Bali: Island of the Gods

Good things come in small packages, so it could be said of Bali. This tropical gem of an island is the jewel in the crown that is the vast Indonesian Archipelago. Blessed with an abundance of natural beauty and a...<br /><a class="read-more-button" href="">Read more</a>

Good things come in small packages, so it could be said of Bali. This tropical gem of an island is the jewel in the crown that is the vast Indonesian Archipelago. Blessed with an abundance of natural beauty and a vibrant culture, Bali offers tourists a complete travel experience and caters to people of all ages and lifestyles.

Although requiring a lengthy flight to get to from most locations, the hundreds of thousands of tourists to visit the island each year are a testament to its continued popularity. In fact, while the 2002 terrorist bombings were a serious blow to the island’s tourist industry and economy as a whole, it has, by all accounts, made a remarkable recovery. Furthermore, despite an overall decline in international travel due to economic recession Bali just last year welcomed a record number of overseas visitors and is set to surpass that number with this year’s total. This good fortune is due to the fact that the majority of international arrivals are from Australia, China and other countries in the region, countries which have fared better than most during the economic turmoil of the past few years.

On the island’s South coast and located a short distance from the bustling capital city of Denpasar, is Kuta, the main hub for tourism in Bali-a position it owes to its close proximity to the famous palm fringed shoreline of Kuta Beach. Here can be found the highest concentrations of bars, hotels, restaurants and other amenities catering to tourists. Most of the more popular swimming and surfing beaches such as Nusa Dua, Sanur and Serangan are also situated nearby.

For its relatively small size, Bali has a surprisingly varied geography. A significant portion of the terrain, particularly in the North of Bali, is mountainous, with the highest peak and one of four active volcanoes-Mt. Agung-rising to an altitude of over 3,000 meters. The volcanic soil lends itself well to the growing of crops such as rice and coffee and the agricultural sector is, in fact, second only to tourism in terms of importance to the Balinese economy.

Besides the obvious and perhaps better known natural attractions to be found on Bali, Balinese art has also made a name for itself internationally. Chief among these art forms are painting, carving (wood and stone), and works in gold and silver. Many of these art works incorporate religious themes and are a reflection of the pervasiveness of religion in Balinese society. This pervasiveness can also be seen in the large number of Hindu temples-or Pura, as they are known in the local language-which are a common sight throughout the island. For many tourists a visit to a temple is often one of the most memorable highlights of their trip to Bali. One such temple, Tanah Lot, is a favorite destination for tourists. Its spectacular location atop a rocky outcrop jutting into the ocean makes it among the most photographed landmarks in Bali.

The Balinese practice their own distinct brand of Hinduism and have invested it with many pre-Hindu beliefs and rituals. For example, ancestor worship is an important part of the religious life of the Balinese but is not typically found in the more classical form of Hinduism as practiced in India. Unlike in the West, where expressions of religiosity are often limited to the obligatory attendance of a weekly church service, the lives of the Balinese are mediated in and through the context of a profoundly religious worldview. The Balinese calendar is marked by a number of religious festivals which often involve elaborate ceremonies and important events in the lives of individuals also have associated rituals. Dance is a key component of these rituals and some, such as Kecak (“Ramayana Monkey Chant”), have become popular among tourists.

Of course any account of Bali’s attractions would be incomplete without mentioning the charm of the people who call the island home. The warm and hospitable nature of the Balinese leaves a lasting impression and makes for a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

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