Feeding a hungry tiger – with my bare hands…

Warning!  I’ve been advised that this is cruel.  However, I’ve decided not to delete this post because… if this is the extent of my ‘cruelty’ then I can live with it.

Yes, I fed raw meat to a hungry tiger, using only my bare hands… and a long stick!

The zoo-keeper (at Bali Zoo) skewered an uncooked chicken onto the end of the pole and handed it to me with strict instructions, ‘only feed the tiger from up there’.  She was pointing to the row of railings above my head but just within reach of my extended arm which held the long pole.

Feed the tiger from up there

Feed the tiger from up there

One of the 3 big cats in the enclosure padded towards me – he was on a mission.

Lunch is a serious business!

Looking half like a big, soft, cuddly toy and half like the magnificent, yet menacing, wild animal that he was, he stretched up and put his huge front paws on the metal bars – the only thing between us.

Paws for thought!

Paws for thought!

He lifted his head, opened his jaw and, effortlessly, tore the raw flesh off the stick (like sate – but not as we humans know it!).

Hmmm, a new waitress

Hmmm, a new waitress – maybe I can eat her for dessert!

Just look at him… such a beautiful big cat, with raw chicken in his mouth

Raw chicken... my favourite

Raw chicken… my favourite

The waitress loved her new temp job

That's one happy waitress

That’s one happy waitress

Doubtless pleased with his success at intimidating the new waitress, he strode to a corner to relish his lunch in peace.

Cleaning himself after lunch

Cleaning himself after lunch

More tales (including crocodile tails), from Bali Zoo will follow in future posts – so why not ‘Follow’ my blog to see me hold the crocodile in my bare hands (literally this time).  But not before you look at the other tiger pics below…

Here he is in 'thinking' mode

Here he is in ‘thinking’ mode

Time to roll over

Time to roll over



Now where’s the wife?

At home with Mr and Mrs Tiger

At home with Mr and Mrs Tiger

So beautiful

So beautiful -purrrrrrr

A big ‘Thank You’ to Nancy for taking the photos of me feeding the tiger.  Look out for more from Nancy and I (as well as elephants, monkeys, crocs, birds etc.,) in my next blog post.

Snooze time at Bali Zoo

Snooze time at Bali Zoo

Art performance at Goa Gajah – tomorrow

Here are some photos from the previousSharing Creating Offering Art’ event at Goa Gajah:

This one was held about 6 months ago on Tumpek Krulut – which means ‘Compassion Day’:

The 3rd ‘Sharing Creating Offering Art’ event is being held tomorrow Sat 29 Aug 2015 which is also Tumpek Krulut in the Balinese calendar.

Can you afford to miss it?

Each of these events have showcased art in different forms and I’ve been lucky to read a poem too.  And tomorrow I’ve got 10 mins to share some of my poems about Bali – at approx 4.15pm.

It starts from 11am at Goa Gajah temple and the opening will also include a new gamelan piece – the performances will go through until late afternoon (I think I will be reading at approx 4.15pm).

Whatsmore, 2 of Yaniq’s drawings will be on display, here is one of them:

'Meditating' by Yaniq

‘Meditating’ by Yaniq

Hope to see you there.

Reinventing my life – podcast

Alexsandra (Smart Alex Coach) interviewed me recently, as part of a series about women who have reinvented their lives.

Please have a listen to the ‘Julie in Bali’ podcast / interview and learn what my life is like in Bali (take note of the tropical birds singing in the background, especially towards the end)

I hope you enjoy it and give Alexsandra some great feedback, here’s the link:



2014 – animal memories

From bats, cats, snakes, iguanas and monkeys – and back to cats again…

First up is Jojo.  We’ve had him since he was a kitten and he’s now about 2.5 years old.

Everyone loves him – I’m sure you can see why!  Scroll down to the last picture to see Jojo and our other cat, Jj, curled up together.


