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5 Essential Bali Experiences

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May 31, 2011


© Adhi Rachdian

Bali is a cultural wonderland and sensory delight that leaves you wanting more each time you leave. It is rare to meet someone who has holidayed in Bali that doesn’t want to go again or hasn’t already been multiple times and there’s good reason for this. As you explore deeper into the country you begin to connect further with the people that make this place so fantastic. Friendly, interesting people with stories to tell and experiences aplenty make you feel closer than you would’ve ever imagined.

With so much on offer and plenty of cheap flights available, it’s only appropriate that we offer our top 5 Bali experiences for those who haven’t been yet. If you tick these off the list you’ll get to experience just a few of the great things on offer.

#1: Ride a Scooter in Kuta

If you’re looking to experience Bali at its best, join the hundreds of scooters that pack the streets and get a taste of the local life. For a place with next to no road rules, you feel surprisingly safe providing you stay alert! Just keep in mind that it’s actually illegal to ride a scooter without a license, although it seems to be the norm for tourists and locals alike. Just keep 50,000 Rupiah on you at all times in case you are unlucky enough to have a run-in with the local law enforcement.

#2: Bali Safari and Marine Park

The Bali Safari and Marine Park is a must-see for tourists. Get up close and personal with amazing wildlife including piranhas, elephants, white tigers and rhinoceros. Two musts are an elephant ride through the safari park and dinner at the Tsavo Lion Restaurant. There’s something about eating in a fully glass-cased restaurant while lions are being fed five meters away that makes for a truly unforgettable dining experience.

#3: Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

Wander amongst the trees and experience the monkeys in their natural environment. Be sure to purchase some bananas on your way in so that you can experience these great creatures by hand feeding them. Be sure to give up the bananas when they want them however, as they’ll often do whatever it takes to get them!

#4: Mother Temple of Besakih

The Mother Temple of Besakih sits on the sloping hills of Mount Agung and is the largest and most important temple in Bali. There are over seventy festivals held at the temple each year, ranging from small to large scale celebrations and times of worship for the local communities. There are a number of temples in the group, making it an incredible experience and sight to see.

#5: Sunset Dinner at Jimbaran Beach

Head to Jimbaran Beach for a dinner that you won’t forget. With restaurants situated directly on the beach, indulge in some of the best seafood you will ever have the chance to enjoy. Seating for these restaurants is directly on the soft sands of the beach. When combined with the sun setting directly in front of you, they provide one of the most romantic dining experiences in Bali.

We have only scratched the surface of what this amazing country has to offer to travellers. With cheap flights to Balibecoming a common occurrence particularly for nearby countries, it is no wonder the Bali experience has become a popular one.


Written by Adhi Rachdian

16 Juli 2015 at 06:45

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Places to see monsters

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Aug 14, 2013
Category: Quirky Travel

Written by Adhi Rachdian

16 Juli 2015 at 06:42

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Dragon Watching: Exploring Komodo Island

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Oct 13, 2014
Category: Active

Written by Adhi Rachdian

16 Juli 2015 at 06:40

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My 10 Favorite Places in Bali

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by by Lash WorldTour

Mt Agung from Sanur beach- Bali

My 10 Favorite Places in Bali 

While traveling these many years I’ve discovered that a majority of people seem to have a rather negative view of Bali, Indonesia.

Australians and New Zealanders, in particular, think of Bali as a crazy vacation spot for wild party-ing surfers and bar-hopping youths. Indeed, a huge volume of such young Australians head to Bali each year to surf and drink themselves under the table. After all, Bali is so very close to Oz and comparatively extremely inexpensive.

Many North Americans and Europeans, on the other hand, seem to consider Bali as a grossly over-developed tourist trap full of upscale, all-inclusive resorts where visitors never step outside the resort grounds to experience the local culture. Certainly, those sorts of beach-side paradise resorts and package vacationers do exist on Bali island, particularly in the far south.

Hindu temple ceremony in north Bali

However, those are just two very small slices of Bali Island. Beyond the horribly over-developed, traffic-congested southern shores, Bali is full of stunning terraced rice fields, volcanoes & crater lakes, outdoor adventures, world-class artworks and intriguing Hindu culture.

So whenever I tell people that Bali is one of my favorite places on the planet, they want to know why. After I tell them all about Bali’s amazing culture, arts and pristine nature, they inevitably ask my recommendations on where to go and what to do at Island of Gods.

