Stranger In Paradise

New Age New Bali

Stranger In Paradise | Feb 04, 2015

“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 […]

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Passion or Poison – The Facebook Rants of the Superbulé

Stranger In Paradise | Nov 03, 2014

After the Bali Bomb, when the sluice gates were flung open and foreign investment rules considerably relaxed, we saw a huge rise in the influx of expats. These newcomers tended to live in Seminyak but did not know they were in Bali. 110 years ago the royal house of Denpasar threw themselves onto their keris daggers […]

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Temple Garden Settings

Stranger In Paradise | Oct 06, 2014

Sadly many temples have succumbed to the trend for heavy black andesite stone facelifts and paved courts — but in some temples the traditional swept dirt or grass courtyards survive. For the Balinese, going to temple is like going to a garden party: one gets all dressed up and gorgeous and goes to a village reunion […]

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Ancestor Worship – The Hard Way

Stranger In Paradise | Sep 08, 2014

For the Balinese, reincarnation is a practical business: a return to this world is guaranteed, basically, if you…

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Tale of Two Lempads

Stranger In Paradise | Aug 11, 2014

I first met Lempad in 1976 with the late Australian film-maker John Darling. The old artist was already a wizened figure, mostly long nails, who entertained us from his platform bed in an open pavilion in the middle of an exquisite courtyard garden. It is more than thirty years since the death of Bali’s most famous […]

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Tenganan oh Tenganan

Stranger In Paradise | Jul 03, 2014

It’s wondrous the way your teenage boys, scarred and bloody, take pretty girls down the lanes after the bouts, while their uncles sit on platforms drinking palm toddy and eating pork delicacies. Tenganan Pegringsingan, oh my Tenganan Pegringsingan, why are you so lovely. Why do you build a stage in the middle of your heavenly ancient […]

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Kuta’s Trancemaster Superstars

Stranger In Paradise | Jun 02, 2014

They have Facebook pages that seem devoted to serious ceremonial activities — the spooky Calonarang witch battles being the most popular — until you look down to the friends section and its all buxom blondes in swimwear. This is Kuta after all. I have recently been introduced to a group of sweetie-macho trancemasters in Kuta. By […]

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Mayhem in The Moonlight

Stranger In Paradise | May 02, 2014

Of all the demented expat FB sites, Ubud Community is by far the most literate, humorous, and Bali-loving. Even Balinese satirists have taken to parodying the expats plaintive cries for servants, bamboo beds and colonic immigration. I was sick most of March — down with the eight-week flu — so I just padded around my maximum […]

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It’s Show Time

Stranger In Paradise | Mar 28, 2014

The Balinese have decided that the time is right for some major appeasement rituals directed at the negative forces. Such ceremonies, called Tawur Agung, usually happen yearly, on the 9th full moon before Nyepi, the Day of Silence, but last month it was decided that they need augmenting, due to the rise in violent and […]

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Mengwi’s Merry Widow

Stranger In Paradise | Mar 05, 2014

Over the decades Detra grew more and more handsome — it is a family trait — and Rucina grew stronger in the thighs (the dancing) and in stature in the community (there’s no better accessory in Balinese society than a handsome husband). Once upon a time there were eight happy princedoms in Mengwi, the regency to […]

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