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9 Day – 8 Night In-depth Discovery of Balinese Culture

( Day - 8 Night In-Depth Discovery of Balinese Culture

Bali’s very name beckons visitors as it conjures visions of its lively arts of dance, sculpture, painting, theater, leatherwork, metalworking and music.  Eight regencies and the capital municipality reflect the island’s nine traditional royal Balinese households that once ruled the Island. Breathtakingly beautiful terraced rice fields; intricate offerings lovingly fashioned and abandoned on a daily basis to the gods; and ubiquitous ceremonies marking the passages of life - Bali is all this and more.

Home to the last outpost of an ancient Hindu Majapahit Empire that stretched across most of Southeast Asia, Bali’s daily life on the Island is dominated by Bali’s unique religion – Agama Hindu Dharma. Every Balinese village has at least three major temples that undergo a yearly anniversary requiring the participation and devotion of every member of the community. The tenets of Bali’s core philosophy of Tri Hita Karana dictates that in all aspects of life a careful balance be maintained within the human community, the community's relationships with the gods, and with the natural environment.

This one-of-a-kind in-depth tour has been inspired and created to support BASAbali – an organization representing a collaboration of scholars, artists, linguists and community members from within and outside Bali dedicated to safeguarding Balinese language and culture. The result is a truly unique 9 days – 8 night tour of Bali operating from November 24th – December 2, 2018, providing privileged access to some of the Island’s most sacred sites, leading artists and artisans, language experts, community leaders, and cultural experts.

Desa Visesa Ubud

Serving as the base for this one-of-a-kind exploration of Bali is the equally unique Desa Visesa Ubud – an exquisite collection of 66 villas and 40 suites spread across a generous 6.5-hectare site. Owned and operated by Balinese, this culturally inspired Resort captures the essence of a Balinese village on every level of the guest experience. Traditional Balinese architecture and a permaculture fields that include a working rice padi at the very center of the property complement outstanding dining venues, a traditional healing spa, outdoor gymnasium, and local cultural performances. Where else but at the Desa Visesa Ubud does the guest experience include watching farmers lead herds of docile Balinese cows and ducks marching in single file on the pathways of a 5-star resort?


Members of our small group of Bali enthusiasts will be accommodated in spacious 124-square meter one-bedroom private pool villas that boast 24-hour butler room service, a private dip pool, canopy king-sized beds, 40-inch LED Smart TV, in-room safes, Wi-Fi connectivity, bathtub and tropical garden shower facilities, and a mini-bar / coffee-tea making center.


Bali – Seen Through the Eyes of Experts

A senior licensed guide accompanied by local cultural experts will be on hand during all program of tours and visits included in this program. Informative lectures by local luminaries will provide otherwise unattainable insights into Balinese history, culture and language - including “hands-on” participative encounters with the Island’s dance, art and music.


Be a Part of the Evolution of the Balinese Language

A portion of the cost of each tour will be donated to BASAbali’s ongoing programs to engage the local and international communities in working together to develop a free, online Balinese-English-Indonesian Wiki Dictionary and Cultural Encyclopedia. The organization was just recognized internationally by being awarded the coveted Linguapax Award 2018 for its innovative language revitalization initiatives. This tour will end with the presentation of the Linguapax Award.

Limited Space

In keeping with a commitment to “experience the many attractions of Bali without becoming an attraction” this tour program will be strictly limited to a maximum of 20 participants with space allocated on a first-come-first- served basis.

The Itinerary

Day One – Saturday, November 24

  • Program commences with check in at the Desa Visesa Ubud. Transportation from the airport or another hotel in Bali is included in the program offering at no additional charge.
  • A welcoming dinner and group briefing concludes with participants being adorned in traditional Balinese dress and transported to a colorful “odolan” ceremony celebrating the anniversary of a nearby temple. (Dinner)

Day Two – Sunday, November 25

  • The day starts with a hearty welcoming breakfast served on the edge of the Resort’s working rice field.
  • In keeping with the Balinese custom of seeking the Almighty’s blessing on every enterprise, a visit will be paid to Tirta Empul Temple (962 AD) to bathe in its sacred waters and be blessed by a priest.
  • Visit to Gunung Kawi 10th century subak (rice irrigation organization) garden temple in Sebatu.
  • Lunch at a local panoramic restaurant
  • An easy, nature walk on a largely level patch led by a Balinese herbalist and healer who will explain the medicinal role of local plants, followed by a brief reflexology session provided by expert therapists.
  • Evening lecture by acclaimed photographer Rio Helmi on 40 years of photographs taken in Bali.
  • Dinner at Resort or nearby restaurant. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day Three – Monday, November 26

