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Musings of a Nyepi captive…

23 Mar

Today in Ubud, my parents, me and a group of strangers are imprisoned in a hotel, like contestants in a Balinese episode of Big Brother, doing things like this:

The outside world is a deathly quiet ghost town with nothing but the ring of the insects and the occasional bark of a dog to break the silence. It’s a bit odd. I keep expecting Davina McCall to pipe up from a speaker and announce that one of us is getting evicted.

The reason we’re all 24-hour captives in this gilded cage is because today is Nyepi, the Balinese day of Silence, when everyone must stay hidden from the dark forces that threaten to inhabit the island. Yes. There are monsters at large, and as long as we stay off the streets, sip ginger tea and read books on sun loungers, everything will be alright tomorrow.

Nyepi always follows the dark moon of the spring equinox, and opens a new year in the Balinese calendar. Last night Ubud came to life with all sorts of scary gargoyles in a show that put my dear home town’s annual festival, The Spalding Flower Parade, to shame.

Huge exorcisms are held before Nyepi, usually at a cross road, which is where demons like to hang out (don’t ask why, they just like them). The Ogoh Ogoh (massive demonic structures that disturbingly feature things like this dripping vagina here, and droopy nipples) symbolise the evil spirits we must seek to banish from our world. Loud banging, blazing torches and fireworks help to scare them off. They also scare the shit out of tourists. And small children. It’s pretty awesome.

Today,… as I write in secret from my padded chair by the pool, hiding from the monsters like Anne Frank in a penthouse, I can breathe easily knowing that at least the Pecalangs (traditional Balinese security men) are out there, patrolling the streets. They’re making sure that nothing and no one disturbs this day of silence, so there’s no gamelan, no whizzing motorbikes, no Legong dancing and no one… absolutely no one is having sex, because that’s not allowed either.

The Balinese, and everyone else in Bali today are keeping the lights low in their houses and meditating. And maybe updating Facebook. And maybe blogging. Either way, we are all maintaining this symbolic control over ourselves and the “force” of the demons that may otherwise try and take over. Even the airport is shut so as not to attract attention.

One has to wonder how the UK would deal with something like this…

“Excuse me sir, what are you doing on the street? There are monsters out here!!!”

“What? Don’t be so ridiculous. I’m off out to buy the Daily Mail,”

“But sir, I’m a special policeman trained for this very day. It’s my job to protect you from the demons. Please go back inside.”

“Are you one of those crack addicts from the derelict warehouse round the corner?”


“You are aren’t you. You’re a hopeless crack addict. I hope you get eaten by your own inner demons. God bless you though. I’m still off out to get the Daily Mail.”

I’m feeling rather glad to be in such a spiritually sensitive community today, where everyone is being very respectful and quiet. Just don’t tell anyone I’ve been on the Internet. Apparently demons can travel via WiFi.

Trinfinity8 and beyond: a lesson in healing by numbers

22 Mar

Now, hands up who hates math? I know I do. Even the word math conjures images of my scary school teacher, who upon giving up on me completely would send me next door to an empty classroom during long equations classes so I couldn’t distract anyone else with my ignorance. BUT, and I say this very loudly, my thoughts about math were changed quite dramatically this morning when I met the oh-so effervescent Kathy Forti, who’s bringing her life changing Trinfinity8 machine to the BaliSpirit Festival.

What’s the Trinifinity8 I hear you cry. Well my friends, it’s like no computer software system you’ve ever seen. It even better than Facebook (gasp). The Trinfinity8 represents a whole new quantum shift in bio-energetic technology that can quite literally turn back the clock on the aging process, increase awareness, restore vitality and assist your body in attaining that all-important sense of self balance, all by running special mathematical codes through your body. Hurrah! Finally. A reason to appreciate math.

Trinifinity8 (which looks like a clunky hard drive that plugs into your PC or Mac’s USB port), operates by allowing streams of coded data to be transmitted into your being.This healing energy buzzes through to you via hand-held quartz crystal transmitters and algorithms, which instruct the body to whisk you into a whole new dimension in healing, through numeric binary code.  Your DNA will soak this up like a sponge and respond, sometimes with miraculous results!

