A collection of short stories, essays, blog-posts and photographs from Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Tales from Ubud ~ The Apple of Bali's Eye

Pic of the Day ~ Remember to stay in touch

Urban art by Bali's Peanut Dog

Street art / The jungle wire
Keep in touch with the ones you love - even if it's by jungle wire

More innocent, pre-smart-'phone times. Totally enamoured of the trompe-l'œil jungle-wire telephone cable.
Feb 3, 2021 in North Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.
Street Art © 2018 Peanut Dog.
Photograph © 2021 Ubud High.

Times are hard for families kept apart by pandemic restrictions - stay in touch with the ones you love

Times are hard for families kept apart by pandemic restrictions – keep in touch with the ones you love.
Feb 3, 2021 in North Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.
Urban Art © 2018 Peanut Dog.
Photograph © 2021 Ubud High.


Ubud High

A COLLECTION of short stories, essays, photographs, art, news and blog-posts from Ubud, Bali.

If you're here for a Coronavirus-free read, head over to The Ubud Handbook. Jump to Indonesia's latest English-language news, or read on for the newest blog posts at Ubud High.

Bali 2020 is here. Feel free to leaf through the ancient blog from 2016 to 2018 – or go full-antique and dive into the prehistoric posts of 2013-2015. Lots of fluff, and the odd gem.

Have a safe 2021.

Pic of the Day ~ Coronavirus urban art

Covid-19 street art on Bali

Indonesia / Pandemic / Tourist industry / Economic recession
Street-art by the Balinese muralists 'Wild Drawing' and 'SLINAT' of a traditional Balinese woman wearing a gas-mask against Covid-19 as she chooses between dollars and rice to survive the Indonesian economic crisis

'Tembang Ladang Gula' (2020).
Urban-art by the Balinese muralists 'Wild Drawing' and 'Slinat' of a traditional Balinese woman wearing a gas-mask to guard against Covid-19 as she chooses between her vanishing tourist-dollars or growing rice to survive the incoming Indonesian economic crisis triggered by the pandemic.

Street Art by © 2020 Wild Drawing / Slinat.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

No money left to burn as Bali's tourist-dollars vanish during the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing economic crisis

Detail of 'Tembang Ladang Gula' (2020).
No money left to burn as Bali's tourist-dollars vanish during the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic recession.
Urban Art by © 2020 Wild Drawing / Slinat.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Street mural of the mythical Hindu bird-dragon Garuda offering a drop of life-giving water to a parched, damaged world as a Balinese-Hindu woman prays for his success

Detail of 'Tembang Ladang Gula' (2020) by the Balinese street-artist 'Wild Drawing' (WD).
Street mural of the mythical Hindu bird-dragon Garuda offering a drop of life-giving water to a parched, damaged world as a Balinese-Hindu woman prays for his success.
Street Art by © 2020 Wild Drawing.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Street-art by the Balinese muralists 'Wild Drawing' and 'SLINAT' of a traditional Balinese woman wearing a gas-mask against Covid-19 as she chooses between her burning dollars and growing rice to survive the incoming Indonesian economic crisis caused by the Coronavirus

Detail of 'Tembang Ladang Gula' (2020) by the Balinese muralists 'Wild Drawing' and 'Slinat'.
A Balinese woman ponders a return to the rice-fields rather than go hungry in an increasingly recession-hit Bali.
Denpasar, South Bali, Indonesia on September 5, 2020.
Urban Art © 2020 Wild Drawing / Slinat.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Defaced street art by the Balinese muralists 'Wild Drawing' and 'SLINAT' in Denpasar, Bali

Four months later...
Nothing lasts for long in the tropics. Additional artistic modifications by UrbanArse Inc.
Photograph © 2021 Ubud High.


Pinned Posts

English-language news in Indonesia

Bali / Latest news & updates / Coronavirus & Covid-19 pandemic / Current affairs

Dateline: Evergreen

If you're living on Bali or just passing through, you might want to keep an eye on the island's fast-changing place in the Covid-19 stakes.

Magazine-style news ~ Indonesia

For less-regular Indonesian news, try Reuters. For a bigger-picture view of fresh Asian stories, check in to Channel News Asia. And for a Covid-heavy round-up of Bali's news that also covers Indonesian-language media, go to The Bali Beat. Bits and bobs at Bali Discovery.

Lastly, and immodestly, is Ubud High @DurianLiftOff on Twitter.

The Jakarta Post – Indonesia's first and oldest English-language newspaper – is on its way out. But it has a useful, up-to-date news-ticker showing Indonesia's latest Covid-19 figures.


The Bali Blog

This week's most popular posts at Ubud High:
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Bali's Mount Agung and the Ring of Fire ~ Latest updates on volcanic eruptions and earthquakes in Indonesia

Current status of Gunung Agung volcano on Bali ~ March 1st, 2021

Today's Indonesian earthquakes and volcanos, ash-fall, wind-direction and flight arrivals & departures around Bali

This, in a picture, is why Indonesia is ravaged by so many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions – the archipelago has a volcanic spine, and it was built on fire.

Graphic showing Bali, Java and Lombok sitting atop the subduction zone where the Indo-Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet

Graphic showing Bali, Java, Madura, Lombok and Sumbawa sitting on top of the subduction zone where the Indo-Australian and Eurasian plates meet.

⇨ Go to live reports on Indonesia's earthquakes and volcanos today.

Bali's twin volcanos – Mount Agung and Mount Batur – are just two of Indonesia's 76 active burners. Upticks in earthquakes and seismic activity are often followed by a rash of volcanic eruptions across this geologically-fractured country.

There is currently an uptick in seismic activity.

Current status of Mount Agung in Bali, Indonesia

March 2021 ~ The current status of Mount Agung – Bali's active 3,142 metre-high stratovolcano in the northeast of the island – is described as Unrest, meaning that there are signs of volcanic activity, although the volcano is not expected to erupt in the coming days or weeks.

In Indonesia, 'Unrest' translates to 'Waspada' – a Level II Caution. Any area within a 2-kilometer radius of the volcano's cone is off-limits, and at risk of a spontaneous eruption or lava avalanche that may happen at any time.

Mount (Gunung) Agung is currently closed to trekkers.

Further reading:

⇨ Read more about Gunung Agung's previous eruptions, and see live reports on Indonesia's earthquakes and volcanic eruptions here ⇨

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Buying Bitcoin on Bali ~ Boom, Bust, Boom

How to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in Bali, Indonesia

Alternative currency / Decentralized finance / Indodax Bitcoin Exchange / Kucoin / Binance
How to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in Bali, Indonesia

Snapshot of the cryptocurrency market on 21 Feb, 2021 when the price of Bitcoin was $56,542.

Everything you wanted to know about buying Bitcoin on Bali but were afraid to ask.


Pic of the Day ~ The Shame Game

Poster of an elderly masked Balinese farmer railing at maskless foreigners on Bali

Western tourists / Face-mask mandate / Covid-19 / Coronavirus / Pandemic / Indonesia / Canggu / Sanur / Ubud / Seminyak / Legian
Poster shaming Western tourists and foreigners for not wearing face-masks in Ubud, Canggu, Seminyak, Kuta and Sanur in Bali, Indonesia

Public poster outside Ubud Market shaming Western tourists and foreigners for not wearing face-masks and disobeying Indonesia's Covid-19 health protocols. Masks have been mandated in Indonesia since March 2020. Foreigners' adoption of masks is embarrassingly weak on the resort island.

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia on Feb 13, 2021.
Photograph © 2021 Ubud High.

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Bali Rules ~ Road Traffic Accident (RTA) statistics for Bali, Indonesia (1996-2020)

Statistics for accidents, injuries and deaths on Bali's roads

Scooter and motorbike rentals / Motorcycle and car crashes in Bali, Indonesia

The only graphic content you're going to see in this post is of the chart variety. But if you'd rather not know what you're up against on Bali's roads, just keep scrolling – because ignorance, sometimes, is bliss.

Road traffic accidents (RTAs) – deaths and injuries – on Bali from 1996 to 2020

Graphic showing deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents (RTAs) on Bali from 1996 to 2020

A graphic showing deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents (RTAs) on Bali from 1996 to 2020. * Numbers for injuries from 2020 are not yet available.
Source: Kepolisian Daerah Bali (KPD) ~ State Police of Bali Province, Indonesia (www.bali.bps.go.id).

