All posts by Bali Islands

Pirates, black magic and a brief history of the Bali Islands

Pirates, black magic and a brief history of the Bali Islands.

Few people realise that Bali Island has seven islands of its own. Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Dua, Nusa Menjangan and Thanah Lot.

The two closest islands to Bali and perhaps most surprising are located in the Benoa area. In Bahasa Indonesia Nusa means island and Dua means two.

Pirates, black magic and a brief history of the Bali Islands, Lembongan, Ceningan, Penida
Pirates, black magic and a brief history of the Bali Islands, Lembongan, Ceningan, Penida

Bali’s three major islands are located in the south east of Bali in the Bandung Strait. Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida are sixteen miles from Bali and a short boat ride from Sanur, twelve miles or approximately thirty five minutes by boat.

The three islands once formed their own kingdom centered on Nusa Penida. And it is believed the realm was separate from the main rule of the Balinese at some stage of history.

Pirates, black magic and a brief history of the Bali Islands, Lembongan, Ceningan, Penida
Cave Temple Dalem Peed, Nusa Penida Bali

However, it is also speculated the kingdom had connections with the South of Bali around the Bukit area. There are a number of temples in the area that are positioned and unified with the major temple on Nusa Penida, Dalem Peed.

Bali Islands, Malcolm Scott Books
Pirates, black magic and a brief history of the Bali Islands, Malcolm Scott Books

The last king of the island realm was killed in the last quarter of the seventeenth century and eventually the island population was subjugated by the Balinese.

Malcolm Scott Books
Nusa Ceningan island storm, Malcolm Scott Books

The islands of Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida were then transformed into a penal colony and the Balinese often shipped major criminals and political activists to the islands shores.

The isolation of the islands then brought about shift in the traditions and culture of the inhabitants. And eventually they began to cultivate their own unique customs and ceremonies.

Pirates, black magic and a brief history of the Bali Islands, Lembongan, Ceningan, Penida
Pirates, black magic and a brief history of the Bali Islands,

It is also believed that during this period a powerful black magic was developed and practiced by the islanders.

Word of this powerful magic soon reached the main island and overtime the people inhabiting the three islands came to be viewed with a mixture of trepidation and religious reverence.

Due to this fear the rulers of Bali soon stopped shipping there prisoners and they stopped sending boats to the islands. Then eventually the islanders were left alone by the rulers of Bali and they were allowed to govern by themselves.

The people of Bali were not the only ones who regarded the population of island people with uneasiness and fear.

Pirates, black magic and a brief history of the Bali Islands, Lembongan, Ceningan, Penida
Pirates, black magic and a brief history of the Bali Islands

Ancient navigation charts of the time are said to show the three islands marked with a skull and crossbones symbol. This was apparently done to warn sailors that under no circumstances should they harbor their ships close to the shores of Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.


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Lembongan and Ceningan Bali’s best kept secret


Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan are Bali’s best kept secret but it will not last.

Bali is the jewel in Indonesia’s crown, one of the world’s favorite holiday destinations and the island of the gods. The island is a tropical paradise where palm tree’s sway over powdery white beach sand and the water is aquamarine turquoise and crystal clear.

Malcolm Scott Books
Kuta Beach Sunset, Malcolm Scott Books

Pick up any glossy travel magazine or read about Bali on most blogs and the writer will hit you with so much hyperbole that your eyes are inclined to start bleeding after the first few paragraphs. But the sad truth is the days when Bali was a pristine paradise with emerald green rice terraces and unspoiled white beaches are fading.

Sadly Bali’s poor infrastructure and conspicuous lack of planning mean the tourist areas are struggling to keep up with the back breaking number of visitors that arrive every year.

Malcolm Scott Books
Soka Beach Bali, Malcolm Scott Books

The rice paddies have been brought up by European expats and they are now sprouting badly built villas. And the temples are eclipsed by trendy fashion retailers and stores selling luxury art-deco furniture.

This not to say Bali is dead as tourist destination or even that its days on top of the pile are coming to an end. But the island has transformed itself over the last few decades from a peaceful and laid-back retreat into a busy tourist Mecca.

The number of visitors continues to rise by approximately 15% every year and at least 165 planes land and depart from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport every day.

Bali still has a lot to offer and there are obviously a large amount of tourists that like their dash of Balinese culture served with a Big Mac and fries. But there are also a growing number of tourists that pine for the real tropical paradise that Bali offered up twenty years ago.

