Bali: It’s All in the Details


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Everyday life in Bali is dedicated to beauty, thankfulness, and loving attention to detail. Commonplace objects like a birdbath are transformed into works of art.

Simple offerings to the gods are crafted into masterpieces.


Decks become lovely pathways …

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… and steps entice you to enter.


No embellishment opportunity is missed. Walls, columns, doorways – even thatched rooftops! Just about any location is fair game.


The adornment can be simple and nothing more than a pleasant distraction,

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or it can be complex …


… and communicate a serious religious message.


Natural elements as simple as rounded stones …

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… become works of art, which can occur in unexpected places. Case in point, we took this picture standing in a public restroom doorway.

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Bali is a small island and its culture has taken centuries to develop. The people and artists who live here don’t need to be reminded that simple, common elements, when put together lovingly and with attention to detail, are beautiful. There is a lesson here for everyone.

On that note, we’re wrapping up our series on Bali. We hope you’ve enjoyed it.


We’ve discovered that so many of our blogging friends have written marvelous posts on Bali that we know you’ll love.

  • Martha at Therapeutic Misadventures introduces you to her Bali Man – a guy who will steal your heart.
  • Steve at Twenty First Century Nomad says that Bali “will always hold a special place in my heart, since it was the island where I first discovered a world outside of my hometown bubble.” He writes with passion about escaping to Seminyak.
  • Alison at Adventures in Wonderland will give you the lowdown on Statues, Monkeys, Markets, and the Sacred in Bali.
  • Amit at Healing Pilgrim, who lives in Bali, treats us to a glorious array of ssanggah penjor, little shrines that Balinese families erect and decorate for the bi-annual festival of Galungan.

Peaceful Trails,
Terri and James




We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

43 thoughts

    1. Aww Jennie, thanks! I love any comparison that includes ice cream. Bali is such a gorgeous place – it takes my breath away. I came home wanting to create little fish ponds everywhere, line the steps with flowers, and put out little votive offerings for the gods. 🙂 ~Terri

  1. Terri and James — love these photos! That is what I sooo like about Bali. All the flowers and offerings that are placed anywhere and sometimes in a random spot, creating a beautiful little haven. I love the flower lined staircases! Thanks for sharing these; I can almost hear the wind chimes and smell the incense! Cheers — Steph

    1. Thanks Steph! Bali is stunning, and the attention to detail just blows my mind. And every gesture, whether it’s the placement of flowers on a deck, or the sprinkling of water on the offerings, is mindful and filled with intention. Their actions are a wonderful reminder to me that these simple touches are magical. All the best, Terri

    1. That’s always the conundrum isn’t it Alison: to go back to a favorite place or to go exploring to find the next favorite place? But having said that, if we get anywhere close to Bali, we’ll definitely drop in. ~James

    1. Bali is one of those places where there are beautiful details in every direction. I know that some of this beauty is put on for the tourists, but much of it is just daily life in Bali. ~James

    1. Yvonne, if I were making the offerings, I would have to introduce the gods to peanut butter on those Ritz biscuits. If that isn’t food for the gods, nothing is. 🙂 ~James

  2. It’s great that despite the rather hectic over development of parts of Bali the culture of the community in their daily practice of rituals and reverence can still be seen everywhere.

    1. Chas, with places as nice as Bali, it’s impossible to keep tourists away. On their second visit, most people complain of more crowds, which is exactly what we found on our second trip. But as you say, this doesn’t seem to cause problems for the continuing practice of rituals and reverence, which is great news. ~James

      1. That’s lovely James – I first went there in 1973 as a little 10 year old. Can you imagine what a true paradise it was then? But going back now I have to forgive progress and focus on the Balinese who are as gracious and artistic as ever.

