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

The Ubud Handbook « Nyepi ~ Bali's Hindu New Year, and the Day of Silence

If previous New Years' Days have seen you waking up with a crippling hangover trying to recall 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.

[Please note that all photographs were taken in pre-Covid-19 times.]

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

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

There can be no lights or fires – and for the most devout Hindus, no entertainment or sex. The evil spirits that have been aroused the evening before must be convinced that the island is uninhabited as they fly around it – and leave Bali alone for another new year.

Think of it as Bali's Earth Day – 24 hours of natural light and dark – and a time for reflection, rest and meditation. Just as night can't exist without day, spiritual harmony is everything on Bali. And if there is a time to honour God, then there must also be a time for recognising and appeasing the malign spirits that balance the divine.

Nyepi – and the days and ceremonies surrounding it – ensure that this cosmic balance of good and evil is checked, and restored.


Nyepi dates and the Balinese Saka calendar

The Nyepi Day of Silence is always marked by tilem, or the new ('dark') moon that welcomes in the spring equinox – strange on a tropical island with no winter or summer. But parts of India do – and the lunar Saka (Çaka) calendar was born in India, not Bali.

On Bali, the Hindu Lunar New Year's Day marks the end of the sticky, sickly wet season and a return to the dry. And in 1980 it was marked as an Indonesian tanggal merah, or public holiday – Hari Raya Nyepi.


The lead-up to Nyepi ~ Melasti ceremonies and processions

As with all major ceremonies on Bali, Nyepi isn't just about a single day.

For three or four days before the Saka New Year, Balinese Hindus across the island perform Melasti – an annual cleansing in the sea of their temples' most sacred objects, along with effigies of gods and goddesses and receptacles containing the remains of deified ancestors.

It wasn't long ago, in the early Eighties, when columns of Hindu devotees would snake their way down from Besakih Temple to the coast on foot. Today, you're more likely to see convoys of open-topped, 4-ton trucks packed with pilgrims dressed to impress – heads and udeng and wide smiles poking over the trucks' sides with a crashing gamelan orchestra in full swing leading the way.

Balinese-Hindu faithful de-camp from a truck during a Melasti pilgrimage to Pantai Purnama in Bali, Indonesia

Balinese-Hindu faithful de-camp from a truck during a Melasti pilgrimage to Purnama Beach in Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph by © Ubud High.


It can be a surreal sight.

There's no ceremony more colourful, or more festive on Bali than Melasti. Wave after wave of village communities swarm the beaches dressed from head to foot in white, and carrying aloft their deities, banners, ancestors and gamelans. Each is ritually dipped into the waves and blessed by a high priest before gathering for solemn, communal prayers on the sand.

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

Sacred barong and temple effigies are carried in procession during a Melasti ceremony on Pantai Purnama the day before Nyepi in Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph by © Ubud High.


Where to watch a Melasti ceremony and procession

Most Melasti ceremonies and processions take place three or four days before Nyepi – some the day before. The busiest southern beaches to watch a Melasti ceremony at are Sanur's Mertasari Beach, on Kuta Beach and at Padang Galak just north of Sanur. If you're in the north, try Buleleng's Sangsit Beach or Lovina. Get there before dawn – it's a morning thing – and remember to dress the part.

A gamelan orchestra plays after a Melasti purifying ceremony at Pantai Purnama on the day before Nyepi in Bali, Indonesia

A mobile gamelan orchestra toots and bangs after a Melasti purifying ceremony at Purnama Beach on the day before Nyepi in Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph by © Ubud High.


The day before Nyepi ~ Mecaru, or the appeasement of Bali's lower spirits – and Ngerupuk

Hindu New Year on Bali is a time for cleansing and renewal, and of Mecaru ('meuh-cha-roo') – the pacifying of the bhuta ('boo-tah') and kala, the malignant spirits that are forever trying to disturb and hurt the living. First, delicately constructed bamboo shrines packed with complex banten – offerings – are placed outside a household's gate to honour the higher spirits.

Before sunset, woven coconut-leaf mats groaning with more banten are left at crossroads – traditionally places where evil influences love to muster. The lower spirits are naturally greedy, and the promise of rice and cooked duck, exotic fruits and sacrificed chicken is far too much to bear. Once lured to the spot, they're unceremoniously cast out with powerful prayers and mantras by a community's highest priest.

Balinese women check for wardrobe failures during an Ogoh-ogoh parade in Renon, Denpasar, the day before Nyepi

Balinese women check for wardrobe malfunctions during an Ogoh-ogoh parade in Renon, Denpasar, the day before Nyepi.
Photograph by © Ubud High.


Balinese girls crowd a couple of monsters during an Ogoh-ogoh parade in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Balinese girls out-pose a couple of monsters before an Ogoh-ogoh parade in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph by © Ubud High.