The most amazing thing of all perhaps, is how Kathy Forti came about inventing this machine. After a near-death experience, she started receiving messages from a series of spirit guides who over a period of time prepped her in such advanced technology and relayed the algorithms needed to bring this advanced form of healing to our world. Some have even compared the technology to “how things were in Atlantis,” when apparently, they’d do a lot of wacky things with crystals. We’ll never know for sure of course. It’s all a bit wet down there now.

There’s far more to Kathy’s fascinating story. I basically sat there gawping like a goldfish for two hours this morning trying to take it all in. If you’re interested, watch the videos on the Trinfinity8 website, and don’t forget to stop by for your own experience in healing with Kathy at the BaliSpirit Festival.

My pal Bob Supernant will also be there with his special energy pyramid. Here we are sitting in it.

It creates a vortex of energy that can be quite powerful. Hold tight to that seat. We know Ubud is all about finding yourself, but you wouldn’t want to find yourself and then get all lost again. In the void.

This morning in fact we all wondered what it would be like to combine the power of this pyramid with the wonders of the Trinfinity8 machine, but Kathy forgot the crystals, so we’re going to have to experiment properly on Saturday. I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you’re in Ubud, you’ll also have the chance to experience all this yourself at the BaliSpirit Festival. I’ll be blogging the awesomeness officially as it commences so if you’re into all this craziness, don’t forget to check out the official blog. Trinfinity and beyond!

Gecko ‘Mule Jewel’ now on my wrist…

20 Mar

LOOK! I finally got my bracelet back from Kerobokan Prison and the guys on the silversmith program did an awesome job! I asked them to make me a gecko like the one who used to live behind the painting in my old villa (more about him in the book 😉 and I think they captured him quite perfectly… although the real Monet didn’t have quite so many holes in him.

The Mule Jewels line of jewelry is all crafted inside Kerobokan Prison and the program currently gives eight prisoners the chance to work full time jobs and hone a whole new set of skills as they serve their sentences. I went along a while back with the lovely lady who runs the program, Joanna Witt, who started the venture in 2010. It’s really amazing what they do all day, and how much confidence they’re building from doing something so creative and constructive.

Si Yi (who’s in Kerobokan Prison because of his part in the Bali 9 drug ring) practices Taoism and as such, every piece he makes has a specific meaning. He wants to carry on working with silver when he gets out of prison, which I think you’d agree, having seen this bracelet, would be a brilliant move. He’d probably do very well.

If you’re coming to Bali you should definitely check out the Mule Jewels range in Ubud’s Studio Perak stores. There’s also one on Gili Trawangan. All proceeds go back into the program and thus help these guys to have a better time of things inside the prison. They use the money to buy nice food so they don’t have to eat the nasty stuff they’re served.

Oh and you can read more about my time in the prison and with the lovely Joanna and Si Yi (and Monet the gecko) in my book ‘There’s Something About Bali’, in October.

It’s my blog and I’ll plug if I want to.

Off out to show off Monet…


All bark and a bit of a bite…

19 Mar

So last night I was walking home from town, and admittedly I may have had one or three glasses of fine Hatten wine, but somewhere on Jl Sugriwa in Ubud I was bitten by a dog! HOLY SHIZ, it was scary. Jl Sugriwa is a very dark street at night because there are hardly any streetlights… there are a lot of streets like that in Ubud.

Thank God for the wonderful Nyoman at Sandat homestay, who upon seeing me crash back into the gardens at midnight with toothmarks in my right calf, promptly showered the wound in arak and some other other potent-smelling spirits, and squeezed the blood out from the surrounding area to stop any infection spreading (that’s what all that bruising is!)

First thing this morning Wayan, his son, took me to the local clinic, where I waited only 20 minutes before being given two injections. One was the first of three jabs in a course of treatment I’ll have to have over the next two weeks, and one was an imuneglubulin (umm, not really sure what that is).

