bali

Some interesting facts about Bali

Temple-Ceremony-in-BaliWhen most people think about Bali they think about pristine, white sandy beaches so it may surprise you to find out that Bali is also home to stunning black volcanic beaches thanks to the volcanoes that are still active on the island. What may come as less of a surprise is that 80% of Bali’s economy depends on tourism and the island, for many reasons, enjoys a steady stream of visitors. What many visitors do not realize is that in Lovina, on the north tip of Bali, dolphins are also frequent visitors, the Southeast Asian Spinner Dolphin, Spotted Dolphins and the Rissos dolphin can all be found in this area.

 

VOLCANO01

 

DOLPHINE01

Bali falls completely silent once a year on Nyepi the Balinese Day of Silence that is commemorated every Isakawarsa or Saka New Year, in 2014 it fell on March 31st. This is day of silence, fasting and meditation that is observed from 6am until 6am the following morning. This is a day of self-reflection and anything that might interfere with that is restricted. Lights must be kept low and working, entertainment, the lighting of fires, traveling or anything in the least pleasurable is prohibited, for some even talking and eating is off limits. Although Nyepi is primarily a Hindu Holiday the non-Hindu residents of the island also observe the day of silence out of respect for fellow citizens. Even tourists are not exempt from this special day and although they are free to do as they choose within the confines of their hotels, they are not allowed onto the streets or beaches, and furthermore the only airport in Bali is shut for the entire day. The only exceptions are granted for emergency vehicles carrying those with life-threatening conditions and women in the throes of childbirth.

NYEPI02

NYEPI01

Another interesting part of life in Bali is the calendar, that only has 210 days and has its origins in the Hindu religion. So don’t be surprised if you are wished Happy New Year by some Balinese residents who keep to this very different, very traditional calendar, on a day of the year that on the outside appears to have nothing to do with New Year.

Another rather astonishing fact about Bali is that every priest is paid by the government, despite the fact that Indonesia is a very secular country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, every priest of every religion is paid by the government so every religion is supported.

Bali is home to the world’s largest commercial bamboo building that houses the Bamboo Chocolate Factory that opened in November 2011. It is located not far from Ubud and offers tours to visitors as well as a range of chocolate products. Its close proximity to Densapar, Bali’s largest city makes it a popular tourist attraction.

chocfarm choco factory

Another surprising fact, this time about the Balinese people, is that they have very little creativity when it comes to names. The Balinese usually only have one of four names, either Wayan, Made, Nyoman or Ketut that simply mean first, second, third and forth born, and it does not matter if the child is a boy or a girl! Even more surprising is that prior to turning three months old Balinese babies are not allowed to touch the floor so are literally carried everywhere until they reach twelve weeks!

Bali - Island of Gods

Bali – Island of Gods..

Bali – the climate, dress code, language and nightlife

004

Weather and Climate

The dry season in Bali is between the months of April and September, this is also the time of year that Bali receives the most visitors, however the temperatures at this time of year are only marginally hotter than the rest of the year and occasional rainfall can still be expected. Often even the locals in Bali are amazed at how much rainfall they experience in the dry season and how little they receive during the wet season.

Indonesian Temple 002

The rainy season that falls typically from October to March can see temperatures drop at night to 15 degrees, and is often the quietest time of year in terms of visitors but the islands close proximity to the equator provides a warm tropical climate that is a huge draw for tourists who enjoy an average temperature of 30 degrees all year round with humidity levels at around 85%.

009

For those who find high temperatures a little hard to handle it is advisable to find accommodation near the coast where the fresh breeze provides a welcome relief from the heat.

Dress code

The dress code in Bali is pretty casual and men can get away with a smart pair of shorts and shirt just about anywhere, even in the more expensive venues. For the ladies wide blouses and thin linen trousers are acceptable, however when visiting temples long sleeves and sarongs are a must. And it goes without saying that sun protection is a must if you are not used to hot tropical climates so don’t forget to pack some factor 50 and a sun hat.

