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Entries in blog (7)

Thursday
Jul282011

Photo of the Day ~ Young Girl Helps Her Grandmother. Ubud, Bali ~ Balifornian Tours and Travel Blog

Photo of the Day ~ Young Girl Helps Her Grandmother. Ubud, Bali ~ Balifornian Tours and Travel Blog

Young Girl Grooms Grandma- Bali ToursA sweet your Balinese girl helps her grandmother near the central market in Ubud, Bali.  As seen from our Photographer's Tour of Bali and Indonesia.

Photo Copyright 2010 Balifornian Tours and Travel Blog ~ Michael Doliveck

Our Adventure Photo Safaris ~ Are you a photographer or just love to take pictures?  Contact us to find out about our special tours for photographers.  Take a look at the images in the gallery, as they are good examples of the types of images you will be able to create on our tours.  The tours are led by Michael, a professor of art and photography as well as some very special guest teachers and pro photographers.  Contact us at photo@balifornian.com today for more information.

Do you have some great images from your Indonesian travels you would like to share? Want to submit your photo for the Balifornian Tour and Travel Blog Photo of the Day?  Please send your JPEG, location and description to photo@balifornian.com  Files must be under 500 kb.

Happy travels! Salamat Jalan!

Michael and Maryam ~

Sunday
Dec052010

Indonesian Boxer Chris John retains WBA title for 13th time. #Bali

John retains WBA featherweight title for 13th time

Bali and Indonesia is proud today.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian Chris John retained his WBA featherweight title for the 13th time by beating Fernando David Saucedo of Argentina in a unanimous decision on Sunday.
The victory at The Tennis Indoor Senayan improved his unbeaten Indonesian's record to 44-0-2.

John, 31, became the WBA interim champion in 2003 by defeating Oscar Leon in Bali. He then became a super champ after drawing with American contender Rocky Juarez in March last year. Six months later, he outpointed Juarez in Las Vegas.

The country celebrated his newest victory.

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Balifornian Tours offers the best custom holiday experience on Bali and all of Indonesia.  Balifornian Travel Blog is your source for news and fun information on travel, vacationing, upcoming events and much more.

See it all with Balifornian Tours.  Balifornian Tours offers the best custom holiday experience on Bali and all of Indonesia.  Balifornian Travel Blog is your source for news and fun information on travel, vacationing, upcoming events and much more.  We are a hospitality tour company and when you travel with us, you are our family.  Because Maryam is from the royal family, we have access to parts of the island that other tour operators simply can not visit.  Dont be a tourist, be a Balifornian! http://www.balifornian.com

Monday
Nov292010

Bali- The ultimate Island Paradise- and the islanders are happy to share it

Foreign tourists  sunbathe on Kuta beach on Bali: it's a rare travel magazine that  hasn't tempted readers at least once with stunning visuals of the  island's beaches.
 Bali prizes serenity -and the islanders are happy to share it
 
Benevolent spirits, elaborate temples
 
By PATTI NICKELL, McClatchy-Tribune; Lexington Herald-Leader

Foreign tourists sunbathe on Kuta beach on Bali: it's a rare travel magazine that hasn't tempted readers at least once with stunning visuals of the island's beaches.

Photograph by: MURDANI USMAN, REUTERS, McClatchy-Tribune; Lexington Herald-Leader

The Indonesian island of Bali -half a world away -has become synonymous with grace, simplicity and serenity, an oasis in an area of the world that is frequently tempestuous.

Bali's easygoing way of life has caused the rest of the world to take note. It's a rare travel magazine that hasn't tempted readers at least once with stunning visuals of the island's beaches, terraced mountains and palm-filled jungles. Spas around the world have tried to copy the famed Balinese massage with varying degrees of success. And try as hard as they might, no one has come close to copying the graceful elegance of Balinese dancing. To what does this tiny island owe such great good fortune?

Some Balinese will tell you it's the gods that define the tempo of daily life, whether it's the "good" spirits that inhabit the highlands or the "evil" spirits that dwell in the lowlands near the sea. Good or evil, pious or impish, all have their place in Balinese mythology.

The outward manifestations of the belief in these gods are the places of worship that dot the island -from the simple shrines in every home and business to the more elaborate temples that illustrate the Balinese love of harmony and nature. While Bali lacks the huge temple complexes such as Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, on the neighbouring island of Java and Angkor Wat in nearby Cambodia, it does offer a chance to see temples in a variety of gorgeous settings.

Among the loveliest is Taman Ayun ( "beautiful garden"), a name that could not be more fitting. The temple, built in 1637, is in its own Eden, separated from the rest of the world by a moat. Another temple, Pura Ulun Danau, also was built in the 17th century to honour the water goddess charged with protecting the rice crop. It sits on Lake Bratan in the crater of an extinct volcano.

