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ABOUT BALI
Plus everything you never knew you needed to know about traveling in Bali.

5Year after year Bali is voted by the readers of all major travel magazines, 'the most enchanting travel and holiday destination in the whole world'. If you join us at a Heaven and Earth Workshop you will find out why. It would be hard to find a more beautiful, spiritual place on this planet than Bali. The Balinese culture is steeped in mythology, a sense of the divine and a deep honoring of the earth and all of life. The Balinese are in general some of the warmest, kindest, most hospitable people you may ever meet. They are wise and caring, and have a heartfelt desire to live in harmony.

4The ancient traditions of Bali are centuries old and pulse through every aspect of everyday life, which is lived with a profound respect for history, their elders and ancestors, community, family and in particular their children.

The island of Bali is predominantly Hindu, making it unique in Indonesia, as the rest of the country is primarily Muslim. In contrast to India, the Hinduism of Bali is gentler, more joyful, and not quite so intense. Music, dance and theatre are an integral part of all temple ceremonies, and they are a delight to behold.

The temples are generally not dedicated to only one god, and visitors are welcome to participate in most of their many ceremonies. The writer has been fortunate enough to attend several such celebrations, and there is a good possibility that workshop attendees with an interest will have the opportunity to do so also. Every home has it's own little temple, and the making of offerings a daily practice, it is beautiful to see the women performing these rituals everywhere you turn.

3The Island itself, as well as the people, is stunningly beautiful and intensely colorful. The Balinese are masters in all the arts, music, painting, dance, and all forms of craft.

Throughout history foreign artists have been drawn to Bali because of it's beauty and luminosity, and Ubud is the centre for all the Balinese arts, and almost every home has an art studio of some kind.

REALITIES

Although ALL of the above is true... there is still the inevitable less than rosy side to life 'in Paradise'. Tourism has taken it's toll in places, and Bali has it's fair share of hustlers. It is a 3rd world country; there is trash in places (most of it plastic packaging, a gift from the west, that they are ill-equipped to dispose of) and pot-holes in the roads, and even a few on the sidewalks!

1 Nonetheless the beauty, tranquility and radiance of the people far outweighs any of the minor irritations endemic to the human condition....an inevitability wherever you might find yourself on this planet.

 

SAFETY

We are pleased to announce that the USA officially lifted all warnings in regards to travel to Indonesia as of May 23rd, 2008 And even although some of us thought the warnings were completely unnecessary in the 1st place, this is still very good news!

The US ends its travel warnings in regards to Indonesia

****As the author of this web-site and facilitator of this workshop, I am a woman who has traveled extensively throughout the world, mainly solo, and usually on public transport. I personally feel completely safe in Bali. I contract a house there full-time which I live in alone and I have traveled all around this, and other Indonesian Islands without ever feeling any animosity or sense of danger. Then again, I move around with awareness and don't put myself into potentially threatening situations, i.e.. walking around unfamiliar areas alone at night. This is just common sense and a precaution I would take wherever I might be.


HEALTH

When it comes to staying healthy, common sense is the order of the day. Drink bottled water, which is available everywhere, and eat only what you know agrees with you. If you are prone to an upset stomach, eat only cooked and peelable foods. The writer in many years of living in Bali ate everything available and never had a problem, but everyone needs to be responsible for their own well-being, so do what is comfortable for you.

There is no malaria on Bali, and mosquitoes are not as big a problem as they are in many other tropical places. All beds have mosquito nets, and most outdoor restaurants burn mosquito repellent coils. Bring your own lotion and cover up in the evenings when they tend to be more prolific and lively!

Get travel insurance to be on the safe side. There some excellent 24 hour medical centers in Ubud.


FOOD

You will find some of the most fabulous food in the world in Bali. Refer to www.baliguide.com under "Food & Restaurants", and you will get a mouth-watering review of what to expect. They have their own style of cooking and everything is extremely fresh and, in the writer's opinion, delicious. Ubud is known for it's cuisine and even has several cooking schools. Workshop participants will have ample opportunity to try many of the fabulous restaurants, as evenings are independent time. Expect to be wowed by the culinary pleasures of Bali.

TIPPING

This is not a requirement in Indonesia, but is of course appreciated, do it at your own discretion. Many higher end restaurants automatically add 10% to the bill. Only tip in accordance to the price paid... it can feel weird to tip someone the equivalent of 20 cents... but remember the average wage in Bali is $6 a day!


