Bali is a regular place of escape from southern Australia’s winter.
In Bali, I try to avoid the beach ghettos catering for foreign tourists, which at their worst, are venues for booze swilling excess by those seeking the title of cultural barbarian/worst ambassador; and equally avoid the cloistered resorts that insulate guests from the real Bali in a more costly ghetto.
In spite of more than half a century of mass tourism, my impression is that Bali, away from the artificially constructed tourist enclaves, remains culturally and historically strong.
Bali visits always remind me of the humility, respect, friendliness, humour and warmth of the people. Only the Balinese could name their band for an Irish theme night The Paddy Fields Band.
Ceremonies remain a fundamental part of Balinese Hindu culture. Here are some images from a Sanur beach purification ceremony, the final stage of the cremation process.
In rural Bali, age-old sights and communities flourish; here are typical rice paddies near Pupuan.
I often enjoy snorkelling when visiting Indonesia to coral reefs and islands in Lombok, Nusa Lembongan, and Flores, as well as Bali. On the latest trip, I returned to Pemuteran, in north-west of Bali, and nearby Menjangan (Deer) Island.
The visit raised concerns about the significant amount of coral bleaching, more than I recall from two years ago. Locals attribute it to rising water temperatures – global warming – a fate endangering coral reefs throughout the world. It will be a monstrous tragedy if current generations fail to move quickly enough from our destructive fossil fuel stage of energy generation to deny our descendants the chance to glimpse this remarkable undersea world.
Snorkelling off Menjangan Island. In the background are several of East Java’s volcanoes, and the boat that brought us to the reef.
Underwater, the view is a visual feast: swarming schools of fish, lone barracuda, clams, delicate and colorful fronds waving in the currents, and shallow coral gardens dropping off into inky depths where larger fish cruise.