Island Recap: Life in Bali – November 17th Edition, 2014

Welcome to InBali’s fortnightly account of life on the Island of the Gods – from the mouths, the keyboards and the lenses of those who love it the most.

Life in Bali this fortnight has been all about the ties that bind. Relations between nations and contrasting cultures coming together in matrimony as East meets West.

Acclaimed author Elizabeth Pisani once famously described Indonesia as “a giant Bad Boyfriend, charming and maddening in equal parts.” A seductive place that we just can’t resist.

As passionate, long-term lovers, we reflect on life as it is in Bali – remaining rich in tradition and still operating in the slower-paced phenomenon of “Bali-time” despite modern life seeming to take hold.

Jokowi greets Obama in Bahasa Indonesia at the APEC summit


It was a meeting of two progressive, modern-day world leaders. And it seemed they were in agreement where most matters were concerned, except for which language their conversation should be spoken in!

President Jokowi gleefully greeted Obama in his native tongue, whilst President Obama responded elatedly in English.

Reports suggest that Jokowi can only speak English when it is scripted, and although Obama lived in Indonesia for 4 years (1967 – 1971) as a child, his Bahasa Indonesia is certainly not fluent enough to manage a conversation of such importance. The most he has thrown Jokowi’s way has been a respectful “Apa Kabar” (how are you) here and there.

It was a landmark meeting; not only in the eyes of the cheeky few who likened Jokowi to a long-lost brother of Obama’s throughout Jokowi’s recent leadership campaign and were eagerly awaiting the sight of the two side-by-side, but also for those more conservative observers, keen to hear Obama’s comments as he officially welcomed Jokowi into leadership.

All conversations, from small niceties to delicate bigger issues, were effectively translated between the parties.

obama jokowi

On November 10, the Jakarta Post reported that during the meeting Obama applauded Indonesia, saying that with the world’s largest Muslim population, the country should be viewed as a role model for its democracy, tolerance, and pluralism in harmony.

Terima kasih President Obama!

Political and social heavies weigh-in on Jokowi’s death sentence decision

The handover from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to new President Joko Widodo has refreshed talk of the fate of two Bali Nine inmates on death row.

It was widely thought that President Yudhoyono might have signed a decree changing the sentence of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran before leaving office last month, because of the special attention he gave to relations with Australia. This did not occur, and the responsibility now lies in the hands of President Jokowi.

New Indonesian justice minister Yasonna Laoly

With Jokowi’s new ministers settling into office, their stance on the matter has come into the media spotlight. On November 7, it was reported by Australia’s Seven News that the new Indonesian justice minister, Yasonna Laoly, is openly against the death penalty. He is amongst a number of officials Mr Jokowi can call on to advise on clemency cases, but is the only one so far to voice his views so loudly.

Meanwhile in Kerobokan, new prison Governor Sudjonggo also eluded to his position on the matter when he told News Corp Australia that his personal opinion would not be stated, but that “the sure thing is, the death penalty does not exist in other countries.”

Bali expat and Kerobokan volunteer, Lizzie Love shared her insights on the matter:

“Having spent 5 years volunteer teaching at Kerobokan Jail, I can attest to the sincerity of the two Australians, Myu and Andy. Judge them for who they are today, and for their contributions to rehabilitation for all inmates at this jail. The projects at Kerobokan Jail would not be there if it were not for Myu and Andy and the assistance given by the prison authorities. They are living proof that rehabilitation works.”

Myuran Sukumaran

Lizzie was seen with Myuran when the popular series “What Really Happens in Bali” went to air. This segment brought attention to the artwork being created by inmate Myuran, which is now making international news headlines of its own. She has been leading a social campaign to gather support for removing the Death Penalty, which would open the door to a “Repatriation of Inmates” treaty between Australia and Indonesia.

Whatever your stance on this controversial topic, it’s clear that it is one we will be hearing a lot more of as Jokowi makes his position known.

