ON THE ROAD TO BALI
Our flight into Denpasar, the only
airport on the island of Bali, stopped in Jakarta where we went through customs
and immigration before proceeding eastwards over Java. As soon as we got into Denpasar Airport and
had changed some dollars into rupiahs, we caught a taxi through Kuta, which was
the main tourist town on the island and drove further up the beach to
Legian. We had a long-standing
arrangement to meet Phillip there. He
was on his way back from Australia to Ibiza.
The taxi driver kept asking us why we wanted to go so far from
Kuta. Why didn't we just take a room
in a guesthouse down there instead of going up to Legian? Had we not arranged to meet Phillip at the
Evergreen Hotel, that's probably what we would have done -at least until we
figured out what was where and what was going on around town.
Kuta was a densely built-up tourist
resort, catering to Australians for the most part with special Aussie pubs,
bars and a million and one clothes and tourist shops. It was generally my vision of hell on earth and we spent very
little time there in all the months we spent in Bali. Phillip always stopped off in Bali to buy clothes to sell in the
Ibiza Flea markets and we had made a date by mail to meet at the end of
March. Actually we all showed up on
the same day and had a wonderfully loving reunion at the Blue Ocean Restaurant,
a large open cafe right next to the beach.
It was really good to see him.
Our stay together in Ibiza a couple of years before had not always been
so great but Phillip repeatedly told us how we'd saved his life that
summer. He was clearly out to make
sure that we had a good time in Bali.
Our first impressions of Bali were
mostly of a fabulously exotic marketplace and playground. Legian, where we were staying, was
basically one dusty main street running parallel to an endless golden
beach. There were many small alleys or
gangs as they were called, running perpendicularly inland to connect the
two. The main street was lined with
clothes shops of every description and the beach with golden bodies of every
shape and size. For many visitors,
life in Legian didn't extend beyond the beach and the shops. Legian was the center of the clothes
industry on the island. People came
from all over the world to do business here, this being one of the world's
chief textile design and manufacturing centers. Labour here was very cheap.
Of course, one tended to get what one paid for and nightmarish tales of
dyes that ran, of colours that didn't quite match and even of shirts with one
long sleeve and one short, were legion.
But that didn't stop the Rag Trade from descending on Bali twice a year
to bring designs to be realized, to shop for new and unusual textiles and to
struggle with the local factories in order to get their quotas and orders
filled in time. In some ways, Legian
was a pretty desperate place, I soon realized. That was probably why most people played hard at night as soon
as the day's work was completed. By
late afternoon, there would be a line of motorbikes parked along the sandy path
by the beach. The restaurants and
cafes there would be filling up and the daily soccer game on the sand had
started up again. Little groups of
people would begin to form all over the beach, runners would start to run and
the joggers would start their jog.
There were people swimming in the water all around the clock it seemed
but as the day wound down, the focus of the players would begin to turn to the
The sunsets in Bali were famous all
over the world, were invariably spectacular and signaled the end of the workday
and the start of the night games. We
found ourselves on the same circuit as the International Beautiful People Club,
that elite group of rich jetsetters who have nothing better to do than fly to
different hot spots around the world and lie and burn their golden bodies on
different golden beaches. They sat out
in the evenings and had drinks watching the sunset. Later they would eat an evening meal at some decidedly expensive
restaurant before hitting some disco club somewhere around the world. There were plenty of those people around
Bali and we soon found ourselves sharing the same exotic beaches with them,
eating at the table next to them and bumping into them at the Double Six or the
Gado Gado Discos.
But not for very long. Catherine and I had checked out that scene,
recognised that it wasn't really for us and soon stopped going dancing every
night. We found a couple of small
warungs -restaurants- which served good cheap vegetarian meals and began to eat
almost exclusively at those. There was
a local Indonesian dish called nasi champur, rather like an Indian Thali meal,
which consisted of rice, tofu, various vegetables all topped with a gado gado
-peanut- or hot chili sauce. You
ordered it by pointing at the various dishes that you wanted until your plate
was piled high. D.J's Restaurant on
the main road had the best version of this dish and we ate there often. Across the road from D.J's, the best
bar/restaurant in all of Asia was to be found, I swear. We went there on our first night on the
island and on countless other nights too.
It was called Goa 2000 or just plain Goa Bar and was a massive open
building, typically made in the form of a wooden pyramid on stilts with a palm
thatched pointed roof at least 100 feet high. There were several bars, good food, the best music that I had
heard in a long time and a never-ending floorshow of exotic people passing
through. As a dedicated people
watcher, I spent hours at Goa Bar during the seven months that Catherine and I
lived in Bali that year.
But I'm getting way ahead of myself
and of my story. I remember that I
didn't sleep much that first week in Legian.
On the second morning there, I awoke at dawn, had an early breakfast and
sat on the beach until Catherine and Phillip appeared. Then we moved into a cheaper room at the Evergreen. It wasn't very beautiful and was a bit damp
and dark but it would serve for the time being. We all walked up the beach to visit Carlos, an old Spanish
friend who had learned batik from me in Madrid long before. He had gone on to have a successful career
as an artist himself. As we walked
along, Phillip pointed out the small but beautifully made religious offerings
that the Balinese made twice a day for the Gods. The Balinese were Animists and believed that natural phenomena
and objects possessed souls or consciousness.
They actively made tribute to the gods of the sea and of the land. Their offerings were generally placed on
interwoven leaves and typically consisted of frangipani or gardenia flowers,
together with a little food, grains of rice or cut fruit. Often they were put on small shrines in the
streets or on the beach and sometimes on the doorstep of the houses where the
packs of wild dogs that roamed the beach community would tear them apart for
food. In fact, I soon realized that
the Balinese were actually feeding those hideous feuding dogs, which they
considered to be the spirits of those people who had sinned.
Carlos and I had never been terribly
close for he had always had a rather commercial attitude to his work. From the beginning, he had, it seemed to
me, always put money first and art second.
He had been somewhat ostracized in Ibiza due to his predilection for
taking photographs of everybody. A
rumour had spread that he was a Spanish undercover police agent which I'm sure
wasn't the case. He had left Ibiza not
long after I had. Now he lived rather affluently in a big
beautiful house on the beach with his young son whom he had spirited out of
Spain some years before in order to have sole custody of the child. He seemed very pleased to see us and
immediately promised to make some business connections for me. He offered to loan me equipment to get a
batik studio set up as soon as possible.
Later I learned that Carlos had a bad reputation as a druggie, that I
probably shouldn't count on him for too much and subsequent events bore that
out. But for now, I was happy to see
him, happy to be in Bali which I was finding to be a truly magical isle.
Bali had a reputation for being an island devoted to art and that
certainly seemed to be the case. There
was art of every kind to be seen and bought there. Java was reputed to be the world center for Batik but the art
was very popular in Bali also.
