bbc news

Introducing Bali


Bali may be small in size – you can drive around the entire coast in one long day – but its prominence as a destination is huge, and rightfully so. Ask travellers what Bali means to them and you’ll get as many answers as there are flowers on a frangipani tree. Virescent rice terraces, pulse-pounding surf, enchanting temple ceremonies, mesmerising dance performances and ribbons of beaches are just some of the images people cherish.

Small obviously doesn’t mean limited. The manic whirl of Kuta segues into the luxury of Seminyak. The artistic swirl of Ubud is a counterpoint to misty treks amid the volcanoes. Mellow beach towns like Amed, Lovina and Pemuteran can be found right round the coast and just offshore is the laid-back idyll of Nusa Lembongan.

As you stumble upon the exquisite little offerings left all over the island that materialise as if by magic, you’ll see that the tiny tapestry of colours and textures is a metaphor for Bali itself.

And those are just some of the more obvious qualities. A visit to Bali means that you are in the most visitor-friendly island of Indonesia. There are pleasures of the body, whether a massage on the beach or a hedonistic interlude in a sybaritic spa. Shopping that will put ‘extra bag’ at the top of your list. Food and drink ranging from the freshest local cuisine bursting with the flavours of the markets to food from around the globe, often prepared by chefs and served in restaurants that are world class. From a cold Bintang at sunset to an epic night clubbing in Kuta, your social whirl is limited only by your own fortitude.

Travel Alert: High level terrorism-related warnings have been issued by Western governments concerning travel in Bali. Travellers are advised to check their local consular information and monitor the situation in Bali closely before making travel plans. Check out Safe Travel. Travellers should also be cautious when drinking locally sourced alcohol; see the Health & Safety pages for details.

Getting there in bali

You can reach Java, just west of Bali, and Sumbawa, just west of Lombok, via ferries. Through buses can take you all the way to Jakarta. Longer distance boats serve Indonesia’s eastern islands.

Ferry Running constantly, ferries (adult/child 6000/4500Rp, car & driver 95,000Rp, motorbike 31,000Rp; 24hr) cross the Bali Strait between Gilimanuk in western Bali and Ketapang (Java). The actual crossing takes under 30 minutes, but you’ll spend longer than this loading, unloading and waiting around. Car rental contracts usually prohibit rental vehicles being taken out of Bali.

From Ketapang, bemo (small minibuses) travel 4km north to the terminal, where buses leave for Baluran, Probolingo (for Gunung Bromo), Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Jakarta. There’s a train station near the ferry port, with trains to Probolingo, Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Jakarta. Contact the Train Information Service (0361-227131; for more information (on the website, Jadwal means schedule).


To/From Lombok

Pelni ships link Lembar with other parts of Indonesia. The Awu heads to Waingapu, Ende, Kupang and Kalabahi; the Kelimutu goes to Bima, Makassar and Papua; and the Tilongkabila to Bima, Labuanbajo and Sulawesi. Tickets can be bought at the Pelni office (0370-637212; Jl Industri 1; 8am-noon & 1-3.30pm Mon-Thu & Sat, 8-11am Fri) in Mataram.

Other Indonesian Islands

Services to other islands in Indonesia are often in flux, although Pelni is reasonably reliable. Check for other services at the harbour in Benoa.


The national shipping line is Pelni (, which schedules large boats on long-distance runs throughout Indonesia.

To/From Bali

Three ships from Pelni stop at the harbour in Benoa as part of their regular loops throughout Indonesia. Dobonsolo with Java, Nusa Tenggara, Maluku and northern Papua; and Awu and Tilongkabila with Nusa Tenggara and southern Sulawesi. Prices are dependent on the route and the class of travel, and this can range widely in price. Check for details locally but in general, fares, even in 1st class, are very low, eg Benoa to Surabaya on Java is US$35.

