March 20, 2017 – Bali, Indonesia
Bali is home to most of Indonesia’s Hindu population with 83.5% of 4,255,000 inhabitants claiming Balinese Hinduism as their religion. 13.4% are Muslim with only 2.5% Christian and Buddhism claiming on .5% of the population. It is part of the Coral Triangle which is an area with the highest biodiversity marine species. Over 500 reef building corals can be found here. By comparison, that is 7 times the number found in the Caribbean. It is located just 8 degrees south of the equator or 596 miles.
The following is from Wikipedia.
Balinese culture was strongly influenced by Indian, Chinese, and particularly Hindu culture, beginning around the 1st century AD. The name Bali dwipa ("Bali Island") has been discovered from various inscriptions, including the Blanjong pillar inscription written by Sri Kesari Warmadewa in 914 AD and mentioning "Walidwipa". It was during this time that the people developed their complex irrigation system subak to grow rice in wet-field cultivation. Some religious and cultural traditions still practiced today can be traced to this period. The Hindu Majapahit Empire (1293–1520 AD) on eastern Java founded a Balinese colony in 1343. A mass Javanese immigration to Bali occurred in the next century when the Majapahit Empire fell in 1520. Bali's government then became an independent collection of Hindu kingdoms which led to a Balinese national identity and major enhancements in culture, arts, and economy. The nation with various kingdoms became independent for up to 386 years until 1906, when the Dutch subjugated and repulsed the natives for economic control and took it over. The first known European contact with Bali is thought to have been made in 1512, when a Portuguese expedition led by Antonio Abreau and Franciso Serrao sighted its northern shores. In 1597 the Dutch explorer Cornelis de Houtman arrived at Bali, and the Dutch East India Company was established in 1602. The Dutch government expanded its control across the Indonesian archipelago during the second half of the 19th century. Dutch political and economic control over Bali began in the 1840s on the island's north coast, when the Dutch pitted various competing Balinese realms against each other. In the late 1890s, struggles between Balinese kingdoms in the island's south were exploited by the Dutch to increase their control.
In the 1930s, anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, artists Miguel Covarrubias and Walter Spies, and musicologist Colin McPhee all spent time here. Their accounts of the island and its peoples created a western image of Bali as "an enchanted land of aesthetes at peace with themselves and nature." Western tourists began to visit the island.
Imperial Japan occupied Bali during World War II. It was not originally a target in their Netherlands East Indies Campaign, but as the airfields on Borneo were inoperative due to heavy rains, the Imperial Japanese Army decided to occupy Bali, which did not suffer from comparable weather. The island had no regular Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL) troops. There was only a Native Auxiliary Corps Prajoda (Korps Prajoda) consisting of about 600 native soldiers and several Dutch KNIL officers under the command of KNIL Lieutenant Colonel W.P. Roodenburg. On 19 February 1942 the Japanese forces landed near the town of Senoer [Senur]. The island was quickly captured.
During the Japanese occupation, a Balinese military officer, Gusti Ngurah Rai, formed a Balinese 'freedom army'. The harshness of Japanese occupation forces made them more resented than the Dutch colonial rulers. Following Japan's Pacific surrender in August 1945, the Dutch returned to Indonesia, including Bali, to reinstate their pre-war colonial administration. This was resisted by the Balinese rebels, who now used captured Japanese weapons. On 20 November 1946, the Battle of Marga was fought in Tabanan in central Bali. Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai, by then 29 years old, finally rallied his forces in east Bali at Marga Rana, where they made a suicide attack on the heavily armed Dutch. The Balinese battalion was entirely wiped out, breaking the last thread of Balinese military resistance. In 1946, the Dutch constituted Bali as one of the 13 administrative districts of the newly proclaimed State of East Indonesia, a rival state to the Republic of Indonesia, which was proclaimed and headed by Sukarno and Hatta. Bali was included in the "Republic of the United States of Indonesia" when the Netherlands recognized Indonesian independence on 29 December 1949.