Language

English can be considered the third language in Bali after Indonesian and Balinese. Most Balinese have basic English skills due to tourism. You will find that many locals speak with an Australian twang thanks to between 600,000 to 700,000 Australian arrivals each year. Like most countries if you do manage to pick up and use a few words in the local language you will suddenly find yourself with many friends. Most big hotels have staff who speak English, French, Spanish and German. When it comes to ordering food most menus are in English and some do not even have an Indonesian version. Some restaurants provide menus in Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Russian, but generally these will only be found in Kuta, Legian, Nusa Dua and Seminyak.

Local travel agencies can help with tour guides who speak Japanese, Russian and Korean. In the tourist sector Indonesian is the most commonly used language. A lot of Javanese and Indonesians from other islands have entered the tourism sector and live and work on the islands so on the streets it is Bahasa Indonesia that is the language most commonly heard. Bahasa Indonesia is very lose to Malay and is taught in school and is the language spoken in government offices.

Nightlife

005

Bali is renowned for its nightlife and has more than its fair share of pubs, clubs, discos and beach bars. Many venues offer affordable drinks, food and entertainment while others cater for the upscale market with cocktails, imported beers, world class cuisine and world class musical acts. Fridays and Saturdays are popular nights to party for locals, expats and visitors to island and many venues invite DJ’s from all over Asia to entertain guests at the weekend.

007

Many of the bars in Bali offer happy hours around sunset, once darkness falls the restaurants start to fill up and as the night draws in many restaurants turn into nightclubs and the tables and chairs give way to dance floors. Bali has many great spots for night owls who hop from club to club to enjoy different music styles and atmospheres such as hip and contemporary, rowdy and wild and elegant and sophisticated. Around Kuta many of the clubs start to get busy around midnight

frontphoto

Shopping in Phuket

If you love shopping then you are going to love Phuket, a place that can only be described as a shopaholic’s paradise. The island offers bustling open air markets, noisy and vibrant night markets, food markets, local shops and world class western style shopping centers as well as up-market specialist shops. When you add to that list the traditional handicrafts, fabulously priced houseware goods, antiques and jewelry there is a good chance that a bigger suitcase will also be on your shopping list.

004
The Ocean Plaza Patong is a must visit shopping destination for those who love to shop until they drop. It is one of two shopping malls along the Patong beach Road. Historically this was something of a haberdashery store, but today it sells just about everything imaginable. The plaza has two levels of shopping and offers affordable brand name goods including women’s wear, menswear, children’s clothing, accessories, leather goods, home interiors, stationary, cosmetics and gifts. The store also sells OTOP (One Tambon One Product) goods that are based on Thai culture and tradition using local recourses. The store also has a games zone for children and plenty of Asian restaurants.

central-festivalThe Central Festival in Phuket is fully air conditioned and can be found just outside Phuket Town. This shopping mall is known as the shopping hub of the island with more than 120 outlets selling just about everything there is to sell, anything you can’t find here is probably not worth having. It is very easy to spend an entire day at the Central Festival so make sure you leave plenty of time if you are serious about shopping. As well as the shops this mall has a cinema where you can catch the latest movies and a wide range of international restaurants. The underground parking is free of charge, if you don’t have wheels that there are plenty of taxis to be found at the main entrance.

premiumoutletIf you are looking for bargains then head to the Premium Outlet Phuket where as well as Thai brands you can get great deals on Guy, Laroche, Hush Puppies, Nike, Adidas, Pierre Cardin, Warner Bross, Lacoste and Van Heusens, up to 70% off deals can be found here.
The Phuket Weekend Market can be found just outside Phuket Old Town on the Chao Fa West Road, not far from Central Festival. This fascinating market sells all kinds of secondhand goods, pirated items, curios and animals as well as some great local foods. This may not be the kind of place that you would go to actually buy anything but it is really worth a look just for the curiosity value.

jungceylonDowntown, the Jungceylon Shopping Complex has changed the face of shopping in Patong. The two main stores here are Big C supermarket and a gleaming Robinsons, an upper end department store. There are over two hundred other shops here to enjoy that sell shoes, DVD’s, cosmetics, sunglasses, brand name clothes, mobile phones, electrical goods and so the list goes on. There is also plenty in the way of entertainment here with a five room cinema and a 16 lane bowling alley so this is certainly the place to head to on the odd wet day.

Shopping in Karon and Kata is a lot more laid back that Patong but just as much fun. Here you will find many plazas, boutiques, bazaars and fresh markets. These are both family friendly shopping destinations with ultra hospitable storekeepers.