You can inquire and book at the Pelni offices in Tuban (0361-763963, 021-7918 0606;; Jl Raya Kuta 299; 8am-noon & 1-4pm Mon-Fri, 8am-1pm Sat) and at the harbour in Benoa (0361-721377; h8am-4pm Mon-Fri, 8am-12.30pm Sat).



To/From Bali

The ferry crossing is included in the services to/from Ubung terminal in Denpasar offered by numerous bus companies, many of which travel overnight. It’s advisable to buy your ticket at least one day in advance from travel agents in the tourist centres or at the Ubung terminal. Note too that fierce air competition has put tickets to Jakarta and Surabaya in the range of bus prices.

Fares vary between operators; it’s worth paying extra for a decent seat and air-con. For a comfortable bus ride, typical fares and travel times are Yogyakarta (210,000Rp, 16 hours) and Jakarta (305,000Rp, 24 hours), usually travelling overnight. Some companies travel directly between Java and Singaraja, via Lovina, on the north coast of Bali.


Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport (DPS) is just south of Kuta. It is named after a hero of the struggle for independence from the Dutch.

The airport is spacious and modern and is well-served with international flights. It has a hotel-booking counter, a left-luggage room, several moneychangers, an expensive duty-free shop and many souvenir shops, ATMs and lots of familiar fast-food places.

The domestic terminal (0361-751011) and international terminal (0361-751011) are a few hundred metres apart.

International airlines flying to and from Bali include the following:

Air Asia (airline code AK; 0361-760116; Hub Kuala Lumpur.

Cathay Pacific Airways (airline code CX; 0361-766931; Hub Hong Kong.

Continental Airlines (airline code CO; 0361-768358; Hubs Newark and Houston.

Eva Air (airline code BR; 0361-751011; Hub Taipei.

Japan Airlines (airline code JL; 0361-757077; Hub Tokyo.

Korean Air (airline code KE; 0361-768377; Hub Seoul.

Malaysia Airlines (airline code MH; 0361-764995; Hub Kuala Lumpur.

Qantas Airways (airline code QF; 0361-288331; Hubs Sydney and Melbourne. Plans to rebrand its service as Jetstar.

Singapore Airlines (airline code SQ; 0361-768388; Hub Singapore.

Thai Airways International (airline code TG; 0361-288141; Hub Bangkok.

Domestic services in Bali seem to be in a constant state of flux. However competition is fierce and you can usually find flights to a range of destinations for under US$100. The best thing to do is to go to the airport and shop at the airline ticket offices. Often you’ll come close to long-distance bus and ferry fares. Places served often from Bali include Jakarta, Surabaya, Lombok, Yogyakarta, Bima, Maumere, Bandung, Kupang and more.

Garuda Indonesia (airline code GA; 0361-227824; Hubs Bali and Jakarta.

Lion Air (airline code JT; 0361-763872; www.lion

Merpati Nusantara Airlines (airline code MZ; 0361-235358;

Mandala Airlines (airline code RI; 0361-751011;

Pelita (airline code 6D; 0361-762248;

5 9000;; Jl Medan Merdeka Selatan 4-5)

Health & safety in Bali

Dangers & annoyances

Travel Alert: Following a number of deaths resulting from the consumption of local arak contaminated with methanol, travellers to Bali are advised to be extremely cautious when consuming local liquor. Check the FCO website for details.

It’s important to note that compared with many places in the world, Bali is fairly safe. There are some hassles from the avaricious, but most visitors face many more dangers at home. Petty theft occurs but it is not prevalent.

Security increased after the 2002 and 2005 bombings but has tended to fade after a while. The odds you will be caught up in such a tragedy are low. Note that large luxury hotels which are part of international chains tend to have the best security.

As for all destinations, you might want to check your government’s travel advisories before you depart, and listen to local advice when you arrive.

A few other things to note: outside the Mataram/Senggigi area on Lombok, emergency services may be nonexistent, or a long time coming. Don’t expect an ambulance to collect injured surfers from the southwest coast. The Gili Islands don’t have a formal police force. Bangsal, Mawi and Kuta have problems worth noting.


