Guest Post: Sightseeing in Bali
Bali is an extraordinary island located within the archipelago of Indonesia. Much lauded as a tourist destination, it is not, as might be imagined, simply about beaches, surfing and spa resorts, although these delightful features are a great attraction for many visitors. In fact, Bali has an honorable and ancient heritage, and Hinduism remains deeply ingrained in contemporary life, as it has been throughout its long cultural history.
What to see:
* Pura Besaikh is the most sacred of all Indonesian temples. Situated on Mount Agung, on an impressively extensive site, it’s a magnet for researchers as well as visitors. Almost like a sacred village with a cathedral at its heart, it comprises a central house of worship in the form of a meticulously laid out, highly decorated temple, surrounded by a number of smaller shrines and temples. Ancient Balinese architectural rules were followed when it was created, with beautiful results.
* Another striking site that attracts many visitors, the Taman Ayun Temple appears to float on a sea of lakes, which surround it on all sides. This is a traditional religious and cultural locale revered by local people.
* Puri Lukisan is the oldest of all the art galleries in Ubud, of which there are many, and is home to an impressive collection of paintings, woodcarvings and stonework belonging to a number of different artistic schools, and dating from the 1930s to the present day.
* Goa Gajah, which is also called the Elephant Cave, is in Central Bali near Ubud. Peering into the forbidding entrance, surrounded by dark pools, is a sinister experience. It’s said that at one time it was a ‘safe haven’ for priests, and that may well have been the case; it gives the impression, nonetheless, of being an unsettlingly menacing place.
* The Don Antonio Blanco Museum, on the other hand, combines a fabulous art collection, including the works of the Spanish masters, with an unusually uplifting building that is another fine example of Balinese architecture. There are extensive grounds and a unique Blanco family temple.
* Besides the fine art collections in the many museums and galleries, the stunning Hindu architecture and the sacred sites, Bali also plays host to an ecologically important forest and park, where an abundant variety of macaque monkey species can be found. This is the Ubud Monkey Forest and Bird Park, which stretches for many square miles and is peppered with lush vegetation and tropical foliage. It’s possible to walk all the way around the forest admiring the birds and other wildlife and spotting monkeys along the way.
* If getting away from the tourist areas is what’s required, then East Bali provides attractive scenery and charming small towns and villages, such as Kamasan, once the center of Balinese classic art.
* Over in West Bali between Candidasa and Amlapura, the terraced mountains display the enduring rice paddies, which are stunning to look at all year round, but most of all in the pre-harvest months when they appear to be filled with tall green grasses.
Where to stay
In Central Bali, Petang, Payangan and Baturiti are well placed to give access to all parts of this charming island. However, being a small place, Bali villas in every part of the island are within easy reach of the principal attractions, no matter where these may be.