Bali’s creative allure is undeniable. Drawing people from across the Indonesian archipelago and the globe, the island has long been a hub of innovation; constantly evolving and always invigorating. In our new series, Island Inspiratif, we ask authors, artists and entrepreneurs who have made Bali home what it is about the island that gets their creative juices flowing. In today’s blog, we chat to Indonesian novelist and freelance writer, Valiant Vabyo.
Val, please tell us about what you do here in Bali.
Well I’m here just to enjoy the beauty of hammock sleeping! Seriously though, I write a minimum of five pages everyday. Some of my daily writing is for my next novel, Forgotten Colors, which will be published this August. I also write songs with my music partner, a French singer who also lives in Ubud, Jonatan Cerrada. We actually wrote a song about how we fell in love with Ubud. Some of our songs sample traditional Indonesian ensemble music, with 80s-90s nostalgic vibes. Basically I’d write anything, anywhere, to survive this crazy world.
What brought you to Bali originally?
Ubud is my secret sanctuary. I was a ‘domestic refugee’. It started when I published my first non-fiction book; Kedai 1001 Mimpi, about my experiences as an immigrant worker in Saudi Arabia. This book was my first commercial success, and ironically – or predictably – led to a mental breakdown, as some people started to send me and my family hateful, threatening messages. When everything went crazy, I ran away from my hometown of Bandung in West Java to Ubud, with the original intention of just calming my nerves. From two weeks, to two months, then two years, then here I am now, still here.
What is it about Bali that has kept you here?
Collaboration. A blue clear sky. And a glorious sunset view on my tiny balcony! In Bali, people with different backgrounds from around the world come and go. And it’s really inspirational how some people can give us fast love, deep feelings. To myself, I call it a classic tale of Ubudian romance. When I had a stroke two years ago, Ubud was the perfect place for me to recover. Most of my work is inspired by broken hearts… and a broken brain! If you can’t tell, Bali gives me unstoppable inspiration.
What are some tips you’d give to people thinking about basing themselves here for a while?
Never believe what people say about Bali, including me! What’s exciting to me might be boring for you. What’s romantic for you, might be horrific for me. Stop expecting, start exploring.
What’s your favorite secret (or not-so-secret) place in Bali?
Some delicious local warungs with local prices and nature views, such as rice fields or hidden waterfalls. There’s one in Tegallantang, and one in Goa Gajah, but I won’t give you the details, I’m pretty selfish! But if you find it out, let’s be friends!
You can follow Valiant’s life in Bali on Twitter and Instagram under the handle @vabyo, or head to his website at www.vabyo.com.