Real Bali


Away from the busy tourist beach resorts of the south and the choked streets of Ubud there lies a very different Bali. Here there are no bars, restaurants, hotels or hawkers. Just miles and miles of terraced greenery and jungle stretching as far as the eye can see. In this oasis of verdant calm, life goes on in much the same way that it has done for 100’s of years.



Last year I wrote a post about Wayans’s husband’s kampung. If you click on the link you will get the background story and more images


Since then I have been back several times to visit but yesterday was the first time that I took up the challenge of the jungle. This morning I can hardly move but the experience was like nothing else. I tried to photograph the jungle but it’s almost impossible to give any sense of scale when you are inside it. A great canopy of green shades you from the sun but the humidity and sheer effort of climbing down a near vertical descent and then up the other side left us all feeling like we had run a marathon. It’s incredible to think that this is the trip that the school children make everyday as part of their hour long walk to and from school. It was only 10 years ago that tap water was installed. Before then this perilous route was the only way for the villagers to get their water. Imagine having to carry baskets of heavy dripping wet clothes, or buckets of water back?

There are no washing machines here, everything is done the hard way. Only one family has a tv and there is no phone line. Mobile reception is poor to non existent. Wayan’s mother-in-law showed me the kitchen which she shares with 4 other families. It’s a small room with an earth floor. The oven is made from cement and fired by twigs and wood. One small, lightbulb hangs from the ceiling and washing up is done in a bucket. Their diet is mostly vegetables, tempe and rice. The kampung chickens are used but they are tough and stringy. The pigs are fattened for Hindu festivals, high days and holidays. They are killed on the kampung with a sharp bamboo to the throat.



Simple clay oven with cooking pots Simple clay oven with cooking pots





It is a hard life on the kampung and I suspect that most of the work falls on the shoulders of the women. Despite this they are happy and wonderfully content people. Whenever I have visited there is always much laughter, teasing and jollity. They share their troubles and their woes and I get the feeling that it is a strong community with each family helping the others out as and when needs be.




Yesterday I had many questions that I wanted to ask. Some of the children were getting ready for school and I wanted to know if they liked their life on the kampung. ‘Of course!’ was the answer. And I understand why. Even though they live in isolation, there is no sense of it. Their lives revolve around their communities and their Hindu religion. They have kites, dogs, rivers and a jungle to play in. What better place to play Hide and Seek?





















36 thoughts on “Real Bali

  1. Fantastic photos. Do many of the villagers (especially younger ones) work in the tourist areas of Bali? It would be interesting to hear their thoughts on life in the kampung and if they want to return.


    1. Thank you Lydia.

      I am going back tomorrow and will find out. I imagine that once they leave school they will have to go out and look for paid work. The work on the kampung is purely for survival. Little money changes hands as everything is done through bartering and sharing. ‘I take your rice, you have 3 of my chickens’ sort of thing. Surplus stuff is sold at the markets. Some of the men make wood carvings which are then sold onto the tourist shops and the women make fabulous coconut oil but I don’t think they sell it, it’s just for their own use.

      I’m giving the jungle a miss tomorrow! Going on a long hike instead. 😀


  2. Beautiful photos Lottie! Where’s this kampung and why didn’t our paths cross? Sherry and I also had a drive through jungle territory yesterday and it was a much-needed and deliciously GREEN ride 😉 Glad you had some away-from-beach time yesterday.


    1. This is going to sound so ditzy! I really don’t know where it is. I keep writing the name of the place down then losing the piece of paper. I can’t ask Wayan again, she’ll think I’ve gone totally nutty or senile or both 😀

      Glad to hear you had a GREEN ride too. I thought of you both and almost rang you but Serena is still staying and I’m enjoying hogging her to myself. I know you that will understand X


  3. Wonderful photos and succint observations on life in Bali. They have what we lost decades ago and that is …a bustling and inclusive community. We exchanged gadgets and material goodies but are losing out on quality.
    Take any photo of a crowd waiting for a bus or train in the western world and compare with a photo of people together in a pasar in Bali. You do not see sour and unhappy faces in Bali.
    Someone wrote on my blog having taken a train in England for 5 years with the same people at the same time. No one ever spoke a single word to him.
    We have micro waves, giant ovens with multiple programs and options with bulging food pantries but also high fences, block our houses with curtains and chose privacy till the end and even at our funerals when no one visits us even in death. A dreadful fate really.


