January 01, 2008
by findingDulcinea Staff
It is no surprise that Bali is the leading tourist destination in Indonesia: with white and volcanic beaches, rolling mountains, unparalleled weather, remarkable Hindu temples, and a vibrant culture, Bali is often mistaken for paradise.

The Island Now and Then

Bali has some of the most breathtaking and acclaimed beaches in the world. The beaches run the gamut from the powdery white sand of Kuta Beach to the volcanic black sand of Amed Beach; the clear waters are ideal for snorkeling, scuba diving and surfing.
Bali’s History is one of conquest and conflict, balanced with commerce and development of Hindu and Buddhist spiritual and artistic traditions.

The Towns and Villages

Ubud is the art capital of Bali and a haven for  culture. German musician and painter Walter Spiess united Balinese artists to make Ubud the artistic hub it is today. The town now has an eclectic mix of western and eastern artistic styles.
Famous for stone sculptures and Barong dance, the small village of Batubulan delights visitors. Barong is the lion-like king of the spirits and protector of villages. The Barong dance is about mythological storytelling through masks, costumes and dancing. The Batubulan villagers are also master craftsmen, producing art out of sandstone and lavastone.
The villagers are proud of their Gamelan tradition. Gamelan is a musical style that has become an integral part of Balinese and Indonesian culture. A group of 25 or more musicians, with instruments such as gongs, xylophones, and flutes, performs lively, mesmerizing songs.

The Sites

Pura Besakih, known as Bali’s “Mother Temple,” sits on top of Mount Agung. The most sizable and holiest of Bali’s Hindu Temples, Pura Besakih was built over 1,000 years ago.
Built in the 15th century on an island of rock, the temple of Tanah Lot is a magnificent sight. It is said that the temple is guarded by poisonous sea snakes that ward off evil. It is possible to walk to the temple at low tide.
Bali is home to diverse and unique flora and fauna. The Bali Barat National Park, located on the northwest tip of the island, lets you observe black monkeys, wild boars, macaques, leopard cats, leaf monkeys, sambars, Hawksbill turtles and more. If you are lucky, you may even get to see some giant spiders. The Bali starling is the only bird indigenous to the island—all other indigenous species are extinct—but it is very endangered and found at this park, which consists of more than 150 species of birds.

The Political Situation

Unfortunately, Bali is a victim of the world’s struggle with terrorism. In 2005, bombs exploded in three restaurants, killing 26 people and injuring more than 50 others; resort areas were targeted. In 2002, 202 people were killed in Kuta, Bali; 88 of them were Australian. Even though Bali is primarily Hindu, terrorist groups with links to al-Qaeda have used this tourist paradise to their advantage.

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