Monday, 14 July 2008

The Medicine Man in Bali: Ketut Liyer

Nope, we didn't search far and wide to find Ketut Liyer of the 'Eat, Pray, Love' fame. The author, Elizabeth Gilbert, has made him so famous that almost everyone in Ubud knows him.
His place in Pengosekan is a short drive from our hotel in Monkey Forest Road. There is a sign on the road that says "Ketut Liyer, painter, woord carvings, medicine man." The structure of his home reminded me of a 'hutong' - a quadrangled enclosure, with high stone walls and an entrance gate. Its so deceiving because when you step in, the place is huge. The difference is, it's teemed with several shingled-roof pavillons with small, open terraces and courtyards. We were asked to wait in the second pavillon where across it, is another pavillon where Ketut's and his son's paintings are hanging.
There was already a line when we got to his place. The american girl who was next, brought the book for him to sign. Instead of waiting, we decided to visit the nearby elephant temple called "Goa Gajah".
When we got back, the american girl was seated with Ketut on the terrace of his pavillon. There were two locals patiently waiting. He would first see the tourists and then attend to the locals. After an hour (or maybe less), we were next - first me, then Bettina, last Raeanna. Ketut (man in photo wearing headcloth) read our palms, our nape, and legs. What we found odd was that he gave all three of us the same reading - "you're a traveler, would live to a hundred years old, very smart, heart good, liver good, etc. and very good in bed." I guess he can only go so far with his limited English or maybe he figured out what tourists would like to hear. But he kept saying "I cannot lie, if I lie its bad karma to me." We left amused but a bit skeptical and donated the minimum 200,000 rupiah each (or US$20).
The friend of Raeanna, who is the GM of Amandari recommended another healer called "Pok Chok" (not sure of the spelling) from Negiri Village. So, the next morning, we drove 40 minutes to see him. His home is similar to Ketut's, except that on the left of the entrance gate is an intricately carved door with gold leaf detail and two dressed stone sculptures at the footsteps. There is no sign saying "medicine man" outside his home.
A woman was lying on the floor and the man standing next to her said they're French and have been coming to Bali in the last 30 years. His wife is being treated for depression and swelling of the legs. When they left, I volunteered to be first. He asked me sit infront of him with legs extended outward. He started poking my head, face, neck, and then applied pressure in my collar bone where I screamed with pain and tears started flowing - then he worked down towards my arms and back, finding more unbearable, painful points.
I told him that my left heel hurts (heel spur caused by over training). He used a Y-shaped stick to poke my feet with (right photo) and again, found unbearable, painful points. This time, he kept the pressure much longer, 3-5 minutes per point. He claimed "to remove toxins." Then after the poking, I told him that I've been coughing for more than a week. He stepped out and when he came back, he had a handful of herbs on his hands. He chopped the herbs, then grinded with a mortar and pestle and after, popped everything in his mouth and started chewing the mixture. Afer a few minutes, he told me to close my eyes. I heard him clear his throat and then -pssssshat-! Yes, he spat the mixture on my chest. It felt cold and looked like pesto sauce. He covered my chest with clear saran wrap.
When it was Raeanna's turn he looked at her and said "nothing wrong" and she quickly pointed to her heel (plantar fasciatis). Again, with the Y-stick, he poked her feet and said that the cause is lymph node in her lower back which left a pool of sweat in the area. He gave her a handful of herbs to apply regularly on her back. When it was Bettina's turn, she didn't say a thing. He told her to sit and then, started poking her head down to her arms. His diagnosis was neck and lower back problem. He then asked her to lie down and started working on her feet and solar plexus area. At this time, a crowd was building up - a group of five japanese seated themselves at the end of the mat and four caucasians scattered around the courtyard. I don't think he expects any donation because he didn't even check the amount that we put in the envelope. When we left, he was already talking to the japanese group.
Back in Ubud, the locals knew I've been to a medicine man. They would point to my chest and say 'medicine'. Yes, Pok Chok's healing seemed to work. The cough subsided and I'm now back to running again. Lets see about Ketut's reading... (photo shows me and the girls, note chest-splat covered with saran wrap, enjoying the Babi Guling in Ibu Oka).


keyno said...

Hi,, I hope you have a nice trip in Bali.

Please visit our other city.
Maybe you should go to Lombok, because there is a very beautiful and natural beaches over there.

Btw i want to correct something :)

Maybe you mean PAK CHOK.

Pak mean Sir

and Chok is Family name :)

So it is Sir Chok.


Ketut said...

I spent several months with Ketut Liyer back in 1997. I am finally editing the video I shot into a documentary. Take a look.