The 2018 Ubud Writers Festival, October 24-28, is a most fitting occasion for the launch of a quite remarkable book about the Komodo Dragons.

It was Volker Kess’s decision to focus his academic photography thesis on the Komodo dragon that led this extraordinary photographer to base his life in Indonesia. Volker’s interactions with the dragons and his pursuit of other wildlife across Indonesia have changed that life and significantly shaped a successful career in environmental management.

Originally intended as a “coffee table” book with vivid photography and accompanying comments, the final “Komodo; in Pursuit of the Living Legends” publication is much more, capturing the realm of the dragons in an impressive and lively compilation of eye-catching photos, travel anecdotes, victim stories and personal reflections.

Expected retail price $US 49.90; “early bird” $US 45.00. Email jrprconsult@gmail.com for pre-release orders, to be picked up or posted at festival time. W: www.ubudwritersfestival.com.



As you may have read in Social Media Bytes, on page13 of last edition’s Bali Advertiser, many big-hearted Ubud ex-pats and tourists are helping where they can to support north Lombok, after the August earthquakes that made more than 600,000 people homeless.

Now Sulawesi has – rightly – captured our shocked attention. Thankfully President Jokowi has called for international assistance for the catastrophe caused by the combined earthquakes and tsunami there late last month.

In the meantime, tourism is slowly returning to Lombok, and it’s desperately needed because many locals working in tourism come from the north of the island. If they have a salary again, they can help build their families’ homes.

If you have time and a bit of cash, go spend some in Lombok! Yes, it’s important to be safe. In Senggigi, I stayed this past month at Taman Unique Hotel (upmarket, Aussie engineered to earthquake standards) and Raja’s Bungalows (Raja has been there for ever, a hospitable Indonesian host with comfortable, solidly constructed little bungalows).

Up north in Tete Batu, in the Mount Rinjani foothills, I discovered Andy’s little Sama Sama homestay, with tranquil views, comfortable beds, and even a campfire sing-along, if you want to join in. They can help you find families who need support, if you bring donations. Find all three places on Facebook.



Writing and performing in English, Dutch and Indonesian, 28 year old singer-songwriter Annabel Laura shares lyrics full of passion and love for the earth and nature.

Annabel will perform in Ubud on Tuesday November 1, as part of a five city Indonesian tour; her vibrant jazzy music is sure to pack out the house at Betel Nut’s Jl. Raya Ubud entertainment venue for her 7.30pm performance.

There’s a powerful mix of family history behind her: Annabel’s mother is Indonesian – an anthropologist and social worker, and herself a great singer and piano and cello player. Her father was a doctor who instilled his love of blues and rock & roll in her from childhood, even taking her to a Rolling Stones concert in the Netherlands when she was only 12 years old.

Annabel recorded her first solo Album, “Motherland” in Bali, before touring Europe in the fall of 2017 and the summer of 2018.



Serving consistently good Indonesian food, Pundi Pundi has sat comfortably opposite Siam Sally on Jl Pengosekan has been around for 12 years, and not so long ago they have expanded their space by adding another cute little area directly across from the lane leading to the Yoga Barn.

Great healthy juices, “gelato on a stick” made locally with fresh ingredients and no preservatives, and some really delicious smells coming from the kitchen. I’m jotting this down as i sip at a Liver Cleanse “tonik” (pineapple, carrot, beetroot lime and sedikit sugar) and wait for my ojek: I’m fresh back from Lombok and can’t wait to have a proper sleep, but I’ll be back to try out some of the other tonics on their new healthy menu.



Funk, blues and soul lovers rejoice! The Bali’s King of Blues, Mr Jim Larkin, is heading up to Ubud for a night of powerful songs and great dance music on Saturday October 20, at Laughing Buddha. It’s an absolute truth that blues singers get better with age.

Jim has a fascinating blues background, spending many decades in the Californian blues scene before discovering Bali a few years ago. He has a big heart and – both here and back in the US – is respected as much for his commitment to working with young musicians as for his own powerful sound. In Bali, he’s nurtured a group of Indonesia’s finest young musicians and together they offer a fine sound.

Laughing Buddha Bar on Jl Monkey Forest, Saturday October 20 from 7.30pm – but get there early and have a meal first, or you won’t find a seat in the place.



Not enough temptation in your life? Have yourself a “Spicy Bruja Thursday” evening meal with entertainment at WAMM (What About My Mother)’s restaurant, across the road from the football field in Nyuh Kuning!

“Bruja” is Spanish for witch, and with a menu created by a fabulous Venezuelan chef, the Mother’s team really knows how to magic up authentic South American food. For Spicy Bruja Thursdays they have Latin music to match – and cocktails; spicy, tasty, tempting cocktails – from 5.30pm until late!

The menu includes excellent Indonesian dishes as well as the South American choices, with a nifty little selection process – choose one item from each of three sections – that helps you sample a few of their scrumptious offerings without breaking the bank. Or you can go a la carte if you like.

A relaxed and very welcoming environment – quieter upstairs, more bustle and smiling faces downstairs. Be prepared to change your favourite restaurant.

Jl Nyuh Bulan, Nyuh Kuning. Call 0812-3696-2663.