4 Must-Have Experiences in Bali

1. Sacred Monkey forest in Ubud, with Balinese long tailed macaques everywhere. They jump on your shoulders or head, and depending on your temperament, either freak you out, or make a great photo op! Imagine a gurgling brook with mini waterfalls, tall trees and vines and greenery everywhere, moss-covered rock and carved stone demons/gods, and there you have it.IMG_0762 copy

2. Gunung Kawi temple complex: stone carved temples in their half-abandoned glory in the (apparently standard Balinese) setting of moss and gurgling streams and trees and vines. Straight out of an Indiana Jones movie!IMG_0789 copy

3. Kecak dance at Ulu Watu: a traditional interpretation of the Ramayana, with ritual chanting and bizarrely elegant dance. The backdrop is the sun setting over the ocean, with the Ulu Watu temple perched on the edge of the seaside cliff.IMG_0843 copy

4. Dinner at Jemboran beach: walk away from the tourist trap restaurants to find your own little table on the beach. Enjoy grilled fish or prawns in the moonlight with waves crashing just feet in front of you.

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3 Responses to 4 Must-Have Experiences in Bali

  1. Swami says:

    So is the dance a purely tourist attraction, or do people enjoy it occasionally as part of their current lifestyle? Do they have periodic festivals where they get performed?

    I guess the real question I am asking is, how much is Bali still true rainforest with people having forest-based lifestyles (with some modern amenities), and how much is it a story of exploitation of the forest using modern means, and a basically modern lifestyle with some holdover customs? I guess in India it is nearly entirely the latter. Are Indiana Jones temples rarities that one must go into the deep forests to find?

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    • Mimi G. says:

      Bali struck me as more of a modern lifestyle with some holdover customs. But the modern-day avatar of this place is no more and no less authentic than its ancient face. I did not get the impression that any of what I describe above is maintained purely for the viewing pleasure of foreign tourists. (Maybe for domestic tourists, though?)
      Specifically about the dance, I’ve read that these Balinese dances could traditionally be performed only on temple grounds, and the one at Ulu Watu is one of the very few still in this traditional setting. When these dances started being performed outside the temples, people were offended, and consequently, new dances had to be invented (the non-sacred dances for tourist consumption). But over time, these new dances became so popular (and performed with such skill) that it is now hard to distinguish between the new and traditional dances — they have merged into each other.

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