Malcolm Scott Books
Nusa Ceningan where the locals have time to sit and chat: Malcolm Scott Books

Imagine a Bali where the water is aquamarine crystal clear and teeming with marine life. And where palm fronds sway lightly over powdery white sand in timeless harmony with waves that lap the shore.

Ceningan Island Sunset,Malcolm Scott Books
Ceningan Island Sunset, Malcolm Scott Books

Where majestic skies at sunset are gold, pink, purple and orange as the sun falls into the ocean. And where the locals still have the time to stop and chat and the temples host local cock fights when the ceremonies are over.

Lembongan Ceningan, Malcolm Scott Books
Ceningan Island locals and friends,Malcolm Scott Books

That Bali does exist and surprisingly it doesn’t even rate a mention on the Bali Tourism website. Nusa Lembongan and her little sister Nusa Ceningan have come of age and they are only a 45 minute boat ride from the coast of Bali.

Lembongan Ceningan, Malcolm Scott Books
Manta dive Penida Island, Malcolm Scott Books

These Island’s have all of old Bali’s beauty and charisma but they also have a combined population of approximately six thousand so the atmosphere instantly feels more laid back than on the mainland. And what a treat when you step off that boat and you see the water is crystal clear and the sand is clean and white like a tropical island should be.

Malcolm Scott Books
Mushroom Beach Lembongan Island, Malcolm Scott Books

There are no nightclubs on Nusa Ceningan or Nusa Lembongan and at night it is quiet enough to hear the waves slapping the shore.  But if you’re not into partying until the wee hours of the morning then you will find there is plenty to do on both Islands.

Malcolm Scott Books
The locals Ceningan Island, Malcolm Scott Books

Lembongan Island and Ceningan Island have surf breaks, ancient temples, restaurants and bars. There is snorkeling, fishing, diving and sailing tours around both islands.

The beaches are stunning, the locals are charming and the sunsets are spectacular. Lembongan also has a splendid mangrove forest tour and Ceningan has a superb cliff edge walk and zip-line attraction.

Malcolm Scott Books
Ceningan Island Zip-line

The developers on Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan have done a wonderful job of balancing growing tourism with past tradition while maintaining the appeal that once made Bali special. But the reason you need to get there fast is this unique tranquility won’t last long.

There are only a few years left before developers and tourists alike realize just how extraordinary these islands are and they begin flocking to them in their droves.

How do I get to Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan?

Head to Sanur beach in Bali and hire a ride on the fast boat from one of the many touts, approximately 300,000 to 450,000 IDR return depending on your bargaining skills and the quality of the ride. The journey takes roughly 45 min again depending on the boat.

If you are heading over to Ceningan Island you should use a boat that takes you to Mushroom bay. Here you can hire a motorbike for the 30 min ride to the famous yellow suspension bridge that will take you across to Ceningan Island.

Ceningan Island and Lembongan Island
Ceningan Island and Lembongan Island

Take a right from the bridge and follow the signs then turn left up the concrete road just before you reach Secret Point.

The road up to the high limestone cliffs (and Zip-line) is at times difficult and steep but if you take it slowly the view at the top of the lime stones cliffs is spectacular.

Note if you are staying on Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Ceningan and you don’t ride scooters organize your hotel to pick you up from the beach on arrival.

© Bali-Islands. Articles may be quoted and reproduced if attributed


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Beware the Bali dog meat trade

Beware the Bali dog meat trade.

Recently a friend and Bali expat came home to find his twelve month old and much loved puppy had gone missing.

Spotty the dog, Malcolm-Scott-Books

Spotty is allowed a lot of freedom because my friends villa is situated on a property surrounded by jungle. And although he is about the size of a shoe box he manages to keep a band of marauding monkeys away from the home.

Obviously my friend and his wife were distraught, especially because it wasn’t the first time one of their pets had disappeared.

My friend has lived in Bali for fifteen years and he told me that he has lost a few of his pets to the, “dog meat kidnappers” as he refers to them. His wife who is Indonesian explained that dogs belonging to expats are valued because they’re generally clean, fat and rabies free.

beware the Bali dog meat trade
beware the Bali dog meat trade

My friend and his wife also told me how they had once found one of there beloved pets tied up behind a Dog Meat Cafe twenty five kilometers from their home. They explained that they had randomly pulled over to buy a drink at a small shop when the dog chained out back of a neighboring warung became extremely excited.

The dog was dirty, undernourished and losing its fur but it only took the couple a moment to recognize their pet. Then despite the protests of the restaurant owner they kidnapped their dog back and they took it home. Sadly the animal was re-kidnapped a few months later, (they believe by the same people), and never seen again.

