Seven years in Kuta
In 1986 I arrived at Benoa Harbor in Bali after a three day sailing trip from Ujung Pandang. Initially, Bali's sole purpose was to get a flight to Perth but that changed soon.

As I set foot on shore at Benoa, my slipper broke and I started to walk a long, endless straight road barefoot under a bright, hot sun. I carried a small bag with some clothes, a toothbrush and my passport.
The asphalt was too hot to walk on, so I shied to the white coral roadside with sharp edges that hurt my feet and I waved at a motorbike when one approached. The guy took me on the back of his bike to Denpasar where I was able to check the 'poste restante' at the post office.
In those days, your family -or friends- would send mail to these assigned destinations.

After that I took a Bemo to Kuta and walked to the beach...

...And fell in Love.

Bali was the most amazing of places: the Balinese, very spiritual, superstitious, greedy and generous hold a strong cultural identity among a vast amount of visiting and staying tourists. They charmed me right away and I found a very gentle and loving environment among the many outsider/insiders. There seemed to be no cultural problem, as a young woman alone, to live in Bali: my environment cared for me, I did not get hassled nor harrassed and I felt safe.

I rented a small 'losmen' room that I rented for about 6$ a month, started to surf, took great pleasure in dancing at parties and in the beach-discotheques. Meanwhile I made paintings in my tiny losmen-room.

Sometimes I would sell a painting but mostly I made sure to live of little money, often eating dinner at the parties I was invited to.

For 7 years I lived in the Kuta beach area/scene

For my residency I needed to fly every two months abroad to renew my tourist visa. I'd sell a painting abroad, or do some small job. I would frequent Singapore, Australia and almost every year Holland for a short holiday.

Most people paid their ways by starting an export business of some kind. Some would fill their suitcase with things they could buy and, back home, sell the contents. Others designed their own produce. I did none.

I watched friends starting businesses.
I marveled at Enrico who created his own silver and gold factory but not before he first spent his entire investment capital in patenting his brand-name back home in Europe.

Legendary Paul Ropp had -first some and later many- designers create fashion for him. His force was in picking, choosing and facilitating the large orders from abroad. We all treasured wearing rejects at that time, so did he. Nowadays he's got classy shops all over the place and probably no rejects anymore. When my daughter paid him a visit, he had her pick and choose 2 beautiful items from his collection and she was thrilled!

Christine was amazing: she had her own shop in Switzerland and made drawings of intricate lace-works she would have produced by a whole group of seamstresses who would make her the most delicate and intricate clothing on the market. But most of all, she is a warmhearted and wonderful woman, whom I could always trust

Perry and Yogja John traded indiginous antiques and woud deliver to Museums and art collectors all over the world. I was able to touch and see the most valuable artworks

Chris was one of the first furniture businesses, sending out many containers of produce out of Bali. Employing and caring for entire villages.

John de Coney had the most amazing houses built by large teams of master craftsmen. The wooden stilt houses were richly adorned with intricate wood carvings: carved stairways, marble bathtubs, 2m high Garuda's in every roof corner of the building. He would pack them and have them shipped to Hawaii -or where ever he'd find his clientèle- and reassembled by the Balinese crew he'd fly in especially to construct the house.

For Peter I designed a tshirt for his restaurant Made's Warung. He paid me generously and introduced me to Ziggy's studio. Ziggy's tiny silkscreen factory somewhere in the back of Sanur produced vast quantities of top quality t-shirts. His wife Rinie organized all the selling and delivery logistics, giving Ziggy the opportunity to develop his artistic qualities. They became one of my dearest Indonesian families. I lived in heaven.

I painted and never worried too much about finances as long as I had enough for my plane tickets. Sometimes I was hungry but then I'd go to a party or pay my friends a visit at lunch time. As long as I didn't need to borrow I'd be fine.

I made friends, saw them making lots of money, but I remained happier painting and living in relative poverty. The world was my fiend anyway.

Me wearing my first Paul-Ropp-Reject. Legian, 1987.

Romantically I was not involved with anyone. For a little while I dated a really sweet guy, Nico, from Amsterdam who was a baker by trade. Secretly I was in love with someone I was never going to be with, so I remained quite happily single.

Once in Holland, I had a short romance with an American man who was a clown by profession: Moshé, whom I admire until this day for the love he puts out into this world.

A couple of years later another romance, when I was on a short trip in England, with an American scientist. But my heart remained in Bali so I returned and moved to Ubud.... To continue see the next page....

....Where I lived for another 7 years during which I met new life, death, intrigue and new friendships.

To be continued...

My daughter Xenia in her father's car
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