Culture

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The local Sea Gypsies of Panglong Village

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Ever heard stories about the community of sea gypsies and wished to meet them in real life? Then a visit to Panglong village on Bintan Island, Indonesia would surely be a treat for you during your Bintan vacation!

Panglong, a small nomadic village towards the north of the Bintan island, is the residence of some of the world’s most unique villagers, also known as Sea Gypsies or Orang Laut.

This remote village, which is just an hour’s ride from the Bandar Bentan Telani port, is one of the most popular Bintan tourist attractions. When you enter the village, you may not find anything different from the other fishing villages. However, a long list of surprises awaits as soon as you enter the village.

An interesting fact about the Panglong village is that it is left so untouched that it has remained in the most pristine form, even in the 21st century. They live in houses made of red bricks, almost resembling the houses of the Eskimos. The villagers call these houses “Dapur Arang”. Your local guide from Locaguide can tell you more about their lifestyle, legends, and folktales about mermaids and mermen as you walk through the village.

Dapur Arang of sea gypsies
“Dapur Arang”

The Sea Gypsies

The village is a unique tourist site in itself, but the villagers are even more special — they’re quite aptly called the sea gypsies. They have lived as nomads all their lives in very simple houseboats just off the coasts of Indonesia. They are experts in detecting the areas with a lot of fish just by listening to the reverberation of the seawater clashing with rocks at the shore. All they have to do is, keep their ears close to the floor of the boat!

At the Panglong village, you can be sure to enjoy your evenings by watching these elusive but real-life sea gypsies doing their daily chores as the sun sets — an experience you can cherish forever! Don’t forget to ask your local guide to help you plan a day trip to this unique place on Bintan island.

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CultureLocale

Buddhist spiritualism at the 500 Lohan Temple

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There’s nothing as spiritually satisfying as a travel that accompanies meditation. If you’re longing for such a spiritual expedition, Indonesia has a lot to offer. The 500 Lohan Temple is one such amazing destination where you can immerse yourself in Buddhist spirituality.

The 500 Lohan temple, also known as Vihara Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, is one of the very few monasteries that is dedicated to the Buddhist saint, Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.

Where is it located ?

Located in Tanjung Pinang City of the Bintan Island, this surreal Buddhist monastery is featured as one of the key attractions in Bintan Island. From the outside, the 500 Lohan Temple looks like any other Buddhist monastery. But, pass through the grand stone archway made in the Chinese architectural design guarded by the statues of General Ha and General Heng, and be ready to be fascinated by the incredible sculpture park. A local guide from Locaguide could be a great choice as he can give you more insights into the meanings of the sculptures and inscriptions as well as describe some of the legends and history behind this temple.

500 Lohan Temple
500 Lohan Temple

The Golden Arhats

With 500 golden statues of arhats or Buddhist saints all lined up in perfect order and harmony, this place is truly a spiritual extravaganza. The peculiarity of these lifelike statues is that all of the arhats are sculpted with a different posture and facial features, depicting their characters in its true sense. Each statue also displays the name of the saint at its base.

500 Lohan Temple
500 golden statues of arhats

The incredible Tibetan Buddhist artwork and symbols adorn the surrounding walls of the temple. The Thai style sculptures of the Buddhas along the pavilion. You can see the sculpture of the Baby Buddha, as you walk facing the pavilion.

The 500 Lohan Temple is indeed a photographer’s wonderland. It is best to explore this place along with the other tourist destinations in Bintan Island, such as the mangrove forest near the Sungei Sebung river or the quaint Senggarang village so ask your local guide to plan your day accordingly.

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CultureEvents

Bali’s iconic Kecak dance

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Imagine dozens of men in traditional Balinese costumes, loudly chanting and dancing in rhythm in a large circle, while immaculately dressed actors enact stories from the Ramayana around fire torches. That’s what the iconic Kecak dance of Bali looks like. Based on the Hindu mythology of Ramayana, the actors and dancers enact how Ram and his brother Lakshman rescued the former’s wife, Sita, from the evil Ravana.

The Kecak dance has been recognized internationally as a unique Balinese art form that is performed every evening at the Uluwatu Temple and the Tanah Lot Temple.

Bucket List Item in Bali

The performance draws a massive crowd and is regarded as one of the top 10 activities to do in Bali. You can ask your local travel guide to take you to either one of the two locations and club this activity with a visit to the respective temples for a perfect way to end the day.

Kecak dance
Kecak dance performance

This dance form is quite dramatic in more ways than one and gives the audience a glimpse of rich Balinese culture and traditions in a beautiful setting. With the sun setting in the background, the stage is set for a dramatic performance by the actors, while the fire torches at the centre stage add to the ambience. The presence of fire is of much significance in this dance in order to portray how Ram’s loyal aide Hanuman burnt Ravana’s territory in their attempt to rescue Sita. There are no musical instruments used in this act, but the synchronised chanting of the dancers provide a wonderful backdrop for the entire performance.