Want more? It only keeps getting better.

Growth in the number of vehicles on Bali – scooters, cars, trucks and buses (1996-2019)

There's a lot of fresh blood on the roads.

An exponential boom in tourism – and the corresponding wealth that it has brought the island – has also meant an explosion of traffic on Bali.

Graphic showing the exponential rise in the number of scooters, cars, trucks and buses on Bali's roads from 1996 to 2019

A graphic showing the exponential rise in the number of scooters, cars, trucks and buses on Bali's roads (1996-2019). Statistics for 2020 are not yet available.
Source: Badan Pendapatan Provinsi Bali (BPPB) ~ Government Income Department of Bali Province, Indonesia (www.bali.bps.go.id).

The number of vehicles on Bali has mushroomed from just over half a million to nearly 5 million in 25 years – with most of the new additions being motorbikes. Simply put, the roads in Paradise are full to bursting. The school of fish has got tighter, and the margin for error far slimmer.

The vast majority of Balinese people have never taken a test or a driving lesson in their lives. Most pay for a license.

There are children as young as nine riding without papers, helmets or insurance. Young families of four balanced on a moped aren't uncommon. Add a teenage girl who's texting while she's tailgating, sling a bunch of road-racing 15-year-old schoolboys into the mix, and bang in a few dozen drunk or jet-lagged tourists for good measure.

Gently stir in a brace of tourist-buses with bored drivers on tight schedules, sprinkle generously with speeding red or yellow trucks whose brakes may or may not have been fixed in the past year, throw in a wife trailing a wheelbarrow behind her scooter as her husband steers and you've got a volatile scene.

Whether you're driving a rental car or a scooter, 85 percent of your fellow road-users on Bali are motorcycle riders – and it's not rocket science that most people who are injured or die on the island's roads are riding a 'bike.

Statistics for injuries caused by road traffic accidents (RTAs) on Bali (1996-2019)

If you want to kill or injure yourself – or somebody else on Balijumping on a scooter with no experience is a tried-and-trusted method. Driving your own rental car here without experience is a recipe for manslaughter.

Bear in mind that it is not required by Indonesian law to report a non-fatal traffic accident. Most minor accidents and injuries on Bali go unreported.

Reported injuries work out to about ten a day; you might multiply this number by five or ten to come out with a more realistic picture.

Statistics for reported injuries caused by road traffic accidents (RTAs) on Bali from 1996 to 2019

Statistics for reported injuries caused by road traffic accidents (RTAs) on Bali from 1996 to 2019. Numbers for 2020 are not yet available.
Source: State Police of Bali Province, Indonesia (www.bali.bps.go.id).

Statistics for deaths caused by road traffic accidents (RTAs) on Bali (1996-2020)

What's the worst that can happen? You die.

What's the second-worst thing that can happen? You kill someone else, and things get very sticky with the police, the victim's family and the courts, and you go to jail and pay a lot of compensation before going home.

Bali sees a steady stream of about 500 road-deaths a year, which works out to about ten people a week.

The question is: Are you feeling lucky, punk?

Statistics for deaths caused by road traffic accidents (RTAs) on Bali from 1996 to 2020

Statistics for deaths caused by road traffic accidents (RTAs) on Bali from 1996 to 2020.
Source: State Police of Bali Province, Indonesia (www.bali.bps.go.id).

Keeping the rubber on the road ~ Hints and tips

  1. Hints and tips for riding a rental scooter ~ Surviving Bali on a 'Bike
  2. A tourist scooter-accident ~ It's Silly Season Again
  3. Balinese victim of a motorcycle crash ~ The Other Side of the Coin

[Permalink: 'Bali Rules ~ Road Traffic Accident (RTA) statistics for Bali (1996-2020)']

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

The Three Sketches by Wayan Turun ~ Christ's Nativity, the Storm on the Sea of Galilee and the Temptation of Christ (1956/'57)

Bali 'Art Attack / Traditional Balinese painters / Wayan Turun of Ubud

Ketut Lasia / Made Parsita / Rudolf Bonnet / Christianity on Bali / Protestant Dutch missionaries / Zendingserfgoedhuis in Holland / The Potomack Company, USA

A tale of three biblical stories sketched by the Balinese-Hindu artist Wayan Turun in the 1950s – and found, by chance, in a village framer's shop in Peliatan, Ubud.

Gridded preparatory pencil-on-paper sketch of the painting 'Christ Walking on Water to His Apostles' at the Sea of Galilee by Wayan Turun of Bali

'Christ Walking on Water to His Apostles' (1956) by the traditional master painter Ida Wayan Turun of Tebesaya, Peliatan, Ubud, Bali.
Preparatory 1956 pencil-on-paper sketch with ruled grids of a painting completed in 1957 of Christ walking on water to save Peter and the apostles from drowning in a storm on the Sea of Galilee.
Courtesy of the private owner.
Photograph by © 2021 Ubud High.

Pencil-sketch on paper with grids of Christ's Nativity in Bethlehem by the traditional painter I. Wayan Turun of Tebesaya, Bali, Indonesia

'Christ at His Nativity' (1957) by the traditional Balinese artist Wayan Turun of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Preparatory pencil-on-paper sketch with ruled grids of a 1957 painting of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem.
Courtesy of the private owner.
Photograph by © 2021 Ubud High.

Untitled preparatory pencil-sketch with grids by the painter Wayan Turun of Tebesaya, Bali, of a holy man with female monster

1956 untitled preparatory pencil sketch on paper using the 'grid system' or 'grid technique' by the traditional Balinese painter Ida Wayan Turun of Tebesaya, Peliatan, Ubud.
Courtesy of the private owner.
Photograph by © 2021 Ubud High.

Pic of the Day ~ The Tourist Ghost-Ship

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

Covid-19 pandemic / Bali / Economic recession / Tourist economy / Bankruptcy / Unemployment / Street art
Urban art of 'The Black Pearl' pirate-ship advertising a bankrupt restaurant in downtown Ubud, Bali, Indonesia on Jan 31, 2021

Urban art of 'The Black Pearl' pirate-ship advertising a now-defunct, bankrupt restaurant in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia on January 31, 2021.
Photograph © 2021 Ubud High.

Indonesia's virus-hit economy has plunged into its first recession in two decades, with Bali Province suffering the heaviest financial fallout in the country.

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Traditional Balinese paintings by Ida Ketut Sutama

Bali 'Art Attack / Traditional Balinese painters / I. Ketut Sutama of Kutuh Kaja, Ubud

Balinese Hinduism / Ceremonies, harvests, markets and traditional Balinese life

The first in a series of colour paintings converted to black-and-white tritones – by the traditional Balinese artist I. Ketut Sutama of Kutuh Kaja, Ubud, Bali.

Traditional colour painting of rice fields, farmers and Balinese village life, by Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Traditional 'Ubud Style' Balinese painting of rice fields, farmers and Balinese village life, by I. Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
150 x 100cm, acrylic on canvas.
Artwork © 2020 I. Ketut Sutama.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Traditional colour painting of rice fields, farmers and Balinese village life by the artist I. Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Black-and-white tritone version of a traditional colour painting of rice fields, farmers and Balinese village life by the artist I. Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Original 150x100 cm acrylic colour painting on canvas.
Artwork © 2020 I. Ketut Sutama.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Traditional black-and-white painting of an evening upacara, or Balinese-Hindu ceremony, by I. Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Traditional-style Balinese painting of an evening upacara – a Balinese-Hindu ceremony – by I. Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Original 90cm x 70cm painting in colour. Acrylic on canvas.
Artwork © 2003 I. Ketut Sutama.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Traditional black-and-white painting of an evening upacara, or Balinese-Hindu ceremony, by I. Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Full painting of the evening Balinese-Hindu ceremony by the artist I. Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Original 90cm x 70cm painting in colour. Acrylic on canvas.
Artwork © 2003 I. Ketut Sutama.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Traditional Balinese painting of farmers harvesting rice in Ubud padi fields by I. Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Traditional Balinese painting of farmers harvesting rice in Ubud padi fields by the artist I. Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Original 100cm x 75cm artwork in colour. Acrylic on canvas.
Artwork © 2016 I. Ketut Sutama.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

The process of converting a colour painting into a black-and-white tritone

The process of converting a colour painting into a black-and-white tritone photographic print.
Original 100cm x 75cm painting in colour. Acrylic on canvas.
Artwork © 2016 I. Ketut Sutama.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

