Life, News, Photography and Reviews from Ubud: The Apple of Bali's Eye

Life, News, Photography and Reviews from Ubud — The Apple of Bali's Eye

NEWS, VIEWS, REVIEWS AND MUSINGS from Ubud ~ The Heart of Bali.

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The Bali Blog ~ Island of D'Gods

YOU CAN IMAGINE the conversation between sparky entrepreneur and marketing exec of a morning as they brainstorm a catchy new name for their fledgling Bali business. They're nearly there.

- "Sorry I'm late. D'traffic was all backed up."

- "Go out last night?"

- "Went to d'bar as usual. You?"

It's like an out-of-control tropical fungal rash.

Hungry? Try the ribs at D'Basket. Weary? Rest your head at D'Villa. Fancy getting wet? D'Scuba Club. Need that number? D'Bali Directory. Rub down? D'Boutique. Dirty shirt? D'Laundry. Or just throw in d'towel and get yourself hitched at Bali Tie D'Knot.

I mean, what's d'matter wid dese people?

The Big Picture ~ Bali Temple Ceremony ➨

KERAUHANVOLUNTARY MASS POSSESSION – during an odalan, or annual temple festival in Buleleng, North Bali...

Mass-possession during 'odalan' temple ceremony in Buleleng, Bali

Mass trance and possession during a temple ceremony in Buleleng, North Bali.
© 2020 Ubud High.

The Bali Blog ~ It's Silly Season in Ubud, Part 2

I'M WAITING for a friend on Jalan Suweta in Central Ubud. Three young Scandinavian women are at the side of the road clinching a deal on their new scooter rentals. They mount, and look non-plussed as they hunt for the ignition. The rental lady demonstrates how to switch their motorbikes on.

It really doesn't bode well. Two of them seem to get the hang of it and disappear into the main road.

The third pauses at the junction with Jalan Raya Ubud, looks left and right, and forgets one crucial thing: if you give an automatic some gas and don't hold onto the brake with your left hand, your body flies backwards and your right hand turns the throttle up even more.

It's a G-force thing.

She tears into the traffic. She can't stop. She narrowly misses hitting a car head-on, swerves past a mum on a 'bike and slaloms across the road as she tries to stop the 90-kilo motorbike with her feet, duck-style.

Before she hits anyone – it's a miracle she doesn't – she falls in a bad-sounding heap of breaking plastic and scraping metal. A group of Balinese rush to pick her up before the cops can get to her. She's almost crying – more out of shock and shame than injury.

But a small hole in the side of her leg starts to bleed, and keeps bleeding, and a widening pool of blood circles her right flip-flop before snaking its way into a dusty gutter.

The rental lady has arrived on the scene after hearing the screams, and keeps looking at the tourist's leg, and then at her scrapped motorbike, and then back at the tourist's leg.

If you want to kill yourself on Bali, jumping on a scooter with no experience is a tried-and-trusted method.

If you've never ridden a motorbike before, don't do it here. If you don't hurt or kill yourself, some other innocent bystander may well be on the receiving end of your madness.

» Related Content: Scooter Injuries in Ubud, Bali

For more tips, tricks and spills on Bali's roads, take a look at 'Surviving Bali on a Rental Scooter' by Ubud High. It might just save you several thousand dollars, or your life.

And for the Balinese side of the coin: Silly season in Ubud, Part 1: Just another motorbike accident on Bali.

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The Big Read ~ The Story of Ganesha – Bali's Hindu Elephant God ➨

ON THE LITTLE ISLAND OF BALI, Lord Ganesha is everywhere. One of the most recognisable Hindu gods outside India, he's easy to spot: the benign elephant head on top of a chubby body protects houses and adorns Bali's temples from north to south...

A painted Lord Ganesha statue protects a Hindu home in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

A statue of the Hindu elephant god Ganesa (Ganesha) protects a Hindu home in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
© 2020 Ubud High.

