Home to the last outpost of an ancient Hindu Majapahit Empire that stretched across most of Southeast Asia, Bali’s daily life on the Island is dominated by its unique religion – Agama Hindu Dharma. Every Balinese village has at least three major temples that undergo a yearly anniversary requiring the participation and devotion of every member of the community. The tenets of Bali’s core philosophy of Tri Hita Karana dictates that in all aspects of life a careful balance be maintained within the human community, in the community’s relationships with the gods, and with the natural environment.
This one-of-a-kind in-depth tour providing unique access to the people and the Island of Bali has been inspired by and created to support BASAbali – an organization representing a collaboration of scholars, artists, linguists and community members from within and outside Bali who are dedicated to safeguarding the Balinese language and island’s culture. Fittingly, we have created a truly unique 8 days – 7 nights tour of Bali operating from May 24, until May 31 2019, providing privileged access to some of the Island’s most sacred sites, leading artists and artisans, language experts, community leaders, and cultural experts. Using Balinese language and the performing arts as a point of departure – participants will be invited “behind the scenes” of Balinese society where they will gain rich insights on one of the world’s most esteemed ancient cultures.
Desa Visesa Ubud
Serving as the base for this one-of-a-kind exploration of Bali is the equally unique Desa Visesa Ubud – an exquisite collection of 66 villas and 40 suites spread across a generous 6.5-hectare site. Owned and operated by Balinese, this culturally inspired resort captures the essence of a Balinese village on every level of the guest experience. Traditional Balinese architecture and permaculture fields that include working rice paddies are at the very center of the property complementing outstanding dining venues, a traditional healing spa, outdoor gymnasium, and local cultural performances. Where else but at the Desa Visesa Ubud does the guest experience include watching farmers lead herds of docile Balinese cows and ducks marching in single file on the pathways of a luxurious 5-star resort?
Members of our small group of Bali enthusiasts will be accommodated in spacious 124- square meter one-bedroom private pool villas that boast 24-hour butler room service, a private dip pool, canopy king-sized beds, 40-inch LED Smart TV, in-room safes, Wi-Fi connectivity, bathtub and tropical garden shower facilities, and a mini-bar / coffee-tea making center.
Bali – Seen Through the Eyes of Experts
A senior licensed guide accompanied by local cultural experts will be on hand during all tours and visits included in this program. Informative lectures by local luminaries will provide otherwise unattainable insights on Balinese history, culture and language; including “hands-on” participative encounters with the Island’s dance, art and music.
Be a Part of the Evolution of the Balinese Language
A portion of the cost of each tour will be donated to support BASAbali’s ongoing programs to engage the local and international communities in working together to develop a free, online, Balinese – English – Indonesian Wiki Dictionary and Cultural Encyclopedia. The organization was just recognized internationally by being awarded the coveted Linguapax Award 2018 for its innovative language revitalization initiatives. For more information visit on the work of this organization visit www.BASABali.org.
In keeping with a commitment to “experience the many attractions of Bali without becoming an attraction” this tour program and to ensure a high level of interaction with lecturers and local community leaders forming part of this program, the tour will be limited to 20 participants with places sold on a first-come, first sold basis.
Day One – Friday, May 24, 2019
Program commences with check in at the Desa Visesa Ubud. Transportation from the airport or another hotel in Bali is included in the program at no additional charge. Participants should arrive by mid-day to permit them to join an easy nature walk on a largely-level patch led by a Balinese herbalist and healer who will explain the medicinal role of local plants, ending with a brief reflexology session provided by expert therapists. Evening lecture by acclaimed photographer Rio Helmi on 40 years of photographs taken in Bali. Welcome Dinner at the Resort (Dinner)
Day Two – Saturday, May 25, 2019
The day starts with a hearty breakfast served on the edge of the Resort’s working rice field. In keeping with the Balinese custom of seeking the Almighty’s blessing on every enterprise, participants will dress in Balinese costumes (provided) for a visit to Tirta Empul Temple (962 AD) to bathe in its sacred waters and be blessed by a priest followed by a visit to Gunung Kawi – a 10th century subak (rice irrigation organization) garden temple in Sebatu. Lunch will be served at a local panoramic restaurant.
