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by Elizabeth Heuter, student writer

The island of Bali is part of the Republic of Indonesia and located south of the equator between Java in the west and Lomkok and the rest of the Lesser Sunda Islands in the east. Flying time from Jakarta is about one and half hours, from Singapore and Perth, Australia, two and a half hours; four and a half hours from Hong Kong; and five or six hours from Sydney or Melbourne. The island of Bali itself is only 2,175 square miles, about 400 miles around, so it is possible to explore the island by air on a single day tour.

Bali is famous for its beautiful landscape. A chain of six volcanoes stretches from east to west. Lush tropical forests, pristine crater lakes, fast-flowing rivers, deep ravines, rice terraces, and fertile vegetable and fruit gardens and orchards enhance the beauty of the landscape.

There are white sand beaches in the south and beaches covered with gray or volcanic sand in the north. Huge banyan trees are scatter around villages and temple groups, together with dozens of coconut palm species and even more kinds of bamboo. The smell of flowers is hard to escape. Hibiscus, bougainvillea, jasmine, and water lilies are abundant in yards, gardens, along roadsides, and in temple grounds.

Bali is an enchanting place, often referred to as the “ultimate island” by travel magazines. It combines friendly people, natural attractions, varieties of things to see and do, and a pleasant year round climate. As soon as one steps off the plane, one senses the specialness of this place. A typical scene is old men sitting on the side of the road as women walk proudly carrying offerings or groceries on their heads.

Bali has a vibrant culture, unique arts and ceremonies, and friendly people. It seems nearly every person is an artist in some medium, whether it is painting, weaving, carving, basketry, or decorations at shrines.

The soul of the Balinese is in their religion and it is expressed in their arts. Bali’s culture is based on its unique form of Hinduism called “Hindu Darma,” which survived the Islamization of Java and has since developed over centuries. Religion has helped the Balinese retain their culture despite the modern influx of tourists and the past foreign influences of colonizers.

Bali is a truly international destination, attracting visitors from around the world. Many hotels have recently been built to keep pace with the number of visitors, and accommodations range from small bungalow types for the budget traveler to luxurious resorts.

Water sports are popular in Bali. Kuta, a village on the road from the capital city of Denpasar, is popular among young tourists and has exceptional beaches for surfing.

Bali also has world-class scuba diving and snorkeling off the Nusa Penida Beach. The village is filled with restaurants, shops, and clubs and is an ideal place to meet and mix with both locals and visitors.

Most Balinese are friendly and generally speak more English than people in other areas of Indonesia.
Bali is also a shopper’s paradise, particularly for casual and tailored clothing, locally made jewlery, handicrafts, antiques, and artifacts. All can be purchased at unbelievably low prices. Try bargaining at the street markets of Kuta, Sanur, or Nusa Dua. Or shop at fixed price at a Denpasar department store.

After the sun sets, Bali is the perfect place for a romantic moonlit dinner. Its restaurants are cosmopolitan yet inexpensive and include a variety of local delicacies as well as Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Greek, Moroccan, and even Mexican cuisine. For those who want to party after dinner, Bali offers a variety of bars and nightclubs.

More culturally inclined? Bali offers the peace and tranquility of Ubud high in the hills; the Mother temple at Besakih; the ancient capital of Bali, Singaraja, and the floating palace at Ujung near the beach in Candi Dasa.

Bali is the perfect destination for people of all ages and offers something for everyone. This tropical paradise has a unique blend of modern tourist facilities combined with a rich cultural heritage.

All photos courtesy Elizabeth Heuter

Divers explore beautiful coral reefs off the coast of the island.

A typical Bali beach

A view of the volcano chain that forms the island, from its highest peak.

Balinese children pose for Hawai'i tourists.

A Balinese dancer in traditional costume.

An artist shows off his wood carvings.

For many, agriculture is the most stable employment, but some are more entrpreneurial and become vendors of tourist memorabilia.

Many Balinese live in villages on world-class beaches.


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