Jojo and me overlooking our garden

Meanwhile, here are some more unusual animals I met last year… this must be the granddaddy of all iguanas:



Most of these pictures were taken at a very interactive animal home up in Bedugul – I can’t call it a zoo, as it’s far too small, but it does have some cool, tame, animals – and a giant fruit bat:

'Holy bat cave, Robin'

‘Holy bat cave, Robin’

I’ve no idea what animal this is – anyone know?  (please, no comments about me using him as a toothpick!)

Here he is again:

And then there was this hungry gentleman on my shoulders:

A hungry Luwak - but no coffee today!

A hungry luwak – but no coffee today!

He’s a luwak and they’re famous for ‘Coffee Luwak’.

Yes, these are the animals that eat the choicest of coffee beans which go through their digestive system completely ‘intact’.  When they come out the other end, the, err… ‘waste’ is scrapped off and the beans are taken from the shell and made into the most expensive coffee in the world! = Coffee Luwak or, as it is called over here, ‘Kopi Luwak’ (they have this in Vietnam too and it’s called Weasel Coffee – the luwak comes from the weasel family, I believe).

Anyway, here he is again:


No, there are no coffee beans in my hair, Mr Luwak

What about this sizeable snake – worn as a necklace!



I’m pretty sure it’s a python… keep it away from this little cutie:


Cutie – but are they porcupine quills on your head?

And what about this snake-like reptile, called an Alu:

Snake-like lizard

Snake-like lizard/reptile = Alu

And here’s that iguana again – my what a long tail you have!

Fully grown iguana

Fully grown granddaddy of an iguana

Here I’m feeding the fish – at our nearby restaurant!

Bale Udang has many bale’s (like gazebo’s) perched on top of a lake and that is where you dine – on fish.  If you have a little spare rice left over from your meal you can feed it to the carp swimming directly beneath you:  Eat fish, feed fish = balance.

Feeding the fish - at a restaurant

Feeding the fish – at a restaurant

And now I’m feeding a monkey in the Monkey Forest which is just 8 mins walk from my home – so close that, on rare occasions, the monkeys venture into my garden – they eat the leaves from my papaya tree but, luckily, they leave me with the fruit!

Feeding a monkey in the Monkey Forest

Feeding a monkey in the Monkey Forest

And here, as promised, is Jojo and JJ in perfect harmony:

Jojo and Jj - in perfect harmony

Jojo and Jj – in perfect harmony

A perfect way to end a post.

2014 lessons, successes & memories, part 1

Indulge me while, over the next few posts, I’ll take a stroll through 2014, learn its lessons, smile at its successes and remember its most memorable moments, most of them exquisitely good but one, awfully sad…

I lost my beloved Dad a year ago, 25.1.14.  He was 89 years old.  I’m not going to tell you tales of what a wonderful man he was or how deep the loss is.  Not here, not now.  But I will explain a little of how being in Bali helped me deal with my emotions.

Harry Edward John Silvester, my Dad

Harry Edward John Silvester, my Dad at 88 yrs old eating his favourite pie and mash

You see I’ve come to a realisation… I believe there is no such thing as ‘death’.

I believe that the essence of who Dad was, the essence of who we all are, is ‘energy’.

You cannot create, nor destroy ‘energy’ but,
energy can, and does, change…
from one form to another.
In a similar way that water can become ice – can become steam.

I believe we are all ‘energy’ currently housed in flesh and bones and when our bodies returns to dust and ashes, our essence, our ‘energy’, will continue on a journey that we cannot currently comprehend.

Like one realm closing, in order for another realm to open.

I miss you Dad, in this realm, but I know you still exist in some unknowable way and I take comfort from that.  And, my oh my, what an amazing legacy of fabulous memories, love, advice, jokes and anecdotes you’ve left us with – so it is as if part of you is still here.

Thank you Dad.
1924 – 2014

Dad as a young man working in the London docks

Dad as a young man working in the London docks

Last nights at the original Napi Orti bar

The characterful and much loved music bar, Napi Orti, in Monkey Forest Road finally closed its doors (before opening again in Jalan Jembawan).

After 11 years its time in Monkey Forest Road was up.

Napi Urti bar

Last orders at Napi Urti

Yes, there are plenty of other great music bars in Ubud, but Napi’s was unique and a personal favourite.

