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

Tales from Ubud ~ The Apple of Bali's Eye

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

Commercial mural of a young, 1930s-style Balinese girl wearing a ceremonial headdress outside a 'Conscious Tattoo Parlour' in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Commercial street art of a Balinese girl wearing a traditional ceremonial headdress outside – you've guessed it – a 'conscious' tattoo parlour in the centre of wokeness that is modern Ubud, Bali.

Thing is, she doesn't look too happy about it.

Bali street art by © ARTXPAN.
Pic by © 2021 Ubud High.


Contents ~ Ubud High...

Jump to Bali's latest Twitter posts and island news. Take the weight off your brain and get lost in a gallery of Balinese art, or take a dose of Bali's street art, urban murals & graffiti.

If you want Covid-free short stories, head to The Ubud Handbook – or to Bali in the Time of Covid-19 for a 2021 intro. Bali 2020 is here.

And finally, today's Bali weather. Have a safe 2021.


Graffiti artwork by the street artist 'Wild Drawing' of a Balinese boy going hungry due to unemployment and the collapse of the tourist industry in Bali, Indonesia

'Covid-19 vs. Hunger' (2020) by the street artist 'Wild Drawing' of a Balinese boy going hungry due to the collapse of the tourist industry following the devastating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on Bali's economy.

Bali street art by © 2020 Wild Drawing of 'The Pojoks' art collective.
Pic © 2020 Ubud High.

⇨ See 55 more works of street & urban art, murals and graffiti on Bali ⇨


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News ~ Bali & Indonesia in the Time of Covid-19


The Tourist Ghost Ship ~ Bali 2021

Covid-19 pandemic / Economic recession / Tourist economy / Unemployment / Bankruptcy

Blog ~ Bali & Indonesia in the Time of Covid-19 by Ubud High
Balinese street art of a pirate ship flying the Jolly Roger on the wall of a bankrupt restaurant in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, 2021

Balinese street art of a pirate ghost-ship flying the Jolly Roger on the wall of a bankrupt restaurant in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia on May 27, 2021.
Photograph by © 2021 Ubud High.

➤ Bali 2021 ~ Bali & Indonesia in the Time of Covid-19

Scroll for news, views, links and free-writing on Covid-19, Bali and the Indonesian scene by @DurianLiftOff on Twitter.


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English-language news for Bali, Indonesia

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

Dateline: Evergreen

Bali & Indonesia News Digest

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.

The Jakarta Globe, Reuters, Al Jazeera & SCMP ~ Indonesia's news.
❂ Bali news ~ Coconuts Bali.
❂ For smaller island stories ~ The Bali Sun.
❂ Covid-heavy, with a broad coverage of Indonesian-language media ~ The Bali Beat.

A young Lord Ganesha writes a chapter of The Mahabharata with his broken tusk at a stone-carver's shop in Batubulan, Bali, Indonesia

Tempo's weekly English edition.
Asia Times ~ Regular, heavyweight articles on Indonesia.
Channel News Asia ~ Big-picture Asian views.
The Jakarta Post ~ Indonesia's ageing grandaddy of English-language papers.

Pre-Covid-19, a troupe of Balinese dancers show a little attitude before a performance in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

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Newest Posts at Ubud High

The Bali Street Art Scene ~ Urban Artists in the Wild

Street artists / Murals / Graffiti / Urban art

Bali / Canggu / Ubud / Kuta / Seminyak

Bali's street art for the masses – the most public of the island's art scene hidden in plain view on the walls of Canggu, Seminyak, Kuta and Ubud.

Street art and murals at Batu Bolong beach in Canggu near Old Man's bar and restaurant

(Left & right): Balinese-flavoured street art by the urban artist ARTXPAN at Beach Garden in Canggu, Bali.
(Middle): Commercial graffiti mural at Old Man's bar in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia.
Photographs by © 2021 Ubud High.

