28 April 2016

Balinese art in the Leiden Museum, The Netherlands

An art maestro from Buleleng, Bali, I Nyoman Durpa said a museum in Leiden, the Netherlands, stores various kinds of artworks from North Bali which are not even found in Indonesia. Many artworks such as leather puppets, and various types of old manuscripts written on palm leaves cannot be found in Bali as these were taken to the Netherlands. According to him, research showed that many works of art from North Bali were brought to the Netherlands during the Dutch colonization era in Indonesia in the late 17th century. The Balinese literature interested the Dutch people because it has high aesthetic aspect. They believed that one day, these historical artworks will become scarce. Durpa, who is also a mask dancer, added that the Dutch take serious care of Balinese artworks. Among the artifacts they have in the Leiden Museum is a leather puppet of Tualen.Tualen is one of the characters in the Balinese leather puppet tradition. Its character is similar to Semar in the Javanese leather puppet story. In the Balinese tradition, Tualen is described as an ugly old man, who has black skin, but is good-hearted, has good manners and loves giving sage advice. In the Leiden museum you can find a leather puppet of Tualen with minimal style of carving and without hair. In addition, there is also a miniature of Jagaraga war monument, one of the famous historical stories of North Bali during the colonial period. Also, there is a Banjar war monument and many old manuscripts written on palm leaves dating from the old period of Buleleng. Durpa noted that the Leiden Museum and other museums in the Netherlands are very concerned about the culture and relics of Buleleng, and Bali in general. In fact, the Dutch researchers understand more about the historical background of art and cultural heritage of North Bali than even the Indonesians.

26 April 2016

New plan for Bali, Flower of Life

A big project with an estimated USD 8 million price tag called the Flower of Life is taking root in Bali. Usually, mega-sized expensive, ambitious projects in Bali like the Benoa Bay reclamation, Trump’s six-star Tanah Lot resort make us want to throw up in our mouths, but plans for an eco-monument in Tabanan have us impressed and cautiously optimistic for the future of the Island of the Gods. The plan is to build a 4000 meter-squared multifunctional eco-sculpture in the shape of the geometric Flower of Life adjacent to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Jatiluwih. When realized, the sculpture would be the biggest crowd-funded energy field on earth, comprised of 429,822 solar power producing glass hexagons, according to the Flower of Life Foundation official website. The hexagons should be able to generate up to 1 MW of solar energy, which will partially be re-fed into the Balinese energy grid to help supply the needs of the rural population, the foundation says. In addition to helping provide clean energy, the place is ultimately supposed to serve as a major tourist attraction, from which revenues will go to notable local organizations and charities “working towards a better future for Bali”.
The plan is to start building by the end of 2016 and the foundation says it expects to be fully operational by the beginning of 2018. Based on their website's stats, they have achieved 16 percent of their fundraising goal, at the time of writing. Watch their video for a more in depth view of the project, what they hope to accomplish and how, along with some pretty amazing visuals.

25 April 2016

Ubud among the 10 best destinations worldwide

Ubud in Bali has been named one of the world's top 10 travel destinations, according to a recent report by travel website TripAdvisor.
The travel planning and booking site revealed the winners of its 2016 Traveler's Choice awards on Tuesday, which were determined based on the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for hotels, restaurants and attractions in destinations worldwide over a 12-month period.
Ubud, which ranked 10th, has long served as a haven for those seeking an escape from Bali's bustling areas but who still wish to enjoy the island's picturesque villages, rice terraces, art galleries, museums and rejuvenation retreats.
Meanwhile, on the list of top 10 destinations in Asia, Ubud came third behind Siem Reap in Cambodia and Hanoi in Vietnam.
Top 10 travelers’ choice destinations – World:
1. London, United Kingdom
2. Istanbul, Turkey 
3. Marrakech, Morocco 
4. Paris, France
5. Siem Reap, Cambodia
6. Prague, Czech Republic
7. Rome, Italy
8. Hanoi, Vietnam
9. New York City, New York 
10. Ubud, Indonesia 
Top 10 travelers’ choice destinations – Asia:
1. Siem Reap, Cambodia
2. Hanoi, Vietnam
3. Ubud, Indonesia
4. Bangkok, Thailand
5. Hong Kong
6. Tokyo, Japan 
7. Kathmandu, Nepal
8. New Delhi, India 
9. Taipei, Taiwan 
10. Hoi An, Vietnam

21 April 2016

Rafting operators rejecting tourist tax

Rafting operators on Bali’s Telaja Waja River are rejecting calls from the Karangasem Regency to collect a tax of tourists following a rafting trip, claiming such a practice would only worsen the operators’ already precarious financial position.
The current low demand for rafting trips has slashed incomes and employment opportunities. Because of the current business climate, rafting operators would refuse to collect the tax demanded by the Karangasem Regency. Approximately 80 paying rafting customers are needed each day to cover operating expenses, only an average 12-20 customers have taken a rafting trip over the past several months. Rafting operators are having severe problems making payroll for their staff drawn from surrounding communities in northeast Bali.The rafting operators were told to begin collecting a tax from each rafting customer, although a formal socialization on how the tax is to be collected and paid to the Regency has yet to take place. For the immediate future, Telaga Waja rafting operators appear united in their refusal to charge the subject tax, worrying that such an additional cost would only worsen current financial difficulties.

