Sunday, January 18, 2009

Around Bali

Bali, the fabled "Island of the Gods", has been enchanting visitors for centuries with is rich cultural traditions and spectacular panoramas. From lofty, mist enshrouded volcanoes and cool mountain lakes down through terraced rice fields to a golden strand lapped by azure waters, every square inch Bali offers a fresh and unforgettable image.
No less enchanting are its people, some 2.7 million souls whose artistry and piety are recognized throughout the world. Balinese Hinduism, a complex fusion of Indian cosmology, Tantric Buddhism and homegrown mythology, is the primary faith of Bali's inhabitants, and so deeply woven into the fabric of their daily lives that the line between the spiritual and the material is blurry at best.

Those of you keen on delving into the island's fascinating culture will have plenty of opportunities, as colourful ceremonies and traditional performances occur with the regularity of sunrise. Most hotels offer nightly dance shows of one form or another, tailored to tourist audiences but none the less exquisite. The hill town of Ubud, the island's premier arts centre, alson has a full schedule of performances, and the nearby stone-cutter's village of Batubulan is famed for its Barong lion dances.
The shoppers among you will find Bali a treasure house of handicrafts and fine works of art. The Balinese are incredibly gifted artists and craftsmen, and their material creations are imbued with the same sense of wonderment with which they regard their universe. Stone and wood carvings, traditional, and modern paintings and intricately designed jewelry in gold and silver are readily available in shops and galleries throughout the island.
As for recreation, there is no shortage of options. Nature walks, horseback riding, diving, surfing-even bungy jumping and white water rafting-await the adventurous here.

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