'Adat Desa' (Traditional Village Life) – a black-and-white Balinese painting of a traditional Balinese village by the painter I. Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

'Adat Desa' (Traditional Village Life) – a black-and-white Balinese painting of a traditional Balinese village by the painter I. Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Original 100cm x 75cm painting in colour. Acrylic on canvas.
Artwork © 2016 I. Ketut Sutama.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

'Memotong Padi Tradisi' (A Traditional Rice Harvest) – a traditional black-and-white Balinese painting of rice-harvesting in Ubud by the painter I. Ketut Sutama of Bali, Indonesia

'Memotong Padi Tradisi' (A Traditional Rice Harvest) – a traditional black-and-white Balinese painting of rice-harvesting in Ubud by the painter I. Ketut Sutama of Bali, Indonesia.
Original 65cm x 50cm painting in colour. Acrylic on canvas.
Artwork © 2014 I. Ketut Sutama.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Motong Padi (Harvesting Rice) &ndash' a black-and-white Balinese painting of a traditional rice harvest in Ubud padi fields by the artist I. Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Motong Padi (Harvesting Rice) &ndash' a black-and-white Balinese painting of a traditional rice harvest in Ubud padi fields by the artist I. Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Original 65cm x 45cm painting in colour. Acrylic on canvas.
Artwork © 2005 I. Ketut Sutama.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Traditional black-and-white painting of a night-time upacara, or Balinese-Hindu ceremony, by I. Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Traditional-style Balinese painting of a night-time upacara – a Balinese-Hindu ceremony – by the artist I. Ketut Sutama of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Original 90cm x 70cm painting in colour. Acrylic on canvas.
Artwork © 2020 I. Ketut Sutama.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Pic of the Day ~ Shutting up shop

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

Covid-19 pandemic / Tourist industry / Economic recession / Bankruptcy / Unemployment
A montage of shops and businesses that have been temporarily shuttered or gone bankrupt due to the Coronavirus pandemic in central Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

A montage of shops and businesses that have been shuttered temporarily or gone bankrupt due to the Coronavirus pandemic in central Ubud, Bali, Indonesia on October 8, 2020.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

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Kosmic Kakofany ~ Self-enlightenment, Ubud-style

Blog / New-Age Tourism & Self-Enrichment

Tantric Sex and Embodiment in Ubud / Play with your Intuitive Flow / Dance with your Shakti / Cherish your Doshas / Surrender to Bliss
Advertisement for Isha Hatha Yoga classes at the Isha Hatha Yoga School featuring an Indian guru-sage in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Advertisement for Isha Hatha Yoga classes at the Isha Hatha Yoga Systems School featuring an Indian sage-guru in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Nothing lasts forever, particularly in the tropics.

After ten years of staunch service, my MacBook Pro finally died. Cue a new laptop, and a month's-worth of back-up scouring, and I was ready to tap again. But one little text file from 2014 caught my eye, and I'm not sure why it never made the grade.

It was taken from an Ubud group's Facebook post – an advert during the anarchic heyday of fast-and-loose foreign self-help gurus forsaking work permits for a quick, fat wad.

It didn't take long for Immigration to bust them, and this particular sex-guru has since 'moved back to Oslo/Antwerp/Vienna' to continue his research. (The Ubud retreat centre where he practised his dark skills is still going strong, apparently, and even in these stiff Covid-depression times is charging USD$150 a night for a single room with breakfast only – retreat not included.)

Can't be bad, this Ayurvedic tantric intuitive business.

Here it is in all its glory:

‘Tantric Sex in Ubud: Play with the Intuitive Flow, Dance with your Shakti, Cherish your Doshas and Surrender to Bliss’

‘Tantra is the original holistic way of life, yoking body, mind and spirit into living life as a whole. Polarities of good and evil, pure and impure, matter and spirit are done away with as unnecessary barriers to a direct experience of cosmic consciousness. With great finesse, tantra uses material reality for spiritual unfoldment.

Possible side effects:

  • Mind, body and soul coming into alignment.
  • Reconnection to your physical body, your emotional body and your sexuality.
  • Experiencing what it is like to live a deep and meaningful life, to walk with ease, and flow in a wonderful world of divine syncronicity [sic].

Why people book sessions:

Illumination Process (Clearing the Blueprint of Trauma); Relationship Counseling; Inability to Self-Pleasure and Orgasm; Learning How to Give and Receive Pleasure; Relief from Pelvic Tension; Enhancing Sex Life for Couples; Recovering Sexual Pleasure after Childbirth or Surgery; Trauma; Accepting and Loving One's Body and Sexuality; Premature Ejaculation; Erectile Dysfunction; Blue-Ball Syndrome; Porn and Sexual Addiction; Anal Release for Men and Women; Trigger-Point Massage (External De-armouring); Internal/External Genital De-armouring; Psoas Release; Sensitive Massage to Arouse Sexual Energy; Throat Opening; and Vagus Activation.’

And there we have it. A relic from a rusted hard-drive, and a historical snapshot of Ubud at peak tantric Ayurvedic snake-trading and fakery.

'Throat-opening'.

The good news? Nothing lasts forever. Particularly in the tropics.

Pic of the Day ~ Covid-19 street art by Wild Drawing

Urban art inspired by the Coronavirus pandemic

Indonesia / Bali / Economic recession / Unemployment / Poverty and hunger
Work in progress by Wild Drawing

'Untitled' (August 2020).
Street art by the urban artist 'Wild Drawing' of a Balinese boy going hungry due to unemployment and the collapse of the tourist industry following the catastrophic effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on Bali's economy.

Artwork © 2020 Wild Drawing (www.wdstreetart.com).
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Urban-art on hunger and poverty caused by the Coronavirus pandemic and its ensuing economic fallout on Bali by the Balinese street-artist Wild Drawing ('WD')

'Untitled' (2020).
Preliminary outline drawing attention to poverty on Bali caused by the Coronavirus pandemic and its ensuing economic fallout, by the highly-gifted Balinese street-artist Wild Drawing ('WD').
Beneath a bridge on the Ngurah Rai By-Pass in South Bali, Indonesia.
Street art © 2020 Wild Drawing (www.wdstreetart.com)
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Latest tale from The Ubud Handbook ~ It's Silly Season Again

The Ubud Handbook / Getting Around

Renting a scooter on Bali / Motorbike crashes
Mural by an anonymous street-artist of a crashed, burned-out Honda 70 scooter on a wall near Badung market in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

Mural by an anonymous street-artist of a crashed, burned-out Honda 70 scooter on a wall near Badung market in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

‘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...’

[ ... » Read on for the full story of 'It's Silly Season Again' in The Ubud Handbook » ]

The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

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Pic of the Day ~ Coronavirus pandemic street art

Urban art by Wild Drawing ('WD')

Indonesia / Bali / Covid-19 / Couples / Long-distance relationships / Separation / Communication / Social-distancing
Street-art by the Balinese muralist 'Wild Drawing' on separation, communication and long-distance relationships during the Covid-19 pandemic

'Message' (2020).
Street-art by the anonymous Balinese muralist 'Wild Drawing' (WD) on separation, long-distance relationships and the importance of communication during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Denpasar, South Bali, Indonesia.

Artwork by © 2020 Wild Drawing.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Pic of the Day ~ Pandemic? What Pandemic?

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

Bali / Covid-19 pandemic / Tourists / Maskless Foreigners / Social-distancing / Face masks
Tourists lounge at a beachside bar during the Covid-19 pandemic with little social-distancing and no masks, Bali, Indonesia

Meanwhile in Canggu, on Bali's south coast — foreigners lounge and chat at a beachside bar during the Covid-19 pandemic with little social-distancing and no face masks, on November 6, 2020.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Indonesia reported 5,444 confirmed Coronavirus cases on November 13, 2020, setting a new daily record by breaking the 5,000 mark. There have now been 15,148 official deaths from Covid-19 in Indonesia, although some epidemiologists believe that real figures may be 3-10 times that number.

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Pic of the Day ~ 'Kerauhan' – Trance and possession on Bali

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

Balinese-Hinduism / Temple ceremony / Odalan

Pre-Covid-19, a Kerauhan – a voluntary mass-possession and trance ceremony – during an annual temple festival in Buleleng, North Bali.

