Monday, February 25, 2008

Inked in Paradise: Getting Tattooed Abroad

Here's a great article on getting tattooed abroad by someone very close to my alter ego. Please check it out and if you could, vote for me by clicking on the link at the beginning of the email.
Some great tips are presented on ensuring your safety while being tattooed in a foreign local:

Also check out this one which relates to Bali and gives you (in a round about way) some tips on how NOT to get sick like I did on my first visit:

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Art, Culture and Religion come together in Ubud, the sacred heart of Bali

Ah, Ubud. Situated in the heart of Bali and reputed for ages as the artist and cultural center of Bali, then as a hippie haven, and now as a destination favored by many of the world’s elite celebs, it maintains its reputation as a glorious place to visit for those interested in a meld of art and spirituality.
How to get there: From Kuta/Legian/Denpasar, it is easy to commission a ride by van or bus at any of the small tourism kiosks around town. You will get a taste of Balinese driving, which may turn out to be the thrill of your life as you place that life in the hands of what may very well be a maniac while people and animals dart into the street like video-game challenges with a death-wish. You will then realize that Indonesian vehicles on the whole are only fitted with seat belts in the font seat and cling to anything that you can for dear life. But keep in mind that most drivers are gifted because they definitely don’t want to risk getting into an accident, lest an entire village descend upon them in a swarm of wrath akin to a scene from Hitchcock’s “Birds”.
Beautiful bungalows nestled against rice fields are available for a pittance and you can watch the ballet maneuvers of bats flutter about at dusk. Or are those just giant mosquitoes?
You’ll want to check out the many galleries and craft hawkers that line just about any road in Ubud. You can negotiate prices in smaller shops and street stalls where the quality of art is less refined, but in the fine art galleries, don’t offend a master by trying this. Most importantly, you are supporting regional artists, which I recommend doing in all parts of the planet. The artists of this region are of particularly high caliber and reputation, but before you purchase anything sizable you best consider the expense and procedures required for bringing it home. Also be sure to get a receipt for customs officials.
Bali is also home to numerous quality museums. Exhibits typically have captions in English and Dutch in addition to Indonesian and possibly Balinese. Puri Lukisan is a delight to visit, not only for the quality of art within and the beginner’s lesson in Balinese art history, but the breathtaking gardens that surround it. You’ll think you’re in heaven. Museum Neka features the work of artists from Bali and Java as well as international artists who have spent time working from Bali and contributing to the artist culture. Museum Purbakala Gedong Area is devoted to research and houses antique art primarily. Angung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA) is a full service facility, complete with art, café, restaurant, performance areas and gamelan. For a comprehensive listing of museums and galleries in and around Ubud, try this link:
Another place to view astonishing art is at a hindu temple. Temples generally welcome tourists with open arms, but please remember to have a little respect, for this is a place of worship, not Disneyland. Temples are used here, they are not only relics of the past. Some may charge a small entry fee to tourists and temple appropriate dress is required. Wear something tasteful, in other words. You may be asked to wear a sarong, which you may be given upon entry or you may want to buy one at a market in advance to avoid having to learn how to tie the thing in front of amused onlookers. The Elephant Temple or Goa Gajah is definitely one to visit, which is a mystery indeed with its gaping demonic-looking cave dedicated to Ganesa (Ganesh) and gorgeous surrounds.
Balinese dance, with its riot of beautiful colors and disciplined movements accompanied by the gamelan orchestra whose mysterious tones and rhythms at first sound particularly bizarre to western ears (but grows on you with time) can be admired at the place Puri Salen Agung. Consult the calendar of events for dates of particular types of dance which vary greatly.
For a good drink, try Murni’s Warung. All roads lead to Murni’s, in other words almost every taxi driver knows where it is. Owned by a wise woman, it is an astonishingly beautiful place to get trapped in a tropical downpour. Sip a Bintang beer or something slightly classier surrounded by native art and enjoy the open rainforest view complete with authentic sounds of simians and wild cats roaring if you’re as lucky as I was. You won’t want to leave.
There isn’t much in the way of partying in Ubud, but if you’re the intellectual type you’re going to love the selection of cafes to sit and pass the day in. A notable one is Café Tutmak, which I recently learned is owned by a local and his Berkley, California expat wife. Live music is common, as is discussion of Balinese culture.

For vegetarian food, there are many options. Of which I’m familiar with these: Eat for Health at Jalan Jembawa 5 which I’ve tried personally and highly recommend. They also have a number of herbal remedies on hand for whatever ails you. So Cool Vegetarian at Jalan Sugriwa 33 is, as the name implies, also strictly vegetarian. There are other places that are not strictly vegetarian or vegan but offer plenty of options. There is also a health food store, Andalan, at Jalan Jembawan 1. For a full listing check out:
A plethora of other activities are at hand in Ubud. Ayurvedic medicine and reflexology are widely practiced here thanks to the Indian influences introduced long ago. Take advantage of its studied practitioners, your body will thank you. Hiking, rafting, kayaking, and biking are also excellent ways to fully experience your surrounds. You can take organized tours by bike or rent at numerous shops.