The end of the Mecaru signals the start of the fun and organised riot that will last well into the night. After all, the evil bhutas and kalas need to be kept on the back foot. Drums, tin cans, pots and pans are beaten to make as much noise possible. In a family compound, several generations will form a conga-line and shout and bang pots and beat the ground with burning coconut branches.

Homemade bamboo cannons explode into the darkening air; walk around the outlying communities of Ubud or Sanur and you'll be sure to jump out of your flip-flops as knots of village boys let one off as you pass. Fireworks begin to light up the evening sky – from noisy starbursts to the cheap cracking-poppers that are thrown, with bursts of laughter and impish grins, into the path of oncoming scooters and cars.

No prisoners are taken.

Boys from a banjar parade their fanged Ogoh-ogoh pig around South Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Balinese boys from a banjar – a community group – get giddy as they parade their fanged Ogoh-ogoh pig around South Ubud, Bali, on the eve of Nyepi.
Photograph by © Ubud High.

The evening before ~ The rise of the Ogoh-ogoh


If bamboo cannons are the old-school way to cast out demons, the Ogoh-ogohs are the new kids on the block.

Ogoh-ogoh – giant monsters paraded on the eve of Nyepi – aren't exactly an ancient tradition. In fact they've only been around since the mid-Eighties. And to say they're environmentally unfriendly is an understatement – built mostly from papier-mâché and Styrofoam on a wire skeleton, they're not going to win any green awards. Every banjar – village community – builds at least one for Nyepi.

Ogoh-ogoh of a drunk, shirtless bule, or white tourist-foreigner, on the eve of Nyepi, the Balinese-Hindu Day of Silence

Ogoh-ogoh of a drunk, shirtless bule ('boo-lay', or degenerate white foreign tourist) emerges from the pits of a Kuta club complete with a scooter-accident knee injury on the eve of Nyepi, the Balinese-Hindu Day of Silence.
Photograph by © Ubud High.

Ogoh-ogohs are never short on bawdy, rude, close-to-the-bone humour. From six-breasted Rangda witches suckling their devil-babies to sabre-toothed pigs and dangling boobs galore, these mythical monsters are carried through the streets on bamboo plinths – embodiments of evil that, technically at least, should be burnt at midnight as a symbolic purging of wickedness.

An Ogoh-ogoh of a topless Rangda witch complete with venomous snakes in a banjar hall in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

An Ogoh-ogoh of a topless Rangda witch complete with a venomous hair-do of snakes in a banjar hall in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph by © Ubud High.

Where to enjoy a streetside Ogoh-ogoh parade

If you're lucky and you're in Kuta or Sanur, you might see Ogoh-ogohs being burnt on the beach – an added dash of drama before the Day of Silence. For large, good-humoured day-time parades, try the streets of Sanur or Kuta – or Renon in Denpasar. In Ubud, Ogoh-ogoh will ofetn gather at the football field on Monkey Forest Road before being danced back to their banjars for more fun and destruction later in the night.

Keep it local.

If you're travelling a long way to catch an Ogoh-ogoh parade, it can be extremely difficult to get back home again. Streets and roads – particularly in the south – are blocked off from 10pm onwards, and traffic can be horrendous. Within walking distance is best: at least you won't be waking up in the middle of a rice padi the next day.


Nyepi, Bali's Day of Silence – and the eye of the storm

With ears still ringing from cannon explosions and the crashing gamelan from the night before, the stillness of Nyepi comes as a relief. The Balinese are experts at letting their hair down when the time is right.

They're also masters of meditation, patience and discipline when it's needed.

Nyepi is derived from the Balinese word sepi, meaning 'quiet'. And it is. Nyepi's New Year, for a devout Balinese Hindu, is a time for self-discipline and the strict observance of amati karya – all are forbidden to work. There must be no lights or fires – amati geni – and no entertainment – amati lelanguan. To achieve this, there can also be no travel – amati lelunganan.

Which means that no-one is allowed outside of their house or hotel for a full 24 hours. Pecalang ('peuh-cha-lang', or Bali's traditional community security guards) patrol the island's ghost-town streets in their distinctive black-and-white-checked sarongs. If they find someone breaking the curfew, they'll escort the transgressor back home where they'll pay a fine. Foreigners are absolutely not exempt. The only exceptions are pregnant women about to give birth, or emergency illnesses requiring trips to the hospital.

For a visitor to Bali, Nyepi can be heaven or hell. It all depends on your state of mind.

If you haven't done your food-and-drink shopping the day before – or if you're stuck in a pokey city room without a view – you'll be climbing the walls by lunchtime. Choose your hotel and company wisely. Don't have an unresolved argument with your partner the night before. If you're going to drink alcohol on Nyepi, the Gods might forgive you – then again, they might not – but if you're an alcoholic, you might be advised to grab a stash the day before. There's no dashing out to the shops at 9pm for the last five or six bottles.