⇨ Take your fill of Bali's best street art, murals and graffiti in Canggu, Seminyak, Kuta and Ubud ⇨

3-D street-art street art of a traditional, topless, 1930s-style Balinese girl entranced by her cellphone and social media in an urban mural by Wild Drawing near Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

3-D street art of a traditional 1930s-style Balinese girl entranced by her cellphone and social media in an urban mural near Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Balinese street mural by © 2014 Wild Drawing of The Pojoks Street Artists Crew.
Photograph by © 2015 Ubud High.

Urban Mural at the AllCaps Graffiti Park in Canggu of a shocked, traditional Balinese woman by an unknown street artist

Four-eyed shock on the face of a traditional Balinese woman as she stares at the abyss of contemporary Bali.

Mural at the AllCaps Street Art & Graffiti Park in Canggu, Bali by unknown street artist.
Photograph by © 2021 Ubud High.

Street art mural of a Balinese girl in traditional Balinese costume outside a 'conscious' tattoo shop in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Commercial mural of a young, 1930s-style Balinese girl wearing a traditional ceremonial headdress outside a 'Conscious Tattoo Parlour' in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Bali street art by © ARTXPAN.
Photograph by © 2021 Ubud High.

Street mural of a young Balinese woman at the side of the road in Singakerta, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Street mural of a young Balinese woman at the side of the road in Singakerta, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Photograph © 2021 Ubud High.

Street art graffiti of the Hindu elephant-headed God Ganesha outside an Indian restaurant in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Street art graffiti of the Balinese-Hindu elephant-headed God Dewa Ganesa outside an Indian restaurant in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Photograph by © 2021 Ubud High.

Street art graffiti mural by the Balinese urban artists 'Wild Drawing' and 'Slinat' of a traditional Balinese woman wearing a gas-mask during the Covid-19 pandemic

'Tembang Ladang Gula' (2020) by 'Wild Drawing' and 'SLINAT'.
Graffiti street art 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 Indonesian economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Denpasar, South Bali, Indonesia on September 5, 2020.

Urban street art by © 2020 Wild Drawing / SLINAT.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

⇨ See 55 more works of street & urban art, murals and graffiti on Bali ⇨

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The Tale of Ganesha the Globetrotter ~ Bali's Elephant-Headed Hindu God

Balinese Hinduism / Buddhism / Shree Ganesh / Sri Ganesa / Dewa Ganesa

The Ubud Handbook / Religion Matters
Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, depicted as a spray-can- and roller-wielding street artist in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Lord Ganesha comes in many guises – but is rarely seen in his alter-persona as the blissed-out four-armed patron saint of Balinese street artists. Complete with can of spray-paint, roller, a paintbrush... and what appears to be alpha-inspiration leaking from his raised right hand. (The pet rat is, of course, the elephant-headed deity's go-to form of transport.)

Photograph by © 2021 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 Vinãyaka 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...

⇨ Read the full story: 'The Tale of Ganesha the Globetrotter ~ Bali's Elephant-Headed Hindu God' ⇨

The Hindu elephant god Ganesha guards a Hindu temple in Bali, Indonesia

The elephant-headed Hindu deity Lord GaneshaDewa Ganesa – guards a Balinese-Hindu temple in Bali, Indonesia.

Photograph © 2021 Ubud High.

Remember to stay in touch

Street art by Bali's 'Peanut Dog'

Urban graffiti art / The jungle wire / Long-distance communication & Covid-19
Keep in touch with the ones you love, even if it's by jungle wire

Times are hard for families and friends kept apart by the pandemic – keep in touch with the ones you value and love.

The pandemic has had a laser-focussing effect on relationships. Those that were strong, grew stronger. The hi-byes fell by the wayside; and weak or fractured relationships fell apart or blew apart.

Bali street art by © 2018 Peanut Dog in Denpasar, Indonesia. Pic by © 2021 Ubud High.

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

More innocent, pre-smart-'phone times on the walls of a house in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.

End of an era.

Bali street art by © 2018 Peanut Dog. Pic by © 2021 Ubud High.

