Stream the Sounds of Bali into Your Living Room

With the help of Youtube, Indonesia’s Island of the Gods now feels tantalizingly close.

A rural retreat on the outskirts of Ubud, Bali. Photo: James Louie

Although we tend to rely mostly on sight when we travel, our most powerful memories are often linked to the other senses. It can be a woody scent reminiscent of a childhood holiday at the grandparents’ house, a steamed kimchi mandu that transports us to a bustling market in Seoul, or the sonorous chime of a church bell that brings to mind Europe’s fairy-tale cities.

One of the myriad joys of our digital connectedness is that, with just a few clicks, we can bring the sounds of our favorite destinations into our homes. And so it is with Bali: an hour-long video recorded in the jungle of Indonesia’s favorite island might go some way in calming our frayed nerves as we adjust to this new normal. Close your eyes and you might think you’ve stepped into a tropical wonderland on the slopes of Mount Batukaru, Bali’s second-highest mountain, where a riot of strangler banyans, giant pandanus with exposed roots, and other towering trees festooned with bird’s-nest ferns provide a haven for native wildlife.

Music, too, can be a balm in these uncertain times. An almost nine-minute gamelan performance offers a temporary reprieve from the overabundance of bad news. Let yourself be singularly focused on the high-voltage rhythms and a glorious sound that “shimmers,” symbolizing life itself through waves of interference beats from paired instruments tuned slightly apart. Perhaps it will, as it did with me, remind you of an evening spent in awe of the traditional dancers at Ubud Palace.

Over on southern Bali’s Bukit Peninsula, most visitors flock to the grounds of the Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of Bali’s six holiest temples, to watch the nightly kecak dance and marvel at the raw power of the Indian Ocean as it foams and crashes against the rocks far below. If you’ve been, you can relive the experience for a few minutes through this seven-hour video, which serves as a soothing soundtrack while you carry out your daily tasks around the house.

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