Old-Phuket-TownPhuket old town is worth a look for shopping. It has some great secondhand book shops, off the wall items like coconut shredders, garden accessories, wedding dresses and hardware stores. This is also the place to find textiles, Japanese, Burmese, Chinese and Thai artifacts and antique shops.

banzaanmarketBanzaan Market near Jungceylon was designed by Chinese and Western Architects and is a very clean shopping centre that sells meat, seafood, fish, vegetables, fruit, clothes, shoes, toys and gifts.

indymarketThe Phuket Indy Market is a popular place for youngsters to gather, this market offers street music, food and affordable goods such as jeans, shoes, bags and handmade key rings.

weekendmarket006009101
And finally the Talad Kasnet Night Market has to be worth a mention. This market is right behind Robinsons in Phuket Town and is where you can find the best Thai, Chinese and Muslim foods and a myriad of vendors selling stir fry, spicy salad, noodle soup and wok prepared dishes. The sights, sounds and smells draw many hungry shoppers here.

001

Phuket Old Town

008The old town of Phuket has a lot more personality than most provincial capitals in Thailand. Rich in history, this part of Phuket has shrines, Buddhist and Chinese temples, old shop houses and even a red light district.

The town was constructed with riches gained from the islands boom in the tin industry, many Sino-Colonial mansions, once occupied by Phuket’s tin barons still, stand today as a reminder of the towns wealth some one hundred years ago.002

The best time to explore Phuket’s old town is early in the morning or later on in the afternoon, when the heat of the day has subsided. There are plenty of quaint cafés and restaurants in this area where you can take some refreshments and watch the world go by.

 

0016A fine example of a Sino-Colonial mansion can be found at 98 Krabi Road. Baan Chinpracha will give you a unique insight into how wealthy families in Phuket used to live as well as a unique opportunity to meet Jaroonrat “Daeng” Tandavanitj, who inherited the building from her late husband’s father who was the eldest son of the original owner Phra Pitak Chinpracha who built it in 1903. Most of this interesting house is open to the public, you will be able to explore two upstairs bedrooms, the kitchen and the ground floor where you will discover vintage Italian floor tiles as well as many items of the original furniture imported from China and Europe. Perhaps the most attractive feature of the house is the central inner courtyard that opens out onto the sky. In Sino-Colonial style houses the inner courtyards represented the heart of the house where women would chat, cook and wash their clothes and being open topped this area was also a useful way to bring a cooling breeze into the house during the stifling summer months.

One of the most attractive and best maintained Sino-Portuguese buildings in Phuket is the Thai Hua Museum on the Krabi Road. Once a Chinese language school the building now plays host to a Museum, exhibition space and function hall.  Like Baan Chinpracha, the Thai Hua Museum has an open air inner courtyard, it also has a lovely garden. A trip to the museum is a great way to discover the history of Phuket through many different angles and explanations. 009

Another interesting building is the Phuket Provincial Hall. This public building was erected in the 1910’s and can be found in the administrative quarter. It was gazette by the Fine Arts Department in 1977 and was the first building in Phuket to receive a national conservation award.

003

 

 

006

Another building that acts as a reminder of the affluent days of tin is the police station with its clock tower that stands across the road from the chartered bank at the corner of Phuket and Phangnga road. Both were built in the early 1900’s. The police station is now earmarked by City Hall for an urban heritage museum.

0013A wonderful mix of nationalities have made Phuket there home, Thai’s, Malays, Indians, Chinese, Eurasian and even  Nepalese as well as a unique mix of Hokkien Chinese and Thais called Baba. The Baba community heritage can be found in the architecture, dress and way of life in Phuket old town.

008 007 0010 0011 0012-TIGER SHOT 1965 0015-phuket airport

Neglected for many years the core of the town including Rasada Road, Phang Na Road, Thalang Road, Dibuk Road and Krabi Road are now being renovated. No visit to Phuket would be complete without a visit to this unique, historical and very interesting area.

Phuket

Next destination: Phuket Island

Phuket also known as the pearl of the south is one of the southern provinces of Thailand. It neighbours the provinces of Phang Nga and Krabi, but being an island it shares not land boundaries with them. Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and is located on the west coast in the Andaman sea and is connected to mainland Thailand by two bridges.