The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Let's Get Wet ~ The Rainy Season on Bali

Monsoon / Wet season / Best time to visit Bali / Rainy season diseases / Weather in Bali

The Ubud Handbook / Health Matters

There was a time when you could pick the best months to visit Bali, and miss out on most of the rainy season. But the days of setting your watch to a daily monsoon downpour have long gone.

Rule Number One on a rainy day? Don't get wet... ⇨

Blue sky pokes from behind a gathering of stormy monsoon clouds over Bali, Indonesia

The eye of the storm: rain-laden monsoon clouds over Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph by © Ubud High.

⇨ Read the full story: 'Let's Get Wet ~ The Rainy Season on Bali' ⇨

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Diary of a Market Girl

Love, tragedy, suicide, motherhood and hope

The Ubud Handbook / Personal Stories
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 God and our spirits 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 the full story: 'Diary of a Market Girl' ⇨

'Kerauhan' ~ Trance and Possession on Bali

Balinese-Hinduism / The spirit world / 'Niskala' / Temple ceremony / Odalan

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High

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 'odalan', 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.

⇨ See the full gallery: 'Kerauhan ~ Trance & Possession on Bali' ⇨

An American Calonarang ~ Trance and Possession on Bali

Balinese-Hindu religion / 'Niskala' / The spirit world / Temple festival / Odalan / Possession and trance

The Ubud Handbook / Religion Matters

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 the full story: 'An American Calonarang ~ Trance & Possession on Bali' ⇨

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Nyepi ~ Bali's Hindu New Year, and the Day of Silence

The Balinese-Hindu Saka New Year / Hari Raya Nyepi / Tanggal merah / Public holiday

The Ubud Handbook / Religion Matters

If previous New Years' Days have seen you waking up with a crippling hangover trying to figure out the night before, perhaps it's time you headed to Bali in March. Nyepi – the Balinese-Hindu Day of Silence, and the first day of the Hindu Saka New Year – is a day, a night and a day you'll never forget.

Balinese-Hindu devotees pray as sacred temple objects are bathed and cleansed during a Melasti ceremony before Nyepi on Pantai Purnama in Bali, Indonesia

In pre-Covid-19 times, Balinese-Hindu devotees pray as sacred temple objects are bathed and cleansed during a Melasti ceremony before Nyepi on Purnama Beach in Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph by © Ubud High.

For a single day and a night during Nyepi, life on the small island of Bali comes to a bone-shattering halt. Work and travel is out of bounds, and for a brief 24 hours no-one – tourists included – is allowed to stray from their homes or hotels...

Sacred barong and temple effigies are carried in procession during a Melasti ceremony the day before Nyepi in Bali, Indonesia

Pre-Coronavirus, sacred temple effigies are carried in procession during a Melasti ceremony on Pantai Purnama the day before Nyepi in Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph by © Ubud High.

⇨ Read the full story: 'Nyepi ~ Bali's Hindu New Year, and the Day of Silence' ⇨

Kajeng Kliwon ~ A Very Bad Hair Day on Bali

Balinese ceremonial day / The spirit world / Balinese-Hinduism / 'Niskala', or 'the unseen'

The Ubud Handbook / Religion Matters

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

It invariably does.

Film poster for Indonesian horror film 'Kajeng Kliwon: Nightmare in Bali'

Film poster for the 2019 Indonesian horror film 'Kajeng Kliwon: Nightmare in Bali' starring Amanda Manoppo and Christ Laurent.

If you don't pray – or pay very close attention – Kajeng Kliwon is the day when you get run off your 'bike; or forget the pan on the stove until it melts; or your dog dies of a heart-attack; or a coconut falls on your head; or you leave your kids behind in the departure lounge; or your walls just fall down.

It's one of those...

