(Written by Her)
We visited her place of business, hoping to pop in for a quick chat and perhaps a remedy or reading. As we walked along the narrow street, wondering if we would ever actually find the place, we were met by a billboard with a picture of Liz Gilberts face and a list of prices for health readings….400,000 rupiah for a body reading (around $30). Wayan has certainly learned how to charge. What’s more, when we arrived she was busy with a group of three young tourists in bikinis.
We walked down the back of the house, past 2 eagles tied to perches, through manicured lawns, over 2 little footbridges and eventually to an infinity pool in front of a 2 storey guesthouse. Our driver explained to me that none of this was here 10 years ago. Before it was all agricultural land. After Ketut became famous, the Lieyers decided to rent more land and build a guesthouse. They are currently in the process of building villas also. After a few minutes the walkie talkie guy told our driver that Ketut and family were ready to see me.
Once at the terrace, I was asked to remove my shoes and sit cross-legged in front of Ketut’s son (now aged 63). He gave me a short explanation as to why it was he who was giving the readings now. In short, Ketut has become senial in his old age and his mind is no longer fully functioning but his body is fit and healthy. Ketut’s son gave me a non-descript palm reading – very successful, very happy, very wealthy, long life! I won’t hold my breath but it was a nice experience. He asked for 250,000 rupiah for the pleasure, which I was happy to pay given that it was almost half the price Wayan was charging!
It seems to me that the hoards of tourists descending on Ubud for a week of self-development are actually destroying any peace and balance for which the area was once known. How can one find inner peace in a yoga class with 50 other people, crammed into a small room, overlooking a busy street. Or at least, if that’s the experience in Bali, then why not stay at home? Perhaps there are people who can block out the craziness, I certainly couldn't, and while I found Ubud to be beautiful and romantic, it was undoubtedly marred by touts, scams and tourists. So I'm left asking, if one intends to write a book about a particular place, or particular people, is it better to use pseudonyms and leave the real deal well enough alone? Or is it actually more responsible to name those people who's story it really is, and give them the opportunity to boost their livelihoods and local economy, while potentially loosing some authenticity? I'm still wondering...