When my friends arrived home to find Spotty had gone missing they dispatched their security guard Nur to see if he could find the little dog.  

beware the Bali dog meat trade
Has anyone seen my dog Spotty.

Nur is not a big man but he is intense man, he wears combat boots, camouflage gear and he normally carries a large and serrated hunting knife at his belt. He also likes Spotty because he keeps him company on the long lonely nights he spends in the security hut.

Nur gathered his security torch and his hunting knife and he went searching for the little dog in the dark jungle. He had an idea where to look because he knew a group of construction workers from Flores  had set up camp not far from the villa.

Nur crept close to the camp and he called Spotty’s name then after a few minutes the badly shaken and disheveled little dog limped from the jungle. The security guard investigated further and he discovered that Spotty had been tied up in their camp while they planned their next meal.

Somehow Spotty managed to escape when he heard his name called.

Malcolm Scott Books
Spotty and his injured leg after he was saved by Nur, Malcolm Scott Books

Nur then took the dog home and he received a bonus and a beer while Spotty received a bone and a bath. But my friends also discovered that Spotty had lost the fur off one of his legs and that another leg was so badly hurt he was unable to put it on the ground.

Little Spotty was then taken to the vet and the doctor pronounced that his leg would eventually heal and his fur would grow back. And that the brave little dog would be out chasing monkeys again in no time.

A lot of people that travel to Bali do not realize that the consumption of dog meat is legal and that it is considered a  delicacy. Some Indonesian’s also believe that dog meat has medicinal properties that improve sexual stamina and strength. 

The Bali Animal and Welfare Association (B.A.W.A.) released a study in 2014 that is extremely eye opening. For the sake of awareness and the hope of donations for a worthy cause. I have kidnapped a few of their facts and figures. I have  also supplied a link to their website, but I do warn that some of the images are graphic and distressing.

•100,000 dogs are slaughtered in Bali every year for sale in RW restaurants.

• 100% of dogs are inhumanely killed.

• 70% are butchered alive: They are lassoed and partially strangled before their body parts are hacked off while they are alive.

. 25% are poisoned.

.1% are shot with air rifles.

.4% are inhumanely killed using other methods.

• A dog sells from Rp 15,000 to Rp 40,000.

• Each Bali warung uses between ½ and 7 dogs a day

• From a 15kg dog a warung can make around 40 portions of soup or satay, which sell for Rp15,000 – Rp20,000 per portion with rice

• 50% of people who eat dog meat are native Balinese; and 50% are from other areas of Indonesia including Medan, Flores, Sumatra and Manado.

• 80% of people who eat dog meat in the northern Bali regency of Buleleng are Balinese.

• 45% of dogs destined for dog meat are sold to traders; 5% are given by owners in exchange for rice, chilies, baskets and so on.

• 50% of RW dogs are stolen from the streets and from houses.

• 95% of RW dogs are transported by motorbikes; 5% are moved by bus and truck.

• 50% of RW warungs in Bali are supplied with dogs from other regencies. Moving dogs across Bali regency borders is illegal.

For more information B.A.W.A. website


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Update: Zika Virus alert Southeast Asia

US health officials have updated their Zika Virus alert for Southeast Asia

US health officials have updated their Zika Virus alert for Southeast Asia by advising pregnant women to avoid traveling to 11 countries because of concerns over outbreaks of the Zika virus in the region.

Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are on the list and part of the warning issued on 29 September.

The update to the alert status was issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention because of reports that a number of U.S. travelers to the region have been affected by the virus over the past year.

This following article was originally posted as: Zika Virus information for people thinking of traveling to Bali.

The Zika Virus is only known to be spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito which is found in South East Asia, Africa, North America, Northern Australia (Queensland and Cains) and which is most prevalent in South America.

US health officials have updated their Zika Virus alert for Southeast Asia

The Mosquito is medium sized, black and it has a silvery white lyre-shape on it’s scutum or shield. The mosquito can also be recognized by the banded white stripes on it’s legs.

Zika Virus

Anyone holidaying in Bali should take due care but it is currently advised by the Australian government that women who are pregnant refrain from travel to the holiday island.

Traveler’s to Bali should check that hotel rooms are not located close to stagnant water containers disused ponds or drains that could hold mosquito lava.

People staying in hotel rooms and villa’s in Bali should spray dark and moist area’s, under beds and behind drapes and cupboards with a mosquito spray that contains DEET. It is also recommended tourists use a western style repellent and avoid spending prolonged periods outside at night.