Wanna-be travellers Happy Dance as entry into Bali becomes even cheaper

The hot topic on everyone’s lips this fortnight has been the announcement that the Indonesian government plans to waive the Visa on Arrival fee of US$35 applied to visitors from Russia, Australia, Japan, China and South Korea.

The change is set to take place in early 2015 (rumoured for the 1st of January) in a bid to boost inbound tourism from those important markets.

Almost immediately, social media was alive with posts commentating on this announcement; one of our favourites being from a West Australian local who commented that the saving is coincidentally close to the cost of a case of Bintangs.

While wannabe-travellers from these 5 Nations have been collectively “happy-dancing,” Phuket has been nervously shaking, fearing it may feel the further pinch of traveller’s unwavering love of Bali. As of early 2014, Russian and Chinese travellers represented 47% of Phuket’s passenger arrivals, a figure that may decrease if travellers respond to Indonesia’s efforts to pocket a larger chunk of the Asian tourism market.

The two tropical holiday haunts have been battling it out for the spotlight since forever, but you all know how we feel about the matter.

1 million Aussies Love Bali.. and Bali seems to love them back.

If Australian travellers have been in a long term relationship with New Zealand (ranked as the number 1 place that Aussie outbound travellers are headed), then Bali is the raunchy mistress: coming in at a very close second.

Figures released by Indonesian immigration, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald on November 9, indicate that over 704,000 Australians touched down in the country between the start of 2014 and the end of August, with predictions suggesting the millionth Aussie may land in the first part of December.

The nation’s love affair with Bali has weathered many storms through recent years, forgiving on the topic of espionage betrayals and moving on from disagreements relating to border policies. The two countries are now moving into a period of growth and recommitment. Australia being named as one of the 5 nations that will no longer pay for a Visa On Arrival seems another timely gesture of unison and love.

If this love affair stands the test of time, it is anticipated that Bali may soon replace New Zealand at the top of the charts, moving in as Australia’s number 1 travel destination.

Kiwi-born princess bride marries her Balinese sweetheart

Speaking of all things New Zealand and love: this week, Kiwi-born Haylee Jayne married her “Ida Bagus” (high caste) fiancé Gus Win, in a traditional Balinese ceremony in Singaraja, making her the newest “Dayu” (princess bride) in the village.

Haylee Jayne and Gus Win met 2 years ago at a temple when her car broke down and he so gallantly came to her rescue (damsel in distress – works every time!).

The wedding ceremony was as romantic and magical as the courtship, and they managed to capture it with the help of a local Singaraja based videographer. The footage gives viewers a unique insight into the fanfare of a traditional Balinese wedding, with the intricate headdresses, costume and decoration.

The look of love, on the Island of the Gods


Snapped at the Khayangan Estate in Uluwatu and captured from the lens of renowned Sydney based wedding photographer Alex Marks, this album gives a spectacular insight into how the ever-increasing Western crowd celebrate marriage in Bali.

Have you been considering Bali as host to your destination wedding? Check out our guide to Event Planning in Bali for a little guidance and first hand advice.

Aussie Big Brother love-rat and his love, Cat, planning to retreat in Bali

There was a media circus surrounding the November 3rd eviction of Australian Big Brother housemate Lawson, and the following day’s eviction of his on-screen, in-house love named Cat. Falling in love with Cat meant that Lawson shunted his now seemingly not-so-current off-screen girlfriend (of 5 years, no less!). Australia collectively boo-ed and hissed at their controversial union.

Unless it’s a reality series named “What Really Happens in Bali“, it couldn’t really be further from the minds of the Bali-based crowds. Life in Bali is generally pretty reality-TV free, apart from the occasional (and very-accidental) stumbling upon Keeping up With the Kardashians on Indovision. Apart from that innocent blunder, we assure you: it’s all yoga, super smoothies and incense.

This week, Big Brother had Bali in a panic, after the defamed couple announced they were planning to retreat to Bali to unwind and escape the media’s prying eyes. Thankfully for them, we have taken the leg work out of their trip research, preparing the InBali guide to Super Sexy villas in Seminyak. You’re welcome, LawCat.

