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The Bali Spirit Festival is One of the More Enchanting Festivals in the World

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One of my favorite photographers in the world, Victoria Smith, went to the Bali Spirit Festival last month. She took lots of photos and experienced what seems like one of the more enchanting festivals in the world. Below are her words and beautiful photos:

UBUD, BALI< INDONESIA MARCH 30, 2016-- Bali Spirit Festival opening Bhaki Night Cacao Ceremony with Elijah Ray and special guest Fantuzzi. The crowd went wild.Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

Bali Spirit Festival opening Bhaki Night Cacao Ceremony with Elijah Ray and special guest Fantuzzi. The crowd went wild. Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

Spring is a special time in Ubud Bali Indonesia. The village in the jungle has thousands descend upon it for Bali Spirit Festival; a five day Yoga, Meditation and Music Festival. The new agers, yogis and eat-pray-lovers alike gather for a chiming of the vibes that starts early morning and goes till about midnight. Though the daytime workshops also include music performance, the part of the festival I want to share is the magical nights that were at the lush Arma Resort– where everyone is “high as fuck”. But the highs weren’t off illicit drugs (as drugs are highly illegal in Indonesia with Death Penalty punishments), but I’m guessing a culmination of location location location, workshop reflections, pheromones, and cacao.

UBUD, BALI< INDONESIA MARCH 30, 2016-- Bali Spirit Festival opening Bhaki Night Cacao Ceremony with Elijah Ray and special guest Fantuzzi. The crowd went wild.Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

Bali Spirit Festival opening Bhaki Night Cacao Ceremony with Elijah Ray and special guest Fantuzzi. The crowd went wild.Photo Credit:  Victoria Smith

Bali Spirit Festival cultivates Artists with cultural potency. World-class world music. Acts with heritage. A variety show of cultures you would never see at Coachella. It was moving. One after another turning on another light bulb in my mind. Experience and learning amidst a crowd of open heart seekers. The acts staggered performances across two cornered stages, leaving no down time; the crowd simply had to turn around to see the next act. You would experience Japan, then Argentina, then Poland and then to the east coast of America and Canada and Australia. Tribal performances, rock acts, mystics and dancers. Spiraling around the world night after night. Huggers and smilers abound. There were some cult vibe moments but I boogied through them.

UBUD, BALI INDONESIA APRIL 2, 2016-- HANDS PERCUSSION performing at Bali Spirit Festival.Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

HANDS PERCUSSION performing at Bali Spirit Festival. Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

UBUD, BALI INDONESIA APRIL 1, 2016-- Bali Spirit Festival night time performance by beloved Indonesian Jazz Fusion group Batuan Ethnic Fusion feat. Balawan. Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

Night time performance by beloved Indonesian Jazz Fusion group Batuan Ethnic Fusion feat. Balawan. Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

UBUD, BALI INDONESIA APRIL 2, 2016-- Jro Kubayan Dance Company performing at Bali Spirit Festival.Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

Jro Kubayan Dance Company performing at Bali Spirit Festival. Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

Highlights included every artist, I mean it, but to name a few; Sandrayati Fay and The Opiuo Band have the voices to be heard while Deya Dova and Lulacruza took the mystical esoteric lead. Batuan and Elijah Ray were the consummate entertainers while Olivier Tarpaga brought on incredible dance sessions. Last but maybe most, Nahko and the Medicine for the People headlined and brought the sex appeal to serve their brand of music with a message.

UBUD, BALI INDONESIA APRIL 3, 2016-- Deya Dova performing at Bali Spirit Festival.Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

Deya Dova performing at Bali Spirit Festival. Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

BSF is grass roots with three local hero founders. Artists were selected by Rob Weber and Meghan Pappenhei. The community connector and festival co-founder Pak Kadek also founded Yayasan Kryasta Guna, “a non-for-profit arts and culture organization with a mission to inspire local youth in Ubud to invest in and learn about their own traditions.”

This 9th year of Bali Spirit Festival has expanded to thousands. The western settlers I met in the area also enjoy the influx of heads, while the local Balinese radiated happiness and hospitality with the consistent beaming smiles all around.

UBUD, BALI INDONESIA APRIL 1, 2016-- Bali Spirit Festival opening night of music. Members of the Bali Government meet at the Arma Cafe after the private opening ceremony for Government Officials and special guests. Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

Members of the Bali Government meet at the Arma Cafe after the private opening ceremony for Government Officials and special guests. Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

I would gear up for this festival for 2017 while it is in it’s sweet stage that is: just the right amount of people, off the beaten path, and quietly ruling. Also, it’s in freaking BALI.

If you can feel the call to Bali here are my tips and recommendations to attend Bali Spirit Festival.

·      Pack Light. You won’t need high heels or high tops.

·      Three weeks is a great start to Bali exploration. End your trip with the Festival. Take the first two weeks to acclimate and explore.

·      Fly from Tuesday’s Roundtrip with EvaAir from SF or LA. ($785)  On their site, flight change fee is $50 but they didn’t charge me when I changed. Call the local desk at the airport to change your flight if you need to.

·      Do not exchange money at the airport. Bring cash and exchange in Ubud.

·      One Hour Airport ride to Ubud will cost you about $28

·      Rent a motorbike. $4-$6 a day.

·      Stay different places. Make sure every place has AC and sealed from MOSQUITOS. You can get a passable place with a pool and breakfast for $30 per night for two (That’s $15 a person!). Take yourself on a waterfall tour.

·      Ubud has fantastic cuisine from bomb smoothies and avocado gluten free sandwiches like at Atman, Bali Buddah and Watercrest to the local Warungs like Mendez and Cupid where you can get fresh fish dishes and incredible Indo specialities.

·      Get them massages. Starchild has $6 one hour Baliense massage for your every day but make sure you also go to any Cantina Spa for a massage, flower bath and mani-pedi. That will all run you about $25.

·      All day and night 5 day Festival passes are $450 with VIP passes at just $550 and you’ll have a lot of energy since you won’t be ‘partying’. Beware of the heat though, it can take the best man down.

UBUD, BALI INDONESIA APRIL 2, 2016-- Spirit of the Hornbill Dance Academy performing at Bali Spirit Festival.Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

Spirit of the Hornbill Dance Academy. Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

I've been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York, but to those familiar with my work, I'm just "that douchebag who writes books about cheap stuff and drinks a lot".