US health officials have updated their Zika Virus alert for Southeast Asia
Zika Virus can be transmitted by monkey bites

Although more commonly spread by mosquitoes travelers should also be advised that last year an Australian tourist was diagnosed with acute Zika Virus after he was bitten by a monkey at the Ubud Monkey Forest.

The Zika infection or virus has been linked to a rare birth defect called microcephaly in pregnant women.

US health officials have updated their Zika Virus alert for Southeast Asia
Zika Virus linked to microcephaly

When the child is born the newborn’s head is smaller than normal and it is believed the brain may not have developed properly. Several experiments have now shown that the virus can cross the placenta and attack fetal nerve cells including some that develop into the brain.

Medical workers and scientists investigating the virus have also noticed an increase in reports of a nerve condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome that can cause paralysis.

Most people infected with Zika Virus do not show any symptoms and only one in five are disabled by the sickness, but in some cases the infection can cause fever, rash, severe headache, joint pain, and muscle borne pain.

Illness from the Zika Virus is usually not severe and does not require hospitalization and so detection-warning and other preventive measures by health authorities remain  difficult.

Further evidence suggests that in rare circumstances the virus can be spread through sexual transmission. Recently cases have surfaced where the virus has been transmitted by males who have visited infected regions to females who have not, however cases of reverse transmission remain undocumented.

As yet there is no specific treatment for the Zika Virus but the majority of medical professionals recommend plenty of fluids and rest.  It is also important to note that in most developing countries the specific test for Zika Virus are not easily available.

The Australian Government website Smart Traveler has recently updated information on the virus.

© Bali-Islands. Articles may be quoted and reproduced if attributed

Read More: Aussie tourists diagnosed with Zika Virus

Read more: Holiday heaven becomes holiday hell

Read More:

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Bali catamaran captain prevents catastrophe

The captain of a sailing catamaran Sri Tanjung  prevented a catastrophe in a Bali diving incident last Sunday.

The management of the Catamaran Sri Tanjung that is advertised on this website, were in touch to inform me about an incident that occurred during a sailing tour last Sunday.

Malcolm Scott Books
Bali Catamaran Captain Prevents Catastrophe. Malcolm Scott

The management explained that members of their sailing staff were called on to help two divers get back into shore after they were left abandoned in Bali’s Bandung Strait.

The crew members were taking a tour to Lembongan Island with a number of guests.

They sailed Sri Tanjung out of the harbour and when they were approximately 1.5 Kilometers off the coast of Serangan. A sharp-eyed passenger noticed two scuba-divers were trying to gain their attention by waving at their vessel.

The divers were approximately one hundred meters away when first spotted and they appeared to be signaling Sri Tanjung  in a distressed manner.

The passenger then informed Sri Tanjung’s Captain who had noticed a Yatch pass by their red flotation devices a short time beforehand and then redirect to Serangan.

The Captain of Sri Tanjung was aware the divers may be waving because they were caught up in the excitement of the dive. But he wisely decided to err on the side of safety and he slowed his vessel and wheeled around the fifty foot Catamaran.

This is no small task with such a large vessel and the passengers were offered a beer and asked to be patient while he checked on the divers safety.

Malcolm Scott Books
Bali Catamaran Captain Prevents Catastrophe

The captain then ordered some of his crew to ready the dingy while he signaled the divers with the universally recognized ‘thumbs up thumbs down’ signal.

Malcolm Scott Books
Bali Catamaran Captain Prevents Catastrophe

When the divers indicated they were indeed in trouble the Captain then dispatched his engineer to race to their aid in the boats dingy.

Malcolm Scott Books
Bali Catamaran Captain Prevents Catastrophe

The engineer dragged the distressed divers into Sri Tanjung’s inflatable rubber tender and he helped them to remove their weight-belts and their oxygen-tanks.

The captain then ordered his engineer to take the divers closer to shore and for him to arrange a local fisherman in a jukung to ferry them into the safety of Sanur Beach.

Malcolm Scott Books
Bali Catamaran Sri Tanjung

When the engineer who has limited English returned to Sri Tanjung, he informed the captain that the divers had surfaced to find their dive boat was nowhere in sight.

The waters of the Bandung Strait are considered dangerous and the divers involved in this incident were fortunate that the Captain of Sri Tanjung was willing to interrupt his tour to check on their well-being.

Once the drama was over the tour went ahead and by all accounts everyone had a great time.

As for the tour company that left two of its divers stranded off-shore. I won’t mention them by name, but I will say that they should also consider themselves lucky that a diligent Captain happened to sail past.

Read more about Sri Tanjung:

Read more about sailing Bali Islands:


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Benoa Bandwagon or Benoa Reclamation?

