A Way of Life
The overriding feature about Bali is the total integration between religion and everyday life. While it is wonderful to see the dances and the arts, the
handicrafts and the ceremonial processions, it’s necessary to understand that all is integrated with the spiritual, which permeates all of life.
The charming offerings on the dashboards of cars, the flowers in the hair of men and women, and the offerings by all the shops are more than something for decoration. They are all symbols of belief in one of the world’s most unique religions, and one which is a living expression of people’s beliefs and lives.
In a conscious effort to safeguard their traditional culture, the Balinese (who are out-numbered annually by visitors) concentrate tourism in enclaves of lavish resort hotels situated amid manicured lawns, leaving much of the island remote and unspoiled.
The Other Side
For the tourist, Bali is rich in wonders to see, and limitless as to beauty and the glory of nature. From the rice terraces of Tabanan to the beaches to the Temples to the art galleries of Ubud, the visitor will never want to leave.
There are outer islands from which to scuba and snorkel and relax, mountains to climb, and dance and puppet (Wayang Kulit) performances to see. There are tours of the “Real Bali” and visits to the popular Bali. There are restaurants with the finest food and warungs full of rich flavor of local fare.
The only choice is how to spend your time. Boredom is never an option. Neither is lack of luxury and pampering, with spas offering baths in lotus leaves and every type of massage from the traditional Balinese healing massage to the full day of spa treatments.
There is another side to Bali.
When the curtain is drawn back, for most of Bali’s rural population, life is very different from the emotive images portrayed in bright tourist brochures.
Here, in stark contrast, there are no sparkling coral beaches, only hour upon hour of back-breaking toil in the oozing mud of the rice terraces, interspersed regularly with colorful, complex rituals overseen by priests to ensure the gods look favorably on the people and the endless cycle of labor.
These rituals, and the offerings which always accompany them, take hours of labor, mostly on the part of the women. Even in heavily visited areas, there remain many families who see little of the economic bene-fits tourism supposedly brings.