  • Breakfast at the Resort.
  • Guided tour of the busy local market in Ubud.
  • Stop at Kerta Gosa –  the Hall of Justice built in late 17th century showing the just deserts (Karma Pala) awaiting criminals and wrongdoers.
  • Brief stop at the textile market in Semarpura.
  • After a short road trip, a welcomed by a village elder of Tenganan Pegringsingan – a walled community home to a Bali Aga (aboriginal) society considered by anthropologists to date back to the 10th century. Distinctively different in its customs, traditions and construction - Tenganan is also where the much prized “double ikat gringsing" and "selonding gamelan" musical forms can be found. Villagers will host participants to a delicious lunch.
  • Dinner in Ubud at Locavare - a restaurant ranked among Asia’s “Top 50”.  (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)


Day Four – Tuesday, November 27

  • Breakfast at the Resort
  • A day of cultural immersion operated from our Ubud baseLontar leaf manuscripts in Bali have served as the way of recording history, literature, and folklore for more than a millennium.  Vice Dean of the Faculty of Letters and Culture at Udayana University, Chair of Udayana's Lontar Library, and head of BASAbali's expert linguist team, I Gde Nala Antara, along with his protégé and head of BASAbali's graduate students' linguist team, Putu Eka Guna Yasa, will spend the morning explaining the history of lontar leaf writing in Bali and lead participants in creating manuscripts in traditional Balinese script. Participants will take home their own lontar inscribed with their names Balinese script.
  • A separate entertaining lecture on speaking Balinese by Rucina Ballinger - an American woman who leads a musical-comedy troupe that performs solely in Basa Bali.
  • A simple Nasi Campur lunch at a popular Ubud eatery.
  • Afternoon free.
  • Evening dinner lecture by highly regarded author, journalist and essayist I Wayan Juniartha speaking on Bali in the Age of Globalization. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)


Day Five – Wednesday, November 28

  • Breakfast at the Resort
  • A day dedicated to the exploration of Balinese Arts and crafts.
  • Visit to the workshop and gallery of renowned mask maker Ida Bagus Alit.
  • Tour of Nyana Tilem Wood Carving Gallery and Museum.
  • Traditional Balinese Duck lunch at Tepi Sawah Restaurant.
  • Tour of ARMA Museum.
  • Evening lecture on Women in Modern Bali by Kadek Sonia Piccayanti, lecturer at Ganesha University
  • Dinner at Nusantara Restaurant where classic Indonesian dishes from all over the archipelago are celebrated by chefs who combine the freshest of local seasonal components and ethical meats in nuanced artisinal recipes. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)



Day Six – Thursday, November 29

  • Breakfast at the Resort.
  • A day dedicated to Balinese wayang shadow puppetry, dance, and musical theater. The day starts with a visit to Sanggar Paripurna – an arts community in Bali led by internationally acclaimed artist Made Sidia and lunch with a group of young performance artists.
  • Backstage tour of the Bali Agung Performance led by the show’s producer Made Sidia, followed by VIP seating at the show.
  • Dinner at the private residence of Anak Agung Gede Rai, including a private tour of the compound explaining the “Kosala Kosali” - the spatial rules governing the creation of Balinese living space.
  • Special performance of Kobagi (Community of Crazy Bodies) - a dance group uniquely presenting “genjak” and “kecak” performances using diverse parts of the body and bamboo as musical instruments. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)


Day Seven – Friday, November 30

  • Breakfast at the Resort.
  • Lecture by Wiwik Dharmiasih on Bali’s ancient “subak” water management system.
  • Trip to UNESCO World Heritage Site of Jatiluwih Rice Terraces and Batukaru Temple.
  • Panoramic lunch.
  • Dinner and Balinese Dance Performance at the Peliatan Palace near Ubud. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)


Day Eight – Saturday, December 01

  • Breakfast at the Resort.
  • Included spa treatment at Desa Visesa Ubud.
  • Afternoon and lunch at participant’s discretion.
  • Kecak Workshop led by Professor I Wayan Dibia from the the Bali Arts Institute.
  • Closing Dinner at ARMA Museum including Linguapax Award presentation for 2018 to BASAbali.
  • Gala farewell performance of Wayang Listrik  by Sanggar Paripurna under the direction of Maestro Made Sidia. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)


Day Nine – Sunday, December 02

  • Breakfast at the Resort.
  • Program concludes with 12 noon check out from hotel.
  • Transfer to Airport or a new hotel provided as part of the tour program.


Lecturers, Highlights and Tour Assistants

-Rucina Ballinger: Long term resident of Bali, Rucina was the director of World Learning's Academic Semester Abroad, Elderhostel's cultural program and currently is working in the non profit sector. Founder of the comedy group, Gedebong Goyang, she lives by the adage "laugh at least once a day". Mother of two grown bicultural, trilingual men and grandmother of two, former banjar head she accompanied President Obama and his family during their visit to Bali in June 2017.

- Rio Helmi: Born to an Indonesian diplomat father and Turkish mother, Rio Helmi is an Indonesian photographer and writer whose work fills more than 20 large format photographic books. His photography has been exhibited in Bali, Jakarta, Madrid, Miyazaki, Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Sydney. His photography also forms part of private collections in London, Rome, Boston, Washington, and Tokyo.