    1. It is a bustling and inclusive community. It’s not everyones idea of heaven and indeed it may be some peoples idea of hell but for myself, I can envisage myself there. The simple cooking doesn’t worry me in the least, nor the lack of toilet facilities, nor the rural isolation. I would struggle without the internet that’s the one thing that I would find very hard to live without now.

      That is terrible about the man on the train. It’s heartbreaking. We do have choices though. We dont have to live with all the ‘trappings’ (quite literally) it’s a matter of finding a balance. My life is currently split between Jakarta and Bali. It doesn’t take a lot of guess work to work out where I would rather be but for the moment this is what I have to work with. I’m a great believer in taking charge of ones own life. If you are unhappy work out whats wrong and fix it. Pretty much everything is fixable or can be made better, you just have to have the will.

      You’ve got it sussed Gerard! 😀


      1. Yes, we do have choices and can improve things no matter the obstacles. Still, I wish people would look a bit happier and not give me the two finger salute when trying to park at the super market to get my chicken breast fillets with coriander.


  4. This is quite wonderful, Lottie. The photos are magical. The pig is brilliant and the clay oven splendid. I have mixed feelings about jungle. I love it but it also scares me. The first time I actually held my hand in front of my face and could not see it was in a jungle at night. A weird feeling. I hate the leeches but love the insects and the nosies. Whilst we bemoan what we have I suspect we would in truth struggle if we were returned to the kampung. How would I charge my camera batteries? Where could I get film developed? Food would be ok. Water, tick. Can I have my books with me? Or do I have to write my own. I think we need a Jungle Village Books to compete with Roy’s Desert Island Discs? I am sure though that we would indeed be happier. I wouldn’t be worrying about the broken “foul water pump” we found this afternoon for a start. I wouldn’t worry about parking the car and I certainly wouldn’t give Gerard the 2 finger salute. Maybe just the one 😉 Only joking, Gerard!!! I commuted to London for many years and did develop some sort of rapport with a small number of my fellow rail warriors but usually it was grim faces and the “I’m on the train” routine. I think I would have Kipling as my Jungle VIllage book number one. I’m the King of the Swingers now, the jungle VIP……. Well CMP and PMP. What a hoot.


  5. What a hoot indeed! I am liking the idea of The Jungle Village Books a lot. And speaking of which I think it’s time you did start to write your own book, ‘just sayin’.

    Mr Kipling (not of ‘the exceedingly good cakes’ variety) is a perfect choice. King of the Swingers sounds distinctly dodgy – the ladies of the kampung would have to watch out. There aren’t any cars there but they do have moped keys to chuck on the table. BMB

    No problem with the batteries there is some electricity. You would have to learn to process your own photographs. The night time jungle sounds like it would make a perfect darkroom judging from your own experience except of course for the creepy crawlies and leeches.

    I’m back there tomorrow. This time for a long trek. I’m not sure my legs or back can face the jungles steep terrain so soon. It’s going to be rather more genteel this time, a stroll around the perimeter of the jungle and through the padi’s and along the river.
    It’s been thunder and lightening and rain here all afternoon so I hope it stops before we set off at sparrows tomorrow 😀


  6. Love these photos and the background information, Lottie — what a contrast from Ubud and Sanur and the tourist areas.

    Thanks for showing us the real Bali. xoxoxox

    P.S. Love the blog’s new layout/theme!


