Bali’s Wild Side

I have been documenting Bali for 40 years now — writing this column for almost 25 years — and I am sick of trying to explain the irrational. People often ask me why the Balinese are always flailing about and pulling the heads off chickens and I always feel like answering ‘Because you’re a twit’. I

Made Wijaya

Bali Tourism at the Crossroads?

Amongst the plethora of fake festivals, with all their padding and pyrotechnics, there is sometimes a quite purely authentic Balinese ceremony; it is to these that I am drawn, like an old diehard moth to a pre-mass tourism lantern. 20 September 2015 There is an odd article on the front page of today’s Bali Post

Bali Has Soul

Minutes later I find myself in front of a trio of flouncing lady-boy trancees who are welcoming the mighty god of the mask of the Topeng SIdakarya Sudha into their temple. The gamelan is clanging, the exquisite temple forecourt is packed and the sun is shining in on the woven penjor banners fluttering above. Last

Of Indokrupuks and Tjokaholics

In the late 1970s, Aussie girls in particular started falling in love with Kuta beach stud-muffins and ‘Love as long as your visa lasts’ sometimes become a life of drudgery in a Perth suburb. There were of course many exceptions! But these girls tended to take their exotic hubbies home.When I first lived in Indonesia

Bangli – Bali’s quiet Kingdom

The local prince Gusti Dapat receives us in a disco-palace VIP lounge veranda, part of an otherwise simple rural home. It turns out that Gusti Dapet is a traditional architect: the Malet clan annually sends 40 exquisite jaka leaf penjor (woven banners) to the main palace for the tenth full month ceremonies and build all

Looking Lovingly at Penjor

I sweep past the pretty penjor (woven banner) and pretty aprons in the shrine holes on my house gate and can only think of dogs slaughtered in the name of God 3 April 2015: An historic Friday Today is both tenth full moon and Good Friday — it’s very rare that these two holy days

Days of Palm Toddy and Fighter Jets

Even the poor Aussies on death row got a riotous send off with an extraordinarily honour guard in black masks, a pair of Barracuda armoured vehicles and an air escort of Sukhoi fighter jets. All my cups are chipped. I am sun-damaged. These are the silly thoughts that pop into an old diarist’s head when

Beauty Pageants in Paradise

Balinese in classical dance costumes fl ung fl owers at Dewa Baruna, God of the Oceans, co-opted for the occasion, as she-males on pontoons in digga-digga-do-do jungle costumes twirled fl aming batons. It was what the Indians call Caca-phoney, but with greased loins It is amazing what passes for a ceremony in New Age Bali,

New Age New Bali

“I suffered mild culture shock as I surrendered to the seductive beauty of a Balinese temple court in full swing — that night, the spirit of Bali got me again.” Last year I was asked by an English publisher to write a book about the spirit of Bali. I declined the offer, as I was

Now Bali