WEATHER


2Year-round in Bali you can expect pleasant day temperatures between 20 to 33 degrees celsius or 68 to 93 degrees fahrenheit.
From December to March, the West Monsoon can bring heavy showers and high humidity, but usually days are sunny and the rains start during the night and pass quickly. Generally the Ubud area of Bali has warm, sunny days and cools off at night. Rain is frequent but usually light and of short duration. Bring an umbrella and light rain gear.


YOUR COMFORT

Many participants are rightly concerned about their comfort while sitting in an open hall, in the tropics, for several days on end. The hall we meet in is a beautiful open-sided traditional pagoda, it has a reclaimed floor (wonderful for yoga), and a high ceiling. There are ceiling fans and floor fans, as well as plenty of natural ventilation. Although of course we have hot days, it generally stays comfortable year round. Evelyn has, over the years, had over a 100 pillows made, all shapes and sizes... all of them custom made, some with rigid backs for leaning back comfortably. We have several padded, upright folding chairs also. If you have any special needs for seating, please inform Evelyn and she will most happily take care of it for you. There are bathrooms close to the hall, and purified water dispensers for the use of the group. We do ask that you mark and use the same plastic cup for the duration of the workshop, plastic disposal is an issue in Bali, as it is everywhere.

Ceiling fans are more than adequate year round in the ricefields, our location is up towards the volcano, so generally cooler than other areas of Bali. There are no AC rooms at Rahasia Manis. All the rooms are airy and bright, and those who live in the ricefields (Evelyn being one) have never found the need for anything more than fans.


MASSAGES, ETC.
 

Like most places in South East Asia, Bali is known for it's wonderful massages and body treatments. The writer has personally tried most of the options in the Ubud area.... for research purposes only of course! You will be able to have massages or reflexology in your hotel room for about $13 an hour. Spa treatments, such as full body or head massages, manicures/pedicures, facials, reflexology or acupuncture etc, are available are also available for about the same price an hour.
The Balinese specialty is 'mandi lulur', an hour long massage, followed by a half hour exfoliating full body scrub with a special ground up coconut mixture, then you are slathered all over with a moisturizing mix of yoghurt and honey, and you finish the treatment in a flower-filled, scented bath sipping on fresh ginger tea.... need I say more? Our staff will make these arrangements for you, and we highly recommend using the people we are familiar with. People may approach you in the fields, offering massage, but we do not recommend you use them. The people we use are established, professional and do not need to look for business that way

SHOPPING

My advise to all visitors to Bali is... 'come with completely empty suitcases!!'. Ubud is a mecca for the superdeal... and be prepared to bargain. Batiks, clothing, shoes, paintings, crafts, jewelry and antiques, they are all here in abundance. Ubud is the perfect place to do all your gift shopping, it would practically pay for your trip to do so! Ubud in particular is a centre for artists, and Penestanan, the village where Melati Cottages is situated, specializes in exquisitely intricate beadwork.


MONEY

If you plan on using a credit card, please inform your credit card company before you leave home. They very often assume that your card has gone on vacation without you when they see a charge from Indonesia, and then simply shut down your account. This can be very frustrating (as the writer can attest to!), so put this high on your 'to do list'.

Using a Credit Card in Bali usually means a three and a half percent charge being added... although not in higher end restaurants. Local shops do not take them. You can draw cash on CCs at ATMs but we have found the fee rather hefty (it varies from company to company...check before you leave home with it!).

Traveler's checks, US $s, Australian $s or Euros are all convenient and easy to exchange in Bali. The higher the denomination the better the rate.


WHAT TO BRING

  • All medications you might need, plus vitamin supplements. Store these in airtight ziploc bags as the humidity can get to them very quickly.
  • Grapefruit seed extract drops are very good for avoiding stomach upsets if you have a tendency towards them. There are many good brands on the market, just Google!
  • Charcoal tablets are also useful to have.
  • Face flannels are very much a western thing, so if it is something you need.. please bring them with you. Towels of course, are provided.
  • Non-slip sandals are essential, when it rains the paths can get very slippery. Slip on shoes are the most convenient as you often remove them then entering any living space (including the hall we are meeting in).
  • A small bright flash-light... for navigating the ricefields after dark. The head-lamp style ones are excellent.
  • Batteries.... some I've bought in Indonesia have been on their last legs.
  • Sun tan lotion and insect repellent.
  • Light rain gear and an umbrella.
  • And I'm not joking.... an EMPTY suitcase! Many friends who visit have had to buy another one in Bali.
  • Be sure that anything electrical you bring is 240v compatible... or invest in a converter which you can buy at any at any good travel store.
  • Laptops are fine as all have 120/240 versatility.
  • Indonesian plugs are 2 prong/round, and adaptors for them are easily found in the West and Bali

    A very common question is concerning hair-dryers. Bali is hot and tropical, so frankly the thought of directing something even hotter directly at my head is most unappealing. The center does not provide them, if you absolutely have to have one make sure it runs on 240v. Having said that any style you manage to procure is likely to last all of 7 minutes in the humidity! .

