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

The Old Bali Blog (2016-2018) « The Ganesha Bookshop in Ubud ~ A Reader's and Writer's Delight [Updated 2021]

Ubud High's top picks for the best – and occasionally the worst – books on Bali and Indonesia. Start leafing through that crinkly, smelly old stuff they call paper...

A young Lord Ganesha writing with his broken tusk at a stone-carver's workshop in Batubulan, Bali, Indonesia

The twin carvings of a young Lord Ganesha writing the Mahabharata with his broken tusk at a stone carver's workshop in Batubulan, Bali, Indonesia.
© Ubud High.

If you're hungry for words while you're in town, head to Ganesha Bookshop – just outside Ubud's Main Post Office. New, rare and second-hand books... with an Indonesian twist.

Classic must-reads

A Brief History of Indonesia: Sultans, Spices and Tsunamis

The Incredible Story of Southeast Asia's Largest Nation
by Tim Hannigan

The new History Kid on the block. If you want sharp and witty with a writer's softness and a journalist's detail – and want to clue up on a bunch of Indonesian history in short order, this is one for the road.

A Brief History of Indonesia tells the story of Indonesia as a narrative of kings, traders, missionaries, soldiers and revolutionaries featuring stormy sea crossings, fiery volcanoes – and the occasional tiger.

Hannigan recounts the colourful visits of foreign travelers who have passed through these shores for many centuries – from Chinese Buddhist pilgrims and Dutch adventurers to English sea captains and American movie stars.

For readers who want an entertaining introduction to Asia's most fascinating country, this is delightful reading.


Krakatoa: The Day The World Exploded

by Simon Winchester

A recommended page-turning beach-read. But don't get too close to the shore...

Simon Winchester – The Map That Changed The World and The Meaning Of Everything – brilliantly recounts the vaporisation of the Indonesian island-volcano of Krakatoa in 1883 and its subsequent tsunami that wiped out 40,000 people.

The massive eruption firmly changed the history of the world – ash-induced sunsets hovering above Europe and North America inspired artists like Constable for years – and it was single-handedly responsible for the potato famine in Ireland that forced a mass migration to the United States.

In Indonesia, the volcano turned Dutch colonial society on its head – and introduced extremist Islamic Nationalism into the budding republic.

How? Start leafing the pages...


Under The Volcano: The Story of Bali

by Cameron Forbes

Out of print, and with second-hand copies selling on Amazon for over $110, Under The Volcano is a highly readable book covering every base on Bali in lively, journalistic prose.

Some travellers come to Bali looking for paradise. Nehru called it 'the morning of the world'. Yet this small island has seen a lot of bloodshed – from the ritual suicides of Balinese warriors fighting the Dutch, to the anti-communist massacres of 1965-66 and the Bali bombings of 2002 and 2005.

Australian journalist Cameron Forbes looks at the beauty – and blood – of Bali through interviews, legends, concise reporting and solid history. He tells the stories of explorers, colonisers, surfers, artists, jihadists and drug-runners – and above all, the stories of the Balinese themselves.

Cameron Forbes brings Bali into disturbing, saturated focus.


The Hidden Force

by Louis Couperus

Time to hide under the sheets.

A deeply scary psychological novel by one of Holland's most talented authors, The Hidden Force is an allegory of the corruption and subsequent downfall of Dutch colonial rule in Indonesia.

A Dutch official living on Java with his second wife is blind to her affairs with his son – and his daughter's suitor. The moral corruption invites the presence of a poltergeist that terrorises the doomed household until the family fractures and leaves.

On a par with Joseph Conrad, Louis Couperus' novel is not something you want to read last thing at night.

Insightful, terrifying and brilliant in its portrayal of decaying Dutch colonial life at the turn of the twentieth century.


Island of Bali

by Miguel Covarrubias

The grand-daddy of old Bali guidebooks.

Originally published in 1937, Island of Bali is still considered the most authoritative text on Bali and its people.

A bird's-eye view of Balinese life and culture, it includes a survey of the island's history, geography and social structure – and paints a captivating picture of Balinese art, music and drama. Complementing the text are drawings, half-tone photographs and a full-color insert.

Available as a paperback at Ganesha Bookshop – or, if you're very lucky, a first edition.


Indonesia, Etc. Exploring the Improbable Nation

by Elizabeth Pisani

Indonesia's a very seductive country.

