January 31, 2018


Turning ten this year, the respected international yoga organisation known as The School of Sacred Arts owes much of its success to beautiful Bali.

SOSA’s founders Simone Mackay and Troy McFadden are calling on all yoga aficionados to help Bali through this challenging period. “We have a deep love, appreciation and respect for Bali. Tourism is down because of fear of the volcano, and many locals are hurting financially,” Simone says.

As Troy observes, Mount Agung is far away from Ubud and no direct threat, plus the local government has created efficient contingency plans in case of any disruption due to the volcano’s activity.

“Right now there is much less traffic, less noise, everyone has more time for each other, prices are lower and the locals appreciative of the tourists who are here. In short, it’s a great time to visit!” he said.SOSA has yoga teacher training at the Yoga Barn in April. Say Ibu Wayan Jen from Bali Advertiser sent you to claim an early bird discount. Info: www.schoolofsacredarts.net.



Nyepi, the Day of Silence, is one of the world’s most extraordinary celebrations, marking the start of the Balinese New Year. On March 17 this year, the island turns off electricity and gas for 24 hours and shuts down, creating an overwhelmingly powerful day of peace. On Nyepi Eve, an enormous procession of paper mache ogres, made by young men from each village, parades the streets to chase out the evil spirits and cleanse the island before the New Year. At midnight, lights go off and the following day is a day of silence, meditation and contemplation. Even the airport is closed; only birds and insects fly in the sky, and the night sky glows with fireflies and stars. Lights are out, vehicles banned from the roads and no one is allowed to leave home or hotel. If Nyepi isn’t on your bucket-list, it should be.




When I first visited Ubud 27 years ago, I don’t think there were any western shops at all. I brought a jar of Vegemite (so silly) and never used it, contentedly eating at warungs and Ubud’s night market, and buying other food at the Ubud market. But once I made the transition from regular visitor to ex-pat resident, how I pined for the tastes of home, often driving south before a special occasion to hunt out turkeys and other western foods in bigger stores.We’ve had supermarkets in Ubud for some time now, but Pepitos Terbongkan is taking things to a new level, with an excellent new manager, Muhammad, who previously worked for seven years in a big US Wholefoods store and is also a trained chef.

Muhammad is trying to source items like gluten free flour and bread, and keen to hear other requests from customers. Muhammad wants our help to make his store more eco-friendly. He suggests we write to him with samples or suppliers of biodegradable packaging, so he can present them at management meetings and help rid the shelves of plastic and styrofoam packaging.



While we’re thinking eco-friendly, congratulations should go to the team at Eco Bali, who in 2017 collected around 500 tons of plastic waste, 80% of which were recyclables. Program Manager, Paola Cannucciari, reminds us, “We cannot afford to just watch, we all need to take part, no matter how small our actions are.”

So make 2018 a more eco-friendly year. First step: Separate and Recycle your waste. Second: Compost your biodegradables, because a shocking 65% of waste collected in Bali is of the organic kind! Third: Get someone else started.Eco Bali offers a weekly rubbish and recycling collection service, with instructions in English and Bahasa, and provides composting bins to turn biodegradable waste into good soil.Get inspiration at Eco-Bali.org: check their 2017 actions, their blog, how to get involved.



Bing your next visitor along to a Balinese cultural performance! My personal favourite is the Monday night Kecak dance at Junjungan Village, on Jalan Tirta Tawar. More than 100 villagers volunteer their time every week in this “gotong royong” (community service) and the 150,000rp ticket price pays for teachers for the village children, so that they never lose their cultural heritage. There are lots of others all across Ubud.

Keep your eyes and ears open during the year, for any performances by Cudamani’s International Performance troupe, an outstanding group of Balinese musicians, dancers and singers. Cudamani has performed as far afield as Japan, Europe and across the US, including at Julliard Dance Academy in New York.





Get out and boogie, people! There are no crowds on the dance floor. World-renowned Jazz legend, Balawan, combines extraordinary jazz with syncopating Balinese percussion. Balawan plays Friday evenings at Petani Restaurant, Alaya Resort, on Jalan Pengosekan. A few steps further south, Cooltones – the best blues band in town – plays at delicious Thai resto, Siam Sally, on Thursdays. On Jalan Monkey Forest, however, Laughing Buddha is Ubud’s standout venue for western-style music, played straight or with a Bali-tweak or two. The vibrant Unb’rocken (check them out on Facebook) play Rhythm & Blues on Mondays; Tude & Friends give us Pop Acoustic on Tuesdays; go Latin & Salsa with Buena Tierra on Wednesdays; ARMS Trio play Fusion on Thursdays; Ika & The Soul Brothers offer more Rhythm & Blues on Fridays; special events and international artists hit stage on Saturdays, and my fave Cooltones play the Sunday Blues.