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Bali Island

MALAY Archipelago lies directly on the volcanic belt of the world. Like the backbone of some restless, formidable antediluvian monster, more than three hundred volcanoes rise from The sea in a great chain of islands - perhaps all that remains of A continent broken up in prehistoric cataclysms - forming a continuous land bridge that links Asia with Australia. Because of its peculiar and fantastic nature, its complex variety of peoples, and its fabulous richness, the archipelago is one of the most fascinating regions of the earth. It includes famous islands like Java, Borneo, Sumatra, New Guinea, the Philippines, and the hysterical Island-volcano of Krakatao. Such freaks of nature as the giant " dragon " lizards of Komodo, the colored lakes of Flores, the orangutans, the rafflesia (a flower over three feet in diameter), and the birds of paradise, are to be found nowhere else, The population of the islands ranges from such forms of primitive humanity as the Negritos, the Papuans, the Kubus, who seem only a few steps away in the evolutionary scale from the orangutan, to the super civilized Hindu-Javanese, who over six hundred years ago built monuments like Borobudur and Prambanan, jewels of Eastern art.

Through the centuries, civilization upon civilization from all directions has settled on the islands over the ancient megalithic cultures of the aborigines, until each island has developed an individual character, with a colorful culture, according to whether Chinese, Hindu, Malay, Polynesian, Mohammedan, or European influence has prevailed. Despite the mental isolation these differences have created, even the natives believe that the islands once formed a unified land. Raffles, in his History of lava, mentions a Javanese legend that says, "The continent was split into nine parts, but when three thousand rainy seasons will have elapsed, the Eastern Islands shall again be reunited and the power of the white man shall end."

One of the smallest, but perhaps the most extraordinary, of the islands, is the recently famous Bali - a cluster of high volcanoes, their craters studded with serene lakes set in dark forests filled with screaming monkeys. The long green slopes of the volcanoes, deeply furrowed by ravines washed out by rushing rivers full of rapids and waterfalls, drop steadily to the sea without forming lowlands. just eight degrees south of the Equator, Bali has over two thousand square miles of extravagantly fertile lands, most of which are beautifully cultivated. Only a narrow strait, hardly two miles across, separates Bali from Java; here again the idea that the two islands were once joined and then separated is sustained by the legend of the great Javanese king who was obliged to banish his good-for-nothing son to Bali, then united to Java by a very narrow isthmus. The king accompanied his son to the narrowest point of the tongue of land; when the young prince had disappeared from sight, to further emphasize the separation, he drew a line with his finger across the sands. The waters met and Bali became an island.

The dangers lurking in the waters around the island suggest a possible reason why Bali remained obscure and unconquered until 1908. Besides the strong tidal currents and the great depths of the straits, the coasts are little indented and are constantly exposed to the full force of the monsoons; where they are not bordered by dangerous coral banks, they rise from the sea in steep cliffs. Anchorage is thus out of the question except far out to sea, and the Dutch have bad to build an artificial port in Benoa to afford a berth for small vessels.

Geography

One of the approximately 14,000 islands that comprise the Indonesian archipelago, Bali anchors east of Java, separated by the small Strait of Bali, and surrounded by the Java Sea on the north, the Indian Ocean on the south, and the Strait of Lombok on the east. A string of volcanic mountains crown the northern part of Bali, with Gunung Agung (Mount Divine, literally) as the tallest at 3,142 meters. This volcano, as well as Mount Batukaru, Mount Batur, and Mount Merebuk is still active.

Extremely important to the agricultural life of Bali, especially for rice crop, the rivers of Ayung, Unda, Sungsang, Balian, Yeh Sumi, Petanu, and Saban carry the water from the highland to the seas. There are four major lakes: Lake Batur at the crater of Mount Batur, Lake Buyan, Lake Bratan, and Lake Temblingan.

Climate

Bali enjoys tropical weather, being only a few degrees south of the equator. It means that the sun rises at 6 AM in the morning and sets at 6 PM in the afternoon, everyday of the year. It means that temperature variation is very small, averaging around 26-30 Celcius, and it does not have four seasons (except the hotel, of course). It only has a wet season, typically from September to February, and a dry season for the other half of the year. But the difference is marginal; at the peak of the wet season you will see about a half-hour to an hour serious downpour in the afternoon, about perfect for a siesta. The rest of the time: nice, warm temperature, especially with a twist of sea breeze in the beaches of Kuta or Nusa Dua.

This climate endows Bali with a number of unique vegetation, including waringin trees (banyan), salak Bali, and a multitude of flowers from a very fragrant cempaka (Michelia champaca) to literally thousand kinds of orchids. Its fauna is equally rich. Bali is the native land to the Bali Tiger, which is almost extinct; Bali cattle, graceful animals not like other cows; bats that haunt caves like the Bat Cave near Kusamba; sea turtles of Nusa Dua; Jalak Bali or Bali Sterling (Leucopsar rothschildi) that has inspired countless number of painters and artists.

Economy

In 1990, the population of Bali is 2,778,000, 93.18% are Hindus, with a density of 500 persons per sq km, and an average growth of 1.18%. Bali's economy is one of the most vivacious in Indonesia, fueled by constant flow of tourism dollars and supported by agricultural production and trade revenues. Balinese people are gifted artists, producing garment, and arts & crafts that are exported. In addition to gorgeous nature and enchanting people and culture, Bali is also endowed with fertile land. Its economy is growing at close to 9% per year, with export values close to $150 millions.

The primary export products are garments, handicrafts, and agricultural products such as fish, coffee, tuna, seaweed, and vanilla. The arable land of South Bali and a sophisticated irrigation mechanism arranged through the Water Temple system ( which has been shown by a couple of University of Southern California scientists to be optimal), give Bali and its people two full crops of rice year after year. Corn and other horticulture are also planted.

