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BALI UPDATE #049 - 17 JUNE 1998
ALL QUITE ON THE EASTERN FRONT
Taking full advantage of modern technology, this
edition of BALI UPDATE is being sent to you from on board a ship
sailing north of the island of Sumbawa. Like Bali, the islands of Sumbawa,
Lombok and Komodo are as beautiful as ever and, most importantly, as peaceful
as ever. If there is any change to report from this visit to Western and
Eastern Nusa Tenggarra when compared to my many past visits - it is the
eagerness of the people to welcome back visitors too long absent from
the villages and cities. Like the Balinese, the people of the islands
east of our island have continued to live a very peaceful existence over
the past weeks and months and find it hard to comprehend why foreign tourists
might ever consider it unsafe to visit their islands.
GANESHA GALLERY ELEVATES
THE ARTS OF BALI
Bali is an island long renown for its culture
and arts. In fact, it represents just one aspect of the wealth of arts
in the Indonesian archipelago. To bring even a portion of these arts to
an international level of exposure and share then with the world is an
ambitious idea for a hotel. A small, intimate and soulful gallery has
proven to be a very good place to start.
Art galleries and resort hotels may seem
an odd combination, especially when the gallery takes a philanthropic
rather than commercial stance. But the management team at the Four Seasons
Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay has found that its new Ganesha Gallery enhances
guests' experiences. "It gives them an opportunity to see the artistic
aspects of Indonesia close-up and to meet the artists," says Royal Rowe,
one of the hotel's managers.
Ganesha Gallery is the brainchild of Rowe
and Four Seasons Regional Vice President Neil Jacobs. The idea blossomed
in six months, with a small investment of about US$50,000 in structural
renovations and minimal operation expenses. The resort has reaped many-fold
its investment in recognition and exposure. "The space is dedicated to
art appreciation rather than commercialism," says the resort's public
relations director Julia Gajcak. "Among our goals was to contribute to
the island and the community, sharing the message of art. We are doing
the right thing by creating another level of understanding."
Ganesha Gallery brings together and highlights
a wealth of Indonesian talent-with an emphasis on Balinese artists-and
a core of artists from around the world whose work is influenced by Bali.
"Encouraging local artistic talent and promoting Indonesian art abroad,
Ganesha Gallery builds a foundation to enrich the local community and
the art lovers from around the world," says gallery manager Ambar Bediaci
Arini. "This showcase gives artists a venue to share their understanding
and the perspective of life on this magical island."
"We elected to represent quality in a non-profit
manner," says Rowe. "That was a radical departure from the hotel business,
but we gained our owners' commitment when they recognized it not as a
money-making venture but a way to benefit the artistic scene in Indonesia."
Traditionally, it was the royal palaces which
cultivated artistic endeavours throughout Indonesia. With the demise of
royalty a gap remains, despite government efforts to fulfill this role.
Four Seasons Resort Bali strives to help fill that gap, a splendid opportunity
to enrich the cultural experiences of the island's visitors and to promote
intercultural awareness while positively influencing the arts.
"We actively seek promising Balinese and
Indonesian artists, providing them with a venue to exhibit work and make
direct contact with a wider international market," says Arini. "While
we emphasize helping young and little known artists, we also serve better
known ones, foreigners whose work has been inspired by Bali and traditional
arts, both antique and contemporary. Publishing high-quality catalogues
provides the artists with additional tools to further their careers,"
The Gallery is now the venue for the resort's
weekly guest cocktail party. "This winds up as an opportunity to educate
the guests on a one-one-one basis, even if they don't like the particular
works which are on exhibit," says Rowe. And, it certainly takes tedium
out of the cocktail hour for management staff, giving them instant conversation
Exhibit openings have become sought after
local social event, attracting Bali residents and art lovers from throughout
Indonesia and beyond. Most art purchases at Ganesha Gallery are by foreign
guests. "These are celebrities, CEOs and collectors from around the world,"
says Rowe. "Pieces we exhibit wind up in Tel Aviv, Los Angeles, New York
and Wiesbaden, in corporate offices and private collections." Indonesian
collectors and galleries have snapped up works from international artists
such as Yuri Gorbachev.
An exhibition by 84-year-old Bali artist
Ida Bagus Nyoman Rai was among the most satisfying events for Rowe. The
show opened with a silent auction of the artist's works. A trust fund
was established from the proceeds to support the artist in his modest
lifestyle and to paint and reroof the artist's simple home. Four Seasons
Resort staff volunteered their time to clean improve Rai's home surroundings.
LIFE GOES ON IN PARADISE
: BALI BY BIKE - BY DEBE CAMPBELL
If you're like me, spending 150 minutes impaled
on a seat one fifth the size of my backside, pedalling 25 kilometres across
hill and dell, is not my idea of fun. But, bicycling in Bali-I have discovered-
is a scenic pleasure that, I have to admit, really is a blast.
Cast aside any trepidation. This trip is
not about climbing mountains, it's not a sports endurance test nor a Tour
de France trial. It is about seeing the Balinese countryside up close
and personal, in a uniquely intimate way. It's about taking the wheel
in a very different sense to peek into village and farm life, absorbing
the aura of centuries-old rice fields. It's a chance to soak up the scents
of the earth, the warmth of the sun and to breathe fresh air.
There are three companies in Bali offering
cycling tours. I chose Adventure Tours and boarded their door-to-door
shuttle bus, with reluctance, at 9 am for the northbound journey to the
river-side reception centre where I met my cycle-mates for the day. We
ferried still further up the gentle gradation of Bali's interiors, northwest
of Ubud, to the tiny village of Glogor. Actually, we weren't in any village
I could find on a map, but rather at a crossroads which seemed in the
middle of nowhere.