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

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

A Balinese-Hindu man in deep trance during a mass-possession ceremony at a village temple festival in North Bali, Indonesia

A Balinese-Hindu man in deep trance during a mass-possession ceremony during a village temple festival in North Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High.

A Balinese-Hindu woman, possessed by a male spirit, dances while in trance during a mass-possession ceremony at an odalan festival in North Bali, Indonesia

A Balinese-Hindu woman, possessed by a male spirit, dances while in trance during a mass-possession ceremony at an odalan festival in North Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High.

A possessed Hindu woman is supported by family members during a trance ceremony at a village temple festival in North Bali, Indonesia

A possessed Hindu woman is supported by family members during a trance ceremony at a village temple festival in North Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High.

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Latest tale from The Ubud Handbook ~ An American Calonarang

The Ubud Handbook / Religion Matters

Balinese-Hindu religion / Temple festival / Odalan / Possession and trance

‘NOW YOU KNOW how Jim Carrey felt. Several nights ago, to celebrate the grand opening of the newly-renovated, Disney-style temple in Campuhan, there was a Calonarang ceremony – a spiritually-charged ritual drama where sacred masks are donned, souls are possessed by the unseen and deep trance ensues.

But this one was a little different...’

[ ... » Read on for 'An American Calonarang' in The Ubud Handbook » ]

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Pic of the Day ~ The Bali Spirit Festival

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

Yoga / Therapy / Healing / Workshops / Classes / Retreats / New-Age tourism
Yoginis bliss out during an outdoor HoopYogini hula-hoop yoga class at the annual Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali Indonesia

Yoginis bliss out during an outdoor HoopYogini™ hula-hoop yoga class at the annual Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High.

A week-long annual orgy of yoga, therapy, self-help, music, workshops, classes and ecstatic dance at Ubud's one-and-only Bali Spirit Festival.

Indulge in a world-class line-up of Blissology Yoga™, Pirate Booty Yoga®, Black Metal Yoga™, Ethnochoreology Yoga™, Reggaelates® and Quantum Light Breath™ sessions – and all washed down with a Gong Bath®!

Namaste. See you on the mats!

A middle-aged yogini student tries her luck at a HoopYogini hula-hoop yoga class for beginners during the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

A middle-aged yogini student tries her luck at a HoopYogini™ hula-hoop yoga class for beginners during the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High.

A female tantric yoga instructor monitors a couple during an outdoor yoga class at the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

A female tantric yoga instructor monitors a couple during an outdoor yoga class at the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High.

A male yoga instructor guides his female students during a yoga class at the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

A male yoga instructor guides his female students during a yoga class at the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High.

An advanced yogi-and-yogini couple practice tantric yoga during a workshop at the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

An advanced yogi-and-yogini couple practice tantric yoga during an open workshop at the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High.

A middle-aged yogini videos an Afro Flow Yoga session on her iPad during the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

A middle-aged yogini videos an Afro Flow Yoga™ session on her iPad during the annual Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High.

Thought for the Day

Self-Enrichment / Self-Enlightenment / Self-Discovery / Self-Healing / Self-Awareness / Self-Love / Self-Actualization / Self-Resonance / Self-Knowledge / Self-Esteem / Self-Obsession / Selfishness / Self-Destruction / Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Dateline: Evergreen

"Narcissists never think communally. They lack empathy, have an omnipotent view of themselves, and like to believe that they are exempt from social norms. Narcissism is, by definition, an 'insight-free' zone."

(Anonymous.)

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Art for art's sake ~ A Bali 'Art Attack

Balinese art / Traditional art / Contemporary art / Street art / Paintings for sale

Dateline: August 23, 2020
Painting under construction by the Balinese artist Made Tubuh from Batuan, Bali, Indonesia

Painting under construction by the artist Made Tubuh of Batuan, Bali.
© 2020 Made Tubuh.
Photograph © Ubud High.

The last time a major economic disaster hit Bali – the 2002 and 2005 bombings – many of Bali's artisans and artists packed up their easels and chisels for good. Silversmiths became taxi drivers to put food on the table; painters became barmen; wood-carvers became hotel sheet-changers as the bottom fell out of the market.

The result? A generation of Balinese art that was never made.

The impact of the Coronavirus on Bali's artists and their families is crushing, and tourists won't be back anytime soon to fill the gaps. The Balinese economy is running on fumes. There is no social security and no emergency bail-outs to speak of on Bali.

'Mohamed dan Nelayan' (Mohamed and the Fishermen) by the painter Made Tubuh of Batuan, Bali, Indonesia.

'Mohamed dan Nelayan' (Mohamed and the Fishermen) by Made Tubuh of Batuan, Bali, Indonesia.
© 2020 Made Tubuh.
Photograph Ubud High.

And so to A Bali 'Art Attack at Ubud High – a commission-fee-free area for Balinese artists to showcase their work, and to hopefully sell a piece or two in the process. For young artists, it's their lifeblood; for the old, their pension; and for relatives of artists who have passed away, a chance for their families to swap some very tasty, bequeathed art for food.

All artists' or representatives' contact details are provided in each portfolio. Please contact them directly for enquiries, payment, collection or delivery.

Dig deep, or just enjoy the view...

Om Swastiastu.

Pic of the Day ~ Coastal erosion on Bali

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

Climate change / Global heating / Global warming
The protective sea-wall of an upscale, beach-side hotel is damaged by unusually high tides in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

The protective sea-wall of an upscale, beach-side hotel is damaged by unusually high tides in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Sand-bags shore up a beach-side Balinese-Hindu temple damaged by unusually high tides in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

Sand-bags shore up a beach-side Balinese-Hindu temple damaged by unusually high tides in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

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Latest tale from The Ubud Handbook ~ The King of Stink

The Ubud Handbook / Food Talk

Durian ~ The King of Stink

‘SOFT, SUCCULENT, SPIKY and stinky, the durian fruit is canonised by some and demonised by many, many more. Known to its fans as the 'King of Fruits', it's heavily rich in minerals and vitamins and a sworn enemy of free radicals.

The thing is, not everyone's on the same page – and its critics don't pull any punches when it comes to the pong.

"Ungodly."

"Like a three-week-old dead cow in custard."

"On the third bite," says one hater, "it was as though I'd just eaten a diseased, parasite-infested animal with a bad case of rabies. I prayed I wouldn't be sick because I really didn't want to taste it again on the way up." And from an international food critic: "Its odour is best described as pig-shit, turpentine and onions garnished with a dirty gym sock."

But for a durian dilettante?

The late chef Anthony Bourdain was a secret lover. Even the wandering 19th century naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace went full food-writer on it in 'The Malay Archipelago', describing it as '... a rich custard highly flavoured with almonds combined with occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes. Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy.'

So at least we're agreed it's edible...’

[ ... » Read on for the full story of 'The King of Stink' in The Ubud Handbook » ]

Balinese Paintings at the ARMA Gallery – the Agung Rai Museum of Art – in Ubud, Bali

Traditional and contemporary works of Balinese art

Paintings by Kasta, Meja, Budiana, Sugi, Turas, Kayun, Bendi, Pugug, Liyer, Pendet, Kaler, Kwandji, Kandel, Djodjol, Londo, Tagen, Regig, Tubuh, Baret, Mokoh, Turun and Asta
Tigers, deer, monkeys and rabbits roam in the traditional Balinese painting 'The Forest Scene' by I. Wayan Asta of Taman, Ubud, Bali

'The Forest Scene' by I Wayan Asta.
Fierce tigers, a lost lizard, grazing deer, relaxed rabbits and mischevious monkeys make up an atypical, dreamlike jungle scene.
Courtesy of the Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) in Ubud, Bali.
Photograph by Ubud High.

Ubud's ARMAThe Agung Rai Museum of Art – is home to over 200 modern and traditional works of art that paint Bali's story in ways you've only dreamed of.

File under 'Rare Left Field'. Give yourself a break – let your eyes do the walking.

The painting 'Circle of Life' at the ARMA Art Gallery by the Balinese artist I Dewa Nyoman Sugi of Mas, Bali, Indonesia

'Circle of Life' at the ARMA Art Gallery by the Balinese artist I Dewa Nyoman Sugi of Mas, Bali, Indonesia.
Courtesy of the ARMA Foundation.
Photograph by Ubud High.

[ ... » See 29 more works of mind-bending Balinese art from ARMA – The Agung Rai Museum of Art – in Ubud » ]

Thought for the Day

Coronavirus & Covid-19 / Coping

Dateline: July 22, 2020

"Lots of people are feeling unproductive. But if you successfully infect zero people today with the virus, then you have already had an extremely productive day."

