Tag Archives: Bali

Creating young artists at Bali Art Centre

View from outside

Taman Budaya or Bali Art Centre is a prime example of how traditional art forms should to be preserved. Built in traditional Balinese architecture this is a centre of learning and also a centre of excellent performances. It motivates young Balinese people to learn all the forms of traditional Balinese performing arts. Bali Art Center grooms young ones in traditional Balinese arts- dance, theatre, music, painting and lot more.

A scene from Mahabharata at Bali Art centre

A beautiful complex run by public money is a very sincere attempt to preserve the traditional forms of art. Interestingly, all these classes are completely free of cost for the children. Such art centres encourage them to learn and perform and thus keep the traditional art forms alive by transferring them to the next generation… A way to learn for all such societies!

Even the bridges inside campus have artistic designs

In Islamic Indonesia the Hindu majority Bali is fascinating example of co-existence of cultures. Equally fascinating are the attempts to preserve art and dedication among the young ones to learn.

Here is a photo journey of this excellent centre:

Kids striking poses in their training schedule-

rigorous training is quite hot!
Notice the name of the arena! An Indian feeling! Where gems are being polished!!

Amazing beauty! Read: Sea on Fire: Sunset at Bali Beach

Bali art centre campus is big and beautiful
Young student practicing theatre
While some learn sketch and painting….
….and many others learn traditional musical instruments

Art centre for wedding shoots? Read: From the Bali album- Royal attires for pre-wedding shoot!

Students are also assessed for there progress, when they perform on stage whatever they have learned
Time for some rehearsal before the show
Confident looking trainees for their evaluation

Bali has lot more to do. Read: White water rafting in Bali

Multi purpose open theatre with traditional architecture
Everything designed tastefully

When there are so many students around, then they ought to be hungry.  So there are plenty of options for them, like these ones-

A lady selling street food
Parents need to kill time as well, while kids are busy in training
A lot of options to eat
Young trainees having some refreshment in the interim

Moving in to Bali! Read: Bali from the sky- few captures

Besides imparting training, Bali art centre also preserves many artefacts and paintings.

This video is from such a class inside the centre, where young ones are learning the art of playing the traditional musical instruments.

Another video of kids taking training in Balinese dance. Such is the dedication that while watching this performance, you will feel as if you are viewing a stage performance, not a training class.

Have you been to Taman Budaya or any such art centre anywhere else? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

Spread the Love! Share the post!!

Riding on the sea: Amazing Bali Mandara sea link


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

It is not yet five years old, as it was opened only in September 2013, but it certainly leaves tourists coming to Bali in an awe. Almost 13 km in length stretching across the Gulf of Benoa, the Bali Mandara sea link is often referred to as pride of Indonesia. This beautiful sea link runs over sea and some part of it through protected mangrove forests, making it a beautiful experience to drive. It gives wonderful views from the road and the sea as well! It is claimed to be one of the “most beautiful” road stretches in Indonesia. The name Mandara is an acronym for Indonesian words — maju (move forward), aman (safe), damai (peaceful) and sejahtera (prosperous).

Toll gates with Balinese architecture style
Toll gates with Balinese architecture style

Bali Mandara Toll Road or Nusa Dua-Ngurah Rai-Benoa Toll Road is a toll road carried by a bridge 12.7 km in length. This highway connects the city of Denpasar and South Kuta, Badung Regency, Nusa Dua and Ngurah Rai International Airport, thus providing additional link to northern and southern parts of Bali. The reason behind construction of Bali Mandara Toll Road would have been to prevent traffic jams on the Ngurah Rai By Pass Road, but slowly it has also become an attraction of sort. This toll road was officially opened on 23 September 2013 by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Whole project took just 14 months to be completed. It was an amazing feat, considering that there was no sort of foreign help involved at any stage.

Aerial view of the sea link
Aerial view of the sea link
Aerial view of the sea link

Numerous academics, scholars and environmentalists had voiced serious concerns over the construction of the sea link, which could have deviated from its approved environmental impact analysis and perhaps dangerously affect both the mangroves and surrounding marine habitat. Local fishermen and nearby fishing villages also no longer have access to their previous fishing grounds. Indonesian authorities however claim that this infrastructure masterpiece was built with environmentally friendly and advanced technology. Undoubtedly, the views from the toll road are breathtaking. Even the local norms and traditions were respected during the construction. You can see the water below the road and green mangrove forests all over the place. To minimise the impact of construction almost 16,000 pieces of mangrove trees were planted after the construction of link was completed.