The 1963 eruption of Mount Agung killed thousands, created economic havoc and forced many displaced Balinese to be transmigrated to other parts of Indonesia. Mirroring the widening of social divisions across Indonesia in the 1950s and early 1960s, Bali saw conflict between supporters of the traditional caste system, and those rejecting this system. Politically, the opposition was represented by supporters of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI), with tensions and ill-feeling further increased by the PKI's land reform programs. An attempted coup in Jakarta was put down by forces led by General Suharto.
The army became the dominant power as it instigated a violent anti-communist purge, in which the army blamed the PKI for the coup. Most estimates suggest that at least 500,000 people were killed across Indonesia, with an estimated 80,000 killed in Bali, equivalent to 5% of the island's population. With no Islamic forces involved as in Java and Sumatra, upper-caste PNI landlords led the extermination of PKI members.
As a result of the 1965/66 upheavals, Suharto was able to maneuver Sukarno out of the presidency. His “New Order” government reestablished relations with western countries. The pre-War Bali as "paradise" was revived in a modern form. The resulting large growth in tourism has led to a dramatic increase in Balinese standards of living and significant foreign exchange earned for the country. A bombing in 2002 by militant Islamists in the tourist area of Kuta killed 202 people, mostly foreigners. This attack, and another in 2005, severely reduced tourism, producing much economic hardship to the island.
The island is surrounded by coral reefs. Beaches in the south tend to have white sand while those in the north and west have black sand. Bali has no major waterways, although the Ho River is navigable by small sampan boats. Black sand beaches between Pasut and Klatingdukuh are being developed for tourism.
The largest city is the provincial capital, Denpasar, near the southern coast. Its population is around 491,500 (2002). Bali's second-largest city is the old colonial capital, Singaraja, which is located on the north coast and is home to around 100,000 people. Other important cities include the beach resort, Kuta, which is practically part of Denpasar's urban area, and Ubud, situated at the north of Denpasar, is the island's cultural centre.
Now for some information about animals. There are a wide variety of animals on Bali. These include 2 types of monkeys, 2 types of deer, wild boars, squirrels, bats, snakes and the Asian palm civet. This last one is particularly interesting. It lives on coffee farms and eats the coffee cherries. They partially digest these and the rest is expelled in their feces. The partially digested coffee cherries are collected, thoroughly washed and used to produce Kopi Luwak coffee which is supposedly the most expensive coffee in the world. In 2010, it sold for $100 to $600 per pound. Some specialty coffee shops sell Kopi Luwak for $35-$80 per cup. I don’t think I’ll be trying any.
We docked early today so all of the tours got away on time. We toured the Royal Temple and Tanah Lot. Our guide was Rupa. He explained about the difference between Balinese Hinduism and Indian Hinduism. In Bali, the cow is not sacred. They eat beef here as was evidenced by the MacDonald’s that we saw. They make offerings to the gods several times a day. These mostly consist of flowers especially the frangi pangi or plumeria. There are 4 types of temples. The 1st is the family temple. Every family has a temple in their home. This is where they place their family offerings several times daily. The next level of temple is the village temple. This is where the village as a whole places their offerings. The 3d level of temple is the business temple. Here the members of the same profession place their offerings. So, if you are a tour guide, there is a temple just for tour guides. The 4th and final level of temple is the public temple. Anyone of the island can and do go to these temples to place offerings. As you can imagine with close to 85% of the population being Hindu, there are temples everywhere. Many of the businesses and homes look like the ground floor is a temple, and they live or work on the 2d floor. Many of the altars were draped in black and white check cloth. This is to symbolize the yin and yang of life. There is a height restriction for buildings as none of them can be taller than their tallest temple. This means that there are no buildings taller than 4 stories.
