island of gods'
Bali is a tiny
island of nearly three million Hindus, surrounded by more than 200
million Indonesian muslims and lies just two kilometres from the
far eastern tip of Java.
Enchanting, Bali is a paradise, sunlight cherishing
a land of fertile, green rice terraces. Bali is one big sculpture
as every earthen step is manicured and polished, every field and
corner carved by hand. A geographic extension of Java, Bali resembles
it, mountains and all, sharing much the same climate, flora and
fauna as the mother land.
The Balinese are handsome, small people with round delicate features,
long sweeping eyelashes, and heart-shaped lips.
Their customs, cults and worship of god and nature are animist,
their music warm-blooded and their art as extravagant as their nature.
Outside of India, Bali has the largest Hindu population in the world.
Bali is so picturesque that you could believe it was a painted backdrop:
rice paddies flow down hillsides like giant steps,
volcanoes pierce the clouds, the forests
are lush and tropical, and the beaches are blessed
by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
But much of the paradise has been manufactured and polished by the
international tourist industry rather than by the Balinese themselves
- who strangely don't even have a word for paradise in their language
- and it pays scant regard to the political and economic reality
of everyday life on Bali.
The 2002 Kuta bombing damaged Bali's tropical loveland image, and
for some time the island, dependant on the tourist dollar, fell
into decline. These days it's undergoing a cautious rebirth - although
still vulnerable to extremist attack, it's too beautiful a spot
to remain deserted for long.
The Balinese economy has suffered since, but the Balinese are picking
up the pieces. There have been no further terrorist attacks on the
island, but there is always a remote possibility. Consult your foreign
affairs department for more information prior to your travels.