Mangroves around the road
Mangroves around the road
Approaching the beautiful mainland

Want to know about India’s oldest sea link? Read: Pamban bridge enters hundredth year!

smooth traffic on the toll road
Bikers in the two-wheeler lane

The road runs over the sea and was built using 33,835 concrete columns, some of them through an area of previously pristine mangrove forest. The road has a separate lane for motorcycles on both the sides, thus providing separate drive ways for two wheelers and four wheelers and making it more safe. The length of Bali Mandara Road is equal to Penang Bridge in Malaysia which too is 12.7 kilometres in length.

Massive structure on the sea
Many loops, flyovers on the link road
Already an attraction for the tourists

The road runs through a fragile environment and rough seas. Hence, there are many checks and controls involved. There are strict speed limits and all activities are thoroughly monitored. There is exhaustive system of CCTVs and also a wind monitor to keep measuring the wind sped. Anemometer are installed at every toll gate (Nusa Dua, Ngurah Rai, and Benoa). If the wind speed reach 40 kph or more than the movement on this road is controlled or stopped temporarily.

Travel with me to this Bali Mandara sea link through this video on my YouTube channel by clicking on the thumbnail below-

So next time you visit Bali, get a driving experience on this Bali Mandara toll road. It will certainly be worth.

Have you driven on this amazing Bali Mandara Road? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments section below.

Spread the love! Share the post!!
Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Finding Nemo while walking underwater in Bali Sea

It is indeed one of the most adorable and loved  fishes of silver screen and also of aquariums thereafter. Orange Clownfish Nemo has been craze of kids world over after that landmark film – Finding Nemo. Hence watching Nemo in its natural habitat in the sea is indeed filled with a lot of excitement. But of course, this is not about Nemo, it is about walking under the sea and feeling the nature’s bounty around you. Sea Walking is a gem of an adventure for all those who don’t want to go in nitty-gritty of diving. And there can be perhaps no better place for sea walking than beautiful waters of Bali in Indonesia.

Orange Clownfish ‘nemo’ in its territory

Sea walkers are the latest craze for the under water adventure seekers and what a place can be better than Bali to do this. Tanjung Benoa in South Kuta district of Badung Regency in Bali is the hub of water sports activities in Bali and it has lot to offer. One of the best among them is the Sea walker, where one walks few metres under the sea with the help of special helmets filled with oxygen. While you walk, you see the fishes and corals around you. You can be under the water for 20 to 30 minutes or more. A thrill and lots of fun, if you are not afraid of water.

Boats in the sea to take you down

The host of water sports activities in the region include snorkelling, sea walking and diving besides the regular ones like parasailing, jet-sking, water scooters and lot more. Sea Walking is fairly new but interesting adventure.

Under the sea for a stroll!

For this activity, once at the beachside base, you are registered. After the paper formalities, one has to change-in in special suits. Then they are transported by speed boats to offshore docking stations which are actually boats anchored in the sea away from the coast.

Once you reach at the docking station, you are given instructions on the process, which is mostly related to sign language that has to used with the instructor. Walkers are given a helmet to wear, which provides oxygen supply through pipe attached to docking station. Walkers are supposed to breath normally. It is a walk, not a dive or a swim. Special rubber footwear are also given here (these are not flippers as of divers).

You go down the sea through a ladder attached to the boat. The instructor than pulls you down further from the ladder and parks you on the sea bed, where you can stand holding specially fixed rails and ropes. Now you are ready for the walk.

With directions from the instructor you walk on the sea-bed holding rails and ropes, enjoying corals and fishes around. You will be seeing many of them for the first time in your lives, as was with me.

Enjoying corals

What is interesting that, you even carry bread with you to feed the fishes so that they gather around you and one has the few of being surrounded by the fishes under the sea.

After spending around 20-30 minutes under the sea and walking around, you are taken back to the boat, through the same ladder.

Back to the boat after thrill

Its an exhilarating experience and good one for first timers who don’t have an exposure of going under the sea water. With safety of life jackets and oxygen helmets, it is a safe activity for even those who don’t know to swim.

