Bali and her religion
Religious beliefs are deeply entrenched in all Balinese. Just as you think secularism has preyed on the Balinese; judging from the expansive international class resorts of Nusa Dua, swanky shopping malls of Kuta and the never ending binge drinking on Legian strip; Balinese temples, albeit small ones, co-exist harmoniously within the Western-influenced edifices.
Bali is timeless. Taking out the big resorts and glitzy malls, one can't help but think he or she has traveled back in time machine to the Bali of yesteryears. Balinese religious beliefs literally have never changed. It remains pure, or luhur, since the day of yore. Balinese Hinduism is not merely a religion, it is a way of life. Often you will see partial road closures around Bali due to religious ceremonies. Sign board to remind commuters and pedestrians are usually put in the middle of the street, and local police officers gladly assist to smoothen the traffic flow of jostling devotees. The street is made into a colorful procession, with men and women in beautiful sarong, kebaya dress as well as exquisite headbands, occasionally complemented by the alluring number of gamelan music. Whether you like it or not, this is Bali. Her religious beliefs will not be banished into obsolescence, perhaps forever.
The land of eternal smiles
Balinese people are friendly lot. Smile at them, and they will smile back. Balinese attentiveness in the service industry is simply unmatched and legendary. They are ever helpful and will always try hard to please you. Such great politeness and courtesy, I found myself giving out monetary tips to my local guides and hotel staff for their great service. And I usually frown up giving out tips especially at expensive restaurants which I felt already extorting big fat margin for their so-called culinary delights. Yet, in Bali, things are different. The services are cheap and you will never feel scammed, hence tipping is a great way to show your utmost appreciation and acknowledgement for their painstaking efforts.
The fact of life
Balinese are generally not well-off. Yet, I did not see any street beggars on the streets. Most homes in Bali are made of bricks, a commodity widely available on the island. Federal assistance from Jakarta scarcely comes by, according to my local driver. Balinese have learnt to make amend to this fact. They have remained steadfast in these tumultuous years.
Bali's most precious asset is her people. Their exemplary attitudes will keep enticing visitors in droves.