FAMTRIP 2019/WONDERFUL INDONESIA
By Ansar Mahmood Bhatti
FAMTRIP 2019 team landed at Bali International Airport on October 21, 2019 and those of us visiting Bali for the first time were simply nonplused to see the décor and ambiance of the airport. Beautifully decorated walls; pathways littered with posters and statues depicting the lifestyle of Balinese people abruptly snatched our attention. It was my third time in Bali however the new comers could not resist themselves praising the grandeur of Bali airport. But it was just a beginning, I told them. Get ready for more adventures and eventful days ahead.
We arrived in Bali in the afternoon. The local hosts were there to greet us with garlands. Ambassador of Indonesia Iwan S Amri and his spouse who were accompanying us in Bali also, told us that it was the traditional way of Balinese to welcome their guests and thus show their love and respect for the visitors. Our host Eida, in her middle age, yet astute and energetic, briefed us about Bali besides sharing with us the program for next three days. Soon we arrived at our hotel in Kuta area. It was in the city center and on a walking distance from all main attractions of Bali. Kuta is perhaps the busiest tourist center in Bali and most of the tourists prefer to stay in this area. For those interested in traditional Balinese pieces of art, handcrafts and souvenirs Kuta happens to be the best place.
Day’s first engagement started with dinner at Kuta beach. It is like a food market. Scores of restaurants are lined on the beach offering delicious cuisines. Some of the restaurants offer traditional Balinese dances also that indeed provide a real feast to visitors. Couples on honey moon in Bali prefer to have at least one dinner at this place. Even those who are not on honey moon find the place equally romantic and mesmerizing. Here you would find all kinds of sea food such as crabs, prawns, fish of course, shell fish, lobster and what not. And if you do not find things of your choice then there is always a man selling corns nearby, so do not hesitate to pick one. It would cost you Rs 200 though.
Indonesia currency is very complicated because of too many zeros. So what you simply need to do is just remove two zeros and it will turn into Pakistani rupees. For example the biggest currency note is 100,000/- (One hundred thousand). So you just remove two zeros and it will become equal to 1,000 Pak rupee, which means Indonesian 100,000 is equal to almost Pakistani 1,000.
BARONG DANCE PERFORMANCE
Most of us wanted to see or visit the different side of Bali Island. One of the authentic and unique sides of Bali is a traditional Balinese dance performance, which is called Barong Dance Bali. There are many kinds of Barong dance in Bali, and the famous one is Barong Ket dance. The dance venue was not far from our hotel therefore we reached the place well before start of the dance and got seats with excellent view therefore all of us had a vantage position to take pictures and shoot videos.
From the shape and design of Barong Ket, it takes form as an animal mix between tiger, lion, dragon and a cow shape. The entire body of the Barong Ket decorated with traditional Balinese carvings made from cow-hide. On the body of Barong Ket, you also will see much fur. It required two dancers to wear the Barong Ket costume. The FAMTRIP participants after the dance had a group picture with the artists who took part in the dance performance.
PENGLIPURAN, A VILLAGE OF IMMACULATE PEACE
We were taken to a traditional model village of Bali called Penglipuran. Located at 625 meters above the sea level Penglipuran is one of the most placid, clean, and serene village throughout the whole nation, and one of the three cleanest in the whole world. Being untouchable by modernization the village’s atmosphere and the immaculate gardens surrounding them should be an exceptionally authentic experience for you to visit, from its majestic and mythical culture, to high hospitability and courtship of the locals. It took us about three hours to reach Penglipuran village from Bali city. But with car it should take only one hour or one and half hour. After a tiring journey, beautiful scenic beauty of the village and generous hospitality of locals proved extremely soothing and refreshing.
The beauty of the village is that you just feel at home. You can just walk in to any house in case you need something to eat. You can just walk into any house in case you need to refresh yourself. Doors of village people are open for everybody and so are their hearts. Most of the families have set up their own small businesses outside their house in order to make their both ends meet. Even if you need to use toilet just got to any house and use toilet. It is free of charge. Inmates of the houses get a reasonable amount from the government for facilitating the visitors. Such amount is paid from the ticket money collected from visitors.
