Local News

Residents of Bali’s Suwat village welcomes new year with water festival

The Suwat Water Festival – the latest of which was the fifth edition of the annual tradition – is a three-day event, which began on Monday with a walking tour around the village. According to a report from Nusa Bali, all participants are obliged to collect trash on the journey on the first day, especially plastic waste, and the person who collects the most trash wins a prize. In addition, they also took part in a tree-planting event. On the day before New Year’s, participants make their way to the local river to prepare for the last day of the festival,  followed with traditional games, such as tug of war, in the middle of paddy fields.

“These games are supposed to take us to simpler days, when children are less addicted to smartphones. Living in a village, playing in the fields without fear of getting dirty in the mud. This event is open to the public, anyone can participate,” said Suwat Village Chief Ngakan Putu Sudibya. The last day of the festival is marked with Siat Yeh ritual, which is when the water fights take place. According to Sudibya, it is meant to signify the act of washing to prepare us for a new day with a new spirit in the new year. On social media, photos and videos from the festival show residents splashing water on one another using colorful water dippers. (coconuts.com 6/1/20)

Tourist numbers up while tourism site entrances increase

The Association of Indonesian Travel Agency (Asita) was not amused when they found out that the Bangli government had increased the admission prices into several tourist destination sites (DTW) as of January 1. Asita claimed that the government did not inform them or anyone about this change.

Tourists also got a shock when visiting Penelokan DTW on the New Year’s Day on Wednesday finding the entrance price was up. “They said they had sent a socialization letter via post and fax, but we didn’t receive anything from them. Then they said that they will send the decree about the ticket price increases tomorrow. What for, exactly? The new ticket prices have been implemented since yesterday,” the Secretary of Bali Asita, Putu Winastra said to Balipost.

He complained that his side could not do anything with the new ticket price implementation now. He also advised his members to prepare for potential losses, because Asita had signed contracts/ sold tour packages in 2020 with the previous ticket prices. Meanwhile, in better news, the number of foreign tourists who arrived to Bali in November 2019 reached 498,088. This figure was the highest when compared with the same month over the past four years. Compared to November 2018 (year on year), the number of foreign tourists who visited Bali saw an increase of 22.46 percent. According to gatra.com the top five visitors to Bali in November 2019 were Australians with 21.14 percent, Chinese 15.76 percent, Indian 6.90 percent, United States 4.60 percent, and Great Britain with 4.13 percent. (Seminyaknews.com 6/1/20)

Nusa Penida named best destination for backpackers to visit in 2020

Nusa Penida in Klungkung regency, Bali, has topped the list of 20 best destinations for backpackers to visit in 2020 released by Dublin-based online hostel reservation platform Hostelworld.

In the past 12 months, the number of bookings made by British tourists for accommodation in Nusa Penida increased by up to 610 percent, according to the company, confirming the region as the most popular destination among UK citizens during the period. Located in the southeast part of Bali, Nusa Penida’s Banjar Nyuh Port is reachable by speed boat from Sanur Port in Bali. Domestic and foreign tourists can be found enjoying a day trip there or spending at least one night on the island, which is especially famous for its Kelingking Beach, which boasts a Tyrannosaurus Rex-shaped cliff and is home to manta rays and Bali starlings, locally known as jalak Bali.

Regarding accommodation, Hostelworld said the island does not disappoint. “It’s a boutique hostel with gorgeous bungalows, a beautiful Bali-esque pool and outdoor social spaces where you can enjoy your free daily breakfast,” reads the description on its website. During their stay, holidaymakers can rent motorcycles or cars to explore the island, as reported by kompas.com. Following behind Nusa Penida on the best backpacker destination list based on the biggest growth in bookings were Surat Thani in Thailand and Maribor in Slovenia. (TheJakartaPost.com 7/1/20)

Bali government announces plan to host World Cultural Festival this year

The Bali provincial government says it’s aiming to stay relevant through the promotion of culture across different aspects of society, with plans in place to host a festival celebrating world cultures in November 2020.

