Monday, 29 September 2008

The Diaries of Donald Friend ─ Acclaimed Writer and Artist

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2008
At the Alila Ubud
Sunday, 19 October, 2008 7-9 pm

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

Visit the official website of Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2008

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Wasgul Preman Poteh (Bali's Haolé Hells Angels)

Winner of "This Month's Most-Offensive Newsletter to Indonesians"

From: Wijaya
Date: Sat, Sep 27, 2008 at 10:33 AM
Re: BuGils Bali newsletter: Bank staff prefers carreer in new BuGils Bali bar
To: unibind (at) ***
Cc: Putu Semiada, Putu Suasta , Wayan Juniarta


CONGRATULATIONS!!! You have won this month's BALILUWIH.BLOGSPOT's Bule Brengsek of the Month Award for your degrading portrayal of Indonesians as only beer bigots and bargirl slags.

(Imagine how an English-speaking Indonesian would feel reading a newsletter like yours, you big Yob!!)

FYI: Baliluwih's Divisi WasgulBuleBrengsek Division is dedicated to shining a spotlight on expatriate comercial yobbism (PELECEHAN CITRA INDONESIA). The name BUGILz might be amusing, but your cheap promotional newsletter smacks of white supremacy and colonialism.

Yours sincerely,

Pintor B. Sirait


--- On Fri, 26/9/08, Bartele <bartele (at)> wrote:
From: Bartele
Subject: BuGils Bali newsletter: Bank staff prefers carreer in new BuGils Bali bar
To: Wijaya

Received: Friday, 26 September, 2008, 2:07 PM

Dear Friends,

Finally a newsletter again! Yes, you are still on the list.

A lot of things have happened since I last wrote you about my search for the Jakarta house where Obama once lived. Last week I went back and I actually found it. I am now negotiating with the landlord to see if I can open a 'Sweet Home Obama Bar' there.

The current owner his name is Abu Bakar, so I don't think I will be able to sell a lot of beer there. But a coffees and a few stroopwafels -Half white, half chocolat - will do.

Open this newsletter and stay tuned to the news in Indonesia! Life is only getting better here!!

In this newsletter my story about our first BuGils Bali customer (ps. BuGils Jakarta stays open till the end of the year) and links to other interesting stories.



A few weeks ago I opened another bar, this time in Bali. After months of delays and stress, it was a special moment to finally see the first customer coming in. The newly hired staff was nervous of course, especially with their grumpy boss sitting at the bar. With established businesses absorbing most experienced staff during Bali’s current tourist boom, I had been forced to hire unskilled staff. Most could not speak a word of English, but then, neither could most of my staff during the early years of BuGils in Jakarta.

Even with the colorful and somewhat controversial BuGils neon sign shining on Jalan Dewi Sartika for an hour no one paid us any attention. I had another beer, and another, and, worse yet, started worrying. Could the location be wrong? Would the concept have no appeal? I shifted to wine. Another hour went by. The tension degraded from nervousness to a studied boredom. I noticed the waitresses covertly checking their handphones. Kitchen staff peeked through the service window.

The afternoon was hot and busloads of tourists, fresh from the plane, were passing by, eyes wide open, necks craning as they relished the novety of their new environment. I paced the terrace and wanted to shout: ‘BUGIIIILS!’, but no, I am Frisian. We do not express our emotions that easily and I retreated again to the bar.

I shifted to Captain Morgan rum coke. ‘Captain siapa!?’ asked the waitress in unbelief. I pointed at the bottle. She grabbed it slowly and looked at it carefully. ‘Oooh....’, she said. She now understood that Captain Morgan is a drink, not some dissolute expat. The other girls approached and examined the label as well. I said nothing. The three waitresses looked around for the appropriate glass for Captain Morgan. One raised a high ball glass and the others nodded in agreement. While one poured, the others regarded the exacting pouring process, then me, and back again. She filled the glass to the rim, before realising that she had left not space for the ice and coke. When I silently pointed to the jigger, she realized her mistake and started pouring the good Captain back into the bottle. This was good entertainment, at least better than staring at an empty bar. I SMSed Widi, my star bartender from BuGils Jakarta, and offering her a paid ‘vacation’ in Bali.