If you're a meat-eater, why not buy a couple of roast chickens and some decent bread the evening before – remembering that there are no fires allowed over Nyepi, so cooking is out – and cold-cuts, juice and salads are in.


Flying during Nyepi, and Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport

All national and international air-traffic is suspended to and from Bali from 6am on the morning of Nyepi to 6am on Manis Nyepi the following day – the only exceptions being emergency landings, emergency evacuations, over-flights and international flights in transit. Ditto Bali's seaports and harbours at Gilimanuk, Padangbai, Benoa and Celukan Bawang – all are firmly locked down.

And don't fly into Bali during the early morning hours before Nyepi. The roads are already closed, and you'll spend a very miserable day eating airport food and trying to sleep in those small, impossible, curvy plastic chairs.


An Ogoh-ogoh monster flies expertly through the air during a street parade the day before Nyepi in Renon, Denpasar, Bali

An Ogoh-ogoh monster flies expertly through the air during a street parade the day before Nyepi. The only flights allowed over Bali during the Day of Silence are those of malignant spirits...
Photograph by © Ubud High.


Strict curfews...

Don't be tempted to go out for a romantic, the-Earth-is-Ours kind of stroll during the day. Apart from incurring the polite (but very firm) wrath of the pecalang when you get caught, you risk diabolical possession – and a year of bad luck. Yesterday's solemn mecaru and noisy ngerupuk weren't just for show – the demons are well and truly out in force today, and outside the protection of your compound you're easy pickings.

Seriously: don't tempt what you have never come across before on Bali.

Breaking the no-go rule isn't very fair on the Balinese, either. The point of waking up the evil spirits isn't just to appease them with feasts and show them a good time. As the phantoms soar over Bali's land for a day and a night, and see no lights or fires or evidence of human life, they'll think the island is deserted – and leave it alone for another year.

That's the point of it.

You may not be on the island in six months' time to avoid the spiritual spillage you've incurred – but the Balinese people most certainly will still be here to mop up your moral indiscretions...

... and a bunch of blissed out... bliss

If you've chosen your spot well, and you're stocked with food and drink, and you haven't killed your partner, Nyepi on Bali can be one of the most satisfying days in the world. It's as if humans, just for a brief moment, have vanished – leaving the world to its natural order.

Waking up on Nyepi morning feels like the first day on earth. During the day, you can hear the grass grow. On Bali, with its dramatic volcanos as backdrops, you almost expect a brontosaurus to idle by. And as dusk falls, and falls darker, you begin to remember that 'day' means activity, and 'night' really means rest and sleep.

It's how we used to live.

It's also humbling to see how uncomplicated life can be without the electronic distractions of telephones and TVs that most of us so fiendishly depend on.

The night-sky lit bright with stars on a darkened Nyepi night in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

The night-sky lit bright with stars on a darkened Nyepi night as seen from Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph by © Ubud High.


The morning after Nyepi ~ Ngembak Geni, Manis Nyepi pilgrimages and kissing festivals

The day after the Balinese-Hindu Day of Silence is known as Ngembak Geni – literally 'to strike a flame' – and life returns to earth with a bump and grind. The buzzing of insects gives way to the humming of passing traffic. Cars and tourist buses, which for a day seemed to have been finally dispatched to the dustbin of history, return to the roads in snaking hoards.

Balinese-Hindus indulge in a spiritual cleansing ritual at the sacred Sebatu Springs near Ubud, Bali, the day after Nyepi

Balinese-Hindus indulge in a spiritual cleansing ritual at the sacred Sebatu Springs near Ubud, Bali, on Manis Nyepi – the day after Nyepi.
Photograph by © Ubud High.


For Balinese Hindus, the raucous Pengerupuk of pot-banging and riotous Ogoh-ogoh parades of two evenings ago have long been quenched by the silence of Nyepi, and the peace continues through Bali's Day After. Today, Manis Nyepi – or 'Sweet Nyepi' – sees thousands of Hindu faithful rise at dawn to climb sleepily into buses and pick-up trucks for pilgrimages to shrines and temples from north to south.

A Balinese-Hindu community group makes the sea-voyage to the island of Nusa Penida as part of a pilgrimage
during Manis Nyepi, the day after Nyepi on Bali

A Balinese-Hindu community group makes the short crossing to the island of Nusa Penida as part of a pilgrimage during Manis Nyepi, the day after Nyepi on Bali.
Photograph by © Ubud High.