Benoa Bandwagon or Benoa Reclamation?

If you care about Benoa Harbour and the mangroves, why not ask the developers of the Benoa Reclamation Project to clean up the area?

There is a lot noise being made about the reclamation project in Benoa Harbour at the moment. Rock bands, Bali surfers, Bali locals, priests, governments, top cops and developers, they all want their say on the Benoa Harbour Reclamation Project .

Benoa Reclamation Project
Benoa Reclamation Project Plans

I have just read in one article dated 2nd of May that the Benoa Harbour Reclamation Project is moving ahead and one dated close that say’s it isn’t. I have skimmed one study that states it is feasible environmentally and another that states it isn’t.

Benoa Reclamation Protestors what are you protecting?

Benoa Reclamation Project
Benoa Reclamation Project time for a clean up

I’m no scientist but I have had a lot to do with Benoa Harbour and I for one believe the Benoa Reclamation Project could be a positive outcome for the area.

Benoa Harbour Reclamation Project
Benoa Harbour Reclamation Project time to clean it up

I could understand the protests if Benoa Harbour and the surrounding mangroves were a pristine paradise but they are not, honestly the damage has already been done.

No one is going to spend money on the area unless there is something in it for them. And that may mean it could be beneficial for the people that care about the environment if they play their cards right.

Benoa Reclamation Project
Benoa Magroves time for a clean up

The way I see it the harbor is already full of rubbish and the mangrove swamps are drowning in plastic bags and other toxic refuse. Added to this all the rubbish is being swept deeper into the mangrove swamps or out into the ocean with every tidal flow.

Mangrove rubbish Tanjung Benoa
Benoa Reclamation or Bali Bandwagon

All anyone needs to do to witness this is to head down to the harbour at low tide. One section has a giant half sunk rotting fiberglass Catamaran stuck in the mud, strange nobody is protesting about that.

Benoa Reclamation Project
Time for a clean Benoa Harbour: Photo Credit: roundtripparadise.

People have their problems with progress but sometimes it is wise to slow down and look at the situation practically and with a little common sense.

Expats, travelers, and those that one day want to visit Bali need to take a good look at the area before they get caught up in the emotional hype.

The truth is the protestors who are trying to protect Benoa and the mangroves are quite possibly doing more damage than good. And the international community that are jumping onto the ‘Benoa Bali Bandwagon’ have no idea that the  whole area is already an environmental disaster.

Feel free to take a look at these short U-tube clips to see what these protestors are protecting.

If these protests continue to go ahead and they are successful then PT. Tirta Wahana Bali International will certainly move on to another project. Then when there is no one to fight over the mangrove forests or Benoa Harbour the area will be forgotten about and left to rot away, as it is doing now.

On the other side PT Tirta Wahana Bali Internasional (TWBI) owned by Tomy Winata stresses that it will reclaim land in Benoa Bay for an environmentally friendly development that values Bali’s customs and culture.

They say they will return the mangroves to their natural state and they have also promised to revitalize the ecosystem of Benoa Harbour and to build a marina for all those fishing boats you just saw in the clip.

These claims makes sense when you consider how much money they are going to spend to build a tourist friendly area. This seems like a fair trade to me and all the energy that is being spent in protests could be spent making sure they keep their promise.

My advice would be to take the time to visit the area before becoming caught up in the emotion of the protests so you can see for yourselves.

Following are some additional arguments I have heard since first writing this article.

1. The coastline of Bali will change.

The Coastline of Bali may be affected but some studies say otherwise.

The way to lessen the impact of any development is to ensure the company acts responsibly and to make them accountable for fixing any problems that may occur in the future.

Otherwise you need to stop all development on Bali and that is counter-intuitive to tourism growth on the island.

  1. There are a number of Balinese Temples in the area.

The temples in the area should be protected, but from what I have seen they could probably use a small amount of restoration work.

The Temples may even become tourist attractions which could bring in money for the Local Banjar’s if the renovations are done carefully and in the traditional way.

  1. Traditional fishermen fish in the area.

Cleaner water in the harbour and an non-polluted mangrove swamps would surely make for better fishing, shrimping and crabbing.

The chance to sell produce and job prospects in the area will also increase if the development goes ahead.

We should remember that once the reclamation begins the area will have to be cleaned up and modern infrastructure will need to be put in place. That could only be a positive thing if you look at the state of the harbor as it stands today.

Read More: Tomy Winata environmentalist?

Pastika pushes tourism

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Bali safety tips

Bali safety tips, you can never be too careful.