And then there’s the famed Mandala Wisata Wenara Wana or Monkey Forest as it is widely known. It is a sanctuary for the sacred macaques that populate it (approximately 300 of them, in fact) and hosts no less than three Hindu temples and gravesites. Entry tickets are 10,000RP which is roughly one US dollar. Outside women hawk bananas and peanuts to tourists who probably didn’t read the sign that says DON’T FEED THE MONKEYS. It is not highly recommended that you try feeding these guys unless you enjoy being accosted by wild and demanding furies. Again, I emphasize, these are not tame little zoo critters. They are wild and you should respect that. It is recommended that you secure all loose articles as the little buggers will steal sunglasses, water bottles and wallets alike.
One of the creepiest temples exists within the monkey forest, so you’ll have to brave those guys to enjoy it. Pura Dalem Agung is commonly refered to as the Temple of the Dead. When visiting the monkey forest temples, maintain the same manners that you would in any other Balinese temple. At Pura Dalem Agung, you will see some of the most violent and disturbing statues, which are mostly dedicated to the goddess Rangda, a demon queen who devours children just for kicks and with her legion of baddies, battles the good lion spirit Barong. She has claws, gaping maniacal eyes, and sagging breasts in most depictions. She is sometimes described as an incarnation of Durga or Kali. For an entertaining first hand encounter with the Monkey Forest and photos see:
For more information on Ubud, peruse the following websites:
Next edition: Kintamani's relic graveyard, active volcanoes.
Recommended reading: I just discovered a book on punk and metal in Bali during the 90s which looks really interesting. I've included it in the Punk Rock Travel Store at which you'll find a link to at the right of my posts. It's called "Making Scenes: Reggae, Punk, and Death Metal in 1990s Bali" by Emma Baulk. If you've got questions about how counterculture spreads to remote locations and how it mutates to form new scenes, you might want to give it a read. I plan to. I've also filled my store with other books about Bali that I highly recommend.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Responsible Travel in Bali

While I'm constructing the next blog about my favorite island, I thought I'd highlight some of the fantastic groups out there that are doing socially and environmentally responsible travel trips in Bali. This means that they offer volunteer opportunities, make sure that you are learning about the culture on your trip and NOT exploiting it, and often offset the carbon emissions produced by your travel. You can find some tips on choosing a socially responsible trip to Bali here at Bali Travel Portal:

And here are the best of the ones that are arranging these outstanding journeys:

You Go Do:

Eco-travel Asia:

Go Differently:


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

What’s so spooky about a sun-drenched paradise? Myth and mayhem collide in Bali. (Part One)

When most people think of Bali, they think of an exotic vacationer’s dream, a haven for beach loving sun-worshipers in exile. But a big tip-off to its hidden treasures might be the lead that some of the most vibrant cultural rituals that one can witness on the South-east Asian island are the radiant funeral processions and warped passion-plays of sorts involving entranced dancers attempting to impale themselves with ceremonial daggers. Yes, this is a land as strange as they come.
We’ll explore Bali in a series of posts, since there are a few high points for the eclectic traveler ranging different points on the island. I’m going to begin with Denpasar and Kuta since you’ll most definitely arrive via Denpasar airport and this will be your first (somewhat horrific) view of the (typically beautific) island.
Tip: Upon arrival in Indonesia you must obtain a Visa on Arrival. Citizens of 63 countries are currently eligible for this type of visa and you have a choice of a 7-day (10 USD) or 30-day (25 USD) stay. Have cash handy to pay for the visa, U.S. dollars and Euros are accepted. The visas are non-extendable and since people have actually been arrested for overstays, exceeding your 30 day max is not highly recommended unless your idea of fun is camping out in an Indonesian prison. If this is indeed this is your idea of a good time, you are what is called a masochist.

One of the great things about visiting Indonesia is that outside of the expense of your plane ticket, it’s a bargain. Taxis from the airport are affordable. Simple and clean hotel rooms with breakfast are to be found for around 10 USD a night and even a luxury room is well within the means of most western travelers. The real question lies in how important air-conditioning is to you in a sweltering, humid climate. Me, I brave bathing in sweat at 10 dollars a night because I wanna be like common people.