Her people are amongst the most hospitable on the planet. She is rich beyond telling in languages, cultures and landscapes – and her body heaves with gold, nickel and spices.

Indonesia's also a well-spring of patronage, corruption and bureaucratic incompetence. Elizabeth Pisani – journalist-turned-scientist turned-analyst-of-all-trades – spent over a year travelling 21,000 kilometres by motorbike, bus and boat – with another 20,000 kilometres through the air – for a closer look.

She stayed with fishermen and farmers, bus drivers and nurses, teachers and nomads. Out of a palette of sound history, years of close observation and a healthy sense of the absurd, Pisani paints a clear-eyed – but ultimately deeply affectionate portrait – of a beloved nation.


Bali: Sekala & Niskala Volumes I & II

by Fred B. Eiseman, Jr

In Bali, what you see – the sekala – is a colourful world of ceremony, ritual, dance, and drama.

What you don't see – the niskala – is the doctrine underlying the pageants, the code underlying the rites, and the magic underlying the dance.

Bali: Sekala & Niskala – through a series of easily digestible essays – explores both tangibles and intangibles in the realm of Balinese religion, ritual and the performing arts.

Available new in paperback at the Ganesha Bookshop, Ubud.


Bali: A Paradise Created

by Adrian Vickers

From the artists and writers of the 1930s to the Eat, Pray, Love tours so popular today, Bali has drawn hoards of visitors to its shores.

What makes Bali so special? And how has it managed to preserve its dignity despite a century of intense pressure from the outside world?

Bali: A Paradise Created bridges the gap between scholarly works and more popular travel accounts, offering an accessible history of this fascinating island and an anthropological study not only of the Balinese, but of the paradise-seekers who have invaded Bali in ever-increasing numbers.

This authoritative, much-cited work from the leading Australian historian on Indonesia has now been updated with new photographs and illustrations, a new introduction, and new text covering the past 20 years.


Bones of the Dark Moon

by Richard Lewis

During the construction of an idyllic villa on a Bali seashore, workers uncover skeletons – the remains of victims of a brutal mass murder.

The discovery sets the village of Batu Gede astir. The life of Made 'Nol' Ziro, a stalwart member of the community with a gambling problem is turned upside down. Could one of the skeletons be that of his schoolmaster father, who disappeared during the massacres of 1965?

Arguably the most traumatic cataclysm of Bali's rich and fascinating history, the Communist Massacres of 1965-1966 remain mostly unknown to the island's visitors.

Interweaving historical drama with contemporary Bali life, 'Bones of the Dark Moon' is compulsively readable ndash; a page-turner with unexpected twists brightened with dashes of humour – and lays bare the love and hatred, the tragedy and irony, and the joy and despair of our common human predicament.


The Best Photography Books about Bali

Island of the Spirits

by Magnum's John Stanmeyer

Spirits are everywhere in Bali – in trees, in temples, on mountains, in stones and in the water – and all are sacred to the Balinese people.

Magnum's John Stanmeyer spent 5 years living in Bali creating this reportage through the uninhibited and timeless lens of a Holga toy camera – and his photographs capture practices from decades' past as they continue into an unforeseen, fragile future.

John Stanmeyer's 'Island of the Spirits' showcases some the best modern photography to come out of Bali in the past decade.


Bali in the 1930s

Photographs and Sculptures
by Arthur Fleischman

A luxurious photography book brought to you by the specialist fine art publisher, Pictures Publisher. The text is by Paul de Bont, and is based on the original manuscript written by Arthur Fleischmann during his stay in Sydney, Australia between 1939 and 1948.

Arthur Fleischmann was born in 1896 in Bratislava where he studied to be a medical doctor. He also studied sculpture in Vienna and in 1937 left Europe for South Africa, then Zanzibar and on to Indonesia.

"I came to Bali as a sculptor, and the Balinese have been a tremendous inspiration in my work. But sculpting is slow... such that it can give only a few crystallized symbols of life. Photographs can capture the beauty of the human figure – especially the beauty of Balinese women".


Memories of the Sacred

by Rio Helmi

'Memories of the Sacred' is an outstanding, large-format photography book showcasing some of the most vivid photographs of modern Bali.