You can watch a video of my sea walking experience on my YouTube channel by clicking on the link below:

With many competitors around in the Tanjung Benoa area of Bali, rates are often bargained. We did this activity for 600K Indonesian Rupiah (roughly 2800 Indian Rupee). Don’t forget to carry your water proof cameras for capturing memorable experience, but if you don’t have it, than sea walking operators will click your images with their cameras, but of course for a handsome amount.

Getting pulse of Bali’s buzz!

Well, Mercure Legian Bali hotel is located in the area, where heart of Bali beats. When we were in Nusa Dua area, we were in a sort of exclusive zone with all sort of luxury and privacy. But this hotel lies in an area, where as soon as you step out of the hotel, you find yourself in the hustle & bustle of a busy tourist destination like Bali. Hotel is just a five minutes walk from the beach. Hotel is close to Legian, Seminyak and Kuta areas. Mercure has two hotels in the area. There another property Mercure Kuta Bali is located right on the Kuta beach and is slightly away from the, what few people may call as, chaos of Legian area.

Hotel is located on a busy intersection on Legian street. Running parallel to a long coastline this street is just a five minutes walk from famous Legian and Kuta beaches. This street is quite close to Bali’s international airport. With hotels suiting all sizes of pockets in close vicinity, this place is famous among tourists who prefer being close to beach. That makes it one of the busiest places in Bali.

You will find constant stream of tourists from all around the world, flowing up and down the street. You will find here everything- from massage parlours to money changers and from souvenir shops to 24 hour departmental stores. Street is lined up with number of restaurants offering all types of cuisine to take you to a rich gastronomical experience. Being one of the best places for shopping, you need to bargain hard to get best prices.

Also remain aware of the strangers offering services of escorts and ‘more’. Its a busy tourist place so all the pros and cons of such places are to be taken care of. There are many shops selling tour, tattoos, clothes and spas. A lot of people will try to stop you for a sale. Need to be careful about, whom to cater and whom not. Since Legian is more famous for some street shopping, therefore more serious shoppers might like to go to Kuta or Seminyak markets nearby.

The way to beach passes through the busiest tourist market of the Kuta area. So staying at Mercure Legian is like enjoying everything day out and night and then relaxing in comfortable environs of your room.

This hotel might not be so spacious like hotels in Nusa Dua area or Ubud region of Bali but it still provides enough luxury to enjoy stay in romantic destination like Bali. Rooms are descent and service is excellent. Highlight is the rooftop pool and the nearby bar. Either go for a poolside room or a room high up with a balcony to get best of views. There is another bar near restaurant at lobby level. We didn’t had the opportunity to dine here, but had breakfast in two mornings and they were quite relishing. Overall, we had a thoroughly enjoyable experience of stay at Mercure Bali Legian.  We didn’t dine here, as we tried some Indian food at Queens.

Well, it might quite be OK if you are a non-Indian and searching for an Indian restaurant in Bali and land at Queen’s. But if you are an Indian and love your taste, than you will feel a bit disappointed here, especially for the taste of Indian foods you love. Ambience is good but lot more needs to be done for the food items and also in terms of service. The staff needs to know about Indian food, when they are serving in an Indian restaurant.

A slice of Balinese paradise

Outside the hotel, Melia Bali

Bali itself is a dream destination and staying in Melia Bali adds zing to this dream! Its an ultimate Balinese hospitality and captures all the aura & beauty that can be associated with this beautiful island. It is a big beach resort and actually staying here is itself a complete holiday with there being a private beach and all sort of activities.

Also read: Bali is the top destination in the world

Nusa Dua area is distinctively calm and serene

Hotel is in Nusa Dua area, which itself is a calm and secluded area reserved for top class hotels, quite far from tourist frenzy at Kuta or what is like in Ubud. That might not be of liking to all, but certainly favourite for those who love to be in calm and serene place.

Also read: Bali from the sky – few captures

Once you enter the hotel, you will feel how it is like to be in a high end hotel in Bali. You will be welcomed traditionally with flowers and coconut.

Traditional welcome!

Hotel has a beautiful lobby, befitting the mood of the place. It is such a big property that you won’t find too many people (guests) around at any place, else than the beach area.

Hotel is not a high rise. It is often said about Bali that there as a rule you can’t have a building higher than a coconut tree. Hence only the main section of hotel has three floors. Rest all villas and apartments are spread in sprawling coastal greens. Overall, there are 494 accommodations in ten different categories.

