The island of Bali is only one of over 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia, but Bali’s rich cultural heritage, easy-going people, and natural beauty have been attracting visitors from around the world for more than a century.
Unlike most of Muslim-majority Indonesia, about 90% of Bali's population adheres to Balinese Hinduism, formed as a combination of existing local beliefs and Hindu influences from mainland Southeast Asia and South Asia. The central principle of Balinese Hindu belief is that the universe is highly structured, and that it is essential that a balance be maintained. Rituals and festivals are the way the Balinese maintain this balance, and therefore are the essence of Balinese culture.
As the most popular tourist destination in Indonesia, Bali is renowned for its highly developed arts: dance, sculpture, painting, and music - all of which play a large part in the population's spiritual practice.
The vast majority of the people are bilingual or trilingual, with Balinese and Indonesian being the most widely spoken languages. Due to the large tourism industry, English is the common third language of many Balinese.
Bali has a tropical climate with year-round temperatures averaging 90º F - the dry season, during the months of May - September, has the lowest humidity. During June - August there is also usually a very refreshing cool breeze all day long, and it's cooler at night.
GETTING TO BALI
All travel to Bali must connect through an Asian hub, based on your choice of airline. Please be careful with the dates and times of the flights - most flights to Asia depart very early in the morning, just after midnight (but you must check in the evening before the date listed for the departure)! Because you'll be crossing the International Date Line, you'll arrive in Asia two days later. The airport, Ngurah Rai International in Denpasar, is coded DPS.
As you'll be traveling in the high season, we encourage you to book as early as possible - most flights do sell out!
The Indonesian government requires that you have a passport valid for at least six additional months and $25 in cash for the entry visa, obtained at the Bali airport and valid for 30 days. No inoculations are required or suggested.
WHAT TO WEAR
Simple, loose, light-colored clothing, of natural fibers are best for days (mid to high 80s), but bring sweater/windbreaker for the cool nights and early morning in higher altitude (mid to high 60s). Rain is unlikely, but light raincoat is advisable. We'll be walking or standing most of the day, so do bring sneakers and easily washable sandals with well-cushioned heels. Do bring your swimsuit, sunglasses, sun hat, and sunblock.
Dress appropriately, in a sarong and sash, when visiting holy places and celebrations - we'll help you buy a beautiful locally-made sarong, to keep in your camra bag. To respect local mores, women will want to cover their legs and upper arms in most public situations, with light, loose clothing. Otherwise, Bali is a very casual place and there'll be no opportunity to dress up (leave your heels at home, ladies!) The hotel provides a basic laundry service with 24 hr turn-around.
WHAT TO BRING
Please bring all your necessary photo gear, not forgetting additional memory cards, batteries, and chargers! Bring your laptop computer, and a trusted means of backing up your images, preferably to an external bus-powered hard drive. Have a familiar image-editing application ready. You will want to review and select from the thousands of photos you'll capture each day, but leave the Photoshop work for when you get back home. Local current is 220V, so check that your chargers are ready for it (most computers and camera chargers are multi-voltage).
Bali doesn't present any health threat . You won't need to worry about malaria, etc. All restaurant food is perfectly safe. Do drink lots and lots of bottled water, and do bring your favorite preventive medicines for possible stomach upsets... but most visitors return without any illness at all. Do bring your own sun-block and insect repellent, which might be necessary for the beach or hiking activities.
The workshop will require awakening and going out daily before sunrise, and many hours of walking/standing outdoors, while photographing and touring. An optional hike up a volcano, also before the sunrise, is also scheduled. All our activities are suitable for all moderately-fit adults, and we can make individual adjustments for special needs. For a vacation, we encourage you to extend your visit, before or after the workshop!
STAYING IN TOUCH
You can stay in touch with home via phone calls from the hotel or by internet, on the hotel WiFi network. Do be aware that the bandwidth will be much more limited than in a First-World country.
The local currency, the Indonesian Rupiah, trades at almost 10,000 to the dollar - so local prices will seem upsurdly high at first - but are actually excellent Third-World bargains! Cash is available at omnipresent ATM locations, all your bank cards will work, and you'll be a "multi-millionaire" after each withdrawal...
We welcome non-photographer spouse or friend to join us in all our experiences, or they'll be plenty busy on their own, participating in Alila Manggis' numerous activities, such as yoga, cooking or art classes, or nature walks.
PRE- AND POST-TRIP EXTENSIONS
We strongly encourage you to spend more time in Bali, and we'll be happy to advise you - Alila Manggis makes a great base, as well as providing you with all the support services you'd need - simply discuss with their staff your vacation time window and plans!