Rio Helmi is a well-known and well-respected photographer living and working on the island of Bali. He has a deep insight into the Balinese people and can capture the essence of the beauty and sacredness of both the Balinese people and the island they inhabit.

Helmi's photographs depict many outlying temples and rarely-seen trance rites, old dance forms and unusual traditions. The majority of the images are black and white, with some printed in old-school sepia – giving the viewer a sense of history that evokes mystery, romance and beauty.


Indonesian and Balinese Art

Balinese Painting and Sculpture

From the Krzysztof Musial Collection
by Adrian Vickers

Collections usually grow out of interests – interests that come to border on obsession.

The Krzysztof Musial Collection is one clearly based on encounters with the island and its culture, and from that basis the collector has accumulated works that are both new and old, representative of the known history of Balinese Art, but also of the most recent developments in the style of Bali.

The older schools of Balinese art were focused on Bali's palaces and temples, where kings and priests were practiced in sculpting, carving and painting. Most sculptors and painters were men – while women produced beautiful textiles and elaborate offerings.

Beautifully photographed and a stunning collection.


Arie Smit: A Painter's Life in the Tropics

by Luciene Smit

This is a personal chronicle on the life of Dutch painter Arie Smit (1916-2016), about his life – and in particular, about his 60-year-long career on the island of Bali. 'Arie Smit, A Painter's Life in the Tropics' book was written by his niece Lucienne Smit (Koog aan de Zaan) – daughter of Arie's brother Bert.

Arie Smit was one of eight children and he lived in Rotterdam where he studied graphic design. In 1938 he joined the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army and was sent to the Dutch East Indies where he worked as a lithographer engraving relief maps of the archipelago.

In 1942 Arie Smit was transferred to East Java where he was captured and interned for three-and-a-half years. After the Second World War war ended, he was released – and in 1946 he returned to Indonesia where he became a citizen in 1951.

In 1956 he moved to Bali, where he soon found his inspiration to paint Balinese landscapes in riotous colours. Smit lived his whole life in the foothills of the mountains in Bali, and was a well-respected member of society there.


Le Mayeur De Merpes: Painter & Traveller

by J. Ubbens and C. Huizing

A stunning catalogue of the work of Belgian impressionist painter, Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres (1880-1958).

Jean Le Mayeur, as he was known, arrived in Bali in 1932 where he met and married his muse and wife, Ni Nyoman Pollok. He remained in Bali for the rest of his life. The Japanese occupation of Indonesia during World War 11 resulted in Le Mayeur being placed under house arrest. He continued to paint using rice sack for canvas.

Tourism played a vital role in the international circulation of Le Mayeur's work, as travellers and tourists eagerly bought his artwork. The artist's house is now a museum in Sanur, with over 80 of his works exhibited.


Walter Spies: A Life in Art

by John Stowell

Painter, musician, photographer, choreographer and architect...

When he died more than 70 years ago, the artist Walter Spies was known to only a few close friends. Now he is prized as one of the finest painters of the tropical Balinese landscape.

Spies' life and deeds were mired in myth. 'Walter Spies: A Life in Art' is a fully-documented biography in an 80,000 word text. It places his works and personal documents in chronological order, and supplies a catalogue of all of his known works – including those that have been lost.

Spies had a close relationship with the King of Ubud – Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati – and together they cajoled and fostered fellow Balinese artists into forming the now-legendary Pita Maha School of Art in Ubud.


Crime and Punishment on Bali

Snowing in Bali

by Kathryn Bonella

It's snowing in Bali.

Among Bali's drug dealers it's the code for a huge cocaine shipment having just landed. For the men who run the island's drug empires, it's time to get rich and party hard.

This is the story of drug trafficking and dealing in Bali. Bonella gained extraordinary access into the lives of some of the biggest players in Bali's drug world, both past and present.

She charts their rise to incredible wealth and power, and their drug-fuelled lifestyles filled with orgies, outrageous extravagance and surfing. From the highs of multi-million dollar deals to the desperate lows of death row in an Indonesian high-security jail, Snowing in Bali is a unique, uncensored insight into a hidden world.


Hotel K

by Kathryn Bonella

Welcome to Hotel Kerobokan – Bali's most notorious jail.

It's a bizarre netherworld where murderers sleep alongside petty thieves – and where drugs and alcohol are rife, guards sleep on the job and dirty money talks.