USEFUL TIPS & INFORMATION

  • Make sure that there will be at least 6 months left on your passport WHEN YOU ARRIVE IN BALI. If not get it renewed asap, otherwise you run the risk of being denied entry(this is a common policy in many countries).
  • There are no innoculations required for entry into Bali.
  • If you are a US, Australian, Canadian or UK citizen(and most EU countries.. but PLEASE check on this) you may acquire a 30 day visa upon arrival in Bali. If not please check the current law according to what passport you hold. Please check this site for the latest information http://www.learn4good.com/travel/indonesia_visa.htm. This site also has the addresses of all Indonesian Embassies. Evelyn will help you with any letters and applications you may require for a visa. If you need to get your visa ahead of time, please allow at least a month to 6 weeks before you leave, and sooner is even better.
  • Upon arrival in Denpasar some people have found the pushiness of the porters disconcerting (not those of us used to 3rd world travel). You are in no way obligated to use them.. and if you do $1 is a perfectly adequate tip. The trick is to lurk around as you change money, and to get a hefty chunk of it before you have figured out the exchange rate! Do not judge the rest of Bali by this, and a firm no is all that is needed.
  • The exchange rate at the airport is, as usual, not the best... but it isn't too bad, so changing a little money as you enter the country is a good idea, then that is one less thing to think about as you acclimatize and get over jet lag.
  • There is free broadband wifi access at the center, but we do not have a computer for public use. Please either bring a laptop or tablet if you need to get on-line.
  • Phone cards in Indonesia for international calls are cheap to buy, and usually a better deal than International calling cards from the west. The Hallo card is one of the best and costs approx $11 US for 50 minutes to call anywhere in Europe or the US. It is easy to find the shop that sells them. If you have a laptop, it pays to be hooked up to Skype for International calls.
  • There are no phones in the rooms, so again Skype is your best bet.
  • SIM cards for cell/mobile phones are very inexpensive in Bali. Bring your own phone, and just switch cards, but make sure it is tri-band... and UNLOCKED. This is something you do through your provider, so please call them for details.

BEGGING

This is far less a problem than in any other 3rd world country we have ever been to, and for that matter many western cities. Please be aware that any beggars you see in Ubud are part of a 'mafia' consortium that brings them in daily from the countryside(many of the babies they carry aren't even theirs'). A red light is seeing how dirty they are.. this is their 'uniform' designed to tweak western guilt and discomfort, the Balinese are a meticulously clean people who bath daily in the rivers and streams.

The Balinese themselves hate to see this encouraged (it is purely for the purpose of milking the tourists), it is counter to their beliefs and hard-working natures, and not a part of their culture(as it is in eg, India). You are not supporting these individuals if you give them money, you are feeding the sharks behind it all.

If you want to donate some money to better the people's lives, Evelyn can give you information on some wonderful programs that enrich and educate the people rather than disempowering them and creating a sub-class of beggars. www.balispirit.com. lists several.

Evelyn calling

As group facilitator, I live on-site. My phone number is on all my communications.

For those who may need to reach you from outside Indonesia: contact
Please consider me on call 24/7 for emergencies. I will be at many sessions (if possible), and in the dining room sometimes during lunch....and fully available at those times.

The workshops in Bali are held at:
Rahasia Manis
Bayad
Tegal Lalang
Ubud
Gianyar
Bali


Besides the programme that AHeaven and Earth EWorkshops is offering, there are countless other attractions, adventures and once-in-a-lifetime experiences to be enjoyed in Bali. We suggest you follow your instincts on what appeals to you. You will be given a package with a lot of information and brochures about what is available. We are providing information only, as a service to the participants, these are not endorsements nor part of the official 'Heaven and Earth' program.

Participants are 100% responsible for their own safety and any decisions to participate in extra-curricular activities.

 

 


Evelyn Roberts, D.F.Astrol.S.
evelynroberts@earthlink.net