Book Review: Balilicious by Becky Wicks

 Balilicious: The Bali Diaries by Becky Wicks

Paperback

Review copy provided by publisher/ author

Harper Collins, 1st December 2012

 Synopsis- A lot can happen when you set out to ′find yourself′. Sometimes, you can even lose the plot.

From visiting ancient healers with cellphone addictions to leaving a shaking ashram intent on extracting her soul, Becky Wicks soon discovered that six months travelling round Bali wasn′t all going to be about finding inner peace and harmony. In fact, the perils of possessed teens, eating raw, yogic headstands, diving shipwrecks and dicing with black magic and demons all took their toll on the Island of the Gods.

And that was before the vaginal steaming.

Becky Wicks lifts the sarong on real life in Bali in a blur of locals, tourists, expats and other other eating, praying lovers who arrive… you know… not really knowing who they are.

 Review- Balilicious (The Bali Diaries) is the second memoir instalment of Becky Wicks’ travel adventures, following on from Burqalicious where she took on Dubai. Now, following in the footsteps of Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love; Becky takes on Bali for six months.

Becky is certainly not perfect, she drinks, parties and enjoys the occasional fling while searching for the one and trying to tap into her spiritual side. Becky doesn’t even last one week in an ashram she had booked for one month over Christmas, only to return to eating unorganic food and binge drinking.

From observing a teenage boy possessed by a monkey to playing dress-ups in traditional Balinese attire and trying not to fall in love with the Diver when she becomes passionate about diving- Becky is in search of the real Bali.

Becky tries various health interventions for purification from eating only ‘raw’ tasteless food to vaginal steaming (apparently there’s such thing in Bali),  colon cleansing and a Balinese Brazilian wax (ouch!).

I think the purpose of Becky’s memoir is to promote Bali as not just tourist destination but as a travel destination but I don’t think it managed to achieve that for me. To be honest, despite my friends and family visiting Bali often, it’s never been a place that’s been high on my list of holiday destinations mainly because I see it as quite touristy and overrun by ex-pats. Wicks managed to confirm this for me. She spends much of her socialising with English-speaking ex-pats when what I really craved was more interactions with the locals and their way of life. She certainly sheds light on various cultural practices and the superstitions and magical beliefs of the Balinese, but I didn’t get the sense it was ever truly appreciated- rather it was seen at times as ridiculous.

I am an avid reader of travel memoirs because I love to live vicariously through others, but this is probably the first one I’ve read that has convinced me not to go somewhere and for no other reason than it being too touristy. Which is probably saying a lot coming from someone who can read a memoir about a man surviving the perils of the Amazon and still say I want to go there! Or visit one of the most overpopulated countries in the world (India) just because everyone else said I’d hate it (which, mind you, I didn’t).

That aside, I really did enjoy Wick’s voice- she’s witty and matter-of-fact and I don’t doubt a lot of fun. I also admire her perseverance with staying on the road and expanding her knowledge of different cultures and ways of living. Her next memoir, Latinalicious is due for release at the end of 2013 and this is something I’d be interested in reading since South America has been high up on my list of places to visit for a LONG time.

Balilicious is a light-hearted, easy read about one English woman’s adventures of living and working in Bali for six months. She challenges the romantic notions of this popular tourist destination created by the renowned Eat, Pray, Love.

Overall Rating

3/5

“It was okay”

Balilicious: The Bali Diaries can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers

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