⇨ Read the full story: 'Kajeng Kliwon ~ A Very Bad Hair Day on Bali' ⇨

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It's Silly Season Again ~ Renting a scooter, and crashing it, on Bali

Renting a motorbike on Bali / Motorcycle injuries, accidents and crashes

The Ubud Handbook / Getting Around
Mural by an anonymous street-artist of a crashed, burned-out Honda 70 scooter on a wall near Badung market in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

Street art by an anonymous urban 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 the full story: 'It's Silly Season Again in Ubud ~ Renting a scooter and crashing it on Bali' ⇨

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

Check out the statistics for checking out on Bali's roads.

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 streets, just keep scrolling – because ignorance, sometimes, is bliss...

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

Statistics 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).

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

Statistics showing the exponential rise in the number of scooters, cars, trucks and buses on Bali's roads (1996-2019). Numbers 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.

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.

If you want to kill or injure yourself – or somebody else – on Bali, jumping 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.

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.

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.

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

⇨ See the full statistics: 'Bali Rules ~ Road Traffic Accident (RTA) statistics for Bali (1996-2020)' ⇨

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Durian ~ The King of Stink

The Durian Fruit in Bali, Indonesia

The Ubud Handbook / Food Talk

Soft, succulent, stinky and spikey, 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 the full story: 'Durian ~ The King of Stink' ⇨

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Cinema Paradiso ~ Bali's Seat in the History of Indonesian Cinema

Indonesia / Bali / 1930s / History / Bioskop

The Ubud Handbook / Culture Bites
'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 the full story: 'Cinema Paradiso ~ Bali's Seat in the History of Indonesian Cinema' ⇨


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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Bali Art ~ Traditional Paintings and Modern Artists

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

Traditional, modern 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

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 your legs a break – let your eyes do the walking.

The painting 'The Frog Dance' in the ARMA Art Gallery, Ubud, by the Balinese artist I Ketut Regig of Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia

'The Frog Dance' in the ARMA Art Gallery, Ubud, by the traditional Balinese artist I Ketut Regig of Peliatan, Bali, Indonesia.
Courtesy of the Agung Rai Museum of Art Foundation.
Photograph by Ubud High.

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.

Durma And The Hermit by the Balinese artist Anak Agung Gede Raka Turas of Padangtegal, Ubud, Bali

'Durma And The Hermit' at the ARMA Art Gallery, Ubud, by the traditional Balinese artist Anak Agung Gede Raka Turas of Padangtegal, Ubud, Bali.
Courtesy of the Agung Rai Museum of Art Foundation.
Photograph by Ubud High.

⇨ See 30 more works of mind-bending Balinese art at the ARMA gallery: 'The Agung Rai Museum of Art, Ubud' ⇨

Art for Art's Sake ~ A Bali 'Art Attack

Balinese art / Traditional, Modern and Contemporary Balinese paintings

Paintings for sale ~ Direct from Artist to Buyer
Balinese painting for sale by the artist I. Ketut Murtika from Batuan, Bali, Indonesia

Untitled.
Painting by © I. Ketut Murtika of Batuan, Bali.
Photograph by © Ubud High.

The last time major economic disasters 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.
Painting by © I. Made Tubuh.
Photograph by © 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 free market scene...

Om Swastiastu.

Traditional Balinese Paintings by Ida Ketut Sutama

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

The Ubud School of Painting / Balinese Hinduism / Ceremonies, harvests, markets and traditional Balinese life

A series of colour paintings converted to gallery-quality tritone prints for sale – by the traditional Balinese artist I. Ketut Sutama of Kutuh Kaja, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

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 150 x 100 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.

'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.

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Bali's Street Art & Creative Urban Graffiti

Urban Art, Bali-style

Bali street art in Ubud, Ketewel and Denpasar

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

Street 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.
Urban Art by © 2020 Komunitas Pojok (The Pojoks) Street Art Collective, Bali.
Photograph by © 2020 Ubud High.

Surreal, cock-headed street art by an unknown urban artist on Monkey Forest Road in Ubud, Bali

Tolerance is exhibited and practised at every level by the Balinese people – one of the most patient, accepting, and most forgiving races I have ever come across.

