We Are Shaping a Positive Culture

The ABC Ubud Food Festival (UFF19) just wrapped, tanpa plastik! What a superb marriage of the good life and elevated environmental awareness!

Celebrating Indonesian food from a cultural angle (culinary tourism, reviving heritage fowl, for starters) was great fun for locals and expats, April 26-28. Cooking demo stages and experts’ podiums served up innovative ideas for dealing with any household leftovers and trash (the ONLY way we’re going to even begin to solve Indonesia’s littered beaches). Yes, it starts with you and me and the pembantu. You already know to reduce waste, so this year, reduce a little more. Tips in next Mala column.

Do block April 2020 for the next UFF (& tell your wallet that most of it is totally free)! It’s Bali’s epicenter for creative links between our agriculture and consumer culture, and it’s a wild ride with our hottest chefs and food mavens. A holistic and inclusive view of Bali really pays off, as it’s a small place in a developing nation wracked by challenges to its environment and economy, entirely OUR business if we are spending time here breathing the air and flushing the toilets.

Same goes for the festival Sustainable Solutions, which is happening at the Green School at press time, returning to your calendar next year!

Mindful caretaking of this precious island is the focus of the World Health Sovereignty Summit at the NewEarth Festival, June 19 – 25. Film, fashion, music, dance, art, bio architecture, and frontline activism: get the details at newearthfestival.com

Recycle your tired misconceptions about Aceh! Aceh Culinary Festival is on in 4 – 6 July. And if mind-blowingly smooth pulled coffee and a lively coffeehouse culture is your thing, the Aceh Coffee Festival is 1 – 3 August; look for performing arts as well as some of the world’s finest beans. Tack on a day trip to the Suhom Waterfall and beaches along the way. Aceh’s new Tsunami Museum is a stunning and rewarding monument to the disaster from which Aceh has arisen.

Winning both my “Most Magical” and “Most Intimate Festival” prizes is the Festival Tepi Sawah, 6-7 July, at the beautiful Omah Apik accommodations and paddyside performance space in Pejeng, Gianyar. Music, art, nature, kids workshops, learning, and culture. festivaltepisawah@gmail.com & www.festivaltepisawah.com

In Omah Apik’s regular Fascinating Rhythms free performance sessions and master classes, we’ve got singer/songwriter Anda Perdana performing there 29 May, 7:30 – 10:30 pm.

Last call to get in on the dazzling Bali International Indigenous Film Festival, May 10 – 12. Grand opening is at Njana Tilem Museum, Jalan Raya Mas between Sukawati and Ubud, followed by 40 films from 14 nations, showing at the Cinema Paradiso in Ubud. Info: www.indigenousfilmfestbi.com Tickets: www.townscript.com/e/indigenous-film-festival-2019

Back on the topic of culinary and cultural travel, I discovered a great tour being promoted at the Spicy Geg kiosk at the Food Festival. The Maluku tourism department, in conjunction with the Halmahera Barat local government, has created Jailolo Kitchen: Preservation of the Local Wisdom, a multifaceted festival in Jailolo Bay, Maluku. Look for diving, indigenous heritage, and seafood. 24 – 29 June. For info, WhatsApp to xposeindonesia_org (Evi) at +62 81277510222.

Maluku’s 1,027 islands stand supreme in Wallace’s journeys and was Magellan’s ultimate destination when his mission to circumnavigate the globe was compromised (but not ended) by his violent death in what is now the Philippines. His crew accomplished the historic sailing feat, and the rest is trade and tourism history.

A few Ubud Writers Festivals ago, I was floored by a performance of Balabala, a complex and athletic dance choreographed by Eko Suprianto. Inspired by that region’s ritualistic martial arts dances, Eko trained his hand-picked Maluku dancers (who happen to be honor students) for two years, to master the steps of his creation.

Watch Balabala here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhOmdZkVEqo

Then start planning that trip.

If you don’t want to leave Bali, but you seek a unique cultural experience, check out the Sedasa farm tour, high up in the mountains. I’ll give more info in the June 5 issue, but if you can’t wait, do your own research by going to facebook: Chef Buda Organic Farm.

On now at the urban oasis CushCush Gallery, Gg Rajawali (Jl Teuku Umar), Denpasar, there’s Bali VERNADOC 2019, a fascinating exhibition of graphic documentation and drawings of the architecture and people of Bali Aga village Pedawan, near Singaraja. Visits through May are by appointment, but it’s an extremely welcoming place. Call Nike on WhatsApp at +62 896 6477 2657 to arrange a viewing.


By Renee Melchert Thorpe

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