Phuket Island

Phuket has a rich and colorful history. Pre tourism the island found its wealth through tin and rubber. It was one of the major trading routes between India and China and found itself often mentioned in the ship’s logs of Portuguese, French, Dutch and English traders.

Phuket, formerly known as Thalang, is a name derived from the word bukit in Malay that means hill. The name Thalang was derived from the old Malay Telong that means cape. On European navigation charts the island is marked as Jung Ceylon.

Old Phuket

The Dutch and the English, and after the 1680’s the French all competed for a part of the tin industry in Phuket during the 17th century. In 1680 the French East India Company paid a visit to the island and left with a full cargo of tin. The Siamese King Narai, wished to reduce Dutch and English influence on the island and named Rene Charbonneau, a French medical missionary, the governor of the island, a title he held until 1685.

In 1785 the island was attacked by the Burmese, Francis Light of the British East India Company and one of the first to arrive on Penang Island in Malaysia, witnessed the Burmese preparing for the attack when he passed the island. The attack resulted in a month long siege of the capital, but by March 13th 1785 the Burmese were forced to retreat from local forces assembled by Than Phu Ying, the wife of the recently deceased governor and her sister Mook. The women both received royal titles for their efforts.

09 010

Phuket went on to become the administrative centre of the tin producing southern provinces and in 1922 it became a province in itself.

Phuket is a very mountainous island. It is estimated that the island has a total area of around 576 square kilometers. The island is 536 miles from Bangkok and forest, rubber and palm oil plantations cover around 60% of the land.

02 04

05

The islands sandy beaches can be found on the west coast where the most popular tourist destination of Patong can be found. This area has colourful nightlife and cheap shopping. Other popular areas include Karon, Kata and Kata Noi beaches. Kamala, Surin and Bang Tao beach to the north are less developed and popular with families and those looking for a more peaceful island experience.

08There are many islands to the southeast, including Bon Island, just a short boat trip away. There are several coral islands to the south of Phuket, the Similan Islands lie to the northwest, and Phi Phi Islands to the south east, popular with snorkelers and scuba divers.

Phuket enjoys a tropical climate, with a dry season from November to April and a rainy season that runs from May to October. The average annual temperature is between 29 and 33 degrees.

Karon-beach-Phuket thailand_honeymoon_Phuket

Phuket international airport is located in the north of the island that services scheduled and charter flights from Asia, Australia, Europe and North America.

phuket airport

location-00

#Selfree

Koh-SamuiOf course for many, the lure of Koh Samui is the sun, sea, sand and laid back lifestyle but there is far more to the island than just tropical sandy beaches, azure waters and palm trees. Thanks to the Santiburi golf club, Koh Samui is an exciting destination for golfers, but, if you don’t have golfing skills to show off on the islands world class golf course, why not enjoy one of these two fun variations of the game?

Frisbee Golf

If you can tear yourself away from a relaxing afternoon on a beautiful beach, Frisbee Golf is a fun way to cool off under the canopy of the jungle trees. It might sound like a gimmick but Frisbee golf is a real sport that started in the 70’s in the USA and is also known as disc golf. It is played much like traditional golf but instead of a ball and clubs you use a disc, better known to us as its brand name Frisbee. The Frisbee is thrown from a tee area to an elevated metal basket. The player then progresses down the fairway; he or she must make each consecutive shot from the spot where the previous throw has landed. Like traditional golf, there are trees, shrubs and terrain changes providing obstacles to navigate which certainly adds to the fun. Unlike traditional golf you don’t need to rent a cart and it’s designed for people of all ages, males and females and does not require a bank loan to play!

imagessamui-frisbee-golf Staffs

The course in Maenam is open most days, if you want to play you can just call Nigel on 0816767754, the cost of playing is just 100 baht and you can play all day if you want to. Nigel has refreshments in his ‘club house’ and if there are a few of you playing he is happy to put on a BBQ for you, call him to discuss offers and prices. He can accommodate up to twenty if you fancy a long afternoon of fabulous food and fun.