Being that it is school holidays in Australia and Bali is Australia’s number one holiday destination. I thought it would be timely to mention a few Bali safety tips.

Note that some of these tips have been mentioned in blogs before and they may seem a little obvious. But also note that people tend to be less careful when they are on holiday in Bali.

Bali safety when you leave the hotel

Be careful with ATM’s  in Bali as a recent study has shown that there is a higher occurrence of card skimming than in most tourist locations in the world.  This is not fail safe but if you do need to use a machine then find one attached to a bank or inside a convenience store.

Convenince store Bali Safety
You would like to think that Circles K ATM’s are safer Bali Safety

Bali nightclubs and pubs also contain their share of  opportune thieves so it is never wise to carry expensive electrical equipment when going out at night.

(If your hotel has been kind enough to supply you with a safe then you should use it)

Bali safety when you use the hotel pool

Check the depth of your hotel pool before diving in as a large number of tourists are injured every year.

Bali Safety
Pool Party Bali Safety

The pools in Bali are not built to strict building standards and there are many that were built a long time ago. Think steps in weird places, increases or decreases in depth and a half wall’s where there shouldn’t be any.

(For those that like to make a splash the shallowness can become a very dangerous issue and when young children are involved there is also a risk that the pool is deeper than expected)

Bali safety when you’re feeling playful

Know who you are taking home when partying in Bali as there are plenty of working men and women trawling the nightclubs and Bali has a very high sexual disease infection rate including HIV.

Bali Safety
Careful who you go home with in Bali

Condoms are available in Bali but they tend to be of a substandard quality and they have a propensity break easily. It is always wise to have a sufficient supply whether you think you will be involved in this type of activity.

(If you are on the island seeking romance be sure that the lady/man you have fallen in love with is who you think they are)

Bali safety when you’re out on the town

Do not become involved in an altercation in a Bali Nightclub and remember that any foreign tourist that gets involved in a physical exchange with an Indonesian will always come off second best.

Malcolm Scott Books
Java gangs often travel to Bali, a few of the boys on Legian Street

This cannot be said enough, you will either be set upon by other Indonesians or you will find yourself arrested and this is where the real trouble will start. Do not expect sympathy even if you didn’t start the altercation. You are in a foreign land and the police will be inclined to favor the local’s version event’s.

(The maximum penalty for assault in Indonesia is six years jail and anyone arrested is considered guilty until they can prove their innocence)

Bali safety when you’re out on the town- Part 2

Do not drink the rocket-fuel and avoid cheap drinks and cocktails. There have been a number of tourist deaths attributed to the drinking of methanol based alcohol drinks in Bali.

Bali Safety
Photo Credit Jalbum Bali Moonshine

Cheap alcohol otherwise known as Arak is often brewed in backyard distilleries around Bali and throughout Indonesia. Unfortunately there is no real way for the Indonesian authorities to completely stamp out this practice.

Bali Saftey
Photo Credit: Jalbum Bali Moonshine

(This is a dangerous chemical that can cause blindness coma and death if consumed in large amounts)

Bali safety when you’re riding a scooter

Be sure to wear a Western Standard motorbike helmet. The motorbike helmets sold and supplied in Bali are cheap copies and they will not save a person’s life if they come off a bike at speed. If you intend hiring a scooter in Bali then please pack a western standard motorbike helmet with your luggage.

Bali Safety
Australian Standard Stickers

Brand new helmets may attract an import tax at customs so bring something second hand if possible.

(Cover the small standard sticker on the back of the helmet and scuff it up a little to avoid questions at customs)

Bali safety when you’re getting a tattoo

Bali is renowned for being an island full of artisans and plenty of great tattooists can be found on the island.

Bali Saftey
Bali tattoo safety

Nowadays the shops are very clean and safe but it is always good practice to make sure that a packet of clean and sterilized needles is opened in front of you.

(Places like Kuta in Bali still utilize ground water tanks for their sewerage and their water supply. If you are the kind of person who likes to take regular showers then another good idea is to have your work done as close to your departure date as possible)

Bali safety number one tip

Please make sure you have travel insurance as tourists are injured during their Bali Holidays every day.  Recently a tourist had to be medevac’d back to Australia from Bali and he was charged over one hundred thousand dollars for the service.


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Self Promotion Post – Bali Undercover

When you see the Bali Undercover jacket on the internet and you run for cover

Bule Hunter, the blog author’s book I’m sure its great, Malcolm-Scott-Books

I was just cruising across the internet with a beer in my hand when I came across the featured image above this picture and it stopped me in my tracks. My book was on the internet and I had no idea what it was doing there.