As a result, I’ve decided to write this post to tell more people unfamiliar with the real Bali where they can go to enjoy the wonderful Bali that I know and to escape the horrid tourist crowds and heathen bars of the vast Kuta-Legian-Seminyak sprawl in the south.

Following are my 10 favorite places in Bali, spots I try to visit every time I return to my favorite island on Earth.

A. Southern Bali

Most of Bali’s huge upscale luxury resorts and grossly over-developed tourist zones are located in southern Bali, not far from the international airport. The vast Kuta-Legian-Seminyak sprawl is particularly awful.

However, the south still has a few great spots that I really love visiting.

one of my 10 favorite places in Bali is Sanur Beach

1. Sanur

Sanur has always been my favorite place in southern Bali and, indeed, one of my ongoing favorite places on the whole island. Just 15 km / 45 minutes from the airport, Sanur is an ideal place to start and end a trip to Bali.

Sanur has always been a somewhat upscale area, as it was initially settled by Balinese high Hindu caste, artists and priests. A 5-km beach is backed by tasteful boutique resorts, all with stunning landscaped gardens, Balinese statues, stone walls and artworks. The entire 5-km beach stretch remains traffic free as no road runs along it. Just the sounds of the sea, wind and birds.

As a result of the original artists, musicians and religious figures, Sanur is full of traditional Balinese culture, including gamelan orchestras, fine dance troupes and loads of Balinese architecture. Sanur night market offers a huge variety of delicious Indonesian cuisines from Bali, Java, Sumatra and other areas.

I always try to stay at least one week in Sanur to enjoy the peaceful beaches, to feast on delicious market meals and to marvel at the gorgeous art, architecture, and gardens.

This post details my favorite guest house in Sanur

2. Uluwatu Cliffs & Temple

The extreme southern tip of Bali ends dramatically with tall vertical cliffs plunging into the wild sea. Arriving by airplane, you can clearly see Uluwatu cliffs soaring into the sky.

On top of those cliffs, perched on the very edge, is Pura Uluwatu – Uluwatu Temple. And hoards of monkeys.

Peering over the cliff edge, with the thundering Pacific Ocean far, far below, is a captivating experience.

Uluwatu makes an easy half day trip from Sanur (or other areas in southern Bali). The temple and cliffs are dramatic enough for me to try visiting every time I’m in Bali.

Ulutwatu Beach - Balii - photo by Adhi Rachdian on Flickr CC

3. Nusa Dua Resorts & beaches

Nusa Dua is also located at the very southern tip of Bali. It was developed specifically as an ultra-high end luxury resort destination, far from the real Bali. It’s a place for vacationers who want simply to luxuriate in a tropical paradise, to de-strss and get away from the world.

Not surprisingly then, Nusa Dua consists of a dozen or so world-class resorts with extensive landscaped gardens, immaculately-clean powdery beaches, gourmet restaurants, serene spas and peaceful sitting spaces.

So when I feel like appreciating such luxurious surroundings and tanning on some of Bali’s very best beaches, I often head down to Nusa Dua for a day trip.

Incidentally, there’s also public access to Nusa Dua’s long, sweeping beaches and some stunning cliffs where sea water crashes & blows high into the air during certain tidal conditions.

B. Central Bali

Central Bali is dominated by several volcanoes, steeply terraced rice fields, lush forests, tiny traditional villages, important Hindu temples and amazing Balinese arts & culture. It’s an extremely diverse and beautiful area.

gamelan troupe at a Bali Cremation in Ubud

4. Ubud

Any guidebook will quickly point out that Ubud is Bali’s cultural heart. Ubud is where most art galleries, museums, dance & gamelan troupes reside. If you want to find out what Balinese arts are all about, this is where you go.

I’m a sucker for traditional art & culture, so during my 1st trip to Bali back in 2000, I made a bee-line for Ubud. I stayed for two weeks, visiting every museum and gallery, studying various painting styles and famous artists’ works, attending gamelan/dance rehearsals and performances and getting caught up in religious ceremonies, cremation rites, festivals and daily Hindu customs. It was fascinating.

Unfortunately, since that time Ubud has become set squarely on the main tourist route. Traffic clogs the main roads, hordes of tourists crowd sidewalks, shops and restaurants in high season months. And touts are on the rampage.

As a result, I avoided Ubud for a full decade. But back in 2010 I re-discovered Ubud’s charms. I found out that down the side streets & alleys, off the main roads, Ubud life still rolls along in its traditional ways, pretty much tourist free. It’s peaceful, quiet and full of friendly, helpful charming locals.