Don’t run away FROM the circus, Run Away WITH the Circus – In Bali!

Detox retreats and yoga holidays not really your thing? Perhaps you’re more inclined to run away with the circus, in which case your time has finally come…

Sunset Circus practice @ Batu Bolong, Canggu

Bali Circus has just launched three adult’s Aerial Acrobatics classes to their weekly rotation. From Trapeze, Aerial Hoop and Silk/Tissu you will get an opportunity to learn tricks developing your fitness and spatial awareness.

These circus disciplines have a variety of benefits for your body and mind, such as increasing your muscle mass and metabolic rate, improving co-ordination, and promoting calmness for some people or an adrenaline rush for others.

Visit their website  for more information.

“Bi-Polar Bloke” bares all as mental illness awareness comes into the spotlight in Bali

Juggling things is nothing new to Mark Tulloch, author of the popular blog Bi-Polar Bloke. After deciding that the confines of life in London weren’t conducive to his treatment plan, he packed up the life that he knew and found solace upon the sands of Bali’s beaches.

Following on from the awareness raised for mental illness as part of last month’s Fluro Friday Event, Mark has reached out to Bali expats to share his journey as someone living with Bi-Polar disorder in Bali. His blog is raw, real and sometimes rather confronting. Mark aims to dissolve some of the stigma attached to mental illness by sharing his very human journey with a public audience. It’s like Eat Pray Love‘s big brother.

“Captivated by the emerald ocean, the waves are perfect with a warm climate and plenty of sunshine…The local people are full of smiles and there is an acceptance in the air. What better place to escape the soul and spiritual vacuum of the western worlds’ commercialised concrete jungles?”

Leaving behind the pressures of corporate life for the lure of yoga, meditation, daily surf sessions in the cleansing salt water and perennial doses of vitamin D sounds like the ideal treatment plan. Bali offers those struggling with the binds of life in the Western world a slower-paced refuge away from the daily grind, with some likening it to going back in time. But it’s not without its challenges. Many sufferers have found that the acknowledgement of mental illness isn’t well received here, support plans aren’t readily available and medication can be hard to come by. Environmentally speaking, Bali offers the ideal setting and speed for those needing a change of pace, less the government support system they may have relied upon in their home country.

Earlier this year, Indonesia’s mental health practices were heavily scrutinised, with the controversial Dark side of Bali, documenting pictures of those kept in “lock-down” (known as “pasung”) as treatment for a spectrum of disorders. Local psychiatrist Dr Luh Ketut Suryani, 69, has been on a mission to free every Balinese person from pasung, offering free medication and modern treatment plans.

Not happy to “lock” this issue away, Dr Suryani has been at the forefront of change, with recognition and understanding being part of her core beliefs. And thankfully, many now have followed suit, including the on the ground support group, Solemen. The common thread in each group’s plight? Bringing mental illness out of the darkness.

Whether diagnosed with an illness, or simply experiencing environmental stress and anxiety, help is now at hand. Just this week, Expat Counselling and Coaching released their 5 Top Expat Stressors list, with advice on dealing with them.

If you know somebody struggling, or find yourself on an Eat Pray Love-esque journey of your own, you may enjoy InBali’s T.G.I.F. Thank God It’s Flemensday article; a fun insight into a Westerner’s adaptation to life in Bali, after unshackling himself from a highly boozed, highly powerful life in London. “Nothing refreshes like a nervous breakdown.” ~ Dr Imaldi, Author’s London Psychiatrist, c.2013.


You may be noticing a trend, but escaping to Bali is nothing new. In fact, an entire industry of retreats exists offering programs to detoxify, de-stress and decompress from whatever it is they need a break from, in a place where headspace and meditation makes up such a valuable part of everyday life.