Javanese workers were brought down to work in the Balinese batik
factories where they could earn much more money than they could at home. They were responsible for most of the
batiked cloth I saw in Bali. I saw
incredible amounts of batik clothes but nothing with the realism of my work. The local batik was mostly made with tjaps,
wood or metal relief blocks that were dipped into hot wax, stamped onto the
cloth and overdyed to produce repetitive patterns. Some of them were extremely beautiful and we saw lots of
different applications of the batik cloth, like cushions, bedspreads, tablecloths
as well as bags and belts made from the material.
After spending more than twenty
years in almost total isolation living in a Western society where nobody knew
what batik was and where I continually had to explain myself and my art, I was
suddenly surrounded by batik and batik artists. I would see huge piles of batik cloth and clothes being delivered
by messengers on motorbikes all over town.
Batik was for sale in every clothes shop and the smell of beeswax was
everywhere. I loved it! And there wasn't only batik to be seen
everywhere on this island of artists and artisans. There was also Ikat, a form of woven cloth in which elaborate
pictures could be dyed into the threads that made it up. There were tie-dyes, lovely oil paintings
of the island and of its people, of birds, animals, fish and flowers and there
were wood sculptures as well as all kinds of mobiles and jewelry, silverwork
and masks. There were carved hanging
figures of every description from angels to dragons to flying pigs, standing
carved figures, amazingly realistic carved whole trees complete with fruit,
flowers and detachable leaves. There
was some fantastic carved wooden jewelry.
One could see beautifully worked leather goods, bags, belts, shoes and
clothes, chess sets and carved stone backgammon sets, bows and arrows and clubs
and spears. There were some very
beautiful clothes to be seen too. There
seemed to be every kind of art under the sun and it was mostly of a very high
quality. I learned that each village
on the island was dedicated to creating one particular item or working in one
particular medium. Thus, all the
members of one particular family would, for instance, be wood carvers or
painters. Art was an integral part of
life on Bali and had been, long before the advent of tourism had brought the
potential of commerce and the possibility of big money to the island. And the Balinese weren't only famous as
visual artists either. With music and
dance an essential factor in the Balinese religion, it was possible to watch
ritualistic dance performance any night of the week and to hear gamelan music
all the time. Art in all its myriad
forms was an essential part of the Balinese lifestyle and psyche. I knew that Bali was my kind of place.
The people of Bali had obviously
learned their strong sense of aesthetics from the exquisite beauty of the
island itself. On our second day
there, we rented a van with Phillip and drove down to Nyang Nyang Beach. After following some dusty backroads to the
sea, we parked the van at the top of the cliffs, dodged the ladies and kids who
wanted to sell us drinks and jewelry and then climbed down the steep path
leading to the beach. From the top, we
could see the waves swooping in across the coral reef by the shore and also
could look down on a pretty little farm, which was right off the beach. As we clambered down, we passed the sweet,
deer-like cattle that seemed to be indigenous to the island. We set up a camp amongst the trees
bordering the beach for the sun was brutally hot. Eventually as the sea receded further, we walked right round the
corner at the end of that brilliant white sand beach. We passed through the tunnels and caves which had been hollowed
out by the sea over millions of years to reach the next beach beyond. Walking across the reef was an amazing
experience for the little pools were alive with a huge variety of animal and
plant life. There were lots of little
fish, sea anemones, mysterious worm-like creatures and strange unidentifiable
things. We had to hurry in the end to
get round the corner back to Nyang Nyang Beach as the tide suddenly turned and
the water rose up again at an astonishing speed.
The following day, Phillip took us
to another nearby beach called Bingen, which like the beach of the day before,
was completely free of other tourists.
He showed us the patterns that the receding sea made on the sand and
explained how the concept of Ikat had come from these regular rippling marks. The patterns certainly looked like Ikat
patterns and I thought his story very plausible. We walked along this lovely deserted stretch of sand for awhile
and then sat down to rest. We were
surprised to hear a far-off woman's voice call out "Phillip! Phillip!" and even more surprised when
three young ladies appeared with drinks to sell us and offers of massages. They had walked down about a mile from a
fishing village along the coast and were very friendly. Phillip had only been to this particular
beach once before. That had been two
years ago when he had been similarly waylaid and had had a massage apparently
at the hands of one of these girls.
They had remembered him and his name from that visit and had recognized
him from about a mile away which was pretty incredible. It made me realize that these Balinese
people had a very much greater awareness of people than we in the West probably
had. So Phillip had another massage
and will no doubt be remembered when he shows up on Bingen Beach again five
years from now.
We started to explore a little further
afield too and went up to Ubud, which was always spoken of as the art center of
the island. It was a small town about
an hour's drive from Kuta, where a lot of people lived all the year round and
where the commerce and the tourism were a lot less hectic. The town seemed to be spread out much
further than Kuta or Legian were and although there were lots of shops,
restaurants and guest houses, the scene was a little less intense and the life
apparently a bit quieter. There was
fabulous art everywhere and Ubud seemed to have a strong tradition for bird and
flower studies painted in acrylics, which I found very attractive if a little,
repetitive after awhile. We ate lunch
at a wonderful open restaurant called the Dirty Duck and then drove further North
to see the extinct volcano, Mount Batur.
Mount Batur was quite an easy climb.
People regularly got up before the sun rose, saw the dawn from the top
and were back at the lake for breakfast.
We even bathed in the hot springs that flowed into Lake Batur at the
Volcano's foot. The locals all somehow
managed to wash themselves while staying discretely fully clothed. There was good deal of kidding around and a
lot of soapsuds. Across the lake from
us, where the hills rose sharply from near the water's edge, was the site of
the village where the original inhabitants of the island had lived. They had been forced to retreat to this
remote spot by invading tribes and were eventually massacred. I began to feel a sense of the island's
Of course, lack of sleep caught up
with me after about a week and I crashed suddenly. But I was having too wonderful a time to really notice and was
soon back in action and out again late at night. Denpasar, the capital of the island, was another town to
visit. Phillip could remember fifteen
years before when he first came to the island how the only hotels to be found
were in Denpasar. Kuta had been
merely a small beach resort down the coast in those days.
Denpasar was a thriving small city with an airport, a huge bus station and a
massive shopping center. Central to
the whole city was the four-floor high Market, with one floor devoted to food
of all kinds, fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, another to household items
of every description and another to clothes.
I found a special section where batik equipment, dyes and waxes were
sold and swiftly became friends with Wayan who ran the best shop there. Adjoining that Market, across the shallow
river running through the town, there was an art market, where row upon row of
little stands sold woodcarvings, paintings and jewelry. And best of all for me, there was a whole
street devoted to textiles, to printed cloth of every description, real batiked
cotton, printed batik cotton, Ikat material and all the new hot designs coming
out of Java. It was a fascinating
street for a textile junkie like myself.
