Murni’s Bali Tours, Murni’s Very Personal Guide to Ubud, Forty Delicious Years, Secrets of Bali and From Tattoos to Textiles
It’s not unusual that Ni Wayan Murni – hotelier, restaurateur, art collector, textile expert, blogger – has just published her 5th book. Everything about Murni and her wide range of interests is unusual.
All of this woman’s activities link together, each emerging out of one another. Her literary output is no exception. Murni has written and co-authored five books as well as numerous articles on Balinese art and culture. The majority of photographs in her books were contributed by the accomplished, well known Bali photographer Jonathan Copeland.
Ni Wayan Murni, born in Penestanan, is a well known and much loved personality on the Bali scene and a pioneer of Balinese tourism. During her extraordinary life Murni has lived in Sanur and Ubud and has travelled over the globe. By the early 1970s she owned four shops on Sanur beach and had opened Ubud’s first real restaurant, Murni’s Warung, overlooking the Campuan River. Many thousands of people have enjoyed her food and hospitality. Both amateurs and professionals have learned from her experience collecting and writing about the Southeast Asian arts. But far from letting all her notoriety go to her head, Murni has shown a longstanding dedication to her community, family and local temples. She actively participates in banjar activities, plays in a women’s gamelan group at important religious ceremonies and takes part in cultural events.
When guests asked Murni for advice on where to go or what to do in Ubud or on what to buy, those inquiries gave birth to Murni’s Very Personal Guide to Ubud. Written by a native Ubud resident – the village of her birth – this eBook selling for only around Rp25,000 is kept up to date more easily than a printed guidebook. Being digital, it can easily be carried around on your portable iPhone, iPad, Android or Kindle. In a sense, Murni has been researching this eGuide all her life, confiding with her guests what businesses she likes to patronize; what arts and crafts, courses, cultural sites and secret places she recommends and what galleries she supports.
This 120-page guide, with its detailed descriptions and insightful observations, is all you need to experience the very best of what Ubud has to offer.
Forty Delicious Years, Murni’s Warung 1974–2014: From Toasted Sandwiches to Balinese Smoked Duck, published in 2014, was a natural outcome of the 40th anniversary of Murni’s Warung when Murni presided over the book’s launch, spoke and signed copies. This book tells the story of one of Bali’s most enduring culinary landmarks from its beginnings as a humble roadside stall on the side of a river gorge to become an institution. Narrated by some of the warung’s eclectic and most intriguing patrons, with a preface by Murni herself, the collection of vignettes, anecdotes and testimonials makes easy and immensely enjoyable reading.
It applauds all that is worthwhile in life – good food, gracious hospitality, shared laughter and the warm company of friends. The reminisces are especially compelling from the perspective of its 40 famous contributing authors, artists, scholars, adventurers and notable long-time Bali expats. The book was edited by Jonathan Copeland, Rob Goodfellow and Peter O’Neill. Bring your copy to the restaurant, or get it there, and Murni will sign it.
Murni’s fine arts credentials are impeccable. During her adult life she has passionately dedicated herself to collecting Asian antiques and textiles. Munri was the first person in Ubud to establish a proper gallery of antiques, textiles, costumes, old beads, tribal jewelry, stone carvings, masks and other ethnic pieces. Many of these unique museum quality artifacts are to be found in Murni’s Warung Shop beside her restaurant. In the course of pursuing her hobby, she has become an acknowledged authority.
The idea for From Tattoos to Textiles, Murni’s Guide to Asian Textiles, All You Need to Know … And More, was conceived during the course of an exhibition of Murni’s collection of Asian antiques and textiles in San Francisco in 2007 at the prestigious Arts of Pacific Asia and Tribal Arts & Textiles shows. In 2009, the textile curator at the de Young Museum invited her to come back to San Francisco to lecture on Balinese textiles before the Textile Arts Council at the museum, which she did following her second exhibition in San Francisco. This gave rise to a much-expanded and more wide-ranging written version of the lecture that includes many additional photographs of selected pieces from Murni’s personal collection.
Her latest publication Murni’s Bali Tours, Where to go, What to Do and How to Do It is an eBook of seven tours written and designed for guests staying at Murni’s Houses. Tours of Bali routinely offered by travel agents and drivers haven’t really changed for decades, even though there are now numerous exciting new places to visit. Again, this book sprang out of a need to serve her many guests who expressed an interest in going to unusual off the beaten track places, more preferable than the run of the mill destinations that drivers often recommend. Guests also wanted clear, helpful and accurate information about both classic and untouristed places, which many drivers aren’t able to do. This new must-take eBook (Rp100,000 or free for guests staying at Murni’s Houses who book a tour) focuses on a whole set of fresh destinations away from the mainstream such as the Sukarno Center, Pura Gunung Raung and the rice terraces at Ceking that are less overrun than the ones at Tegalallang.
Each tour covers a range of interests, so whether you are a temple lover, an art aficionado or a history buff there is something for you. Some wonderful short walks, scenic treks, selected art galleries, chocolate and ceramic factories, a strawberry farm and a visit to Bali’s youngest priestess have also been included. Stunning slideshows and photographs of each tour, taken by Jonathan Copeland, are viewable on YouTube
Secrets of Bali, Fresh Light on the Morning of the World, co-authored with Jonathan Copeland, was published by Orchid Press in 2010. This comprehensive account of Bali’s history and culture arose from questions that guests staying at Murni’s Houses asked her to explain. The persistence of inquiries gave her the idea of researching specific subjects in more detail and putting it all down on paper so that it was available for everyone.
The book offers succinct and wide ranging information about Balinese life, religion, festivals and offerings, architecture, music, dance, textiles, dress, carvings and paintings, manuscripts and food. Secrets of Bali is not a guidebook per se, but a valuable and authoritative reference source as well as an entertaining read for the visitor, scholar and Bali aficionado. Encyclopedic in its coverage, the result of prodigious research, difficult subjects from the sublime to the arcane are simply explained in this well written and up to date work which will reveal a great number of facts and misconceptions that are little known to even long-term residents of Bali.
Bill Dalton, Toko Buku
Bali Advertiser 17 February 2016- 2 March 2016