Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bali , siland of Gods

BALI, island of Gods and Demons.

Both magical and mythical, this land of volcanic lakes, spectacular rice terraces, stunning tropical beaches, ancient temples and palaces is and exotic melting pot of cultures and peoples. Renowned of its unsurpassed architecture, traditional theatre, dance and elaborate religious festivals, the colorful Balinese culture is a dynamic force that is constantly synthesizing the old and the new, the traditional and the innovative.

Bali is one of more than 18 thousands island in Indonesia. It is located between the two islands Java & Nusa Tenggara, between 8 03 40 8 degree South latitude and 114 25 & 115 42 40 degree East longitude.
Bali has 5.632,86 square kilometers of land. The total population is approximately 3.2 million people.
Standard time zone is UTC/GMT + 8 hours.

Bali : : Kuta : :
Once a small, sleepy, hard scrabble fishing village Kuta woke up and smelled the money. This is Bali's premier beach area. You will either love the excitement of this unique and dynamic area where East meets West or not because of the noise and ever present street hawkers. Kuta today often refers to the entire area of what is really three separate villages (Kuta, Legian and Tuban) and is the main entertainment area for tourists - especially famous (and justly so) for its nightlife.

Kuta started to develop after it was "discovered" by Western surfers and backpackers some 40 years ago. As such Kuta still has a lot of inexpensive - but good - accommodation. Same goes for the restaurants and shops. However that being said, Kuta also has it share of fine, family oriented 3, 4 & 5 star hotels with many establishments being renovated and moving upscale.
: : Legian : :
These days it's very hard to tell where Kuta ends and Legian begins but to simplify things a bit for all intents and purposes once you pass Jalan Melasti heading north you enter into Legian and Seminyak and a little further up the road takes you to Kerobokan.

Not too long ago this area was fertile rice paddy, now it is a bustling area dotted with chic designer shops that can hold their own against any competition. The hotels in this area are usually small to mid size, locally owned and managed properties. That said hotels in this area tend to be a bit more expensive than their counter parts in Kuta and refer to themselves as "Boutique Hotels" (unfortunately, officially there is no such category and therefore all properties are listed as Melati type).
: : South Kuta (Tuban) : :
Just south of Kuta lies another small fishing village. Once dubbed 'Tuban' for marketing purposes to separate and distinguish the area from Kuta, the name Tuban is slowly fading from memory. That said, the area, for whatever reason, developed more slowly than Kuta proper. Now however with land in Kuta hard to come by South Kuta is quickly taking on a life of its own and has emerged as a tourist area in its own right and is now home to several well known international chain hotels - among them Ramada.

South Kuta has a very good mix of hotel accommodations starting from budget 'losmen' through 5 star properties and together with Water Bom Park, an international standard amusement park and several first class shopping centres South Kuta has earned a reputation as a family oriented, value for money destination.
: : Jimbaran : :
Jimbaran, just south of the airport and located on a scenic bay on Bali's west coast was, until recently, also a small fishing village. Lately the area has been turned into the haunt of very exclusive 5 star hotels in the likes of the Intercontinental Bali, Four Seasons and, further up the hill, Ritz Carlton.

However that said, the hotels are quite spread out and as such the surrounding area is still very much in tack and without the overwhelming commercialization found in Kuta.
: : Nusa Dua : :
Without much argument, Nusa Dua is the most successful tourism related development project in Indonesia. Using unarable land that in days gone by was where the Balinese ostracized its undesirable citizens, the Indonesian Government initiated the Nusa Dua project some 35 years ago. The original idea was to have a place where tourists could stay and leave Bali to the Balinese.

As such Nusa Dua is a quiet, extremely luxurious oasis for those looking for an experience not soon forgotten. Today there are nine international 5 star super deluxe hotels in Nusa Dua proper. The area comes complete with an 18 hole championship golf course and large western style shopping area. Connected to municipal sewage treatment facilities, the hotels in Nusa Dua have been planned, and are, the most environmentally friendly hotels on Bali.
: : Tanjung Benoa : :
The success and prestige of Nusa Dua is such that many hotels have been developed just to the north in nearby Tanjung Benoa - a small peninsula jutting north along Bali's eastern coast. Tanjung Benoa is well known for water sports and very nice hotels that offer good value for money but lack some of the size and a few of the facilities of the international chain hotels in neighbouring Nusa Dua.

: : Sanur : :
Sanur is where the Dutch forces landed in 1904 to begin their “conquest” of Bali. Later the "in" artist community - before every one moved up to Ubud. Later still, Bali’s first beach resort. In addition to being home to some of Bali's best known hotels Sanur is also a very cozy, comfortable residential area. As such it is much quieter than Kuta and has more "Balinese character" than the newer Nusa Dua resort area.

Sanur has a well deserved reputation for magic (just ask anyone about room 327 in the Inna Grand Bali Beach Hotel...). Being closer to Ubud and many of the island's more important temples and other tourist attractions, Sanur is a good all around choice for families and those wishing explore Bali but still be close to Bali's nightlife in Kuta and Seminyak.

: : Nusa Lembongan : :
East of Bali, just over an hour by boat lie three remote and, for the most part, uninhabited islands: Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida. Nusa Lembongan is the closest to Bali and the most developed of the three.

Small by any standard, Nusa Lembongan has supported itself over the years with fishing and seaweed farming. However with crystal clear waters that are ideal for a variety of water sports including scuba diving and snorkeling Nusa Lembogan's real appeal is its peace and tranquility. When you really to get away from it all - this is the place to go.
: : Ubud : :
The Balinese are a somewhat unusual island people. Instead of looking outward to the sea, they have always looked inward to the mountains. Ubud epitomizes this and for many Ubud is Bali. Ubud has become known worldwide as a centre and haven for the arts. A very special place to be sure, with spectacular hillside settings overlooking lush rice paddies. Close your eyes and listen to the sound of the gamelan wafting through the hills and then you will know how Bali came to be known as 'Morning of the World'.

There is a wide range of hotel accommodation from the most expensive hotel on the island down to the budget losmen. As well there are a number of very, very fine restaurants, several respectable museums and lots of interesting folks wandering about.
: : Candidasa : :
Candidasa is most often compared to Kuta as Kuta was some 20 years ago. The comparison has some merit - Candidasa is a small village with few inhabitants on the beach with a several, mostly inexpensive, hotels that cater to more adventurous tourists looking for a more laid back atmosphere to explore the cultural heritage of Bali.

Being some 85 km from the airport ensures some tranquility, however as more people discover that there is quite a bit to see and do in Candidasa, the area is beginning to develop rapidly with many first class hotels now sprouting up. Besides being near many top dive spots, Candidasa is near many cultural treasures; Pura Besakih and Tenganan Village. For those looking for a holiday off the beaten track a few days in Candidasa would be a welcome respite.
: : North Bali : :
At one time Singaraja was the capital of Bali and its main trading port. As such Singaraja has an eclectic mix of Hindu, Muslim and Buddhism culture wrapped in Dutch colonial trappings. Rich in history including the Gedong Kirtha Library which was built by the Dutch during their colonial rule, the library contains important documents and historical manuscripts. Even though Singaraja is well off the beaten track, (about 3 hours from Kuta / airport - but the journey is magnificent), north Bali slowly starting to come of age with tourists interested in Bali’s past and those interested in Bali without the mass tourism or western style shopping malls.

Although not as developed as other areas of Bali, there is quite a bit to see and do. Trekking, horseback riding, snorkeling, diving, golf, cultral attractions and local festivities are all within an scenic one hour drive from Singaraja.

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