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Experience UWRF17 with Renaissance Tours and Robin de Crespigny

Posted: 17 April 2017

Tailor-made for literature lovers and discerning travelers, Renaissance Tours is Australia’s leading operator of special interest and cultural tours. For the first time, it will host an Asian Encounter tour to UWRF17, in partnership with the State Library of New South Wales. Acclaimed Australian writer and filmmaker Robin de Crespigny will lead the tour, which will take in exclusive Festival events along with some of Bali’s cultural highlights. We spoke to Robin to learn more about what’s in store for the UWRF17 Renaissance Tour participants.

Robin, why is the Renaissance Tour one of the best ways for literature lovers and discerning travelers to experience UWRF?

Renaissance Tours take care of all your travel needs and has structured a journey allowing you to fully enjoy the literary, cultural and natural beauties of Bali with ease. We begin by immersing you in the island’s most enchanting public and private gardens, including royal water gardens, traditional domestic compounds, botanic gardens, nurseries, and the splendid palaces and temples around Sanur.

Then relaxed and ready, we plunge you into four thrilling days of books and ideas at the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, beginning with an exclusive gala opening dinner with participating authors. Across the Festival you can choose from over 200 events involving more than 170 speakers appearing across panels, literary lunches, workshops, poetry sessions, film screenings, and music and cultural performances. After the sessions we regroup for in-depth discussions and analysis of what we have experienced.

As tour leader, what will you bring to participants’ UWRF17 experience?

As tour leader, I have experienced bringing an unlikely book, The People Smuggler: The true story of Ali Al Jenabi, the Oskar Schindler of Asia, from conception to award-winning best seller. In discussions over breakfasts, lunches and dinners I will bring my personal understanding to the analyses of other writers in the context of my own difficult literary journey – as a western, agnostic woman presuming to write the in-depth life story of an Arabic, Muslim man in the first person, and my struggle to find the ‘voice’. How in a sense I had to become my ‘subject’, and travel his emotional journey. How I sustained myself as a writer without succumbing to becoming Ali’s therapist. And finally, the road to publication with a ‘forbidden’ subject. I will also be available to talk with participants about a writing project of their own and how the four days at the Festival might contribute to its enrichment.

Robin with participants of her writing workshop at UWRF16.

What can participants look forward to while exploring Bali?

There will be leisure evenings and many wonderful sites to explore if you want time out from the Festival. If you are an animal lover like me, the Monkey Forest is a favourite. For art lovers there is a feast of galleries, including a local women’s gallery, with extraordinary art to view or purchase, or one can hunt for treasures at Ubud’s markets. Just out of Ubud is the Elephant Cave archeological site with its rock-wall carvings, meditation caves, bathing pools and fountains. The splendid Balinese puppet theatre, Barong dances and Gamelan orchestras are all also unforgettable experiences.

What is your most magical memory of last year’s UWRF?

Lush tranquility, inspirational author talks and gripping tales over breakfast, magical banquets under fairy lights, art exhibitions, markets and fabulous food, hypnotic gamelan drums, dinner with my hero Sebastian Faulks and falling in love with a calico cat at the beautiful Honeymoon Guesthouse, where we will be staying, and having very affordable full body massages by their pool.

For more information about Renaissance Tour’s UWRF17 experience, head to their website.