Thursday, July 22, 2010

Time Magazine: Bali's Travel Boom: Eat, Pray, Love Tourism

On a still road in Pengostanan Village in Bali's central foothills, a dull, blue-stained signboard points toward the house of the medicine man. Ketut Liyer is a ninth generation healer of undecided age — "maybe 90?" he shrugs — who has never been off the Indonesian island. But the dozen or so women who crowd his compound this afternoon, their chatter in competition with the peeping of caged birds suspended from clay-roofed pavilions, have come from all over. One by one they approach the small, weathered Balinese seer with the brilliant, near-toothless smile, and have him interpret their palms, their legs, sometimes even their spines.

Today, the ladies all are "very lucky." They will each live to be one hundred and ten. In fact, most days visitors to Ketut can expect the same reading, with minor variations, but few mind. Ketut Liyer is not just a healer famed among locals, but a leading character in American author Elizabeth Gilbert's 2006 memoir Eat, Pray, Love, and his bamboo mat is an almost necessary stop on Bali's increasingly popular spiritual tourist circuit.(See a story on Bali vs. Phuket.)

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