The land is also an excellent grazing pasture for Balinese cattle's, water buffaloes, goats, sheep, and horses. Pigs are also raised and consumed a lot in Bali, and chickens and ducks are raised by the farmers in their land. The rain forests in Bali produce cajuput oil, rattan, and incense, which is used ubiquitously in Balinese ceremony. There is about 8,535.05 ha of productive forest area. The Balinese are not too eager to explore the sea, because they believe that it is the place of evil spirits. However, tuna, barramundi, seaweed, and shrimp are quite abundant in the seas surrounding Bali. Balinese have about 841.37 ha of water fishery area.

Epilogue

Having been promoted by the Dutch during the colonialization period, Balinese tourism is the most advanced in Indonesia. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Bali's tourism is the fact that the Balinese people retain its own cultural identity, despite the exposure and intermingling of all kinds of people and culture from all over the world.

Regions of Bali

North Bali
North Bali includes most of the Buleleng district, around Singaraja. It has a rich history of Bali behind its casual daily life. In Singaraja you can find remnants of Dutch imperialism as it was the administrative center of the Lesser Sunda Islands then. Horse-pulled carriages (dokar or sado) gallantly walk the pleasantly tree-lined streets, landscaped by Dutch colonial houses. Lovina Beach, a group of small villages west of Singaraja, offers popular beach resorts, with many of the amenities of Kuta but without its crowdedness. Spectacular sunset as in Kuta, dolphin watch out into the sea, snorkeling and diving in the clear water, and active social and night life scenes can be found in Lovina.

East Bali
The Eastern part of Bali is the most mountainous area of the island. The highest point in Bali, Gunung Agung (literally means Holy Mountain), is located here. And the Mother Temple of Bali, the Besakih Temple, is located at the foot of Mount Agung. This is the Mount Olympic of Bali, and you can find here various manifestations of Bali's religious beliefs. The Klungkung area is also historically significant, having served as a focal point of art and culture in the Gelgel dynasty. The roof of Kertha Gosa, the court room of the Klungkung kingdom, is dramatically painted with thousands of panels, telling the story of justice.

A long stretch of beaches marks the East side of Bali - diving, snorkelling, spectacular sunset, sun bathing, etc. Tenganan, a village of the Bali Aga people, is also here, just west of Candidasa, where you can see a mysterious water temple submerge from the water.

Central Bali
Central Bali, predominantly around Ubud, is the central of art in Bali. Ubud is the birthplace of Bali's modern paintings. And Puri Lukisan Museum (Palace of Fine Arts) and Museum Neka are two excellent museums with permanent collections of paintings that will tell the evolution of Balinese paintings. Galleries are practically everywhere. A little South of the city you can find Celuk where silver and gold jewelry has been perfected to the very details, and Mas where masks for dances and other performances are made. And further north you can enjoy the panorama of the highland of Bali, in Kintamani by Lake Batur or in Bedugul by Lake Bratan.

South Bali
In South Bali, from Denpasar to Kuta to Nusa Dua, you can find a wide variety of things. Traces of the Badung Raja of Puputan War fame still exist. Beautiful, tranquil beaches gracefully integrate with the world's most sumptuous and luxurious hotels in Nusa Dua. And then there is Kuta, where everything you want as a tourist and everything you hate about tourists coexist.

West Bali
Most of West Bali areas are not as popular as the other parts of Bali. (Hint: for those who truly say that they want to get away from other tourists...) Gilimanuk, at the Western tip of Bali, is the gateway to Java. The wildlife of Bali is preserved in the Bali Barat National Park. Also found here is the tomb of Jayaprana, a 17th century king whose Romeo and Juliet style love story is immortalized by folklores in Bali.

Getting to and Around Bali

Unless you happen to have Wisnu's Garuda to take you anywhere any time you wish (or its modern equivalent to a private Lear jet), these transportation methods may have to suffice.

Airlines
The primary gateway to Indonesia is the Sukarno-Hatta International Airport of Jakarta (also known as Cengkareng CKG), but there are increasingly more international airlines that offer direct flights to Bali. From Jakarta, Garuda Indonesia and Sempati Air have around a dozen departure times to Bali. Internationally, Garuda also has direct flights from Singapore, Hong Kong, and a number of Australian cities; as well as flights from Los Angeles, Amsterdam, and other European cities.
Qantas Airlines of Australia provides direct flights from a number of Australian cities as well as a number of European cities (e.g. London). Air New Zealand will also take you from Auckland to Bali. KLM of the Netherlands is one of the first international airlines to have an international flight to Bali, and it will take you from many cities in Europe, notably Amsterdam, to Bali. Lauda Air, Lufthansa Airlines and Air France can also assist you to escape from Europe.
From Asia, direct flights from Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Hong Kong are readily available from Garuda Indonesia, Thai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and Malaysia Airlines.

Cruise lines and ferries
A number of international cruise lines has long included Bali in its scheduled stop. To get to Bali from Java, there is a ferry that runs regularly between Ketapang in East Java to Gilimanuk in the western tip of Bali. From Lombok, there are a number of ferry services from Lembar in Lombok to Padangbai or Benoa in Bali.

Ground transportation
If you have the time, traveling by bus from Java to Bali will give you an unfiltered look of small Javanese villages and nature. The road network is good, and comfortable and safe buses like Lorena's Mercedes-Benz fleet will make the road trip even more memorable.

To get around Bali, you can use public transportation such as bemo or buses, which are usually very cheap. You should be prepared to appreciate the romance of sharing your seat with a rooster. Or you can rent almost all modes of transportations, from bicycles, motorcycles, or cars and limousines. Alternatively, you can hire tourist guides who can provide transportation as part of their service.

 

 



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