From Dr. James Hamblin, M.D. over at Twitter.

The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

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Pic of the Day ~ Kites on Bali

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

Balinese kite-flying season
xxx

Pandemic or no pandemic – if it's Bali in July, it must be kite-flying weather. A beach-side kite-seller adds to the colour and inclusivity in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High 2020.

Pic of the Day ~ Garbage landfill site

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

Indonesia / Bali / Pollution / Landfill / Waste / Plastic
Cows graze amongst rubbish on the island's largest garbage dump in Suwung, South Bali, Indonesia.

Cows graze among toxic rubbish on the island's largest and most polluted garbage-landfill site in Suwung, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

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Latest tale from The Ubud Handbook ~ The Land of Self-Healing and Snake Oil

The Ubud Handbook / Tourism & Self-Enrichment

Self-healing / Gurus / Healers / New-Age tourism
A night scene where leyak, or sorcerers, perform a ritual dance attended by the Queen of the Witches

'The Dance Of The Witches' by I Ketut Budiana of Padangtegal, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Courtesy of the ARMA Foundation.
Photograph by Ubud High.

‘MAN-BUNS, CAMEL-TOES, hipster beards and Buddha tattoos flood the downtown Ubud scene. Not enlightened yet? Then you're late to the Conscious Party, kid.

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 for luck at The Womb Temple and polish it off with some tantalising Manifesting And Abundance.

You know you're worth it...’

[ ... » Read the full chapter of 'The Land of Self-Healing and Snake Oil' in The Ubud Handbook » ]

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Pic of the Day ~ Balinese street art

Urban art by Wild Drawing and the Pojoks

Murals / Contemporary Balinese art
Mural by the Balinese-born street artist Wild Drawing, aka WD, in Ketewel, Bali, Indonesia

Outdoor trompe-l'œil mural by the Balinese street-artist 'Wild Drawing' ('WD') in Ketewel, Bali, Indonesia on August 3, 2020.
Artwork © 2020 Wild Drawing/WD of the The Pojoks Art Collective.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Street-art mural by the Balinese artists' collective 'The Pojoks' in Ketewel, Bali

Murals on the side of Kulidan Kitchen by the Balinese street-artists 'Timmy Turtle', 'SLINAT' and 'Gus Dark' in Ketewel, Bali, Indonesia on August 3, 2020.
© 2020 The Pojoks Art Collective, Bali.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Mural by the street artist Wild Drawing depicting a Balinese girl from the 1930s using a smartphone near Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Mural by the street artist 'Wild Drawing' of a Balinese girl from the 1930s using a smartphone near Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
© 2020 Wild Drawing/WD of The Pojoks Art Collective.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

» For more mind-bending Balinese art, take a wander through A Bali 'Art Attack at Ubud High »

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Latest tale from The Ubud Handbook ~ Cinema Paradiso

The Ubud Handbook / Culture Bites

Indonesia / Bali / History / Cinema
'Legong: Dance of the Virgins' (1935) nudie-cutie film poster 1930s Bali

"Native customs, native music, native cast".
'Legong: Dance of the Virgins' (1935) bare native Thirties' film poster, Bali.

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

The silent flicks of Thirties' Bali sucked hungrily on the island's bare-breasted cabinet-postcard image that encouraged so many gilded tourists – and dodgy stars like Charlie Chaplin – to visit its sultry, forbidden shores...’

[ ... » Read on for the full story of 'Cinema Paradiso' in The Ubud Handbook » ]

The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

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Pic of the Day ~ Ecstatic dance in Ubud

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

Bali / Bliss / Ecstasy / Party / Rave / Trance and possession
Ecstatic dancers bliss out in Ubud, Bali Indonesia.

Pre-pandemic, a posse of female dancers bliss out during an ecstatic dance-trance session in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High.

In non-Covid-19 times, ecstatic dance sessions are regularly held at The Yoga Barn, Paradiso Vegan Cinema Ubud, the Akasha Restaurant and at the Ubud Yoga Centre. Music is usually "progressive and underground-experimental – combining deep forms of dubstep, grime, trap music, drum-and-bass, techno – and new and innovative genres of electronic music that have yet to be defined". If ecstatic dancing in Ubud is the fire in your belly, check out the 'Ecstatic Dance Ubud' (@ecstaticdanceubud) group over at Facebook.

You'll love it.

Extract from The truth about Ecstatic Dancing at The Yoga Barn by Becky Wicks:

‘... I was quite happy just to keep bopping quietly on the spot, you know, not attracting any attention as I worked through my issues – but the petite, middle-aged lady next to me felt the sudden urge to scream at the top of her lungs. With no-one else in the room making any sound at all, she made me jump by deciding, somehow, that it was time for her to writhe on the floor at my feet, yell at my ankles and then get up and beat the walls of the yoga studio like a blood-thirsty zombie in a horror film.

Seriously, she was doing things I wouldn't have done on wine. Even the really cheap wine that's mostly chemicals. Obviously, this lady must have been very stressed.’

An elderly ecstatic dancer considers her next move during an ecstatic dance session in Ubud, Bali Indonesia.

An elderly female ecstatic dancer considers her next move during an ecstatic dance party in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High.

Pic of the Day ~ Gas-mask street art

Urban art by the Balinese muralist SLINAT

Coronavirus and Covid-19 pandemic / Pollution / Traditional Bali / Mask / Taman Festival Bali
Mural by the street-artist SLINAT of a traditional Balinese woman wearing a gas-mask to combat air pollution and the Coronavirus at Taman Festival Bali theme park, Indonesia

Mural by the street-artist SLINAT of traditional Balinese women wearing gas-masks to combat air pollution – and now the Coronavirus – at Taman Festival Bali theme park in Indonesia.
Artwork © SLINAT ('Silly in Art').
Photograph by © 2020 Ubud High.

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Latest tale from The Ubud Handbook ~ The Tale of Ganesha the Globetrotter

The Ubud Handbook / Religion Matters

Bali / Balinese Hinduism / Lord Ganesha the Elephant God / Dewa Ganesa
A young Lord Ganesha writing a chapter of The Mahabharata in a stone-carver's shop in Batubulan, Bali, Indonesia

A young Lord Ganesha relaxes as he writes a chapter of The Mahabharata at a stone-carver's shop in Batubulan, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

‘THE INDIAN LORD Ganesha certainly got around.

First stop on his round-Asia tour was a spell in Buddhist Tibet with its strong tantric leanings – a convenient spot to re-invent himself as Vinayaka and then as the dancing red Nritta Ganapati – before a full-blown alter-ego revamp as the scarlet, twelve-armed Maharakta Ganapati.

Now, Maharakta Ganapati was unusually fond of skullcaps filled to the brim with human flesh and blood, and this we might charitably put down to a bad trip.

After all, what happens in Tibet stays in Tibet.

By the time Ganesha turned up in Cambodia in the fifth century after a couple of hundred years on the road, bronze statues and stone sculptures show him as having left behind ten of his twelve arms, his large pot belly shrunk to a more modest paunch.

Next stop Vietnam, no doubt on a shoestring, before a short sea-voyage with merchant guides to Japan where it only took him another 400 years or so before he was promoted to Principal Deity in Shingon Buddhism and re-baptised as Kangiten or Binayaka-ten...’

Balinese-Hindu offerings are placed in front of a statue of Lord Ganesha outside a temple in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Balinese-Hindu offerings placed in front of a statue of Lord Ganesha outside a temple in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

[ ... » Read on for 'The Tale of Ganesha the Globetrotter' in The Ubud Handbook » ]

Pic of the Day ~ Balinese-Hindu offerings

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

Full-moon ceremony / Purnama on Bali
Flower petals, offerings and incense lay scattered on the ground after a Balinese-Hindu full-moon ceremony in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Flower petals, offerings and incense lay scattered after a Balinese-Hindu full-moon ceremony in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

Pic of the Day ~ Spiritual cleansing at the Sebatu sacred springs near Ubud, Bali

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

Bali / Hinduism / Religion / Cleansing ritual / Balinese offerings / Selflessness
Balinese-Hindu worshipers purify themselves with sacred water at a natural spring in Sebatu, Bali

Pre-Coronavirus, Balinese-Hindu believers purify themselves with sacred water at a natural holy spring in Sebatu, Bali.
Photograph © 2019 Ubud High.