A resident of Bali since 1970s, Rio is fluent in five languages. His professional work focusses on the interactions between indigenous peoples and their environment. As a result, he has traveled extensively across the Indonesian archipelago and across Asia to Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, Ladakh and Mongolia photographing both remote tribal people and urban life.

Made Westi: A descendent from a family of Balinese healers, Made Westi, together with his wife Ni Wayan Lilir, gather traditional Balinese herbal medicines from the rural areas and jungles of the Island that they share with the larger community based on the ancient Balinese book of healing – Usada Bali. Made will share his wide botanical and natural healing knowledge via a botanical walk.

- I Wayan Juniartha: A journalist and social commentator who finds Bali and its many contradictions a constant source of bemusement. He finds solace in crafting essays following his tragically failed attempt at writing poetry. His first and probably last book, Bungklang-Bungkling, records the hilarity and ludicrousness of Balinese men. When he is not writing essays, Jun can be found pedaling his bicycle towards the island's most serene spots while composing bite-size poems, which you can seek with the hashtag #cyclingwithbuddha. He is one of the editors of the English newspaper Jakarta Post and is the Indonesian Program Manager for the annual Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

- Ida Bagus Alit, Mask Maker: Alit, aged 64, has been carving wood and masks since he was a school boy, studying the craft with his grandfather. He makes masks and god images for Balinese temples, masks for dancers, and performs the Topeng Sidhakarta mask dance at rituals. He is in high demand by many of Bali's top performers to create both traditional and new masks.

- Anak Agung Gede Rai: An art collector and promoter extraordinaire of Balinese culture, Anak Agung Gede Rai was born into poverty. In his youth, he used to take rolled up paintings down to sell in Kuta.  He now owns the ARMA Museum and ARMA Resort, providing free classes in traditional dance, music, and painting to the children in surrounding areas and producing numerous events every year for the local and international community.

- I Gde Nala Antara: The Vice-Dean of the Faculty of letters and Culture at Udayana University, the head of the Balinese Governor's Language Board (Badan Pembina Bahasa Aksara dan Sastra Bali Provinsi Bali) and serves as the consulting expert for the online Balinese-Indonesian-English Wiki Dictionary created by BASAbali. Antara will head of the new local foundation BASAbali Wiki.

Kobagi (Community of Crazy Bodies): Kobagi was founded in 2008 by a group of 15 performers, including the late Greg Gensse. Their performances are a blend of genjek (a form of song and movement), kecak (interlocking vocalities), and body music. There is nothing else like it on the Island. Their infectious energy and joy will have you stomping in your seats at our specially commissioned performance.

- Made Sidia and Sanggar Paripurna: One of Bali’s most acclaimed wayang puppeteers and directors of gala cultural-theatrical shows. Made Sidia is a faculty member of the Indonesian Art Institute and director-founder of the Sanggar Paripurna – a private campus dedicated to fostering Balinese dance, theater, and music. Togther with Australian Peter Wilson, he created Bali’s longest running daily stage show at the Bali Agung Theatre featuring more than 200 performers.

- Wiwik Dharmiasih: A lecturer at the Department of International Relations, Udayana University,  Wiwik was instrumental in helping to establish Jatiluwih Subak as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

- Professor I Wayan Dibia: A professor of theater at ISI - the Indonesian Arts Institute in Denpasar, Wayan Dibia was born into a family of dancers and musicians.  He has carried on the family tradition both in performance and as a  field of academic study. He has written numerous books on the arts in Bali, including "Balinese, Dance, Drama and Music" (co-authored with Rucina Ballinger), he also lectures and performs around the world, and is renowned as the foremost expert of kecak.

- Wayan Listrik: Is a form of shadow puppet originally created by Larry Reed of San Francisco. Replacing traditional oil lamps with electric lamps to project shadow images. Wayan Listrik has made it possible to create different sized images projected on an over-sized screen. In 2002, Wayan Sidia developed a theatre form called Wayang Skateboard that uses a large screen to accommodate the shadows of six puppetters moving on skateboards. The music that accompanies this form of Wayang Listrik utilizes traditional Balinese gamelan instruments, percussion instruments from Africa, and a keyboard and bass guitar. This stupendous show will be especially staged for our visitors and will be presented in both English and Balinese.



Prices and Conditions

  • The tour price of US$ 3,400 per person is based on twin-sharing accommodation. For those traveling alone a single supplement of US$ 750.
  • Pricing include the programs elements listed in the tour description. Not included is any international air transportation to and from Bali; purchases of a personal nature including laundry, alcoholic beverages at meals; mini-bar at hotel; meals not listed in the program; and tipping.
  • The tour program is operated by Bali Discovery Tours who reserve the right to make alterations to the published program in the event of unanticipated changes in conditions or circumstances. Should changes occur, every effort will be made to substitute tour elements of equal or higher quality.
  • For more information and bookings Email