Happy New Year! Maybe this is the year to improve our health and immune system? Contribute to Bali in a new, meaningful way? Collect some wild new local art? Finally see what the Balinale is all about? For local tips,you’ve come to the right place!

Give your body extra nourishment from a time-honored Javanese recipe! Chef Arif Springs, one of Bali’s pioneers in healthy menus, bottles daily his Kunyit Asem, a simple and easy-to-love drink with ingredients that are known cancer fighters and anti-depressants. Your liver might like you to cut back on your alcohol consumption, but if you didn’t, that turmeric-heavy tonic is an excellent hangover remedy. Links to scientific research about turmeric can be found at

Select a bottle in his Djamoekoe shop in Peliatan (next to Massa’s Fitness at Jl Made Lebah 4), or phone for delivery to +62 895-4109-71846.

Chef Arif also can schedule your private consultation and create a custom jamu for your regular consumption. Just email with JamuForYou in the subject line.


Is this time for you to brush up on your foreign language skills? Planning ahead for when you can sail off to distant shores? Wouldn’t it be nice to arrive in Sicily, speaking effortless Italian? Here’s how., the great, totally free online languages site, also offers Bahasa Indonesia as one of the 18 language courses using fun, easy lessons that build up to fluency. The system is set up to keep you active and motivated. Indonesian is not yet available on the mobile phone app (Android or iPhone), but the laptop version is worth trying out.

Possibly Asia’s fastest-growing western expat group would be the French. There’s even an Alliance Francais here in Bali. The AF courses in French language just started on the 11th, but you could contact them and see what is possible if you are passionate about intensive learning from a native speaking teacher. There’s a placement test for students who have already taken some instruction or lived in France.
Tel: (0361) 234 143
WhatsApp: 0812 3786 8584


Time for an art gallery fix? Local artists have not stopped working and producing! In fact, the amount of inspiration borne of recent events has stimulated interesting work. Here are two galleries that should be on your radar. Sika Gallery on Jl Raya Champuhan (western end of Ubud, between the Hotel Champuhan and Indus Restaurant) and its Ego Shop off to one side, a captivating retail point for one-of-a-kind artist-made crafts.

The other gallery which is hot, hot, hot with the cognoscenti is TiTiAn Art Space on Jalan Raya Nyuh Kuning, south side of Ubud. Still 10 more days to see Numitis – From Scarcity to Abundance  Ends 24 January 2021. The group exhibition features the work of Anduk, Bijal, Made Wahyu Senyadi, Gus Punia, I.B Suryantara, Pimen, Putu Edy Asmara & Rio Saren.

Call 08113988444 to ensure they’ll be open for you. Email:


Let’s get out of Ubud for a second.  Ever hiked to the waterfall in the environs of Desa Les, north Bal?  You can’t miss the sign on the main road up there. Turns out, there’s a fabulous project taking shape up there in that town nestled between the crater rim of Lake Batur and the calm Java Sea.

The Desa Les Community Center is designed to be an important resource, the sort which Bali’s outlying villages need now, more than ever.  Its marvelous construction is in full swing, 100% of the manpower being local villagers.

Young people of the area will be able to attend classes there in cultural preservation, permaculture, farm-to-table cookery, English, business management, personal hygiene, and other vital skills.

Two architectural views of the Desa Les Community Center

Partnering with Bali’s top culinary and cultural enterprises (Locavore and the W Bali-Seminyak, to name a couple), this robust project proposes that Bali’s economic future depends upon cultural strength and renewed personal motivation. The beautiful sustainable-material architecture of the center aligns with Balinese principles of harmony with nature and uses the latest applications of bamboo for strength and beauty.

The DLCC is designed to stand as a model grass roots revitalization program, adaptable to other villages wishing to find economic success through Bali’s core strengths. It is 50% funded, and there’s a cool buy-a-brick donation scheme.

Go to for all the details.


How about a little armchair travel with a cultural destination?

If you’ve been to the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, you’ll likely have seen the dynamic William Dalrymple speak. Whether you want to hear more, or if you would like to see what my fuss is all about, check out this great if brief tour of his curated show in the UK,   Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company


Since we’re watching videos, how about checking out the great Canadian online documentary film festival, Hot Docs? Several films are free to view.

And there’s always the great SXSW (South by Southwest) arts festival, which offers a large number of films, free to view now online. It is possible that some punters will need a good proxy server to enter these sites from Indonesia. A couple of my choice shorts (Single and the documentary Broken Orchestra) can be seen here.


Please pencil in our wonderful Balinale for May 27 – 31 this year. A new calendar placement in the global film festival year, this slot has been selected to offer greater benefits to Indonesia’s emerging filmmakers.



By Renee Melchert Thorpe

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