Most of the time though, the sea was
our main point of reference in Bali.
Staying at the Evergreen and hanging out a lot at the Blue Ocean Bar
next door, the beach, the sea and the waves were in front of us
continually. I quickly learned a
healthy respect for the incomprehensible power of the ocean. We went back to Nyang Nyang Beach again
and I was knocked down really hard in shallow water by a wave and cut my leg
quite badly. No human could withstand
that kind of force and I was henceforth very cautious in the sea off Bali. Early in our stay on the island, we were
sitting around the table at Blue Ocean having a sunset drink when we suddenly
realized that there was a commotion at the water's edge, some twenty-five
meters away. Bodies were being carried
out of a relatively calm sea as the sun went down. We soon learned that a Javanese family on vacation in Bali,
semi-dressed and unable to swim, had ventured out a little too far and had been
caught by an undertow. Six people had
been drowned in shallow water right before our eyes and another person,
miraculously, was carried out to sea and later deposited on a beach up the
coast completely unharmed. Actually,
after that I didn't do very much swimming on that stretch of coast on the south
of the island.
I continued to see Carlos but grew a
little wary of his company. I was with
him the day that he reported the theft of his motorbike to the Police. We soon learned that Carlos had been so out
of it at a party the night before that he had taken somebody else's bike home
by mistake. He had left his own bike
back at the party and the supposed thieves had only been taking their own bike
back. But apart from the regular
crowd who met every night at the Blue Ocean for cocktails and whom we had
christened the Lush Club, I was beginning to make friends of my own. Bill was a Scotsman from Edinburgh who had
lived there a little after I had left Scotland. He knew several people that I had known in the old days before
I went off to Oxford and points beyond.
With his broad accent and his habit of prefixing every thing he said
with the words "I'll tell you what", I always felt very comfortable
with him. He was in Bali to buy
furniture or silver or Ikat but spent most of his time debating what to
buy. We've stayed in touch and I
expect to see him on one of my trips to Britain.
The Loud Crowd, who were eventually
to play an important part in our life in Bali, were a bunch of British clothes
manufacturers. Simon, whose business
it was, was an extremely tall, charismatic young man whose hairstyle varied
from a striking mohawk cut to a checker board motif. Sometimes he shaved the name Loud into the short hair on top of
his head for his company was called Loud! and was based in London. All their clothes were manufactured in
Bali. The clothes were large sized,
brightly coloured, seemed to come apart very easily and were initially designed
for the English Rave scene. Simon was
surrounded by a large group of like-minded young men and women who all worked
long grueling hours for the Company.
They were paid in board (all the nasi champur they could eat), lodging
(at Simon's house in Seminyak), alcohol (they ran up an enormous bar bill at
Goa Bar) and last year's clothes (until they fell apart). His team of workers were expected to give
their all to the company during the day and to party relentlessly all
night. I was very attracted to the
whole group though there was no way that Catherine and I could keep up with
their lifestyle, nor did we really want to.
I liked Simon very much in spite of his innate English conservatism and
as soon as he saw my batik, he asked me if I would be interested in designing
textiles for Loud. He had the idea of
starting a batik factory in Denpasar where I could supervise a group of
Javanese workers realizing my batik designs.
To run my own factory was a tremendously appealing idea and we started
to make plans to get the project off the ground. Loud, which operated on a shoestring budget and somehow managed
to wing it from order to order, juggled their books from day to day and only miraculously
managed to survive. But displaying
true Brit. entrepreneurial spirit, they were in the process of expanding and
had just opened a new office and factory in Denpasar. They had a Balinese partner, the only way that a foreign company
could operate in Indonesia and we discussed building a small factory on the
same premises. Ultimately none of
these ideas worked out but I was to work for Loud for the next six months in
On the Eighth of April, we
celebrated the one-year anniversary of our car accident in West Virginia. It seemed as if much more time had passed
for so much had happened during that past year. But we were certainly in much better condition than we had been
a year before. Since studying yoga so
intensely in Koh Phangan, I was feeling very comfortable with my body and was
exercising hard every morning, doing hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups and
feeling very fit. We were beginning
to settle into a long stay in Bali and to find some kind of daily routine at
last. We continued to explore the
island with Phillip and drove up to Bedugal Crater where there was a beautiful
temple out in the middle of the lake and then went on to see Git Git
Waterfall. When we got there, we
found that a boardwalk had been built since Phillip's last visit and we had to
walk along it past stalls selling the usual tourist goods at rather exorbitant
prices. But it was worth it when we
reached the waterfall, which was spectacularly high with tons of water rushing
down every minute. Further back from
the Fall, we passed a little hut and crossed the river there by means of a
shaky wooden bridge. The scene put me
in mind of a Hokusai wood block print with Catherine in the role of the
traditional Sage lost in contemplation of the view.
So our life went on in Legian where
we were still living at the Evergreen but looking around for a house by
now. I was still talking with Simon
and Loud about starting a new line of expensive batik clothes and hanging out
with the night crowd at Blue Ocean and Goa.
The rainy season was starting by now.
It was incredibly hot and humid most days with a quick rainstorm in the
afternoons, which took the edge off the heat. We had in the meantime rented bicycles and so could cover much
larger areas locally though we still often rented the van with Phillip to make
trips. Phillip was pretty busy buying
his clothes stock for Ibiza and generally we saw less of him. I went to a large open restaurant called
Topi Kopi and arranged to put on a show of my batiks there soon. The prospect was somewhat daunting for it
felt rather like taking coals to Newcastle.
This after all was a huge batik producing area and I was afraid that my
prices would be way out of line for Bali.
But this was a way to get better known here and I had nothing much to lose.
We met a slightly unpleasant but interesting guy in
Ubud when we made a trip up there with Phillip, Del and a French friend called
Freaque. Del was a rather well known
mostly B-movie actor whom we had originally met in Ibiza. He lived between Majorca, London and Bali
and was from the old school of American macho men. He was Phillip's long-time drinking buddy and had a wonderful
voice. Freaque came from a rich
artistic family and was one of the saner people that we met on the island.
I had heard lots of people talk
about Simon the Artist who had lived on the island a long time. He had
originally come to Bali as a batik artist.
After numerous hassles and reputed rip-offs, he had switched to silk-screening
and now ran a successful atelier in Ubud staying away from the main commercial
center and action of the island. He
was famous as the person who had first designed JakPaks, brightly coloured
zip-up jackets which could be folded into themselves and carried on one's back
like a small backpack. It had been a
great idea but the locals had started to imitate his design immediately. He had never made the money from the design
that he ought to have made. He lived
near the main road down to Kuta and we reached his Studio by climbing a series
of steps up several terraces. Each
terrace seemed to be set up as a stage and when we reached the top, we found
Simon receiving court in a huge bed mounted on a raised dais. He had recently had a hip operation and
reminded me of some decadent Roman out of "Caligula" as he lay there
stuffing grapes into his mouth. He
certainly treated us as if we were commoners come to pay tribute to him. At the same time he was astute enough to
notice Catherine and to ask if she was a dancer -which she is. His advice to me on learning that I was a
well known batik artist, was to get out of that business as soon as possible
because batik was just too much hassle.
