Monthly Archive: May 2019

Explore the Tropical Sea by Scuba Diving

If ever there was an image that sums up the magic of diving, it is that of a coral reef. Although coral reefs are the most famous feature of tropical seas, these warm clear waters have much more to offer, such as mangrove swamps, sea-grass beds, and vast tracts of open ocean.

Warm Belt

Tropical waters occupy the region within the “20A�C isotherm”-the irregular hand of water north and south of the equator that seldom drops below 68A�F (20A�C). Although undeniably appealing to the diver, they actually present a less attractive environment for marine life. The warm equatorial sun heats the upper layers of the water column, creating a marked temperature difference between the surface water and deeper colder water. Such temperature stratification prevents mixing of the water column, so nutrients are not passed up from deeper water. Marine animals and plants have therefore had to adapt and evolve numerous strategies to cope with the lack of nutrients in the water around them. Perhaps the most remarkable of these is the coral reef. Primary production-the formation of organic compounds from inorganic material is up to 100 times greater in coral reefs than in open tropical waters, and although they cover only 0.2 percent of the ocean environment, they are home to 25 – 30 percent of all fish species.

The reefs of the Indo-Pacific are the richest marine environments on Earth. Their beautiful structure and bright colors, combined with the splendor and variety of animals that inhabit them, make reefs irresistible to divers, and it is no coincidence that many of the world’s best dive sites tire found on coral reefs.

Coastal Nurseries

Tropical waters are also home to mangrove swamps and sea grass beds, both arguably as important as coral reefs in the overall health of tropical seas. There are 10 species of mangroves – tropical trees and shrubs that grow in shallow and intertidal coastal waters – and they form flooded forests that act as nurseries for various reef and open-water fish species. The 50 species of sea grass form “meadows’ in shallow waters that are feeding grounds and nurseries for many fish species. The eradication of sea grass beds and mangrove swamps around the world is a real concern, with undeniable impacts on coastal ecology as animal populations are denied crucial areas for tire growth and development of their young.

Reefs Under Threat

Coral reefs worldwide are under intense pressure. The continued development of coastal regions has caused silty water to run into the seas, smothering these delicate systems, and, coupled with the damage caused by destructive fishing methods, it is thought that up to 90 percent of reels have been impacted by humankind. There is also evidence that rising water temperatures are causing a phenomenon known as bleaching, which is fatal to reefs. This occurs when the coral polyps eject the minute algae that sustain them as a response to stress.

Diving a reef can be the highlight of a diver’s life, but we have a very real responsibility when exploring reefs not to harm or disrupt them in any way. A considerate approach is vital if we are to preserve these wonderfully vibrant ecosystems.

Bali History and Culture

While there is debate about Bali’s prehistoric history, there is ample proof of a well developed Megalithic culture. Nevertheless, good documentation about Balinese culture does not begin to emerge until the 8th or 9th century A.D. At this point the Balinese had already begun to practice various forms of Buddhism imported from India and there is evidence of Hindu influences as well. From the 10th to 11th century, Hinduism continued to merge with local customs. Through intermarriage, Javanese culture began to permeate royal court life and later spread to the villages.

The Hindu Majapahit Empire of Java conquered Bali in the 14th century. (The Majapahit imposed a caste system on Bali with themselves on top and the original inhabitants of the island on the bottom.) By the beginning of the 16th century Bali became a sanctuary for Hindus forced out of an increasingly Islamicized Java. As the Majapahit Empire crumbled, there was a huge influx into Bali of Javanese noblemen and craftsmen.

Indonesia’s wealth in spices, precious stones, gold and other exotic items have attracted traders for centuries. The islands in the Indonesian Archipelago were natural way stations on the trade routes between the Middle East, India and China. The Balinese were never an active seafaring people. It was the Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Malays, Javanese and Bunganese who plied the trade routes. Later came the Portuguese, English and Dutch.