According to the mythology and the elders’ testimonies, the name Penglipuran comes from ‘Pengeling Pura’, which means remembering the ancestors. It conveys that the village was created solely to respect their ancestors’ at Kintamani, which is why Penglipuran is one of Bali’s villages whose people regularly make offerings and hold rituals to respect mythological spirits.
Just a little outside the Penglipuran Village, which is a part of the Parhyangan area, you’ll see a beautiful 45-hectare sacred bamboo forest to walk through and feast your eyes in. In the center, you’ll find four modest, yet beautiful temples where people pray and pay their respects.
We were amazed to see a special place in the village for those who had two marriages because in their belief only one marriage was legal at a time. The place nevertheless was deserted as no one in the village had two marriages at a time. We were told it was not possible for people having two spouses at a time to live with village people, neither they were allowed to worship with others in the temple. So people in this village strongly believe in monogamy.
The experience of penglipuran’s homestays is as authentic as visiting the village and interacting with the locals, because these homestays are located within the village itself. A night stay at such homes may cost PKR 3,000 to 4,000. The price includes breakfast as well.
WISATA ULUN DANU TEMPLE
Ulun Danu Bratan Temple is located by the Lake Bratan, Bedugul, Tabanan Bali. It is one of the three sacred temples by the lake honoring God for His gift of water and irrigations and becoming a popular tourist destination. The temple court was expanded to accommodate the visitors and looks more beautiful. It is a wonderful place for walking, refreshing and recharging one spiritual life. This is one of the two big lake temples in Bali (other being the one on Lake Batur). Built in 1600’s, the lake supports Subak (irrigation). Arrive early if you want to beat the crowd and take great pictures. The temple complex has nicely curated lawn and is well-maintained.
At the entrance there are toilets (small charge PKR 20 ), a few shops and a restaurant. Once inside there is a well maintained garden, the temple and restaurants. There are also some sellers inside the grounds. You may also hire fishing equipment or take a paddle boat out onto the lake. The place has a number of restaurants. We had a lunch at one of these restaurants. It was buffet offering a variety of dishes. Here for the first time we had chicken corn soup cooked almost in Pakistani style therefore majority of the participants had it to their full.
The Temple is a great tourist attraction for those also who are looking for scenic beauty and nature at its best. So those visiting Bali must include this destination in their schedule. It is located in the Eastern part of Bali and it takes around one hour from Bali to get there. Since the place gets huge number of tourists daily therefore it is recommended to go early in the morning in order to enjoy its real beauty and grandeur.
JATILUWIH RICE TERRACES
Our next stop was lush green paddy fields. Indonesia imports rice in huge quantity from various countries including Pakistan. Indonesian rice produces are not sufficient to cater to domestic needs because of burgeoning population therefore they have to import rice. These paddy fields are located almost two hours drive from Bali city. Most tourists in Bali only ever seem to go to Kuta Beach. I’ve been amazed at the crowds in Kuta and equally amazed at how few crowds there have been elsewhere.
One of the top ten things to see in Bali and front and center in every guidebook, these rice terraces are stunning. They give new meaning to the word green. They crawl up the sides of the hills like steps leading you towards the sky. It’s just you and nature, when you are at this place. This area is the only place in the world that has three annual rice harvests.
Even at this place we came across so many couples enjoying natural beauty of the place and thus making their trip memorable. The place is so attractive and romantic that you immediately lose contact with the outer world. While those who visit the place accompanied would enjoy the panoramic beauty of the place to the full, those visiting alone would make a solemn vow not to come to the place alone next time.
There are so many other places that are attractive too but due to paucity of time we could not visit all of them. You need to have at least 10 days to fully explore potential of Bali. Bali Safari is yet another attraction, which I visited during my last trip to Bali in 2018. It is also a must visit place and Bali sojourn should remain incomplete without visit of Bali Safari.
Summing up, in my view Bali has every reason to fall in love with it. And one plus point of falling in love with Bali is that it would never betray you!!