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The hilarious writer who lifted the burqa on Dubai In her debut novel Burqalicious has just written a book on Bali. She tells us about life as a Balinese local and why she looks like Lassie


Hi Becky, tell us, why Bali?

To be honest I flew from Sydney to Bali on a holiday with no plan and was just totally romanced by the island. The hot yoga instructors in Ubud were one thing but not being a fan of yoga myself I was intrigued by the stories of magic and mystery in both the expat world and the local culture. I pitched another book, (this one’s my second travel diary) and luckily the publishers let me stay there to write it!

Describe a typical day in Bali
A day doesn’t start without being rudely awoken by a rooster, probably around 4am. Then, just as you’ve fallen back to sleep, someone will start sweeping around your door with a giant broom. A fresh coconut and egg-on-toast for breakfast is key, then comes a zoom around on your motorbike (which you can rent for $50 a month). I might get a massage, go to a cock fight, do some writing, or I might forget all that and go for a vaginal steam before a past life regression session with a psychic called Galactica Blanco.

What do you miss about Bali?
God, everything! Seriously I’m like a broken record. I miss the sunshine, the cheap, healthy organic food, the way the Balinese are so smiley and kind, my motorbike, partying in the Gili Islands, talking to spiritual nutters, scuba diving.

And the worst thing about Bali?
The traffic. You can’t go five metres in Ubud these days without ramming into the back of someone’s motorbike and getting tangled in a hippy’s dreadlock. And the litter is pretty bad. The Balinese used to eat from palm leaves and just discard them on the floor, but doing the same with plastic bags is causing a huge problem. Still, there are lots of organisations taking actions to clean up the island, which is great.

Did Bali ‘change’ you?
I should probably say yes, I’m way more spiritual and I really ‘found myself’ whilst sitting cross-legged on a mat, chanting om. But I wasn’t really changed by any of that. I guess I’m calmer, I take my time to do things because that’s the Balinese way, and I appreciate the little things now, the moments that used to just get drowned by city noise and lost in chaos. I think we can all learn something from spending time in Bali.

Tell me about the ‘Julia Roberts Syndrome’?
Well, after Eat Pray Love thousands flocked in to contemplate their lives in a more existential manner (and maybe to bag a hot Brazilian man). But seriously, I met some of the most powerful, strong, intelligent and fascinating women in Bali, which is strange because Bali, and in particular Ubud, which takes its name from its surrounding jungles and medicinal plant offerings, is allegedly a vortex of healing and feminine energy.

Who would play you in a Balilicious film adaptation?
Probably an unwashed dog at this point, like Lassie after falling down a mine for four weeks. I’m a bit of a wandering gypsy at the moment, but in human terms… God, that’s hard. I would hope for someone like Natalie Portman but I’d probably get an extra from Home and Away.

Travel writing seems like a dream job, how did you get to where you are?
Well, I wrote a lot of other stuff before the travel writing thing happened. Sometimes about nothing. I blogged about my mental time in Dubai as a celeb editor dating a rich Muslim man, which became my first book, Burqalicious – the Dubai Diaries. Things just grew from there.

Any advice for aspiring travel writers?
I think you have to be willing to write even when you don’t feel like it. Put your name out there by blogging travel related topics and your sense of adventure will shine. Then pitch stories about the places you want to go. Update your blog regularly, even if it’s just a photo and a small paragraph every day. Keep your eye on upcoming, hot destinations and approach relative mags, bloggers and publishers with your ideas for stories.

Whereabouts in the world are you now?
Right now I’m sitting at a tapestry covered table in a hostel in the tiny town of Purmamarca, northern Argentina. Tomorrow I’m crossing into Bolivia. I’m working on my third book, ‘Latinalicious – the South American Diaries’ so it’s a lot of moving about, but it’s fun!

Becky Wicks’ second novel, Balilicious, The Bali Diaries is out December 1st. harpercollins.com.au


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