Privately I felt like agreeing with him.
On that same trip to Ubud, we climbed
down into a deep gorge below the main road and walked up the river looking for
a fabulous waterfall that Del -who chose not to come with us- had told us
about. We didn't find the waterfall,
which I suspect only existed when a great deal of rain had fallen. But we had a great adventure down in the
gorge. I discovered some old carvings
deep in the rock before the water became to deep for us to continue. As it was, I found myself carrying my
camera wrapped in plastic on my head as we half-swam, half-clambered up the
riverbed through the jungle-like creepers and trees that hung down into the
Phillip left us on the twenty-second
of April and continued his trip to Ibiza where he was to meet his family and
spend the summer selling his Bali clothes.
Our good-byes were rather casual for all of us hated protracted and
painful farewells. But it had been a
good visit with him and had healed any wounds incurred during our Ibiza visit
in 1989. I didn't think that he was
in the best of shape for he was drinking a lot in his very controlled way. I was afraid that his dreams of
resurrecting his relationship with Maria and the family all coming back
together again would come to nought.
And I was sorry to see him go, we had been through a lot together he and
I, years as neighbours in Ibiza, as exiles together in the South of France in
1978 and as friends on consequent visits in New York and Ibiza. And now that he was gone, we were on our
own in Bali. He had been our tour
guide and in perhaps in some sense, our protector on the island. Now our life in Bali was about to begin in
At the end of April, we moved into a
house in Legian that our friend Susan from San Francisco had a long term lease
on. She was a pretty interesting woman,
very attractive and a great traveler who had served time in prison for drug
smuggling. As a consequence I suppose,
she had developed a rather hard-bitten approach and attitude to life. But now she was in the Rag Trade like
nearly everybody else we knew in Bali and would be away for a couple of
months. When she asked us if we'd
like to sublet her house, we agreed to rent it until she got back. The house itself was nice, quite large with
a kitchen and living room downstairs, a big bedroom upstairs and an open
bathroom and courtyard behind where there was an enormous pool-like tiled
bath. It was situated in a gang near
to the beach and was enclosed by a high wall.
The owner, Ketut, lived in a little room within the compound. He seemed very nice and I didn't
anticipate any problem with that although his father was pretty strange. His father was in fact a Balinese
transvestite with long flowing hair who would escape from his wife and village
to hang out in Legian. He would sit
around in the compound all day making those exquisite flower offerings for the
gods. I decided to set up my studio
on the covered porch outside the front door and had a batik table built for me. I had bought some new kinds of dyes from
Denpasar and planned to experiment with them before going into production for
Loud. I was recommended a dye expert
who came to help me and instruct me in their use.
Meanwhile I had found a framing shop
in Denpasar and had started to have all my batiks mounted for the upcoming
show, which was scheduled to open on May 18th. We were rapidly becoming a permanent feature on the local scene,
for there was a steady turnover of visitors in Legian. Few people stayed for more than a month or
six weeks at a time, they did their business, played awhile and were gone. But we now had a house, I had a studio
there and we were set for a long stay.
We went out to eat nearly every night in one of three or four
restaurants and spent a lot of time watching the nightly show at Goa. We also discovered video bars like The
Bounty, a massive construction down in Kuta which was built like an old
galleon, had two restaurants, two bars and featured first run movies every
night. We saw a lot of good, some not
so good and some terrible movies, including the new version of "Robin
Hood" which showed there about a month after it opened in Singapore. Someone had clearly pirated it with a video
camera from the back of the cinema.
The quality of the print was terrible, we could hear people laughing,
coughing and talking during the movie and occasionally someone's silhouette
would show up against the screen. And
we had some good friends too, Cliff and Jocelyn, a couple from England and the
Philippines respectively who had a lovely little son called Emerson and who
regularly came from California to buy jewelry in Bali. Betsy was from Colorado, another jeweler,
who came to the island a couple of times a year and had done for years. She loved to hang out and talk in the long
evenings and soon became an intimate of ours.
These were all people that we could talk with, people who cared about
other people and about communication and were not in Bali merely to do business
and to get stoned every night.
But they were soon to be gone and at
the beginning, we often felt isolated in Legian. It was especially hard for Catherine who couldn't find an
outlet for her interests. It was
difficult to imagine what work she could find in a small community that was
almost exclusively dedicated to the Rag trade and to pleasure. She became my assistant and later worked
for Simon but I remember that this was a very difficult period for her and for
us both. In retrospect, the problems
we had over the next two months were caused by the house. There was something about the place that
seemed to affect everything that went on in it. We soon learned that the house had quite a history. Ketut had had it built ten years before. He had been living with an American woman
and apparently the two of them had made a lot of money selling drugs in the
days when things were much looser on the island. But the laws were apparently not that loose and the two of them
had been busted. Ketut had taken the
blame for both of them and had ended up serving six years in prison. In fact he had only come out recently
which explained why he seemed so lost, didn't have any regular work and was
still struggling to adapt to life on the outside. He had rented out a small corner room to some young Javanese
guys who had opened up a little leather goods shop there. I liked them a lot and ordered belts from
them but there was still an all-pervasive feeling of gloom about the place that
took us awhile to isolate and understand.
Those two months were probably the hardest times of the whole year for
Catherine and I personally, though of course we survived them intact. Art and love conquer all. But I wanted to live in Bali. I loved the world of textile design, the
Batik business all around me and for the first time in many years felt that I
had found my niche. I had received
more offers of work in Legian in two months than I had had in the past five
years in America. But I was very aware
that at that time, Catherine didn't feel the same about the island as I did.
Around about this time, I met a
young black Australian called Brian who was a world class athlete and who
expected to run the 800 meters for Australia in the next Olympic Games. I've always loved to run and am built for
long distance endurance running. So
Brian took me under his wing for a short time and we started to run three or
four miles on the beach every night at sunset. It was incredibly hard for me at first but Brian had a
wonderful way of urging me on as I struggled to keep up with him. He'd point out little spots along the beach that I should try to
reach and pushed me along. I found
myself running further and faster than ever before. Unfortunately, just as I felt that I was getting into shape,
Brian got into trouble and had to leave the island. He and a friend were walking home along one of the backstreets
one night when a Balinese on a motorbike came by and apparently passed a little
too close to Brian. The latter was a
little drunk and in a bad mood.
