When 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.
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.
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.
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!