I’ve never been much of a beach lover. While others seem to enjoy hours upon days of sun and waves, I have about 2 hours of stamina before I’m burned out on my salty-sandy state. I really just go for the company… and maybe a piña colada or two…
I know it sounds blasphemous to say, but after a day at Uluwatu– the Balinese surfer’s paradise– I was a little beached out. Luckily for people like me (I know you’re out there!) there are so many more things to do in Bali than simply beach bum.
Hundreds of years of water-locked culture have evolved into a fascinating art and music scene that make this Southeast Asian destination stand apart from the rest.
- Balinese Dance: A choir of voices clicking rhythmically creates an unmistakably musical soundtrack for the Kecak Dance. Amongst fire torches, lavishly costumed dancers recreate the story of the Hindu god Rama through emotional gestures and deliberate steps. The Kecak, amongst other Balinese dance performances, makes your annual trip to see the Nutcracker seem like yesterday’s stale bread, so if you have any interest in the tradition of Bali, a glimpse at Balinese dance is essential.
- Traditional Art: Whether you have a trained eye or are simply intrigued by the stunning sarongs and elaborate wooden statues around town, you have to make a trip to an art workshop during your trip to Bali. Batik, woodcarving, and silver craft are among the many traditional art forms that are thriving on the island. You can watch artists work for free at one of the many factories as long as you’re willing to at least browse the gallery when you’re finished.
- Local Music: The islandy influence has made modern Balinese music a combination of reggae and mellow rock. Look for restaurants featuring live musicians for a casual sampling of local rhythms or spend an evening at a concert for a bit of Balinese culture. If you’re feeling especially inspired by the island breeze, join in on a beach jam session or sing along with the band after the bar closes to covers of Sublime and the Red Hot Chili Peppers–songs that feel so much more inspiring by the sea.
- Contemporary Art: Indonesia has a surprising presence of modern art forms created by young people straying from the traditional variety. Often, art schools will hold exhibitions where you can check out the artistic perspective of Southeast Asian youths through funky batiks or abstract sculptures. Also, keep an eye out for cafes and restaurants that feature the work of local artists for a bit of culture while taking your morning coffee.
Whether or not you’re tired of the beach, the unique cultural offerings of Bali are wonders no traveler should miss! The enriching artistic side of Bali spills out as far as the sand and you’ve gotta see it to believe it, whether formally or more casually.
So wipe off that sand, put that sundress back on and dig into Balinese culture! If you’re feeling inspired, check out some of these great tours of Bali with Gray Line.
Whats your favorite way to escape the beach? (If you can’t see Facebook comments, click here: Beached Out in Bali? Get Artsy)