Treasure Island

Niko Tiliopoulos


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Don’t Go To Bali


Don’t go to Bali my friend.

Even if the whales whistle you the way,
even if the dolphins dance for you to stay,
even if the spirits possess you when you pray.

Even if the sun is king or the winds are fair,
or even if the sea currents take you there,
and even if you are charmed
by the gamelan music in the air.

Or the dancers of barong
and the outfits of sarong,
or the feasts of spice
and the paddies of rice,
or the volcanoes of light
and the temples of white.

Come what may in the end,
don’t go to Bali my friend.

Submitted: Saturday, October 07, 2006
Edited: Thursday, October 14, 2010

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Comments about this poem (Don’t Go To Bali by Niko Tiliopoulos )

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  • Lyn Paul (1/2/2014 8:55:00 PM)

    I not long returned from Bali and after 20 years I saw no change. I can easily wait another 20 years for my return. Though You have brought out the peaceful paradise of Bali in your words so well done, (Report) Reply

  • Savita Tyagi (1/2/2014 11:38:00 AM)

    I appreciate the poem very much after reading poet's comment. Humans have natural desire to explore and enjoy Nature. Only thing as a society we can do is not to offer too many modern conveniences that pollute and spoil natural beauty just for the sake of tourism. Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Stephen W (1/2/2014 9:28:00 AM)

    Reading your comment, Mr Tiliopulos, I have to say that without it the poem appears ironic and almost an advert for the Bali Tourist Board! You have Sunprincess desperate to go: -) (Report) Reply

  • Alistair Graham (1/2/2014 3:58:00 AM)

    All the Doubts

    It’s all the doubts I have:
    the doubts are my belief system, like
    when a robin comes
    up close to me in the garden
    to feed at my side while I dig
    the weeds out,
    or when the moon appears to me
    in an odd kind of way

    Sometimes in the toilet at work
    A tap is dripping; slowly, each drop
    falling down to join the others
    Each becomes whole again; one

    In the small wicker basket
    where the socks are kept
    there is not always a matching pair,
    but when there is,
    it’s a sign and I accept it and know
    today is going to be fine

    In the office without papers
    for rolling cigarettes
    I search every drawer
    empty the contents
    I sit staring at the screen thinking,
    there must be a half packet, somewhere
    In the letter tray, under Louise Glück
    the papers lie

    It’s little things like the water drops,
    the robin or matching socks
    that gives me hope, makes me
    believe in my existence

    Sometimes all the lights are green
    on my drive to work; this is enough
    for me to smile at the dull brickwork
    in Belfast and love my life again (Report) Reply

  • * Sunprincess * (1/2/2014 1:28:00 AM)

    ....oh i definitely wish to go...i just had a taste of hawaii...and i am sure bali is a dream...a beautiful write :) (Report) Reply

  • Lyke Maladay (12/16/2013 4:58:00 PM)

    This poem would benefit from including the poet's explanation of why you shouldn't go to Bali as a subtext. The poem would be much richer with the conflict between experiencing Bali and leaving Bali untouched (unpolluted) by tourism. (Report) Reply

  • fleur de lys (12/13/2009 9:53:00 AM)

    A real paradox, you describe a magical kingdom so inviting I feel like packing my bags Beautiful writing! (Report) Reply

  • Max Reif (5/20/2007 2:34:00 PM)

    Very strong point, and now I'm also glad you did not make it explicit in the poem. (Report) Reply

  • Niko Tiliopoulos (5/19/2007 10:56:00 AM)

    I have been asked repeatedly by other fellow PH dwellers about the meaning of this poem. So I decided to post a general reply. I have taught at the Udayana University in Denpasar, and I have been studying aspects of the Balinese culture since at least 2000. Lovely-lovely people! I have so many friends there, and I go and visit them at least twice a year. Thus I have lived Bali from, more or less, the Balinese perspective and frankly never as a tourist. And there is a big difference between what the Kuta or Sanur tourist sees and what the 'real' Bali is. In my poem I am not suggesting to people not to go to Bali because of terrorism or any other bad things that have happened there. NO. I am saying not to go there because of the things I mention in the poem. Now you may ask 'But all these things sound sooo good, why should I not experience them? '. These things are still good, because to an extent they have not been touched by us westerners. If you want to allow them to be good, then just let them be. It is a common attitude among the Balinese that we from the west are the number one pollutant of their culture, and frankly a number of them would 'blame' us for every evil that has befallen upon them, from the bombs to paedophilia to the increased incidents of mental disorders. And to a degree I can see their point. So basically, all I am saying in the poem is that if you find Bali fascinating, please let it be. (Report) Reply

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