There, a truckload of bicycles awaited up.
Just your ordinary seven-speed bicycle, not unlike the one I have at home.
Except that one rarely gets ridden. Our bicycle seats were quickly adjusted
to leg lengths and bottles of cold water tucked into our bottle holder.
After a briefing on working the gears, the four of us set off with a sigh
and our trusty guide Made. Wouldn't you know it, it was an uphill stretch.
Not to worry. It was a short stretch, just
enough to warm up the old leg muscles. And then, thank goodness, it was
downhill almost the rest of the way. Almost.
Our journey took us screaming down wonderful
slopes and spinning around curves over rivers, winding through farm fields
and past villages. The breeze whipping past us kept me fresh and cool.
One of the first and largest villages we
encountered was stacked on a steep slope, fortunately downhill. Neat,
densely packed homes with corrugated tin rooftops hugged high along sharp
zig zags in the road. The villagers peered down upon us as they went quietly
about their daily chores. Shy children leaned out from doorways, venturing
a wave or the inevitable "hallo mister!". An occasional mangy mongrel
dog made a bold half-hearted attempt to bark and chase at flashing feet,
but they were never a genuine threat.
Beyond the village were picture postcard
varieties of verdant, green rice terraces. It was difficult to keep eyes
to the road for marvelling at this serene landscape that remains unchanged
by time. Deep valleys sliced in staircase fashion by some ancient farmer,
tenderly tended by his descendants today. Chapters of history are silently
etched out there.
We cruised onward, barely peddling until
we broached a wide, flat plane. It was a startling contrast to the rice
valleys. For here, the land had quickly changed to dry soil supporting
peanut crops. And a harvest was in full swing. From here onward the weather
began to warm, and off came the T-shirts.
Still further, beyond another small village,
there was a short, steep climb. We tackled the hill with a vengeance until
one heavy push by a rather tall and large pedaller broke a bicycle chain.
No worries, said guide Made. A quick seat adjustment and a swap and the
rider was back in business. Made gave new meaning to "push bike" as he
dangled his feet on the ground, pushing the broken bike along. With little
effort, he kept stride with us unimpaired bikers, underscoring the angle
of our descent.
We felt we had just hit our stride when we
returned to the Adventure Reception Centre, a full 17 km and one hour
into our venture. But, this was the lunch stop, so we acquiesced and pulled
in for our picnic baskets of sandwiches, fried chicken, fresh green salad,
fruit, juice and more water. Here we were joined by the second half of
our group-six young men who had brought their own bikes. They had covered
the same 17 km we had but in about 15 minutes. These guys were serious.
Back on my bike for the final 8 km, I felt
I could easily go back and start all over again. Wrong. The temperature
and terrain from this point had changed. Gone were the open roads, fields
and highland breezes. We now travelled down lanes closed in by residential
walls. We still encountered no motor traffic to speak but we had lost
the appealing landscape. A different chapter of life still carried on
around us and we watched it speed past.
Gentle upward incline and the battle of the
gears kept me struggling this last stretch. A quick coast down to a fishing
tank and public baths made a good place to stop and gain strength for
a steep and long uphill climb to Sangeh Monkey Forest. About this time,
I was glad I hadn't returned to the start point, as my energy began to
wane. Through the village of Sangeh, across a small artery road and finally
we were at the terminus. Parking the bikes we strolled across to the gates
of the 17th century Pura Bukit Sari temple.
This is home of the descendants of monkey
god Hanoman's simian troops. Legend has it that they fell off of Mount
Mahameru and landed here when trying to crush the evil demon king Rawana.
Once a fan of monkeys, my days in Bali have left me with bitten fingers
and stolen sunglasses, so I was not looking forward to yet another ape
encounter. However the Sangeh monkeys, sated by the handouts from many
tourists, were mild-mannered this day. Other than benignly investigating
a few shirt pockets, and graciously accepting peanuts and fried tapioca
chips, they were obese but charming. Especially the wrinkly one-week-old
clinging to his mother.
Too soon, it was all over. We pedalled the
short distance to the truck where out bikes were loaded, bid our goodbyes
and headed southward to our respective lodgings. For something I had set
out determined to hate, I already have found myself recommending to others
and encouraging visitors to try. I'll even go along for the ride!
SPICE ISLAND CRUISES
DECLARED AMONG THE WORLD'S SAFEST
Bali-based Spice Island Cruises is among the
only Indonesian shipping Companies awarded the International Safety Management
(ISM) certificate, under the International Convention for the Safety of
Life at Sea (SOLAS).
In surveying Spice Island Cruises for compliance
with the International Safe Management codes, Lloyd's Register commended
the Bali-based cruise Company:
"A high level of commitment and safety awareness
was shown by shore-based management, key personnel and ship's staff who
were interviewed during the audit. Because of the satisfactory audit,
Lloyd's Register of Shipping issued a "Document of Compliance" (DOC) for
Spice Island's shore management and a "Safe Management Certificate" (SMC)
for the Company's ship the MV OCEANIC ODYSSEY.
Spice Island Cruises operates the 120-passenger
MV OCEANIC ODYSSEY on 3 and 4 night cruise programs from Bali to Sumbawa,
Lombok and the Komodo National Park - home of the world largest monitor
lizards. The MV OCEANIC ODYSSEY was formerly operated as the OCEANIC GRACE
by the Japanese cruise operator, SHOWA Lines.
Editor/ Vice Chairman PATA Bali Chapter
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