Into this septic hole have swum a circus of the infamous and tragic: the Bali Bombers, the Bali Nine and Schapelle Corby... Backed by interviews with prisoners, the truth about Hotel K jumps off the page and hits you in the eyes.

Simultaneously mesmerising and stomach-churning. A real turn-off.


Bali Raw

by Malcolm Scott

Enid Blyton on mushrooms.

Some people come to Bali for the smiles and dance; some come to hang out with criminals and prostitutes and smash other people's faces in. This is Australian Malcolm Scott's first stab at writing, and I'm not sure Ubud High would encourage him to give up his day job.

An abridged excerpt:

'My first confrontation with Mad happened in the Bounty Nightclub. Luckily the friend I was drinking with was a skilled kick-boxer. I knew he would back me up if trouble started.

I walked up to Mad and as I got close I saw him pull a bottle off the table and place it on the seat next to him. I was drinking from a Bintang bottle. I lifted the bottle and took a mouthful; I wanted him to notice I was prepared.

Mad picked up a bottle and slammed it down on my friend's head; he delivered him a hard blow that sent him to the floor and left him with a gash in his head that would require fifteen stitches, then he went in for the kill. Fortunately another friend happened to be watching and took out Mad with a rugby tackle...'

If this sounds like Enid Blyton on mushrooms, it is. It really is.

On second thoughts, read it for one of the most contemporary, anthropologically-accurate confessions of A Vicious Australian Bogan on Holiday in Kuta.


The History Bookshelf at Ganesha Books

A Short History of Bali: Indonesia's Hindu Realm

by Robert Pringle

An all-in-one lesson in Balinese history.

Covering Bali from the Bronze Age to the early noughties, A Short History of Bali describes in readable detail the ethnic dynamics of the island and its place in modern Indonesia.

Included is an analysis of the arrival of Indian culture, early European contact, and the complex legacies of the fated Dutch empire. Also explored is the island's current economic progress and the environmental problems generated by population growth and the island's massive tourist development.

With an appendix containing the most thorough bibliography on Bali and Indonesia that you'll lay your hands on.


A Brief History of Bali: Piracy, Slavery, Opium and Guns

The Story of the Pacific Paradise
by Willard A. Hanna and Tim Hannigan

A Brief History of Bali tells the story of Bali – the 'paradise island of the Pacific' – its rulers and its people, and their encounters with the Western world.

Bali is a perennially popular tourist destination.

It is also home to a fascinating people with a long and dramatic history of interactions with foreigners, particularly after the arrival of the first Dutch fleet in 1597. In this first comprehensive history of Bali, author Willard Hanna chronicles Bali through the centuries as well as the islanders' current struggle to preserve their unique identity amidst the financially necessary incursions of tourism.

Illustrated with more than forty stunning photographs, A Brief History of Bali is a riveting tale of one ancient culture's vulnerability – and resilience – in the modern world.


A Short History of Indonesia: The Unlikely Nation?

Colin Brown

This succinct work of history charts the growth of Indonesia, a remarkable nation of more than 6,000 inhabited islands.

With lucid originality, the text incorporates more than two million years of history with depth and brevity – particularly focusing on Indonesia's development into a microcosm of a multi-ethnic modern world.

Brown takes in the legacy of European-Asian markets, Dutch colonialism – and the accidental emergence of what has become the largest Muslim population in the world.


The Chinese in Indonesia

by Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Put yourself right about the largest, most influential – and most persecuted – of Indonesia's ethnic minorities.

Pramoedya Ananta Toer (1925-2006) was undoubtedly Indonesia's most significant novelist and writer.

After the 1960 publication of this book – now translated into English for the first time – Pramoedya spent the next 20 years paying for it in a series of appalling island-prisons.

The book sets out – in the form of nine letters – much of the author's deeply humanist and anti-racist philosophy as it discusses the history and needs of Indonesia's large, long-established and highly persecuted ethnic Chinese-Indonesian population.

The essays on the author and his works are written by internationally recognised specialists in Indonesian history, society and literature.


A History of Modern Indonesia

(Second Edition, 2013) by Adrian Vickers

Since the Bali bombings of 2002 and 2005, and the rise of political Islam, Indonesia has frequently hit the media's headlines.

Nevertheless, the history of the fourth largest country on earth remains relatively unknown. Vickers's book, first published in 2005, traces the history of this island country, from the colonial period through revolution and independence to the present.

