I just got back from Bali Indonesia and I really enjoyed every minute of my stay in this island. The island destination has so much to offer to tourists and it is probably the busiest island destination I have visited so far. Before I share to you my experiences in some of the most popular tourist spots in Bali, let me share why I am so impressed with Bali’s capital — Denpasar.
Ngurah Rai International Airport
Denpasar, the capital of Bali, is a magnificent place to visit, despite the constant traffic and the roar of motorbikes. Although Denpasar is a city, it retains a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere and visitors enjoy coming to view what it has on offer. Situated on a lovely grassy square, it features just a couple of shopping streets which crisscross the centre of the city. In the older neighborhoods, you will come across some shopping malls, retail outlets and department stores but the traditional village districts, known as banjar, still dominate the landscape.
These traditional banjar are very popular with tourists and locals alike. It is here that dance rehearsals and gamelan, to name but a few, are still held, just as they would in the rural villages found on Bali.
Denpasar is such a unique place to visit and one reason for its appeal is the blending of several immigrant communities all living peacefully together. Chinese-Indonesians, Javanese Muslims and Sasaks from Lombard, make up roughly around 30% of the city’s population, giving the capital such an attractive and cultural appeal.
The Bali Museum and the traditional markets are what draws visitors here like moths to a flame but the relatively low amount of tourist facilities gives you a chance to experience a non-commercial Bali.
Monument in Taman Puputan
Puputan Square, also known as Alun-alun Puputan or Taman Puputan, is where the events of 20th September 1906 are recreated. This was the time when the Raja of Budang, along with hundreds of his followers, faced the Dutch invaders. Each individual, including children, was dressed entirely in white, and carried a golden dagger known as a kris and vowed to fight to the death rather than submitting to the invading Europeans. It is believed that the raja and his people took part in a mass suicide on this very grassy square, started by the chief priest who stabbed the raja through the heart on his command. The rest of the people followed suit and those who didn’t kill themselves were then shot dead by the Dutch.
The square features a massive bronze statue were figures are depicted holding kiris and bamboo staves, commemorating those who were tragically killed here a century ago. Found in the northern section of the park, this motif is found throughout the city and on the 20th September every year a festival is held here.
The Bali Museum
UPT. Museum Bali inside courtyards and gates by PHGCOM via Wikimedia Commons
The Bali Museum overlooks Alun-alun Puputan and is the city’s most popular attraction for tourists. This is the place to visit if you are interested in learning more about the history of Bali and its unique cultural heritage. The museum was first constructed in 1910 and is divided into several sections, complete with a bell tower, shrines, candi bentar (split gates) and charmingly pleasant gardens to stroll about in. The museum was the creation of the Dutch Resident who wanted it built using a fusion of traditional palace (puri) and temple (pura) elements.
In the Gedung Karangasem section, you will be introduced into the traditional Balinese spiritual and ceremonial lives, which is the very foundation of the people’s daily lives. There are many interesting displays on Balinese Hinduism and the five key religious rituals performed – the panca yadnya. This makes the Gedung Karangasem the most fascinating and memorable part of the museum.
Pura Agung Jagatnatha
Pura Agung Jagatnatha photo from baliwww.com
Commissioned in 1953, the beautiful Pura Agung Jagatnatha is a magnificent example of modern temples. It is dedicated to the high god Sanghyang Widi Wasa, who is known as Jagatnatha, or ‘Lord of the World’, and sits in stunning gardens full of frangipani, pomegranate and hibiscus trees.
Once you arrive your eyes are amazed by the intricate carvings of lotus flowers and frogs which embellish the small stone bridge which allows access to the central gallery. This ids only accessible during festival times though). On the outer walls there are amazing illustrations taken from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Look to the east wall where you can enjoy scenes of Rama shooting the golden deer, which led to his wife, Sita, being kidnapped by Rawana.
The heart of the temple is the padmasana tower. Situated in the inner courtyard, this towering five storey tower was constructed on the back of the gigantic cosmic turtle and holds up the traditional empty throne. The tower is made from white coral and the top is decorated with the heads of demons, whilst the bottom is adorned with the face and hands of Bhoma, whose task was to drive away any evil spirits who come to the temple.
When there is a full or new moon, the temple holds festivals for devotees to attend. Additionally, wayang-kulit shows are sometimes performed here, usually between 9pm and 11pm.
Pasar Badung by Arbee Photos via Flickr
The best market to visit in Denpasar is Pasar Badung. Located downtown, visitors head in their droves to this three storey traditional pasar. Local women will offer you their services as a guide and take you around the stalls, and they will be offered a commission on anything that you may buy and will therefore encourage you to visit certain outlets. Fresh fruit, spices and other food goods are found on the lower levels, with hundreds of stalls selling art, handicrafts, sarongs, clothing, parasols and other goods can be found upstairs.
How to get to Bali from Manila
Cebu Pacific Bali (Denpasar) Indonesia Flights
Cebu Pacific Air flies direct between Manila and Denpasar (Bali) every Tuesday and Saturday. For the latest seat sales and bookings, go to www.cebupacificair.com, call the reservation hotlines (02) 7020888 or (032) 2308888 or follow Cebu Pacific Air’s official Facebook and Twitter pages.