In this slightly sarcastic take, an alien-headed foreigner carries a cockerel's head on a stick, a pink balloon and a sign appealing for tolerance at a sacred level.

Less 'om', more 'um'.

Surreal, animal-headed Bali street art by an unknown urban artist on Monkey Forest Road in Ubud, Indonesia.
Photograph by © 2021 Ubud High.

Street Art & Graffiti at Taman Festival, Bali

Murals & Urban Art at the abandoned theme park of Taman Festival, Bali

Urbex & tagging at Padang Galak beach near Sanur
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

Street art by the urban artist SLINAT of a traditional Balinese woman wearing a gas-mask to combat air pollution – and now the Coronavirus – at Taman Festival Bali theme park in Indonesia.

Street Art by © 2019 SLINAT.
Photograph by © 2020 Ubud High.

Mural of a traditionally-dressed Balinese woman wears a gas-mask to combat air pollution and the Coronavirus at Taman Festival theme-park in south Bali, Indonesia

Defaced street mural by the urban artist SLINAT of a traditionally-dressed Balinese woman wearing a gas-mask to combat air pollution – and on a subversive level, to protect against erosive tourism – at Taman Festival in Bali, Indonesia.

Urban art by © 2019 SLINAT.
Photograph by © 2020 Ubud High.

Street art of a man with a horses's head feeling particularly welcome at the urban-art heaven of Taman Festival Bali

Surreal urban art of a man with a horse's head feeling particularly welcome at the street art heaven in Taman Festival theme park, Bali.

Graffiti mural © unknown street artist.
Photograph by © 2020 Ubud High.

⇨ See more creative graffiti, street & urban art at 'Taman Festival Bali' ⇨

Bali Street Art in Canggu ~ AllCaps Park, Art Gallery & Store

AllCaps Graffiti HQ & urban artists' paradise

Spray an' Pray AllCaps murals in Canggu and Mengwi, Bali, Indonesia

If you're on Bali, bored stupid with CovidWorld and in dire need of a quick, deep brainwash, drop by the AllCaps Park in Canggu to fill your eyes up with the bizarre, the beautiful and the downright off-the-wall murals, graffiti and street art there.

A stern, traditional Balinese woman stares down in disdain at the current state of Bali in this street art at the AllCaps Graffiti Park in Canggu, Bali

A stern, traditionally-dressed Balinese woman stares down in disdain at the current state of Bali in this street art at the AllCaps Park in Canggu, Bali.
AllCaps street mural by an unknown artist.
Photograph by © 2021 Ubud High.

If you're looking for the AllCaps Graffiti Store & Gallery for your spray-paint supplies and an instant community of urban artists, you'll need to head out from Canggu – now known as 'Moscow Central' – to Padi Central on Jalan Raya Tumbakbayuh in Mengwi.

Street art at the AllCaps Park in Canggu, Bali

Street art at the AllCaps Graffiti Park in Canggu, Bali.
Urban Stencil Art by © SLINAT ('Silly In Art').
Photograph by © 2021 Ubud High.

AllCaps Park in Canggu is a treat for the die-hard street art fan. The AllCaps Gallery & Shop in Mengwi is open daily, and very welcoming to complete strangers – with plenty of laid-back generosity of spirit that most artists are famous for.


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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

New-Age Tourism on Bali ~ The Me Tribe

The Land of Self-Healing and Snake Oil

Self-healing / Gurus / Wellness / Healers / New-Age tourism / The Me, Myself and I Tribe

The Ubud Handbook / Tourism & Self-Enrichment
Yoga-wear for an Ubud yogini manifesting her abundance, exploring her Divine Feminine and inserting a Jade Egg at The Womb Temple near The Yoga Barn in Bali

Advert for crystal-infused eco active yoga-wear – for the conscious yogini who is intent on manifesting abundance and exploring her divine feminine – in a quiet Balinese village twenty minutes' north of Ubud in Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph by © 2020 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.