Suddenly the girls froze and looked at the entrance. I turned as well. Our first customer had just walked in. He was a westerner in his mid thirties, carrying a backpack, He stopped and looked around. The kitchen boys crowded around the service window. The tourist hesitated, uncomfortable being the center of attention.

You have food?’, he asked. There was a long silence. Then I realized the staff didn’t understand him. ‘Yes! Please sit down!’ , I replied. He shed his heavy backpack and sat down in a corner near the window, facing away from the bar – and the many staring faces.

He ordered a steak. ‘APA!?’ Lulu her reaction was not just an ‘apa, excuse me?’, no, it was a loud and full on ‘APA!?’ The man was not sure if he had said something wrong, and with some uneasiness he repeated his order, softly with a heavy Australian accent: ‘Steak... Well done, please...’. Lulu bowed forward as if she had problems hearing the poor man. ‘APA!? MELBOURNE..!?’ Lulu had had a career as a salesperson for BCA credit cards or something, but because she didn’t speak English her contract was not extended. She laughed of her own reaction. Now all the girls where laughing. Lulu will do fine in BuGils, I thought. With the help of one experienced waitress our first customer was served his well-done steak.

I am not sure if he will ever come back, considering a dozen staff members stared as he ate. No matter. The staff had served their first customer and received their first tip. I finished late that night, with a cognac in my hand on the terrace. Another BuGils Baby was born.

Bus loads with tourists passed by in the direction of the airport. The eyes of the tourists were tired, their chins drooping. I noticed, in the bright bus light, that their faces were sunburned. They were on their way home. I don’t know why, but I scraped my throat and shouted, as hard as I could: ‘BUGIIIIIILS!’. Three of the eight staff members did not return the following day, probably thinking that their boss was not only a drunk, but a Bule Gila as well. One day I have to jump on that bus out of here, but for now, even though my eyes look tired, my chin is still raised.

Hope to see you soon in BuGils Bali. Try the steak. Lulu will serve it to you ‘Melbourne’...

Bartele -- visit


Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Last Nyonya in Captivity, now at Villa Bebek

BRUCE GOOLD - Manly Exhibition Art Gallery & Museum

Exhibition dates: 12 September - 9 November 2008

Click image to enlarge

Bruce Goold is a multi-talented and cross-disciplinary practitioner who has a strong sense of the surreal and a 'dada' notion of what culture is in Australia.

This retrospective of Bruce's work, includes his furnishing fabrics, Mambo 'Loud Shirts', his prints and printmaking processes and his collection of disparate but inspirational objects.

After his student days, he saw an exhibition of Margaret Preston's works on paper and became very interested in the strong presence of the black, linear graphics and hand coloured washes of her lino-cuts. Preston's prints influenced him to begin researching and designing from Australian flora and fauna; warathas, cockatoos, bogong moths and magpies and using them as iconic images of this country.

In this exhibition we transform the Gallery into three defined spaces; an 'Australian Parlour', of native flora and fauna prints, a 'Mambo Room' featuring the shirts Bruce has designed for Mambo, and a 'Tropical Salon' where Bruce combines prints and furniture juxtaposed against large stretched screens of his favorite fabrics.

Manly Art Gallery & Museum is proud to present this survey exhibition of one of the country's most important contemporary artist/designers who continues to invent and surprise with his prints, fabrics and installations.