Here are my recommended 10 Free Things to do in Ubud  – My Favorite Guest House in Ubud  – Photos of Balinese Cremation Ceremony

local man raking cloves on the slopes of Mt Batur volcano

5. Drive up over Mt. Batur

Over the years I’ve explored most of Bali by bicycle and motorbike. I probably haven’t driven every single road in Bali, but close to 90% I’d estimate. I’ve detailed my 5 Favorite Drives in Bali here.

Perhaps my very favorite drive is to head north out of Ubud on back roads, up to Mt. Batur crater rim at Kintamani and then down the other side to Bali’s far north coast near Singaraja.

The Ubud side roads climb steadily up the flanks of massive Mt. Batur volcano, passing through gorgeous terraced rice fields and a dozen or so tiny Balinese villages. The crater rim provides stunning views down into Batur Crater. And the road down to the north coast winds its way along razor-edged ridges before plummeting through pretty forests, past clove plantations and through more traditional villages.

The drive takes 2-3 hours by motorbike from Ubud.

Lake Bratan & Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple

6. Bedugul / Lake Bratan

Lake Bratan with Pura Ulun Danu Bratan (Temple) seemingly floating on its surface, is one of Bali’s most famous, most visited and most photographed sites. The 11-tiered, thatched pagoda certainly is quite striking, I must admit.

Nearby Bedugul town, on the southern edge of the crater, is a seedy little place, but with a couple specialties that make it worth visiting. You see, Bedugul sells locally-grown strawberries! And fresh strawberries are something very rare in SE Asia with its tropical climate.

Bedugul also serves up particularly delicious mutton and chicken sates.

As a result, I enjoy making a trip up there to drive through the large crater, visit Lake Bratan & temple and gorge myself on mutton sate and strawberries.

Lake Buyan in central Bali

7. Crater Lakes Tamblingan & Buyan

Lake Bratan with Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple is one of Bali’s most famous sites. The large crater lake sits in the middle of massive Bratan crater, along with a few villages, extensive vegetable farms and even a golf course!

Nearby, on the northern crater edge, lie two much less known but stunning crater lakes: Lake Buyan and Lake Tamblingan. While visitors view Lake Bratan by strolling along its shores, views of these two lakes are from high up on the crater edge.

A narrow paved road runs along the crater edge, providing several viewpoints over the gorgeous lakes. A few local coffee shops and small restaurants serve drinks and meals on tables set out under big trees right on the edge of the crater drop off.

It’s a great place to visit for a half day trip and a coffee break or picnic.

C. More remote areas

Following are places out around the fringes of Bali that I especially love to visit.

huge Banyan tree near Munduk

8. Munduk

Munduk is a tiny ridge-line village located on a razor-sharp ridge on the northern side of Bratan crater region. During the past decade, a number of small boutique resorts have sprung up in the village, catering to foreign visitors.

For some reason, French tourists are particularly clue-d in to Munduk. In fact, it was my French friend who turned me on to this great spot, after I’d already been visiting Bali for over a decade.

On her recommendation, I checked it out a few years ago and discovered yet another favorite spot in Bali. Views are superb. Walks to surrounding terraced rice fields, forests, villages and one of the island’s most massive Banyan trees provide strenuous exercise and adventure.

I now try to visit Munduk for a few days every time I return to Bali.

Incidentally, Munduk is located just down the mountain a bit from Lakes Tamblingan and Buyan.

Amed coastline

9. Amed

Amed consists of a series of small curving coves separated by rocky headlands along the far northeastern coast of Bali island. Each bay holds a traditional fishing village. Locals live much like they always have, on the steep hillsides and in the small beach-side villages.

Since the mid 1980s some privately owned small boutique resorts have snuck into the bays & coves along Amed’s coast. Even today, with dozens of such resorts well-established, the region retains its traditional ways of life and feels nearly untouched by the discreet tourism that has infiltrated.

scuba diving on beautiful coral reef

Amed is the best places in Bali for scuba diving and snorkeling, with year-round warm, calm seas and stunning reefs just off shore. It’s one of the best places in Bali to learn about/observe traditional ways of life, including Salt Making and Mackerel Fishing.

It’s also a fantastic place to unwind, escape from the world and simply chill out. Indeed, many expats living in Southern Bale head to Amed to do just that, whenever the have a chance.

