A great beach on Nusa Lembongan

On the southern end of Nusa Lembongan, there is a beatiful, deserted beach with white sands and crystal-clear ..

Fantastic - Great scenery & interesting insights

We have done several soft adventure bike tours and this was amongst the best - highly recommended.

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Bali Tourism

Bali Tourism
Over 1.2 million tourists a year have their impact. A recent visitor, said that "the Areas around the big beach hotels have a low vibration now."
A thousand hectares of rice fields are turned over yearly for development, much of it for tourism. You can't drink the tap water, and when stepping out of a hotel you're likely to be accosted by hawkers although this has been greatly reduced over the last 3-4 years. So why do travelers flock to Bali? Many are eager to witness the non-Western, uninhibited Hindu culture which is Bali's charm. And the Muslim Indonesian government, understanding the economic benefits, tries to maintain it in several ways. Hotels are restricted to certain areas. Tourists aren't allowed in the center of temples. And the rigidity of Balinese social structures keeps tourists at the "onlooker" level, where they are content to observe. Hinduism Today interviewed Hindu Balinese and outside visitors to understand what fosters Bali's charm. Their insights are shared in the context of a day in the life of Balinese village housewife as told by her nephew.

5am: The housewife is the first to arise, she fetches firewood, water at the family well, then makes porridge. After breakfast, her two children go off to school and her husband goes to the nearby rice field. Most Balinese eat very simply at home and the meals are mainly rice. It's consumed, using fingers, with a side dish of vegetables, tofu, soy sauce and a spicy chili seasoning made fresh every day. A banana leaf is usually the plate. People eat little meat in everyday meals, deriving most protein from soy products, and more converts to total vegetarianism are appearing with the desire to eat pure food. Even though life is urbanized in Denpasar, Bali's capital, the youth of today still "offer cooked food to ancestors, devas and buta kalas (evil spirits) and worship at the family house temple and recite Gayatri Mantra" every day.

It's hard work for the men in the fields, but the inseparable religion (shrines to Dewi Sri, the Rice Mother, dot the fields) offsets hardships of a lifestyle largely unchanged since the 1600s. In the 1970s bureaucrats tried to impose the "Green Revolution" on Bali's rice irrigation, but it failed miserably and farmers reverted to their intricate "water temple" system.

8am: A festival is coming, so decorations have to be made out of young coconut leaves for a couple hours. Then it is time to cook lunch, which the husband will return to the house to eat. Before serving, the housewife offers rice and salt to all corners of the house and the family temple. Dewan Nyoman Batuan, a painter friend of Lawrence Blair, once observed, "You don't need much in Bali, just enough to eat and to make necessary ritual offerings. Feeding the Gods feeds your soul as well."

The Balinese youth feels that Hinduism fares better in Bali than in India, because it's cared for by the government, the Hindu Parishad, teachers and village customs. Most schools have a Hindu religion teacher who, besides parents and priests, is the Balinese equivalent of a guru. Most girls wish to marry Hindus. The young people believe the next generation will be even stronger than now. In fact, Western visitors occasionally convert to Balinese Hinduism, as in the case of scholar Fred Eiseman: "The Central Hindu Dharma Committee approved. Then a pedanda (high-caste priest) at a Denpasar temple said prayers and administered a purification offering, bestowing the name I Wayan Darsana. He received a certificate from the committee signifying his religion."

12:30pm: Naptime for the housewife and her husband. Then she will make more decorations. Unless the wife has an outside job, her main duty is to make offerings and care for the house. She may gossip with a neighbor or help her conduct a home ceremony. Kids return from school and play gamelan instruments or help in the rice field. Young children are revered as divine. They're carried everywhere, held in the protective arms (without ever touching the ground) of a family member until three months old.

Bali has an extraordinary sense of community, transcending Western ideals of liberty and individualism and putting cooperation above competition. The Balinese will tell you that this "keeps us from differentiating between rich and poor. By following individual ways, people don't share." When Blair was invited to build a home on the land of a Balinese, he was told, "It's not my land anyway. Only Gods can own land. Humans borrow it for awhile." The whole village turned out to help build Blair's house.

6pm: An offering is given to the home's four corners and temple. The housewife and her husband leave for their nightly dance performances in temples all over Bali, to which they often bring their children. He is a drummer, while she is an opera dancer. Dances begin at 10pm and last till early morning. Bali has 20,000 public temples, and most homes have a family temple. Each celebrates its dedication anniversary, which is frequent, because the Balinese lunar year lasts just 210 days. It's hard to miss a temple festival, because one occurs somewhere every day. But watch what you wear as modest clothing with a sash is the rule for everyone. Blair observed, "Food and entertainment is right in the temple. If my childhood churches were like this, I would've spent a lot more time in them!"

Most Balinese youth say they always observe at least five festivals: 1) Galungan, where deified ancestors descend to former homes; 2) local temple anniversaries; 3) Nyepi, or Day of Silence, during which the whole island shuts down, people stay home to meditate (tourists can't leave their hotels), and lights are out; 4) Saraswati puja; and 5) Purnima - full moon. Many Balinese pay homage to knowledge on Saraswati Day. They will make offerings of yellow rice to their temple and books. Children sweep schools with brooms to honor their place of learning.

Shadow puppetry, dance, theater, carving and other art forms are abundant. Nearly all arts are religious, because all life is religious for the Balinese. Painters aren't possessive about their work, and even create many of their canvasses together. The flowering of a dance artist has been described as follows "My grandfather was an actor, puppeteer, musician and dancer. I began at age six by watching older dancers perform at my village, who I then imitated. My grandfather saw I was interested, and corrected my moves. One day he appeared with a costume and said, 'Let's go to the temple.' I was scared. 'I've never performed with an orchestra!'  He said, 'No problem, you can do it.' This was my debut, at age seven." Girl dancers are at their peak at age 11, because they're still considered totally heavenly, until puberty. One instructor used no mirrors for training. "If the inner dance is right," she says, "it will show itself outwardly."

With Bali's powerful belief that religion is woven into every part of life, it's no wonder that the Balinese youth would tell brothers and sisters worldwide: "Keep Hinduism, it's the great religion. All must learn its essentials. We must be strong in faith and devotion. God will always bless us."
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