The Balinese society is patriarchal so that the bride goes to live with her husband’s family. The family home is a compound with multi-generations living there. Each couple – grandparents, parents, sons with their wives, etc. – have their own house, but they share the common areas such as yards, gardens, etc. When a son marries, a new house is built for him and his bride. When a daughter marries, she moves to her husband’s house/compound. Before she leaves her home, she says a goodbye prayer in her family’s temple. When she arrives at her husband’s home, she says a hello prayer in her husband’s family temple. If the couple should divorce (divorce rate is VERY low here), she says a goodbye prayer at her husband’s family temple. When she arrives back at her parent’s compound, she says a hello prayer at her family’s temple. In the past there were arranged marriages, and you had to marry within your caste. Today, that is no longer true. The caste system has largely been done away with. Young people today meet through social media such as Facebook or online dating sites. They meet in coffee shops, at work or anyplace where young people gather.
Free education is provided through the 6th grade. 99% of children go this far. About 75% (I think that’s what it was – it was a high rate anyway), go on to high school. High school is not free. You have to pay the equivalent of $20 per month. Since the average salary of a Balinese is about $300, this is a commitment. When you reach the college level, less than 2% go to school. They have several universities even though the attendance rate of all high school graduates is low. Since 4 million plus live on the island, there are still a lot of university students.
The unemployment rate is about 20%, but since everyone lives in a family compound, there is little to no homelessness. The family takes care of its own. Rupa was without work for a year when the tourism trade dropped off after a couple of bombings and at least one volcano eruption between 2002 and 2009. He worked on the family rice paddy during that time.
Rice paddies are everywhere. They harvest 3 crops of rice each year. As you can imagine rice is a staple in their diet. Most of what they grow and eat is white rice although there is some black rice grown. It sounded like every family has at least one rice paddy so that they have access to the staple food even if they are poor.
The process of batik was developed on Bali as has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage designation. We visited a batik factory where I got my hat decorated with a batik butterfly. Here’s a brief description of the process from Wikipedia:
Batik is a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth, or cloth made using this technique. Batik is made either by drawing dots and lines of the resist with a spouted tool called a canting (also spelled tjanting), or by printing the resist with a copper stamp called a cap (also spelled tjap). The applied wax resists dyes and therefore allows the artisan to colour selectively by soaking the cloth in one colour, removing the wax with boiling water, and repeating if multiple colours are desired.
A tradition of making batik is found in various countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Nigeria; the batik of Indonesia, however, is the best-known. Indonesian batik made in the island of Java has a long history of acculturation, with diverse patterns influenced by a variety of cultures, and is the most developed in terms of pattern, technique, and the quality of workmanship. In October 2009, UNESCO designated Indonesian batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
There was a gift shop, of course, and I bought a beautiful batik painting of orchids. I will have to have it framed when I get home which will probably cost 3 times as much as what I paid for it.
The Royal Temple was the next stop. This is now a public temple but was originally built for the royal family which is no more. It has an outer, middle and inner section. The outer section is like a nicely laid out garden. You go up a few steps to arrive at the middle section which continues to look like a garden but has a couple of buildings in it. Where you pass into the inner section, there is an entrance gate with 3 doors in it. Women who are having their period are strictly forbidden to enter the inner temple as are non-Hindus. The inner temple is surrounded by a waist high wall which we were able to walk around and look into the inner temple. The central door will be opened for ceremonies. The gates on the left and right are to get out into the daily activities at the foundation. The three court yards of the temple symbolize the three-level world of cosmology. The bottom level is the human world. The second level is sacred gods. The third level symbolizes Heaven where God Almighty lives. As recounted in the ancient story Adhiparwa, the entire complex of temples depict Mount Mahameru floating in a sea of milk.
On the way out we saw some Hindu ladies who were on their way to the inner temple. They very nicely posed for pictures for us.
As we drove to the Tanah Lot, we saw lots of rice paddies. Some were under water as the rice had just been planted while some had been harvested and others were at stages in between.