Speaking at an event in Denpasar earlier, Bali Governor I Wayan Koster pointed out Bali’s relatively small presence in Indonesia, in terms of land and population. “If we don’t try to find [potential] from culture, what else is there? If not, we will be underestimated. Our voice is small, politically. That’s why we need to find other valuable means to increase Bali’s relevance,” Koster said, as quoted by Kumparan. “Bali’s culture must be developed earnestly. Because we here in Bali don’t have other resources. Other regions have mines, oil, gas, coal, gold. We don’t have that in Bali, what we have is culture.”

Bali’s unique culture, alongside the island’s extensive natural beauty, has arguably been one of the island’s assets in attracting travelers from across the globe. While that’s not exactly a secret, Koster seems determined to further develop Balinese culture in a way that will also contribute handsomely to the province’s economy.

For now, the plan includes standardizing art studios and groups on the island by way of accreditation, which would give them a chance to also go on cultural diplomacy tours abroad in the future, Koster said. Furthermore, his administration is currently preparing the concept for a World Cultural Festival here in Bali, which would be an international-scale event involving participants from other countries promoting their  respective cultures.

I Wayan “Kun” Adnyana, who heads the Cultural Agency in Bali, said the festival aims to serve as a new platform for the Island of the Gods to be known as a world cultural hub. (coconuts.com 8/1/20)

Heavy rain and high tides expected to hit Bali today and tomorrow

Heavy rain is expected across Bali this week, along with high tides of up to 2 meters on the island shores, according to an early warning issued by the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG). “Heavy rain with lightning or thunder and heavy wind is to be expected in western and northern Bali,” BMKG said in a statement.

The agency added high tides, predicted to reach as high as 2 meters on shores around the island, are also expected. Meanwhile, the Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) in Bali said a total of 66 personnel are on standby across the island, should any situation requiring emergency response arise during this rainy season. In addition, Basarnas Bali have prepared rescue equipment such as rubber boats and life jackets. “Our readiness determines our responses whenever we receive a report, every day there’s a team on standby for 24 hours and seven days, and a team is dedicated to a special SAR response team,” Hari Adi Purnomo, who heads Basarnas Bali, said in a statement.

The preparedness of relevant official agencies in Bali, while should be expected, offers an ease of mind, especially after heavy rain-triggered floods and landslides killed at least 53 people in the capital of Jakarta and its surrounding areas and forcing nearly 400 thousand to flee their homes.  (coconuts.com 6/1/20)

Colombian national found dead after going missing in Kuta Beach

A Colombian national who went missing after going swimming in Kuta Beach was found dead, the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) in Bali said in a statement.

“A joint search and rescue team began searching since  early this morning and the victim was finally located  and immediately evacuated to Sanglah General Hospital,” Hari Adi Purnomo, chief of Basarnas Bali, was quoted as saying. The tourist, identified as 36-year-old Lucas Barrales, reportedly went missing at about 10.45am on the beach in front of Anantara Hotel in the Seminyak-Kuta area. Basarnas said they received the missing report around 1pm Sunday, 05  Jan 2020 and immediately launched a search of the area, including a search by air closer to the afternoon, and continued their operation this morning.

On Facebook and Instagram, a number of users called for the public to help locate Barrales, who was reportedly on holiday on the island with his wife and child. According to the agency, Barrales was found dead and washed up on the shore about one kilometer away from his last known  location. (coconuts.com 7/1/20)

Australian found dead in Kuta hotel room

Police are investigating the death of an Australian man identified as Ross Patrick McGuinness, who was found dead in his hotel room in Kuta on Wednesday.

The 60-year-old retiree was found lying on the floor of his room at Si Doi hotel on Jl.  Benesari, Kuta, Badung. Kuta Police investigator First Insp. Putu Ika Prabawa said the body was discovered by hotel staff. The cleaning staff had knocked on McGuinness’ door for about 15 minutes but no response.  “Since there was no answer from inside the room, the staff opened the door, which was not locked,” Ika said. A doctor from the nearby Bali Medika Clinic was immediately called. “The doctor declared the victim dead and estimated that McGuinness had died 12 hours before he was found,” Ika said.

Ika said police did not see any signs of violence in the hotel room or on the victim’s body. The Australian’s belongings were still in the room, including Rp 2 million (US$143) and AUD 1,400, as well as a cell phone.  “Based on our preliminary investigation, there were no signs of violence,” Ika said. Police have requested an autopsy to determine the cause of death. (TheJakartaPost.com 6/1/20)