Also read: White water rafting in Bali

Main section of the hotel

Hotel has every other facility, one can think of, including spa (YHI), yoga and treatments. Service is very good, staff is hospitable and food quite good. Rooms are clean, spacious and aesthetically designed.

There are also some suites with there own pool alongside there bedrooms. A pool is shared by few rooms. These are some of the best rooms in the property. Resort also has 56 premium lagoon access rooms. Lagoon access suites feature a private patio, which gives direct access to the resort’s new lagoon just steps away.

Also read: Sea on fire – Sunset at Bali beach

Suites with pool

There are also some garden villas (precisely ten), which form the top notch of accommodation in the property. All villas are in secluded compound which includes a walled tropical garden, a private plunge pool, outdoor dining area, a sunken bathtub as well as outdoor shower. Every villa has a true Balinese architecture with high class service.  It gives a totally different perspective of paradise.

Also read: From the Bali album: Royal attires for pre-wedding shoot!

Garden Villas (notice the names)

In order to showcase the traditional Balinese Hindu culture, there are many villas named on Hindu gods and there is even a temple in the complex.

Melia Bali also has a traditional Bali Hindu temple in its complex. Temple is known as Segara Amrta.

Temple inside the complex

As with all beach resorts, private beach is one of the biggest attractions and Melia Bali is no exception. Whole day, you will found guests relaxing here, enjoying water sports and other activities. Beach and pool area are the most beautiful. There are a few restaurants on the beach itself.

Same can be said about the pool area. Since there are host of pools in the whole property, you will never find any pool crowded, Hence you can have your own private moments here.

Pool area

Hotel has a beautiful landscape. Contemporary tropical architecture, bold decor and spacious gardens express the essence of Bali. There is a Sorrento Mediterranean Restaurant, Lotus Asian Garden Restaurant, Sateria Beachside restaurant, Sakura Japanese Restaurant and 24 hour El Patio coffee shop as well as Melia Bali Bars.

Beautiful landscape

Resort enjoys an excellent location just 15 kms from Ngurah Rai International airport. It is walking distance to Bali collections, which is a shopping centre, food and entertainment mall and a museum. It is 850 metres from Bali international convention centre and 750 metres from Nusa Dua Convention centre.

True Balinese vacation

Nusa Dua-ITDC area is recognised for its safety due to the international level of safety standard and security systems practiced by all hotels in the region. But if you need to venture out in the city and be the part of the hustle & bustle, then you need a transport, as the city is bit far, although there is a shopping mall nearby. Our stay in hotel was not quite long, but was quite impressive as far as we were able to experience. Tourists long remember their stay here and leave some wonderful memories like this one below, which even hotel likes to preserve.

Long-lasting memories

Bali is the top destination in the World

Bali in Indonesia is the top destination in world favoured by the travellers. This is what TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards for the year 2017 show. Surprisingly (or not) there is no Indian destination in this top 25 list. List has some notable evergreen gems and some equally notable misses. There is no destination in the list from China or Australia or Japan or South & Central Africa, not even Mauritius or Reunion islands. Besides India, Asia also has notable misses like Singapore, Hong Kong, Macao or even Maldives. Probably, travellers always search for newer shores. But what can be said for sure is that more and more people are now travelling to beach destinations. This list of 25 destinations is actually beach heavy with only seven destinations have no access to sea, or are not coastal towns.

This should hardly come as surprise for anybody as the Indonesian island of Bali is a favourite destination for both adventurers and those in need of a little relaxation. The waters off the coast of Bali’s white beaches are an ideal spot for diving, while the dense jungles, teeming with monkeys and hidden stone temples, call out for exploration. Hike the rugged path to the summit of Mount Batur, and your effort will be rewarded with a stunning view. Then coax your sore muscles back into action with a massage at one of Bali’s many luxury spas.

London would have been rattled by Wednesday’s attack at Parliament, but it has always been top choice for travellers across the world. Hence it stands second after Bali. There’s so much to see and do in London, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Major sights like the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace are on most visitors’ itineraries, but no matter what your interests, you’ll probably find something here. Art lovers should make a beeline for the National Gallery and the Tate Modern. If military history’s your thing, don’t miss the Cabinet War Rooms. Finally, forget everything you’ve heard about bland, mushy British food—the restaurant scene here is fabulous.