Government departments charged with foreign affairs maintain websites with travel information and warnings for specific countries and regions. It’s a good idea for travellers to check the following websites before a trip in order to confirm local conditions. But note that the advisories often are general to the point of meaninglessness and are guaranteed to allow for bureaucratic cover should trouble occur. Once in Bali, travellers may be able to get updated information through the local consulate or from embassies in Jakarta.

Australia Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (

Canada Foreign Affairs (

New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (

UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (

US Department of State (


Don’t assume that activities operators are looking out for your well-being. Travellers have died with the sports activities operators in Tanjung Benoa and dive mishaps occur everywhere. The iconic volcanoes claim trekkers, especially Gunung Rinjani on Lombok. The moral: keep a healthy scepticism about you if others bear responsibility for your safety.


You may be approached by beggars in Kuta, Legian or Ubud – typically a woman with one or more young children. Pause and they might literally latch on.


Numerous high-profile drug cases in Bali and on Lombok should be enough to dissuade anyone from having anything to do with illicit drugs. As little as two ecstasy tabs or a bit of pot has resulted in huge fines and multiyear jail sentences in Bali’s notorious jail in Kerobokan. Try dealing and you may pay with your life.

You can expect to be offered pot, ecstasy, shabu-shabu (methamphetamine), crystal meth (yabba), magic mushrooms and other drugs in nightclubs, beaches and while walking along tourist-area streets. Assume that such offers come from people who may be in cahoots with the police. That some foreigners have been able to buy their way out of jail by paying enormous fines (US$50,000 and up) should indicate that nabbing tourists for drugs is a cottage industry.

It’s also worth noting that clubbers have been hit with random urine tests.

Hawkers, Pedlars & Touts

Many visitors regard the persistent attentions of people trying to sell as the number one annoyance in Bali (and in tourist areas of Lombok). These activities are officially restricted in many areas but hawkers will still work just outside the fence. Elsewhere, especially around many tourist attractions, visitors are frequently, and often constantly, hassled to buy things. The worst places for this are Jl Legian in Kuta, Kuta beach, the Gunung Batur area and the over-subscribed temples at Besakih and Tanah Lot. And the cry of ‘Transport?!?’, that’s everywhere. Many touts employ fake, irritating Australian accents, eg ‘Oi! Mate!’ Pirate DVDs and CDs often don’t work.

The best way to deal with hawkers is to completely ignore them from the first instance. Eye contact is crucial – don’t make any! Even a polite ‘tidak’ (no) encourages them. Never ask the price or comment on the quality unless you’re interested in buying, or you want to spend half an hour haggling. It may seem very rude to ignore people who smile and greet you so cheerfully, but you might have to be a lot ruder to get rid of a hawker after you’ve spent a few minutes politely discussing his/her watches, rings and prices. Keep in mind though, that ultimately, they’re just people trying to make a living and if you don’t want to buy anything then you are wasting their time trying to be polite.


Bali has such a relaxed atmosphere, and the people are so friendly, that you may not be on the lookout for scams. It’s hard to say when an ‘accepted’ practice such as over-charging becomes an unacceptable rip-off, but be warned that there are some people in Bali (not always Balinese) who will engage in a practised deceit to rip you off.

Most Balinese would never perpetrate a scam, but it seems that very few would warn a foreigner when one is happening. Be suspicious if you notice that bystanders are uncommunicative and perhaps uneasy, and one guy is doing all the talking.

Here is a rundown of common scams.

Car Con

Friendly locals (often working in pairs) discover a ‘serious problem’ with your car or motorcycle – it’s blowing smoke, leaking oil or petrol, or a wheel is wobbling badly (problems that one of the pair creates while the other distracts you). Coincidentally, he has a brother/cousin/friend nearby who can help, and before you know it, they’re demanding an outrageous sum for their trouble.

