24 October 2010

Bali : whole other world

So, moving on from a series of rather orange photos, we come to some green. Quite a lot of green actually. Bali, or rather Ubud which is where we spent the majority of our brief six days, is so hot and wet that everything is impossibly green. Plants grow out of drains, on top of every roof, peer from gutters, and moss creeps over everything in sight.

I am still sorting and uploading several hundred photos, and anyway I can't say everything I want to say in one blog post so I think I'll take a leaf out of someone else's book and just hurl a few photographs at the blog every now and then and talk at random.

at the monkey forest

My friend (L) and I left our partners and children behind and nipped over to Bali for a few days. Ostensibly it was to attend the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, but although we're avid readers, spend a fair chunk of our working days writing stuff and started a bookgroup together (now in its fifth year), we're not serious literary groupies by any means. We booked one of the 'special events' (dinner with Booker prize winners Thomas Keneally and Anne Enright), purchased a one day pass to the Festival (Saturday, as it seemed to have most of the events we were interested in), and spent the rest of our days exploring and generally travelling about.

stallholders at Ubud market

The Writers Festival was excellent. Some of the organisation was a bit vague, some sessions were inevitably more interesting than others, and there were some squirmy moments in confronting the reality of participating in a Western bourgeois intellectual talkfest in the midst of a much more economically (although not spiritually and culturally) poor country. At one point when up on the dais a heated debate was taking place about the reading habits of white middle class Western women and authors' assumptions about them (ouch) and all around us beautiful young Balinese women were smiling serenely and serving drinks to the sweating white folk, I turned to L and muttered God, it feels like a big white wank, what are we doing here?

the flower seller

But on the whole, the sessions were lively and thoughtful, we were introduced to some authors we might never have otherwise come across, and we met some fabulous and interesting people. We will definitely go again, next time for a few days with our families and then we'll happily wave them off at the airport and stay on for a few more days of writers festival, yoga and massage. Oh yeees, the massage.

Off the top of my head, some of the writers there whose work I'd like to follow up (or already enjoy) were the aforementioned two former Booker prize winners, plus Christos Tsiolkas, Louis de Bernieres, Cate Kennedy (low key, down to earth, refreshing), Suad Amiry (must read her three books - she was a hilarious and thought-provoking speaker), Ali Eteraz (note to self, get Children of the Dust pronto), William Darymple (great speaker, must try his books again, my husband is a huge fan, me not so much), Kate Adie (well practised and polished storyteller). Also off the top of my head, Shane Maloney, Sarah Murray, Kirsty Murray, Sophie Cunningham, Frank Moorhouse (looked bored, holds strong views about privileging art over community apparently). Many of the moderators were well known Australian names - Jennifer Byrne (smiles and nods a lot but sure knows how to go with the flow in an interview and not stick strictly to the script), Caroline Baum, and Antony Loewenstein who did a marvellously low key but push-the-tricky-questions interview with Christos Tsiolkas.

gargoyle detail

All up the festival had an eclectic selection of writers. Some big names to draw the crowds, a large Australian contingent (due to its proximity to Australia and sponsors including Australian companies and governmental support), and a good smattering of British, Indonesian, American, Israeli, Palestinian, Pakistani, other Asian and local Balinese writers and poets.

carrying the groceries home

Uh oh, children and real life demanding attention. More later. Temples, rice paddies, moss, food, temples, tourism, privilege, heat, temples.

18 comments:

Donyale said...

Interesting thoughts interposed with lovely photos. I read a lot and loved hearing your thoughts on both authors and books....some I have read, some I planned to read, and some I won't.

Thimbleanna said...

Wow Suse, it sounds like it was an amazing workshop. And in such an exotic location! Your pictures are gorgeous!

Mary said...

I know I will be able to get lost in these posts ...just as i have in fair lie's

Janet said...

looks amazing, squirmy moments aside.

And wow, those monkeys on your flickr - they are freaky? Oh well, I found them a bit freaky - can't wait to talk to you in person!!!

Stomper Girl said...

More stunning photos. I met Christos Tsolkias the other night but only in a this is Christos this is Caroline sort of way, so afterwards I had to ask my friend-the-publisher was that THE Christos?!. He seemed really nice.

Emma said...

I am so jealous. I have a deep love for Bali, especially Ubud and the mountain regions. We had our honeymoon there, and I long to go back.

The writer's festival would have been good too, though I probably would have agreed with you on the Western wank ;) I haven't read The Slap, but I read Loaded for a uni course, and found it an interesting read.

Fairlie said...

You went to the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival???

The green of your photos has nothing on the shade of green I am now with envy!! M and I have been joking for years that we should head over to it in preference to the Melbourne one. I'm really interested to read your thoughts about it.

katiecrackernuts said...

I am so inspired and want to book for 2011 right now. Will go. How could I not after your photos and synopsis. I could do with putting aside real life for a little while, even if it's in a year's time.

hsmart@iprimus.com.au said...

No Elizabeth Gilbert sightings?!

Lesley said...

Lucky, lucky, lucky.
But why, why, why doesn't the bloody thing come to Perth instead, or as well?
Or to Bunbury, or to Albany, or Margaret River if Perth is so not good enough? We can do green down there really well.
So can I.

Bec said...

wow, lucky woman! I laughed outloud at the 'white wank' statement after nodding and groaning at the bourgouis comment. Easy for us, as more economically stable westerners to forget how tough the living conditions are in other places. Gorgeous photos and I cant wait to hear and see more, I would love to go to Bali.

peppermintpatcher said...

What a fantastic opportunity to attend such an event in such a beautiful place.

zephyr said...

i've been mesmerized since i saw you posting photos in Flickr...and, as you know, not able to say much more than "Wow," while waiting patiently for your posts to appear
;^)

Isabelle said...

You cannot imagine how exotic these photos look to a Scottish person who lives in Edinburgh where the grass is green and the stone is grey and the skies are sometimes also grey and people are generally pinkish and they wear (in October) hats and scarves.

Bali???? I shall never go there. It's just not within the possibilities of my life - though it looks amazing.

Penni said...

I love Anne Enright. Am so jealous of you right now.

I am always taken aback by how lovely Christos is in person and how angry all his characters are!

Ubud has always been my number one wannado festival.

BabelBabe said...

read The Slap and found it very thought provoking on many levels. curious to hear what you as an Aussie think of it. off to check on all the others you mentioned, since you have never led me astray : )

frayedattheedge said...

This brought back memories of the three years we spent in Indonesia!

appletreedream said...

I'll have to check out some of the writers you mentioned.

Beautiful photos, thanks for sharing them.