The island of Bali is just one of the thousands of islands in the Indonesian Archipelago. Yet, unlike these other islands, Bali has captured hearts, minds and fantasies for many years. Bali's allure is clear and immediate: the island is physically beautiful and the people are incredibly welcoming.
To the Balinese, their island is their entire world. Other worlds may exist outside, but theirs is complete and whole in itself, a total provider bountiful with all the physical and spiritual attributes important to existence. In fact the Balinese cosmos is so rich that the unseen world constantly spills over into the mundane. Daily life is a constant, vibrant expression of the need to honour, praise and propitiate the gods, spirits and demons. Hardly a day goes by without a procession or temple festival. To an outsider, Balinese life seems to be a continuous celebration with brief intervals for rest.
Bali, according to its most striking qualities as seen by outsiders has been known as 'The Island of Demons', 'The Island of a Thousand Gods', 'The Last Paradise' and 'The Island of a Thousand Dancers'. Some see the island as perhaps the last frontier, waiting to be discovered for its beauty, culture and ritualistic way of life. Bali has often been called 'The Land of the Many Temples'. Temples – from small shrines in the rice fields to magnificent complexes belonging to large towns – are certainly the single most important institutions on the island, and can be seen everywhere. By the sea, on desolate promontories, in caves, on the highest mountain, even entangled in the roots of Banyan trees, large and small temples appear as a natural complement to the island's geography.