Bali / Bondowoso / Culture / Daily Life / Indonesia / Peace Corps / People / Photography

A Transformation Into a Balinese Lady

As things wind down, more and more people have taken to asking me if I have any “regrets”—which I think is a mistranslation for an experience I never got to have while in Indonesia. It’s hard to think of anything (though I’m sure there are plenty), but while having this conversation with my friend, Bu Holif, I casually mentioned that I never got the opportunity to dress up in traditional clothing. Of course, Bu Holif took it upon herself to change that.

This is how I ended up in a beautiful Balinese house—just a short bike ride away from my own—belonging to a talented stylist/decorator/event planner and Bu Holif’s friend, Mas Ridho. After a lovely time of food and conversation, just taking in the view (which really did make it seem like I had been magically transported to Bali) and watching a young couple from Solo take their wedding photos in the property, it was my turn to play dress up.

Mas Ridho took over with his casual and energetic way, analyzing my hair, skin and build and deciding that Balinese clothing would be best.  Then he got down to work.

Step 1: Make Up.

A WHOLE LOT of make up. I was frightened to see myself after feeling how much he was putting on me, but it actually looked nice.

STEP 2: Wardrobe: Kebaya, batik belt and songket (a long, colorful piece of fabric wrapped into a skirt).

Step 3: Hair

Step 4: Accessories: flowers in my hair, earrings and brooch (not pictured).

The point of all this was to take one photo in the traditional outfit as a cute little keepsake from Indonesia, but instead, I got a photo shoot and a whole afternoon of playing the part of Balinese lady with Mas Ridho, Bu Holif and Mbak Nina. Normally, I would NEVER do this. I like taking pictures, not being in them; but, what else could I do? The house was the perfect backdrop and from all the weddings and events he sets up, Mas Ridho had every prop imaginable to make my part believable. Once I got past the silliness—and my own shyness—I let Mas Ridho direct me and here are a few of the results.

Balinese Traditional Clothing.jpg

Blame Mas Ridho for whatever I’m doing with my hands here.


Ah, I want to live here.


He has many, many props – including this old fashioned grinder.


Carrying offerings for the Hindu gods? The door is so lovely though.


I think this one is my favorite.

The photos are great, but the memory of this afternoon with this pair will stay with me for a long time. Playing dress up is so fun! They are already trying to get me to do it again with Javanese clothing, so…stayed tuned.


I love these two.

And one final image of all of the makeup I removed later that evening.

Good thing I found the best anti-acne cleanser ever.


Note to all people looking for stylists/event planners in Bondowoso, Mas Ridho is the BEST in the area, but incredibly busy. Still, he’s HIGHLY recommended. And note to all people (especially current and future PCVs) with skin problems in Indonesia – as I had when I first got here- try Ovale Anti-Acne, which you can buy in almost any Indomaret. It literally saves your skin.

One thought on “A Transformation Into a Balinese Lady

  1. Pingback: A Peace Corps Fairytale | in the land of dragons

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