17 April 2016

Bird flu returns to Bali?

A reported outbreak of bird flu (H5N1) killing off poultry in Java has caused the Badung regency government to give early warnings to the Animal Quarantine Agency.
This was announced via written letter by the head of Badung regency’s Department of Animal Husbandry, Marine Life and Fisheries.
“The high number of domestic and international travelers in Badung makes us pay full attention to the virus, which is harmful to both humans and animals. If it infects Bali, it could harm tourism in Bali, especially in Badung,” he said.
Thousands of infected poultry in Banyuwangi, East Java died suddenly and what's so worrying about that is approximately 50 percent of Bali’s chicken supply comes from Java. Badung regency says it is raising awareness about bird flu with local residents by going around and encouraging proper hygiene (e.g. regularly cleaning cages, washing hands with soap) for those handling poultry. Furthermore, if residents experience a fever after direct contact with poultry, they should seek medical attention immediately. The regency is also apparently providing residents free vaccination and disinfectant spraying for their poultry.

14 April 2016

Save the Turtles

Bali Water Police thwarted an attempt to smuggle 45 green turtles to the island on Wednesday. Five people have been arrested.The police discovered  45 green turtles on a boat traveling in waters near Karangasem in East Bali. The turtles were large, averaging 45 cm and aged between 40 to 70 years old.The turtles were taken to a turtle breeding center at Serangan Island on Thursday afternoon for treatment before they were released back into the wild. Six of the turtles had already died.
The Bali Water Police chief said that the police managed to foil the turtle smuggling attempt based on information provided by the general public. When the police went on patrol, he said, they spotted the vessel and later discovered the store of large turtles inside."The vessel captain and five crew members have been arrested." He further said that the police had discovered that the boat had transported the turtles from Madura to Karangasem. "The boat apparently departed from Madura. They had wanted to go to Karangasem to sell the turtles, likely for consumption.

07 April 2016

Far too many hotel rooms

There number of hotel rooms in Bali is severely oversupplied, far exceeding current demand from both domestic and international visitors and resulting in an ongoing price war that many tourism observers view as economically non-sustainable for sound hotel operations.
The secretary of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI-Bali), claims that a survey conducted in 2015 counted 130,000 rooms on the Island, with 98,000 of those rooms centralized in the Regency of Badung.
Based on this room count, PHRI-Bali extrapolates that Bali needs 92.5 million tourists every year to achieve 100% occupancy. Meanwhile, the Provincial Tourism Authority (Disparda) recorded only 11.15 million tourists in 2015.
With this many hotel rooms, to achieve a minimum occupancy of 50% with the calculation that every room is occupied by only one person per day, during a year we need 46.28 million tourists.
The PHRI Secretary calculations may be flawed, however, as they apparently fail to factor in the number of rooms occupied by more than one person and the length of stay for tourists in Bali. Hotel occupancies are now declining and averaging only 30-40% per year. Because some hotels enjoy higher occupancies, this means other hotels have occupancy rates as low as 10%. The current low occupancy rates of Bali Hotel has resulted in what PHRI-Bali officials term as “unhealthy competition” and is attracting low quality tourists to the Island.

Monday morning surprise, a snake!!

Some Mondays at the office are just boring, but this monday was a day like no other for the people in the Pemecutan Village Office in Denpasar.
Because a big snake fell from the ceiling.
The snake, measuring four meters long, with a diameter of 15 centimeters, is believed to have fallen after eating a big meal since it had a big bulge in its body, according to the head of the Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) Denpasar. Not to worry, the snake has been secured and is in possession of the Natural Resources Conservation Body (BKSDA) Denpasar.
“Maybe it was too stuffed, so it fell after it was full. It was a batik python and we’ve already submitted it to BKSDA,” he said.

03 April 2016

Cockfighting in Bali

Bali’s regional council (DPRD) is talking about possibly taking regulatory measures on one of the island’s most popular ‘ceremonial’ pastimes, cockfighting.
When in Bali, it’s not hard to stumble across cockfighting, known locally as Tajen, even though it’s not officially allowed.
Bali DPRD chairman says the purpose of legalization and regulation would be to make sure it’s not done in inappropriate places, such as near schools.
So, the goal is to avoid Tajen being held in just any place he said.
He also says regulating Tajen would make it easier to control not just where, but also when it happens.
The chickens are also sleepy if held awake into the night. Not to mention, it definitely disturbs public order. So it should be regulated in order for the place and time to be adjusted, he explained.
However, the chairman seems to have a very santai attitude about this, saying regulations are still far off from happening and the government needs awhile to conduct a study that gathers input from parties including religious leaders, community leaders, observers, and academics, before any legislation is passed.