The Divine, Sweet Island

The earliest Europeans that landed on the isle of Bali were a few Dutch sailors in 1597.

Immediately the sailors found the island marvelous such as it happened to the Western people who would follow them centuries later. Actually, when Cpt. Cornelius de Houtman was going to sail back, some of the sailors refused to leave the island.

The voyage is a wonderful event but the landing is a very experience in itself thanks to the charming landscapes and the kind local people.

Bali is the island of sweet, poetic harmony where you can feel God in everything and everywhere: a cocktail of faith, myths and magic with some drops of superstitions. But to discover Bali and have the perception of all its richness you should explore the interior land zipping among terraced rice fields and palm groves. There, the temples are oases of silence.

You cannot miss to reach Ulu Watu, the extreme point of Bukit peninsula where you can see the See Gods’ temple standing upright on the overhanging rocks. The waters below are a “must” for surfists whose top aim is to find the right wave in a kind of religious spirit invoking Daewi Danu, the Sea Protecting Goddess.

In Bali the Sacred and the Profane are the counterpart of local dances, the temples are more numerous than houses, each house has a plot of land devoted to Sacred rites and around every village. Moreover, according to a law of the XI century, each village must posses three temples at least. One looks towards the mountains and is built for the founder of the village, one is standing at the centre of the village and it dedicated to the spirits of prosperity, the other one looks towards the sea and is dedicated to the dead. The most famous temples, such as Pura Tanah Lot, Pura Taman Ayun, Pura Mas Suka, Pura Gunung Kawi belong to the community of Bali.

Another occasional entertainment to be present at is the exhibition of Bali’s dances still performed after the centuries-old fashion. The costumes, too, are attractive. For example, Baris, the Warriors dance, is executed in very old elaborated costumes. Barong is a dance showing the eternal struggle between good (Barong) and evil (Rangda).

The only way to discover this fantastic island is to join the local people in order to understand the balance of the opposite values which is a fundamental basis of their philosophy of life, that is: Gods and Devils, life and death, past and present. So it is a unique experience to stroll around the island in search of said balance. Going from south to north along the road crossing country villages a tourist can enjoy the sight of a number of shops selling handicrafts, and art centers, fruit markets attracting the eyes of passers-by with their bright colours, and shrines where offers from the people of Bali are lying on the altars. Youths, young adults smile at you or people wearing their local costumes met with along the road greet you heartily. Here is the spirituality that forms an essential part of local culture. If you go through the forests up to the crater of Mt. Bratan you can admire the terraced rice fields planned in a sort of green geometrical design. On the crater something more attracts your attention and enrapture you. It is the sight of a lake whose water is blessed by the temple of Pura Ulan Danu Batur near Kintamani.

Before leaving this unique island I could not but share my “adieu” with their culture based on offers. An offer made of fresh food placed on a palm leaf and decorated with another palm leaf called ”sampian” containing Betel and flowers.

Before leaving the little temple built inside the airport premises, I wanted to mix with the spiritual atmosphere and left an offer to thanks local gods for their assistance and I was had so plunged into the mystic atmosphere that I considered my safe flight back a gift from the offered Gods.