The island of the gods
Bali – one of thousands of South East Asian islands, between Singapore and Australia, or, if you wish to include the Pacific Ocean –to the west coast of South America. A relatively small island (5500 square meter, or 120 by 80 km), but known worldwide. What is her uniqueness? What her exceptional status within a tight organized Republic of Indonesia, with its 30 000 islands?
Already as soon as 1920, this small island has been regularly visited by “tourists”, artists and noblesse, ethnologists and adventurers of the “rolling twenties”. Some of them arrived in white linen with tropic helms and wooden suitcases – and stayed on, living in small villages, wearing Sarong and Sandals for the rest of their life.
Bali, as seen from the perspective of travel magazines and catalogs, is “a beautiful, peaceful, smiling island of the gods”. And there is something to it: you can see people smile (at you), worship their gods amidst the beautiful lush, tropical scenery on a daily base. And, there is more to the island then picturesque rice terraces.
Bali has a way to integrate the dark side, the demons, the social conflicts and individual aggressions in the open, in daily life. The traditions lift these often split off issues into collective consciousness, by means of arts. That gives Bali her unique touch.
This one out of 27 provinces is a Hindu culture. Amidst 26 provinces of mainly Moslems, and mixtures of Christian, Animistic and Islam cultures, Bali keeps a Hindu culture alive, with all its rituals and ceremonies, that enter daily life.
Far away from being that soft, ever smiling beautiful flower girl, that you see on posters at your local travel agent (that, by the way, has been promoting Bali already in the 1930, which in return stigmatized Bali), Bali’s people have been a rough folk. Rough amongst themselves, in endless local wars with clubs and “Kris”, the traditional stagger, and rough on invaders, like the Dutch, the Portuguese, the Japanese.
But their human roughness and aggressions are channeled into the sacred ceremonies with dances that include fights for the good, in music and painting, and into wood carvings, that show demons and hungry spirits, far away from the topless flower girl of the old time pictures.
Lifestyle Bali comes in two meaningful ways:
* The life that the traditional Bali leads – from morning prayers to cremations
* The life that newcomers to Bali have established, in modern architecture and western life style, on the stage of a south East Asian Island.
This website reports from both worlds, not necessarily trying to unite, but to combine the modern life style of “Expats”, foreigners to the island, and the traditional ways that Balinese go about their daily routine.