Balinese-Hindu offerings of rice, holy water, flower petals, cigarettes, sweets and candy on an altar next to the sacred springs at Sebatu, Bali, Indonesia

Balinese-Hindu offerings of rice, holy water, flower petals, cigarettes, sweets and candy on an altar next to the sacred springs at Sebatu, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © 2019 Ubud High.

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Latest tale from The Ubud Handbook ~ Diary of a Market Girl

The Ubud Handbook / Personal Stories

Love, tragedy, suicide, motherhood and hope
Scarlet flower petals used for Balinese-Hindu offerings for sale at a stall in Ubud Market, Bali, Indonesia

Scarlet flower petals used in Balinese-Hindu offerings for sale at a market stall in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

‘I DON'T KNOW how old I am. I was born on Pagerwesi Day – a Balinese ceremonial day where we put out offerings for our Gods to protect our homes and compounds from evil. Pagerwesi means 'iron wall' in Balinese. That's how I remember my birthday. We didn't use Western calendars back then.

I think I'm about 49 years old.

I left school when I was nine. My parents had ten children, although two of them died – my younger sister when she was still learning to speak, and my older brother when he was about ten. We don't know why they died – they just didn't wake up in the morning...’

[ ... » Read on for the full story of 'Diary of a Market Girl' in The Ubud Handbook » ]

The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

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Pic of the Day ~ Watsu water-healing in Ubud, Bali

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

Self-healing / Watsu / Healer / Water-therapist / New-Age tourism
A Watsu therapist conducts a water-therapy session in a swimming-pool at the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

A Watsu healer conducts a water-therapy session with a female patient in a swimming-pool during The Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High.

Bali ~ Diana Darling's 'You Missed The Best Of It'

Blog / Bali / Ubud / History / Expatriates

Dateline: Evergreen

If ever you've wondered whether Ubud has always been a town of Havaianas flip-flop shops, all-you-can-squeeze-in spas, self-help havens and wood-fired pizza ovens, then you're right to wonder. Because it had a life before you and me.

Diana Darling's 'You Missed The Best Of It' will fill you in – in a nice way – on everything from wasted hippies to government censorship, naked beach-walks, lumpy mattresses and fireflies that danced their way through the night.

Excerpts from 'You Missed The Best Of It' by Diana Darling

"It used to flash out everywhere – at springs and by dusty roadsides, on stone steps, in magical drawings on cloth. It surged up through trees, bounced on fireflies, and glowed at the bottom of a dirty glass of arak. It danced in public. The Balinese were playful with the holy in those days, with their rough trance and bawdy ritual theatre. Their religion was an unselfconscious, multi-dimensional gorgeousness, which to the Balinese was just ordinary life.

Cultural tourism – conceived by prominent Balinese in the 1970s – was a strategy for somehow sharing their culture with tourists without ruining it. In those days, Balinese culture was a rural way of life with a peculiarly spectacular way of engaging with the spirit world. Then, slowly, what a tourist could see of the culture became obscured by the visual noise of new buildings and traffic jams; and the tourism product shifted from 'culture' to self-indulgence..."

Put on your space-travel sandals, grab a latte and give it a read.

Pic of the Day ~ Melasti ceremony on Bali

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

Balinese-Hindu religion / Beach-pilgrimage before Nyepi / Cleansing ritual
Balinese-Hindu worshipers pray with temple effigies during a Melasti ceremony at Pantai Purnama ('Full Moon Beach') in Bali, Indonesia.

Pre-Coronavirus, Balinese-Hindu worshippers pray with temple effigies during a Melasti ceremony at Pantai Purnama ('Full Moon Beach') in Bali, Indonesia.
Melasti is celebrated during the lead-up to Nyepi, Bali's Hindu New Year and annual Day of Silence.
Photograph © 2019 Ubud High.

A gamelan orchestra accompanies Balinese-Hindu worshippers during Melasti celebrations in the lead-up to Nyepi, or the Balinese-Hindu New Year, at Purnama Beach in Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia.

Pre-Covid-19, a mobile gamelan orchestra accompanies Balinese-Hindu worshippers during Melasti celebrations in the lead-up to Nyepi, or the Balinese-Hindu New Year, at Purnama Beach in Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © 2019 Ubud High.

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Indonesia and Bali 2020/2021 ~ A Coronavirus & Covid-19 Round-Up

If you're interested in how Bali and Indonesia has fared in the Coronavirus stakes, keep reading.

If you're as sick of the whole Coronavirus deal as I am, you might be better off heading over to 'The Ubud Handbook' for a guaranteed Covid-free read.

If you want the very latest up-to-date news on the pandemic in Bali without the fluff, just check in to Ubud High @DurianLiftOff on Twitter.

Good luck.

Yeah, bro, like... anyway

Blog / Ubud / Coronavirus & Covid-19 / Tourism / Face-masks

Dateline: August 19, 2020

Go to my favourite Ubud optician's to pick up a new lens prescription. There's a sign on the door that forbids entry without a mask. There's a 20-something maskless foreigner inside. I open the door and point the sign out to him.

Me, from the doorway:
'You know you need a mask to be in here, right?'

Him:
Blank stare followed by inane, gap-toothed grin.

Me, fishing in my bag:
'Would you like a mask?'

Him:
'Naa, y'aright man.'

Me:
'You from the States?'

Him, looking three-percent-embarrassed:
'Yeah.'

Me, feeling like pushing his head hard through the glass display-case:
'Well, that figures.'

Him, beginning to realise that I despise him. Inane grin falters, but only for a second, before he leans over the display-case and speaks and spits into the sales-girls' eyes.

This is why we can't have nice things.

Brown lives matter, too.

[For more adventures in Covidland at Ubud High, see 'Marked for life'.]

Play this near anyone not wearing a face-mask near you

Coronavirus & Covid-19 / Bali / Maskless Foreigners / Tourists / Face-masks

Dateline: Evergreen

Next time you're minding your own business in an Ubud shop and another foreign mask-refusenik comes your way, just play this video – as loudly as possible, and from about five meters away. ⇊

* WARNING: Extremely fruity Latina language. *

Let Teri do the heavy lifting for you. It saves on the blood pressure.
© Teri Valentina / Twitter.

Have a nice day!

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Indonesia breaks record daily Covid-19 death-toll and surpasses China in cases

File under: Coronavirus & Covid-19 / Indonesia

Dateline: July 22, 2020

Indonesia has hit a record daily death toll of 127 to conclude the deadliest week in the country's outbreak to date. Indonesia has now surpassed mainland China in its total number of Covid-19 cases, after recording 1,752 new daily infections on July 18.

Aerial view of the Covid-19 cemetery in Pondok Rangon, East Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

Aerial view of the Covid-19 cemetery in Pondok Rangon, East Jakarta, Java, Indonesia on July 19, 2020.
© B1 Photo/Joanito de Saojoao.

Graphic chart illustrating Indonesia's Coronavirus cases surpassing those of Mainland China on July 18, 2020.

Graphic chart illustrating Indonesia's Novel Coronavirus cases surpassing those of Mainland China on July 18, 2020.
© 2020 Jakarta Post.

Indonesia's latest tally is 84,882 cases, while China reported just 22 new daily cases to bring its total to 83,644.

It's unclear whether Indonesia's most recent death count includes both deaths of probable and confirmed cases.

Epidemiologist Riris Andono Ahmad from Gadjah Mada University claimed on July 21 that Indonesia could see a shortened doubling-period for Covid-19 cases, possibly causing the country to become one of the worst affected in the world if there is no intervention.

Source: [Jakarta Globe | Jakarta Post | Jakarta Post]

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Covid Thought for the Day

File under: Coronavirus & Covid-19 / Face-masks / Anti-Maskers

Dateline: July 19, 2020

Arguing with an anti-masker is like playing chess with a pigeon. They knock over all the pieces, shit on the board and then strut around as if they've won.

Way to go ~ Indonesia's 'New Normal' immigration sweep

File under: Indonesia / Bali / Immigration / Foreigners

Dateline: July 16, 2020

On top of Immigration's sudden 'New Normal' reversal of emergency-stay visas for foreigners caught in Bali during lockdown, there's a weirder cloud on the horizon for visitors to Indonesia.

The Immigration Directorate General is waiting on President Widodo's green light to launch a surveillance system that has been developed to track foreigners during their stay in Indonesia.