Amed remains one of my favorite places in Bali. I taught scuba diving there three seasons and still love returning to visit the lovely boutique resorts and many friends I’ve made over the years.

I’ve written over a dozen posts about Amed, scuba diving in the region, and Amed’s traditional lifestyles here.

Javanese fishing boats near Negara

10. Negara

Negara is a small city located in far southwest Bali. Because it’s situated so close to neighboring Java island, many Javanese have relocated to the region. As a result, Negara is an interesting blend of Balinese Hindu and Javanese Muslim cultures.

The town itself isn’t particularly gorgeous, but it holds a few unique quirks, such as the Javanese horse & cart taxis and some delicious traditional Indonesian cakes.

It’s the countryside immediately surrounding town that holds the real attractions. Some of Bali’s most beautiful flat rice fields stretch to the sea, starting just south of town. Local villages fluctuate between Muslim inhabitants with their mosques and Hindu villages with their distinctive Balinese temples.

Wild beaches with amazing views of nearby Java flank the coast. Colorful Javanese fishing boats anchor in a winding river.

Inland from Negara are several important Hindu temples, traditional mountain villages and, amazingly, Bali’s only Christian villages, complete with Churches!

This all makes Negara a very intriguing and very off-the-beaten-track place.

Written by Adhi Rachdian

16 Juli 2015 at 06:38

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New Groups of Komodo Dragons Discovered in Flores

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written by Linda McCormick
Published on 12/03/2014

Until recently, it was believed endangered Komodo dragons were only found in a few areas of Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.

Yet, a few weeks ago a team of conservationists confirmed the presence of two new communities living in the Mbeliling forest area, in the far west of Flores.

komodo dragon indonesia

The find was disclosed by Irfan Saputra, the communcations and awareness officer in Mbeliling, who told the Jakarta Postthe discovery was significant as it proved the presence of Komodo dragons in areas other than on the Komodo and Rinca islands, where the animals are commonly found.

rinca island komodo dragon

There have been occasional sightings of Komodo dragons on the northern coast of Flores, but no concrete evidence supported the reports. These new groups of Komodos were filmed roaming around research camera traps.

In all, 12 Komodos have been discovered; five in Golo Mori coastal forest and another seven in Tanjung Kerta Mese.

Richard Hume, country manager for the Indonesian Tourist Board, commented,

“The discovery of a new community of Komodo dragons is a truly remarkable find.” He said, “Not only does it provide renewed hope for the ongoing survival of this fascinating species, it also reinforces Indonesia’s position as one of the greatest wildlife destinations on Earth.”

Named after the island on which it was first discovered, the Komodo dragon is classed as the world’s largest lizard and can grow up to ten feet long. It is thought the animals have roamed the wilds of Indonesia for millions of years, and were only discovered by humans about 100 years ago.

It is hoped the emergence these new groups of Komodos will help promote conservation efforts on Flores.

Komodo dragon taking a dip, Komodo National Park.  Image: Adhi Rachdian

Komodo National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, and is the only place in the world where visitors have the opportunity of seeing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitiat.

Written by Adhi Rachdian

16 Juli 2015 at 06:35

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Archaeological Study of Ancient Nautical Disasters


There are without a doubt thousands of shipwrecks underwater and on dry land; most of them are discovered by accident, although some have been deliberately sought. Here are some of the ancient shipwrecks that have been subjected to careful archaeological study.

Rocky Shore on Belitung Island - Adhi Rachdian

Rocky Shore on Belitung Island. Adhi Rachdian

1.  Belitung Shipwreck

The Belitung Shipwreck is a 9th century shipwreck discovered in 1998 by a sea-cucumber diver. The wreck originated in Arabia or India, and lies in the South China Sea north of Belitung Island, Tanjung Pandan, Indonesia, approximately 17 meters below the current water line. More »

Written by Adhi Rachdian

16 Juli 2015 at 06:31

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Arab Saudi Benahi Transportasi Madinah

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Selasa, 7 April 2015 | 11:21 WIB


Dana sebesar 100 juta dolar AS digelontorkan pemerintah Arab Saudi untuk membayar konsultan asal AS memperbaiki sistem transportasi di kota Madinah. Perbaikan sarana ini untuk mendukung target mendatangkan 8,6 juta peziarah umroh dan 3,6 juta jamaah haji pada 2040.

