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

The Bali Blog « The Ganesha Bookshop in Ubud ~ A Reader's and Writer's Delight

IF YOU'RE THIRSTY FOR WORDS in Ubud, head straight to Ganesha Bookshop – just outside the Main Post Office in Central Ubud.

New, rare and second-hand books for everybody – with an Indonesian twist. Enter... and enjoy.

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.

© 2017 Ubud High.

Our House Choices at Ganesha Bookshop, Ubud

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

Your Ubud Bookshelf

A Brief History of Indonesia: Sultans, Spices and Tsunamis

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

A Brief History of Indonesia: Sultans, Spices and Tsunamis 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 lot of Indonesian history quick, 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

Krakatoa: The Day The World Exploded

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

Under The Volcano: The Story of Bali

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

The Hidden Force

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

Island of Bali

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, Etc. Exploring the Improbable Nation

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

Bali: Sekala and Niskala Volumes I & II

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

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 at Ganesha Bookshop

Snowing in Bali

by Kathryn Bonella

Snowing in Bali

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

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

Bali Raw

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 Vicious White Man On Holiday In Kuta.

The History Bookshelf at Ganesha Books

A Short History of Bali: Indonesia's Hindu Realm

by Robert Pringle

 A Short History of Bali: Indonesia's Hindu Realm

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: Piracy, Slavery, Opium and Guns

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

A Short History of Indonesia

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

The Chinese in Indonesia

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

A History of Modern Indonesia

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. ➨

More Ganesha/Writing Content at Ubud High:

The Big Read ~ 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.

© 2017 Ubud High.

Also: VS Naipaul at the Ubud Writers' and Readers' Festival (UWRF) in Bali

➨ Hungry Mouth To Feed? Star Author VS Naipaul pulls out of the Ubud Writers' and Readers' Festival ➨

You Might Also Enjoy ~ Cinema Paradiso: The Story of Indonesian Cinema on Bali at

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 ➨

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Your Thoughts, Your Comments?

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The Big Read ~ Indonesia

TALES FROM INDONESIA – Always dangerously beautiful.

The Critically Endangered Bornean Orangutan in Indonesia ➨

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

Endangered Orangutan skulls carved by Dayak tribe in Borneo, Indonesia

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

Indonesia: The Vulnerable Clouded Leopard of Borneo ➨

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Big Read ~ Bali

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

The Heads of Trunyan: West Meets East ➨

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

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

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

Cinema Paradiso: The Story of Indonesian Cinema on Bali ➨

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Survive Ubud on your Rental Scooter ➨

Motorbike accident victim, Ubud, Bali

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

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

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

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

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

Dead green lizard killed by Bali dogs in Ubud, Indonesia

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

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

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

The Big Picture

PHOTOGRAPHS FROM BALI – The Soul of Indonesia.

Bali Portraits ➨

Balinese housewife with rice-paste facial, Ubud, Bali

PORTRAITS from Bali's female side.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coastal Beach Erosion and Climate Change in Bali, Indonesia ➨

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

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

The Big Read – Java

TRIP OVER TO JAVA – Bali's Big Auntie.

Java Oilfield Pollution ➨

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

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

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

Performing masked monkey, Jakarta, Java, Indonesia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tree Man of Indonesia Dede Koswara's hands

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

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

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

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

None of us know how Dede keeps sane.

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