overlooked on the other Tumpek days. Tumpek Landep is used to figuratively sharpen the weapons of our daily lives. Tools, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, computers, kitchen equipment and other tools of trade undergo cleansings, blessings and prayers on this day.

12 July 2016

Giant epic dragon kite in Sanur

Mertasari Beach was witness to the king of kites. Appropriately named ‘Nagaraja’ (dragon king), the giant kite stretched 249.75 meters down the Sanur beach. The 707 kilogram kite apparently required some 200 people to help fly it. The width of the kite measured 11.25 meters and had to be flown with a 300-meter long rope. Four trucks were needed to bring the kite over to the beach!  Kadek Suprapta Meranggih, kite section chairman of Banjar Dangin Peken, said the magnificent Nagaraja, made by residents of his banjar, broke the record logged by the Indonesian World Records Museum (MURI). "We managed to break the MURI record as the largest and longest kite in Indonesia". Record-breaking or no, this kite sure is stunning!

Photo: Instagram @st.dhananjaya

11 July 2016

Gigantic high voltage tower in Bali

Plans to build gigantic high-voltage towers to suspend power lines running between West Bali and East Java is meeting with opposition from the people of the Village of Sumberklampok at the West Bali National Park. Opposition to the tower is linked to close proximity to the Segara Rupek Temple, considered by many to rank among Bali’s most sacred temples. As such, Balinese Hindus insist that the pylons to support the power line must stand no closer than, depending on one’s interpretation of the rules, two or five kilometers. The High-Voltage Tower to be built on Bali’s West Coast will be among the world’s tallest, standing 376-meters high. By comparison, the Eiffel Tower in Paris is 325-meters high. The power lines supported by the tower will carry 500 kilo-volts on power from the Watudodol Power Plant at Banyuwangi, East Java to Bali. The West Bali landing point for the power-line project known as “Bali Crossing” will be at the Bali National Park in an area close to the sacred Segara Rupek Templeand Payogan Temple. Work is already underway near the site with the constriction of a jetty eight-kilometers from the Segara Rupek Temple that will be used to transport material to be used that cannot be transported by road. Meanwhile, access roads to the building site are being widened. A village chief from Sumberkelampok said that he has received many complaints from local residents protesting plans to erect the high-power pylon in the village. When he personally checked the proposed location for the pylon, he said position is only 500 meters from the temple.

08 July 2016

Best rooftop bars in Bali

Want a panorama of the urban Bali landscape and views of the Indian ocean beyond? These rooftop bars (arranged in no particular order) definitely fit the bill.

Double Six Rooftop. The classiest of rooftop bars with banging parties occasionally has got to be Double Six. This beachfront behemoth has a very complete view of the Indian ocean with great music to match. They have some of the world’s top DJ acts every so often that are must-attend events for the electronic dance enthusiast.

Jim’Bar’N. For southern Bali, this is just about as high as you get for rooftop bars. Located at the top of the Bukit hill, Jim’Bar’N overlooks just about the entire island. As far as how far the view goes, this venue atop the Harris Jimbaran takes the cake.

Luna Rooftop. This pleasant rooftop bar located at the L Hotel on Jl Petitenget has a great view of the surroundings and the ocean in the distance. They have a traditional tikka oven and yashitori grill as well as a descent wine list for afternoon snacks and drinks.

Moonlite.This stunning rooftop on the top of The Anatara in Seminyak is one of the grander rooftop venues. It’s located right on the beach for an uninterrupted view of the ocean and the beaches to the south. Moonlite is also an excellent dining venue with a huge wine cellar and all sorts of Asian fusion dishes. Their selection of cocktails is also excellent and you’ll want at least a couple to go with the view.

Rooftop Pool Bar. Located on the busiest part of Jl Oberoi, U Paasha’s Rooftop Pool Bar has a beautiful swimming pool next to an excellent bar. The rooftop enjoys a huge panorama of the island below with near 360 degree views. They also have a buffet on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays.

Sky Garden. Sky Garden’s rooftop offers a commanding view of Kuta. As if being the ultimate superclub wasn’t enough, it’s also a super chill spot to grab a bite during sunset. Check out their 99k buffet that includes a four hour drinks free flow. Unbelievable but true. It pumps on the rooftop most of every night too with urban sounds.

Sky Pool. If you had to describe Sky Pool in one word, it would have to be “fun”. This rooftop pool and bar is in the heart of Kuta at The One Legian. They serve a variety of western and Indonesian dishes but are most known for their excellent pool parties that they have once or twice a month.

The Shack. Do you like funky places? Do you like rooftops? Well we got news for you. Check out The Shack on top of Dash Hotel. The bright primary colors and post modern interior is pretty wild. Combine that with an infinite sky overhead and a fantastical view around and you have one excellent rooftop bar.