Suasana jalanan di sudut kota Madinah, Arab Saudi. (Foto: Adhi Rachdian / Foter / CC BY) , Jakarta – Kota-kota modern umumnya memiliki sarana transportasi yang baik.  Pemerintah mereka serius menata kota agar warganya merasa nyaman. Sistem transportasi yang canggih juga menjadi simbol peradaban masa kini.

Salah satu negara yang getol membangung sarana transportasi modern adalah Arab Saudi. Mereka  merombak transportasi di kota Madinah untuk meningkatkan jumlah peziarah. Tidak tanggung-tanggung, dana yang disediakan sebesar  100 juta dolar AS hanya untuk program konsultasi paling ambisius di Timur Tengah itu.

Badan Pembangungan Al Madinah Al Munawwarah (MMDA) menunjuk konsultan Louis Berger untuk menggarap proyek tersebut. Louis Berger merupakan perusahaan arsitek dan teknik sipil terkemuka di Amerika Serikat. Perusahaan ini mendapat banyak proyek pembangunan kembali Irak dan Afganistan setelah perang.

Kedua pihak menandatangani perjanjian untukpembangunan infrastruktur hingga 2040. Ketua MMDA Faisal bin Salman mengatakan, seperti diberitakan Arabian Business pada 4 April 2015, Presiden Louis Berger, James Stamatis mengaku, transportasi di Madinah akan menjadi salah satu yang paling canggih di dunia.

“Kami sangat bangga bekerja sama dengan MMDA dalam menerapkan Program Transportasi Publik Madinah (MPTP) pembangunan kota suci Madinah,” kata Stamatis.

Pengunjung melonjak 

Dalam kontrak lima tahun itu, Louis Berger bakal memberi dukungan perencanaan pembangunan dalam lima tahun ke depan. Rencana itu mencakup pembangunan jaringan metro dan bus. Selain itu, pemerintah Arab Saudi bakal memperbaiki jalan-jalan utama.

Tidak hanya itu, pemerintah juga bakal membangun fasilitas terkait seperti stasiun, parker dan sistem transportasi pintar (ITS).

Madinah tengah berbenah untuk menambah pengunjung dengan memperluas masjid dan bandara. Madinah ditargetkan mampu menampung 8,6 juta peziarah umrah dan 3,6 juta peziarah haji pada 2040. Saat ini, penduduk Madinah mencapai 1,1 juta orang.

Jumlah itu 4 kali lipat lebih banyak ketimbang peziarah di Arab Saudi pada 1435 jiiriah atau periode November 2013 hingga Oktober 2014.

Badan Pusat Statistik dan Informasi Arab Saudi mencatat, jumlah peziarah pada periode itu mencapai 2.085.238 orang. Itu terdiri dari 1.389.053 peziarah internasional dan 696.185 peziarah dalam negeri.

Untuk itu, Louis Berger bakal terlibat langsung dalam tim MPTP dan MMDA. Direktur Eksekutif Louis Berger untuk Timur Tengah dan Afrika Utara, Thomas Topolski mengatakan, seperti dikutip Arabnews pada 05 April 2015, Louis Berger bakal terlibat secara menyeluruh dalam perencanaan dan pengawasan.

Konsultan-konsultan lain bahkan mesti bekerja di bawah pengawasan Louis Berger. Ia bakal memberikan pelatihan pada pejabat senior MMMDA untuk mengembangkan kemampuan mereka. Pelatihan juga bakal diberikan pada manajer senior konsultan-konsultan mega proyek itu.

Setelahnya, Louis Berger bakal memberikan peran-peran mereka pada tenaga profesional Arab Saudi di tengah proyek.

“Begitu proyek selesai, MPTP akan menghasilkan fasilitas transportasi kelas dunia. Madinah bakal dapat memastikan keamanan bagi pengunjung, pezirah dan warganya.  Dalam prosesnya, profesional Saudi juga akan mendapat pengetahuan dan pelatihan,” kata Thomas Topolski.

Madinah merupakan kota paling banyak dikunjungi peziarah setelah Mekah. Di Madinah, terdapat masjid Nabawi yang ramai dikunjungi.

Masjid itu merupakan tempat suci kedua bagi umat Islam setelah Kabah. Banyak muslim dunia mengunjungi masjid itu karena terdapat makam  nabi Muhammad  Rasulullah SAW, Abu Bakar, dan Umar bin Khattab.*

Editor: Drajat Kurniawan (Arabnews, Arabian Business)

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Written by Adhi Rachdian

16 Juli 2015 at 06:27

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