5 Ways to Experience the Culture of Bali

Last year Bali was voted the best destination in the world, and for good reason. It has all the culture, history, and beaches you could possibly want, not to mention the friendly people and the sunny weather. Countless tourists flock to this beautiful island every year, but if you want an authentic experience of Bali’s culture that doesn’t always stick to tried-and-tested tourist spots, here are five things you can do.

1. Attend a cultural evening

The perfect introduction to Balinese culture, this event is ideal for any newcomers to the island. Live performances and a delicious dinner will give you the chance to get a taste of the dance, music, art and food Bali has to offer.

Some of these performances will tell traditional stories, accompanied by a gamelan (a Balinese orchestra mostly featuring percussion instruments). For example, Barong dance depicts a fight between good and evil. Other types of dance, such as Kecak, which is performed by chanting male dancers and often accompanied by flames, are solely about the movement.

Want to know more? UNESCO have a useful guide to dance in Bali.

(Photo by Pahala Basuki on Unsplash)

2. Explore Ubud

Start your day by hiking along the Campuhan ridge. The route overlooks the rice fields and is particularly beautiful in the early morning light (plus it gets too hot at lunchtime to really enjoy it properly). You can even hire a motorbike or go on a bike tour to explore the countryside, although make sure anything active is covered on your travel insurance policy — 1Cover have a guide to adventure activities if you need help.

If you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, stroll through the rice fields or the central market on Jalan Raya, where you can bag yourself a bargain — but only if you haggle.

3. Pay your respects at the Pura Luhur Uluwatu

This clifftop temple overlooks the beach and often hosts dance performances at sunset. It’s worth the trip to see the Balinese architecture, intricate statues and carvings, and to learn about the temple’s history, but the real attraction is the beautiful view.

Remember: You need to be wearing a sarong and sash before you enter a Balinese temple.

Bali 2

(Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash)

4. Take a safari trip

Whether you want to see mountains, lakes, waterfalls, jungles, or a bit of everything, a safari trip will fit the bill. The itinerary can be personalised to take your interests into account and English-speaking guides will share their local knowledge and history as you make your way across the island.

5. Learn how to cook Balinese food

There’s no better way to learn about Balinese food than in the kitchen of a local, where you can get a taste of proper home-cooked food. Bali’s most famous dish is juicy roasted pork called babi guling and they often use a spice blend called basa gede, which is made of garlic, red chilli peppers, shallots, nutmeg, ginger, tumeric, palm sugar, cumin, shrimp paste, and Indonesian bay leaves, which are known as salam leaves. (Check out Culture Trip’s list of Balinese dishes you need to try for more.)

Your guide will help you pick up your ingredients (and practise your language skills) at the nearby market, then teach you how to prepare some signature dishes. You’ll learn about how food plays a part in local life and — of course — you get to enjoy eating your creations at the end.

Written by: Maggie Smithson

20 Things to do in Cologne, Germany; Hannah Lukaszewich; Getting Stamped

Germany – Cologne Cathedral

With so many things to see and do, Cologne is a great option for travelers looking to avoid the crowds of tourists that throng the streets of more popular destinations such as Prague, Florence, and Venice. While there are a plethora of attractions that will entice visitors throughout the year, the two most popular times to visit are during Oktoberfest and around Christmas, when twinkling traditional markets fill the squares with their delightful wares. The fourth largest city in the whole of Germany is a relatively undiscovered gem in comparison with other destinations. To help you out, here are some of our favorite things to do in Cologne.


This huge cathedral is remarkably the most visited landmark in the country. Its twin spires dominate the Cologne skyline and you´re going to want to take a trip to the top for the breathtaking panoramic views of the city below. While the 509 steps do make it quite hard work, you’ll definitely be glad that you made the effort once you’re up there.

Read more from source: 20 Things to do in Cologne, Germany | Getting Stamped


5 Amazing Places You Just CAN’T Visit; Viral Planet

Iceland – Surtsey

From the famous Room 39 in North Korea to the Area 51 in the United States, there are plenty of places on earth with high protection and limited access. Many of these spots are usually linked with military services and political circumstances. Namely, you actually don’t want to be there. Yet, here is a list of places on earth you wish you could visit but can’t.

