A small seaport and the capital of Buleleng featuring tree-lined avenues, quiet residential perimeters, a wide market street, rows of bright Chinese shops, and horse-drawn carts amidst frenetic traffic. Singaraja is reminiscent of Java; traders from all over Asia have called at the port of Buleleng since the 10th century, trading arms, opium, and kepang for fresh water, food, livestock, and slaves. Each group has greatly impacted the cultural life of the city. 
Singaraja means "lion king," a name commemorating a palace built in 1604 by Raja Panji Sakti. The Dutch fought the powerful raja at a fierce battle in the nearby village of Jagaraga, finally taking control of the northern Buleleng region in 1849. By 1882, Singaraja was the administrative center, principal harbor, and trading center for Bali and all the islands to the east. 
Bali's road system wasn't constructed until the 1920s, when the first trickle of tourists began arriving in Singaraja's harbor on KPM steamers. Tours described in prewar travel books start in Singaraja. Small groups of tourists were chauffeured from the wharf over the mountains to southern Bali's "native districts," then quite an arduous journey. 

During WW II, after the Japanese successfully occupied Indonesia, they established there headquarters in Singaraja. When the Dutch returned to Bali after WW II, they transfered their administrative offices to Denpasar because of its proximity to the new airport and much greater population density. 

With a present population of more than 550,000 people, Singaraja is Bali's second largest city. It's cleaner, less polluted, less congested, and more attractive and relaxing than Denpasar. The influence of non-Balinese—Chinese, Bugis, Javanese, Malays, Indians, Arabs—is more noticeable in Singaraja than in other parts of Bali, as this city has been a marketplace for the Java sea trade economy for over a thousand years.

Sights in Singaraja
The only part of the city that has retained its original character is the densely packed merchant's quarter south of the harbor. Many imposing residences and examples of European architecture still stand, reminders of Singaraja's former grandeur as the Dutch capital of Bali and all the islands to the east. A number of these white-painted colonial edifices can be found along Jl. Ngurah Rai, heading south from the harbor up to the winged lion statue, where Jl. Ngurah Rai meets Jl. Pahlawan. In Indonesian called Tugu Singa Amabara Raja, the lion symbolizes the dynamic spirit of the people of Buleleng and serves as the regency's coat of arms. 

At the top of Jl. Ngurah Rai is the Kantor Bupati
, once the official residence of the Dutch "Resident" (a sort of governor). After independence it was used as the Indonesian Governor's office when Singaraja was the capital of Nusatenggara. In 1958, Nusatenggara was divided into three provinces—Bali, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Nusa Tenggara Barat—and the island's capital was moved from Singaraja to Denpasar. The building remained vacant until 1970, when it was used as the headquarters of the Fifth Regional Defensive Command. In 1977 it was converted into the Hotel Singaraja; in 1982 it became the mayor's office. 

Enjoy beautiful sunsets over the old harbor area. Walk through the narrow streets and along the seawall and try to imagine the days when this was one of the Dutch East Indies' busiest entrep˘ts. Now only a few small fishing and cargo prahu bob offshore. See abandoned and decaying coffee and tobacco gudang, shophouses, the crumbling old Port Authority office, and an antique arched steel bridge. This old anchorage at the mouth of the Buleleng River, poorly protected from bad weather, has long since silted up. Celukanbawang, 40 km west of Singaraja, now serves as Buleleng's principle export harbor. 

Near the waterfront, the haunting statue of freedom fighter Ketut Merta points seaward. After WW II, in the chaotic period between the Japanese surrender and the Dutch return, the crew of a Dutch patrol boat hoisted the Dutch flag in Buleleng Harbor; Ketut Merta climbed to replace it with the red-and-white Indonesian banner. He was machine-gunned from the Dutch boat the minute he stepped away from the pole. During the Indonesian struggle for independence it was common for guerrillas to use nicknames like Pak Hitam ("Mr. Black"), Pak Cilik ("Mr. Small"), etc. Ketut Merta was known as I Lontong, ("Mr. Steamed Rice"). Nothing has changed: in April 1995 Indonesian soldiers shot a man to death after he raised the Irian independence banner, moved by the same spirit that inspired heroic "Mr. Steamed Rice" 50 years previously. A shrine commemorating I Lontong is located around the corner opposite the Chinese temple. 

