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Rio Helmi
Rio Helmi has been writing about and photographing Indonesia and Asia for more than thirty years, beginning as an associate editor with Indonesian national media in the 80’s. His work continues to appear in national and international media. He has also published numerous large format photographic books as well as worked on documentary films on the region.

Rio is based in Bali, and writes in Indonesian and English on a wide range of topics. Fluent in Indonesian, English, French, German, and Balinese, he also moderates panel sessions and conducts public interviews at the Ubud Writer’s and Reader’s Festival, an annual event of international repute. He also runs a website - - which is focused on "nature, nurture, art and culture" in his hometown Ubud, Bali.

His latest books are a retrospective portfolio of Balinese ritual and trance over the last 30 years called “Memories of the Sacred” launched early October 2010, and "Travels on Two Wheels - a Broader Perspective on Bali" a series of unusual panaromas.

Entries by Rio Helmi

Indonesia 50 Years On, Still Black and White

(0) Comments | Posted November 2, 2015 | 11:53 AM

The recent cancellation of all events at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival directly related to 1965 felt like a throwback to the days of Soeharto's New Order iron-fisted rule. The alleged communist coup attempt on the 30th of September 50 years ago, in which seven high ranking military officers...

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Earning a Degree: Tibetan Nuns Break Through Barriers

(2) Comments | Posted September 22, 2015 | 4:52 PM

Délek Dölma left her home in Kham in Tibet's eastern regions at the age of 20. Ordained but illiterate, she yearned to study Buddhism in a more profound way. Délek Wangmo was 16, also ordained, could barely read but was equally determined to deepen her knowledge and understanding of Buddhism....

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To 'Magic' Is a Verb! A Book Review

(0) Comments | Posted July 11, 2015 | 9:53 AM

Around the time Julia Roberts was in 2nd grade, David Stuart-Fox started a decades-long research project with Balinese healer Mangku Ketut Liyer. Their friendship opened up whole world far deeper than most viewers of the film or readers of the book Eat, Pray, Love would have access to. Stuart-Fox has...

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India Art Fair 2015: The People's Buzz

(0) Comments | Posted February 3, 2015 | 4:03 PM

The 7th edition of the annual India Art Fair, held in the Okhla industrial area of New Delhi over a heady four days over the last weekend in January, involved the works of some 1,100 artists from around the world. It was a multifarious display of contemporary art with occasional...

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Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie

(6) Comments | Posted January 13, 2015 | 12:56 PM

I am not Charlie. I have the right not to agree with Charlie. But nobody has the right to take Charlie's life.

Horror segued into shocked sadness as the Charlie Hebdo news flashed across glowing screens around the world. As the manhunt for the terrorists unfolded, sadness has segued...

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Breakfast With the Archbishop -- A Q&A With Desmond Tutu

(0) Comments | Posted September 2, 2014 | 11:03 AM

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was recently in Bali on a stopover. I had breakfast with him shortly after Jokowi's status as Indonesia's president elect was upheld by the constitutional court. Amidst all the high expectations for a revitalized democracy under the new president elect, I talked to this member of...

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Between Two Worlds: Mila Shwaiko

(1) Comments | Posted March 18, 2014 | 1:37 PM

Mila Shwaiko, born to Australian and American parents, grew up from early infancy in the village of Ubud in Bali, which today is more of a town and is a major tourist destination on the island. After finishing her studies in International Relations/Political Science in Sydney and Georgetown, she returned...

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15 Minutes With Daniel Ziv

(0) Comments | Posted October 1, 2013 | 1:44 PM

Daniel Ziv's first documentary feature, Jalanan (Streetside), is premiering as an official selection in competition this week at the Busan International Film Fesival in Korea. The TV version, Street Ballad: A Jakarta Story premiered last year on PBS Television's acclaimed Global Voices series, and was chosen by the NY Times...

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Robin Lim: Life After Becoming a CNN Hero

(1) Comments | Posted August 9, 2013 | 5:13 PM

Rio Helmi: Since you became CNN Hero of the Year in 2011, has any of the attention it brought to you turned into something concrete?

Robin Lim: Oh yeah for sure. But a lot of people say "Oh, they got all this money, several hundred thousand dollars," But we need...

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Indonesian Politics: Where's the Party?

(0) Comments | Posted October 2, 2012 | 5:22 AM

It's been a busy fortnight in Indonesian politics. The inhabitants of the capital Jakarta just voted in a new governor, Joko Widodo a.k.a. Jokowi, of the PDI-P party with the significant support of the upstart party Gerindra, defeating the influential incumbent Democrat Fauzi Bowo a.k.a. Foke,...

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Missing in Action: Journalism Caught in the Net

(0) Comments | Posted June 19, 2012 | 12:52 PM

Some time ago, a local online newsletter published an erroneous story regarding a substantial land transaction in my hometown involving a famous international entrepreneur. By chance I was privy to the actual details, as the seller is an old friend. Bali being a small island, I also happened to know...

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China: The Writing on the Great Wall

(130) Comments | Posted February 21, 2012 | 4:37 PM

On Wednesday the 22nd of February, Tibetans would have normally celebrated Losar or Tibetan New Year. This year, unlike the years before, Tibetans in exile called for a solemn day of reflection and prayer to acknowledge those who have sacrificed their lives for the Tibetan cause.


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Robin Lim: Obsessions of a Hero

(2) Comments | Posted November 2, 2011 | 4:36 PM

In the first 8 months of 2011 alone, the Bumi Sehat foundation, set up by CNN Hero Robin Lim in Indonesia, has provided compassionate pre and post natal care for 20,500 mothers, as well as delivered 400 babies. Many of these she has either cared for herself or...

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Losing Paradise In Bali

(19) Comments | Posted September 28, 2011 | 1:26 AM

Bali's booming reputation as a must-go international destination comes at a heavy price. This year critical articles about the island's infrastructure woes have run in both the Wall Street Journal and TIME . The head of the Bali chapter of the Indonesian business association APINDO, Panundiana...

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Anna Hazare: Savior or Destroyer of Democracy?

(6) Comments | Posted September 7, 2011 | 4:03 PM

A person landing in India last August might have been forgiven for comparing Kisan Baburao Hazare to Mahatma Gandhi. Anna, the nickname of this simple, cotton-clad man from Maharasthra, was on everyone's lips. His protest hunger fast was featured in media as 'Gandhian'. People proudly, defiantly, declared "Ham...

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From Exile, Showing the Way Forward

(3) Comments | Posted August 17, 2011 | 6:38 PM

The democratic election and recent swearing in of Lobsang Sangay by the Tibetan people in exile as their prime minister and political leader are important events not just for the Tibetan people, but for spirit of democracy worldwide.

For more than 40 years, the...

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