Without thinking what he was doing, he chased after the motorbike and
hit the rider. The motorcyclist
collected a gang of friends who all came after Brian that night and he had had
to literally run for his life. Being
in fantastic shape, he managed to get away, jumped over a wall and
escaped. But he had to secretly leave
the island in a hurry, which ended our runs together. I started to run with a Dutch friend but hurt myself running
barefoot on sand with a camber and ended up on our living room couch for a few
days with badly swollen ankles. It was
there that Ketut's transvestite father made a polite but very determined pass
at me which somewhat soured me on the social scene at the house. Ketut eventually found about the incident
and was so upset that he sent his father back to his village. I felt worse for poor Ketut than for
By early May, my new studio was
operating and I took some lessons in the use of the local dyes from a local
artist called Immanuel. I soon had
several pieces going for Loud, a wild design full of crazy, dancing rather
stylized figures and a Fractals design that I had wanted to do ever since I had
read a fascinating book on "Chaos Theory" in Thailand. We got fliers made for the upcoming Batik
Show and pinned them up all over Kuta and Legian. I used a reproduction of my old "Self Portrait with
Ear" batik and the fliers looked rather like "wanted"
posters. My batiks were all in Denpasar
with the framers and with the help of Lorne from Loud, I was pushing to have
them all finished by the middle of May.
So far, all was well and the batiks were looking pretty good. I had a shirt and trousers made especially
for the show, which opened as planned.
There was a good turn out; I got a lot of complements but no sales at
The following day, we flew to
Singapore to get new visas. Tourists
were only issued with two-month visas upon entering Indonesia. With Loud's help, we represented ourselves
as design consultants and applied for business visas. These lasted for three months and could be renewed without
leaving the island, which would be much cheaper and more convenient. We spent two or three days running around
Singapore which I found incredibly sterile for the most part. It was a large, anonymous center of commerce
which functioned very smoothly but which wasn't very interesting. We had a several errands to do, one of
which was to buy a computer for Loud and to smuggle it back into Bali without
paying taxes on it. I ended up
carrying it through Customs very casually in a cheap plastic laundry bag
without any trouble. We explored India
Town, which had fabulous food, visited some friends of friends and went to see
some new movies. We were happy to get
back to Bali.
Simma arrived from California to
stay with us for two weeks of jewelry buying and sight seeing. We rented the van again and went up to Ubud
to see a Legung Dance. There were so
many tourists there taking photos that we could hardly see the show for the
camera flashes. As we were tourists
there ourselves, we all felt a bit foolish.
We drove on to the North coast of the island via Lake Batur and the
Volcano and stayed in Lovina for the night.
There was a big Buddhist Hot Springs nearby where we bathed for hours in
the deep warm water, which was surrounded by the overhanging branches of lovely
trees. On the third day, we drove
right around the East coast of the island where we stopped in Les and were lead
into the hills to see the waterfall there.
Back in Legian, I worked every day
on my new batiks but had problems with the local dyes. It was a bit frustrating although I pressed
on determinedly. I heard from my
ex-wife Carol who was in Europe finally, having the trip that she had wanted to
make with me. She stayed with brother
Phil in London, my sister Kate in Hastings and even got down to Barcelona to
visit my old friends Josep and Angela.
She'd been photographing classic American cars and bikes for one of
Josep's magazines. I was happy for her
and glad that after all she'd managed to have her European vacation and that I
hadn't had to make the trip with her.
A perfect solution as far as I was concerned as long as she behaved
herself with my family, which fortunately she did.
Simma left and I went back to
work. I was having continual problems
with the new Remasol dyes and made lots of mistakes. But I was also learning a lot and pushed on regardless. I was beginning to realize that these
particular dyes were not really suitable for my kind of batik paintings. I didn't have as much control over the
colours and the process as I did with the regular Procion dyes that I
used. I tried indigo dye also with the
help of an old dyer called Pak but came to the same conclusions about its
viability and convenience in my style of work. In retrospect, these were rather sober, dark days for us. None of my batiks were coming out very
well, at least I wasn't satisfied with the results even though I was working
obsessively hard. Poor Catherine, who
was very peripheral to most of my dealings with Loud, must have been feeling
very isolated during this period.
Suddenly our two-month lease on
Susan's house was over and it was time to make a move again. Suve, Simon Loud's Swedish next door
neighbour, was leaving the island for awhile and Simon had decided to rent his
house while he was away. He offered
Catherine and me the downstairs part of the house. Another English couple, who had recently arrived in Bali to work
for Loud, was to take the upstairs bedroom.
It was a wonderful house, right on the edge of town in an area called
Seminyak and was surrounded by fields where the locals were cultivating their
crops. The house and its small garden
were enclosed by high walls for privacy and security and it came with a maid, a
cook and a gardener. We were really
uncomfortable with this arrangement at first and felt like modern day
colonialists. Made, the young woman
who cleaned the house for us and made our breakfasts every morning, was
actually great to have around and freed us up to work on other projects (or is
that the rationalization that every colonialist makes?) But I never came to terms with having a
gardener who would spend three mornings a week plucking errant grasses out of
our lawn and literally trimming the grass with a large pair of scissors. The house itself was lovely with a huge
open living room protected by bamboo blinds, a nice bedroom, big bathroom and a
good kitchen. The couple upstairs, who
was very unsociable, didn't last very long with Loud and returned to England
shortly after that. Their room
upstairs was taken by a young clothes designer from England called Jo who
fitted in much better with Loud's frenetic lifestyle.
But before we settled down to life,
love and work at our new house, we decided to make a trip over to Lombok, the
next island East in the Indonesian chain and to stay at a small island off
Lombok called Gili Trawangan.
So, early one morning, with
backpacks on our backs, Catherine and I cycled down from Legian into Kuta to
catch a bimo van to the Lombok ferry.
At that hour, the streets were completely empty, the constant noise of
the traffic and business hadn't started yet and it was exhilarating to feel
that we had the town to ourselves.
On the ferry to Lombok, we crossed the narrow strait between the two
islands where we got a new perspective on Bali. We could clearly see the chain of volcanoes that made up its
backbone. Behind us, Mt. Agung
dominated Bali and in front of us, the extinct volcano Ranjani towered over the
rest of Lombok island. It was a lovely
hazy day in the middle of the year. I
remember that we saw an old schooner with faded dark brown sails, which looked
like it, might belong to the Boogis people, the legendary pirates of the Indonesian
islands. Our boat was rather crowded
but we found seats inside and read until we reached Lombok. Once there, another bimo took us to the
little beach on the North West of the island where we took a small open boat
over to Gili Trawangan.
Gili Trawangan was a really tiny
island and one which had hardly been developed at all. One could walk along the beach and
circumvent the island in about two hours and the whole island rested on a coral
reef that was exposed at low tide.
