Bali, Hi - 2007

This was the last destination of a trip that began in Alaska, crossed the Pacific Ocean to SE Asia and wandered through Bhutan, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and finally here in Indonesia. Check "Journals" in our women travel safe website for the others. The beautiful island of Bali is by now a Southeast Asia “cliché because of its celebrated golden and black sand shores, ultramarine waters, emerald palms and suntans! However, there is much more to this fascinating island than its tourist beaches. You can even find wilderness here, if you get away from the touristy areas. None of the four of us is interested in sunbathing, so you can be sure we came here for something else. What we sought was relaxation, beautiful scenery, bird and creature sightings, art and architecture, Balinese dancing and the chance to meet some of the Balinese people. So how successful were we in this quest? Read on for answers to that riddle. What we did not expect was the knowledge we gained of the sad history of this tiny island (95 x 69 miles) that is only a small part of the huge archipelago country of Indonesia. The Republic of Indonesia is composed of 17,508 islands (6000 of them inhabited) and Bali is only one of those islands. There are 234,000,000 Indonesians, and 3,150,00 of them are Balinese. The Indonesia land mass is 741,050 square miles (about the size of California, Montana, Texas and Alaska combined); little Bali is only about the size of New Jersey. The vast majority of Indonesians are Muslim (86%) but Bali’s 3,150,000 are 93% Hindu. Indonesia is the 16th largest country in land mass and the 4th most populous in the world. It is the world’s largest Muslim democracy, but it is not an Islamic state. Small though it is, Bali is very important to Indonesia because it is the biggest tourist draw in the whole country! H ISTORY The island was first settled in 3000 BC, as documented through archeology and artifacts. However, an organized society such as we would recognize only began in the 9th century AD with rice cultivation. As history rolled on, practitioners of the Hindu religion who had been living on Java were pushed out by the larger Muslim community. The Mahapahit Kingdom was fully established on Bali by 1478. A Hindu priest named Nirartha brought the faith to the island as well as temple architectural styles. He established the rituals and ceremonies most often seen today. He also permitted the intermingling of some of the animistic practices of the indigenous religions with Hinduism in order to convert the aboriginal peoples. However, the


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