Ubud Food ~ Ubud's Best Restaurants, Cafes, Warungs and Home Delivery ➨

UBUD IS BEST-KNOWN for its art-life. It's also fast becoming known for some of the tastiest local and international food in Asia. And for those days and nights when you don't want to leave your nest, just pick up the 'phone for that life-saving home delivery.

Read on for our choice of Ubud's hippest cafes, healthiest restaurants, cutest warungs, cheapest eats and the fastest home deliveries in town.

The Big Read ~ The Heads of Trunyan: West Meets East ➨

RABIDLY ISOLATIONIST FOR MORE THAN A THOUSAND YEARS, Trunyan Village is best known for its open-air cemetery where corpses are left to decompose naturally underneath a mystical banyan tree.

But, as Ubud High discovers, the Bali Mula village of Trunyan offers a lot more than just skulls and surly guides...

Portrait of old Balinese farmer from Trunyan village in Kintamani, Bali

Portrait of old Balinese farmer from Trunyan Village, Kintamani, Bali.
© 2020 Ubud High.

The Bali Blog ~ Eat, Pray, Self-Love

I'm sitting in Ubud's Black Beach Italian restaurant on Jalan Hanuman waiting for my spaghetti bolognese.

A tattooed Australian woman in her thirties – all swinging tits-in-the-salad and no bra – picks the table in front of me. Her obedient female friend, all frumpy and over-forty and painfully low on self-esteem, takes the opposite chair.

It doesn't take long to get a flavour of what's to come. The Tattooed Lady kicks off.

– "Ye naee, Oi tole yew she was sach a princess. A fackin' princess. She cams ap to moy man in a fackin' miniskirt at the bahbeque an' staats pawin' at 'eem. Loike she wants the fackin' stayke off ees playte..."

And it doesn't get any better.

My spaghetti arrives. Her ciabatta salmon sandwiches come too – her friend has ordered exactly the same. Every time her friend opens her mouth she shuts it with a "Naaee, bat..." and carries on with her withering, cucumber-spitting diatribe.

My concentration's shot to pieces. The spaghetti keeps falling off my fork. She's on her third large beer now. She starts saying "facking" even more and speaking so loudly that people passing on the street have begun to look her way, and she's spitting bits of ciabatta bread and tomato and fish into her friend's dinner.

– "En ye naee wot?"

Her friend just cowers and blinks behind her beer glass.

– "En thet's when Oi realoised. Thet's when Oi realoised Oi had a fackin' crash on meself."

I blow beer through my nose.

– "Yee. Oi jas' fackin' fell in love wi' meself. Thet's when Oi noo Oi didn' need any fackin' boyfriend. Or fackin' anybody."

The friend drops her head another ego-mashed inch and pokes at her last fish sandwich. It's at this point that I start to wonder if they have genetic counselling on The Gold Coast. Or forced sterilisation.

But to be honest, I'd begun to enjoy the show. There's nothing funnier than a Bogan on Bali.

» Related Content: Bogans on Bali

» From Ubud With Love »

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The Big Read ~ Cinema Paradiso: The Story of Indonesian Cinema on Bali ➨

FROM 1930's NUDIE CUTIES  TO CANNES, Ubud High takes a front-row seat to peer at Bali's place in the history of Indonesian Cinema...

'Virgins of Bali', 1932, nudie-cutie film poster 1930s Bali

'Virgins of Bali' 1930's nudie-cutie film poster (1932).

The Bali Blog ~ Ubud: Land of Self-Healing and Snake Oil

MAN BUNS, CLOWN PANTS, Buddha tattoos and yogini camel-toes flood the downtown Ubud scene.

Not enlightened yet?

You should be.

Shake out those kundalini awakenings with some HoopYogini™ and Bhakti Boogie at the Yoga Barn. Celebrate 'The Divine Feminine' with a splash of Shakti Dance. Puff up your lungs in a 'Sacred Breathwork Immersion Workshop', insert a Jade Egg at The Womb Temple in Alchemy for good measure and polish it off with some tantalising 'Manifesting and Abundance'.