Football Golf

Football Golf is basically golf with footballs, bigger holes and no clubs; it is a fun holiday activity that can be enjoyed by any number of players and is here thanks to Tom Roberts. Tom’s idea sprang from playing football as a child on the beach back in the UK. To make the game more interesting he and his friends used to dig holes on the beach and test their skills by trying to get a hole in one. The game was quite a challenge; not only because of the required digging, but as most of you will know running on the beach is seriously hard work.To make life a bit easier they relocated to Tom’s garden and the holes were replaced by a chair that was moved around placed behind obstacles to make the game more challenging.

Football-Golf-Koh-Samui samui-football-golf kids playing football golf football golf

Tom had such fond memories of his childhood game he decided there was no reason he could not take it into adulthood and set out to rent some land and make an 18 hole football golf course, which is exactly what he has done. Unbeknown to Tom Football Golf was already being played in Sweden, a fact he only discovered while surfing the net once his course had been completed. Within weeks Tom had Swedish players enjoying the paradise version of the game and football golf officially took off in Koh Samui.

The course is beautiful and thankfully, in this heat, is protected by a canopy of trees and coconut palms. Of the 18 holes one is a par 2, seven are par 3, seven are par 4, and three are par 5. You will encounter bunkers, bamboo hedges, hills and piles of coconuts on your way round and all need to be negotiated! There are hardly any rules to learn, basically you just have to get the ball in the hole and to keep it fair the most you record that you went over par is 7! The course is open seven days a week from 9am until 6-30pm.

 

 

 

Luxury beachfront and hillside villas on Samui have become ever more popular in recent years and provide an alternative to staying in a hotel there are a number of specialized villa agents you can book through such as Mambo Retreats

 

001

Central Festival Samui

 The Central Pattana Public Company Limited (CPN) unveiled its latest retail development on March 29th, the Central Festival Samui.

Central Festival is ideally situated in central Chaweng on the beach road. The Executive Vice President of Marketing for CPN said “CPN sees Koh Samui’s great growth potential owing to the island being recognized as one of the world’s top tourist destinations, drawing visitors with high purchasing power from all over the globe including Europe, Australia, Russia and Asia.

006

Shopping, Dining & Party..

Koh Samui attracts 1.9 million visitors a year, 80% of whom are foreigners. In addition Koh Samui has seen dramatic growth in residential property development. CPN intends for Central Festival to be a new landmark for the island, standing out both in terms of design and the extensiveness of offerings. The shopping centre’s design features elements and details that are unique to Samui and will be the first themed mall developed by CPN. Its world-class design allows customers to have a resort-style shopping experience under the “Reminiscence of Southern Lifestyle” concept. Shoppers can relax while enjoying their shopping sprees.”

0060 0070 0040

The shopping centre does indeed represent characteristics of Koh Samui such as the vintage Chaweng Port theme with the use of decorations such as birdcages that remind people of the day to day life of Samui residents. The mall’s décor also features Chino-Portuguese influences and colonial style architecture with a charming East meets West blend. Central Festival is certainly a haven for shoppers and indeed for diners. The Central Department store is certainly home to a myriad of big brand names and other anchor stores such s Tops Market, Power Buy, SuperSports and B2S have brought a whole host of items to shoppers that were not previously available on the island.   004 Central Festival has more than two hundred other stores of local and international brands such as Rip Curl, Oakley, Playboy, Uniqlo, CCOO, Esprit, Giordano, Jaspal, Psylo, Adidas, Nature Art Gallery, Helen Mark and Jim Thompson. The Night Bazaar is a great place to while away an evening and the extensive ranges of dining options makes it the ideal place for a spot of lunch or a relaxing evening meal at one of the many gastro bars. Indoor and outdoor dining spaces can be found at B Bistro, Zazen, Zen Sushi and Sake, Coffee Club, Starbucks and Copa Cabana.

0030

Pirates of Marioland

For kids and big kids alike there is plenty of fun to be had at the Mario Land amusement park, decorated under the theme of “The Pirates of the Caribbean”. Central Festival has a variety of events and campaigns plans for the whole year to entertain the residents and visitors of Koh Samui.