Perhaps the most exquisite setting is that of Tanah Lot, dating to the 15th century, which hugs the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. At low tide, the island on which it sits is accessible by foot, and while each evening, hundreds gather to watch the sunset, many are careful to go no farther -perhaps because of the giant snake reputed to live in the temple, protecting it from evil spirits and intruders.

Religion in Bali is very complex. Unlike the predominantly Muslim islands of the rest of Indonesia, Bali's religion combines polytheistic Hinduism with Buddhism and borrows from ancient indigenous mythology.

The temples are bastions of serenity on an island that prizes serenity. You can see it in the graceful movements of the traditional legong dance performed each Friday at Nusa Dua Beach Hotel's Budaya Cultural Theatre or in the other traditional dance, the ketjack (monkey dance), performed by more than 200 people at one time during ceremonies in rural villages.

You can see it in the Balinese love of symmetry, a good example of which is Eka Karya, Bali's botanic garden. It is a tropical rainforest in the volcanic highlands and lake districts of central Bali that just happens to have 1,200 species of plants ranging from orchids to cactus.

With the tragic exception of the 2002 terrorist bombing at a popular nightclub, serenity is such a way of life here that the turbulent outbreaks in other parts of Indonesia seem light years removed. One afternoon, as I sat in a beachside restaurant in Singaraja after a day spent touring the coffee and tea plantations of the highlands, I stared out over the ocean and watched as a dolphin executed a perfect leap right in front of me. I saw a lone boatman, paddling a canoe piled high with bananas, breadfruit and mangos. In Bali, it seems, the grocer still makes deliveries.

Another day was spent driving around the interior of the island, where the mountains were decorated with row upon row of terraced rice paddies. Every so often, the lush green was interrupted by a silvery flash of falling water as a waterfall erupted from a hidden spring. I reflected on those good spirits residing in the mountains and thought what a lovely home they had.

Plan to spend a day at Ubud, Bali's arts and crafts centre. You will find shops and galleries offering island specialties from colourful batiks and wood carvings to Balinese shadow puppets. These are small, beautifully crafted leather figures lit from behind so that when their images are projected onto a screen, they become shadowy creatures of the imagination.

A good place to stop for lunch after a morning in Ubud is Kamandalu Resort in lush green hills above the town in an area once famous for its royal palaces. The great hall of Kamandalu, with its rattan furniture and ceiling fans, is open-air, affording a spectacular view of the surrounding hills, rainforest and Petanu River.

For a real taste of local colour, visit Jimbaran Bay for one of the famous barbecues. Everyone sits at folding chairs at long tables on the beach, breathes in the smoke from hundreds of pits and eats succulent lobster washed down by cold beer. It's the Balinese equivalent of the Friday night fish fry, where tourists are outnumbered by locals. Don't miss it.

Where to stay: Bali's popularity has resulted in lodging choices for every pocketbook. While all the luxury chains have properties on the island, a proliferation of smaller properties such as Bali Garden, Barong Cottages and Green Garden Hotel have nightly rates from $100 to $300, and local guest houses are cheaper still.

For more information: www.indonesia-tourism-board.com.

Balifornian Tours offers the best custom holiday experience on Bali and all of Indonesia.

 



Thursday
Nov112010

Ultimate Romance on the Island of the Gods

- By Raquel Baldelomar

Before I woke, a breeze sprinkled frangipani blossoms onto the still surface of my villa's private plunge pool. I stepped onto the terrace just as the sun was rising in Bali and entered the serene water with a statue of a Hindu god watching over me.


I arrived in Bali curious about the island's spirituality and healing powers and I'm already becoming a believer. For me, this sensual island is love at first sight.

Our first stop on an exploration of Bali is the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay, located on a cliff top along the island's southern coast. Here 147 thatched-roof villas exude romance. Bali is all about villas: the privacy, the lush gardens, and spur-of-the moment intimacy. If you can tear yourself away from the heavenly villas, there is also a long, white-sand beach and a spa offering authentic Balinese treatments.

A stay in a villa allows you to enjoy the pleasures of the outdoors privately. Our courtyard was complete with an outdoor sofa and dining room and after an indulgent 90-minute massage at the spa, returning to our outdoor shower overlooking the Indian Ocean was a transcendent experience.

At sunset, we ventured to Uluwatu Temple, one of the most spiritual places on the island. Perched 230 feet above the Indian Ocean, this temple is dedicated to the spirits of the sea. Here we learned our first lesson in local customs: knees must be covered to enter a temple. Ceremonial sarongs were given to anyone with exposed knees. We were here to see the Kecak Dance, a performance featuring fifteen men wearing only loincloths. These rituals make it is easy to see why Bali has a reputation for sensuality.

If the traditional dance at the temple doesn't send sparks flying, then a dinner at Beds on the Beach will certainly do the trick. Private beds with canopies serve as tables for a five-course dinner. Lanterns in the sand glow as the meal begins with a mini-tasting: lobster avocado maki and lemongrass prawn kebab. Flavors sizzled as much as the atmosphere, including a lobster papaya salad with pink champagne ginger sorbet. After the meal, there was no rush back to the villa as we lounged underneath the stars listening to the surf.