A two-day-pilgrimage may take in four or five temples and several hours of praying at each one. Pilgrims spread out northwards, via Tabanan to the little island of Menjangan off Bali's north coast; southwards, across the bumpy sea to Nusa Penida and her stunning underground temple of Goa Giri Putri; eastwards, to the numerous Balinese-Hindu temples that dot the hot,dry island of Lombok; or westwards to the grand home of Balinese Hinduism at Prambanan temple – or upwards via the volatile slopes of sacred Mount Bromo – in Muslim-dominated Java.

Water is collected by pilgrims from sacred springs and blessed by high priests before being brought home ready for rituals later in the year – souvenirs of shared meditation, prayer and collective spiritual travel.

A Balinese-Hindu woman bathes in the sacred water of Tirta Empul on Manis Nyepi, the day after Nyepi, Bali's Day of Silence

A Balinese-Hindu woman bathes in the sacred springs of Tirta Empul on Manis Nyepi, the day after Nyepi – Bali's Day of Silence.
Photograph by © Ubud High.

Med-medan and the 'Kissing Festival' in Sesetan, Denpasar

In 1930's Bali, tugs-of-war – Med-medan – were organised on Manis Nyepi Day to keep the young occupied: girls on one side and boys on the other tugging on a piece of rattan rope.

In the now-bustling suburb of Sesetan in Denpasar, another Nyepi event used to unfold: gathering in the village square, gangs of boys would rush at the girls to kidnap the prettiest. It was the girls' jobs to snatch their friends back amongst much hair-pulling and fainting. The newly-freed prisoner would have a bucket of cold water poured over her before the next kidnap victim was snatched... and rescued.

With its feet stuck firmly in the Med-medan traditions of the Thirties, the annual Omed-omedan 'Kissing Festival' in Sesetan has grown from a boys-on-girls free-for-all to a tradition all of its own. This morning mayhem sees village girls taking it in turns to be carried down the street and kissed by a hopeful future husband – but be warned, only local village boys need apply...


Video ~ A song about Nyepi: 'Saat Semua Semakin Cepat, Bali Berani Berhenti' by the Balinese group Navicula

'When things get faster, Bali is brave enought to stop...'


The uniqueness of Bali's Silent Day ~ Nyepi

It's a given that a day like Nyepi couldn't be enforced or celebrated anywhere other than a tiny island – the logistics would be unthinkable.

But even on a relatively small island like Bali, it takes a collective integrity and a singleness of purpose to make the Day of Silence work: a process of cleansing, riot and meditation, and a day where Bali's entire population is briefly in synch and harmony. It's a day when humans from every background and creed are pushed to pause – if only for a short time – in the eye of life's rowdy, battering storm.

New Year's Day next year? The only real deal is on Bali.


By John Storey © 2021. All Rights Reserved.


Nyepi on Lombok and Java

Nyepi isn't just celebrated on Bali.

A significant population of Balinese Hindus live on nearby Lombok, and the island's capital of Mataram holds a large, spectacular Ogoh-ogoh procession on the eve of Nyepi. And although Lombok's Hindu residents will stay home during the Saka New Year, it's business as usual for everyone else.

On Malang's Balekambang Beach in East Java, Balinese Hindus have their own version of Melasti – Jalani Dhipuja. Four days before the Saka New Year, Malang's Hindu faithful gather overnight at the beach with offerings to appease and balance the 'small universe' – of people and animals – with the 'big universe' of infinity and beyond. The noisy ogoh-ogoh procession in Malang usually centres around the city's Gajahyana Stadium.

And while you'll still be able to catch an Ogoh-ogoh parade in Central Java's Prambanan Temple on the day before the Hindu New Year, it's usually a more prayerful, religious experience here...


The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Image Gallery ~ Ogoh-Ogoh Parades and Melasti Ceremonies & Processions on Bali

Ogoh-ogoh parades in Kuta, Renon and Ubud before Nyepi, the Hindu Saka New Year

Bali's bawdy, raucous Ogoh-ogoh parades from Kuta and Renon to Ubud ⇨


Melasti ceremonies and processions on Bali before Nyepi, the Day of Silence

Melasti processions and ceremonies on the beach in the lead-up to Bali's Hindu Saka New Year, or the 'Day of Silence' ⇨


Religion Matters ~ More tales from The Ubud Handbook

An American Calonarang

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 – a spiritually-charged ceremony where sacred masks are donned, souls are possessed by the unseen and deep trance ensues.

But this one was a little different...

[ ... » Read on... » ]


The Tale of Ganesha the Globetrotter

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... » ]


'Kajeng Kliwon' ~ A Very Bad-Hair Day on 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... » ]


© 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. 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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Bali's Street Art

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

➤ Bali's Graffiti Artists & Street Murals in the Wild...


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

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

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...’

.. ➤ ..


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...’

.. ➤ ..


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...’

.. ➤ ..


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