The huge Hindu temple Pura Jagatnatha is on Jl. Pramuka; in the evenings the local gamelan rehearses in the first courtyard. Singaraja's pura dalem
, on Jl. Gajah Mada below the cemetery, contains a wall of incredible phantasmagoric reliefs depicting Balinese heaven and hell and the dire consequences of earthly sins. See miscreants with their tongues pulled out, arms sawed off, boiled, beaten, and stabbed. A large Chinese klenteng in the eastern part of the city houses priceless vases and tapestries. In the west part of town is the Chinese cemetery Bukit Suci with unusually marked and decorated graves; turn north just east of Terminal Banyuasri and travel down Jl. Pantai Lingga. There's a fishing village and swimming beach nearby.

Holy objects are ordinarily stored out of sight in high places, but in Singaraja you can view sacred lontar books at Gedong Kirtya at the east end of Jl. Veteran. The only library of its kind in the world, the 3,000-odd lontar stored in labeled tin boxes in this small nondescript archive record the literature, mythology, magic formulas, medical science, folklore, religion, and history of Bali and Lombok. Many of the lontar were looted from the palace in Mataram during the Dutch military expedition to Lombok 1894. The library was established in 1928 by L.J. Caron, a Dutch resident of the time; pictograms abovethegateshowtheyear. 
These miniature pictures and texts etched on the blades of the lontar palm and protected by ornamented narrow wooden boards, are masterpieces of the art of illustration. The leaves are etched with a sharp knife, the incisions then filled with a mixture of soot and oil. One of the jobs of the museum is to transliterate the most ancient and rarest palm-leaf texts into the romanized Balinese language. So sacred are these manuscripts many Balinese are afraid to enter Gedong Kirtya lest they becursedbyspirits. 
Look for examples of prasastis, metal plates inscribed with Old Balinese edicts from the Pejeng-Bedulu dynasty, among the earliest written documents found on the island. Gedung Kirtya also contains rare Dutch and English books, a complete collection of traditional Balinese calendars dating back to 1935, and an extensive archive of Balinese "scriptures"—actually high-quality copies; the originals remain with dukun and rajas' families. Near the institute are the royal temples Puri Kawan directly behind the library, and Puri Kanginan to the northeast.
Shopping in Singaraja
People are friendlier, laugh easier, and are more willing to bargain in this relatively untouristed city, but the craftsmanship doesn't compare with the variety and ingenuity of southern work. This artistic atrophy may be attributed to the long period of Dutch subjugation, as well as the dilution of culture due to heavy migration of non-Balinese people brought in to work the plantations and the docks of the north. 
Take cash when you shop, as few places accept credit cards or traveler's checks. The souvenir shop Tresna, Jl. Gajah Mada 95, sells antiques, kain tenun, and carvings. The city's retail shops, concentrated along Jl. Jen. A. Yani, are getting bigger, cleaner, with better selections. Self-service shops have arrived too, and in most you don't have to bargain. For almost any type of tropical fruit visit Buleleng Market just south of Jl. Semeru at the east end of Jl. Veteran. Each night until 2100 or so, depending on reliability of electricity, this market transforms into a dimly lit, lively pasar malam.. One km east of Singaraja is the small pottery village of Banyuning which turns out unglazed urns, vases, roof tiles, and other pottery.

A major weaving factory is Berdikari at Jl. Dewi Sartika 42, specializing in the reproduction of ancient, finely detailed Buleleng silk ikat sold for sky-high prices. Perusahan Puri Nadiputri, on Jl. Veteran behind the Gedong Kirtya, sells distinctive handwoven silk and cotton sarung or kain. There are looms in practically every home in this kampung, set in the former puri compound. In 1960 the puri owed the bank so much money that it was forced to foreclose, and the bank sold the property to the government; you can still see the old walls of the compound. Another place to buy endek, ikat, colorfast sarung, and gold-threaded songket is Poh Bergong; from Singaraja head for Penarukan, then turn south toward Jinengdalem and Poh Bergong. Retailers buy here at wholesale prices.

Westward 30 minutes from Lovina you will find Seririt. Seririt is smaller and of less importance than Singaraja, but lively and absolutely not touristic. This region is known for the grape plantations, and uphill is the road to Munduk.

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