At third position is the capital of Britain’s neighbour across the English channel, France. Everyone who visits Paris for the first time probably has the same punchlist of major attractions to hit: The Louvre, Notre Dame, The Eiffel Tower, etc. Just make sure you leave some time to wander the city’s grand boulevards and eat in as many cafes, bistros and brasseries as possible. And don’t forget the shopping—whether your tastes run to Louis Vuitton or Les Puces (the flea market), you can find it here.

Next is again the legendary European destination which shaped world history in no mean terms. It’s nicknamed the Eternal City for a reason. In Rome, you can drink from a street fountain fed by an ancient aqueduct. Or see the same profile on a statue in the Capitoline Museum and the guy making your cappuccino. (Which, of course, you know never to order after 11 am.) Rome is also a city of contrasts—what other place on earth could be home to both the Vatican and La Dolce Vita?

Times Square at Night

The Big Apple holds its place in top five with New York. The first time you go to New York, go ahead and be a sight-seer—everyone should visit the Statue of Liberty, the Met, Times Square, etc. But on a return trip, pick a neighbourhood and go deep. You’ll find hole-in-the-wall bars, great delis, quirky shops… exploring the non-touristy side of New York is an incredibly rewarding experience for a traveller.

Greece is sixth but not for Santorini but for Crete. Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and is a paradise for tourists seeking sunshine, beaches, and culture. Chania lies on the northern coast of Crete. It’s the second largest city on the island and is served by an airport. Upon arrival, hire a car and drive the 30 kilometres up to the White Mountains. This beautiful setting is perfect for relaxing or doing a spot of walking and is also a good base to explore the region’s attractions.

Europe continues its hold in top ten with Barcelona at seventh. Stroll Las Ramblas and enjoy Barcelona’s unique blend of Catalan culture, distinctive architecture, lively nightlife and trendy, stylish hotels. You’ll find Europe’s best-preserved Gothic Quarter here, as well as amazing architectural works by Gaudi. La Sagrada Familia, considered Gaudi’s masterpiece, is still under construction (your entrance fee helps to fund the project). Feel like a picnic? Look no further than the rambunctious La Boqueria market, where you can stock up on local delicacies.

Second Asian entrant in the list is Cambodian city of Siam Reap at 8th position. Siem Reap is a fast-growing city with plenty of new hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. But chances are, you’re here not because of the city itself, but for what’s nearby: amazingly well-preserved ancient temples. Even if you have the worst jet lag ever, drag yourself out of bed to be at Angkor archaeological Park when it opens—sunrise over Angkor Wat is worth losing sleep over.

Back to Europe and this time it is Czech Republic. We hear the question, “What’s the next Prague?” a lot. But while we’re all for discovering great new destinations, we hardly think Prague is over. Sure, everyone’s heard of it, but it’s still a grand city with extraordinary historic and cultural sights, and it’s definitely worth a visit. The often-rebuilt Prague Castle has overlooked the city since the 9th century, and the synagogues and cemetery of the Jewish Quarter are must-sees. Nightlife here is diverse and plentiful, from trendy clubs to sophisticated wine bars to late-night cellar bars.

Completing the top 10 is another popular Asian destination in Thailand. Phuket offers a rainbow spectrum of spectacular holiday sights from blue lagoons and pink sunsets to orange-robed monks. Three wheeled-Tuk Tuks, taxis, buses and long tailed boats transport visitors between these marvels. Phuket’s south coast offers its most popular beaches. The north is more tranquil. Koh Phi Phi, Phang Nga Bay and Patong Beach are popular spots. Diving, snorkeling, wind surfing and sailing are just a few active options. Inland, forested hills, mountains and cliffs wait to be explored.

Leading the next ten despite its political upheaval is Turkey. Europe and Asia meet in Istanbul, and throughout this vibrant city, you’ll find centuries-old mosques, churches and markets happily co-existing with modern restaurants, galleries and nightclubs. And plan on visiting a hammam (traditional Turkish bath)—for about $20 your skin will be scrubbed clean. And we mean scrubbed. Your wimpy loofah has nothing on this.

