August 4, 2011

Bali in Mind – Planning My Return Twenty Years Later

Unforgettable green of Bali Rice Fields

I’ll soon be taking my JunglePants to Bali with the wonderful Wanderland Writers Group led by Linda Watanabe McFerrin and Joanna Biggar. We’ll be sampling a smorgasbord of local activities from shadow puppets and art galleries, gamelon to the pesky kings of the monkey forest – and writing about them.

It’s always fascinating to see what stories we’ll find – or what stories will find us and demand to be written.

This trip will be a homecoming of a sort for me – twenty years since I first ventured off the beaten path and onto the potholed road of adventure.

Jack & Anne trying to skirt the rocks on the Ayung River, 1991

I was newly engaged to adventure travel junkie (and now husband) Jack. Indonesia was our first overseas trip together. Though already in my thirties, I was new to the wild, agog that we could just pick up and go – boating down the Sekunyr River into the dark heart of Borneo.

Bali was where we went, that time, to rest and recoup after the adventure.  Though in hindsight, that river rafting trip doesn’t look very restful!

This time things are different. In additional to my writing friends, I’m traveling with less welcome companions: stroke, blood thinners and autoimmune disease. They demand to be heard. My pace will be slower. I won’t be as bold a risk taker as I was twenty years ago. I don’t think I’ll be river rafting this trip. But perhaps by slowing down, I’ll see things I couldn’t at a faster pace.

Bali farmwomen on their way to market near Ubud

Sometimes mishaps turn into cherished memories–Like the day  Jack and I were stranded in the caldera of a volcano when our taxi broke down. We hitched a ride back to Ubud with these ladies who were on their way to market.

I always like to do some scouting before my overseas trips, learn something of the history, geography, and culture of the place. This is more important since my stroke. I’m easily overwhelmed with information; I need to read ahead, make notes and start to shift into the culture.

These are the few of the resources I’ll choose from to plan  this trip.  Check them out: you may want to head over to Bali yourself soon .


Two perfect mood-setters from National Geographic:

A video short: Ubud, Bali’s artistic center: and the lovely Bali: Masterpiece of the Gods, a National Geographic video on YouTube:


National Geographic Traveler Bali photo gallery:


New York Times: “36 hours in Bali:”

New York Times: “Bali Travel Guide:”



Lonely Planet is always my go-to guide when I traveling anywhere off the beaten path. This trip, I’m taking Lonely Planet Bali & Lombok

One of the first places I go when I’m researching a new destination is to Longitude Books.  Here’s the LB suggested reading list for Bali: It contains everything from guidebooks to travel narratives to history, art, culture history, and specialist guides on everything from birding to snorkeling – even a Balinese murder mystery.

Recommended by trip leader Joanna Biggar:

A House in Bali by Colin McFee: A warm tribute to the people, culture and, especially, the music of Bali. McPhee, a musicologist who became captivated by gamelan music, made his home in the area of Sayan–which is where be staying on this trip.

A Tale From Bali (sometimes also titled Love and Death in Bali) by Vicki Baum: This historical novel, written in the 1930s, recounts the lives of peasants and nobles in colonial Bali, reared against a backdrop of bloodshed and cultural invasion. Dutch imperialism brings upheaval and revolution to the beautiful island, and the Balinese rebel in what would become a powerful and poignant example of symbolic resistance.  Used copies of an older edition available at for about $5.00. New edition titled Love and Death in Bali coming September 10. Available for preorder at Longitude Books or Amazon.

A few others:

Balinese Dance, Drama & Music: A Guide to the Performing Arts of Bali I Wayan Dibia (Author), Rucina Ballinger (Author), Barbara Anello (Illustrator)

Bali: Art, Ritual, Performance [Hardcover] by Natasha Reichle (Author)  A gorgeous picture book. It makes me wish I were flying today.

Web resources:


Balinese Hindu Gods and Goddesses

Religion in Bali–Quick overview


Balinese Hinduism: A Life of Ritual and Devotion

Religion in Bali by C. Hooykaas Sixty page monograph in PDF

Filed under:AsiaPlacesResourcesSouth AsiaTravel Tips || Tagged under:

Like Jungle Pants

Put on Your Jungle Pants

sign up for free updates
Stories, Tips, Resources and much much more.

Anne Sigmon

For more information about stroke and autoimmune disease, visit