The system will involve a QR code that is "attached to foreigners' passports or visas and detect their movement by tracking their transactions in public facilities, such as hotels and restaurants, and ticket purchases for public transportation".

How exactly is that going to work? Does the QR code incorporate a trackable chip, or will you need to produce your passport and have the code scanned every time you want to buy a Coke at Circle K? Will a foreigner have to surrender bank-card details before they're allowed into the country? And what happens to the QR code once you've gone home?

Unless a foreigner is required to carry their passport at all times – stupid, as losing it is disastrous, and a photocopy (at least on Bali) is still sufficient for most things – just what will it involve?

Why are they developing this? Well, "... in part, to respond to cases of foreign fugitives escaping to Indonesia". So what are the other parts?

If you think this sounds far-fetched, or that it contravenes every basic right you have as a human being, then you could be in for a rude awakening. Indonesia has a history of sudden, far-reaching sweeps of foreigners from time to time, and it may be that Covid-19 – and 'foreign fugitives' – are the convenient, catch-all catalysts for an incoming cull.

Indonesia's in the middle of an ocean or two, and things happen fast at sea.

Bear in mind that there is an elemental maxim for all foreigners who live in Indonesia: you have no rights here whatsoever, and you never will. Sorry to burst your bubble.

And if you think that you do have rights here, and are ready to stick your neck out for them, then you should probably just leave the country before you get yourself into trouble.

They may as well open a tattoo parlour at the airport and ink us up with an indelible bar-code on our foreheads before we hit the beaches.

[Source: Jakarta Post | Coconuts Bali | The Bali Sun]

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Coronavirus update for Indonesia ~ Cases and Deaths

File under: Coronavirus & Covid-19 / Indonesia

Dateline: July 10, 2020

According to government figures, there have been 70,736 Coronavirus cases across the archipelago to date – with 3,417 deaths. A month ago, on June 10th, Indonesia recorded 33,076 Covid-19 cases and 1,293 deaths from the disease.

Put more simply, the number of Coronavirus cases in Indonesia has risen by 114 percent in 30 days, and the number of deaths has jumped by 164 percent.

Indonesia is currently following the Covid-19 case/death trajectories of India and Brazil – heavily-populated countries with limited or poor healthcare facilities, high rates of poverty and extremely low Coronavirus testing rates per capita.

Daily new confirmed deaths from Covid-19 comparing Indonesia, The USA, Brazil, India, the United Kingdom and Ital

Daily new confirmed deaths from Covid-19 comparing Indonesia, The USA, Brazil, India, the United Kingdom and Italy.
© 2020 OurWorldInData.org.

[Source: Jakarta Post | Our World In Data]

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Marked for life

File under: Coronavirus & Covid-19 / Bali / Ubud / Foreigners / Face-masks

Dateline: July 7, 2020

It used to be that, on Bali, you could spot a person who cared less about your life from fifty meters away. The old adage went something like this:

"If you're on a motorbike, and you see another rider near you without a helmet, stay very far away. Because a person who has no regard for their own head has absolutely no regard for yours."

The same applies to anyone near you who insists on not wearing a face-mask.

Stupidity, wilful homicide and selfishness on Bali – in public, chiefly among the young white group – has been taken to another level. Consider these people as driving an SUV with roll-bars while heavily drunk and wearing Indy-500 safety gear. They may be young enough to weather a bout of the Coronavirus. You, or your neighbour's mum, might not.

The silver lining in this pandemic is that it visually marks out the unconditionally selfish; the (malignant) narcissists; the sociopaths; and the psychopaths among us.

Never has it been easier to recognise those who only mean you harm.

Pic of the Day

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

File under: Balinese dancers / Ubud
Pre-Covid-19, a troupe of Balinese dancers show a little attitude before a performance in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Pre-Covid-19, a troupe of Balinese dancers throw some shade before an evening performance in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High.

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Going full-Covid in the name of heart-centred love and light

File under: Coronavirus & Covid-19 / Bali / Ubud / New-Age tourism

Dateline: June 25, 2020

Self-styled Syrian Guru-stroke-Hypnotherapist comes to Bali to set up a Conscious Community & Holistic School Resort – The House of Om – and bills it as 'a labor of love' that 'brings together like-minded, heart-centered individuals who share the same vision of creating a new way of living in harmony with others'.

With you so far.

Mid-Coronavirus pandemic, said guru promotes an Ecstatic Kirtan event at his 'beautiful Sky Shala' for a 'bhakti celebration of community' – and encourages his acolytes to 'invite as many friends and family as you want! Our intention is to gather more than 100 Bhakti & Kirtan lovers in order to co-create an amazing celebration together!'

Sixty-plus camp followers turn up – maskless, and mostly in their twenties and thirties – and pack the Sky Shala like canned herring as they chant and sing and om and spit onto each other's backs.

Attendees at The House of Om during an Ecstatic Kirtan and Bhakti session near Gianyar city in Bali, Indonesia on June 18, 2020

Attendees at The House of Om during a mid-pandemic, post-lockdown 'Ecstatic Kirtan and Bhakti' session near Ubud, Bali, Indonesia on June 18, 2020.
© Facebook.

Social media is a wavy, double-edged dagger with a karmic twist. Post-event pictures pinned to Facebook and Instagram quickly make their way onto the Twitter desk of Bali's Immigration Department.

Attendees at The House of Om during an Ecstatic Kirtan and Bhakti session near Gianyar city in Bali, Indonesia on June 18, 2020

Attendees at The House of Om sing and chant during a mid-pandemic, post-lockdown 'Ecstatic Kirtan and Bhakti' session near Ubud, Bali, Indonesia on June 18, 2020.
© Facebook.

Wissam Barakeh, founder of Om and super-spreader of Light and Love, is arrested by immigration officials for violating Covid-19 health protocols; Barakeh doubles-down on his sword, lies about the photographs taken at the event, accuses 'envy people' with 'low vibrations' of trying to shut down his business – and is promptly carted off.

Barakeh is currently being held behind bars at Immigration's leisure as his deportation is 'postponed until a flight to Syria becomes available'.

Oh.

That may be some time, considering most air-bridges out of Bali are shut.

Plenty of time to learn how to live in harmony with his fellow inmates, not think about tantric sex for a while, shed the ego, and hone his communal bathroom skills.

Wissam Barakeh during a press conference at the Department of Immigration in Bali, Indonesia on June 25, 2020.

Wissam Barakeh at a press conference at the Department of Immigration in Bali, Indonesia on June 25, 2020.

Hot tip while you're in hot water with officials on Bali: don't turn your back on the proceedings, because your paperwork might just take fright and disappear for another month.
© Department of Immigration, Bali.

Wissam Barakeh in jail at the Department of Immigration in Bali, Indonesia on June 25, 2020.

Wissam Barakeh, in his new House of Om, at the Department of Immigration in Bali, Indonesia on June 25, 2020.
© Department of Immigration, Bali.

If this hits a bone, you might also like 'The Land of Self-Healing and Snake Oil' over at The Ubud Handbook ... »

Pic of the Day

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

File under: Street art / Mural / Bali / Tourism
Street art of a young foreign tourist being attacked by monkeys in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Street-art mural of a young foreign tourist being mugged by monkeys in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

© Ubud High 2020.

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Breathwork, Ubud-style ~ Kill your neighbour, kill me

File under: Coronavirus & Covid-19 / Bali / Ubud / Tourism / Face-masks

Dateline: June 22, 2020

Just for fun, I sit outside a busy Circle K on Ubud's main street for an hour, and I count how many people are wearing masks. After all, we're at the kick-start of an airborne pandemic on Bali that's just lifting off, and I'm wondering how Ubud's New Abnormal is cracking along.

Numbers can be boring.

775 people pass on 'bikes and on foot. Out of these, 611 are local – and 568 are wearing masks. That's 93 percent who are toeing the line on their island.

Out of the white crowd, 94 out of 164 are not wearing masks. Which translates as 57 percent of white people in Ubud, in a random hour, who couldn't give a dead sow's ear whose island they're borrowing – or who they interact with while they shop asymptomatically, or whose parents or grandparents they kill on their once-in-a-lifetime Corona lockdown holiday.

Out with the old and brown, and in with the new – more often than not Russian-speaking – wave of ice-cold sea-foam.

