Deeply Cultural Travel to Bali
There's a mystique about Bali that has led countless people, over the ages, to visit (and many, to stay). What is it about Bali that so captures our imagination and hearts? If you're interested in your own life-changing trip to Bali, we've got an extraordinary resource for you. Run by a professor and two Balinese, Balifornian Tours is a unique way to capture the essence of Bali - from an insider's perspective.
We caught up with Professor Michael Doliveck to get the inside scoop on Balifornian Tours - here's what he had to say...
WE: Please tell us about Balifornian tours...
MD: Balifornian Tours specializes in small group custom tours to Indonesia. We offer wellness retreats, cultural tours, photography tours and more. We work directly with each participant to customize their tour to meet their desires and passions. We are the antithesis of the generic bus tour. Some popular activities include cooking classes, working with master wood carvers or painters, shopping trips, attending temple celebrations and ceremonies, Balinese spa treatments and massages, surfing and much more.
Balifornian’s commitment to sustainable travel includes supporting local economies and to help protect the sites we visit.
Here is a bit of information about us:
Michael Doliveck is an art and photography professor for over 17 years and has been coming to Bali for over two decades. He is an award-winning photographer and educator and loves to share his passion for Indonesia and it’s many hidden wonders. He has written numerous articles on Bali’s culture, art, mysticism, healing and more.
Maryam Putu Doliveck is from The Balinese Royal Family of Karangasm and was raised learning the traditional dances, arts and the culture of Bali. Her deep connection to the island and its people will enrich your experience on the island and provide meaningful touchstones into the culture and locations. Putu’s relations help ensure that each tour takes advantage of religious and cultural current events such as ceremonies, palace visits, and other little known experiences not available on other tours.
Kadek Darsana was raised to be the spiritual leader of his village and has an unparalleled connection to the island in ways that continually amaze us. He serves many roles from local liaison, driver, and spiritual specialist. His knowledge of Sekala (what you see on the island such as colorful ceremonies, rituals, traditional dances) and Niskala (the unseen, the occult and magic that underscores Balinese daily life) will add exponentially to your experience. Also, he knows all the tricks and short cuts on the island to make the most of your valuable time and make your trip as hassle free as possible.
We also work with traditional healers, local artists, museums and specialists of many kinds.
WE: What was the genesis of your tour business?
MD: My wife Putu and I share a deep love for the people and culture of Indonesia. We want to help preserve the culture as we share its' profound beauty, graceful people and mysterious rituals with our guests.
WE: What would people be most surprised to learn about Bali?
MD: I would say the deep spirituality they will witness in Bali. Spiritual practice is intertwined with all aspects of daily life. In the West we tend to separate the two. A traveler to Bali will witness the making and giving of offerings that are left on pathways, streets, rivers, beaches, shops and just about anywhere else. They will see elegant ceremonies, processions with women carrying elaborate towers of fruits balanced on their heads, hear the syncopated and entrancing rhythms of the gamelan, observe graceful traditional dance and enjoy the mouthwatering tastes of the islands delicacies.
Also when people think of Bali, images of pristine tropical beaches and surfing come to mind. While Bali does indeed have gorgeous beaches and some of the best surf in the world, the culture and religion is centered around the mountains and volcanos. The interior areas of the island have so much to offer and many people don't think about a tropical paradise in that way.
WE: How can travelers best prepare for a journey to Bali?
MD: We offer copious notes, tips, checklists, book suggestions, and more for all of our guests. Our blog is filled with popular posts listing what to bring, what to leave at home, what to buy there, along with loads of tips from getting through customs expeditiously to using common household items for handy and effective travel tools. This post is a good example - balifornian.com/ultimate-packing-list/
Our participants receive access to special travel tips, materials specific to Indonesia and their specific destination, detailed maps, and other information that is not available on our blog.
WE: What can travelers on your small group tours expect?
MD: We pride ourselves on our service and attention to detail. When you travel with us you are like family. We handle everything so all you need to do is relax and immerse yourself in the wonder and beauty of the destinations you are exploring.
WE: How can travelers give back in Bali, during their journeys?
MD: All of our tours incorporate a charitable component and it proves to be one of the most meaningful and memorable parts of their trip. Providing our guests with unique opportunities to learn about the native communities they visit as they contribute to their success is a key component to our tours. We ask participants to bring along used clothing, toys, baby goods, etc. We visit underprivileged villages to meet and spend time with the families. People from different cultures come together, learn about one another, and our participants see directly how their gifts will be used and by whom. Some tour participants choose to go further and help to provide clean water systems, eco-friendly waste disposal systems and fulfill other needs by donating time, money or whatever they can.
We feel true ecotourism must both support and protect indigenous cultures while empowering native people.
WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
MD: We are currently building a wellness retreat center in Ketewel, Bali complete with sustainable villas built with recycled and eco-friendly materials. The center will include a spa and yoga center and its just minutes away from one of the best surf breaks in Bali, Keramas Beach. Our guests will enjoy locally grown organic healthy food. We subsidize local farmers to grow nutrient rich and pesticide free food. Balinese are welcome to free yoga classes and we are working closely with the banjar (the local community) give back to the warm people of Keramas.
For much more information please see our website http://www.balifornian.com and contact us with any questions you might have.
All photos courtesy and copyright Balifornian Tours