Moving across the Atlantic in the Caribbean Sea is Jamaica at 12th spot. Jamaica is a melting pot of African, Asian, European and Middle Eastern cultures. You’ll experience this diversity in its strong crafts tradition, performing arts and distinctive dining options, like ackee and saltfish with roast breadfruit. Take your holiday to new heights at famed cliff jumping spot, Negril Cliffs. Jamaica offers long beaches, protected coves, rugged mountains, waterfalls, caves and sunshine and chances to play in the surf, ride horses and swim with dolphins. Jump in!

Now comes the another Asian city at 13th, Hoi An. This city on the central Vietnamese coast is a well-preserved example of the important Southeast Asian trading port it was from the 15th-19th centuries. Already a common stop for backpackers, it is becoming better known to tourists. On the 14th day of each lunar month, the town trades its electric lights for traditional coloured lanterns. Sights include the Japanese Covered Bridge and the Quan Cong Temple. Let the town’s expert tailors make you some bespoke clothing.

Finally Russia manages to hold a spot in the list at 14th. The second largest city in Russia, St. Petersburg is the country’s cultural heart. View splendid architectural gems like the Winter Palace and the Kazan Cathedral, and give yourself plenty of time to browse the world-renowned art collection of the Hermitage. Sprawling across the Neva River delta, St. Petersburg offers enough art, nightlife, fine dining and cultural destinations for many repeat visits.

The beautiful Caribbean Sea gets another share in the pie with Bay Islands at Roatan in Honduras. Is there a better way to cap off a day of pristine reef diving and heart-pumping adventure sports than by sipping a sunset cocktail? Didn’t think so! From ziplining to deep sea fishing to exploring the military-protected archipelago of Cayos Cochinos, the Honduran island of Roatan is a playground for lovers of water sports and ecotourism. Landlubbers will flip for the Carambola Botanical Gardens, a tour of the Stone Castle Cameo Factory or exploring the beaches on horseback.

Marrakech in Morocco is the only African entry in the list at 16th position. Your local farmers’ or flea market may be a fun place to spend a Saturday morning, but it’s got nothing on Marrakech’s markets. Spend a day here to immerse yourself in the spectacle. (Yes, that is, in fact, a snake charmer.)

At 17th spot is another gem in the Caribbean Sea. Ambergris Caye in Belize in Central America hovers in a holiday sweet spot: just enough amenities to make it exciting, but not so overdeveloped that you’re tripping over flip-flopped tourists. A mangrove swamp is the eye of this white beach island, the largest in Belize, and golf carts are the main form of transportation along the sandy roads. Reef divers drool over the Belize Barrier Reef and the Blue Hole, a 400-feet deep circle of limestone that teems with angelfish, elkhorn coral, cleaner shrimp and stalactites.

Latin America gets its first spot in the list at 18th through Rio de Janerio. May be your curiosity would have piqued by the last year’s RIO Olympic Games, or you’re heeding the call of the famous twin beaches Copacabana and Ipanema, Rio offers more than you can imagine, and offers it at all hours. With breathtaking views from Corcovado Mountain and breathtaking deals in the city’s endless malls and markets, Rio de Janeiro is a holiday paradise, whatever it is you travel for.

It seems that we are not going any far from the region as we again move from Rio to Caribbean Sea in north. Saint Maarten comes to 19th position. Get the experience of visiting two island colonies in the same 37 square miles. Saint Maarten/Saint Martin’s spicy marriage of Caribbean, French and Dutch cultures matches its physical diversity: the island is both urban and untamed, with rain forest-like landscapes, white beaches, and amazing caves and wildlife.

Moving further north we come to Mexico for exploring 20th spot. Playa del Carmen is distinct among Yucatan beach towns both culturally and commercially. While its beaches are similar to other destinations’, its nightlife and hotel culture is hipper in the European and American style, blending the traditional Mexican locale with a more permissive and opulent array of tourist options.

An Asian city of extravagance and opulence is at 21st rank. Dubai is a destination that mixes modern culture with history, adventure with world-class shopping and entertainment. Catch a show at the Dubai Opera, see downtown from atop the Burj Khalifa and spend an afternoon along Dubai Creek exploring the gold, textile and spice souks. If you’re looking for thrills, you can float above the desert dunes in a hot air balloon, climb aboard a high-speed ride at IMG Worlds of Adventure or skydive over the Palm Jumeirah.

