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April 12, 2004

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Around Ubud, central Bali, we find ancient monuments, tucked in greenery, left by Bali's greatest empires. Archaeological evidence shows that humans have inhabited this island since prehistoric time. However, not much is known about the Bali's history before Indian traders introduced Hinduism at the end of the first millenium. During the 11th century, Bali's larger neighbor, Java, exerted influence, at times invading and bringing Bali under its dominion. Bali fought back, won independence a few times, but Java kept returning. That's how things stood, see-saw fashion, when the Europeans arrived in 1597. The Dutch colonized all of Indonesia and kept control until after World War II, when modern Indonesia established itself. Nowadays, Bali finds itself still troubled by plundering politicians from Java.
Probably the most impressive ancient monuments are the Gunung Kawi, built in the 11th century, 10 rock cut shrines that imitate statues.
Legend says a god carved these with his fingernails. The earthbound theory says these were dedicated to the first Javanese royalty to rule Bali.
With a rice terrace backdrop, can you believe this is a pizza joint?