Feeling horny in a yogic sort of way? 'Sensual/Sexual Playday (Conscious Pleasure With Consent)' is definitely your bag, run by a nice foreign gentleman with...

'... 18 years of experience in spirituality, shamanism, energy medicine, relationship coaching and sacred sexual bodywork. M____ S____, your Keeper of The Sacred Space, walks the world sharing his passion and supporting the resurgence of this sacred and ancient temple art upon the planet through workshops, retreats, public talks and sexual embodiment sessions.' *
* ($25 for four hours).

Oh, an orgy! I'm there! Oh no. My period ('Moon Blood') just came. Maybe I'll steer clear for a few days.

But... wait! Perfect timing for a Red Moon Wavespell Session!

'We begin the light reprieve of the Monkey Wavespell after the intensity of the Serpent and Mirror Wavespells...'

I see. Let me just wash out my Moon Cup. Go on?

'The realisation of pure consciousness comes with a willingness to explore all that had been throughout the cycles of evolution, stretching back beyond the presently known, with openness to awakening consciousness...

Oh, I get it now. And how exactly does that work?

'Pure consciousness flows into manifestation through the capacity to kinnect clearly with all beings... Many worlds are bridged in the flow of pure kin-nection, perfecting in the reflection of truth, the pure brilliance of all...'

I'm with you. And then?

'You will be gifted with MAGNETIC Attraction, LUNAR Stabilisation, ELECTRIC Activation, SELF-EXISTING Definition with OVERTONE-Empowering, RHYTHMIC-Balancing, RESONANT-Inspiring, GALACTIC-Integrating, SOLAR-Realising, PLANETARY-Manifesting, SPECTRAL-Releasing, CRYSTAL Co-operating COSMIC Transcendance.'

Got it!

On second thoughts, I'm still too hurt from my previous incarnations. I think I need to go on a retreat first and 'Heal And Reveal The Woman Within'.

'Deep in the rainforest jungle paradise of Ubud, Bali...'

That would be just off Ubud High Street – Jalan Raya Ubud – right?

'... you will work with the modalities of Awakened Human Dynamics and Metaphysical Anatomy. When you shift your Ancestral Patterns - at the cellular level, and beyond that at the level of your DNA - you will find yourself on a POWERFUL and FEMININE path to creating the life of your greatest dreams. What makes this healing workshop so unique is that the changes and transformation that take place are so deep and profound that you can never be the same again!'

Yeah, when I'm paying $2,000 for five days and following it up with a $300-an-hour Skype call. I'd call that pretty life-changing.

You know, I think I'll just be my own Guru. I put together a manifesto after breakfast this morning. What do you think?


Where on the great vision quest will we be recreated? We must beckon ourselves and beckon others. The quantum shift of being is now happening worldwide. We must learn how to lead unlimited lives in the face of discontinuity. Eons from now, we seekers will self-actualize like never before as we are aligned by the quantum shift.

We are being called to explore the stratosphere itself as an interface between wisdom and rebirth. Soon there will be an evolving of karma the likes of which the nexus has never seen.' *

* ($4,000 per day.)

Love And Blessings™ to all.

What do you reckon? The only problem is that a New Age Bullshit Generator made this up.

I wonder if I can copyright it? I'm gonna to talk to my lawyer.

Now, just in case you think I'm making the next bit up, take a gander at a recent advert on Facebook's Ubud Community. I reckon even the bullshit generator would blow a motherboard trying to invent this bollocks.

Twin Flame Pre-Solstice Energy Report

Dear Beloveds,

We come through in this hour of your time from the unified field of consciousness that is the zero point.

We come, sent forth on wings of great great love to deliver a message to those who have been blessed with the ears to hear and who are gifted with the empathic capabilities to receive these words as activation codes, awakening the pineal Centre, the pituitary gland, and the higher heart consciousness.

Indeed these words have been intended to entrench you auric field with the deep soul knowing that resonates from your own inner beingness.

