Bali, known as a tropical paradise, is so much more than that. A land of volcanoes, temples, and fascinating traditions... it's hard to describe.
I suppose the only accurate way to put it is that Bali is the sum total of all its elements, encased within an atmosphere that simply, unmistakably feels old.
During the Balinese New Year, the island grows silent. The locals believe that if they make absolutely no noise, the demons will pass by Bali, believing it to be empty.
A Hindu island within a greater Muslim country, a traditional society within the modernity of Southeast Asia, sometimes it really does feel like Bali was passed by. The religion is a blend of Hinduism with yet older beliefs. Here, time ticks slowly – almost not at all.
But it's not this sense of age that grants Bali its charm and mysticism. It's something else, something impossible to put into words.
It's a manner of doing things; doing them with care. Everything here is delicate, built over centuries, diligently looked after.
Just take a look at the temples. They are each comprised of many parts, sometimes seemingly unrelated. Every fragment is heavily ornamented, perfectly symmetrical, built with utmost dedication. And yet, alone they do not transmit the spirit of Bali. They must be looked at in their entirety.
The people are warm. They take pride in their traditional dances and practices.
They follow ancient traditions, like the celebration of the anniversary of each Family Shrine. To commemorate this, they build a long, decorative pole of bamboo and hang it before their houses or temples.