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  • Writer's pictureWendy Fox


My first trip to Bali was in 1980. I had made friends with a girl that I was working with, our first job, and we decided we would have our very first holiday, unpaid and unplanned by parents, together. We booked a 2 week holiday to Queensland, staying in Surfers Paradise. We had a high-rise apartment that overlooked the beach and we had a fantastic trip that gave us the first taste for more.

We went back to work and decided we would save up to have a holiday in Bali next time.

I had never been overseas before, so Passports had to be organised firstly. I was so excited to be going I still remember that flights to Bali were only with Garuda and cost $454.00 return from Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne.

So off we went, and that first trip was to be the start of a feeling that I can’t quite describe.

I fell completely and utterly in love with Bali. Every single thing about it. The 2 weeks we had booked, just flew. We saw and did so much, meeting amazing local people who took great delight in sharing their beautiful island with us.

Our last day was spent with the majority of the time in tears.

Vowing that we would be back as soon as finances allowed.

Bali wasn’t as chaotic back in the 80’s and it was very easy to make Balinese friends and know exactly where to go to find them and catch up and soon as you got back. We got invited to people’s homes and different ceremonies and without knowing it at the time, making life-long friends.

After the first trip, the stay was always a month or longer and after the 4th trip I found my second home.

Here I met an amazing man who at the time was one of the first multi-lingual tour guides for Bali. He was so knowledgeable and took us around the Island many times over. We saw the Volcanos and lakes, the different beaches along the East coast, significant Holy Temples, far and wide, snorkeling in the National park in the North, Lake Bedugal, Tampaksiring, the rolling rice terraces, waterfalls and rivers of Ubud The list is endless and I feel so blessed to have met him.

We had been out dancing one evening at Peanuts. For those who don’t know of it, it was a large building down a laneway, not far from the old Sari Club site, with a concrete floor. It was one of the main nightclubs in Bali at the time and it was great fun. My boyfriend was dancing and decided to pick me up and swing me around. Sweaty hands could have been the problem, but he let go and I dropped on to my head on the concrete floor. It was quite a sobering experience and I left with a bit of a headache but nothing I thought was too much of a problem.

The next day at breakfast, my head was a bit sore, my neck was really stiff and I thought, nothing a good massage won’t fix. I saw my friend Jiwa (the tour guide). He said are you ok today? I said I’ve got a bit of a headache, that’s all. I didn’t want to tell him we’d been out drinking and dancing the night before and I’d been dropped on my head.

He said would you like to visit a traditional Balinese Healer?

He can fix your headache.

I was fascinated by this and asked where? He said we would be going to see the Spiritual Healer of his village. 1 hour away.

I remember heading past Celuk and going through some more villages before getting out of the car and Jiwa parked it in the street. He said we had to walk down the gangs to see the Healer and that the car wouldn’t fit. I wasn’t sure what to expect. He said the Balinese Healer speaks no English or Indonesian. He only speaks traditional Balinese language and I will have to translate for you.

I asked how much I should pay. Keeping in mind that back in the 80’s you got about 1000 rupiah to the dollar. Jiwa says to me “up to you”. What do you mean, up to you? Up to you mean up to you. Looking at me like how much clearer can I make it? Then, he starts to explain. The Balinese Healer believes he has been given the gift of healing powers from the gods and ancestors and it would not be right to ask for money. He will never turn anyone away no matter if they can pay or not. So up to you.

After walking for what felt like a kilometer or more, down skinny, winding gangs with what looked like swastika symbols painted above the entrance ways into people’s homes, we arrived at the Healers place.

His family see us coming and tell him of our pending arrival

I am greeted by a beautiful little Balinese man wrapped in a sarong. He clasps his hands together and bows his head at me. I do the same back. Jiwa tells him I have a bad headache He then leads me over to what looks like a Balinese day bed. Bamboo mat flooring on an elevated platform with a thatched, grass roof. He told Jiwa to tell me to take off my t shirt and to just sit in my sarong from the waist down. Legs crossed. He then proceeded to come and sit behind me. He held his hands over my head and down my back, which was a lot like reiki, looking back. I had my eyes closed but I could feel his energy. He began to massage my back, head, neck shoulders. Then before I knew what was happening, he picked up my head and literally lifted it off my neck and cracked it both ways.

I looked at Jiwa like What Just Happened there??. All of a sudden, the little Balinese Healer started to speak. Tell her I have fixed her problem. It is like she has been dropped on her head. The impact on her neck was so strong if I did not fix her, she will not be walking in a few years. He gave me a slap on the shoulder and told Jiwa to tell me to put my clothes back on. I was absolutely astounded. I had said nothing to Jiwa apart from that I had a headache.

I thanked the Healer for his services, through Jiwa, but also with a bow and a prayer motion. I donated the equivalent of $20, which would have been about $200 today and I left his home compound with a spring in my step and no more headache.

It is something I will never forget. Here I was in this Balinese Village in the middle of nowhere, receiving a healing from wonderful, spiritual man, who I couldn’t communicate

with other than to show sincere gratitude. I love Bali and I always will.

1980s healer

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