Therese Kenyon
Director, Manly Art Gallery & Museum

Quoted from:

Made Wijaya, David Elphick and Rod Black

Katie Goold

Lyn Drysdalle and Lissa Coote

Jan Allen

Collette St. John

Akhmad Yani and Mandy Wright

Rachel Ward, Bruce Goold and Brian Brown

Bruce Goold and Brian Brown

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Pelebon, Puri Saren Ubud

15th July 2008:
To Puri Saren, ‘Ubud, Bali’s prettiest palace’, for the gargantuan cremation of Ubud’s popular prince, Tjokorda Gede Agung Suyasa, and other family members

The two main lembu parked outside the palace

At 10 a.m., I arrive at the palace after a long walk west from the VIP-B car park, past purple-shirted serfs clustered at the feet of colossal black bull sarcophagi and golden-winged cremation towers.
I traipse through ten or so courtyards like a big pink gorilla in drag in a cake-shop filled with Asian aristocrats (from all corners of the archipelago) and past the well-packed pavilion of rajas, past Poppy Darsono pretending to be the daughter of the late Sunan of Solo (Pakubuwono XII), past Sir Warwick Purser in tan flares; well past Linda Garland, wearing an elegant golden lace kebaya and very dark wine-red, almost brown, songket plus beautiful jewellery (old style Majapahit) plus mauve surgical stockings, ‘yin-yang bling’ earrings (gold-tipped Zen walnuts fashioned by one-armed Timor Leste lesbians from the humanely-culled scrotal sacs of highland Dani tribes-men) and past press gangs and make-up artists and a glittering Naga Banda dragon parked in its pavilion in the Ancak Saji
(Javanese: pancak suji) court, finally to find Jero Asri, ‘Australia’s own princess in Bali’, in the north-western courtyard. She is monitoring her daughter Maya’s maquillage for her big moment on the procession’s royal palanquin. An old flame (of mine, not Maya’s) is applying the false eye-lashes.
• • •
On a visit to Ubud two weeks back, fresh from Solo, I was reminded of the difference in Balinese and Javanese palaces at times of ceremonial activity. The Javanese palaces are vast and sedate: courtiers and nobles are everywhere, plotting intrigues in courtyard corners. The ceremonies happen according to a programme with general lounging in the off-limits (to most) royal apartments in between. In Ubud, serfs, tourists, priests and princes intermingle to an extent. Balinese palaces, particularly Puri Saren, Ubud, are alive with ceremonial/social/logistical (offering-making etc.) activity for the weeks that surround the big events! While the cremation atmosphere is hardly ‘festive’, the mood is relaxed and jovial, with lots of comic relief; unlike the rather sombre courtliness of the rituals of Javanese palaces.
• • •
Jero Asri and her daughter, Tjok Sri Maya Kerthyasa

Today Jero Asri is surrounded by her Australian ladies-in-waiting; her friend la Barone Gill Marais, author of ‘Sex in the Puri’, a new film series on Balinese palace life, chats to her first grandson.
After a sumptuous lunch and a few hours of palace people-watching we all file out for one of the greatest shows on earth: an Ubud royal cremation spectacle.

Stepping out of the rarefied atmosphere of the puri into the New Year’s Revellers at Luna Park atmosphere on the now closed main road, alive with battalions of funeral float bearers in bright purple, is like “stepping on to a giant tab of acid” (to quote Bill Dawson).

Dignitaries are surveying the amazing scenes form the palace’s corner belvedere: there is the Minister of Tourism, Jero Wacik; the new governor-elect, Major General Made Mangku Pastika; Sukmawati Soekarnoputri (again!); ex-minister Moerdiono (upon whose life a new “The Sopranos—style TV series is to be based); and handsome Gung Bagus from Peliatan, the elder-Puri!

One by one the floats are hoisted up and moved into position. The crowd cheers. Tjokorda Raka Kerthyasa is commanding. (“He was particularly close to the deceased,” Wayan Juniartha reports, in a fabulous feature story in today’s Jakarta Post).
Tjokorda Raka Kerthyasa and family members in the Semanggen court on the morning of the cremation

Last of all the giant Naga Banda dragon is conveyed out of the palace and into the last slot on the ‘tarmac’ (floats and bull sarcophagi waiting like taxiing jumbos on side ramps). Quietly the crowd parts and old Pedanda Lingsir from Aan, East Bali appears with a full retinue of retainers, gold offerings and a gleaming magic bow and arrow. After some Vedic rituals the high priest ‘fires’ arrows to the four cardinal directions, then up and down, to clear all paths to the after-life.
Finally, after two hour in the crowd outside the palace, gongs starts beating, bleganjur gamelan pounding, and Tjok Raka drops the red flag. We’re off!