After a few hour’s rest at the hotel, we’ll travel the short distance to Hujan Locale – one of Bali’s most-celebrated eateries created by celebrity Chef Will Meyrick featuring outstanding Indonesian cuisine delivered in a farm to table tradition. After dinner, the group will once-again put on Balinese dress and be transported to a colorful “odalan” ceremony celebrating the anniversary of a nearby temple in Singapadu. (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)
Day Three – Sunday, May 26, 2019
Breakfast at the Resort. A day of cultural immersion operated from our Ubud base. Lontar leaf manuscripts in Bali have served as the way of recording history, literature and folklore for more than a millennium. Vice Dean of the Faculty of Letters and Culture at Udayana University, Chair of Udayana’s Lontar Library, and head of BASAbali’s expert linguist team, I Gde Nala Antara, along with his protégé and head of BASAbali’s graduate students’ linguist team, Putu Eka Guna Yasa, will spend the morning explaining the history of lontar leaf writing in Bali and lead participants in a writing workshop on traditional Balinese script. Participants will take home their own lontar inscribed leaf with their names in Balinese script. This will be followed by a separate entertaining lecture on speaking Balinese by Rucina Ballinger – an American woman and long-time Bali resident who leads a musical-comedy troupe that performs solely in Basa Bali. A simple Nasi Campur lunch at a popular Ubud eatery will round out the morning. Afternoon free.
Following a special dinner prepared at the Resort, the day’s activities will close with “Wayang Listrik” – a truly unique contemporary performance combining shadow puppetry, a gamelan orchestra, African percussion, modern instrumentation and dance in a format that leaves even native Balinese audiences mesmerized in rapt attention. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day Four – Monday, May 27, 2019
Breakfast at the Resort. The day starts with a brief visit to a traditional market in Ubud to understand a daily routine of Balinese life where, typically, portions and quantities of ingredients sufficient for only the day’s meals are purchased. Depart for the Kerta Gosa Hall of Justice located in the center of the town of Semarapura. Built in the 17th Century, the ceiling of the open pavilion of Kerta Gosa is a rich repository of authentic Kemasan Paintings depicting the horrific retribution awaiting all those who stray from the path of good acts.
The next stop is at the somewhat “time-lock” Bali Aga Village of Tenganan Pegringsingan – an aboriginal village that dates its roots to before the Bali’s earliest migratory settlement. This is a village with its own strict rules that have resulted in a distinctive looking village plan, rules on marriage, and village gates that are shut to outsiders from sunset to sunrise. Tenganan is renowned for its’ ancient Gering sing cloth (double ikat weaving) and a calendar of holy days at variance with the rest of Bali living just outside their walled village. We will be guided by a village elder on a walking tour of the village and a visit to see a demonstration of the weaving, walk the perimeter of the Village to see the stone gates and enjoy a meal of Tenganan specialties. Back in Ubud, a special dinner at Locavore – recently named one of the best restaurants in Asia for its approach to sustainability and Indonesian cooking. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day Five – Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Breakfast at the Resort. The day is dedicated to the exploration of Balinese arts and crafts, including visits to the workshop and gallery of renowned maskmaker IB Alit and a tour of Nyana Tilem Wood Carving Gallery and Museum. For lunch, traditional “Balinese Crispy Duck” at Tepi Sawah Restaurant, followed by a tour of ARMA Museum. A brief lecture by Wayan Juniartha – a highly regarded author, journalist and essayist speaking on Bali in the Age of Globalization.
Dinner at Nusantara Restaurant where classic Indonesian dishes from all over the archipelago are celebrated by chefs who combine the freshest of local, seasonal components and ethical meats in nuanced artisanal recipes. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day Six – Wednesday, May 29, 2019
Breakfast at the Resort. A day dedicated to Balinese wayang shadow puppetry, dance, and musical theater. The day includes a visit to Sanggar Paripurna – an arts community in Bali led by internationally acclaimed artist Made Sidia and lunch with a group of young performance artists. There’s also a backstage tour of the Bali Agung Performance, Bali’s longest running stage show led by the show’s producer and host for the day – Made Sidia, followed by VIP seating at the show. Dinner at the private residence of the head of the renowned ARMA museum, Anak Agung Gede Rai, including a private tour of the compound explaining the “Kosala Kosali” spatial rules governing the creation of Balinese living space. Special performance of Kobagi (Community of Crazy Bodies) a dance group uniquely presenting “genjak” and “kecak” performances using diverse parts of the body and bamboo as musical instruments.
Day Seven – Thursday, May 30, 2019
Breakfast at the Resort. Lecture by Wiwik Dharmiasih on Bali’s ancient “subak” water management system. Trip to UNESCO World Heritage Site of Jatiluwih Rice Terraces and Batukaru Temple. Panoramic lunch. Dinner and Balinese Dance Performance at the Peliatan Royal Palace near Ubud. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day Eight – Friday, May 31, 2019
Breakfast at the Resort. Program concludes with 12 noon check out from hotel. Transfer to Airport or a new hotel in Bali included in the tour program. (Breakfast
Lecturers, Highlights and Tour Assistants
Rucina Ballinger: Long-term resident of Bali, Rucina was the director of World Learning’s Academic Semester Abroad, Elderhostel’s cultural program and currently is working in the non-profit sector. Founder of the comedy group, Gedebong Goyang, Rucina lives by the adage “laugh at least once a day”. She is the mother of two grown bicultural, trilingual men and grandmother of two, former banjar head, she accompanied President Obama and his family during their visit to Bali in June 2017.