“Oh shit,” I said to myself, “not another book review.”

Writing is a very personal endeavor and unless the author gets a rave assessment praising their work. Book reviews are generally cruel and inhuman excuses to publicly tear strips off a person and what they have slaved to produce.

Bali Undercover
Critics have been around forever. Bali Raw, Bali Undercover and No Negotiation No Ransom are true stories.

You could think of a book review as a public lashing or a stoning in the street consider the following.

Imagine a brick layer finishes building a wall and then some person who has never built a wall is offered the opportunity to publicly point out why it is a terrible wall.

Book Reviews are awful things and I happen to despise them as much as I hated taking my underachieving high-school report cards home.

Luckily it wasn’t a review however and it would seem that somebody else hates book reviews as much as I do. The author was criticized for the books subject-matter and they wanted to point out that it was similar to Bali Undercover. They also paid for and read one of my books which is a bonus .

You can find the post article link here:

I’m not quite sure if the author of this post is telling people to trash my book as much as she feels hers was trashed, but I will reach out and offer this to her.

I remember reading  that Stephen King’s books often get criticized but he happens to be the best selling and highest paid author on the planet. Don’t let anyone’s opinion stop you from what you are doing, writing a book isn’t easy, and being honest in a book is harder. If people noticed your book then you are doing something right and you should keep up the good work.

Bali Raw and Bali Undercover best sellers
Bali Raw and Bali Undercover

I hope the author doesn’t mind but I have also posted a picture of her book and I recommend that you read it or her blog, honesty is a very rare commodity nowadays.

I should also add that this post wasn’t concocted and despite giving my own book a plug, it’s happened pretty much as I have explained it.

P.S. I think Bule Hunter may be written in Bhasa Indonesian so that may create a problem for some people, but I’m sure it is a great book as I know a little about the subject matter.

Oh and if you would like to read one of my books, you are welcome to check them out on this websites. The navigation link is in the top header and it reads books.

Now that last line was a plug : )



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The legend of Sri Tanjung

The legend of Bali sailing catamaran Sri Tanjung and how Banyuwangi received it’s name

You may notice on this blog that there is an advertisement for sailing tours around Bali’s Island’s on the beautiful Catamaran Sri Tanjung.

Sri Tanjung Sail Bali Islands
Sri Tanjung Sail Bali Islands

You may also notice that it states at the bottom of the page the article is a paid for advertisement.

This statement is true but in the tradition of full disclosure and with the intention of being totally honest.  I want to mention that I have had a little bit of history with this wonderful vessel.

Years ago and back when I had more hair and less of a paunch than I have now. And when the sailing catamaran Sri Tanjung was known by a different name. I was invited to spend a few days aboard on a journey from Semarang in Central Java to Banyuwangi on the Eastern tip of Java.

Cruising on the Sailing Catamaran Sri Tanjung Bali
Somewhere in Indonesia

This short adventure took nine days and although it may sound like the journey of a lifetime it turned out a little harrowing on a couple of occasions.

Cruising on the Sailing Catamaran Sri Tanjung Bali
Sailing along the coast of Java

At one stage of the journey we were nearly boarded by what we thought were Indonesian Pirates. About ten of these guys pulled alongside in a large fishing boat and they demanded to come aboard.

Cruising on the Sailing Catamaran Sri Tanjung Bali
This is a different boat but the guy in the middle is not one to mess with.

Luckily for us our mechanic was a burly guy from New Guinea and after he showed them the size of the Sid-chrome Spanner he was holding in his melon sized fist they had a sudden change of mind.

Cruising on the Sailing Catamaran Sri Tanjung Bali
Storm blowing in somewhere off Java, few hours later I would be too busy to hold a camera.

Then one evening we were hit by a large tropical storm that blew up  around midnight and I remember being very happy that I was on a fifty foot Catamaran that was purpose built for ocean sailing.

Cruising on the Sailing Catamaran Sri Tanjung Bali
Tropical Storm

I will not bore you with the details of how I clung to my bucket and my bunk and I screamed like a little girl with every crash of thunder or any lightening strike that nearly hit the mast.

Cruising on the Sailing Catamaran Sri Tanjung Bali
Off the coast of Java somewhere the morning after.

Suffice to say like a lot of things in South East Asia this story does have a happy ending.

We did make it to Banyuwangi and when we were safely harbored in this small port town right on the tip of Java and just across from Bali. I was lucky enough to hear the mythological story of how Banyuwangi received its unusual name.