Kecak dance
Kecak dance fire performance

If you are looking to have a truly authentic cultural experience in Bali beyond the usual tourist attractions, watching the Kecak dance is a must! These days there are also slight variations of the original performance enacted in certain places in Bali using a different storyline from the Ramayana. So if you’d like to watch something different, ask your guide from Locaguide to take you to the right places. A magical setting, coupled with gripping performances by the dancers, makes this one of the top things to do in Bali!

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CultureLocale

Shop At Sukawati Art Market in Bali

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The moment you land in Bali, you’ll notice the rich cultural tradition of this fascinating destination. The influence of the traditional art is quite evident in everything you find here, The Sukawati Art Market is a must visit location. 

As any experienced tourist would tell you, if you wish to keep a souvenir of the distinctive Balinese art and culture, one of the best places you can check out is Sukawati Art Market or ‘Pasar Seni Sukawati’ as the locals would call it.

This sprawling traditional market, located in Jalan Raya, Gianyar, is well-known for its amazing artwork, sculptures, and hand-crafted items. Unlike many tourist shopping streets, everything in Sukawati Art Market is sold for a song!

What to expect

Sukawati Art Market is indeed a paradise for souvenir-collectors. The crowded market has everything, from handcrafted jewellery, bags, and accessories to wooden sculptures, traditional kites, framed paintings and ceremonial items at dirt-cheap prices. On the ground floors, you’ll mostly find colourful clothing stalls that sell all types of dresses and fabric. There is also an aromatherapeutic section towards the backside of the market, where you can buy aromatic candles, incenses, and fragrance oils.

Sukawati Art Market
Sukawati Art Market

The market at Sukawati is open on all days. You can find most stalls open even before the clock strikes 8 in the morning, and the pedlars awaiting their first visitors. The crowd would often start pouring in as early as 10 am. However, the best time to practice your bargaining skills would be in the late afternoon hours and evenings, until all the shops close at around 7 pm. Having said that, if bargaining is not your forte, having a trustworthy local guide with you in Bali will ensure that you’re not paying higher prices. A personalized guided tour with Locaguide will give you a unique experience of this traditional market.

So if you’re planning to visit Bali, don’t forget to pay a visit to this bustling local market where you’ll be looking at an entire collection of paintings, jewellery, handicrafts, and accessories made by the Balinese craftsmen. But even if you don’t end up purchasing anything, just a stroll through the market is bound to make your day come alive!

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Culture

Experience Bali’s Authentic Balinese Massage

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There are some things in Bali that attract not just our eyes but also our other senses like smell and touch. The sensual Balinese massage is one of them.

Almost similar to the other traditional southeast Asian massage techniques, the Balinese massage is also greatly influenced by the Ayurvedic and the traditional Chinese medicines.

However, since there are hundreds of spas in Bali, it is often hard to distinguish between an authentic Balinese massage centre and others. A local guide could be greatly helpful in such a scenario to take you to authentic massage centers. If you’re looking to get a Balinese massage during your trip, here are some things you should expect:

1. Know the difference between a hard vs a soft massage

As soon as you enter the spa, this is the first question that a Tukang Pijit (a Balinese masseuse) would ask you, almost always. And no, a hard massage does not mean they’ll take all their strength to break your ribs and bones. It just is an indication that they know their onions. If you opt for the soft massage, they will ensure that they use a more gentle pressure during the massage.

2. Aromatherapy is an integral part of Balinese Massage

Any Balinese masseuse would tell you that, in order to reach the stage of a complete relaxation, you need to sooth all of your senses with equal priority. That is why, unlike the Thai technique, the Balinese massage taps into the therapeutic power of the scented essential oils to soothe your mind and body alike. Do ask your personal tour guide from Locaguide to suggest the best aromatherapy centres in Bali!

 Balinese massage
Herbs for the massage and healing

3. Expect deeper pressure in a traditional Balinese Massage

You shouldn’t be surprised when your masseuse uses a deeper pressure during the massages, even if you opt for the ‘soft’ massage, as mentioned earlier. More pressure simply allows greater access to the deeper tissues and muscles in your body.

4. You’ll feel a lot lighter (in a positive way)

After an amazing hour-long session of the Balinese massage, you will feel revitalized, refreshed, and relieved from all the stress in your body and mind.

 Balinese massage
Balinese massage

So, if you’re on a Southeast Asian adventure, an authentic Balinese massage would be the last thing you want to drop out of your list. 

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Culture

5 Unusual Things To Do In Bali

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Its the scenic beauty of lush green paddy fields, equatorial rainforests, volcanic mountains, pristine white sand beaches and the ancient temple architecture that draws one to the south-eastern paradise Bali; but there’s more in Bali for everyone. How about experiencing some unusual and unique activities in Bali, that you generally don’t hear out there? Here is a list of some of the fun things to do in Bali to make your trip an awesome one!

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