Bali has been recognized as one of the main tourist destination in the world since its exposure by many of the Westerners in 1920s. Bali often cliched as "the island of thousand temples", "the island of paradise", or as Nehru's said "morning of the world".
Bali, one of 17,508 islands that scattered throughout the Indonesian archipelago, lies 8 degrees South of Equator and 115 degrees East of longitude. It is one of 32 provinces of the Republic of Indonesia.
Virtually the Wallace Line separates tropical Asian flora and fauna from that typical of Australia, and runs between Bali and Lombok, to the East. Towering volcanic peaks dominate the island with a width of 120 km (75 miles).
The caldera of Mount Batur, the central mountain, holds a vast lake which feed most of the rivers. Gorged out valleys radiate from the volcano and thousands of spring help irrigate the land. Mount Agung, Bali's highest mountain, is standing at 3,142 m (10,300 ft). A good part of its top blew off in 1963, and some of the devastation is still visible in the northern and eastern parts of Bali.
Bali has many beaches, lakes, mountains, hills, and beautiful rice terraces. This natural splendour has influenced the Balinese way of life, for instance, farming and fishing.
Bali has two seasons: dry and rainy season. The seasons move from hot to rainy (November to March) to cooler and dry (June to August). May is green and fresh and October is hot and dry. The average annual temperature is 26°C (78°F).
Culture and Religion
Bali's religion, Hindu Dharma, is expressed in ritual concerned with the five spheres of attention: the Gods and ancestors, the "demons", stage of human growth, the dead, and the consecration of Priest. There are also cyclical holidays honouring crops, books, tools, musical instruments, and so forth. Essential to these rituals are copious offering of good, flowers, and ingeniously fashioned abstract figures of palm leaves. Offerings are consecrated bye priests, known as Pemangku, with incense, sacred incantations (mantra) and holy water (tirta).
Temple festivals, called odalan, and cremations are the most conspicuous ceremonial occasions, and tourists are welcome to watch, as long as they dress and behave respectfully. The complex Balinese calendar follows two coincidental system; one based on a lunar year of 355 days with a 13th month added every three years, while the other is the wuku year of 210 days. These 210 days year are further divided into 30 wuku (week). Each wuku is comprise of 7 days with its own name. Within this 210 day - year are further concentric cycles with "weeks" of varying length, the conjunctions of which are of mystical importance.
The dense amount of information on the printed calendar give a visual clue to the complexity of the system. Usually, when people have an important ritual event looming, they look at the calendar and then consult a priest of the appropriate grade: a high priest or pendeta, for things like marriage, cremation and important rituals pertaining to ancestors; or a balian - healer - sorcerer - for more domestic problem, like destroying a nest of wasps or putting a ring in the nose of a calf.
The Balinese insist that their religion is monotheistic - in accordance with the national philosophy Pancasila, one of the five principles of which is the belief in one god - but the manifestations of God are myriad: they include not only the Hindu trinity (Brahma, Wisnu, Siwa), but also deified kings, saint and ancestors, and a vast variety of elemental spirits.