On first impression you may think the artistic and cultural capital of Bali is small. You could easily be mistaken into believing the town consists of just a few intersecting streets full of shops and restaurants. While there is some truth in this, Ubud has grown over the years as it keeps pace with its international reputation.
Culture, tradition, art, music, and dance have all remained in tact . Ubud is a town of royalty and even its dialect is a version of Balinese that commands respect in the highest order.
Being captivated by all the activity that is the towns center is part of the experience. You could spend days wandering the streets and lanes of Monkey Forest, Hanoman, Raya, and Bisma.
To do so you would certainly be kept busy, well fed, and entertained.
By setting horizons a little further out what you will find is a quieter, more stunning, more impressive Ubud. The kind of Bali we all imagine before setting out from familiar shores. Continue reading Trekking and Eating in Ubud
With islands that ooze culture, mystery, intrigue from every volcanic pore it is not at all surprising that these same qualities exist in every living thing that resides here.
Coffee from anywhere is steeped in history and most certainly a candidate for a debate on intrigue.
I have to admit that up until recently I had remained blissfully unaware of this particular, extremely special brew and its slow roast method of production. Only produced in Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Bali, Kopi Luwak has gained worldwide fame and is currently one of the most expensive coffees on the market.
It sells for between US$100 and $600 per pound. Even more expensive than Starbucks.
Its history is closely related to the Dutch Coffee Industry but it is purely an Indonesian product born out of ingenuity and necessity; the latter being the Mother of Invention. In the early 18th century Dutch businessmen established cash-crop plantations on Java and Sumatra and this included coffee. Exporting some of these crops back to Europe reaped a hefty 1000% return of investment for these merchants; the raping of the colonialized territory of the East Indies was of little concern. Continue reading Coffee From A Most Unusual Place
Standing on the edge of a crater this size is nothing short of overwhelming. Looking from one side to the other you become captivated by the sheer size of the volcano that once existed here; it is almost impossible to fully comprehend the scale.
To give you some perspective there is a sizable town inside the crater along with other settlements scattered along the shoreline. Fishing and trading boats ply the waters regularly taking merchandise to market and hikers to trails.
It is a huge expanse for one single mountain to have occupied.
Today, the area of Kintamani with its panoramic views of the young Mt. Batur and Lake Batur are highlights for anyone traveling to Bali.
Mount Batur sits inside the crater of its predecessor and lapping at its base is Bali’s largest lake; Lake Batur. The body of water wraps around the active volcano and is home to several villages of traditional Bali Aga origin. They are accessible only by boat. The local people, about 15000, have kept their unique culture and life style in tact. Continue reading In Awe of the Mother Temple
Today, visitors to Bali fly in and out of Denpasar or arrive by ferry from the islands of Java to the west or Lombok to the east. From that point on most will be content to confine themselves to the southern region of the island immersed in the chaos of Kuta and culture of Ubud.
Others will venture further south to the Uluwatu outpost and take in some of the islands famous surfing beaches. It is down here where Bali shines as a mecca for surfers and the lifestyle to which it is coupled.
To the very north is Bali’s second largest city and its previously long-standing capital. The city of Singaraja established its port in 1849 and from that moment all trade from the outlying Spice Islands flowed through it.
It became Bali’s gateway for its earliest visitors.
They entered through the north and ventured south over the high mountain passes past the three great lakes of central Bali. Comparatively few modern day adventurers consider Singaraja a Bali must-see. If they do find themselves in the north they will make a bee-line to Lovina for a chance encounter with the local dolphin population. Continue reading Bali to the North
In the early part of last century when your ship caught sight of land, you knew at that very moment you had arrived at your destination; setting foot on land was now simply a formality. The lengthy voyage, for some a month or more, now seemed a small price to pay.
Even though that experience is vastly different from the way we arrive today it does have one fundamental similarity…anticipation. Anticipation is what we create in our mind to heighten expectations and make the experience as enjoyable as possible.
Arriving in the tropics, brings about a flurry of activity. For your part you want to get off the plane, NOW.
You want to stretch out and let the warmth of your new locale encase you and above all, you want to relax. Maybe dive into the ocean, swim in the pool, have a cocktail canopied by a tiny umbrella, get pampered by a capable masseuse, and soak up your good fortune; all pleasurable anticipations.
All the tropics want to do is help you along in those endeavors.
The warmth you have so looked forward to and imagined is going to be right there, slapping you up and down and wrapping you up in the equivalent of a wool blanket on a hot summer day. Continue reading A Tropical Embrace