Easy Money

Friendly locals will convince a visitor that easy money can be made in a card game. Anyone falling for this one is a prime candidate for what happens to fools and their money.

High Rates - No Commission

Many travellers are ripped off by moneychangers who use sleight of hand and rigged calculators. The moneychangers who offer the highest rates are usually the ones to look out for. Always count your money at least twice in front of the moneychanger, and don’t let him touch the money again after you’ve finally counted it. The best defence is to use a bank-affiliated currency exchange or stick to ATMs.


Kuta Beach and those to the north and south are subject to heavy surf and strong currents – always swim between the flags. Trained lifeguards do operate, but only at Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Sanur and (sometimes) Senggigi. Most other beaches are protected by coral reefs, so they don’t have big waves, but the currents can still be treacherous, especially along the coast running north and west from Seminyak. Currents can also cause problems off the Gilis.

Water pollution can also be a problem, especially after rains. Try to swim well away from any open streams you see flowing into the surf.

Be careful when swimming over coral, and never walk on it at all. It can be very sharp and coral cuts are easily infected. In addition, you are damaging a fragile environment.


Violent crime is relatively uncommon, but there is bag-snatching, pickpocketing and theft from rooms and parked cars in the tourist centres. Don’t leave anything exposed in a rental vehicle. Always carry money belts inside your clothes and bags over your neck (not shoulder). Be sure to secure all your money before you leave the ATM, bank or moneychanger. Also, beware of pickpockets in crowded places and bemo (small minibuses).

Hotel and guesthouse rooms are often not secure. Don’t leave valuables in your room. Thieves will often enter through open-air bathrooms, so be sure to fasten the bathroom door. Most hotels offer some form of secure storage, such as in-room safes or central safety deposit boxes for guests – use it.

Many people lose things by leaving them on the beach while they go swimming.

On Lombok, theft and robbery are more common. Certainly there are hassles in Kuta, east of Kuta and west of Kuta around Mawi.


Apart from the dangers of driving in Bali, the traffic in most tourist areas is often annoying, and frequently dangerous to pedestrians. Footpaths can be rough, even unusable, so you often have to walk on the road. Never expect traffic to stop because you think you’re on a pedestrian crossing.

The traffic is much lighter on Lombok than in Bali, but there is still a danger of traffic accidents.


The visa situation in Indonesia seems to be constantly in flux. It is essential that you confirm current formalities before you arrive in Bali or Lombok. Failure to meet all the entrance requirements can see you on the first flight out.

No matter what type of visa you are going to use, your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival.

The main visa options for visitors to Bali and Lombok follow:

Visa in Advance – citizens of countries not eligible for Visa Free or Visa on Arrival must apply for a visa before they arrive in Indonesia. Typically this is a visitors visa, which comes in two flavours: 30 or 60 days. Details vary by country, so you should contact the nearest Indonesian embassy or consulate in order to determine processing fees and time. Note: this is the only way people from any country can obtain a 60-day visitor visa.

Visa on Arrival – citizens of over 50 countries may apply for a visa when they arrive at the airport in Bali. There are special lanes for this at immigration in the arrivals area. The cost is US$25, collectable on the spot. It’s easiest to hand them the exact amount in US currency. This visa is only good for 30 days and cannot be extended. Note that only EU citizens who carry passports issued by the countries listed below can use visa on arrival. You can also obtain a seven-day visa this way for US$10, but go with the 30-day one unless you know for sure you’ll be out of Indonesia in less than seven days. Eligible countries include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, The Netherlands, UK and the USA.

Visa Free – citizens of Singapore and a smattering of other countries can receive a nonextendable 30-day visa for free upon arrival.

