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Thursday
Sep092010

Bali Tour Highlights

We all know of the lush paradise, beaches and what a perfect getaway Bali can be but here is just a short list of some of the other tour highlights you can encounter.

Ubud Village: village of haven for the arts

The Kecak Traditional Dance in Ubud, Bali

Far from the madding crowds, Ubud, the undisputed cultural capitol of Bali, has long been a quiet haven for the arts. Set amidst emerald green rice paddies and steep ravines in the stunning central Balinese foothills, some 25 km north of Denpasar, the village was originally an important source of medicinal herbs and plants. Ubud in fact derives from the Balinese word for medicine — ubad.

In Ubud foreign artists such as Walter Spies settled during the 1920s and ‘30s, transforming the village into a flourishing center for the arts. Artists from all parts of Bali were invited to settle here by the local prince, Cokorda Gede Sukawati, and Ubud’s palaces and temples are now adorned by the work of Bali’s master artisans as a result.

Tenganan the Bali Aga Village

The Bali Aga Blood Ritual of Tenganan

At one time the island of Bali was occupied by a unique ethnic group, the members of which, filed and blackened their teeth. They lived in small communities - family clans ruled by a council of elders who were also priests of their religion, which centered on the worship of powerful forces of nature, and especially those of their ancestors, with whom they continued to live as a great family of both the dead and the living.

Occasionally, by means of sacrifice, they brought their ancestral spirits down to Earth to protect them. They buried their dead or simply abandoned them in the jungle to be carried away by the spirits, and it is possible that they ate parts of the bodies in order to absorb the magic power inherent in their ancient headmen.
The descendants of these people call themselves Bali Aga, meaning original Balinese. They lived isolated and independent in the mountains where they found refuge from imperialistic invaders. Hidden in the hills of East Bali lies the village of Tenganan, where the most conservative of the Bali Aga preserve the old traditions with the greatest zeal.

Tenganan is an isolated community, socially and economically separated from the rest of Bali. It is shut off from the world by a solid wall that surrounds the entire village. The wall is meant to keep outsiders away, and it is broken by means of four gates, facing north, south, east and west respectively. Within these walls lies a banyan tree surrounded by a low wall of uncut stones, providing the small enclosure for a very sacred temple. The famous double-ikat Gringsing woven cloth is made here, in a process which takes anything up to eight years to complete one piece
The people of Tenganan are tall and slender in a rather ghostly way with white skins and refined manners. The majority of the men still wear their hair long. They live in a communistic system in which individual ownership of property is not recognized.  The village of Tenganan owns enormous tracts of fertile and well - cultivated lands that fill every need of the village and make it one of the richest in the island of Bali.

Blood sacrifice

Tenganan is one of Bali's most ancient and most unique villages. One of the most sacred local customs is the ritual blood sacrifice; an annual ritual combat. Using thorny pandan leaves, each combatant hits their opponent with the aim of drawing blood.
The participants carry weapons including a shield made from woven rotan and a bundle of thorny pandan leaves, which are used to scratch the opponent's skin until bleeding. 
The duel is neither based upon nor spawns any ill will among participants. After the fighting the injured party is treated with traditional liquid medicines and the wounds will heal. While the fighters recover, other villagers prepare food, as an elaborate feast must follow the sacrifice of human blood.

PURIFICATION CEREMONY  -  TIRTA EMPUL TEMPLE

You will also experience a few Balinese ceremonies organized specially for our tours. One of these is a Purification ceremony in which we dress in Balinese clothing (provided free of charge) and cleanse in the baths at Tirta Empul, one of Bali’s most famous purifying temples.
This sacred place is a purification point for all Balinese, at full moon, the basin of Tirta Empul are filled with Balinese believers and Hindu priests coming for purification and prayers. Tirta Empul is located in Tampak Siring, also home of Indonesia's presidential palace.

 

SNORKLING AT MENJANGAN ISLAND

 

As a part of Bali Barat National Park, Menjangan Island is well known for its magnificent underwater world, beautiful coral reefs found nearby and the best site for fishing. Another attraction of the island is protected deer. Menjangan, an inhibited island about 10 km offshore, offers deep coral reef walls and is one of Bali's best diving sites.

Menjangan also has a wreck , known as the 'Anker' because of its heavily encrusted anchor at the top of the reef.  Pemuteran is an ideal place to plan excursions to West Bali National Park, compromising the nature reserve of Menjangan Island and the uplands in the west. Menjangan has the most beautiful coral reefs in Bali. Along with the nearby Labuan Lalang, this is a wonderful place for diving and snorkeling.

 

JIMBARAN SUNSET DINNER

Jimbaran is home to about two dozen grilled seafood restaurants, along a picturesque stretch of beach. The tables are set up right on the sand, and if you sit in the tables near high tide, you can eat while feeling the lapping waves on your feet. The sea breeze is cool, and the sunsets are beautiful. The area is lit by torches after dark. The combination of atmosphere and good food make this a memorable and delightful place to spend an evening.


Bedugul National Park & Temple Bratan


Bedugul is situated in a highland, in the crater of the ancient Mt Bratan. With its cool temperature this part of Bali becomes the center of tropical vegetables and fruits production. Close to the lake there is a public market where Balinese traders sell their vegetables and fruits.  On the way to Bedugul we will feel a radical change of atmosphere from the green and yellow rice paddy into green and fertile land of vegetables, from flowing tiers of rice to motley patches of onion, cabbage and other crops. On both sides of the main road we can see hills of green vegetables and farmers working to cultivate the land. This is rich alpine country. The earth saturated by mountain streams is smothered with thick moss and creepers.

Celuk Village: Jewelry of silver and gold

Although many arts and crafts have prospered in Celuk, the village has evolved into a center for silver and gold smithing. Almost every home in the village contains small scale production facilities fufilling orders placed by large shops and exporters. Bracelets, rings, earrings and brooches, to name a few of range of products produced here, have started to enter the export market. The silver and gold craft trade was pioneered by the Beratan clan of smiths (pande).

Mas Village: Woodcarving Village

The village of Mas lies in a beautiful hilly countryside covered with ricefields. Today Mas has developed into a flourishing center for the woodcarving craft.

During the 1930s, under the influence of Walter Spies and Pita Maha, a new style of woodcarving developed here. The motifs were more realistic, and inspired by everyday scenes featuring humans and animals. Several of these early works may now be seen in Ubud’s Puri Lukisan museum.

 

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