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Best Culture and Travel Posts of 2016 Posted by on Dec 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

2016 was a big year here, as we had tons of great posts about Indonesia and its language and culture. We’ve already put together a list of the best language posts from this year, so go back and check that out to build your vocabulary and learn lots of useful grammar. This blog is also about the culture of Indonesia and exploring this amazing country, so let’s check out some of our best posts related to culture and travel:

Culture

Galungan and Kuningan

Tirta Empul Temple

Temples will be covered in canang sari offerings at this time.

Galungan is a 10-day holiday in Bali that culminates with Kuningan. This celebrates the victory of dharma (good) over adharma (evil), and it is one of the most important holidays on the island. Learn all about it in this post, including some background, common activities, and details about important ceremonies.

Nyepi

Sanur ogoh-ogoh

Some of the many ogoh-ogoh.

Nyepi is the Balinese New Year and most important holiday. It’s known as the “Day of Silence,” as the airport is closed, no cars are allowed on the road, and everyone is supposed to stay at home. Read about what it’s like experiencing Nyepi in Bali, from the Melasti ceremony to the creepy ogoh-ogoh monsters. Check out a video from the ogoh-ogoh competition in Sanur while you’re at it:

Ramadan

Photo by Lauren Irons from flickr.com.

Bulan Puasa (Ramadan) is obviously an important time in the biggest majority Muslim country in the world. Learn about Ramadan in Indonesia and the concept of Ngabuburit in this insightful post. Eid al-Fitr (“festival of breaking the fast”) marks the end of the holy month, during which people fast from sun up to sun down. In Indonesia, it’s known as Hari Raya Idul Fitri, or more commonly Lebaran. Get the scoop on all of the customs associated with this holiday in Indonesia in this post. You can also read about kolak pisang, a favorite dish to break the fast.

Colors in Indonesian Culture

What do the colors on the Indonesian flag mean? What are the significance of different colors to the many ethnic groups across Indonesia? Get the answers to those questions and more in this post about colors in Indonesian culture.

Bali Spirit Festival

Yoga, dance, music and more!

It may not be traditional Balinese culture, but the Spirit Festival is definitely a prime example of the modern culture of the island and its visitors. Thousands of people flock to Ubud every year to take part in a week of yoga, dance, and music. Read all about it and check out some photos in this post.

Makepung Races

It can get a little rough out there.

One unique cultural event that goes on in Bali is the makepung races. Huge crowds turn up at the track every two weeks in the dry season to watch these intense water buffalo races. Learn about them and check out tons of photos in this post.

Balinese Cremation Ceremony

Preparing for the cremation.

One of the most important rituals in Balinese culture is without a doubt the cremation ceremony, known as Ngaben. I learned a lot about this important ritual and even got to experience it firsthand in my teacher’s village. Learn all about it in this post and accompanying video:

Travel

Climbing Volcanoes

A stunning sunrise.

Thanks to its location in the “Ring of Fire,” there are plenty of volcanoes scattered across Indonesia. Adventurous travelers can sign up for sunrise hikes at places like Mt. Batur in Bali and Mt. Kelimutu in Flores, or they can embark on multi-day camping trips at Mt. Rinjani in Lombok.

Uluwatu Temple and Kecak Dance

Uluwatu and Kecak = a great evening.

A highlight of a trip to Bali is visiting the cliffside Uluwatu Temple at the southern end of the Bukit peninsula. Here you can also catch a sunset performance of a kecak dance. It’s quite touristy, but it’s pretty awesome. See for yourself:

Gili Islands

Gili Meno sunset

Sunsets are pretty good here.

Known as the “Honeymoon Island,” Gili Meno is the smallest and the most quiet of the three Gili Islands. Then there’s Gili Trawangan, which some may call the “Party Island.” In between is Gili Air, which has both a quiet and wild side depending on when you visit. Whichever one you pick, you’re sure to have a great, tropical island getaway. Take a tour of all three in this short video:

Traveling Across Flores

Just a sampling of what you can do in Flores.

For me, 2016 started out with an amazing 2-week adventure across the stunning island of Flores. Snorkeling, exploring villages, soaking in hot springs, and chasing Komodo dragons were just a few of the highlights.

 

Thanks to everyone in Indonesia who made 2016 a pretty awesome year for me. I’ll never forget all of the incredible experiences I had, and I hope you get the chance to explore this amazing country and its fascinating culture. To all of our readers, I’d just like to say…

Selamat Tahun Baru!
Happy New Year!

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.