Whichever type of visa you use to enter Bali or Lombok, you’ll be issued with a tourist card that is valid for a 30- or 60-day stay according to your visa (if you have obtained one of the coveted 60-day visas in advance, be sure the immigration official at the airport gives you a 60-day card). Keep the tourist card with your passport, as you’ll have to hand it back when you leave the country. Note that some travellers have been fined for overstaying by only a day or so (officially it is US$20 per day for up to 60 days past your visa, after which it can mean jail) or for losing their tourist card.

The vast majority of visitors to Lombok first pass through Bali or another Indonesian city such as Jakarta so they already have tourist cards. There are, however, a few direct flights to Lombok from other countries so in these instances the same visa rules outlined above apply.

Other Requirements

Officially, an onward/return ticket is a requirement for a tourist card (and visitors visa), and visitors are frequently asked to show their ticket on arrival. If you look scruffy or broke, you may also be asked to present evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay – US$1000 in cash or travellers cheques (or the equivalent in other currencies) should be sufficient.

It’s not possible to extend a tourist card unless there’s a medical emergency or you have to answer legal charges. If you want to spend more time in Indonesia, you have to leave the country and then re-enter – some long-term foreign residents have been doing this for years. Singapore is the destination of choice for obtaining a new visa on the ‘visa run’.

There are two main kantor imigrasi (immigration offices) in Bali. The Denpasar office (0361-227828; 8am-2pm Mon-Thu, 8am-11am Fri, 8am-noon Sat) is just up the street from the main post office in Renon. The airport immigration office (0361-751038) has similar hours.

On Lombok, the immigration office (632520; Jl Udayana 2; 7am-2pm Mon-Thu, 7am-11am Fri, 7am-12.30am Sat) is in Mataram. If you have to apply for changes to your visa, make sure you’re neatly dressed, but don’t be overly optimistic.

For visa advice and service, many expats in South Bali use the services of

Bali Mode (0361-765162; Visa extensions (on legally extendable visas) average 400,000Rp to 500,000Rp.

Social Visas

If you have a good reason for staying longer (eg study or family reasons), you can apply for a sosial/budaya (social/cultural) visa. You will need an application form from an Indonesian embassy or consulate, and a letter of introduction or promise of sponsorship from a reputable person or school in Indonesia. It’s initially valid for three months, but it can be extended for one month at a time at an immigration office within Indonesia for a maximum of six months. There are fees for the application and for extending the visa too.


Indonesian embassies and consulates abroad are listed at Indonesia’s department of foreign affairs website (www.depl

Embassies & Consulates in Indonesia

Foreign embassies are in Jakarta, the national capital. Most of the foreign representatives in Bali are consular agents (or honorary consuls) who can’t offer the same services as a full consulate or embassy but can at least assist you in figuring out where to go. For some, this means a trek to Jakarta in the event of a lost passport.


The US, Australia and Japan (visitors from these countries together make up half of all visitors) have formal consulates in Bali. Unless noted, the following offices are open from about 8.30am to noon, Monday to Friday. All telephone area codes are 0361.

Australia (241118;; Jalan Tantular 32, Denpasar; 8am-noon, 12.30-4pm Mon-Fri) The Australian consulate has a consular sharing agreement with Canada, and may also be able to help citizens of New Zealand, Ireland and Papua New Guinea.

France (285485;; Jl Mertasari, Gang II 8, Sanur)

Germany (288535;; Jl Pantai Karang 17, Batujimbar, Sanur)

Japan (227628;; Jl Raya Puputan 170, Renon, Denpasar)

Netherlands (752777; Jl Raya Kuta 127, Kuta)

UK (270601;; Jl Tirtanadi 20, Sanur)

USA (233605;; Jl Hayam Wuruk 188, Renon, Denpasar; h8am-4.30pm) A consular agent.


