‘Bali’ The Peaceful Island
The most celebrated of the 17.000 islands comprising the Indonesian archipelago, Bali, blessed with white sandy beaches, lush, sculptured rice terraces and mountain forests, with it’s people whose hospitality is matched only by their artistic skill and expression, has captured the heart of visitors for generations. Lauded as the Island of the God, The Paradise Island, The Island of Thousand Temples, and Island of Peace, Bali is the crown jewel of the thousands of equatorial gems called Indonesia, and a window into the great cultural wealth of this diverse nation.
Tourists have been stepping onto Balinese shores since the early years of the 20th century. In 1928, the Dutch colonial government built the Bali Hotel in the town of Denpasar in south Bali to accommodate cruise ship passengers stopping over on the route fro Java to Celebes, now Sulawesi. The Bali Hotel remains in operation, offering visitors a taste of bygone days.
But not all visitors came to Bali to stay in a formal hotel. During the 1930s, beachside accommodation were built in Sanur, noted as center of dance and drama south of Denpasar, and at Kuta on the west coast. The Kuta Beach Hotel pioneered the “Bali Bungalows” style, offering relaxation in an authentic Balinese environment. As a rich and famous island, many visitors flocked to Bali, and information through books, films and words of mouth made Bali a byword for carefree life in natural environment.
Those halcyon days ended abruptly with the second world war and Indonesia’s subsequent struggle for independence. By the mid 1960s, however,, social stability and economic prosperity enabled Bali to welcome the world to it’s shores again. The first step was the opening of the Bali Beach Hotel in Sanur in 1966 as a part of a chain of Government owned hotels constructed with Japanese war reparations money. Currently known as the Grand Bali Beaches, this international-standard hotel operates in the modern era of Balinese Tourism.
By the early 1970s, the small airport in south of Kuta was expanded to accommodation the large passenger jets that were turning air travel from an expensive luxury into affordable mass transportation. At the time, many believed that a large influx of tourists would damage Bali’s vibrant culture. Accordingly, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank joined forces with the Indonesian Government to convert the barren limestone scru bland of Nusa Dua to a Luxury Resort, bringing the benefits of the tourism economy to the island with minimal impact on the daily lives and cultural traditions. The Nusa Dua Beach Hotel was inaugurated by President Soeharto in 1982, soon followed by Melia Bali (formerly Melia Bali Sol), Putri Bali (a sister hotel of the Grand Bali Beach, managed by PT Hotel Indonesia International), Bali Hilton, Grand Hyatt, and Club Med. By the late 1990s, the Nusa Dua resort area had expanded to Tanjung Benoa at the North and Sawangan at the South where the International managed hotels such as the Novotel and Nikko perch dramatically on cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean.
By the 1980s, however, it became evident that fears about tourism damaging Balinese Culture were wholly unproved. In Kuta and Sanur, as well as Ubud in the Balinese heartland, Lovina on the northern coast and Candi Dasa to the east, residents opened their homes to Budget Travelers, surfers, and aficionados of Balinese art and culture. With the assistance of Government-Subsidized small business credit, simple boarding houses and roadside eating stalls grew into full-scale hotels and restaurants. These informal tourist centers now cater tourist of all budget, vibrant communities where Balinese tradition thrives amid the conveniences of western culture.
The word ‘Bali’ in Old Javanese means ‘ritual’. Balinese culture, a unique melange of ancient Javanese Hinduism and even older local traditions with influences from East Asia, is indeed based on an endless round of religious ceremonies, processions, and artistic performances designed to maintain a three way harmony between heaven, nature, and man. These charming, colorful, and often dramatic rituals are what make Bali more than just another sun-drenched tropical isle. In an increasingly fast-paced and confusing world, Bali remains an oasis of peace and tranquility.
taken from the book “BALI the island of peace”