I have been feeling Bali withdraws since coming back from this trip. Never before have I experienced such a unique culture. So what makes it so interesting and unique? Maybe it's the artisan crafts, the traditions, the temples, the mesmerizing dances, the tantalizing Luwak coffee, or the friendly people who make you feel like you belong. The vibes and the culture of this island hit you as soon as you land.
Here are the top places where you can experience the uniqueness of Bali.
1 . Kecak dance - Uluwatu
Balinese dance and musical drama developed in 1930s, where the men perform in a circle and permissively chant "cak" and move their arms and hands. It tells the Hindu story and Rama and Sita (who you will hear a lot about if you delve into Balinese/Hindu culture). This is a Romeo and Juliet-style story, only with a happy ending. It is an ancient Indian poem that narrated the struggle of Prince Rama to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana.
The performance was originally a trance ritual. In the 1930s, a German man became interested in it while living in Bali and adapted it as a drama based on the story of Rama and Sita. He intended the dance for Western tourist audiences. The dance ends with a raging fire. The costumes, the story, and the music make it a must see.
2. Legong Dance
The Legong dance originated in 19th century as royal entertainment where two maidens dance to gamelan music. The women wear majestic headdresses and move their eyes and hands in very precise contortions, all in sync with one another. This dance was mesmerizing and unique.
3. Ubud market
There are markets all around Bali, but the Ubud market is known for being a place of arts, crafts and food catering to both locals and tourists. Bali is known for it's stone crafts, wood carvings, intricate jewelry, and exquisite craftsmanship - all of which are made by hand. you can even watch the artisans make these pieces in the studios.
Disclaimer: Be sure to bargain your prices in Bali and research the average prices before purchasing.
4. Ubud Temple
Pura Taman Saraswati is located near rice paddies and water gardens. Many temples looks the same, but this one had beautiful grounds and statues as well as a large entrance gate.
5. Luwak Coffee Tasting - Most Expensive Coffee in the World
Luwak coffee is the most expensive and coveted coffee in the world. It's also delicious, if you can get past the thought of how it is produced.
The civet cats, a native weasel-like animal in Indonesia eat the coffee beans which do not get digested. The beans undergo a unique fermentation while in digestion, giving the coffee its flavor. The locals pick up the cat pellets and wash and dry the whole beans. Then it gets roasted and made into Kopi Luwak Coffee. There is a special coffee machine and grinder developed just for this kind of coffee. The finished product tastes like delicious espresso.
If you want to try it, check out these links on Amazon to purchase:
6. Bali Beaches
The best beaches in Bali are found in Uluwatu in Southern Bali, or the Gilli Islands - which are pristine islands off the coast and require additional travel.
Many resort beaches in Bali, like Kuta and Seminyak, are based around beach clubs. You enter the beach through a beach club which serves food in a lounge-like atmosphere. In fact, many restaurants double as lounges later in the day and serve delicious food at the same time. It's a great way to eat, socialize and enjoy the beautiful beach at the same time.
Beach Disclaimer: Bali beaches feature excellent surf. In fact the waves can be quite strong. If you are a surfer, you have come to the right place. If you are a casual swimmer, these beaches can be dangerous as many do not have lifeguards. Some beaches can be gritty - including glass bottles and stray dogs. In conclusion, if you are looking for serious beach activity - try Gilli Islands or Uluwatu.
We hope this helped you get a glimpse into Balinese culture. If you have any other tips, please comment below.
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