“It’s vulgar,” I hear woolite heiress and puri refusenik Carole Muller complain as vigilantes start chopping down trees to clear the path. Spectators are lined ten deep and up the side of the buildings! All the rooftops along the one mile of the processional route are crammed with people.
After 200 metres, the big float stalls, squashing two Chinese Jakartas and three drunk Germans at a roadside ATM.

As the palace seniors frantic—on the float—struggle to free the trapped beliemoth, I race down the mall like a streakier in a fancy dress—”Run Fat Boy Run”, screams the crowd—just in time to catch the first float (bearing the coffin of Tjok Suyasa’s auntie) as it turns up the hill to the cremation ground.

The beleganjur marching band has gone berserk: the relief drummers are dancing in the street, so joyous is the mood (“Ubud is a mood,” screams Leonard Leuras from a nearby massage parlour). This royal family, so beloved by the masses, is sent off with great style.
Gooooo..........!!! (left to right);Tjok Kerthyasa, Tjok Putra Sukawati and
Tjok Alit Dharma Putra on Tjok Suyasa’s badé float

Istana Mangkunegaran

11th June 2008:

To the Istana Mangkunegaran, Surakarata (Solo)—Central Java’s prettiest palace

The Serimpi dancers in the Istana Mangkunegaran main pavilion.

Twenty five odd years ago Sukmawati Soekarnoputri—sister of Megawati and daughter of the proklamator President Soekarno—married ‘crown prince’ Gusti Raden Mas Sujiwo Kusumo, prince of the Mangkunegaran Palace in Solo, Central Java.
The Mangkunegaran Royal family have strong connections to the elite in Jakarta (Mrs Tien Soharto, for example is from this family; and one of the princesses has always lived in Jakarta and worked for Iwan Tirta (Indonesia’s famed batik impresario) so today’s wedding of Sukmawati and Jiwo’s daughter, to a celebrity crooner from Makassar, is quite an affair.
Out in force are the batik and kebaya fashionistas, the fancy fans and the dazzling jewels.
At this morning’s Akad Nikah ceremony princesses in party frocks arrive by horse-drawn state coach from Kraton Kidul (the South Palace) as black S.U.V drop off Jakarta big wigs and their husbands at the fabulous Pendopo Agung hall.

The Akad Nikah ceremony in the Dalem section of the palace; the groom’s witness (ex-President Megawati’s husband, Bp. Taufik Kiemas) is seated at the table, facing camera.

11 a.m.
The groom appears with a full Raja Goa contingent, in colourful Mandar sarongs, ushered in by the bride’s sisters and cousins in ancient Javanese dance costumes. Even Yani Arifin, the batik bombshell daughter of former Soeharto crony Bustanul Arifin is here, front and centre, with the sensational Ibu-Ibu Gaya Group (for full story see this month’s Jakarta Kini).
During the ceremonies I chat to my friend Gusti Putri, sister of Jiwo, whose garden I decorated in Johor Baru, Malaysia (Istana Abu Bakar). Putri confirmed that the groom is not of royal Makassar blood and that the whole entourage are doing a fabulous job passing as aristocrats. “Never let the truth get in the way of court spectacle” is the message.
• • •
20.30 p.m.
Later the same night I arrive for the evening’s reception in the middle of a spectacle of transcendental beauty.An exquisite Bedoyo dance of the princesses is in progress, framed by a row of VIP guests and, from above, by a set of chandeliers, weeping pink jali jasmine strips (see photo previous page).
I am lifted an inch out of my slippers by this scene of heart-wrenching beauty. The wail of the Tembang Bedoyo plus female chorus; the clouds of incense de l’orient; and the flutter of canary yellow selendang, all make for a vision of paradise.