Sailing Catamaran Sri Tanjung Bali
Sri Tanjung and her famously seductive wink

The stories differ but one local legend of Banyuwangi is that a young woman was accused of being unfaithful by her husband and she dove into the  river to escape his wrath.

Sail Bali Islands

The story states that moments after she hit the surface she merged with the river and the water became crystal clear and beautifully fragrant.

The young woman was never seen again and the towns people decided she had been wrongly accused by her husband.

The woman became known as Sri Tanjung and the husband was banished from the village for falsely accusing her of adultery.

The story is a mythological one and it is used to explain how Banyuwangi, which means fragrant water in Javanese, received its name. But if Sri Tanjung is christened after the woman in the story then it is a perfect name for such a stunningly beautiful vessel.

Cruising on the Sailing Catamaran Sri Tanjung Bali
Cruising somewhere off the Java coast

When we were not battling storms or pirates Sri Tanjung merged with the sparkling ocean and she cruised effortlessly like some type of mythological water princess. She was a pleasure to sail aboard and I for one could smell the warm tropical fragrance rising up from the crystal clear water as we cruised down the Java Coast.

Read More: Sail Bali Islands

Read more: Catamaran Captain Prevents Catastrophe

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Balinese Nyepi Day

The Ceremony of Silence – Balinese Nyepi Day

Balinese Nypie Day Ceremony
Balinese Ceremony

For those of you that missed it, Nyepi has recently passed in Bali. The period of silence is a unique holy observance for the Hindu Balinese and it is an event, or non-event, that I have experienced on a number of occasions. If you have never heard of Nyepi the following is brief overview of the religious occasion it’s origins and it’s meaning.

Balinese Ceremony,  Malcolm-Scott-Books
Balinese Ceremony, Malcolm-Scott-Books

Westerners celebrate the New Year with parties and fireworks; however in contrast, the Balinese open their New Year in silence. This is called Nyepi, the Balinese period of Silence which falls on the day following the dark moon of the spring equinox.

The following You-tube Video shows the intensity of Balinese stabbing and trance ceremony Melasti, a seaside purification ceremony that is undertaken to welcome in Nyepi, the Balinese Hindu ‘Day of Silence’ and New Year. 

Nyepi Day, as it is commonly referred to, runs for twenty four hours and opens a new year of the Saka Hindu Era. During this period of silence everything on Bali shuts down including the international airport.

Balinese Nyepi Day, Malcolm Scott Books
Photo Credit: Jakarta Post. Balinese Nyepi Day

Nyepi is celebrated to help keep the balance of good and evil positive and negative in nature. It is based on the religious belief of King Kaniska of India who was inaugurated in 78 A.D.

King Kaniska of India
King Kaniska of India

During his reign he conducted a missionary tour to Java Indonesia to promote and spread Hinduism. But the King was also famous for his wisdom and he was celebrated for  his tolerance of both Hinduism and Buddhism.

Balinese Dancer
Balinese Dancer

Balinese Hindus have a number of religious celebrations but Nyepi is perhaps the most important. The guidelines for the twenty four hours of complete silence are taken seriously, particularly in villages outside of Bali’s southern tourist belt.

Balinese Nyepi Day, Malcolm Scott Books
Balinese Nyepi Day

From the religious and philosophy point of view, Nyepi is meant to be a day of self-introspection to contemplate on the values of humanity, love, patience and kindness.

Hotels are partially exempt from Nyepi’s rigorous practice of silence but streets outside are closed to both pedestrians and vehicles. (Except for emergency vehicles) Temple guardians Pecalang are also posted outside to keep people and their houses safe.

The strict observance of Nyepi demands both silence and darkness for 24-hours during the period sunrise to sunrise the following day.

Summarized, the four tenets for Nyepi are as follows.

* Amati geni – Do not ignite fires or turn on lights.

*Amati Karya – Refrain from all activity and rest.

*Amati lelungan – Stay at home with family and loved ones and do not embark on trips or journeys.

*Amati lelanguan – Do not satisfy any lusts or engage in other pleasurable pursuits.

Balinese Nyepi Day, Malcolm Scott Books
Balinese Nyepi Day, Malcolm Scott Books

Nyepi forms a large part of Bali’s mystique and it is just another occasion that helps make Bali unique island. Summarized below are the four tenets for Nyepi.

Note: I would have liked to include a few pictures of the Agoh-Agoh for this article but it is considered bad luck to take or display pictures of the Mystical Creatures.

Recently I have seen a number of these Papier-mâché  effigies for sale around Bali. The artistic work is incredible, but it is sad that a part of the tradition is starting to be ignored in the pursuit of money.


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