    1. Thanks Laura. You’ve been reading our blog long enough to know that we always try to see the positive side of a place. But in the case of Bali, it didn’t any great effort at all. Even with increasing numbers of tourists, it’s still a magical place, and hopefully, always will be. ~James

    1. That’s a perceptive statement Bea. Given the simplicity of life in Bali, some travelers might think that it isn’t a highly developed culture, but as you say, they would be wrong. ~James

  3. Thank you for the mention, Terri and James. Bali is indeed a magical place and your series was an excellent tribute. I agree with Laura, if the rest of the world could just absorb a little of the dedication to beauty and art, what a splendid place it would be!

    1. Martha, one of the surprising things about the dedication that the Balinese have to beauty around them is how effortless they seem to make it. And a good part of the charm and mystique of their rituals is the elegant and graceful way they go about them. Fascinating. ~James

    1. Four times to Bali is fabulous! It’s such a unique place that continues to fascinate me. Like you, I find Ubud a joy – the combination of tradition and culture just can’t be beat. Thanks so much for stopping by. All the best, Terri

      1. The first time we even got married there, we just ran off to Bali as we weren’t allowed to marry back home, and have been visiting Bali every significant anniversary.

    1. Susan, I love the simplicity and contrast of this photo. And no joke, I took the shot standing in the mens’ room door at the Monkey Forest Park. This sort of attention to detail is very Bali, and one of its many charms. ~James

  4. I did enjoy the series very much! It sounds as though I am copying your title but you really did make me aware of so many details to be found in Bali. I just loved the post on the babies and am still wondering who and how the flower mosaics are made. Perhaps it will be a future investigation. 🙂

    1. We’re glad that you enjoyed the Bali series Sue. I don’t know about you and Dave, but when we travel and blog while on the road, we’re always concerned that people will get tired of hearing about one place. So the result is that there’s always lots of things that we could write about at the time, that don’t get published. The Bali babies are a great example of a topic that didn’t make the cut at the time, but we knew we’d write about at some point. It’s too endearing and amazing to not post. ~James

  5. I’ve been to Jogyakarta, Indonesia and loved all the details of my stay there. The temples and my guestroom. The food. The dance and culture. It made me want to visit Bali. Still on my future list for now, but I can’t wait to go.

    1. Hi Juliann, It’s so great to see you! 🙂 We also loved Jogyakarta – such a fascinating place. We fell in love with the art in Jogya and have a batik from there that has been in all of our homes ever since. I know that when you make it to Bali you’ll be thrilled. It’s such a special place. Thanks again for stopping by. ~Terri

  6. I have two paintings in our library that I brought home from Bali. They still have the power to remind me of my time there, even though decades have passed. Absolutely love the cracker in the middle of the offering. 🙂 –Curt

    1. Curt, we also acquired some art in Bali – a couple of masks. And over the years, with all our moves, they’ve gotten a bit banged up (I keep having to glue teeth back in), and we still love them. And the cracker always makes me smile – lots of people use animal crackers, which really cracks me up! 🙂 ~Terri

      1. The gods have a sense of humor, Terri. 🙂 They are my kind of gods! Fortunately, the paintings are sturdy. When we bought them, the artist’s studio and gallery were his home. And each artist seemed to have a slightly different style. We went into a number of homes in Ubud to pick out the pieces we bought. Unfortunately, half of my paintings left with my first wife. 🙂 –Curt

  7. Such a wonderful post and a good reminder to open our eyes to the beauty we are graced with everyday. Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much. Bali really had an impact on us – the sheer beauty of everyday life there is stunning. And a great reminder to look for the beauty in our own lives. I’m so glad you stopped by. All the best, Terri

  8. I love all the details especially the flowers placed so strategically. I really enjoyed this series of posts about Bali. Thanks for taking us there.

    1. Thanks Chef Ceaser for reblogging our Bail post. Bali is a magical place, and as you may know, it has wonderful food as well. We took a wonderful cooking class when we visited that also included shopping for ingredients in the market. It was one the highlights of our trip. ~James

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