We come to speak to you today regarding certain energetics that are taking place within the timelines of a great number of illumined twin flames at this pivotal point in Earth's ascension.

Beloveds, take comfort from this reminder that this has never been about you and your ego's desire for a relationship. Twin flames are finely tuned servants of the master plan and we affirm to you tonight with perspicacious knowing that indeed this intention for joy-filled twin-flame unions was decreed by God aeons ago, and you all agreed to be instruments to activate and actualise this divine plan.

The cost of this profoundly deep-soul infusion is $300.

I think I'll just go for a power nap instead.

Namaste, Conscious Ones.

The Big Picture ~ The Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud ➨

A WEEK-LONG ORGY of yoga, therapy, dance and self-indulgence at Ubud's annual 'BSF' – The Bali Spirit Festival...

A Watsu water-therapy session is conducted in a swimming pool during the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud

A Watsu water-therapy session is conducted in a swimming pool during the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
© 2020 Ubud High.

The Big Picture ~ Portraits: Bali's Female Side ➨

PORTRAITS from Bali's female side.

Young female beggar from Muntigunung, Bali, on the streets of Ubud

Portrait of a young female beggar from Muntigunung, Bali, on the streets of Ubud, Indonesia.
© 2020 Ubud High.

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Take Your Pic ~ The Big Picture ➨

Female Balinese dancers pose during an evening dance performance at the Pura Delem in Ubud, Bali

Female Balinese dancers pose during an evening dance performance at a Balinese-Hindu temple in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
© 2020 Ubud High.

Domestic cattle graze on heavily contaminated land at Bali's largest and most polluted landfill in Suwung, Bali

Domestic cattle graze on heavily contaminated land at Bali's largest and most polluted landfill site in Suwung, Bali, Indonesia.
© 2020 Ubud High.

The Bali Blog ~ Eruption of Mount Agung Volcano in Bali, Indonesia ~ Latest Updates

LATEST NEWS AND UPDATES on the current eruption of Bali's active Mount Agung volcano in Bali, Indonesia.

Bali's Mount Agung as seen from the shores of Nusa Penida

Mount ('Gunung') Agung – Bali's tallest and most sacred volcano – as seen from the shoreline of Nusa Penida in Indonesia.

© 2020 Ubud High.

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Coming soon: The Big Read ~ The Sounds of Gili Air: Island of a Thousand Loudspeakers ➨

THE STORY OF THE PLASTIC-FREE 'Air Festival' rave on the Muslim island of Gili Air in Lombok, Indonesia...

Young white couple having public sex on the beach in Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia

A Western tourist checks his video of a young white couple enjoying morning sex on the beach during the new-age, plastic-free 'Air Festival' rave on the Muslim island of Gili Air in Lombok, Indonesia.
© 2020 Ubud High.


We take a morning walk along the pristine beach, past the new dive centres and manicured lawns where the dry jungle and coconut groves used to be. Two sun-bathing white men have made a little nest in the white sand, and one is pointing his camera steadily at the edge of the shallow sea.

There's a strange thrashing nearby in the water – like a fat fish fighting to be landed.

We're twenty meters away now. A young white couple seems to be playing in the water, and they look kind of sweet in a tropical in-love kind of way.

Ten steps closer and we can see the young man's naked, moon-white backside pounding into his girlfriend's barely submerged pelvis.

Ten meters away, and the boy finally looks up – an inane, animal-like grin taped across his face as his girlfriend grips his butt and grimaces at the empty blue sky. They disengage like street dogs and stare.

Ketut starts shaking. In Indonesia, even a public display of affection like holding hands between a married couple is seen as a disrespectful lack of self-discipline to the wider community.

It takes her two or three minutes before she can speak.

She stops, and turns to me.

– "You know, up until now, I don't think I've ever seen two fish fuck in the sea..."

The Big Read ~ Bali

FEATURES AND STORIES from Indonesia's soul – the Island of the Gods.