    1. Thank you Steph

      I’m pleased with the new theme too. I needed a bit of help (aka Irishman) to get it up and running but I think it works quite well for my type of blog. It’s one of the fancy nancy ones you have to pay for but hey! only the best for you guys 😉



  7. Very nice post. The collection of every day items is fascinating. I’m not sure we can get back what we may have lost. I think we would be stopped by fear and concern for comfort. What would happen when my tooth starts to ache because I havn’t had dental care? Perhaps if I had made the change when I was late teens or early twenties?
    Unfortunately we have eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge and are no longer innocent.
    So how do we become more intentional about community?
    Perhaps it is about turning our values upside down. Valuing kindness and community more than money and power.
    Valuing people for who they are not what thry have. Being more exited about meeting Wayans and family than movie stars.
    Wonderful images in this post.


    1. That’s a great comment Just Rod. Lots to think about there.

      Irishman and I have a cunning plan. I’m wary of writing too much about it on here at the moment for fear of jinxing it. The clue is in way of life, radical change, experiment. Not saying anything more about it now as it’s still early days of planning and there is much to be sorted out but I will of course be writing about it when it all starts to fall into place -hopefully in less than a year.

      Your line ‘Being more excited about meeting Wayans and the family than movie stars’ is perfect. I think you’ve summed up much of the problem in one single sentence.

      Reading back through the comments and hearing your thoughts has inspired me to write post asking those questions and trying to find some answers. Thanks again Just Rod. Lottie 😀


      1. Looking forward to finding out your plan. You may be interested in the following blog These two young people have taken a big leap into a new venture in some poor areas. Creating a business that helps the local people. Its worth a look 🙂


      2. Thank you Just Rod. I’m always on the look out for interesting blogs so I will definitely check theirs out. It sounds like an inspiring project, what a great idea 😀


  8. I am psyching myself up for an ‘overnight’ in one such kampung. It’s the countdown to the baby’s 3 month ceremony. The father of the child sold his motorbike to raise enough money for the required offerings for this important milestone in his little girl’s life. I’ve been invited and I WILL go because I adore the family, I am honored to be included, and the experience, I am sure, will exceed my wildest expectations! I already know I will be sleeping with granny and the kids, and I use the term ‘sleeping’ loosely! The village is in the mountains, so far off the beaten track that motorbikes are challenged. There is no indoor kitchen. The little clay oven is outside by the giant, concrete cistern that collects their water. I expect I won’t be taking my eyeliner pencil!


    1. What an adventure! I know that you of all people will love the experience and embrace the challenge. It’s a great honour indeed. Lucky you xxx

      The sleeping arrangements sound interesting. I think you are right to use the term ‘loosely’.

      Poor guy having to sell his bike. That’s a huge sacrifice to make. I worry that so much money is spent on these offerings, it’s financially crippling for some. It’s not as though anyone has any money spare, that’s what’s so difficult. Wayan told me how much offerings for funerals cost and I nearly died myself just on hearing how expensive they are. Tradition is paramount here and I realise that there is a lot of pressure put on people to keep up with it, even if it costs them their one mode of transport. It’s so difficult to translate this into western thinking, it just wouldn’t happen in the UK for example. Life here will never cease to fascinate me, I still have so much to learn.

      Have a great time Sherry and looking forward to seeing your photographs and hearing all about it 😀


  9. Images like these should remind of us of what life really is about rather than the constant chase for riches and comfort that is the reality for most of us, Lottie. I imagine many would look at these and think “poor people to live like this” while others can look and see a better way to live happily. I am not sure I would wish to give up all I have, but I also see the benefit of having just what is needed.
    My favorite image is the porker, but it saddens me to think of its fate. My favorite word in the post is “jollity”. I am willing to bet this may be the only blog today to have that word contained in all the other words. 🙂


    1. I did wonder as I was posting this what people might think. As I mentioned in my post, I have visited the kampung several times now. Each time I leave with a sense of happiness, of real affection and warmth. Of witnessing the lives of people who are genuinely content. It’s inspiring.

