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

Ubud High « Bali Tales ~ The Ubud Handbook

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

Tales from the heart of the island.

☬ Tourism & Self-Enrichment ~ 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 jepun-flower offerings in little hand-made palm-leaf boxes.

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

[ ... » Read on... » ]

☬ Personal Stories ~ Diary of a Market Girl

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

“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, our ancestors and the spirits so that they'll protect our homes and compounds from evil. Pagerwesi means 'iron wall' in Balinese. That's how I remember my birthday. We didn't use Western calendars back then.

I think I'm about 49 years old.

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

[ ... » Read on... » ]

☬ Tourism & Self-Enrichment ~ Eat, Pray, Self-Love

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

I'M SITTING IN Ubud's Black Beach Italian restaurant on Jalan Hanuman waiting for my spaghetti bolognese. A tattooed Australian woman in her thirties – all swinging-tits-in-the-salad – picks the table in front of me. Her obedient female friend, all frumpy and over-forty and painfully low on self-esteem, takes the opposite chair.

The Tattooed Lady kicks off with a beer...

[ ... » Read on... » ]

☬ Religion Matters ~ An American Calonarang

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

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

But this one was a little different...

[ ... » Read on... » ]

☬ Tourism & Self-Enrichment ~ 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

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

You know you're worth it...

[ ... » Read on... » ]

☬ Religion Matters ~ Kajeng Kliwon ~ A Very Bad-Hair Day on Bali

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

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.

You have been seriously warned...

[ ... » Read on... » ]

☬ Religion Matters ~ The Tale of Ganesha the Globetrotter

Balinese street art mural graffiti of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu God and mystic in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

The Indian Lord Ganesha certainly got around. First stop on his round-Asia tour was a spell in Buddhist Tibet with its strong tantric leanings – a convenient spot to re-invent himself as Vinayaka and then as the dancing red Nritta Ganapati – before a full-blown alter-ego revamp as the scarlet, twelve-armed Maha Rakta Ganapati. Now, Maha Rakta 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 on... » ]

☬ Tourism & Self-Enrichment ~ 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 Virgins 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...

[ ... » Read on... » ]

☬ Culture Bites ~ Cinema Paradiso

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 a bedrock.

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

[ ... » Read on... » ]

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

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

FOR A SINGLE day and a night during Nyepi, life on the small island of Bali comes to a bone-shuddering 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...

You have been warned.

[ ... » Read on... » ]

☬ Food Talk ~ Durian ~ The King of Stink

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

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


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

[ ... » Read on... » ]

☬ Getting Around ~ Surviving Bali on a 'Bike

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

CHRISTINA IS A SAVVY 60-year-old American who's come to Ubud to set up nest. She's never ridden a motorbike before and has already fallen off twice in two weeks.

– "I've just learned how to turn left," she says, "without feeling as if I'm going to tip over..."

[ ... » Read on... » ]

☬ Getting Around ~ 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

I'M WAITING FOR a friend on Jalan Suweta in Central Ubud. Three young Scandinavian women are at the side of the road clinching a deal on their new scooter rentals. They mount, and look non-plussed as they hunt for the ignition. The rental lady demonstrates how to switch their motorbikes on.

It really doesn't bode well...

[ ... » Read on... » ]

☬ Getting Around ~ The Other Side of the Coin ~ Just Another Motorbike Crash 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

IBU KETUT'S LATE. She's normally at my house by 10 in the morning: I'm the second job of the day. After me, she'll spend another eight hours cooking in the kitchen of a five-star Ubud hotel to support her seven children.

It's a great life if you don't weaken.

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

She's shy; I press...

[ ... » Read on... » ]

☬ 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

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

It'll really slow you down...

[ ... » Read on... » ]

☬ Health Matters ~ Scorpions, Mosquitoes, Hornets, Poisonous Caterpillars... And Other Strange Tails on Bali

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...

[ ... » Read on... » ]

☬ Holidays from the Jungle ~ The Heads of Trunyan

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

MAYBE I SHOULD have taken Lonely Planet's guide to Bali and Lombok more seriously. Three times they warn the unwary: 'Don't go'. I'm stopped at this remote village's edge by a tough-looking man in his twenties who wants me to change an Australian twenty-dollar bill for Indonesian rupiah. 'And don't worry about the exchange rate'. On his black T-shirt are near-foot-high, white letters that read:


Welcome to Trunyan, one of the oldest villages in Bali...

[ ... » Read on... » ]

☬ Holidays from the Jungle ~ Lombok ~ A Line in the Sand

GILI AIR, LOMBOK. We take a morning walk along the pristine beach, past the new dive centres and manicured lawns where the dry jungle and coconut groves and lazy, grazing cows used to be. Two sun-bathing white men sit in a little home-made nest in the virgin sand. One has balanced a camera on his knees and is pointing it steadily at the edge of the shallow sea...

[ ... » Read on... » ]

© 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.

The Ubud Handbook ~ by John Storey

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

The Ubud Handbook

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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

Popular search terms ~
ganesha bali / covid / scorpions / scooter rental / bali street art / graffiti / murals / volcano / earthquake / trance / hornets / arma art gallery ubud / nyepi / traditional balinese paintings / rainy season / snakes / 2022 bali spirit festival / dengue fever / ecstatic dance / indonesia

Ubud Market ~ 2021 Pandemic Images

Pasar Ubud market during the Covid-19 pandemic in Bali, Indonesia
Pasar Ubud market in economic crisis during the Covid-19 pandemic in Bali, Indonesia
Pasar Ubud market in economic crisis during the Covid-19 pandemic in Bali, Indonesia
Pasar Ubud market in economic crisis during the Covid-19 pandemic in Bali, Indonesia
Pasar Ubud market in economic crisis during the Covid-19 pandemic in Bali, Indonesia
Pasar Ubud market in economic crisis during the Covid-19 pandemic in Bali, Indonesia

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

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

Popular search terms:
ganesha bali / covid / scorpions / scooter rental / street art / graffiti / mural / trance / volcano / earthquake / hornets / arma gallery / nyepi / traditional balinese paintings / rainy season / snakes / 2022 bali spirit festival / dengue fever / ecstatic dance / indonesia

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 ⇨