Framed around the life-story of Pramoedya Ananta Toer – Indonesia's most famous controversial novelist and playwright – the book journeys through the social and cultural mores of Indonesian society, focusing on the experiences of ordinary people.

In this new 2013 edition, Vickers updates the on-going rise of fundamentalist Islam, and revisits his argument as to why Indonesia has yet to realise its potential as a democratic country.


The Bookshelves in Ubud's Ganesha Bookshop

  • Indonesian Language Resources
  • Balinese Language Resources
  • Indonesian Ecology and Nature
  • Indonesian Studies
  • Balinese Society, Culture and Religion
  • Indonesian Travel
  • Travel Bali
  • Indonesian Literature, Fiction, Poetry and Prose
  • Indonesian Art / Balinese Art
  • Indonesian Batik and Textiles
  • Indonesian Music and Dance
  • DVD Movies
  • Indonesian Music CDs
  • Children's Books
  • Indonesian Style and Architecture
  • Indonesian Cooking

'Books for Bali' Charitable Outreach Project at Ganesha Bookshops

Please help Ganesha Bookshop to support local schools, libraries and charitable organisations in Bali by donating books purchased on our website or in our bookstores in Sanur and Ubud.

Ganesha Bookshop's aim is to foster literacy, learning and a love of reading throughout the Balinese Community. Customers can purchase books at the store or on-line and ask for the purchase to be donated to the school or library of their choice.

For children, Ganesha Bookshop recommends dictionaries, picture books, story books, folktales and children's books for ages 4 to 12 years. The bookshops also have a selection of bilingual (Indonesian/English), Bahasa Indonesia and English-language books from which to choose.

For young people in high school, Ganesha Bookshop recommends donating Indonesian fiction and non-fiction, dictionaries, poetry and prose – for adults, try Indonesian fiction, poetry and prose.

Reading is power. Knowledge creates confidence and strength.


Other Ganesha Bookshops in Bali

A second Ganesha Bookstore has just opened in the resort town of Sanur, on Bali's south coast.

Ganesha Bookshop, Sanur, Bali

Address ~ Jalan Danau Tamblingan 42, Sanur, Bali 80571, Indonesia.

The Ganesha Bookshop, Sanur houses a full range of new and used books, as well as a small selection of rare and out-of-print books on Bali and Indonesia.

The Sanur bookstore also houses a special Children's Corner with lots of colourful cushions and a table or two for children to relax and read the books on the shelves.

Ganesha Bookshop, Sanur is in the heart of Sanur – and there is parking available outside the shop front.

www.ganeshabooksbali.com ➨


More about Lord Ganesha the Elephant God over at The Ubud Handbook

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

On the little Indonesian 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 painted Lord Ganesha statue protects a Hindu home in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
© Ubud High.


You Might Also Enjoy... Cinema Paradiso: The Story of Indonesian Cinema on Bali at UbudHigh.com

From 1930's Nudie Cutie films to the Academy Awards, 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).

More Bali Blog Posts at Ubud High

➨ From Ubud With Love ➨

➨ Your Seven-Day Weather Forecast for Ubud, Bali ➨


All The Old Bali Blog Posts ~ 2016-2018



2020 ~ Bali in the time of Covid-19


Street art in South Bali of a Balinese boy going hungry during the Covid-19 pandemic

'Covid-19 vs. Hunger' (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 Covid-19 pandemic on Bali's economy.

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


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 by © 2021 Ubud High.


© 2021 John Storey. All Rights Reserved.


The Last Pic

Portrait of the Day

Pre-Covid-19 Times ~ Portraits from Bali by Ubud High

Photograph by © Ubud High.


The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

© 2021 John Storey. All rights reserved.


Urban art of a young Balinese girl using a smartphone by the street artist Wild Drawing of Bali, Indonesia

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

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

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'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...”

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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

Commercial street art mural of a Balinese man sitting astride his Norton motorcycle as his wife hovers with daily offerings

‘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...’

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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...’

.. ➤ ..


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

‘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

‘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...’

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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...’

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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

‘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...’

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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...’

.. ➤ ..


Urban art of a young Balinese girl using a cellphone by the street artist Wild Drawing of Bali, Indonesia

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And finally, the weather

Today's weather forecast for Ubud, Bali, Indonesia ⇨

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