As the Coronavirus catches fire across Indonesia, wearing a mask in public isn't optional, or a personal lifestyle choice or a political branding here – it's law.

It's official: you're not special because of your skin colour, and your breath is potentially weaponised.

Brown lives matter, too.

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Indonesia records most Coronavirus cases and deaths in South-East Asia

File under: Coronavirus & Covid-19 / Indonesia

Dateline: June 18, 2020

Indonesia is now the nation worst hit by Covid-19 in South-East Asia, surpassing Singapore's 41,216 cases to take the number one slot with 41,431 cases and 2,276 dead.

While the two countries appear to be neck-and-neck in the region's race, there's a glaring discrepancy.

Singapore has been aggressive and transparent in its testing, contact-tracing, preventative measures and hospitalisation from the get-go – with just 26 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak.

Which means that Indonesia's official mortality rate – at 2,276 and rising – is roughly 8,600 percent higher than its city-state neighbour, despite a similar number of cases.

Something isn't right here, at all.

Indonesia has tested 1.2 per 1,000 people out of a population of 267 million – one of the lowest testing rates in the world – and the country currently ranks 30th in the number of Coronavirus cases worldwide.

Indonesia has also just been scored as 'moderately unsafe' in the latest Covid-19 Regional Safety Assessment report, hitting near the bottom in terms of government efficiency, quarantine efficiency and emergency preparedness.

In the same study, Indonesia ranks 18 out of 36 countries in the Asia-Pacific region – lower than Bangladesh, Myanmar, India and Mongolia.

[Source: Jakarta Globe | Jakarta Post | OurWorldInData.org | Jakarta Globe]

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Indonesia's 'New Normal' ~ First milestone of 1000 daily Coronavirus cases hit

File under: Coronavirus & Covid-19 / Indonesia / Bali

Dateline: June 10, 2020

According to government figures, Indonesia hit a personal daily best in the Covid-19 stakes today with a record 1,043 new cases registered across the archipelago, and 40 deaths.

Outside of the capital Jakarta, emerging new hotspots include South Sulawesi, South Kalimantan, South Sumatra – and East Java, where infections have risen by a staggering 334 percent since May 10.

The official current national tally stands at 33,076 cases with 1,923 dead.

To put these numbers into perspective, let's do a little digging.

In March 2020, there were 4,400 burials in Jakarta compared with 3,100 during the same period in 2019 – a rise of 1,300 unexplained deaths in the megacity, and a jump of nearly 42 percent above the monthly average.

Back on Bali, 5 people have now officially died from Covid-19 – up just 4 since the resort-island with a population of 4,2 million recorded its first death three months ago on March 11. Total number of infections: 608.

Indonesia has one of the lowest Coronavirus testing rates in the world.

Do your own maths. Nothing is what it seems on the Island of Dreams.

[Source: Jakarta Globe | Jakarta Post]

Pic of the Day ~ Ceremonial Cock-Fighting on Bali

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

Indonesia / Bali / Cock-fighting arena
Cock-fighting arena in Buleleng, North Bali, Indonesia

Pre-Coronavirus, the aftermath of a cock-fight in a village arena in Buleleng, North Bali, Indonesia.

© Ubud High.

See? I told you it wouldn't be much fun.

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© 2021 John Storey.
All Rights Reserved.

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The Last Pic

Portrait of the Day

Portraits from Bali by Ubud High

© 2021 Ubud High.


The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

© 2021 John Storey. All rights reserved.


The Ubud Handbook

There is no book. There is no e-book. Just what you see here. It's all imaginary. Enjoy.

The Ubud Handbook

THE UBUD HANDBOOK ~ Your free guide to living in Ubud and Bali in an online nutshell.

Food Talk

Durian ~ The King of Stink

"On the third bite," says one hater, "it was as though I'd just eaten a diseased, parasite-infested animal with a bad case of rabies. I prayed I wouldn't be sick because I really didn't want to taste it again on the way up..."


Personal Stories

Photo-realistic urban art by an anonymous street artist of a 1930s market scene in Bali, Indonesia

Diary of a Market Girl

"When I had my sixth and seventh babies at the hospital – my twin girls – the doctor ordered me to have a Caesarian. And without asking me, he tied my tubes off as well. I think he thought I'd had enough babies..."


Religion Matters

Balinese-Hindu offerings of rice, money, sweets, holy water and flower petals at Sebatu Springs, Bali, Indonesia

An American Calonarang

'To cut an all-night story short, the mask was donned by a dancer who fell into a deep trance. But instead of staying in the temple, he began to run. And run. He became violent and uncontrollable. He ran for four kilometers down the road – the crowd scrambled after him. He ended up in a cemetery just past my house, and in the dead of night began to do frenzied battle with unseen foes...'

'Kajeng Kliwon' ~ A Very Bad-Hair Day on Bali

'Kajeng Kliwon is the kind of day when anything that can happen will happen.

It invariably does.'


Culture Bites

1932 Virgins of Bali Thirties' nudie-cutie bare-native film poster 1930s Bali, Indonesia.

Cinema Paradiso

'Boobs and political censorship have never been far from the Silver Screen – in Indonesia, they're its bedrock. The silent flicks of Thirties' Bali sucked hungrily on the island's bare-breasted cabinet-postcard image that encouraged so many gilded tourists – and dodgy film-stars like Charlie Chaplin – to visit its sultry, forbidden shores...'


Getting Around ~ Bali 'Biking

Motorbike accident victim being treated for a leg-injury in an Ubud clinic in Bali, Indonesia

Surviving Bali on a 'Bike

"For me, some of the most dangerous people on the road are white people. I avoid them like the plague. You can tell the ones who are going to hurt others – the fixed grins, the hunched over the handle-bars, the wobbling around corners and shouts of indignation when they finally hit someone – because they have absolutely no idea how life and the road works around here..."

The Other Side of the Coin

'She starts sweeping and I notice she's limping. There's a spreading bruise and an angry graze running past her knee and down her calf. She wants to carry on cleaning – I sit her down and ask her what happened. She's shy; I press...'

It's Silly Season Again

'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. Before she hits anyone – it's a miracle she doesn't – she falls in a bad-sounding heap of bent metal and smashing plastic. A group of Balinese rush to pick her up before the cops see her...'


Tourism & Self-Enrichment

Yoginis bliss out during an outdoor HoopYogini hula-hoop yoga class at the annual Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali Indonesia

Eat, Pray, Self-Love

'My concentration's shot to pieces. The spaghetti keeps falling off my fork. She's on her third large beer now. She starts to say 'facking' even more, and is 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...'

The Land of Self-Healing and Snake Oil

'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 for luck at The Womb Temple™ and polish it off with some tantalising Manifesting And Abundance.

You know you're worth it...'

From Ubud With Love

I'm staying at a cute, family-run bed-and-breakfast – a homestay – on Ubud's trendy Jalan Goutama. A young member of the homestay's family tours her compound, blessing it with incense and rice and flower-petal offerings in little hand-made palm-leaf boxes.

All is well in Bali's cultural capital...'

A Dutchman Goes to a Gypsy Fortune-Teller

'A Dutch boy in Holland goes to a gypsy fortune-teller who tells him that he is, in fact, Balinese. His uncle then visits the Island of the Gods and brings him back a wooden carving of a bare-breasted lady.

Lucky for him it wasn't one of those funny-shaped wooden bottle-openers that looks like a cock...'


Holidays from the Jungle

The Heads of Trunyan

'Agricultural, and unpractised in the dark art of handling international tourists, the aristocratic farmer-people of Trunyan have acquired a damaging reputation for aggression. Their unique tourist draw – a jungle-cemetery where bodies are left in the open to disintegrate underneath a magical banyan tree – is regularly shunned by travellers on the time-sensitive tourist circuit...'

A Line in the Sand

'Ten meters away and the young man finally looks up – an inane, animal-like grin taped across his face as his girlfriend grips his porcelain butt and grimaces towards the empty blue sky. They disengage like street dogs, utter an invective in Russian, and stare...'


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Bitcoin and crypto tip jar at Ubud High

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Contact

Times are hard for families kept apart by pandemic restrictions - stay in touch with the ones you love

And finally, the weather

Fake styrofoam clouds over the main 'Cloud' stage at the 'Plastic-Free Gili Air Music Festival' near Lombok, Indonesia

Today's weather forecast for Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Check here for your 7-day weather forecast for Ubud and Bali.


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