Bali, Lombok or the Gilis – the names alone conjure up images of beaches lined with palm trees, coral reefs, of rice terraces and mighty volcanoes. Surfers, divers and mountaineers will find their paradise here, while the tourist centres offer all the amenities, from five-star restaurants to oriental spas. Bali’s unique culture draws travellers from all around the world: there are very few places where so much natural beauty meets with such a charming lifestyle as here on the ‘Island of the Gods’. With Marco Polo’s insider tips you can really experience the unique culture of Bali:
WORLD CULTURAL HERITAGE IN THE RICE FIELD
The Subak system – the irrigation concept of Bali’s rice terraces – is characterised by democratic and egalitarian principles, as well as harmony between the spiritual world and man and nature. This cultural heritage is clearly explained in the Subak Museum in Tabanan.
GIANT LIZARDS AND DWARF DEER
The dividing line between the Asian and Austronesian primeval continents runs between Bali and Lombok and the flora and fauna of both continents mix here. You will get a particularly good impression of the unique animal and plant world in the Rinjani National Park – also possible on easy day tours; you don’t have to climb the peak straight away!
Women dressed in brightly coloured clothes balance fruit pyramids on their heads; the men beat heavy gongs: on Bali, you never know when you are going to come across a procession. The most impressive are the parades celebrating the Galungan Festival.
BETWEEN VOLCANOES AND CORAL REEFS
Something you can only experience on the Gilis – and best of all, on the small hill on Gili Trawangan: the Gunung Rijani rises up in the east at dawn and the Gunung Agung shows just how big it is in the west at sunset. In the hours in between, you can explore the fantastic underwater mountains of the coral islands.
The way the locals like it: the simple Lesehan Taliwang Irama Restaurant in Mataram, which is very popular with the Indonesians, serves a no frills, tasty chilli chicken.
THE BATTLE OF THE PACKETS OF RICE
During Perang Topat – which always takes place at the beginning of the rainy season in Pura Lingsar – Hindus and Muslim Sasak pelt each other with rice wrapped in palm leaves. The so-called ‘Rice Cake War’ is a celebration for all those involved, no matter which religious group they belong to.
Buy the Bali Marco Polo Pocket Guide.