21.30 p.m.
The course brown necks of the men from Makassar strain to get an eyeful of Ibu Yani Arifin sitting front-row/centre, like Audrey Hepburn at a Givenchy show.

(From left) Supreme Solo sirene Yani Arifin; Bp. Taufik Kiemas, husband of former President Megawati Soekarnoputri and a Mangkunegaran royal; GRAy. Retno Putri Astrini and her daughter, Tunku Atiah, of Johor.

Past Time, Hyderabad, India

Raja Rai Rayan Lakshmanraj Bahadur, a nobleman of Hyderabad

Garden of the Basheerbagh Palace at Hyderabad.
It was demolished in 1970

Fateh Singh Rao, the eldest son of the Gaekwad of Baroda, 1891

Palace's prince on toothfilling ceremony on Puri Saren,
Ubud July 28, 2008

Friday, 12 September 2008

Pura Luhur Uluwatu

As published on Hello Bali magazine December 2001

Pura Luhur—literally high temples or ascension temples—which become the focus for massive pilgrimages during three or five day odalan anniversaries. The photogenic Tanah Lot and the Bat Cave temple, Goa Lawah, are also Pura Luhur. Not all Pura Luhur are on the coast, however but all have inspiring locations, overlooking large bodies of water.

Pura Luhur, Uluwatu is also one of Bali’s important Sad Kahyangan temples, in which dwell major deities—in Uluwatu’s case; Bhatara Rudra, God of the elements and of cosmic force majeures.

In the 15th Century the great pilgrim priest Dhang Hyang Dwijendra, who established the present form of Hindu-Dharma religion, chose Pura Uluwatu as his last earthly abode: history records that Dwijendra achieved moksa (oneness with the godhead, in a flash of blazing light) while meditating at Uluwatu. The temple is regarded, by Brahman’s island wide, as his holy ‘tomb’. Legend also tells us that Dwijendra was the architect of the beautiful temple, as well as many other major temples on Bali, Lombok and Sumbawa.

Behind the main pagoda of Pura Uluwatu’s small inner sanctum, a limestone statue of a Brahman priest surveys the Indian Ocean—it is said the statue represents the founding priest Dwijendra. Another shrine within the complex represents the boat on which Dwijendra travelled from, then, Hindu Java. According to legend he arrived at Pura Peti Tenget, north of Kuta.

Uluwatu temple was, until 1983, quite hard to reach—nestled, jewel-like, high on a sharp, jagged prominontory, at the end of a 20 kilometer long dirt road. The Bukit area is now the Nusa Dua tourist zone, and a Jakarta developer’s playground: it is well-serviced by well-paved roads.

The temple now sprawls, rather aimlessly, down the hill—a testament to limestone veneer and streetscaping (as if Dwijendra had not left a legacy of excellence in landscape design). It is also a testament to the huge attraction that Pura Uluwatu has become: up to 100,000 pilgrims visit a day during the odalan week—a huge increase from the small groups who trekked through the forests of the Bukit Peninsula during the classical era. Uluwatu Beach is known for its surf and, in nearby hostelries, its full moon rage parties. It rages at the temple too but in an orderly way, thanks to the royal house of Puri Agung Jero Kuta, Denpasar, who are the temple’s hereditary pangemong (custodians). Hundreds of nobles from this family, and many ‘devotees’ (pengayah) and village pemangku priests from nearby hamlets, ensure that every seven months (on Anggar Kasih Medangsya by the Wuku Calendar, to be exact) the festival is run efficiently, and most elegantly. The palace is proud of its ancestral role: it manages the awesome logistics with fitting dignity.

Year by year one notices small changes. This year the palace priests, whose incantations accompany the wave after wave of prayers, were sounding more like commentators at a racetrack than solemn spiritualists. But such is the spirit of Bali, which adapts to the times, to keep everything moving.