Ms. Yuwadee Chirathivat, the president of Central Department Store, said a budget of 425 million baht was spent on building the two-floor Central Department Store at Central Festival Samui. The store has total gross floor area of 8,000 square metres. It is the first and only Central Department Store with only two floors. It features a contemporary resort design concept and touts the natural beachfront atmosphere. Glass panels and windows are used in order to give an airy feel to the building. There is a garden in-between the escalators. As there are only two floors, customers can choose to walk up the stairs, use the escalators or ride the lifts.

songkran kids

Songkran Festival (Thai New Year)

Koh samui islandThere are a million and one great reasons to visit Koh Samui , it is easily accessible thanks to the international airport, the climate offers warmth all year round, the beaches go on for miles, the locals are friendly, the island offers a culinary adventures that will take you from one end of the globe to the other and offers everything from penny bargains on the street markets to world class five star cuisine in top restaurants run under the watchful eye of Michelin star chefs.

In addition to that you have superb attractions such as the butterfly farm, the aquarium, a world class golf course, bars, cabarets, nightclubs, Thai boxing, sailing, yachting, diving, fishing, world class spas and endless shopping that will take you from the local markets to the recently opened Central Festival Shopping Mall in the heart of Chaweng.

SongkranKoh Samui is a fun and exciting place to live or visit at any time of the year, but there is no better time to experience Thai culture and the Thai sense of fun than during the Songkran Festival when the Thais celebrate their traditional New Year. Thai people are known for ‘sanuk’ (fun) and if you want to catch them having the most fun of all then Songkran offers a unique opportunity to do just that.

The date of the Thai New Year was originally set by astrological calculations. Songkran marked the beginning of the New Year until 1888. After 1888 up until 1940 the 1st of April officially marked the start of the New Year. From then on, as in the west, Jan 1 was used.

songkran festDespite the change in official dates Songkran is still the Thai New Year National Holiday and the celebrations, which are said to have been adapted from an Indian festival, enthusiastically take place all over Thailand.

The traditional greeting at this auspicious time of year is สวัสดีปีใหม่” (sa-wat-dee pee mai) and the festival was traditionally celebrated by visiting respected elders, family members, friends and relatives as well as giving prayer and food to monks and cleansing Buddha images and household shrines with water and Thai fragrance to bring about good luck and prosperity.

songkranAlthough traditional celebrations are still observed in many parts of the country, more typically, these days, the New Year is welcomed by wildly enthusiastic water fights where locals and visitors alike roam the streets armed with water guns and buckets of iced water, that are often mixed with mentholated talcum powder, to drench passersby.

Pick-up trucks, packed with excited adults and children, armed with water pistols drive around the island complete with huge barrels of water. During this time household hose pipes are on full blast during the lively celebrations to ensure everybody gets refreshingly soaked during this colorful festival that falls at the hottest time of the year. Even the police taking care of safety on the roads are no exempt from being drenched with water and white powder as they direct the traffic.1331595977-the-songkran-festival-on-khao-san-road_1103100

If you want to experience Samui at its best then what better time than Songkran when locals and residents alike welcome you to pick up a water pistol and join in with the fun.

Discover Bali

bali beachBali is an island and the smallest province in Indonesia. As a province Bali includes the main island and a few small neighbouring islands such as Nusa Penida. Bali has an area of some 5,780 Km2 and a population of about 4,220,000. The capital of Bali is Denpasar and it is known by several different nicknames, Island of Peace, Morning of the World, Island of Gods, Island of Hinduism and the Island of Love.

Bali lies 3.2km east of Java and is about 8 degrees south of the equator. East to West the island is approximately 153 km wide and spans approximately 112km north to south. Peaks in the islands center reach over 3,000 meters, the highest being Mount Agung known as the mother mountain which is an active volcano. The islands volcanic nature has contributed to its exceptional fertility along with high rainfall that supports a highly productive agriculture sector.

The island is surrounded by coral reefs, the beaches in the south of the island have white sand, while those in the north are black. There are no major waterways in Bali, however the Ho River is navigable by small boats.ubud_bali

In terms of the ethnic demographic, the Balinese people make up around 89% of the population, Javanese 7%, Baliaga 1% and Madurese 1%. 84% of the population are Hindu and 13.3% are Muslim, the remainder are generally either Buddhists or Christians.
The official language is Indonesian, although Balinese and English are both widely spoken.