Anyway I’m so grateful to these people, as well as the people who wrote to me on Facebook about the seriousness of getting a rabies jab. I was reluctant to go at first because I read online about some tourists having to pay $2500 for the treatment at other non-government-funded clinics. I only paid RP 150,000 (about $14), probably because I went with a local and he explained I didn’t have travel insurance (I know, stupid, it recently expired).

Obviously there are hundreds of dogs roaming the streets of Bali and they’re a different breed of beast altogether once night falls. By day they’re quite content to laze about snoozing, maybe raising the odd eyebrow as you pass like many of their owners, but once the moon comes out to play the streets are a battlefield between man (or tipsy tourist) and beast. I used to live on another street which was home to a pack of dogs that would chase me and bark, but I’ve never actually been bitten before. I’ve never met anyone who’s been bitten by a dog actually. A few monkeys maybe…

I’ve since moved.

Oh, and I’m really grateful to BAWA, (Bali Animal Welfare Association) who continue to do an amazing job in vaccinating stray dogs against rabies in Bali. Cases of the fatal disease in humans have reduced dramatically over the past year alone. Knowing about the work they’re doing made me a little less concerned about foaming at the mouth, keeling over and having to be put down myself.

Due to the rabies outbreak in late 2008, a law was put in place to state that all dogs in Bali must be chained, caged or killed. However, in spite of BAWA’s tireless efforts and the vaccination of more than 275,000 dogs, there has still been a disappointing lack of effort by the Balinese community or government to educate people in animal welfare or responsible pet ownership.Let the toothmarks in my right leg be a warning to everyone who visits Bali. Those dogs are just doing their job, but they’re not all bark and no bite. Get those jabs before you come!

Did I tell you I’m a part time model now?

15 Mar

No? Well I am. I did a shoot for Vogue a while back but they decided to put Kate Hudson on the cover and instead, they sold the shots of me to Bali’s Spa & Wellness magazine for $0.99. They also didn’t tell me that this transaction had taken place… but this could be because it was all done in Indonesian.

I wasn’t wearing any make up and my dress was a bit creased so they chose the one where I was standing quite far away for the cover. I think it still looks alright. It’s quite fitting too, seeing as I absolutely love wellness. Spas are OK too.*

*Actually what happened is I went away to a resort and I bumped into a guy I knew who does photography for this mag. And there was no one else around to pose. I’m still available for shoots if anyone needs me. I’ve ironed my dress.

Boars, bread and the “real” Bali…

11 Mar

When you ask if a resort has brown bread and the waitress nods and smiles, you expect some brown bread to be delivered. What you don’t expect, is for a plate of cheap sugary white bread to show up that is indeed brown, because it has been toasted.

Still, bread issues aside, Jen and I are having a lovely time in our adventures in northwest Bali. We spent two nights at the Puri Lumpung in Munduk, which is the REAL Bali. I never really knew what people meant when they said “the REAL Bali” before, but now I do, and you can find it in Munduk. Munduk provides you views like this, which quite rightly should only exist in paintings on gallery walls, or in fantastical movies directed by Tim Burton.

In fact, I’ll admit, we dressed up specifically for the chance to take photos of each other looking nice in the REAL Bali. Because normally, we don’t look very nice in Bali. Well, Jen might. But I don’t.

Anyway, right now we’re in a place called Waka Shorea National Park, which is about as far northwest as you can get in Bali without hacking through a forest with a spear. To get here we had to ride a little boat from the West Bali National Park which saved us cruising the entire peninsular on the back of a motorbike – not ideal when you’re traveling with everything you own in the world like I am, including a Winnie the Pooh suitcase, a Bali patchwork hold all, a camera case and a guitar I can’t play and that doesn’t actually even belong to me (don’t ask).

The boat we rode over here was also carrying our supplies for the next three days, which the resort no doubt ordered just for us (because there’s hardly anyone else here). These were dominated by a crate of Bintang, some eggs and several watermelons.