1. Vatican Secret Archives, Italy

Hidden behind the walls of Vatican City, there exists an immense collection of history. The Secret Archives of Vatican is home to an abundant number of historical documents and correspondences. With letters written by Michelangelo, King Henry VIII’s marriage annulment request and many more, the archives contain about 35,000 items.

Apart from the Pope and a small group of staff who work there, access to the archives is strictly limited. Although any document from the archives can be requested, personally entering into the archives is definitely forbidden.

2. Surtsey, Iceland

Surtsey, located in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago in the south of Iceland, is one of the newest islands in the world.

Read more from source: 5 Amazing Places You Just CAN’T Visit – Viral Planet

7 Reasons to Visit Tuscany Right Now; Kate Storm; The Planet D

Italy – Historic Centre of Florence

Guest writer Kate Storm shares her best reasons everyone should visit Tuscany. We add some of our favourite tips as well! 

There’s a reason that Tuscany tops bucket lists all over the globe (and it’s not just the legendary wine): Tuscany is a region like nowhere else in the world.

Its rolling landscapes, charming hilltop towns, and the gorgeous capital city of Florence are bound to charm just about anyone: this is why you need to visit Tuscany.

#1 Florence

Florence is one of the world’s most treasured cities for art.

Michelangelo, Botticelli, Da Vinci–these names are not only synonymous with Renaissance art, they’re synonymous with Florence itself. Along with dozens of their contemporaries, these incredible artists helped give Florence its nickname as the Cradle of the Renaissance.

They may be long gone, but you don’t have to travel further than Florence to see their work: Michelangelo’s David is housed the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence (which mostly exists just for this piece!), and many of the works of Botticelli and Da Vinci can be admired in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery.

#2 The Food

Tuscan food is unforgettable.

Read more from source: 7 Reasons to Visit Tuscany Right Now

Preserving the Taj Mahal: A Herculean Task!; Darryl D’Monte; India Legal

India – Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal needs experts from different fields to restore it to its pristine beauty rather than a bureaucrat-ridden and ignorant ASI, which was pulled up by the Supreme Court recently

This month, the Supreme Court pulled up the 157-year-old Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for not doing enough to protect the Taj Mahal, saying it “will have to be thrown out of the picture” if it can’t do what is required.

Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, who have been hearing a case related to the protection of the Taj filed by the intrepid environmental lawyer, MC Mehta, in 1984, added: “This situation would not have arisen if the ASI would have done its job. We are surprised with the way the ASI is defending itself. You [Centre] please consider if the ASI is needed there or not. You all appear to be helpless. Money should not be the consideration. We might order you to hire experts from within India or abroad. We need to save it.”

Read more from source: Preserving the Taj Mahal: A Herculean Task! – India Legal

Alluring history and legacy of artifacts of Tamil Nadu; Mallika Iyer; Free Press Journal

India – Great Living Chola Temples

Three of the four UNESCO World Heritage sites in Tamil Nadu, are located in the central heart of the state – all three, a lasting legacy of the Cholas. Renowned for their stone architecture and metal sculpture work, the unique art of the Cholas beckons travellers, centuries after they were first created. Making either Trichy, Kumbakonam or Thanjavur the base, it is possible to catch a glimpse of both these enduring legacies of the Cholas in a day, And save time for more!, writes  MALLIKA IYER

Central Tamil Nadu was at one time, the heartland of the Cholas. This is where the river Kaveri, (also known as Ponni in Tamil), is worshipped as the Mother Goddess for feeding the land and people with her abundance. Of the four UNESCO World Heritage sites in Tamil Nadu, three are located in this region – all a legacy of the Cholas that ruled the area from the 9th to 13th century CE.

The Cholas were famous for their stone architecture as also their exquisite metal sculpture-work.

Read more from source: Alluring history and legacy of artifacts of Tamil Nadu | Free Press Journal

Alluring history and legacy of artifacts of Tamil Nadu; Mallika Iyer; Free Press Journal

India – Great Living Chola Temples

Three of the four UNESCO World Heritage sites in Tamil Nadu, are located in the central heart of the state – all three, a lasting legacy of the Cholas. Renowned for their stone architecture and metal sculpture work, the unique art of the Cholas beckons travellers, centuries after they were first created.