Photo’s of legends from Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Jim Morrison through to Einstein hung… mostly from the ceilings – as there was only 1 wall at Napi.

Legends on the ceiling

Legends on the ceiling

Local art, hanging palm leaf decorations, flags and a fish tank all lit up by twinkling lights.  Comfy cushions in the no shoes area, the VIP cocktail promoted by mushrooms (of course) and a golden tree not to mention a candle lit entrance – surely there’s never been a cooler bar than this.

Yaniq and Aria gave Napi Orti the thumbs up

Yaniq and Aria gave Napi Orti the thumbs up

In true style Napi Orti went out with 2 bangs!

Thurs 4 Dec was the first of two closing night parties and Yaniq jammed with Griya Faria, blending his rock guitar sound into their reggae.

Yaniq with Dedoeng's guitar

Yaniq with Dedoeng’s guitar

That first night was more like a mini festival… Kum & friends played first, then Abu’s band followed by Griya Faria who reggaed the house along with their original singer, and Napi’s owner, Made, taking control of the mic alongside Bawa

Made and Bawa in fine reggae voice

Made and Bawa in fine reggae voice

and, later on, with Kum joining in again.

Kum laughing as he sings, with Yaniq on guitar

Kum laughing as he sings, with Yaniq on guitar

On the Friday night Abu’s band rocked the final night away.

Abu's band on the final night

Abu’s band on the final night

I feel lucky and happy to have had so many great nights of fantastic live music in such a welcoming and cool atmosphere – I’m gonna miss my local bar, but at least I can still get my rock and reggae music in Laughing Buddha, LOL, CP Lounge, XL, Bamboo, Jazz Cafe and Lezat etc.,  and… of course, the new Napi Orti!

What big eyes you have

What big eyes you have Aria

Yes, Made opened a new Napi Orti bar in Jalan Jembawan and is having live music there – he’s also planning to find another even more central home for the bar in future – so watch this space about Napi Orti’s reincarnation! .

How many drummers have played in front of a fish tank

How many drummers have played in front of a fish tank

Meanwhile, here are more pics from the 2 closing night parties… were you there?

Miyoshi in the groove

Miyoshi in the groove

Marieka & Mila - cheers

Marieka & Mila – cheers

Yaniq with WayanYaniq and Wayan

Pellegrino capturing the moment

Pellegrino capturing the moment

Tea time

Tea time for Aria

You drink it Tess and I'll play it

You drink it Tess and I’ll play it


Ohhhhhh Myoshi and Jube where’s your video camera?

Happy at NapiMe and Yaniq

Dito - with a new hat

Dito – with a new cool hat

Hey what happen to your hand

Hey what happen to your hand

The other Julie

The other Julie


Cheers Made

Golden tree at Napi Orti

Golden tree at Napi Orti

View while in the queue for the loo

View while in the queue for the loo

Statue at the bottom of the steps

Statue at the bottom of the steps

VIP Cocktail

VIP Cocktail

Says it all really

One Love – says it all really


Cheers and thanks to Napi Orti!

Napi Orti

Napi Orti

A most unusual ceremony

This is about one of the more unusual Balinese ceremonies.  Barong Berutuk only occurs in Trunyan village deep in the volcanic caldera, in the shadow of Mount Batur, on the edge of Danau Batur.

The boys make their own costumes and whips

The boys make their own banana leaf costumes and whips

It is supposed to happen every two years – but it’s been over 10 years and so I felt very privileged to be there for two days of the ceremony for ‘the Lock of the World’.

It inspired me to write this poem:

Forests burned their message on the hillsides

Forests burned their message on the hillsides

Barong Berutuk (Pancaring Jagat – Lock of the World)

They’d been waiting
far too many years
for this sacred ceremony

so long
that the lake rose up
as a reminder

forests burned
their message on the hillsides
the mighty volcano simmered…

An auspicious day finally arrived
and with it
boys of the village took their barefoot place

a flounce of dried banana leaves

a flounce of dried banana leaves

on the soil of temple grounds
shielded by inhuman masks
dressed in a flounce of dried banana leaves.