The Heads of Trunyan: West Meets East ➨

Portrait of female farm-worker, Trunyan village, Kintamani, Bali, Indonesia

RABIDLY ISOLATIONIST for more than a thousand years, Trunyan Village is best known for its open-air cemetery where corpses are left to decompose under a mystical banyan tree.

But as Ubud High discovers, Trunyan offers a lot more than just skulls and surly guides...

Cinema Paradiso: The Story of Indonesian Cinema on Bali ➨

'Goona Goona (Love Powder)', 1932, nudie-cutie film poster 1930s Bali

BOOBS AND POLITICAL CENSORSHIP have never been far from the Silver Screen. In Indonesia, they're its bedrock.

From 1930's Nudie Cuties to Cannes, Ubud High takes a front-row seat to peer at Bali's place in the history of Indonesian Cinema...

The Story of Ganesha – Ganesh – Bali's Hindu Elephant God ➨

The Hindu Elephant God Ganesha guards a Balinese-Hindu home in Bali, Indonesia

FROM INDIA, TIBET AND JAPAN to Bali. The legends, stories and history of the Hindu Elephant God Ganesha – Ganesh – Lord of Learning and Remover of Obstacles...

How to Survive Ubud on your Rental Scooter ➨

Motorbike accident victim, Ubud, Bali

IMAGINE A SCHOOL OF FISH swimming together. Go with it.

Anyone outside that flow is the one who's going to cause a road accident. Stick to an imaginary lane – and drive defensively.

Keep an eye on who's undertaking or overtaking you, and don't make any sudden moves unless you're about to hit something.

Tips and tricks for keeping the rubber on the road in Bali...

Hornets, Scorpions, Mosquitoes, Poisonous Caterpillars... And Other Strange Bali Tails ➨

Dead green lizard killed by Bali dogs in Ubud, Indonesia

WE ALL HAVE TO PAY for our little slice of Bali Paradise.

And this often comes in the shape of our stinging, biting, crawling, flying cousins. It's the downside of environment-sharing.

Find out what to do when you come up against a scorpion, a jumping spider, an angry Balinese hornet or an unstoppable army of hungry marching ants...

The Big Read ~ Indonesia

TALES FROM INDONESIA – Always dangerously beautiful.

The Critically Endangered Bornean Orangutan in Indonesia ➨

LOOK DEEP INTO THE EYES of an Orangutan, and you might find a very old soul gazing back at you...

Endangered Orangutan skulls carved by Dayak tribe in Borneo, Indonesia

Critically-endangered Bornean Orangutan skulls carved by Dayak tribes in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.

Indonesia: The Vulnerable Clouded Leopard of Borneo ➨

SOME SAY A LEOPARD CAN'T CHANGE ITS SPOTS – but the Bornean Clouded Leopard did. Its uniquely long sabre teeth and gaping jaws just gave the game away...

The skull and sabre-teeth of an endangered Sunda Clouded Leopard from Dayak Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo

The skull and saber teeth of a vulnerable Sunda Clouded Leopard in a tribal Dayak longhouse in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.

Coming soon:
Anyone for Honey? The Sun Bear of Borneo ➨

ALSO KNOWN AS 'THE HONEY BEAR' for its love of honey, the vulnerable Malayan Sun Bear of Borneo is the smallest of the bear species.

Indonesia's Sun Bear is also one of the rarest bears on the planet...

The Big Picture

PHOTOGRAPHS FROM BALI – The Soul of Indonesia.

Bali Portraits ➨

Balinese housewife with rice-paste facial, Ubud, Bali

PORTRAITS from Bali's female side.

Balinese-Hindu Melasti Water-Purification Ceremony Before Nyepi, the Day of Silence ➨

Balinese-Hindu faithful de-camp from trucks at Masceti Beach for the annual Melasti ceremony, Bali, Indonesia

BEACH-SIDE water purification ceremonies in the lead-up to Nyepi, Bali's Hindu Saka New Year and Day of Silence.