When we arrived, giddy from our pilfered Bintangs and excited by the prospect of being amongst nature and hiking and possibly spotting some wild boars, we were immediately informed that the WIFI box had been eaten by a black monkey. The laughter stopped there. This was serious. Fuck nature. What do you mean there’s no WIFI?

“We are getting it fixed,” said Putu apologetically.

We breathed a sigh of relief. “OK, great. When?”

“We don’t know,” he shrugged.

It’s still not fixed. I’m sending this blog via the slowest Ethernet connection on planet Earth. I’m not complaining. If Bali’s most northwestern tip on the edge of the ocean has an Internet connection of any shape or form, I’m pretty sure that this bodes well for the future of the Universe. Well, as far as calling for help is concerned, when you’re being attacked by wild boars. Or black monkeys intent on taking your 3G as well as your WIFI.

I’m not sure my pork ribs last night were made from wild boars. Or monkeys. Jen and I have not been impressed by the food here so far. It’s more warung quality at ten times the price. But it’s a nice chance to not check our emails, embrace nature, write, read, not dive (because the current’s too strong) and send a prayer out on the gentle Bali breeze that maybe tomorrow, we’ll get some proper brown bread.

Russia, roots and reiki…

5 Mar

ImageFor the past two days I’ve been learning the art of reiki. Even though I sat through numerous hours of talks about the Grand Masters and tales of Japanese ladies in Hawaii (it’s all linked, surprisingly) I’m still not really sure if my certificate, complete with sparkling gold star, qualifies me to do anything more than touch people up in funny places.

At one point I was told to spread my feet apart on the floor and imagine tree roots sprouting from my heels and toes to ground me. This I could visualise perfectly. In fact, I was a beautiful tree, a weeping willow leaking my tears into the damp forest floor, but growing stronger for my release. There were fairies fluttering around me… oh, and a fat fairy godmother in a lovely shimmering taffeta gown, complete with puffy sleeves.

And there was a talking TV set, too, like Evil Edna in that cartoon I used to watch when I was a kid, Willo the Wisp. The TV was evil at first but once it saw my commitment to being part of the forest and energy force-field it decided to be my friend and… oh shit…


“Yes, yes, I’m still here!”

“We’re visualizing a white light?”

“Yes, yes, white light. Got it (fuuuuuck)

My problem is that concentrating for too long on nothing… or as I said, being a tree can never just stop there. I’m not just going to grow roots from my feet and leave it at that, because that’s silly. No one has tree roots coming out of their toes without being part of a magical mystery fairytale land and having a higher purpose, like, for example a character in an X Box game who needs to break the curse in order to save the Prince, do they!!!?

Anyway… I tried to concentrate a bit harder. White light, white light…

It’s a wondrous thing, reiki. There were two Russian girls from Moscow learning alongside me, and one Australian from Melbourne. The Aussie and I were finally getting the hang of thinking about nothing except directing our unconditional love into the body parts of our new pals, when all of a sudden, one of the Russians started to cry.

She wailed and sobbed under the healing hands of the other Russian, making us all stop what we were doing and look at her, awkwardly. Our teacher had to take over, use her own reiki powers to solve the problem. When the sobbing stopped, both Russians started to explain their matching visuals.

“I voz in a prizon. A prizon of crystal bars. It voz very scary.”

“Zat is so funny. I too saw you in a prizon!”

“Did you? Becoz my prizon was so small and I voz very scared, but zen I started to fly like a bird. But I could not come back to my body. I voz very scared.”

“Zis is too… how you say… veird. I too saw you as a bird. But zen you were a plane…”

The Aussie and I looked at each other. I expected her to tell me she’d seen Willo the Wisp as she’d cupped my temples and focused on nothing, but she raised her eyebrows and shrugged a bit as if to apologise. I did the same. I think we both felt like failures, but we accepted our certificates anyway. We’ll fake it till we can make it.

Maybe perfecting the art of reiki just takes more practice.

Or a move to Russia.

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