Fascinating Facts About Bali, Indonesia That You Probably Didn’t Know!
A Brief Introduction to Bali…
Bali is actually four islands.
Whilst Bali is the name of the island, it is also a province that includes three smaller islands located off the main island’s southeast coast.
These are Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan – a cluster of much smaller islands a 20 minute boat ride away from Bali’s main Sanur port.
They are all administratively part of Bali.
Bali itself is a beautiful island known for its forested volcanic mountains, iconic rice paddies, beaches and coral reefs.
The volcanic mounts of Agung and Batur are the two towering peaks of Bali which are far from dormant!
Since 1960 the island has gradually grown from a quiet, secluded and remote little island, into one of the world’s most popular tourism destinations.
In fact, 80% of Bali’s economy is now built on tourism alone.
Bali is known for it’s stunning white sand beaches. And thanks to the active volcanoes on Bali, there are beaches that have pure black sand too!
Interestingly, Bali is only one island in the 17,000 plus islands that make up the country of Indonesia.
Some Key Facts About Bali…
• Population: 4,362,000 people.
• The capital: is Denpasar.
• Local currency: Indonesian Rupiah.
• Languages: Indonesian (official), Balinese (native language) and English.
• Religions: Hinduism (82.5%), Islam (12.4%), Christianity (4.6%), Buddhism (0.5%)
Back to Nature…
Known as “The Coral Triangle”, or “Island of the Gods”, Bali sits in the middle of the world’s richest waters for corals & marine biodiversity.
However, many people are surprised to find that most of the stunning and famous beach photos that they see of Bali, are actually on Nusa Penida island!
Bali has 600-odd species of coral, turtles, more than 2000 species of fish, including tuna – a major food source for the local communities.
The Balinese Climate…
Welcome to “The Land of Two Seasons”!
Bali has just two seasons: Dry Season (April to October) and Wet Season (October to April).
As the island enjoys a tropical climate, the overall temperature remains moderate across Bali as the year progresses.
A Little About The People…
A fascinating aspect of Balinese culture is that there are just 4 names: Wayan, Made, Nyoman and Ketut. The locals know their babes names before they are even born!
The names are in order of the child’s birth, so the first baby is called Wayan, the second baby is Made, the third baby is Nyoman and the fourth is Ketut.
And before you ask, if there is a fifth baby, they are called Wayan again – and the cycle continues.
Bali has its own language – one of 583 languages and dialects spoken in the Indonesian archipelago. Bahasa Indonesia is the national language, although English is widely spoken in Bali’s main tourist “hotspots”.
It’s easy to find a massage parlour in Bali – in fact, there are around 1,200 spas across the island.
The massage is a must for anyone visiting the island, especially the Traditional Balinese massage.
Influenced by Chinese and Indian styles, the Traditional Balinese massage is characterised by long, slightly firm strokes focused on pressure points.
Home to the World’s Most Expensive Coffee…
Kopi Luwak is the name of a rare coffee that comes from Bali.
It’s produced in a rather unusual way – from civet droppings.
The Civet, a catlike creature that was once seen as a pest in Asia, eats the coffee beans. During the digestive process, the beans are broken down and much of the acidity is removed.
The excrement from the Civet is then collected and the unique, smooth Luwak coffee is produced – which can sell for as high as $80 a cup in North America.
Religious Significance and the Temples…
The island is home to more than 20,000 temples, earning its nickname “the island of a thousand temples”.
When visiting these Balinese temples, it is worth noting:
• Do not stand higher than the priest.
• Not to point at things, especially statues.
• Wear appropriate attire – you must wear a long sarong that coves your legs and shoulders.
• You must not be loud or disruptive.
• Do not show an exposed wound.
• Or be visibly pregnant.
• Do not point the soles of your feet towards the altar.
Nyepi – “The Day of Complete Lockdown”.
Nyepi day of silence, is a Hindu New Year celebration observed in the Balinese calendar, which only has 210 days in a year and on this day the entire island goes into complete shut down!
This includes shops, businesses, and even the airport – there is no work, no travelling and noise is allowed.
The “Day of Silence” is seen as a chance for self-reflection and is enforced by the pecalang (local security offers). Beaches, streets, shops and bars are all closed, even to tourists.
Combining Hinduism with some Buddhist mythology, ancestral spirits, animism, (black) magic and indigenous deities, Balinese Hinduism has a high number of gods!
This complex belief system results in an island with more than 20,000 shrines (pura), which is why it’s called “The Island of the Gods”.
The Local Cuisine…
It’s polite to leave food on your plate!
If you’re invited into the home of a Balinese person, you should leave some food left over on your plate, even if it is their National Dish, Nasi Goreng!
You may find yourself enjoying dinner sitting on the floor and eating with your hands, in which case, you eat with your right hand only.
And when you’ve finished, it’s recommended to leave a little bit of food on your plate to signify that you’re done.
The Babi Guling is a must-eat and one of the most famous foods in Bali – the suckling pig.
Roasted over an open fire for several hours, the meat is flavoured with basa gede – a spicy paste, rubbed with turmeric, and basted with coconut water.
And the Local Craft Producers…
These skilled artisans contribute to the development of Bali’s tourist industry, making gifts & souvenirs for visitors to purchase.
However, there is a downside to this development, as only a small portion of the benefits of the tourist industry are ever enjoyed by the village craft producers themselves.
Instead, it is the owners of the rows of art & craft shops lining the streets of certain tourist hot-spots who profit from the tourist trade.
As a result, the “middlemen” are becoming more prosperous, while the poor craft producers remain impoverished and in need.
That said, as a visitor, you can have gold or silver jewellery custom-made on the island.
There’s a long history and tradition of gold and silversmithing in Bali, with skills passed down through generations of families.
The two main spots are Ubud and Sanur – where you can find galleries and boutiques that can custom-make pieces of gold or silver jewellery upon request.
In some places you can even take part in workshops to create your own jewellery designs.
Below are some crafts from Balinese artisans available for sale on my website – just click on the image or the link below it to take a closer look at them…
You can discover more about the crafts people in another Blog post titled Beautiful Bali and its Local Crafts People – The Mitra Bali Story.
Finally, the Bali Tourism Board (BTB) was formed by nine Tourism Associations in Bali on 1st March 2002 with its main aim to build and develop a better and sustainable tourism industry in Bali and Indonesia.
“Thank you for reading my blog post.
I hope you understand more about this beautiful island.
Have you yourself ever been to Bali?
I’d love to read your views and experiences there in the Comments section below” – Paul