      As an outsider, it’s very humbling to be privy to these scenes of rural and domestic life. The villagers are so kind and generous. Bottled water is brought out, bananas, rice cakes and sweets and we sit and talk and laugh. All the while I am snapping away. There are pictures that I could take but I don’t and I’m sure that you understand this. I am a guest in their home and the fact that they trust me enough to go round the kampung with my camera I consider an honour and a privilege.

      I’m glad you liked the word ‘jollity’ as you can see, I wasn’t making it up. It’s writ loud and clear on all the faces.

      Leaving in a hour to go back. It’s going to be a bit of a family outing. Wayan, her 83 year old mother, her 17 year old son, Serena my daughter and me.
      I don’t think Wayan’s mother has been up to her son-in-laws kampung for 17 years or more. I’ve rented a mini-bus for the occasion and packed up loads of goodies to take with us. Coffee, sugar, cookies, sweets, incense sticks etc 😀


      1. I am sure all your goodies will be most welcomed. But I am also sure they are more appreciated because they are accompanied by respect. 🙂


  10. I was rummaging through the photos from top to bottom thinking ‘What, no pig?’ and there is was… a pig 🙂

    I Took a lot of photos at random from my travels, but sadly the negs have been lost or damaged. Random photos show the true nature of places.



    1. I’ve lost so many negatives and rolls of film over the years. Endless house moves, keeping them in bags in damp places…it’s no wonder. I sympathise with you.

      No Pigs?? C’mon AV you know whenever there’s an opportunity there will be a pig in there somewhere. Not when I’m in Jakarta of course but almost always here in Bali! 😀









    1. Thank you. I really appreciate your comment and thoughts. I love my time here on Bali. There is always something to capture my imagination and inspire me. I’m so glad you are enjoying the journey 😀


  12. We westerners are truly wimps. Then again, I suppose we all do what we must.

    The energy in those jungles must be incredible, Lottie. And I get what you’re saying about being unable to truly capture it in a photograph. It seems overwhelming to me. You’re very brave to go tromping around in it! And YOU are really so very good at this: your words and photgraphs give the reader a real sense of what it must be like in this special world. xoxo


    1. Awwww, you makin’ me blush sister! I hope that I can portray something of what rural life in Bali is like. My real interest as you know is to try to capture something of the essence of real Bali life. I’m not interested in flash villas, and swanky shops, I am most happy when I’m a part of the bigger picture, the true story. Balinese are very friendly and kind and I take it as a huge compliment that I’m able to visit their homes in the kampung and be a part of their world for that moment.

      I’ve been to the kampung 3 times this week, I’m almost a regular! I shall be writing about an idea that I have soon. Lottie has a project a foot! xoxo


  13. This is weird. At the top of the Lost in Bali post I saw that I was not follwing you. But this same thing has happened to me on other blogging sites. Not sure what causes the blogs to misfire- that is the only word I can call the el-problemo right now.

    But going along here. This is a fantastic post or maybe I should call this one wonderful as well. 🙂 This photo grouping is so educational. But I will say one thing. It would be pure hell for me to live there. I have no other word for jungle living. Of course the people there are happy for they know, no other way of life. “What ever we are born to that is what we adapt to.” The culture is unique. I found one thing of your pics that had a hint of city life. There was a padded bra among all of the hand washed clothing. Now that was plum cute. 🙂


    1. Ah yes, the padded bra! so sweet! Indonesian bosoms are not big so padded bras especially for the young girls are an absolute essential in their eyes.

      It’s weird how WP does that. I’ve had that problem too – no worries Yvonne!

      The culture is very unique and certainly jungly life is not for the faint-hearted, it’s pretty raw and basic. I only ever get greeted warmly when I visit, they are such kind souls. I took a load more photos yesterday that shall be going up on here soon. The ladies where bathing in the river stark naked but they let me take photos of them with their modesty covered! 😀


      1. Thanks for the reply Lottie. I eagerly await the next batch of photos. Do the people have access to any kind of medical care? And about the river. Is the water safe from reptile or animal danger?


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