Bali. When mentioned, people conjure up images of killer waves, busy
night clubs and overcrowded beaches running rampant with young
suntanned partiers. But look beyond the surface and you will witness a
land rich with tradition, superstition and a people whose dedication to
their beliefs has helped the island to maintain their centuries old
customs. Enduring the onslaught of tourists who invade their beaches
each year, the Balinese continue to live their lives of deep rooted
religion, important family values and respect for the spirits of the
Devout Hindus , the Balinese put out offerings each morning
resembling works of art. Fruit and flowers beautifully arranged in palm
leaves displayed in front of their shops with rich incense burning to
bring good luck and to appease the spirits. Great care is taken to
preserve their tradition and young and old alike continue to practice
these beliefs. Everyday you will see a ceremony occur. Whether it be a
wedding a birthday or an elaborate cremation, the Balinese enjoy a life
full of festivities.
Just a short ride out of the main tourist destination of Kuta beach
is the peaceful town of Ubud. This picturesque village situated in
Bali’s interior, among lush rice terraces is a place where time stands
Farmers tend their paddy fields by hand as their flocks of painted
ducks waddle on their land. When walking through a peaceful path, you
may be stopped by a local boy who will climb a tree to offer you a
Skillful artists sell their masterpieces to the casual buyer or to
the serious collector and handmade treasures of masks and statues can
be bought in the many family run shops. Or you can find a real bargain
at the colourful market in the centre of town, selling sarongs and
t-shirts to crafts and paintings.
It is famous for its traditional dance performed each night in one
of many ornate temples.. Masked performers dressed in colourful
costumes telling stories of their history and folklore in the outdoor
theatres under the canopy sky. Great dedication is given to the study
of this difficult craft and a highly skilled Balinese Dancer is revered
throughout the land.
Quiet cafes line the road leading to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, a
protected portion of jungle containing long tail macaques. Unlike other
sanctuary’s I have visited in south East Asia, this one does not
encourage the monkeys to fend for themselves. Vendors sell bananas and
peanuts for profit so that visiting tourists can feed these feisty creatures. They come to expect their treats
regularly causing fights among the monkeys and tourists alike.
Enjoy a luxurious massage at one of the many spas. For the
reasonable price of $12 you will enjoy one and a half hours of pure
heaven. Skilled masseurs work out your travel weary muscles with
ancient old techniques, finishing with an herbal body scrub and hot
floral bath. Pure decadence.
Choosing a meal at one of the many eateries can be a difficult task.
With food ranging from traditional Indonesian babi guling (suckling pig
roasted on a spit and must be ordered a day in advance.) to Italian
pasta and pizza or roasted duck. It is a playground for the taste buds
and eating in the candle lit setting while Balinese music plays softly
in the background gives a feeling of tranquility. You relax while
drinking a Bintang beer and think that you may never leave this
Ubud is well travelled on many peoples routes in Bali, but its laid
back atmosphere dedicated tradition and a thriving artist community
give it the facade of being the "real" Bali. Many will say that the
real Bali no longer exists, that it has been taken over by tourism and
western influence. But I see it thriving in the everyday lives of the
local people and the real Bali exists in their hearts.