Despite its sordid reputation, I actually like Kuta. Yes, it’s engorged with loud, drunken Australians on holiday, but there’s a relaxed vibe of fun that exists nowhere else on the island. Although most of Indonesia claims officially to be Muslim (although often an odd blend of Islam with pre-existing native religions), the islanders of Bali are overwhelmingly Hindu, which leads most Indonesians to describe Bali as ultimately “free”. In other words, feel free to don a bikini or a mohawk. And if you’re going to don the former, be prepared to plenty of comments from the locals. They mean well, they’re just friendly.

There’s no shortage of Mohawks or gothabilly and punk music at Kuta’s punk rock refuge, Twice Bar: Rock ‘n’ Roll Monarchy. Situated at Poppies Lane Dua, the little bar hosts Bali’s tattooed and pierced crowd and often has live shows of local outfits seeking to emulate The Sex Pistols or Social Distortion. You can get a nice pitcher of Arak, the famed rice wine that provides a high more than a drunkenness and converse with the locals who will do their best to communicate and a wide variety of expats who gather here. Next door is the punk clothing store Suicide Glam, which also has a store in Germany, I’m told. and

Speaking of pierced and tattooed folks, it’s notable that both services are provided at a bargain in Bali. However, you’ll want to find a reputable shop and ensure that proper hygienic methods are used wherever you go. Bali is an island renowned for its artists, so you’re pretty sure to find some talented folks here to carry out your artistic flesh visions. Tip: You may want to bring your own inks which can be found inexpensively online before you leave. Good inks seem to be highly prized in Indonesia and your tattoo artist will most likely thank you. Also, if you are latex sensitive as I am, bring your own gloves along as well. You’ll be hard pressed to find non-latex gloves, as I found out the hard way, effectively spoiling my tattoo dreams on my last visit.

Veggies will be pleased with Bali. Indonesia is the birthplace of tempe, after all and tofu is readily available. One thing to be aware of is that often fish-based sauces are used, so ask (grab someone to translate if you haven’t brought a phrase book). Another warning is that you’ll most likely want to avoid fresh vegetable salads and the like if you don’t want to be sick, as they’re often washed in the local water. Indian explorers played a heavy roll in shaping the culture of Bali, so there’s no lack of good vegetarian Indian food to go around here. Denpasar and nearby Legian both have amazing vegetarian restaurants that a little bit pricey by Indonesian standards but worth the sacrifice. and If you want a cheaper option, Warung Indonesia, within walking distance of Twice Bar, is the way to go.

It goes without saying that there’s plenty of beach activities to be had here, but the beaches in this area are often jam packed with some of the worst of tourists. If you want a more meditative experience, then head out of Denpasar-Legian-Kuta to Sanur Beach where the drunken howls of Aussie tourist kids are replaced by the gentle and strange music of the Gamelan and the calm waves.

Ps. I am aware that some people have fears about terrorism attacks in Bali in recent years. In reality these type of attacks occur all over the world, most likely in your neck of it as well. They happen no more frequently in Bali. So do you want to hide your head in the sand out of fear like a pussy or get out there and enjoy life? That's what I thought.

Next edition: On to Ubud, the artist center of Bali, a brief discussion of Rangda the baby-devouring goddess, the spooky Elephant cave and the anarchic simian free-zone and tourist trap extraordinaire that is The Monkey Forest.

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Welcome to The Punk Rock Traveler!

Welcome to my new blog, The Punk Rock Traveler. So, why the name? As an avid explorer of this planet, I cited a serious lacking of information for the younger (or just young at heart), ecclectic traveler in my hunt for exciting activities to participate in around the globe. I hope to provide some resources and insights to the traveler who is curious about culture, environmentally conscious, seeking to reduce their overall imprint on the earth, politically active, and perhaps vegetarian or vegan. I'll be exploring avante-garde locations, volun-tourism, hostels, various venues and collectives, and so on. Although I've entitled the blog The Punk Rock Traveler, I'd like to note that I don't particularly consider myself to be punk, although some would argue that my attitude borders on it. I'm a thinker and an individual, I like to challenge the notions pushed in my face by the world around me and I like to think that other free-thinking world adventurers will enjoy the topics that I'll be exploring here.

About me: My name is eveghost. I'm a musician, writer, artist and activist currently residing in Los Angeles. I was up until recently vocalist for an art-punk ensemble called Scarlet's Remains. I'm currently a freelance writer, author, and contributing guest vocals to several projects. I'm well-studied on anthropology, cultures, mythologies, history, and foreign languages all of which are my passions in life.

So about my direct goals for the blog. You'll find, for the time being, quite a bit of information about Southern California on here for starters, since I'm currently stuck in this location for the moment. However, I will be relocating to Europe in the middle of the year and hope to explore a wide array of locations. I will also be interviewing fellow travelers about their experiences to add to the mix. I also welcome feedback and suggestions.

I'm excited to begin this project, I hope that you'll enjoy what's to come.