Not surprisingly, we come back to Caribbean Sea. This time it is Grand Cayman in Cayman Islands. The farther you go from Grand Cayman’s busy docks, the more peace and quiet you’ll find. At Stingray City (actually a sandbar), stingrays swim alongside you in the tranquil waters. Closer to town, travellers report finding some of the best massage and spa services anywhere in the Caribbean.

India couldn’t find a place in the list but its neighbour does at 23rd position . Nepal’s capital Kathmandu is situated in a valley full of historic sites, ancient temples and shrines, golden pagodas and fascinating villages. Hotels, bars and restaurants cater to all budgets. Shops offer handicrafts, carpets and Nepali paper prints. Bus services, taxis and bicycles open up the city. Trek to see the Monkey Temple, the valley’s oldest and most sacred shrine. Mingle with locals and animals amid Durbar Square’s monuments and temples, or join mountain trekkers in the bustling Thamel District.

Far enough close to the International date line in South Pacific Ocean is all time favourite tiny island of Bora-Bora at 24th spot. The relatively small island of Bora Bora is an activity giant, offering visitors the chance to experience a 4×4 safari, sunbathe and swim at white sandy beaches, dive in a natural underwater park among fish and corals, experience thrilling shark feedings, or circle the turquoise lagoon by boat. And Bora Bora is a superlative romantic spot. Fall captive to this lush gem of a Polynesian island by sharing an intimate midnight dinner on the beach; visiting the Lagoonarium, the Diving Centre, the Coral Gardens or the Leopard Rays Trench; or taking it all in from the lofty heights of 2,300-foot Mount Otemanu.

Last but not least in the list is Cusco in Peru, home to one of the wonders in world. Incan majesty and Andean baroque exist side-by-side in Cusco’s stone streets, epitomized by the Qoriacancha palace and the church of Santo Domingo flanking the Plaza de Armas. In this high-altitude melting pot of Amerindian and mestizo culture, you’ll find extraordinary textiles, lively summer festivals and archaeological wonders.

SO, now for you it is time to decide, where would you want to land first!

 

Bali from the sky – few captures!

Its fun to be on window seat of a plane, provided you are interested in capturing images. And if images are from a beautiful beach resort like Bali, then you just can’t stop clicking. How different it is to see a place from the top, then being there! A lot perhaps. Lot changes with the change of the angle and perspective. Eye angle is more wide than  ever. The view and the perspective, both become more holistic. Hence the idea of beauty also changes!

So here starts the fun-

Plane looks like walking right into the sea!

Bali from sky11

… or along it! Is it quite close for comfort or just thrilling!!

Bali from sky12

It looks more normal now-

Bali from sky1
Games of the window seat!

Quite different to see a beach resort from up in the sky!

Bali from sky2

… but it still looks amazing with all those boats and yachts lined up!

Bali from sky3

The three shots of the sea link from Denpasar towards Nusa Dua. The view is equally fascinating as was to actually travel on that bridge-

Bali from sky4

….its big. We don’t have anything like this in India, I presume (not undermining Worli sea link in Mumbai).

Bali from sky5

…. right on the top. Want to get airdropped here!

Bali from sky6

You can also see the difference in the colours of the sea in different patches..

Bali from sky7

On to the other side of island…

Bali from sky8

Now getting farther and higher… seeing more of the land-sea divide.

Bali from sky9

Leaving behind the land but with lots of memories stacked up in baggage!

Bali from sky10

White Water rafting in Bali

Bali is know for its culture and beaches. But it is also a hot spot for adventure. A classic two hour visually spectacular rafting trip on the Ayung river in Ubud region of Bali is a mix of excitement, fun & breathtaking views. Carving through some of Bali’s most fantastic landscape, Class II & III rapids wind through deep valleys, cascading waterfalls, dense tropical rainforest and towering cliffs. An adventure worth an experience while in Bali.

There are a few rafting operators in and around Ubud and Sobek is one of them which was our operator for the trip. Rafting is a thrill and it helps when the instructors are lively and engaging. The base is just a few kilometres from Ubud town in the forest area. Rafters get into gear at the base and then trek downhill amidst deep forest to the river.

Rapid might not be high grade but was fairly long and thrilling. Two hour rafting trip has many surprises, including passing under waterfalls and through dense forests.