07 July 2016

Warning against Illegal villa's

The Bali Villa Association (BVA) is calling on the government to introduce minimum standards for security for commercial villas operation on the Island. The chairman of the BVA, made the call via the press, saying government supervision of safety and security over Bali’s large commercial villa industry was long past due. Part of the problem is the large number of illegal villas operating with little or no control that represents a latent threat to the reputation of the villa industry and the Island's tourism industry. The legal villas grouped together in the BVA are professionally managed and able to compete with 4 and 5-star hotels in Bali. He also issued a call for joint and decisive action by BVA members and the government against illegal villas. The BVA is committed to licensing and certification programs encompassing security, safety, manpower and management in order to protect the reputation of Bali’s villa industry and the Island’s reputation as an international tourism industry.

05 July 2016

Zika virus scanners at Ngurah Rai airport

Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport is installing thermal scanners in the international arrivals terminal to identify inbound passengers with raised body temperatures indicating possible infection with the Zika virus. The general manager of the Bali Airport Authority confirmed the installation of the thermo scanners, following a meeting with the Minister of Transportation to discuss preparations for the Lebaran Holiday rush of travelers. The airport is cooperating with Airport Health Officials and preparing formal procedures for handling passengers identified as infected with the Zika virus. These include the rapid isolation of affected travelers on special isolation areas. However, to date, there have been no confirmed cases of Zika in Bali despite an Australian government travel advisory suggesting travelers to Bali may be at risk of infection. The Australian travel advisory, in turn, has earned a quick response from the Provincial Government of Bali and the Bali Hotel Association who point to World Health Organization reports confirming that the Zika virus has not been endemically found in Bali.

03 July 2016

Giant Extra supermarket in Lombok almost open.

Construction on the new Giant Extra Hypermarket in Lombok is racing ahead as the company tries to complete the project in time for Idul Fitri. Giant is part of the Hero Group of companies, which includes Hero Supermarket, Guardian Health & Beauty Stores, Giant Extra (Hypermarkets) and Giant Express (Supermarkets). PT Hero Supermarket Tbk (Hero) was first established in 1971 and is a pioneer of retail companies in Indonesia. Hero was listed as a public company on the Indonesia Stock Exchange in 1989. The Group operates six brands with more than 700 stores spread throughout Indonesia: 129 Giant Express Supermarkets, 55 Giant Extra Hypermarkets, 34 Hero Supermarkets, 135 Starmart convenience stores, 346 Guardian outlets, 2 Jason market places and 1 IKEA outlet.The new Giant Extra outlet is located on Jl Terusan Bung Hatta (the new road linking Jl Jenderal Sudirman in Rembiga to Jl Pejanggik in Cakra), close to the recently opened Golden Tulip Hotel. Spread over 1.5 hectares, the Giant Extra outlet will retail fresh produce, meat, seafood, daily needs, household supplies and other general merchandise as well as electronics, appliances, tools and utensils, and household furnishings. There will also be a Guardian store in the complex and additional stores for food and beverage tenants. One of the tenants will almost definitely be Mokko Donuts, which has plans to expand into Lombok this year with several outlets, including one already open at Lombok Epicentrum Mall. The Hero Group currently operates one Hero Supermarket in Lombok (at the Mataram Mall). The first Giant Express (supermarket) outlet opened on Jalan Panji Tilar in Mataram on 14 August 2015. However, this is a small supermarket outlet in comparison to the huge development in Monjok.

02 July 2016

Idul Fitri, waiting for the ferry to Java

Free wifi in Kuta area

Kuta launches 140 Free Wireless WiFi Points. The Badung Regency’s pledge to create a “smart city” in Bali has begun to take hold with the launching of the “Badung Free WiFi” system in the Kuta area of South Bali. In a ceremony presided over by the Regent of Badung, a free wireless network with 140 access points operated by BIZNET Network was "switched on" to serve Kuta visitors. The new Free WiFi Network will be expanded over time to include other areas of the Badung Regency.

01 July 2016

Death penalty for sex with minors

In response to a perceived increase in cases of criminal sexual abuse targeted against children, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has issued a decree amending the 2002 law on children protection and providing tougher punishment for those convicted of sexual violence against minors. The law provides for the death penalty in most egregious cases, and two year’s chemical castration and electronic monitoring for convicted sexual predators. President Widodo said at a press conference  “The law is designed to address the urgency caused by sexual crimes against children, which have increased significantly". The Presidential decree provides for chemical castration and electronic detection bracelets to monitor the behavior of sexual predators once they are released from prison. Included in the decree, punishment options for sexual predation on children now provide for the death penalty, life imprisonment and a minimum sentence of 10 years to a maximum of 20 years for those found guilty of sexually interfering with children. The President said: “Extraordinary crime requires extraordinary management. We hope for this regulation to impose deterrent effect to perpetrators and reducing sexual offenses against children". The decree from the President comes after a series of high profile sexual crimes against children and the arrest of known foreign pedophiles in Bali.