Bali. How can one word can conjure up so much mixed emotions? It’s an Indonesian island of different races and creeds. The Hindus coexist with the Christian and the Muslims. It wasn’t always that way. In some ways, the Hindus have an upper hand. That’s just another illusion, though.

Bali is a potholed rubbish dump. Dusty in the dry season and muddy in the wet. The ugly side of the island is easily filtered in air-conditioned luxury cars and upmarket foreign ghettos. Every so often we get glimpse of beauty, a Balinese temple, or a street procession. Snap goes the camera of the illusion of Paradise. Then windows go up to keep the cool air in. Bali the Island of the God is propagated in magazines and blogs .

It is flogged to death in the name of tourism. In reality the Balinese are the hobbits, industrious and merry while we the tourists are the encroaching army of Dark Lord Sauron.

But the surfers would have you believe otherwise. I must be living on another island. My Bali is totally different. No surf in Ubud, no Rip Curl, no macho sea bleached blondes driving a bat out of hell on their Hondas with their boards on  side racks.

I gave up surfing many years ago. “Hay get off that fucking  wave before I punch your head in”  Their culture has always been too selfish and aggressive for  me. Just read Bali: Heaven and Hell by Phil Jarratt who glorifies surfers  role in building up Kuta in the early 70s. They even taught the Balinese how to surf, he wrote.

It’s easy to see the nebulous influence on Bali culture, and why it really hasn’t taken off with the mainstream Balinese.Kuta was spawned for and by the surfers. It’s a hell hole of  gimmicks and a superficial “we love  nature” culture. Now where are the shrooms?

The Balinese are as a group a living and breathing organism. Surfing never took off in Bali because it was anathema to their ways.

The ocean has always been something to respect and almost fear. Any manifestations of natural calamities like volcanoes and tsunamis is usually attributed to a very unhappy Mother of the Oceans.

Uluwatu waves might look great in Tracks magazine, but it’s not about the Balinese. It’s about the surfers punching and carving their way around a wave.


Dark Lord Sauron wants us all to wear Billabong and Rip Curl apparel. And the brawling down the bars of Kuta are an extension of the surfing culture. It doesn’t matter if you can’t surf. Just buy the clobber and ride a whore like you mean it.

The hobbits will prevail. With their powerful hairy barongsthey don’t wear designer clothes  they will resist the temptations of the evil west.

I’ve never seen a Balinese wear Rip Curl or Billabong clothing, at least not in the highlands. Wait, they can’t afford them.

Heaven and Hell missed the mark by a long shot.  His thesis that surfers enriched the lives of Balinese is  a fallacy. Maybe the author was  too high under the Banyan tree.



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