Bali has no naturally protected harbors and the coastline is notoriously perilous. Many coastal villages profited routinely by plundering shipwrecks. One such incident provoked the Dutch invasion of 1906, which was relatively late in their 300 years of colonial rule in Indonesia. Despite the bloody conquest, Balinese culture was relatively undisturbed for most of the years of Dutch occupation, partly because Singaraja, in the north of the island, was the only place that ships could anchor in relative safety and travel in the interior of the island was difficult. Ships from all over South East Asia stopped to exchange goods in Singaraja but for the most part, before the advent of airplanes, only the inhabitants of the north end of the island were directly exposed to foreign influences. Nevertheless, the Dutch did exploit the island vigorously, siphoning off essential resources through an efficient and clever system that used the local aristocracy to do their bidding. After the Dutch, Bali endured an era of Japanese occupation during World War Two and then became part of an independent Indonesia. Under Presidents Sukarno and Suharto political loyalties continued to shift the balance of power. Technically the aristocracy and the Brahmins (priestly caste) no longer “rule” but in practice they still enjoy a large measure of power and privilege.

The arrival, in the last few decades, of tourists, export industries and technology, have had many easily observed effects. The Balinese usually dress in Western cloths, they send faxes, roar down the streets on motorbikes and watch TV. But such changes can be misleading.

Beneath the Surface

Balinese reality is vastly more inclusive than Western consciousness allows. The Balinese have a word, “sekala,” for things which you can perceive with your sense of vision, hearing, smell or touch. There is another word, “niskala”, for “that which cannot be sensed directly, but which can only be felt within.” In the West, we only recognize sekala phenomena as “real”, but in Bali they make no distinction between the two.

Mystical forces, both malevolent and benevolent, occupy a central role in Balinese life. The principal Hindu-Balinese rituals and ceremonies are concerned with maintaining the balance between positive and negative forces. Demons and witches, called leyaks, are not creatures of fairy tales but dangerous and common menaces against which everyone must be on guard at all times. Objects and places which are considered inanimate in the West may be charged with mystical power and therefore very much alive to the Balinese. For this reason, they make offerings to many objects, including the tools used to make silver beads and the building in which the silversmiths work. Directions, numbers and dates can be charged with “kasaktian,” which means “magical power.” Every activity must be carried out with careful consideration and the Balinese often consult religious authorities for propitious dates for important events. The Balinese also accept dual realities, something may be true, but not true, and in certain circumstances they reject linear time.

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Bali – A Splendid Tourist Destination

Renowned for its natural splendor which transcends limits of human imagination, Bali, a tropical island in the Indonesian archipelago, needs no introduction. The islands spectacularly enthralling landscape, replete with exotic beaches, majestic temples and palaces, and rich flora and fauna makes it a perfect tourist destination.

The islands fabulous beauty has repeatedly been a subject of many a movie such as Julia Roberts starred Eat, Pray, Love. This has helped bolster Bali’s overseas reputation as a heavenly respite from modern world. No wonder every year, thousands of people flock its sun kissed beaches, to wash away their worries and indulge in all that stands for fun and excitement.

Bali enjoys tropical sunshine throughout the year. Since remains wet for most part of the year, June to September, being a dry season is considered best for a visit. This period is best suited for beach lovers, who can make a dash for the party towns of Kuta and Legion that are well known for their beaches at Lovina and Candi Dasa. Famous for its magnificent sunset, untamed wild life and great shopping options, Kuta, a beach discovered by Hippies in 1960’s is a favorite amongst surfers. Nusa Dua with its transparent waters and white beaches is yet another surfing paradise for adventure seekers. The place is dotted with luxurious hotels, so you can try the mouth watering cuisine.

Denpasar, the Balinese capital amazes you with its rich medieval architecture in the form of temples and historical sites. One can visit local villages such as Celuk, Ubud, and Bedulu. Known for their fabulous silverware, and finest works of art such as sculpture, painting, dancing and leather work, these villages are a must visit, on every tourist’s travel itinerary.

Six kilometers to the south of Denpasar is another beach paradise, the Sanur Beach. It offers a panoramic view of sparkling coral seas, with glorious sunrise and sunsets occurring behind the wonderful South Bali mountain range. One can indulge in a number of sporting activities such as diving, surfing and snorkeling or simply hire a chartered boat and head towards the sea.

Apart from its crystal clear waters, to keep you refreshed, Bali has a lot to offer a lot on its entertainment platter, thanks to its rich and vibrant culture. One can enjoy Balinese theatre, dance, and drama that vividly portray tales from Ramayana and Mahabharata in a delightful manner. Bali is matchless when it comes to seafood. Do visit Jimbaran Bay, to munch on your favorite delicacies, such as fresh fish, prawns, squid, and lobster.