Read more from source: Alluring history and legacy of artifacts of Tamil Nadu | Free Press Journal

Lots of Temples and a Music Festival; Dave & Issy Sheehan; Travel Blog

Japan – Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)

We head off up the hill away from the city centre in search of temples. We don’t have to look too hard. Every second building here seems to be a spectacular temple. We walk up along Matsubara-dori street towards the Kiyomizu-dera temple. The street is wall to wall shops and is packed with tourists. We need breakfast, so we stop at a food stall. Issy says that other than sumo wrestlers there is no such thing as an overweight Japanese person, and therefore all Japanese food must be good for you. I wonder what sumo wrestlers eat. I try not to wonder about this too much, and instead try very hard to believe Issy’s line that all Japanese food is good for you as I munch on my breakfast of deep fried octopus cakes.

The Kiyomizu-dera Buddhist temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded in 778, and the present structure was built in 1633. It is massive, and is apparently notable for there not being a single nail in the entire structure.

Read more from source

Al-Ula Treasures: How the site of Mada’in Saleh paved the historic Incense Route; Mohamed Hadi Hannachi; Al Arabiya

Saudi Arabia – Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)

Mada’in Saleh, also called “Al-Hijr” or “Hegra”, was the first Saudi site listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its huge historical significance.

Mentioned in the Holy Quran, many religions and peoples coexisted in its land for peoples of civilizations throughout history.

The area of Mada’in Saleh stretches about sixty hectares, and what is known on the surface is only a fraction of the treasures buried under the land. These immortal features made by the former Nabataeans who settled around this region between the first century BC and the first after AD are only the highlights of the civilization who ruled the land at the time.

Tombs dug neatly in Mada’in Saleh still tell the tales of the fallen kings, dignitaries and merchants who for centuries were the rules of the region’s game of politics and trade of the Incense Route and the site served as a link between Asia, the south of the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant, as well as Pharaonic Egypt and the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean.

Read more from source: Al-Ula Treasures: How the site of Mada’in Saleh paved the historic Incense Route

Canada Protects 4 New Parks, Forest Now Twice the Size of Belgium; Nate Mitka; Gear Junkier

Canada – Wood Buffalo National Park

Canada is now home to the largest stretch of protected boreal forest in the world.

On May 15, the Nature Conservancy of Canada celebrated the creation of a 1,274 square-mile conserved forest in northeastern Alberta.

Through an Order in Council, the Government of Alberta created the Birch River Wildland Park. This park is near the recently created Richardson, Kazan, and Birch Mountain parks, thus creating the largest continuous boreal forest in the world.

And to the south, the parks link up with the already massive Wood Buffalo National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site home to the largest wild bison population in North America.

The announcement comes after the Tallcree Tribal Government relinquished its timber quota of $2.8 million. The NCC purchased the relinquishment, thus opening the door for the Government of Alberta to protect the land and create the parks.

Largest Boreal Forest: Birch River Wildland Park

Canada’s protected boreal forests now total 26,156 square miles – a conservation achievement the NCC says is of “global significance.”

Read more from source: Canada Protects 4 New Parks, Forest Now Twice the Size of Belgium

Tanzania opens bids linked to Selous park dam project; Apolinari Tairo; East African

Tanzania – Selous Game Reserve

Tanzania has opened bids by companies seeking contracts to clear forests within the Selous ecosystem, a world heritage site, in preparation for the construction of the Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric dam.

This signals another step in the implementation of the project that the government says will help solve the country’s power shortage.

The project, when completed, is expected to add 2,100MW to the national grid, bringing the total installed capacity to 3,651MW.

The Tanzania Forests Services (TFS) had invited bids for clearing 148,000 hectares of forestland.

The tender document seen by The EastAfrican shows that TFS is looking for eligible companies to buy trees with a total volume of about 3.5 million cubic metres in Rufiji district, distributed into six manageable blocks.

TFS chief executive, Prof Dos Santos Silayo, confirmed receiving the bids.

Energy Minister Medard Kalemani had said the $2 billion hydropower project, Tanzania’s biggest, will be implemented from July this year.

The government identified the project to be implemented alongside the $215 million Kidunda Dam within Selous ecosystem. The project will be implemented in three years.


Read more from source: Tanzania opens bids linked to Selous park dam project