Cars and motorbikes were not allowed on the island and there were a few
restaurants, a shop or two and little cabins by the sea to rent. Lombok wasn't very far away and we could
clearly see Mount Ranjani to our right and look back to Mount Agung on Bali to
our left. We rented a very simple
cabin on stilts at Nusa Tiga Bungalows right next to the sea and settled in for
a week's holiday. Life was pretty
uncomplicated there; our cabin had a bed and a little covered verandah and
nothing more and all our meals were catered by our hosts in a large open
communal building behind the cabins.
There wasn't much to do except read, walk and best of all, snorkel on
the reef in front of us.
Each morning we would get up early,
put on flippers and facemasks and walk out into the sea in front of us. The reef ran all around the island and
dropped off steeply about one hundred meters out. It was a miraculous new world for us to explore. There was an incredible variety of exotic
and brilliantly coloured fish, which came in every shape and form
imaginable. The corals had fantastic
shapes and were covered in different weeds.
We would swim out to the edge of the reef and float above it, suspended
between two separate and wholly distinct worlds, perhaps more part of the
submerged reality below than the bright blue sky above. We had the sensation that we were flying
between the two. I think that it was
the greatest feeling of freedom that I have ever had. We spent hours floating just below the surface of the water,
arms and legs outstretched like frogs, diving down to swim amongst the endless
shoals of fish or to examine some fantastically shaped coral. We could hear the sound of the fish around
us -was it their communication we were listening to?- like the whispering of
insects or the rustling of millions of leaves as we swam past them. When we went out to the edge of the reef,
it was like hanging over the edge of an impossibly high cliff. Way down below we would catch glimpses of
much larger fish and once, a small shark.
It was incredibly exciting and we would be slowly carried down the whole
length of the island by the sea's currents before coming aground again at its
tip. Then we would walk barefoot
across the hot sand back up to our cabin to rest up and read during the heat of
One day, we went off on a boat with
a group of visitors who were staying at Nusa Tiga and visited two other nearby
islands, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Then
we landed at a beach on Lombok and went inland to check out a little village up
a river flowing down into the sea. The
villagers probably didn't get too many visitors and were fascinated by our
party. The whole village came out to
stand around us and to look at everything that we did. It was a situation akin to that experienced
by the first outside arrivals to these islands when two wholly distinct
cultures first became aware each other's presence.
Full Moon came and went on Gili Trawangan. Some of the Loud Crowd showed up to stay in
a little house that Simon had rented on the island and we checked out the dance
party scene there at night. But mostly
we were there for the quiet life and apart from snorkeling, reading and
sleeping, we didn't do much else on the island. We found that a walk up the only hill on the island at sunset
was a lovely experience.
And then suddenly we were back at
our new house in Seminyak, just in time to spend a few days with Suve before he
left for Europe. Suve was an
interesting fellow. A tax exile from
Sweden, he had had a very successful leather clothes business in Stockholm but
had sold it and left the country owing vast sums of tax money to the government
there. Legally he couldn't go back
there but would somehow sneak back into the country every few years to visit
his family. Nowadays his big passion
was classic motorbikes and he was a master bike mechanic. He had just come back from Java where he
had discovered caches of ancient motorbikes, Harleys, Triumphs and other old
and rare bikes. He had bought them up
and brought them back to Bali where they would be worked on and resold. The day that Suve left, an entire large
truck of bikes finally arrived, having been held up at the Custom Department
for days while money passed hands. We
unloaded them and lined a dozen of them up on the lawn so that suddenly it
looked like we were living with a gang of bikers.
Actually, although motorbikes were
popular on the island, everyone that we knew had had an accident of some sort
on them. There always seemed to be
some people staggering around on crutches, with hideous scabs on their knees or
with a broken bone or two. We stuck to
our bicycles most of the time which were good exercise and infinitely safer, if
any form of transportation on the Balinese roads could be considered safe. There were lots of bad accidents on the
narrow roads where everyone drove a little too fast. And woe betide any foreigner who injured a Balinese in an
accident. The thinking was quite
simply that if the foreigner had not been there, the accident and injury would
not have happened. So the foreign
offender was automatically guilty and penalties were very harsh. I'd even heard people say that if you
accidentally hit a Balinese on the road, it was better to keep going whoever's
fault it was.
About this time I met Phillip and
Sally from Australia who were in the clothes business on the island. They had seen my show at Topi Koki and
greeted me as the greatest batik artist in the world. In a world of batik artists, that was a little hard to swallow
and I secretly knew better. But these
people inhabited a world where sales and the accompanying hypes were paramount
and Phillip was a consummate salesman.
They were a curious couple.
Sally was pretty and quiet while Phillip had a rather unhappy and
unpleasant twist to his face and never stopped talking. He knew a lot about clothes and their
manufacture. He had made and lost
several fortunes in the rag trade for he had been in the business for years and
had a lot of stories to tell.
Currently they were both working for Rudy, an Indonesian who had started
on the street and had made a lot of money 'in the old days'. He had now built a fabulous new
silk-screening and clothes manufacturing factory, which Phillip managed for
him. I had a look around the factory
which was called Primitive Cool and was duly impressed. It was situated just off the beach behind
the Evergreen Guesthouse. Phillip
seemed to have a lot of good ideas and wanted me to design fabrics for
Primitive Cool just as I was to do for Simon at Loud. He offered me lots of work and promised me millions. But I'd been in the business long enough
not to believe a word until I could see the colour of his money although it was
certainly exciting to have so many prospects of interesting work projects. Phillip and I spent a really fascinating
afternoon walking along the river in Denpasar, checking out the different batik
factories that operated on its banks.
They all used the river water to make their dyes, to wash out their
fabrics and to boil the wax out of the finished cloth. The river was of course becoming
unbelievably polluted in the process.
We passed factories operating at every level, from a group of Javanese
workers living in tents and working in the open air to something slightly more
uptown with a collection of wooden factory buildings housing fifty workers
working with tjap blocks and turning out two hundred meters of cloth a
day. Basically the process was the
same everywhere, block-waxed cloth, German Procion dyes and a river running
alongside providing the water.
Everywhere the workers were friendly, welcoming and happy to show us
their work although we didn't see anything startlingly new or different. But that was the nature of the beast in
Bali. Every factory copied every
other's work until something slightly new came along and then everyone copied
that. One could maybe count on having
a season's grace if one came up with a new idea, process, design or
effect. Pretty soon, if it were successful and commercial, all the other
factories would start to do the same work.
I found it all fascinating and it further whetted my appetite to
actually be in charge of my own little factory.
Phillip soon had me drawing classic American cars and motorbikes
and we screen-printed tee shirts with Oldsmobile automobiles one
afternoon. In the end however, the
episode with Phillip and Primitive Cool ended up like many great Bali projects. There was a lot of talk and plenty of ideas
but nothing much came of our plans.
But I think that I always knew that Phillip was a deeply damaged
individual with a long bitter streak.