Ogoh-Ogoh Parades and Festivals on the Eve of Nyepi in Bali ➨

A toothy, topless ogoh-ogoh monster sports a necklace of poisonous snakes in Singakerta, Ubud, the day before Nyepi

OGOH-OGOH PARADES of papier-mâché monsters in Ubud, Sanur, Renon and Kuta on the eve of Nyepi – Bali's Hindu Day of Silence.

'Kerauhan' – Trance and Mass Possession at a Hindu Village Temple Ceremony in Bali, Indonesia ➨

Possessed Balinese-Hindu women dance and pray during a mass-possession ceremony at an annual village temple festival in North Bali, Indonesia

TRANCE AND MASS POSSESSION at an annual Hindu village temple festival in Buleleng, North Bali.

Yoga, Dance, Music and Therapy at the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Indonesia ➨

A Watsu water-therapy session is conducted in a swimming pool during the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud

A WEEK-LONG FESTIVAL of yoga, therapy, music and dance at Ubud's annual Bali Spirit Festival.

Coastal Beach Erosion and Climate Change in Bali, Indonesia ➨

Sandbags support the foundations of a beachside Hindu temple damaged by coastal erosion and freak waves in Canggu, South Bali

CLIMATE CHANGE and coastal erosion washes up on the shores of Bali.

The Big Read – Java

TRIP OVER TO JAVA – Bali's Big Auntie.

Java Oilfield Pollution ➨

Freelance oil-worker's hand covered in carcinogenic crude oil at an illegal oil-field in East Java, Indonesia

THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS of this environmental disaster – ExxonMobil and Indonesia's oil giant, Pertamina – have long since abandoned this pocket of primary forest, the wells sucked almost dry, the tar-coated throats of the pits now squeezed by gangs of Sisyphean bit-players milking an extra 125 barrels a day from the expired earth...

Monkey Business: Topeng Monyet, or the Performing Masked Monkeys of Jakarta ➨

Performing masked monkey, Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

IT'S NOT SURPRISING when some city residents shut their doors when topeng monyet – the masked performing monkeys – threaten to come their way.

Despite being a Jakartan tradition once played out with dogs and snakes and originating from the masked dances of Cirebon, not everybody's happy with the status quo of the game...

Slow Burning in Chinese Indonesia: The History of the Tionghoa ➨

Chinese-Indonesian tomb at a Confucian cemetery in Jakarta, Indonesia

JAKARTA, INDONESIA: MAY 1998. More anti-Chinese riots.

The forty year-old engineer is standing behind a barricade. To his left, a petrol station. To his right, a row of fire-gutted shops.

In front of Andreas are four handguns, laid out on a neighbour's kitchen table. An off-duty naval officer urges him to take his pick of the weapons before the mob returns.

"Today," the officer says to Andreas, "you can kill. Shoot anyone who comes over the barricade..."

The Rise and Fall of the Ciliwung: Jakarta's Most Polluted River ➨

Children pass the time in their shanty-house overlooking the highly polluted and flood-prone Ciliwung river in Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

"THE AIR'S TERRIBLE HERE, and the river stinks. We get massacred by mosquitoes in the dry season. The best thing about the river is we can throw our rubbish into it. When it rains it's even better because the nappies get washed away much quicker."

The story of the Ciliwung River: Jakarta's longest, most polluted and most flood-prone waterway...

Dede Koswara and the Association of Strange People (Part 1) ➨

The Tree Man of Indonesia Dede Koswara's hands

MEETING DEDE KOSWARA – the so-called 'Tree Man of Indonesia' – and friends for the first time in 2007.

Dede Koswara: The 'Tree Man' of Indonesia (Part 2) ➨

Dede Koswara, the Tree Man of Indonesia, at a freakshow in West Java, Indonesia

RYAN THE GIANT has already confided that if he had Dede's condition, he would have killed himself by now.

None of us know how Dede keeps sane.

Dede puts it down to acceptance, patience and prayer. He also believes that he's going to be cured one day – in a country where free healthcare for the poor does not, in reality, exist...