Most nations have an embassy in Jakarta (telephone area code 021), including the following:

Australia (2550 5555;; Jl Rasuna Said Kav 15-16)

Canada (2550 7800;; World Trade Centre, 6th fl, Jl Jend Sudirman Kav 29-31)

France (2355 7600; Jl MH Thamrin 20)

Germany (3985 5000; Jl MH Thamrin 1)

Japan (3192 4308; Jl MH Thamrin 24)

Netherlands (524 8200; Jl HR Rasuna Said Kav S-3)

New Zealand (570 9460; BRI II Bldg, 23rd fl, Jl Jend Sudirman Kav 44-46)

UK (315 6264;; Jl. M.H. Thamrin 75)

USA (3435 9000;; Jl Medan Merdeka Selatan 4-5)

Bali history

It’s certain that Bali has been populated since early prehistoric times, but the oldest human artefacts found are 3000-year-old stone tools and earthenware vessels from Cekik. Not much is known of Bali during the period when Indian traders brought Hinduism to the Indonesian archipelago, but the earliest written records are stone inscriptions dating from around the 9th century. By that time, rice was being grown under the complex irrigation system known as subak, and there were precursors of the religious and cultural traditions that can be traced to the present day.


• Hindu influence

• European contact

• Dutch conquest

• Independence

• Modern Bali

Hindu influence

Hindu Java began to spread its influence into Bali during the reign of King Airlangga, from 1019 to 1042. At the age of 16, Airlangga had fled into the forests of western Java when his uncle lost the throne. He gradually gained support, won back the kingdom once ruled by his uncle and went on to become one of Java’s greatest kings. Airlangga’s mother had moved to Bali and remarried shortly after his birth, so when he gained the throne there was an immediate link between Java and Bali. At this time, the courtly Javanese language known as Kawi came into use among the royalty of Bali, and the rock-cut memorials seen at Gunung Kawi (Mt Kawi) near Tampaksiring are a clear architectural link between Bali and 11th-century Java.

After Airlangga’s death, Bali retained its semi-independent status until Kertanagara became king of the Singasari dynasty in Java two centuries later. Kertanagara conquered Bali in 1284, but his power lasted only eight years until he was murdered and his kingdom collapsed. With Java in turmoil, Bali regained its autonomy and the Pejeng dyn¬asty, centred near modern-day Ubud, rose to great power. In 1343 Gajah Mada, the legendary chief minister of the Majapahit dynasty, defeated the Pejeng king Dalem Bedaulu and brought Bali back under Javanese influence.

Although Gajah Mada brought much of the Indonesian archipelago under Majapahit control, Bali was the furthest extent of its power. Here the ‘capital’ moved to Gelgel, near modern-day Semarapura (once known as Klungkung), around the late 14th century, and for the next two centuries this was the base for the ‘king of Bali’, the Dewa Agung. The Majapahit kingdom collapsed into disputing sultanates. However, the Gelgel dynasty in Bali, under Dalem Batur Enggong, extended its power eastwards to the neighbouring island of Lombok and even crossed the strait to Java.

As the Majapahit kingdom fell apart, many of its intelligentsia moved to Bali, including the priest Nirartha, who is credit¬ed with introducing many of the complexities of Balinese religion to the island. Artists, dancers, musicians and actors also fled to Bali at this time, and the island experienced an explosion of cultural activities. The final great exodus to Bali took place in 1478.

European contact
The first Europeans to set foot in Bali were Dutch seafarers in 1597. Setting a tradition that prevails to the present, they fell in love with the island, and when Cornelius Houtman – the ship’s captain – prepared to set sail from Bali, some of his crew refused to leave with him. At that time, Balinese prosperity and artistic activity, at least among the royalty, were at a peak, and the king who befriended Houtman had 200 wives and a chariot pulled by two white buffaloes, not to mention a retinue of 50 dwarfs. When the Dutch returned to Indonesia in later years, they were interested in profit, not culture, and barely gave Bali a second glance.