Shake out those Kundalini Awakenings with some HoopYogini™ and Bhakti BoogieŽ 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 story: 'The Land of Self-Healing and Snake Oil' ⇨

Ecstatic Dance in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Ecstasy / Bliss / Trance / Wellness / Self-healing / Music / Party / New-Age tourism

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High
Ecstatic dancers in mid-flow, as the journey begins at The Bali Spirit Festival towards wellness and self-healing

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

In non-Covid-19 times, ecstatic dance sessions are regularly held at The Yoga Barn™, the Paradiso Vegan Cinema Ubud, the Akasha Restaurant, and 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".

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 music and dance session in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High.

Extract from 'The Truth About Ecstatic Dancing at The Yoga Barn' in 'Balilicious' 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...’

If you want a big, fat belly-laugh, go and read the whole story over at www.beckywicks.com. It's accurate, and very funny.

⇨ Satiate your inner cravings for ecstatic dance, conscious music, self-healing and inner wellness at the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Indonesia from April 5-10, 2022 ⇨

Going full-Covid in the name of heart-centred love & light at 'The House of Om' with Wissam Barakeh

Conscious Community & Holistic School Resort / Kirtan / Bhakti / Retreats / Events / Coronavirus & Covid-19

June 25, 2020

Self-styled Syrian Guru-stroke-NLP-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.

⇨ Read on for the full story of Wissam Barakeh and 'The House of Om' in Bali ~ Going full-Covid in the name of heart-centred love and light... ⇨

Back to Contents ↺

Watsu® Water-Healing & Wellness at The Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Bali

Watsu® / Water / Healer / Therapy / New-Age tourism

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High
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.

Tantric Sex and Yoga in Bali ~ Tantra instructors, teachers, classes & workshops in Ubud and Canggu

Cherish your Doshas, Dance with your Shakti, Play with your Intuitive Flow and Surrender to Bliss

Blog / New-Age Tourism & Self-Enrichment
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 the dark ages 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....’

⇨ Read the full story: Tantra, Yoga, and Tantric Classes, Workshops and Retreats in Ubud, Bali' ⇨

Back to Contents ↺


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

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 to the dawn.

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 ~ Balinese-Hindu offerings

Full-moon ceremony / Purnama on Bali

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High
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 © Ubud High.

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Indonesia and Bali in the Time of Coronavirus ~ A Covid-19 Round-Up

If you're interested in how Ubud, Bali and Indonesia are faring in the Coronavirus stakes, keep reading for a short, bitter taste.

Good luck.


Shutting up Shop ~ Bankruptcy and unemployment in Ubud

Covid-19 pandemic / Tourist industry / Economic recession / Unemployment

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High
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 Covid-19 pandemic in Central Ubud, Bali, Indonesia on October 8, 2020.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

What Pandemic? Maskless tourists in Canggu, Bali

The Covid-19 pandemic, tourists, social-distancing, face masks and anti-maskers on Bali

Photographs from Bali by Ubud High
Tourists lounge at a beachside bar during the Covid-19 pandemic with little social-distancing and no masks, Bali, Indonesia

In Canggu, on Bali's south coast, Western foreigners and Russian tourists 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 numbers may be 3-10 times that figure.

Back to Contents ↺

Russian Instagram influencer drives motorbike into Bali Sea; deported for breach of Indonesian Covid-19 health protocols

Indonesia / Immigration / Russians in Bali / Deportation / Covid-19 health protocols

Bali 2021 ~ Covid-19, crime and foreigners behaving badly on Bali

Sergei Kosenko, a Russian national and 'Instagram influencer' – who caused outrage in December 2020 after being filmed launching off a dock on a motorcycle and plunging into the Bali Sea for Instagram likes – was deported from Indonesia on January 24, 2021.

Sergei Kosenko, seen partying hard with hired models, was deported from Bali for breaking Indonesiam Covid-19 health protocols and conducting illegal business on the island

Russian 'social media influencer' Sergei Kosenko, deported from Indonesia after holding a party for more than 50 people at a Bali hotel in violation of Indonesian Covid-19 health protocols.
Image: Instagram.