Although I was upset, I wasn't
terribly surprised to learn in mid-1993 that Phillip had killed himself. He had actually set fire to his house and
destroyed half his neighbourhood in the process. In some way, Phillip was seriously flawed and one could read it
in his face. Perhaps his plans were
always far more grandiose than his finances, for in later years, he had little
money and had always to rely on backers.
Although he obviously knew a lot about printing and fabrics and about
the making of clothes, he had always seemed to want to put competition with
other companies before anything else and usually ended up losing out. Finally he amassed terrible debts and was
unable to carry on. I think that he
must have been insane to have ended his life in such a horribly destructive
way. All my textile designs for
Primitive Cool got lost too and I've no idea what happened to them.
I had an interesting experience with
the Indonesian Postal Service one day.
It gave me insight into the Balinese and their behaviour and left me
feeling both surprised and impressed.
Back in Koh Phangan, I had lent $100 to our friend Selvin to help him
get back to England. I had expected to
hear from him for quite awhile. One
day there was a card from the Central Post Office in Denpasar asking me to come
and pick up a packet from England there.
I could only think that the packet must have come from Selvin and took a
bimo there one morning to pick it up.
When I presented my letter at the main desk, I was asked to come through
to the offices behind. I was lead by a
serious faced P.O. worker down a long corridor to an office at the end of
it. Another official took me down an
even longer, dimly lit corridor to a small dark office at the end of it. It was all very Kafkaesque. I was asked to wait by the desk and
feeling somewhat confused and a little disconcerted, I did so. A woman came in, sat down at the desk and
opened a drawer in the desk. She
produced a small packet that had already been opened and asked me to examine
the contents. I began to feel a little
worried as I recognized Selvin's youthful and enthusiastic scrawl on the cover
of the brown envelope. Oh God, I
thought, they've found Selvin's money for me and he put a joint or something
even worse in the packet! Inside it,
I found a cassette tape entitled "Xstatic Dance, Rave till you Drop!"
and fifty English pounds. As I drew
out the money, the woman's face grew grave and troubled. "You know that it is illegal to send
money through the mail to Indonesia", she said. I nodded, judging it best to say as little as possible at this
stage. "Your friend has
contravened the law in sending you this money", she added. I nodded again, afraid to say anything. For a moment she said nothing, then
"This is very bad", she said.
"Very bad indeed. You must
tell your friend never to do this again.
Now take your package", she said to me. I nodded again, too amazed this time to open my mouth. I still find it incredible that in a
country where the average monthly income is only about twenty dollars, my money
reached me. It would have been so
easy to take it and in the circumstances I would have been unable to do
anything about it. And let's not even
mention "Rave Till You Drop"!
Meanwhile, I was busy with a new
collection of textile designs for Loud, which was mainly aimed at the currently
popular British "Rave" scene.
I had to come up with suitably mind-expanding images and had settled on
a series of Fractal patterns. Fractals
are computer generated designs, very much akin to the psychedelic images of the
Sixties in appearance and are graphic representations of the mathematical
equations relating to Chaos Theory. I
also came up with -I say came up with because the drawing was mostly copied
from Swedish comic books that I found at Suve's- a very pop sci-fi design that
we called "Lust in Space".
The final design evolved slowly, was eventually worked on by nearly
everybody at the Loud House and was printed on white denim jeans and jackets. It looked very contemporary in a Sixties'
retro sort of way, I thought. It felt
as if there was nothing new under the sun in the Rag Trade and the accompanying
Fabric Design field. "Lust in
Space" was perfectly apropos for these post-modernist plagiarizing
Catherine, who had always been
involved in a dance group in West Virginia and who badly needed to both
exercise her body and be involved in something creative, decided to start an
Improv Dance group in Legian. We got
permission to dance at the local International school and held a first meeting
at D.J's Restaurant on Catherine's twenty-sixth birthday. A very interesting bunch of people showed
up and as we ate birthday cake, we all got to know each other a little. We decided to hold our first dance session
the following week. Our Jamaican
friend Sam, the reggae drummer, agreed to provide percussion for the
group. A good crowd turned up and we
had a lot of fun. It was my first
exposure to improvisation exercises and I enjoyed it very much. I've always loved to dance but learning to
move unselfconsciously in non-rhythmical forms was a great step for me. Like many things like in Bali, people
ultimately dropped in and out of the sessions. It did all depend rather on Catherine's energy but we continued
with the Improv dance sessions until we left the island in the Fall.
Sam the drummer and I got involved
in a project together at about this time, which we called "The
Christian, the owner of Topi Koki, where my batik show was still
hanging, was interested in putting on parties at his restaurant and invited us
to organize one. Under the aegis of
my (somewhat hypothetical) company, The Atomic Cafe, we invited every musician
and performer that we knew to participate and soon had a very strong program
put together. Sam's band, "The
Massive Riddim Posse", was the show's headlining act and he would also
perform as N'Sambal! the Human Drum Machine.
My English friend Nick was to perform solo as Nik Bintang and also with
his punky rock band, The Baygons. The
RajNeeshi contingent in Legian was slated to perform as Ishmala and the
Clockwork Oranges but dropped out at the last moment. Hawkwind the dancer would perform a piece, as would Australian
Shane who would play a couple of songs with his band. Simon and his cohort Robbie from Loud were to be the MCs under
the pseudonyms Big Bob and the Missing Link.
I built a large TV out of cardboard so that they could appear as two
talking heads. Catherine put together
a troupe of lovely lady go-go dancers called The Little White Lies who were
dressed in white and would act as cheerleaders to get the dancing going
whenever it flagged. My concept was
that the audience was the screen.
Everybody was to dress in white and the walls were draped with
sheets. I set up slide projectors in
the corners of the huge open space, which would project images onto the people
and the show. I resurrected my
Sixties Lightshow, The Retinal Blowjob, for the occasion which was something I
had wanted to do for a long time.
Circus" was a great success.
About six hundred people showed up, all but about four of them (who for
reasons best known to themselves came in black and somehow looked very silly)
dressed in white. It was a wonderful
party but tremendously stressful and a lot of hard work for Sam and I. Simon and Robbie, for the first and
probably only time in their lives, were rather subdued and even tongue-tied as
MCs in their TV. But they got drunk
and finally trashed their box and threw it away. They had somehow managed to get completely free access to the
bar and had drunk a tremendous amount before we managed to control them. Most of the music was fabulous; Lorne from
Loud's harmonica playing was a standout as was Sam's very hot reggae band. I practically had to threaten Shane with
violence before he'd get up and play with his band as he had promised he would
-a curse on all those sensitive artistes, drunkards and neurotic painters- but
finally, with the help of a couple of stiff drinks, he lead his band through a
couple of shaky songs. Hawkwind danced
for a long time, starting off behind backlit sheets which threw his shadow onto
the sheet and looked tremendously effective.