People in Bali believe strongly in balance, so to get the total Bali experience, we left the coast behind for the lush jungle interior where you can absorb the island's spirituality. A 45-minute drive connects the two Four Seasons properties in Bali.

We crossed a wooden bridge and a lily pond came into view. This pond sits on the roof of the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, camouflaging it into the jungle. We were welcomed by Balinese staff dressed in traditional clothing with refreshing guava drinks and cool towels.

With 42 villas and 18 suites set among five temple shrines on the sacred Ayung River, this was the first boutique property developed by Four Seasons. Our riverfront villa, surrounded by lush jungle, couldn't have been more soothing.

Bali brings together a tradition of healing with the perfect environment for a spa. Ponds brimming with lilies and courtyards filled with bougainvillea are calming before a treatment even begins. Our couple's experience was called Chakra Dhara, a treatment that works to rebalance the body's chakras, or energy points, by strategically dripping herbal oil on the body. Two therapists massage the back, hands, and feet to complete the healing treatment. Afterwards, we soaked in a bath filled with fragrant frangipani petals while sipping champagne.

The interior of Bali is full of adventure. We hired a driver to bring us to the Elephant Safari Park to satisfy my curiosity about local wildlife. Before I knew it, I was holding a baby monkey and then sitting on the back of a native Sumatra elephant. Next, our driver Nyoman brought us to see Bali's famous active volcanoes. A private picnic lunch on the edge of a cliff overlooking Mount Batur added a romantic touch to our adventurous day. These moments reminded me why so many newlyweds choose Bali as their honeymoon destination.

We enjoyed dinner at Sarong Restaurant, where the scent of the food was intoxicating from the moment we walked in. This glamorous restaurant was founded on the idea of Asian street food, reinvented. I loved the northern Thai spicy tom yum soup with shredded chicken, bamboo, dill, and coriander. Chef Will Meyrick hasn't written a cookbook yet, but when he does I will be sure to buy a copy just for this recipe.

The next day, we set out on a bike tour through the exotic Balinese landscape. We got acquainted with our guide Bagi, before our four hour ride, over an organic breakfast atop of towering Mount Agung with stunning views -- a mighty volcano revered as the seat of the gods. During our ride, we explored several of the exotic temples and observed farmers wearing cone-shaped rice hats and water buffalo in the emerald fields harvesting rice. We learned about local traditions and that ninety percent of the population in Bali are Hindu, the world's third largest religion which is also practiced in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Mauritius.

Returning to the Four Seasons Sayan, shrouded in a mountain mist, I finished the day with ginger tea and honey before a restful sleep listening to the river flowing. From the moment I left the 'Island of the Gods' I have been longing to return. It is like a love that ended too soon. With a return trip, I am sure that love will be rekindled.

IF YOU GO:

WHEN TO GO: The dry season is from April to September.

Americans are eligible for a visa on arrival for a stay of up to 30 days. These cost $25 per person and your passport must be valid for at least six months after arrival.

WHERE TO STAY:

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia.

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

WHERE TO DINE:

Sarong - Drawing inspiration from the street food of Southeast Asia, Sarong is a local favorite.
Ku De Ta - This buzzing bar is the place to see and be seen for pre-dinner drinks in Seminyak.
Mozaic - French cuisine laced with Indonesian flavors. http://www.mozaic-bali.com/
Beds on the Beach It's all in the name.

WHERE TO SHOP
Bali is a shoppers paradise -- Local art, handmade mosaic glass, and fine jewelry will all be mementos of your travels to Bali. For upscale shopping, check out the following shops in Seminyak:

Maru - Be tempted by jewels from Indonesia at this shop.
Paul Ropp - Unique clothing with an ethnic touch.
Quarzia - Handpainted silk separates in this shop are works of art.

Raquel Baldelomar has been a contributing writer for Luxury Travel Magazine since 2008. She provides readers with unique, insider information about destinations, hotels and travel experiences.



Wednesday
Nov032010

Top 5 reasons to visit Bali


By Prachi Kadam | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

No boredom: I was in Bali for a couple of days and I could definitely see why people sometimes just don’t leave it. It is the type of place where you can honestly spend weeks and still have things to do and never be bored.

Surf, surf, surf: One of the first things I did when I got there was to scout around looking for a surf school. I was able to stand up after only a few tries and today I started catching some bigger waves and maneuvering a bit more.

Shopping: Besides the water fun, I did many fun things like shopping at flea markets. Bali has an awesome variety to offer. Silver jewellery, sarongs and other such things are value buys.

Food: Munching on some mouth-watering delicacies was also a major indulgence for me and I had a great time doing so here.
Meeting folks: The nightlife here is rocking. It is as anybody would want — wild and filled with fun and frolic. I was just sitting on the beach, and some teenagers just came up to me and started taking so many pictures! There was a rotation going on of people and cameras, it was hilarious!