What was the most intriguing part was the reliefs and carving n the rock faces! With towering cliffs on both sides and deep river in between, how come anybody did this!! Big surprise…

As I said that though the rapid was grade II and grade III but it has some of its adventurous moments. See for yourself…

The rafting route exposes to beauty of the countryside in Ubud. Ubud is one of the most beautiful and hence tourist active region of Bali. Angung mountain is close to Ubud. Ayung river flows from the hill. Locally it is believed that the river water has medicinal properties. It might be true as there are many herbs in the forest and  river flowing through these medicinal herbs might be carrying their properties. It is believed that the water has a cure for skin diseases and joint pains. You will often find people taking bath in the river to get treatment. People often get out of all there clothes and keep their body immersed in water for hours. We found many during our rafting trip.

A perfectly enjoyable experience to have, while in Bali. It was another departure for us from the standard image of Bali. Worth to have experience.

You can also watch a video of this rafting experience on my YouTube channel-

From the Bali album : Royal attires for pre-wedding shoot!

There were many revelations for us in Bali – an island of Hindu culture in Islamic Indonesia. And many of them came to us in the Bali Art Centre. I will be talking about the Bali Art Centre in a later post, but this is about something we witnessed there. Pre-wedding photo-shoots are not uncommon world over. Even Bali is famous globally as a wedding and honeymoon destination. But here I am talking about pre-wedding photo-shoots of local Hindu Balinese couples. Its grown into a tradition now and is extremely popular.

Bali pre-wedding1

Its quite unlike hindu traditions in India where to be bride and groom are not supposed to meet openly before the marriage and a planned, open and detailed photo-shoot is out of question. But here, to be couples get the photo-shoot at all type of exotic, traditional, historical or natural locations and in all types of costumes from modern to casual and traditional. Actually, even muslims in other parts of Indonesia follow this tradition.

So, we got to see a few such pre-wedding photo-shoots at Bali Art Centre. And, the place being one of the most important place in Bali for traditional culture, has many artistic backdrops which are popular among the wedding planners for such photo-shoots. So goes the costume to match the backdrops. Hence, all the couples you will see here are in traditional Balinese dresses. The first couple that we encountered at the stage of the open-air theatre of the centre was perhaps the most beautiful of all of them. You can see for yourself (click on a image to see it in bigger size and enjoy its beauty)-

Look gorgeous. Don’t they! Most interesting part was that, these couples had absolutely no objection on likes of us clicking their photographs. It is said that Balinese weddings have a romance, mysticism and a unique culture. Though it has its roots in the hindu traditions, but Bali has developed a culture altogether different from what is practiced in hindu cultures of India. Its traditional, but it is no more rigid. Like hinduism in India, Bali too followed a caste system, but with changing times, it it growing weaker.

Here is another bride-to be waiting for her partner to get ready.

Bali pre-wedding12
Where is my prince!

These photos from the pre-wedding shoot are also used in wedding invitations of the couple, besides going to their wedding albums.

We don’t have such elaborate pre-wedding shoots in our part of world, atleast I can’t recall anything like this

It was indeed, one of the highlights of the trip for us. One of our best chances to understand the Balinese culture.

Sea on fire : Sunset at Bali beach

In an earlier post I had showcased some Sunset silhouettes from the Kuta beach in Bali. But I haven’t included the actual sunset photos in the post and saved them for later. Here they come, few of the selected ones.

Bali Sunset1

Well, sunsets are never enough. For me, going to a beach destination essentially means to watch the sunset. But then so has for any other destination as well. Sunrises and sunsets always catch your imagination.

Bali sunset2

As I said in the earlier post, sunset at the Kuta beach in Bali was the only second sunset of the whole trip that I was able to capture. First, one being the sunset at Prambanan Temple near Yogyakarta. Although we landed in Bali in the late morning  but it was only in the evening when we managed to check in our hotel close to Kuta Beach. Having left with very little time before the sunset, I had no other choice then to leave everybody else behind and rush to the beach with my cameras. I am glad, I did so.

Bali sunset3

I was on beach minutes before the sunset and I managed to capture some satisfactory images. You can see some interplay of colours during the moment in these photos-

What attracts you more at sunset time on a sea beach is the sudden surge in the waves. The sun and the sea look like proving their might by trying to outdo each other. See for yourself in these images-

And then sun goes down and things suddenly start to calm a bit-

Bali sunset18

On the other side, a plane gets ready to land at the Denpasar airport in Bali-

Bali sunset19

For me and many others, it was time to be back-

Bali sunset20