Dutch conquest

In 1710 the capital of the Gelgel kingdom was shifted to nearby Klungkung (now called Semarapura), but local discontent was growing, lesser rulers were breaking away from Gelgel domination and the Dutch began to move in, using the old policy of divide and conquer. In 1846 the Dutch used Balinese salvage claims over shipwrecks as the pretext to land military forces in northern Bali. In 1894 the Dutch chose to support the Sasaks of Lombok in a rebellion against their Balinese rajah. After some bloody battles, the Balinese were defeated in Lombok, and with northern Bali firmly under Dutch control, southern Bali was not likely to retain its independence for long. Once again, salvaging disputes gave the Dutch the excuse they needed to move in. A Chinese ship was wrecked off Sanur in 1904 and ransacked by the Balinese. The Dutch demanded that the rajah of Badung pay 3000 silver dollars in damages – this was refused. In 1906 Dutch warships appeared at Sanur; Dutch forces landed and, despite Balinese opposition, marched the 5km to the outskirts of Denpasar.

On 20 September 1906, the Dutch mounted a naval bombardment of Denpasar and then commenced their final assault. The three rajahs of Badung (southern Bali) realised that they were outnumbered and outgunned, and that defeat was inevit¬able. Surrender and exile, however, was the worst imaginable outcome, so they decided to take the honourable path of a suicidal puputan – a fight to the death.

The Dutch begged the Balinese to surrender rather than make their hopeless stand, but their pleas went unheard and wave after wave of the Balinese nobility marched forward to their deaths. In all, nearly 4000 Bali¬nese died in the puputan. Later, the Dutch marched east towards Tabanan, taking the rajah of Tabanan prisoner, but he committed suicide rather than face the disgrace of exile.

The kingdoms of Karangasem and Gianyar had already capitulated to the Dutch and were allowed to retain some powers, but other kingdoms were defeated and the rulers exiled. Finally, the rajah of Klungkung followed the lead of Badung and once more the Dutch faced a puputan. With this last obstacle disposed of, all of Bali was now under Dutch control and became part of the Dutch East Indies. Dutch rule over Bali was short-lived, however, as Indonesia fell to the Japanese in WWII.


On 17 August 1945, just after WWII ended, the Indonesian leader Soekarno proclaimed the nation’s independence, but it took four years to convince the Dutch that they were not going to get their great colony back. In a virtual repeat of the puputan nearly half a century earlier, a Balinese resistance group was wiped out in the Battle of Marga on 20 November 1946; Bali’s airport, Ngurah Rai, is named after its leader. It was not until 1949 that the Dutch finally recognised Indonesia’s independence.

The huge eruption of Gunung Agung in 1963 killed thousands, devastated vast areas of the island and forced many Bali¬nese to accept transmigration to other parts of Indo¬nesia. Two years later, in the wake of the attempted communist coup, Bali became the scene of some of the bloodiest anticommunist killings in Indonesia. These were perhaps inflamed by some mystical desire to purge the land of evil, but also came about because the radical agenda of land reform and abolition of the caste system was a threat to traditional Balinese values. The brutality of the killings was in shocking contrast to the stereotype of the ‘gentle’ Balinese.

Modern Bali

The tourism boom, which started in the early 1970s, has brought many changes, and has helped pay for improvements in roads, telecommunications, education and health. Though tourism has had some marked adverse environmental and social effects, Bali’s unique culture has proved to be remarkably resilient. Beginning in the 1990s there has been vocal public opposition to some controversial tourist developments, which indicates that Balinese people will play a more active role in the development of their island.

Bali, like most places, has also been affected by global politics. In October 2002, two simultaneous bomb explosions in Kuta – targeting an area frequented by tourists – injured or killed more than 500 people. The island’s vital tourist industry was dealt a severe blow. It had mostly recovered by 2005 when in October of that year more bombs went off, albeit with less loss of life. Still, the bombs caused an immediate sharp drop in tourists and have forced the Bali¬nese to yet again ponder their role in the world’s greater geopolitics.
bali. boutique hotel bali. bali villas. Bali news