Three days of fasting
delivered an excess of energy
to these youth

disguised perhaps
as nature’s spirits
but is it a disguise?

Prowling the courtyard
whipping as a healing
letting out bad blood

island-wide guests
dare to get close
as long whips push them back.

Whipping as a healing

Whipping as a healing

People in bright colours
a roar from the crowd
when their neighbour is caught off-guard, lashed

offerings given
blessings received
the white masks are most powerful
so they say.

White masks are most powerful

White masks are most powerful

Brave souls get close
bartering cigarettes
for a touch of the handle
upon bowed heads

risking a beating
in exchange for banana leaves
like rare prized feathers
dry and brittle

symbols of good fortune
worn behind ears
of the fortunate.

And so the dance goes on
for two scorching days
paid for by a government

Prowling the temple courtyard

Prowling the temple courtyard

who know of its importance
for the
lock of the world

for without harmony here
to turn the key in the heart
the whole land risks turmoil

as already threatened
by nature’s uprising
though tomorrow her fires
will rest once more

Temple adorned with offerings

Temple adorned with offerings




Ketut and Martini leaving the temple gates

Ketut and Martini leaving the temple gates


Towards the end of the ceremony there’s a dance by two of the boys – one representing a male the other representing a female.

Their performance, crouched low to the ground, resembles a cock fight – banana leaf feathers rustling.

They need to connect at the end of the dance – it’s a symbolic way of saying that the boys of the village will find a wife.

Male female mock fight

Male female mock fight

Then, at the very end of the day, they’ll all jump into lake Batur, banana leaf feathers and all.

And we return in the back of the same truck that took us there:

Travelling - the Balinese way

Travelling – the Balinese way

Thanks again to Gede and his family for another amazing cultural experience.



Gede & Ari’s wedding – Kintamani style

Gede, who’s been working for me for over 2 years, got married to Ari on 29 Oct 2014.

Many Congratulations!!!

The double ceremony, with Gede’s cousin Wayan and Sugiani, started early in the morning next to Gede’s family home up in the cooler mountains of Kintamani.

Praying in the open air

Praying in the open air

Below the couple are balancing offerings… Gede on the back of his hands, Ari in the palms of her hands.  Seconds later they tossed them over their heads – with the help of guiding fingers that you can just see holding Gede’s arms.

In fact all through this ceremony, called Mekalakalan, the bride and groom have people standing right close up behind them, doubtless to keep them safe.  However these guardians at their backs must be younger than the bride and groom.

One of many rituals

One of many rituals

The next thing to be tossed over their heads was a small chicken which was caught by a lucky guest (in England the bride throws a bouquet of flowers and whoever catches it is supposed to get married next – makes me wonder how many countries have similar customs?).

Soon it was time for purification which involved taking some clothes off, Gede had his back washed while he washed Ari’s back.  I asked Gede if he was okay about me using this photo… he was pleased as it shows his local traditions (which are different from other Balinese weddings I’ve been to).



Purified, they put on fresh clothes – right there at the side of the street.

This Mekalakalan ceremony, took place in Abang village – literally on the street running alongside lake Batur, inside the volcanic caldera.

Mekalakalan Ceremony

Mekalakalan Ceremony

Now they are about to kick the past away… the offerings are taken away from the makeshift table, that’s been held up by family members throughout the ceremony and together, as one, the couple kick backwards at the legs of the table, which topples over.

They walk away from it and don’t look back.

Kicking the past away

Kicking the past away – with Mount Batur in the background

We all head back to the house, but before the couple can enter a ceremony has to be performed by the Mangku (Priest)

A ceremony before entering

A ceremony before entering

At the entrance (photo above) you can just see the Balinese greeting ‘Om Swastyastu’ written in letters of the alphabet.  Below, you can see it again written in Balinese Aksara.

Look closely and you can also see the swastika… used for literally thousands of years as a positive symbol of good luck, strength etc. (a perfect testament on how things that can be good one day can be perceived differently, by different peoples, the next day – maybe in a similar way that the ‘lower gods’ of today could become the ‘higher gods’ of tomorrow, which is why offerings are given to both, i.e. offerings are placed on the ground and up high too – maybe you might have to be here in Bali to ‘get’ that?  Anyway, Gede was visibly shocked when I explained that many people, in the west, associate the swastika with such opposite emotions as it is perceived here).

