One week home from Bali and I’m still flying high from my visit to the Island of the Gods. It’s more than exhilaration from a grand adventure—although my trip certainly felt both grand and adventurous—it’s that Bali dug deep into my Asian-Hawaiian roots. Six-thousand miles of ocean separate us geographically as our rituals, beliefs, and customs distinguish us culturally. However, both the Balinese and Hawaiians effuse heartfelt aloha and respect for the world in which we live.
Bali has a mystical and earthy feel as if the people, gods, and land grow from the same roots and entwine into each other to form an inseparable braid. I can no more envision a Balinese away from Bali than a Hawaiian stripped of ohana (family). One belongs to the other like the mountains and the sea, in harmony and balance. Not surprisingly, both the Balinese and the Hawaiians orient themselves in relationship to the mountains and sea—Mauka and Makai in Hawaii and Kaja and Kelod in Bali. Both cultures acknowledge and respect the spirits inhabiting the land and animals. Both have people with bright smiles and welcoming natures. No wonder I felt at home the instant I stepped off the plane.
Of course, I had the advantage of years of research for my novel. I had delved into the culture, religion, and political history reading everything I could find, firm in the belief that a story would emerge. After a year-and-half, it did. A wild and adventurous story, rich in culture, steeped in Balinese Hindu occult, and respectful of a complex and fascinating people. I told the story line to several of my new Balinese friends and was surprised to hear each of them say, “This sounds so real!” I guess that’s what happens when a wild imagination grows out of research. Anyway, while the novel won’t be finished until late 2017, a companion short story will be published October, 2016 by 13Thirty Books in their new anthology, NEVER FEAR – THE TAROT. Look for it through Amazon and all platforms.
My short story, ACE OF WANDS, takes a main Balinese character from my novel back to a pivotal point in his history where one of the greatest crimes against humanity collides with the powerful magic of Bali. It’s a scary tale, steeped in exotic culture. I hope you’ll give it a read!
I’m eager to dive back into writing my Bali novel, having just finished a ninja vigilante thriller set in Los Angeles. CALL ME DUMPLING is an exciting—and of course, cultural—tale about a young Chinese-Norwegian ninja with Joy Luck Club family issues who gets sucked into the underbelly LA as she fights to protect women in need.
Exciting writing times ahead! I hope you’ll stay tuned.
In the meantime, I invite you to look back through my Facebook timeline for exotic Bali photos and posts from my book research trip. Find me on Instagram. Check out the ToriEldridgeBaliTrip online photo album. Snoop through my Pinterest boards on Bali, Brazil, and Hawaii. Follow me on Twitter. Each profile has a different flavor and content. Perhaps one or all will be of interest.
Until we meet again, Aloha Nui Loa and Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om!
PLACES AND PEOPLE I RECOMMEND IN BALI:
Bali Agung Village for a charming an affordable bungalow-style hotel in Seminyak with a lovely buffet breakfast.
The Seminyak Beach Resort for five-star luxury and Balinese hospitality. (The lead characters of my novel spend a memorable evening here. So after receiving a tour of the property, my husband and I enjoyed sunset cocktails followed by an expansive buffet and traditional Ramayana dance.)
Jari Menari (dancing fingers) for a truly remarkable massage experience in Seminyak.
Artini 2 Cottages in Ubud for an enchanting experience with incredibly friendly people, including our gracious new friend Ketut who led Tony and I on a truly local adventure that included motor biking through “big rain” to a five-hundred step descent to a crushing waterfall. He even invited us to his lovely family compound. Perfect for my book research!
Maha Neka Homestay in sleepy Sideman to feel as if you’re staying in the quaint guest house of a dear friend. We woke to the expansive view of rice fields and holy Mount Agung, followed by a breakfast of freshly juiced mangos, black rice pudding (made for me simply because I asked Ari about it the night before), and deliciously spiced scrambled eggs.
Sideman Tour and Trekking is the two-brother operation for personalized tours and transportation anywhere in Bali. Having written an adventurous thriller involving Balinese Hindu occult, child kidnapping, and the 1966 anti-Communist massacres, my tour requests were unusual to say the least! Even so, Kadek and Komang managed to fill every one of my author requests, including a night hike through the forest up the base of a volcano and a special consultation with a reclusive local balian.
Pertiwi Bisma 1 for a paradise ending to a magical trip.
Mahalo nui loa to all the patient and engaging people who took the time to answer my questions and share their knowledge and culture, like Wayan Madiasna (my Bali son) who drove us from Seminyak to Ubud to the Balinese art shop owner who squatted with me on the floor to teach me about marigolds, burnt candlenuts, and knife-etched palm leaf scrolls. As always, it was the people who made my trip such a memorable event.