Bali. When mentioned, people conjure up images of killer waves, busy night clubs and overcrowded beaches running rampant with young suntanned partiers. But look beyond the surface and you will witness a land rich with tradition, superstition and a people whose dedication to their beliefs has helped the island to maintain their centuries old customs. Enduring the onslaught of tourists who invade their beaches each year, the Balinese continue to live their lives of deep rooted religion, important family values and respect for the spirits of the dead.


Devout Hindus , the Balinese put out offerings each morning resembling works of art. Fruit and flowers beautifully arranged in palm leaves displayed in front of their shops with rich incense burning to bring good luck and to appease the spirits. Great care is taken topreserve their tradition and young and old alike continue to practice these beliefs. Everyday you will see a ceremony occur. Whether it be a wedding a birthday or an elaborate cremation, the Balinese enjoy a life full of festivities.


Just a short ride out of the main tourist destination of Kuta beach is the peaceful town of Ubud. This picturesque village situated in Bali's interior, among lush rice terraces is a place where time stands still.

Farmers tend their paddy fields by hand as their flocks of painted ducks waddle on their land. When walking through a peaceful path, you may be stopped by a local boy who will climb a tree to offer you a fresh coconut.

Rice Farmer

Skillful artists sell their masterpieces to the casual buyer or to

the serious collector and handmade treasures of masks and statues can

be bought in the many family run shops. Or you can find a real bargain

at the colourful market in the centre of town, selling sarongs and

t-shirts to crafts and paintings.

It is famous for its traditional dance performed each night in one

of many ornate temples.. Masked performers dressed in colourful

costumes telling stories of their history and folklore in the outdoor

theatres under the canopy sky. Great dedication is given to the study

of this difficult craft and a highly skilled Balinese Dancer is revered

throughout the land.


Quiet cafes line the road leading to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, a

protected portion of jungle containing long tail macaques. Unlike other

sanctuary's I have visited in south East Asia, this one does not

encourage the monkeys to fend for themselves. Vendors sell bananas and

peanuts for profit so that visiting tourists can feed these feisty creatures. They come to expect their treats

regularly causing fights among the monkeys and tourists alike.

Forest Monkey

Enjoy a luxurious massage at one of the many spas. For the

reasonable price of $12 you will enjoy one and a half hours of pure

heaven. Skilled masseurs work out your travel weary muscles with

ancient old techniques, finishing with an herbal body scrub and hot

floral bath. Pure decadence.

Choosing a meal at one of the many eateries can be a difficult task.

With food ranging from traditional Indonesian babi guling (suckling pig

roasted on a spit and must be ordered a day in advance.) to Italian

pasta and pizza or roasted duck. It is a playground for the taste buds

and eating in the candle lit setting while Balinese music plays softly

in the background gives a feeling of tranquility. You relax while

drinking a Bintang beer and think that you may never leave this

tropical paradise.

Fire Walker

Ubud is well travelled on many peoples routes in Bali, but its laid

back atmosphere dedicated tradition and a thriving artist community

give it the facade of being the real Bali. Many will say that the

real Bali no longer exists, that it has been taken over by tourism and

western influence. But I see it thriving in the everyday lives of the

local people and the real Bali exists in their hearts.