Tanah Lot is an interesting temple. It is located on a rock which is accessible when the tide is low. When the tide is high a red flag is planted on the walkway to indicate that the surf will over wash the path and that it is extremely dangerous to be on the path. It was high tide when we were there so we were not able to walk to it, but we did overlook it from a nearby point. It is a beautiful spot and well worth seeing even if you had to walk the gauntlet of little shops and individuals hawking everything from fruits, grilled corn-on-the-cob to postcards to toys to clothes to all kinds of souvenirs. After viewing the temple, we beat a hasty retreat to the bus staying close to Rupa so that we would be bothered somewhat less.
Tanah Lot means "Land [sic: in the] Sea" in the Balinese language. Located in Tabanan, about 12 miles from Denpasar, the temple sits on a large offshore rock which has been shaped continuously over the years by the ocean tide.
Tanah Lot is claimed to be the work of the 16th-century Dang Hyang Nirartha. During his travels along the south coast he saw the rock-island's beautiful setting and rested there. Some fishermen saw him, and bought him gifts. Nirartha then spent the night on the little island. Later he spoke to the fishermen and told them to build a shrine on the rock, for he felt it to be a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods. The main deity of the temple is Dewa Baruna or Bhatara Segara, who is the sea god or sea power and these days, Nirartha is also worshipped here.
The Tanah Lot temple was built and has been a part of Balinese mythology for centuries. The temple is one of seven sea temples around the Balinese coast. Each of the sea temples was established within eyesight of the next to form a chain along the south-western coast. In addition to Balinese mythology, the temple was significantly influenced by Hinduism.
At the base of the rocky island, venomous sea snakes are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. The temple is purportedly protected by a giant snake, which was created from Nirartha's selendang (a type of sash) when he established the island.
Despite the fact that Bali is overcrowded for its size, it is clean. Perhaps we wouldn’t have notice that so much if we hadn’t recently been on Papua New Guinea which is bigger and has a smaller population but which is dirty with trash being strewn everywhere. Someone commented on how clean everything seemed to be, and Rupa said that the Hindu way is to keep things clean. Every day, you are responsible for keeping you, your things and your area clean.
Traffic is awful on the island as I suppose it would have to be since there are 4.5 million on this small island. The drive from the temple which was probably about 30 kilometers took over 2 hours. It was interesting to note that most folks directing traffic were not policemen AND they were directing from the sidewalks. We did see a couple of policemen who were directing traffic from the middle of the street, but there were near as many as the local folks who took it upon themselves to direct traffic. Interesting enough, the traffic paid as much attention to the local folks as to the police. We saw lots of things being carried on motor bikes including one which had a load of bananas. You almost couldn’t see the rider as he was surrounded by stalks of bananas in front, back and on all sides of him. We also saw a truck with cages of chickens on it. They were crammed into the small cages, and some were even upside down with their legs sticking through the top of the cage. Animal rights people would have had a conniption fit over the way these chickens were being treated.
We were supposed to be back by 5:45, but because of the heavy traffic which had been bad all day but truly awful during rush hour, we did not get until 6:25. We still had to clear security, get to our cabin on the 4th deck, get dressed and make it to the 10th deck for our 6:30 dinner reservation at the Tuscany Steak Room. Needless to say, we were 15 minutes late. When we finally got there, we were able to sit back and relax. I had the shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque, filet mignon, asparagus and chocolate cream Brule. Patsy had a yellow beet appetizer, a filet mignon with asparagus and a baked tomato half. Their steaks are very yummy!
The entertainment tonight was a Balinese dance troupe. They are extraordinary dancers who use their fingers, heads, shoulders and above all their eyes to convey the meaning in their dance. Their costumes were beautiful, and the movement of their fingers and eyes was compelling even if you didn’t entirely understand the meaning of each gesture. Fortunately, each dance was explained so that you had some idea of what was happening.
It was a busy day, and the heat had been intense so we were more than ready to turn in.
Patsy’s Trivia team won 1st today. Way to Go!