December 10 2014

December 10, 2014

One of BaliSpirit Festival’s best-loved friends, 2009 director Amsalan Doraisingam, has combined his talents with BSF 2009 festival performer, Mia Palencia to help create the most talked-about new Asian big stage musical in many years.

As BSF’s founding creative director, Amsalan worked with the festival founders to create a totally unique “spirit festival”, now considered the model for this kind of event around the world.

As Director of KL MUD, Amsalan has put another outstanding event on the international map, while Mia Palencia, an extraordinary songstress and musician, composed both the music and songs for MUD.

This musical presents the history of the city from 1857, when the first foreigners landed knee deep in the river mud of KL to prospect for tin. KL MUD has become a huge new attraction for the city of Kuala Lumpur, attracting thousands of international and Malaysian tourists to this extraordinarily vibrant performance.

I often suggest KL for a visa run. I know it doesn’t have the “visa agents” of Singapore, so you have to stay three days. But the Indonesian Embassy officials in KL are both helpful and friendly, and now we’ve all got another good reason to stay and visit this beautiful city again.

What to do on Christmas Eve? Many great restaurants – Kebun, Taksu and Jazz Café to name just a few – are offering their version of a traditional Christmas feast on either December 24 or 25th. If that’s not your scene, may I suggest a delicious drink, a view of sunset over Ubud and a truly excellent movie. New Zealand film Whale Rider is the selection on the big screen at Black Beach Italian restaurant near the top of Jl Hanoman.

The film selectors usually choose Italian or French films – and lately, TV series episodes of some European classics – but Whale Rider is from New Zealand. It’s an extraordinary tale that weaves beautiful images of nature with traditional Maori cultural beliefs and an insight into the challenges facing the Maori people today.

The movies are always free, starting at 8pm; mostly showing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings; check out the delicious menu, reserve a table near the screen and see the list of upcoming films at

Following the destruction of Clear Café on Jalan Hanoman, it has been inspiring to see how the expat community has rallied, to support the families of the neighbouring Balinese compounds and temple destroyed by fire, and to find new jobs for the many Clear staff. It’s great to see, too, that working together with the local banjar has helped these westerners to a greater understanding and appreciation of the role the banjars play in supporting their people in times of strife.

Initiated by Hubud, a crowdfunding site has already raised almost $US 18,000 of the $30,000 target, to help begin to rebuild the homes of the people behind the restaurant (total cost of rebuilding homes and temples, $200,000).

Clear has been a very popular “home” for many Ubud expats, and we wish them success in rebuilding and bringing their delicious menu back to life again!

Donate at

If you are looking for a quiet somewhere in the middle of Ubud’s bustle, a space to reflect, watch the sunset and re-energise, try Kismet, up the steps on the corner of Jl Dewi Sita and Jl Gautama.

Begin with a free glass of water offered with lime and cucumber while you check out their vegetarian menu, including delicious tofu satays that taste like chicken – they’ve even had “Why are you serving me meat?” complaints from regulars – and a power Chai that actually does boost your energy levels. In a tiny, soon to be expanded kitchen, five slim Bali staff manage to produce it all.

Most importantly, Kismet is run by good caring people who go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and welcome.

Fivi Restika is a brilliant local “food and desserts creator” – her description, and it fits! She creates extraordinary vegetarian food, both traditional Balinese recipes and some interesting fusion versions, with influences from Japan and European cooking styles. Her little Pisang Manis (it means Sweet Banana) Food Store is on Jl Sugriwa, near to the original Warung Sopa.

Mbak Fivi also sells her delicious traditional Balinese desserts at Ubud Organic Market at Pizza Bagus on Saturday morning, and – especially good news – she and her great little team of friendly helpers will happily and efficiently cater for workshops and other events, 0821 1201 3356.

One of Ubud’s first restaurants serving non-Indo cuisine, DeliCat is still a perfect spot to chill out at sunset with other interesting, light-hearted people.

Every Tuesday, 5-7pm, is Irish happy hour, with free hot corn to munch on and a great menu of international favorites. Originally started – like Meghan Papp’s KAFE – as a place that served the owner’s favorites from other places, there’s great cheeses, a roast lamb night, Swedish meatballs. And very cold beer.

Worth more than one visit: 0361-971284. Next to XL, behind the football field on Jl Monkey Forest.

Congratulations! … Expanding, adapting and consistently improving by listening to their customers, the team at iconic Jazz Café – Ubud’s internationally-known music venue – continues to provide a tasty menu, good cocktails and great live music, every night of the week.

In any town – let alone a rapidly growing, changing tourist destination with an evolving visitor demographic and a fairly fickle ex-pat population like Ubud – 18 years of successful business is a huge triumph. So happy birthday and well done!

Begun by a young campur couple because he (pak Agung) was a keen slide guitarist and wanted a venue to play his music, Jazz Café still focuses on the music. Offering various music genres over the week, they play jazz, blues, swing, reggae and Latin, balancing local acts – Indonesian, ex-pat and campur – with some fabulous international acts. Christmas and New Year, in fact the whole of December and January, will be very special here.

Copyright © 2014 Wayan Jen
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