This post was last updated on July 8th, 2020 at 01:49 pm
Bali is the westernmost island of the small Sunda Islands and belongs to the country of Indonesia. It houses four million inhabitants on 5600 km². Denpasar is the capital of Bali and the largest city on the island with nearly half a million inhabitants. Before 1958 that honor went to the city of Sinaraja.
The economy of Bali is mainly based on tourism. As a result, the island has lost its authentic appearance. You will notice this more in the larger places. But as soon as you leave the crowds you feel the beauty and character of the old Bali around you.
Their faith, based on Hinduism, can be found everywhere in the many holidays that the population has. The thousands of temples that can be found everywhere and the many offerings made by the Balinese make the island of Bali a holiday destination that you will not soon forget!
The History of Bali
The first Dutch men, led by Cornelis Houtman, came ashore for the first time in 1596 but left Bali untouched because they only cultivated rice.
The V.O.C. also kept aloof from the many hostilities that the Balinese-Javanese wars produced in the 18th century. In 1841 a change took place in which the Dutch thought that Bali should be put in their place because they were claiming a frigate that had run aground. As a result, several punitive expeditions followed, lasting until 1908.
Only in 1906, after a bloody massacre, did Bali fall under Dutch rule. Bali was fully colonized in 1913.
In the 1920s they discovered that Bali is a great holiday resort. Many Dutch people, living in the east, went to celebrate their holiday on Bali. Many artists also settled there to be inspired by the art that the local population produced.
After the Japanese occupation (1942 to 1945) the Republic of Indonesia, to which Bali belongs, was proclaimed (on 17 August 1945) by Soekarno. This was only acknowledged by the Dutch in 1949 after much international pressure from the round table conference.
In 1963, Bali got hit by the sudden eruption of the volcano “Gunung Agung”. This was during the preparations for the feast of the century. More than 1,600 people died and more than 80,000 people became homeless.
Two years later a coup took place where (allegedly) many Communist Balinese were killed. The estimate of people killed in Bali alone rises to well over 50,000 people. In 2002, a terrorist blew himself up in Kuta, resulting in 202 deaths.
A repeat event took place in 2005 near a restaurant and claimed 23 victims.
Tourism in Bali
Bali is a great holiday island for people who love beaches, diving, waves, culture and nature. People often combine a tour of the island with a few days of rest on the beach before returning home. There are mainly two types of tourists on the island.
One group comes for the beautiful white beaches on the tourist coastal towns. The other group prefers to sniff a piece of Balinese culture. But wherever you go, you’ll find an abundance of temples, artists’ villages and natural spas all over the island.
Above all you will find a beautiful environment that the Balinese people consider a reflection of heaven.
Flora and Fauna
The tropical rainforests of Bali extend over the entire island. You will find more tree and plant species here than in the whole of Europe. Under the towering trees you will find all kinds of ferns and a multitude of wild orchids.
In the west, the rainforest is the thickest and you will encounter the most wildlife. This piece of jungle with more than 200 plant species belongs to the “Bali Barat” National Park. You may come across wild boar, leopards, many reptiles and insects.
The north coast is known for the many dolphins. Here you will also find the beautifully colored coral reefs, which are full of tropical fish. These coral reefs have been considerably damaged in recent years by catching fish with dynamite.
In central Bali lies the nature reserve “Batukaru”. It consists of three sections around the 2275 meter-reaching “Gunung Batukaru”. It is one of the last unspoiled tropical rain forests on Bali. In a thick vegetation of ferns and flowers you can find trees surrounded by climbing plants.
Halfway up the mountain is one of the most important temples of Bali; the “Luhur Batukar” temple. Because of its location it is also called the Garden Temple.
A number of tree species have religious meanings in rituals for the Hindu-oriented Balinese. Rice terraces will generally be found on the southern slopes of Bali. You will also find a diversity of more than 300 birds on Bali, including the endangered Balinese starling.
The Balinese Cuisine
Bali has many places where you can eat delicious fresh fish, typically prepared on coconut-fired barbecues. Tradition is that the food is usually served on a banana leaf. If you want to taste the real local cuisine, join a Balinese family.
Don’t be surprised when you see nasi goreng (fried rice) supplemented with spicy meat and fish on the menu several times a day.
The Balinese call steamed rice “nasi putih”. Fried rice is called “nasi goreng”. This is often supplemented with sajoer (a wet vegetable dish), fish or meat and eggs. Many kinds of prawn crackers, and sambal will be there as well. Soy products are also widely used.
There are three types of eateries on Bali: the hotels, the tourist restaurants and the local Balinese eateries. The food in the hotels is often internationally oriented. It is often the case that meals from Indonesian, Japanese, Thai and Chinese cuisine are offered, but you can also choose from Western cuisine.
In the tourist restaurants, the dishes are often adapted to the wishes of the tourist. If you like it spicy, you can ask whether the dish is also prepared in its pedis (spicy) variant.
If you don’t want to spend that much money, you can always go to one of the street stalls (warungs) or dining rooms (rumah makan). These are the places where the locals often come to eat.
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