Category Archives: Bali

Bali, Indonesia

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Kites in Ubud
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This island of 4 million people, located just east of Java, is unique among the many islands of Indonesia in being mainly Hindu rather than Muslim. Bali is many things to many people: a surf and sun paradise; a yoga and wellness retreat; a place where religious rituals are woven into the fabric of everyday life and beauty is cherished; an island of tall volcanoes, lush rice fields, and beautiful coral reefs. Despite the tourist throngs, Bali’s cultural traditions remain strong and its people open and welcoming.

Our First Hours in Asia

Our First Hours in Asia

Kami di sini! We’re here, on the Indonesian island of Bali. After 35 hours in transit from the U.S., we finally reached our destination last night: a big, hard bed with very clean white sheets at the small, simple, and unaptly named Familiar Inn in Bali’s sprawling capital, Denpasar. Read More

Predawn Sounds In Denpasar

Predawn Sounds In Denpasar

Drifting between sleep and wakefulness in the early hours of my first morning in Bali, I heard a variety of sounds: car and motorcycle engines, a rooster crowing, the rhythmic swish of someone sweeping pavement with a reed broom, Read More

Diving Right In

Diving Right In

Bali is seen by an awful lot of people as the perfect island paradise. Beaches of all sorts—party beaches, surf beaches, resort beaches, scuba/snorkel beaches. Endless green rice paddies dotted with luxurious villas where visitors lounge next to swimming pools and platters of tropical fruits. Read More

The View From Behind the Lens

The View From Behind the Lens

In many ways, Bali is a wonderful place for photography. I’ve already gotten the chance to shoot part of an interesting and visually awesome ritual (if only I’d had my battery charged all the way…). The markets are a flood of images, from produce to flowers to street food to people carrying impossible-looking loads on… Read More

A Lucky Look Inside Balinese Traditions

A Lucky Look Inside Balinese Traditions

Our first day in Bali began unexpectedly and amazingly when our landlady mentioned that a big ceremony would be taking place soon in a community temple around the corner. So, of course, we postponed our plan to visit the national museum to check that out instead. Read More

Gallery: Balinese Offerings

Bali’s version of the Hindu religion includes many rituals, the most common of which involves leaving small offerings of flowers, food, incense, or other things to various gods. Offerings are left every day on a family’s shrines, at neighborhood shrines or temples, and in front of the entrances to homes, shops, and offices to encourage… Read More

Gallery: Balinese Tooth-Filing Ceremony

Our first day in Bali, on the advice of our innkeeper, we watched the early stages of an important coming-of-age ceremony at a nearby temple. The ceremony involves a ritual called matateh, or tooth filing, in which young adults have the tops of their teeth filed into a smooth row Read More

On to Ubud

On to Ubud

Our next stop after Bali’s official capital, Denpasar, was its cultural capital, Ubud. What should have been an easy trip was slowed to a crawl by traffic jams (at one point caused by a road blocked by preparations for a cremation ceremony outside a temple). Read More

Galley: Gunung Kawi

About 10 miles outside Ubud is Gunung Kawi, the site of giant memorials carved in the 11th century into the rock walls of a lush ravine. They’re one of Bali’s oldest monuments and are thought to memorialize a Balinese king from Java and his consorts, but historians aren’t sure. Read More

Gallery: Kecak Dance

Ubud is a center for traditional Balinese dance, and performances take place every evening. We saw one of the most dramatic: the kecak, or monkey dance. It enacts scenes from the Hindu epic the Ramayana and combines vocal music, dance, and drama. Read More

Behind the House Gates

Behind the House Gates

Much of Balinese life takes place behind the walls of family compounds. Our first two lodgings, in Denpasar and Ubud, were located in the backs of such compounds, and conversations with the (English-speaking) inhabitants helped us understand how Bali’s domestic architecture reflects the island’s traditional culture. Read More

An Art Immersion in Ubud

An Art Immersion in Ubud

Ubud, Bali, is a big enough town to allow for many different experiences: There’s the health and fitness Ubud, with yoga and Pilates classes, Reiki healing energy sessions, vegan cafés, and “detox” drinks. There’s the adventure-travel Ubud, with excursions for whitewater rafting, sunrise hikes up 6,000-foot volcanoes, and bike tours through the blazing heat. Read More

Galleries Galore!

Galleries Galore!

We finally had some time, and a decent Internet connection, that allowed us to upload lots of new pictures (and to fix the galleries that were broken when posted before). Read More

How a Balinese Temple Celebrates Its Birthday

How a Balinese Temple Celebrates Its Birthday

While we were in Ubud, the Hindu temple across the street from our guesthouse—the temple for our “banjar” (neighborhood)—was celebrating the anniversary of its founding. This celebration, called an “odalon,” occurs every 210 days, according to the traditional Balinese calendar. Our hostess invited us to attend the multi-evening event, which is how we once again… Read More

Pemuteran Galleries

Pemuteran Galleries

Our second snorkeling destination in Bali (after Jemeluk on the east coast) was the town of Pemuteran on the far northwestern coast. It’s a place where mountains come almost to the sea. It’s also near the strait that separates Bali from Java, and you can see the volcanoes of eastern Java in the distance. Read More

The Meaning Behind Names

The Meaning Behind Names

After you’ve been in Bali for a few days, you realize that you keep seeing and hearing the same given names over and over again. Once you talk to enough people (or bother to look it up), you learn that it’s because most Balinese people are named according to their birth order. Read More

Gallery: Munduk

To escape the heat of the coast, we fled inland and upward to the small mountain town of Munduk in north central Bali. There we found a beautiful guesthouse, Aditya Homestay, with a terrace overlooking the mountain valley. Read More

The Other Side of Travel

The Other Side of Travel

Many of the posts we put up here focus on the things we find fascinating about where we are: interesting customs and ceremonies, historic sights, beautiful landscapes. I’m sure it’s enough to make many of you jealous! So I thought I’d write a post about the less wonderful parts of being a vagabond: Read More

Wonders Under the Waves

Wonders Under the Waves

Stunning as the landscapes can be, some of the most beautiful parts of Bali lie under the waves. One of the main things that drew us to this island—besides the distinctive culture—is the coral reefs. Now that we’ve had a chance to snorkel some of them, they’ve been everything we hoped for. Read More

Last Bali Galleries

Last Bali Galleries

One of our last sightseeing days in Bali involved a loop around the eastern end of the island, with stops in villages known for weaving and basketmaking, a place that produces very special coffee, Read More

Food in Bali (and How We Learned to Cook It)

Food in Bali (and How We Learned to Cook It)

Before we start posting about our current location, Cambodia, we want to finish up a few posts about our much-loved first destination, Bali, Indonesia.  One of the best parts about exploring a new place is getting to know the food. After all, we eat it three times a day, so food is a big part… Read More