A popular haven for tourist for many decades, Bali was first inhabited around 2000 BC by Austronesian people who migrated from Southeast Asia and Oceania. Linguistically and culturally the Balinese are closely related to the people of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The first European contact with Bali is thought to have been in 1585 when a Portuguese ship foundered off the Bukit Peninsula. In 1597 Dutch explorer Cornelis de Houtman arrived and with the establishment of the Dutch East India Company in 1602 the stage was set for two and a half centuries of Dutch control. Dutch political and economic control over Bali began in the 1840’s in the north and by the late 1890’s struggles between Balinese kingdoms in the south were exploited by the Dutch to increase their control. During World War II Imperial Japan occupied Bali. Following Japan’s Pacific surrender in August 1945 the Dutch returned to Indonesia, including Bali and reinstated their pre-war colonial administration. Bali was included in the “Republic of the United States of Indonesia” when the Netherlands recognised Indonesian independence on 29 December 1949.

The tourism industry in Bali is largely focused on the south of the island, as well as other significant parts of the island. The main attractions include Kuta with its white beach and outer suburbs of Legian and Seminyak, which were once independent townships and the town of Sanur once the only tourist hub. Other popular areas include Ubud in the centre of the island and to the south Jimbaran and the newer developments of Nusa, Dua and Pecatu.

---Beach-horse-ridingAs well as tourism Bali has a thriving real estate industry that has been rapidly developing in Katu, Legian, Seminyak and Oberoi and many 5 star projects are under development in the Bukit peninsula in the south of the island.

Multi-million dollar villas have been developed along Bali’s southern cliffs and beaches making it a highly popular holiday destination as guests can rent these villas through Mambo Retreats

TANALOT TEMPLEBali is a fascinating place to visit with a rich history, a distinctive cuisine, art forms such as painting, sculpture, woodcarvings and handcrafts and it boasts one of the most diverse and innovative performing art cultures in the world with paid performances at thousands of temple festivals and public shows.HDtimelapse.net_Landscape_0482_hirez

Top 10 Attractions On Samui

Thailand’s third biggest island, Koh Samui is a beautiful and interesting island. Koh Samui’s repertoire of things to do and see is varied and interesting.

A certain pair of amusing rocks called Grandmother and Grandfather is one of the main attraction for visitors, the large Buddha statue in Bangrak and some attractive waterfalls notably Na Muang waterfalls.

BIG BUDDHAbigbuddha bigb

Big Buddha temple majestically sits on a small rocky island off Koh Samui and locally known as Wat Phra Yai.

This golden Buddha statue was built on 1972 and has quickly become one of Thailand’s most recognizable iconic landmarks. Big Buddha temple can be accessed via a causeway that connects it to the main island.

Since this is a sacred place, visitors are advised to dress modestly and be polite.

HIN TA AND HIN YAI ROCKS (Grandfather and Grandmother rocks)hinta-hinyai Hinta-hinyai beach

These odd-looking rocks situated on Lamai Beach have been a source of mirth and wonder on the island since they were discovered many years ago. Grandpa and Grandma rocks, look, respectively bear a striking resemblance to male and female genitalia.

The legend goes that these rocks were created when a couple were travelling by boat with their son to his forthcoming wedding. The unfortunate family were caught by a violent storm of the coast of Samui and their vessel capsized. Unable to swim, they drowned and magically became the rocks as a sign of their good intention towards his proposed bride and her family.

The rocks stand there up to this day and have turned into one of the island’s biggest attractions.

NA MUANG WATERFALLSwaterfall1 waterfall2

There are few things that capture that island paradise feelings as a waterfall. A set of two magnificent cascades on Koh Samui states that the beauty of the island is not limited to its beaches.

Na Muang is a popular place for families to swim and relax, of course you will want to wade through the waters below to truly experience the raw natural beauty of these majestic waterfalls. There’s also a nearby elephant safari camp where one can book a ride on an elephant.

You can spend your entire day swimming, hiking, exploring and picnic food as a peaceful alternative to a beach.

MUMMIFIED MONKmumified monk mumified monk 2

It sounds a little macabre, but it’s not. These Mummiefied Monk at Wat Khunaram is an unusual sight yet it offers a unique insight into Thai culture. It’s absolutely fascinating, if a little weird for some.

One of the weirdest things about the experience is the fact that the monk – known in life as Luong Pordaeng – is casually wearing shades which have been placed upon him to hide the decay of his eyes.