Would you honestly buy a used Bali hotel from a Smolensk native who looks like this?

Read on... ➤

Anti-maskers on Bali ~ The Shame Game

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

Westerners / Face-mask mandate / Covid-19 Health protocols in Indonesia / Coronavirus pandemic
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.

Back to Contents ↺

Marked for Life ~ Anti-maskers on Bali

Maskless foreigners and tourists / Face-masks / Indonesian Covid-19 Health Protocols / Ubud / Canggu / Seminyak / Legian

July 7, 2020

It used to be, on Bali, that you could spot a person who cared less about your life from fifty yards away. The old adage went something like this: 'If you're on a motorbike and you see another rider without a helmet, stay far away. Because a person who has no regard for their own head has none for yours'.

Homicidal selfishness on Bali has been taken to a new level. In public, according to the Head of Bali's Public Order Agency, the majority of habitual non-mask-wearers are Caucasian, and predominantly Russian or Russian-speaking...

⇨ Read the blog post: 'Marked for Life ~ Russians, anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, maskless foreigners and Covid-19 on Bali' ⇨

Captured wild jungle pig in Java, Indonesia

A captured wild jungle pig in Java, Indonesia.
Photograph © Ubud High.

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

Maskless Western foreigners and Russian tourists / Face-masks / Anti-maskers / Bali / Indonesian Coronavirus & Covid-19 Health Protocols

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 or country.

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 pig's fart 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.

A semi-dressed pig in her underwear wearing a cartoon crown

A semi-dressed pig in her underwear models a cartoon crown as she wanders the streets of Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Photograph © 2021 Ubud High.

Out with the old and brown, and in with the new wave of ice-cold, off-white sea-foam.

As the Coronavirus catches light 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 or nationality, and your breath is potentially weaponised.

Brown lives matter, too.

[Permalink: Breathwork, Ubud-style ~ Kill your neighbour, kill me ⇨]

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The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

© 2021 John Storey. All Rights Reserved.


The Last Pic

Portrait of the Day

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

A beggar from Muntigunung on the streets of Ubud in Bali, Indonesia.
Portrait by © Ubud High.


The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

© 2021 John Storey / Ubud High. All rights reserved.


Street art mural of a young topless 1930s Balinese girl using social media on a mobile cellphone painted by the street artist Wild Drawing in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

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Street Art, Urban Murals & Creative Graffiti on Bali

Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, depicted as a spray-can- and roller-wielding street artist in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

➤ Bali's Street Artists, Murals & Graffiti in the Wild ~ From Canggu to Ubud

Street art, graffiti and murals for the masses – the most public of Bali's urban art scene hidden in plain sight on the walls of Canggu, Ubud, Seminyak and Kuta.

Street art and graffiti murals at Batu Bolong beach in Canggu near Old Man's bar and restaurant, Bali, Indonesia

➤ AllCaps Park ~ Street Art, Graffiti and Mural Paradise in Canggu, Bali

Bali street art - Graffiti and Mural Heaven at the AllCaps Park in Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

➤ Taman Festival ~ Ghost Town Graffiti, Murals and Street Art on Bali

Urban art, murals and graffiti galore at the derelict and haunted Taman Festival Theme Park in Bali
The Ubud Handbook

The Ubud Handbook

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

Religion Matters

The Tale of Ganesha the Globetrotter ~ Bali's Elephant-Headed Hindu God

Street art graffiti of Lord Ganesha with his mouse or rat, on a mural wall in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

‘First stop on Shree Ganesha's round-Asia tour was a spell in Buddhist Tibet with its strong tantric leanings – a convenient spot to re-invent himself as Vinãyaka, 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 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...’

.. ➤ ..


An American Calonarang ~ Trance & Possession on Bali

Graffiti street art of a Balinese Salvador Dali sipping on a cup of kopi luwak in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

‘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...’

.. ➤ ..