A team that prays together, stays together


Taking a moment to reflect on the beauty of life on this spectacular island, the boys from Benoa Tirta Harum water sports in Nusa Dua, seen here, gather to pray before starting their work day. An insight into everyday life in Bali.

Before hitting the water for an action-packed day of Jet Skis, Banana Boats and Parasails, employees will arrive at work an hour early, making time for quiet blessings with their team. We LOVE.

Struggling to name your villa? No Problems! Just pinch one!

Doreena has been a lover of Bali for decades, and has most recently been visiting from her home in NSW’s Southern Highlands to renovate her third installment in a series of personally decorated Bali villas.


After selling Villa Casa Doreena 1 and 2, she had set her sites on a new project in Br Tiying Tutul Tumbak Bayuh, which was to be Villa Casa Doreena 3. Upon returning to Bali in October to complete the refurbishment, she was puzzled to discover that someone had pinched her personalised stone sign: another Doreena, perhaps?

Later, when running some errands in the local area, she was shocked to drive past her sign plonked outside a new construction site. It seems they had decided to adopt the rights to her villa name! Never one to walk away from an injustice, Doreena was able to politely and diplomatically renegotiate the rights to her sign – with a delivery fee, of course!

Oh so very Bali!

Beauty just got Batik-ified

There is nothing glamorous about unceremoniously ripping the gunk from within your clogged pores with a pore strip – until now that is! We can confirm that Biore, famous for their pore clearing strips, has released a Heritage Batik Motif range. So now you can match your sarong, to your batik shirt, to your nose accessory! BAGUS!

You know you are in Canggu when…


A local blog chronicling the hip revolution taking place in Canggu has made waves on Facebook, publishing “You know you are in Canggu when…”

Shared over 50 times in its first hour of publication, this lighthearted piece got tongues wagging, and ‘Gu lovers giggling as they related to the goofy generalisations. It was a collaborative effort written by the residents of Canggu, a place where poking fun at one’s self and not taking life too seriously is all part of the village’s hipster vibe.

Our picks? You know you are in Canggu when…

1. a yoga guru wears skinny jeans, hoop earrings and rides a custom bike

8. a car laying tipped into a ricefield is just another morning

14. you can go to a water park for $2 or for $20, in the very same town

16. you haven’t seen a shaved-face man for a year

Read the full piece here.

If you enjoyed the read and would like to see an article written about a sub-culture in your beloved area of Bali, drop us a comment. InBali would be only too happy to oblige.

Party of the Week: Melbourne Cup at the Club

Giddy up! We have to give it to them – Canggu Club hosted a truly 5 star event for Melbourne Cup with their annual Moët & Chandon Lawn Party.

melbourne cup

Entertainment was provided by Ian Moss of Cold Chisel and Nat Gillespie of Yothu Yindi, and attendees flocked from far and wide to show off their fabulousness on the field. Punters punted and ladies fluttered with their fascinators high, all of this in aid of raising funds & awareness for Solemen Indonesia.

Honourable mention goes to this couple, taking home the best-dressed award for their custom fashion on the field – hilarious!

melbourne cup

Do you have an upcoming party that you think we ought to know about? Email: [email protected]

What Happened this week on InBali

Smart shopping: the island’s weekend markets, art bazaars and garage sales

Markets are a huge part of everyday life for Balinese people – a fun part of it; shopping, socialising, gossiping, meeting neighbours. And now the expat community has brought their own market tradition to the island – the culture of weekend bazaars, where all the liveliness of the local markets happens. Just in English.

This is Bali living: 10 stunning Canggu villas for rent

Looking for the perfect villa to rent in Bali’s most sought after holiday location? Look no further. We’ve put together this time saving list of the best private villas in Canggu.

T.G.I.F. Thank God It’s Flemensday

Dispatches from the Island where it doesn’t matter what day it is.

Tenganan: home of Bali’s rarest textiles

Bali’s rarest textiles come from only one village. How to get to Tenganan village, south east Bali, and meet a double ikat weaver at work on her loom.