Om Swastyastu

Om Swastyastu

Inside there’s a feast ready to feed an army (they’d printed 300 wedding invitations but it was not enough – that’s a lot of mouths to feed).

And of course there was a huge number of offerings for both couples, who had to spend the first night, right here, in front of the offerings – to connect with God as much as with each other:



And now another change of clothes including earrings and make-up for the couple

Just let me fix that for you

Just let me fix that for you

Don’t they look stunning:

Gede and Ari in traditional Balinese wedding outfits

Gede and Ari in traditional Balinese wedding outfits

We all get in cars, or in the back of open pick-up trucks, and head up to the temple at Abang Songan.  The ice cream seller does a brisk trade outside the temple gates – I choose a wafer cone, but the most popular choice is to have ice cream in a bread roll.

Outside the temple at Abang Songan

Outside the temple at Abang Songan

A number of Mangkus arrive and one of them is Pasek’s uncle who I’ve met many times (Pasek built my house):

Me with the Mangku

Me with the Mangku (Priest)

Here the two couples are sitting down inside the temple just before this part of the ceremony is about to start.  The guests and the Priests sit on the floor too – we’re all barefoot.

The two couples inside the temple

The two barefoot couples inside the temple

The happy couple posing in front of a family temple at a Mangku’s house in the village

Posing in front of a family temple

Posing in front of a Mangku’s family temple

And below are an assortment of other pictures from the 2 days that I was there (the first day for the ceremony and the 2nd day for the reception)

Nyoman, Gede’s father, takes center stage in this picture and Teddy, who used to work at Rumah Jepun too, is right next to him and on the far left is Wayan, the other groom:

Wedding guests, including Gede’s mum on the right and next to her is Sugiani, the other bride from this double wedding

I took this photo as the couples walked through the village, from the Pura (temple) to the Mangku’s house:

Here are some family members, she has a great smile and he has a regal bearing, don’t you think?:












Me with the happy couple:

Just about to pray:This is my favourite picture of Gede and Ari:

Although this is a great picture too:

And one showing them feeding each other (I love this part of the ceremony… feeding each other from the basket of love):

Let’s finish with this fabulous professional picture which was used for the wedding invitations:Congratulations and I wish both couples every happiness – or, as Yaniq would put it, ‘Happy in Happiness’!

Oh, and if you want to see more about this area of Kintamani click here: lakeside tranquility overlooking a volcano

Or to see photo’s of other Balinese weddings I’ve blogged about click here: Ketut and Komang and here:  Wayan and Chandra

Yaniq – when he played at ‘The Secret Lounge’

Yaniq used to play all his own, original, acoustic rock music songs at the Secret Lounge… tunes to make your feet dance, ballads to pluck your heart strings and songs you can hum along to.

However, this gig finished on 16 August 2014.

Yaniq - ready to rock your Sat night

Yaniq – ready to rock your Sat night

He is currently playing in the south of Bali – but hoping to play in Ubud again soon.

Click here to listen to a sample of his music: Ticket to Paradise and here for his blog: http://yaniq1.wordpress.com/


Musical drawings in fantasy land…

Take a look at this drawing.  What do you see?

I mean, what do you really see?  Look at the small details.

'Shadows in the Mirror' by Yaniq

‘Shadows in the Mirror’ by Yaniq

Yaniq has created many drawings that warrant close attention to detail, and this is a great example of them.

The mirror image is not true at all.  The guitars face the wrong way, her clothes and the candle holders might be black – or white, the instruments might be plain – or patterned, the plant might be light – or dark.

To top it off, Yaniq’s signature and date can be found, backwards, in the mirror.

Hope you like it – please let us know if you do.

Also, please keep watching this blog because we’ll be announcing a new, live gig soon – so you’ll be able to hear Yaniq play all his own songs – without the aid of a mirror, hahaha!

Meanwhile check out his blog: http://yaniq1.wordpress.com/

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