'Nyepi' ~ Bali's Hindu New Year, and the Day of Silence ~ Melasti, Ngerupuk, Ogoh-Ogoh & Manis Nyepi

Balinese-Hindu devotees pray as sacred temple objects are bathed and cleansed during a Melasti ceremony before Nyepi on Pantai Purnama in Bali, Indonesia

‘If previous New Years' Days have seen you waking up with a crippling hangover trying to remember what you did the night before, maybe it's time you headed to Bali in March. Nyepi – the Balinese Day of Silence, and the start of the Hindu Saka New Year – is a day, a night and a day you'll never forget....’

.. ➤ ..


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

Film poster for Indonesian horror film 'Kajeng Kliwon: Nightmare in Bali'

‘Kajeng Kliwon is the kind of day when anything that can happen will happen. It invariably does.

You have been seriously warned...’

.. ➤ ..


Personal Stories

Diary of a Market Girl

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

“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...”

.. ➤ ..


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 back up...”

.. ➤ ..


Culture Bites

Cinema Paradiso ~ Bali's Seat in the History of Indonesian Cinema

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

‘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

Surviving Bali on a 'Bike

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

“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...”

.. ➤ ..


It's Silly Season Again ~ Renting a Scooter, and Crashing it, on Bali

A monkey tourist crashes his scooter in a road accident in Bali, Indonesia

‘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...’

.. ➤ ..


The Other Side of the Coin ~ Just Another Motorbike Accident on Bali

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

‘She starts sweeping and I notice that 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...’

.. ➤ ..


Health Matters

Let's Get Wet ~ The Rainy Season on Bali

Blue sky pokes from behind a gathering of stormy monsoon clouds over Bali, Indonesia

‘Rule number one on a monsoon day? Don't get wet.

You may not realise that getting caught in a cloudburst or shower on Bali – particularly if you're on a motorbike – is the tropical equivalent of walking naked outside during a Prague Winter after a lukewarm bath.

It'll really slow you down. The shivers, hot-and-cold flushes, a chesty cough, diarrhoea, sneezing, stomach pains, a belting headache and aching bones are all at the top of the list...’

.. ➤ ..


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

Bali hornet or Tabuhan, a dark brown, stinging, flying, wasp-like insect that may cause anaphylactic shock

‘Nowhere is free from the tax of life. We all have to pay for our slice of Bali paradise – and this often comes in the shape of our biting, stinging, crawling, flying insect-cousins.

It's the downside of environment-sharing...’

.. ➤ ..


Holidays from the Jungle

The Heads of Trunyan

Human skulls in the open, outdoor cemetery in Trunyan village, near Batur in Bali, Indonesia

‘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...’

.. ➤ ..


Lombok ~ 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...’

.. ➤ ..


Tourism & Self-Enrichment

Eat, Pray, Self-Love

I love-heart Ubud, Canggu, Seminya, Sanur and Kuta in Bali, Indonesia

‘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...’

.. ➤ ..


From Ubud With Love

Will you marry? in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

‘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 spiritual capital...’

.. ➤ ..


A Dutchman Goes to a Gypsy Fortune-Teller

Wooden cock bottle openers, Ubud Market, Bali

‘A Dutch boy in Holland goes to a gypsy fortune-teller who tells him that he is, in fact, Balinese. Afterwards, his uncle 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...’

.. ➤ ..


The Land of Self-Healing and Snake Oil

Yoga-wear for an Ubud yogini manifesting her abundance, exploring her Divine Feminine and inserting a Jade Egg at The Womb Temple near The Yoga Barn in Bali

‘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...’

.. ➤ ..


Graffiti street art of a young 1930s Balinese girl looking at social media on her mobile cellphone in a mural near Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

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Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions in Bali & Indonesia Today

The volcano Anak Krakatau erupting in the Sunda Strait, Indonesia

Gunung Anak Krakatau – the infamous 'Child of Krakatoa' volcano – erupting in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, Indonesia.


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 ⇨