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Inside Bali: An Interview with Bali-Native Amansuka on Life, Culture, & Some Cow Skulls

[Written for Baliskulls]

In our Inside Bali series, we interview a variety of people native to Bali, and have them share their own take on its unique culture, and what makes living in this Indonesian island province so incredible.

To kick off our series, we sat down with Amansuka (who also goes by Wayan Suka) — a Bali tour guide who owns and runs Amansuka Tour. Born in a small village in the western part of Ubud, Amansuka worked at various hotels for six years, until leaving that industry 10 years ago to start his own tour guide and professional driving service. He loves his job because, as he puts it, he “can share the beauty and uniqueness of Balinese nature and culture,” and can help visitors “see and experience the deeper part of my beautiful Bali.”

Read on to see Bali through Amansuka’s eyes:

Tell us a little about the cow skulls and the importance of the cow in Bali.

Amansuka: The carving of the cow skulls is one of the many crafts done in Bali, and the carved cow skulls are made predominantly as a souvenir for tourists to bring home. Craftsmen will make what the market demands, so with Bali becoming increasingly popular as a travel destination, the carved cow skulls are becoming more popular as well.

The cow is a holy or sacred animal in Balinese Hinduism — which is the main religion for the majority of Bali’s population.

How do you become a master carver?

A: It is very difficult to become a master carver.  Someone becomes a master after the public trusts him to make holy or sacred carvings that we use for ritual in the temple, or after they make a lot of nice and unique carvings so their products are in great demand.

Can you tell us a little more about Bali’s culture?

A: Art is our daily life — if you have been here you will see Balinese people do their offerings everyday and they use their creativity to make them, and especially during ritual (temple ceremony) you can witness how art and culture are still strong in our life. All ceremonies are accompanied by music (gamelan) and sacred dance performances to welcome God to come down to the Earth. The temples are always beautifully decorated.

The majority of our population, as stated before, practice Balinese Hinduism (about 85%), and tourism is still one of the biggest businesses here. We like spending our time with our friends and relatives for fun — for us, family is number one, so fun time is often also family time!

What do you love about Bali? What makes it a unique place?

A: Besides the beauty of its nature, Bali is unique because of our distinct culture, our traditions, and our friendly people. People in Bali look at life philosophically, and apply this in our daily lives.

What do you wish that non-Balinese people knew about Bali?

A: To learn about the way of life here, what our philosophies of life are, and how we apply them to our daily lives. If you come to Bali and learn these, and find yourself agreeing with some of our philosophies, then we do hope you can apply them in your daily life too.

For those visiting Bali, head to AmansukaTour.com to set up a highly-personalized tour with Amansuka, and get to know Bali from a true insider’s perspective (or reach out to him directly atamansuka@yahoo.com).

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