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.


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

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

On September 23, 2017, the security alert for Mount Agung was raised from Level 3 to Level 4 – the highest level in Indonesia – indicating that a volcanic eruption is imminent.

On October 20, 2017, the official warning was downgraded from Level 4 to Level 3. There is, however, no indication that the volcano has returned to its non-active state. Strong seismic activity continues to rock the mountain, accompanied by frequent gas clouds.

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.

© 2017 Ubud High.


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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.
© 2017 Ubud High.


The Bali Blog ~ Ganesha Bookshop in Ubud, Bali

YOUR LOCAL UBUD BOOKSHOP for the best, and occasionally the worst, books about Bali and Indonesia. Start leafing through that crinkly, smelly old stuff they call paper...

The young Hindu elephant god Ganesha writes the Mahabharata with his broken tusk in Ubud, Bali

A young Hindu elephant god Ganesha writes the Mahabharata with his broken tusk in Batubulan, Bali, Indonesia.
© 2017 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.


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The Big Picture ~ Bali Temple Ceremony ➨

KERAUHANVOLUNTARY MASS POSSESSION AND TRANCE-DANCE – 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.
© 2017 Ubud High.


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 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.
© 2017 Ubud High.


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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.
© 2017 Ubud High.


Indonesia: The Vulnerable Clouded Leopard of Borneo ➨

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

The pronounced occipital crest, typical of a large feline predator, on the skull of a Clouded Leopard from Dayak Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo

The pronounced sagittal crest, typical of a large feline predator, on the skull of an endangered Sunda Clouded Leopard from Dayak Borneo, Indonesia.


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.
© 2017 Ubud High.


The Big Picture ~ Ogoh-Ogoh Parades and Festivals in Bali ➨

OGOH-OGOH PARADES AND FESTIVALS in Ubud, Kuta, Renon and Sanur before Nyepi – Bali's Hindu Saka New Year and Day of Silence...

Papier-mache model of drunk Western tourist during an ogoh-ogoh parade in Ubud, Bali

Papier-maché model of a drunk Western tourist paraded during an ogoh-ogoh parade in Ubud on the eve of Nyepi, the Balinese-Hindu Day of Silence.
© 2017 Ubud High.

Young Balinese women pose with monsters during an ogoh-ogoh parade in Ubud, Bali

Young Balinese women pose with masked monsters during an ogoh-ogoh festival in Ubud on the eve of Nyepi, the Balinese New Year.
© 2017 Ubud High.


The Big Picture ~ Bali Melasti Water-Purification Ceremony ➨

The Balinese-Hindu water-purification ceremony of Melasti – celebrated on Bali's beaches in the days leading up to Nyepi, Bali's Hindu Saka New Year and Day of Silence... ➨

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

Balinese-Hindu faithful de-camp from trucks at Masceti Beach for the annual Melasti ceremony in Bali, Indonesia.
© 2017 Ubud High.


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.
© 2017 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.
© 2017 Ubud High.


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.
© 2017 Ubud High.

Excerpt:


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..."



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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...