Aug 5, 2011

Indonesia - Bali

Bali is the archetypal tourist destination. Tourists are everywhere in the island: a lot of French, Spanish, Australian and so on. Nearly every village, especially those close to the sea, have restaurants, craft shops, etc. The place is ideal for honeymoon or a few weeks of exotic holidays with friends or family.

Nevertheless the island suceed in preserving its charms and Bali's reputation is far from being usurped. The island remains rural and concretisation has not yet destroyed the territory. Scenery of rice fiels, volcanic lakes, tropical vegetation and seashore is literally breathtaking. And a single ride provides constant sources of wonder: landcapes unfold and the new one is always more beautiful than the last one.

Mount and Lake Batur

Amed Beach, a fishermen village

A lot of Balinese still wear the local clothes and do not hesitate to block the trafic of a road to one of the most popular temples during a one hour religious ceremony. More than 90% of the population on the island adhere to Balinese Hinduism in a country with a majority of Muslims.

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan in Bedugul

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan in Bedugul

To enjoy fully our days in Bali (and not change hotel every day), we rent a car. The distances on the island do not seem long but when you have to drive at 30 kilometres per hour in rural roads of varying quality.. journey can last for hours. And in five days we ended up covering more than 600 kilometres! Also at any time you can cross a group of men, women or children marching and singing in the middle of the road or trucks entirely loaded with unusual cargo!

Main street in a village


Except the beaches, the main attractions in Bali are Hindu temples. And each one of them has a specific feature which makes it unique and memorable. There is the island temple eroded by the tumultuous sea (Tanah Lot), the temple in the middle of rice fields (Gunung Kawi), in the middle of a lake (Pura Ulun Danu Bratan), in the middle of an amazing garden (Pura Taman Ayun), the one with a path in the jungle (Goa Gajah),... Amazing!

Tanah Lot

Gunung Kawi in Tampakisiring

Goa Gajah in Bedulu

Semarapura complex in Klungkung

We also admired a Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary and two water palaces. Very quiet places.

Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

Tirta Gangga Water Palace

Ujung Water Palace

It is said that you can not come to Bali without seeing a dance show and we did not regret it at all! More than the dance we were amazed by the performance of the male choir! Watch it yourself:


Well Bali has also its dark sides and such a tourism development in a relatively poor country has some pernicious effects. For example, the traffic police only arrests foreign drivers (they know where the money is!). Fines pour in and we have a lot of doubts about the destination of the money collected in this way. The strange part of this specific system is that the policeman takes you to a table with other tourist drivers. Then they tell you "you can come next week to the police station and pay one million rupies or you pay me now in cash (and without any receipt..) five hundred thousand rupies". Then you are free to negociate! ;)

Another example: we met and visited part of the island with a French tourist who told us he spent two days alone at the beach. Both days he was accosted by a group of two local male teenagers starting a conversation which finished by asking him if he wanted to "come to their room tonight?".

Generally people are very smiling, nice, helpful in indicating us a direction and start conversation very easily. But sometimes children yelled "Hello" to immediatly afterwards hold out their hands asking for money. Or three times men in motorcycle knocked at our car mindow at a red light and tried to lead us to a specific shop. 

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