Rio Helmi: Born to an Indonesian diplomat father and Turkish mother, Rio Helmi is an Indonesian photographer and writer whose work fills more than 20 large format photographic books. His photography has been exhibited in Bali, Jakarta, Madrid, Miyazaki, Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Sydney and also form part of private collections in London, San Francisco, Rome, Boston, Washington, and Tokyo.
A resident of Bali since the 1970s, Rio is fluent in five languages. His professional work focuses on the interactions between indigenous peoples and their environment. As a result, he has traveled extensively across the Indonesian archipelago and across Asia to Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, Ladakh and Mongolia photographing both remote tribal people and urban life.
Made Westi: A descendent from a family of Balinese healers, Made Westi, together with his wife, Ni Wayan Lilir, gather traditional Balinese herbal medicines from the rural areas and jungles of the Island that they share with the larger community based on the ancient Balinese book of healing – Usada Bali. Made will share his wide botanical and natural healing knowledge via a botanical walk.
I Wayan Juniartha: A journalist and social commentator who finds Bali and its many contradictions a constant source of amusement. He finds solace in crafting essays following his tragically failed attempt at writing poetry. His first and probably last book, Bungklang-Bungkling, records the hilarity and ludicrousness of Balinese men. When he is not writing essays, “Jun” can be found pedaling towards the island’s most serene spots while composing bite-size poems, which can be sought with the hashtag #cyclingwithbuddha. He is one of the editors of the English newspaper Jakarta Post and is the Indonesian Program Manager for the annual Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.
Ida Bagus Alit, Mask Maker: Alit, age 64, has been carving wood and masks since he was a school boy, studying with his grandfather. He makes masks and god images for Balinese temples, masks for dancers and performs Topeng Sidhakarya mask dance at rituals. He is in high demand by some of Bali’s top performers to create both traditional and new masks.
Anak Agung Gede Rai: is an art collector and promoter extraordinaire of Balinese culture. Born into poverty, he used to take rolled up paintings down to sell in Kuta. He now owns and operates the ARMA Museum and ARMA Resort, providing free classes in traditional dance, music and painting to the children in surrounding areas and producing numerous events every year for the local and international community.
I Gde Nala Antara: Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Letters and Culture at Udayana University, the head of the Balinese Governor’s Language Board (Badan Pembina Bahasa Aksara dan Sastra Bali Provinsi Bali) and serves as the head of the expert team of the online Balinese-Indonesian-English Wiki Dictionary created by BASAbali. Antara will also head the new local foundation BASAbali Wiki.
Kobagi (Community of Crazy Bodies): Kobagi was founded in 2008 by a group of 15 performers, including the late Greg Gensse. It is a blend of genjek (a form of song and movement), kecak (interlocking vocalities) and body music. There is nothing else like it on the island. Their infectious energy and joy will have you stomping in your seats.
Made Sidia and Sanggar Paripurna: One of Bali’s most acclaimed wayang puppeteers and director of gala cultural-theatrical shows. Made Sidia is a faculty director of the Indonesian Art Institute and director-founder of the Sanggar Paripurna – a private campus dedicated to fostering Balinese dance, theater and music. Togther with Australian Peter Wilson, he created Bali’s longest running daily stage show at the Bali Agung Theatre featuring more than 200 performers.
Wiwik Dharmiasih: A Lecturer at the Department of International Relation, Udayana University. Wiwik Dharmiasih was instrumental in helping to establish Jatiluwih Subak as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Wayang Listrik: is a form of shadow puppet originally created by Larry Reed of San Francisco. Replacing the traditional oil lamp with electric lamps has made it possible to create different sized images projected on a giant screen. In 2002, Wayan Sidia developed a theater form called Wayang Skateboard that uses a large screen to accommodate the shadows of six puppeteers moving on skateboards. The music that accompanies this form of Wayang Listrik utilizes traditional Balinese gamelan instruments, percussion instruments from Africa, and a keyboard and bass guitar. This stupendous show will be especially staged for our visitors and will be presented in both English and Balinese.
Prices and Conditions
- The tour price of US$ 2,500 per person is based on twin-sharing accommodation. There is a single supplement of US$ 700.
- Pricing includes the programs elements listed in the tour description. Not included are any international air transportation to and from Bali; purchases of a personal nature including laundry, alcoholic beverages at meals, mini-bar at hotel, meals not listed in the program, and tipping.
- The tour program is operated by Bali Discovery Tours who reserve the right to make alterations to the published program in the event of unanticipated changes in conditions or circumstances. Should changes occur, every effort will be made to substitute tour elements of equal or higher quality.
- For more information and bookings