Aside from Mummy Monk, Wat Khunaram is a fairly Buddhist temple, where local people can come daily to pray. Visitors are welcome to join or observe the daily rituals and have a look around.

SECRET BUDDHA GARDENsecret garden samui secret garden2 secret garden3

Secret Buddha garden is hidden high up in the hills/mountains on Koh Samui’s south side. Magic garden was built in 1976 by a local Samuian fruit farmer Mr. Nim Thongsuk at the age of 77.

Magic garden with its many statues, waterfalls, spirit houses and tropical flowers and plants has a special, mystical atmosphere. Statues represent many creatures in various poses, including one of Khun Nim himself, in a relaxed position sitting on a rock.

There are several viewpoints along the way to secret Buddha garden offering a stunning panorama view over the southern part of Samui island.

WAT PLAILEMWat Plai Laem watplailem

The temple is located in the north of Samui not far from Wat Phra Yai on the road from Big Buddha to Cheong Mon Beach.

Wat Plailem is famous for the hundreds of fish that live in lake below the temple waiting to be fed. These temple is a living and active temple, where devotees come daily to pay homage to Guanyin and the Buddha.

SAMUI AQUARIUM AND TIGER SHOWsamuiaqua samui-attractions-samui-aquarium-and-tiger-zoo tiger-zoo_340_14 TigerZoo2

Samui Aquarium is located in Hua Thanon, the Aquarium hosts many local species of coral fishes, huge cat fishes and several sharks. This family-oriented attraction has enough time to entertain the kids and the whole family on an afternoon outing.

At the zoo, the main attraction is the Bengal tigers and Leopards. There’s also an opportunity to take your photograph with some of the tigers and leopards for an extra charge.

After enjoying the impressive size of those “cats” you will be invited to a bird show, where parrots, sea hawks and eagles will perform some amusing tricks for your pleasure.

On the way out, don’t forget to say “Hi” to the few birds and monkeys in smaller cages across the parking, some of the parrots are quite friendly and have some funny behavior.

SAMUI SNAKE FARMsamui-snake-farm (1) samui-snake-farm snake farm zmeinaya_ferma1

Snake shows by the snake whisperers are the highlight of a visit to Koh Samui’s Snake Farm located near the coast on Koh Samui’s southwestern tip.

Two shows a day features cobra demonstration from a brave handler, audience interaction with safer reptiles, creepy displays of scorpions and centipedes. Visitors get a rare and up-close look at many of Thailand’s most fearsome reptiles, definitely not for the faint-hearted.

The insects display are hosted by a brave pair of people who hold the Guinness world records for handling scorpions and centipedes.

Snake shows are held at 11am and 2pm daily.

ANG THONG NATIONAL MARINE PARKangthong angthong-kayaking-06 Ang-Thong-Marine-Park Snorkeling-anghtong-day-trip.jpg-860x350

Angthong National Marin Park is a pristine archipelago of 42 islands in the Central Gulf Coast of Southern Thailand with soaring limestone mountains, jungles, white sand beaches, fertile mangroves, waterfalls, hidden coves and lakes to explore. Snorkeling, hiking, sea kayaking, diving, sailing and simply relaxing on one of its idyllic beaches are the main activities to enjoy on Angthong.

Get a few friends together and enjoy a private boat charter or you can book and go with a tour party.

Note: The park is sometimes closed in the months of November and the first 3 weeks of December to allow for the natural rehabilitation of the environment.

CABARET SHOWScabaret01 cabaret02 cabaret03 cabaret04 cabaret053

Ladyboy Cabarets might not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s just amazing! Ladyboys offer some of the finest night-time entertainment in Koh Samui with shows that are jam-packed with glitz, glam and a touch of humour. Most have at least three shows every night, and after the shows, you’d be able to take photographs of your favourite performers.

Starz Cabaret is the leading Cabaret show on Koh Samui, located at the back of Chaweng Shopping Centre. Daily show time 8pm – 10pm nightly.

Moulin Rouge Cabaret – formerly the Christy’s Cabaret feature three shows nightly. Lip-synced divas offer nightly shows that, straight or gay, are guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Entrance is free. Moulin Rouge is located in a side street next off Chaweng beach Road (close to Burger King).