But he went on too long in a self-absorbed, narcissistic sort of way and
I wished he'd stopped a lot sooner. I
thought that the projected slide show was a great success and that the Little
White Lies were absolutely gorgeous. It
was a thrilling night and one of my best theatrical productions.
Primitive Cool Phillip carried me
off the next day to watch my "Lust in Space" silk-screen being made
for Loud! and I met Susie who ran a big bikini business in Australia. She ended up buying my batik portrait of
Catherine and her mother sitting side by side on the banks of the Goshen
It was a good piece. The two women, who look like sisters, sit
with their backs to the viewer and the composition was somewhat akin to
something Monet might have painted.
Our Bali life continued with little
side trips to Ubud and beyond. I
worked hard every day and we spent a lot of time with our two intimate new
friends, Betsy and Laurie. For awhile,
we had begun to feel a little alienated from the social scene in Legian and it
was great to be hanging out with two good communicators who were genuinely
interested in other people and even had some kind of social consciences. For Laurie's birthday, we organized a
hilarious afternoon of Improv Theater at her house.
At the end of August, my work
schedule suddenly went into hyper-drive when Loud asked me to come up with
three meters of Fractal design-printed fabric for a clothes show that Loud
wanted to attend and show at the following week. I had plenty of fractal designs completed but nothing on cloth
and there wasn't time to batik such a complex and large piece of cloth in the
time I was given. So I went to a
factory on the outskirts of Legian which was run by a young Balinese man called
Nick and enlisted the help of his best Javanese workers to help me complete the
project in a hurry. The
silk-screening factory was surrounded by a high wall and was basically two long
open sheds, each with two thirty meter-long tables so that an entire bolt of
cloth could be dyed each time. I
showed up the next morning with my drawings, Nick cleared the decks for me and
we transferred the drawing to cloth using the factory's lightbox. Working with my team of three young
Javanese men, we spread the cloth out on a frame and started to paint dyes onto
the cloth using a seaweed thickener to stop the dyes from flowing into one
another. The Fractal design had many
different colours and we took five days to complete it. The cloth came out beautifully, I had a
wonderful experience and learned a lot in the process. My Javanese friends were incredible
workers, quick, accurate and careful and fun to be around. They were all in their early twenties and
had come down to Bali in a group to earn far better money than they could at
home in Yogjakarta. Here their lives
were solely about work. Their pay was
minimal by my standards and they lived in the factory compound, which they only
got to leave on Sundays to play a game of soccer for exercise. All the money they made was sent back to their
families in Java. But they were
indefatigably cheerful at all times and were really a pleasure to be
One, expensive and lovingly created
shirt was sewn from my cloth and flown out to London immediately for the
Fashion Show. I subsequently learned
that the Fractal shirt was somehow held up by Customs Authorities in France for
a week and never made it to the Show as planned. It went on show in the front window of Loud's main shop on
King's Street in Chelsea, London eventually to attract orders.
After a week at the factory,
Catherine and I took another trip around the island. This time we went to the extreme east end of Bali with Betsy,
to a rather remote and undeveloped village called Ahmed where we rented a cabin
by the beach, swam and rested up. There
was a large and beautiful fishing fleet of simple,one-masted sailboats with
fantastically carved and painted prows drawn up on the beach all day. Actually I mainly remember stopping my
manic coffee drinking there and suffering from severe caffeine withdrawal for a
couple of days before we moved on round the coast to Amlapura and eventually
We were starting to get to know Bali
quite well and so were ready to show my dear friend Kristin around the island
when she showed up to visit us late that summer. It seemed strange that we had been newcomers ourselves to Bali a
few months before when Phillip had first showed the island to us. But now we were fairly well established
there and it was our turn to be native guides and hosts to the next generation
of visitors. First of course, we had
to show Kristin the shops and help her choose some new clothes. She needed to get acclimatized although she
now lived in Maui and had found a tropical paradise of her own.
We made a trip back up to Bedougal
and then to Lovina and the Hot Springs on the Northern coast. We drove onto the furthermost Western
point of the island, Menjannon, where Java could clearly be seen across the Straits
and rented a boat to snorkel there.
Then we followed the coast road round to the South and went up the
Balion River where we stayed for the night.
It was peaceful, there were few tourists there and we lay around in the
shallow water where the river ran into the sea. The following day we completed our circuit of the island by
driving all the way down the Southern coast road and back to Seminyak. I remember that we picked up our mail when
we got back and there was a letter from Mukti offering us both work in India
whenever we wanted it. I could help
start a Batik cottage industry in the villages in the Interzone between India
and Tibet. Perhaps Catherine would be
interested in starting a local youth center in the Almora area. It all seemed very appealing. We also found that our tickets were
confirmed for Sydney for October Ist.
One condition of my US Green Card was that I only be absent from the
country for a year at a time and it would soon be time to check back into
We had time for one more beautiful
trip into the interior of the island before moving on. Kristin went off on her own to visit Ubud
and we drove up the following day with Betsy and Laurie. We rented fabulous rooms at Sayan Terrace
above the gorge through which the river ran into Ubud. It was a spectacular spot. The balcony of our cabin was on a level
with the tops of the palm trees and the terraces and palms fell away into the gorge
below us. The colours were intensely
green and we sat and looked at the view for hours. We drove up to Tampaxsiring where the finest woodcarving was to
be found and bought three exquisite flying angels before eating at the Dirty
Duck in Ubud. Later we all talked for
hours on the floating balcony back at our rooms above the river gorge. We were heading towards our last days in
Bali and wanted to absorb as much of the magic as possible to take with us.
I had watched friends getting ready
to leave the island and had observed (with some amusement) how chaos and
disorder seemed always to accompany their departures. I was determined that we weren't going to go through such scenes
when we flew to Australia on the first of October. Alas, chaos was integral to departure from Bali and our leaving
was fully as traumatic and crazed as everyone else. It seemed to me that either one doesn't want to leave -or the
island itself doesn't want to let go.
In spite of all my careful preparations, advance packing and countless
lists, we found ourselves unsure on the very morning of our flights whether in
fact we would be able to get away that day.
In order to catch flights on the 1st, we had had to extend our visas for
a week. Typically, on the very
morning that we had to leave, we had still not received word whether our extensions
had been granted or for how long. The
Indonesian authorities had been holding our passport for weeks meanwhile. Somehow, at the last moment, everything
fell into place. With Loud's help, the
visas came through by mid-morning and our passports were returned to us. Then Catherine could go to the US Embassy
in Denpasar to get an extra section fitted into her passport, which was filled
up, with entry stamps and visas. Next
we took a taxi to the Australian Embassy where, mercifully, visas were granted
to us immediately, with out the customary three days wait. We could leave that night! We spent the day shopping and doing little
errands and had a final meal at D.J's with the gang before going out late to
the Airport to catch an 11.30pm flight to Sydney.