Eat Pray Love- Meeting Ketut Liyer

I realised, after I had been walking around Ubud’s main street asking where I could find the medicine man Ketut Liyer, that I had been pronouncing his name wrong; ‘Ketut Liar” instead of ‘Ketut Leeyer’. It might have been an appropriate pronunciation, however, for the man made famous in the Eat Pray Love book.

Ketut Blog

I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t read the book. For those who’ve been in Bali the last few months you’ll be aware of the hype and buzz that’s been surrounding the shooting of the Eat Pray Love movie. Starring Julia Roberts and produced by Brad Pitt, it’s set to be a blockbuster hit next year and when it’s released, tourism to Ubud and Bali is likely to increase ten-fold. Filming took place in Ubud and the Bukit and I actually went along to the extras casting in Sanur.

Eat Pray Love is written by Elizabeth Gilbert and is a memoir of her trip around the world after her divorce- from Italy to eat and India to pray, then finally to Bali where she finds love.

Signed book

Friends of mine who’ve visited Ubud all have photos of the Ketut Liyer sign and I decided to pay him a visit, particularly as I have just had a motorbike accident. I thought it would perhaps be a healing experience for me.

When I walked into his home, Ketut, an old man now, was sitting on his front steps talking in Indonesian to a group of young Balinese boys and girls. I couldn’t understand, but it looked as if he was tutoring them. He ushered me to come and sit with him on the floor and explained to me that he would read my face, my palm and my back. At this moment a lady from Holland and a guy from Spain with stars tattoed all over his body, came in to watch and wait their turn.

Me and Ketut

“You are very very pretty” he said. “You’re lips are as sweet as sugar…”

Ketut sat cross-legged and grinned at me revealing his toothless smile. He read my face and told me he could tell I was very smart from the lines on the bridge of my nose and that I was impatient with love but that it’s OK because it would come soon.

He then proceeded to read my palm, telling me I am very very lucky, that I would live for 100 years, be very rich and successful, I would be married once for the rest of my life, that another man would come along but I should be careful and say “You are not my cup of tea”. This is paraphrasing but you get the idea.

I thanked him for my reading, took some photos of his signed copy of Eat Pray Love and got ready to give him my donation. It’s a donation, but usually with healers it’s expected that you give 50,000 maximum. Ketut, however, asked me for 250,000 Rupiah. Reluctantly with people watching I handed over 200,000.

This is the interesting part. I decided to stay and watch the next lady’s reading and he opened with the line “You are very pretty. You’re lips are as sweet as a sugar…” Dejavu? He proceeded to say, not just a similar thing to what he told me, but the exact same words. Like he had rehearsed a speech. The lady, getting slightly annoyed, said “…let me guess, a man will come along but he’s not my cup of tea.” Ketut replied, “Yes!”. Unless we had the exact same hands, to have the same reading is just not possible.

Ketut Liyer sign

We left slightly annoyed with the whole experience, but the positive thing was we could have a good old laugh about it over an Arak Madu afterwards. I called my friend who had been there a week earlier and was happy with her reading, “By any chance did he tell you your lips were as sweet as sugar, you’d live till a hundred years and you’ll be very very rich?” Yeah about that…..

34 thoughts on “Eat Pray Love- Meeting Ketut Liyer”

  1. funny story.. btw i also live in bali but never try to meet this ketut liyer.. ^_^wondering if i see him, will he say the same thing to me.. ?

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  3. Yep, sounds exactly similar as what Mt Liyer told us, just two days ago. My boyfriend and I will live together to be a hundred years old, I have lips sweet as honey, he has lips sweet as sugar (yeah right), we will be very very rich and have 1 or 2 children. I am a queen and my boyfriend is an king, we fit together perfectly and are very harminious together. According to Ketut I am also very smart and people seek me for advice. Sounds familiar? It’s a shame he uses his “fame” in a bad way on tourists. We also payed 250000 rupees each, since he told us he was uot of money. Our guide told us beforehand, people call him Ketut Liar. It was nice to see how he lives, but I would have preferred to remember him as the wise man in the book.

    1. Sounds very familiar Blanche, I just told myself that I paid the 250,000 Rupiahs for the experience and to meet him in the flesh as opposed to paying for the reading. It’s a shame he uses the fame for money, I just hope he shares it out with the others in his community.

  4. Ketut Liyer,, the reader or what ever else he calls himself,, my wife also read the book so we droped in with another couple and my wife had a reading which she was so looking forward to. That was all good,, said we would have two kids,, i,m 45, wife 41 ,, wife has had the stuff taken out, so there was way of us having kids,,, ,, also a good driver and all the rest. our friend with us also had a reading , well talk about word for word,, it was such a let down for my wife to hear him come out with the same story, and i felt so bad for her. I,m not kidding word for word. This man Ketut was getting 250,000 rp, about $30 Aus, which as you may know is real good money in bali and all of 15/20,mins. All i can say is dont waste your time, and the ones that go of thinking they have had a one of reading all about them,, mmm, dont hang around to hear the next one. Yes his wittie funny, but it;s all fake ,, just looks the part.

    1. Had a problem with my comments system the last few months so only just saw this…interesting to hear there are others out there with similar stories! Definitely don’t hang around to hear the next reading, you’ll only be disappointed. He told me I was completely healthy…I’d just had a bike accident. Saw the movie at the cinema, I haven’t read the book but worries me there’ll be a lot of movie fans thinking he’s the real deal!

  5. Hi Victoria

    I read your blog about Ketut Liyer and reading your story makes me rreeaally want to meet Ketut.
    So I was wondering if you can tell me his address. And if you read Eat Pray Love have you met Wayan Nuriyasih also?


  6. Wow, Victoria! Well are there any meditation venues in Bali you or others can recommend? Going next week and I’m looking for suggestions.

  7. What a shame… I went to see this Ketut “Liar” on my visit to Bali. Guess what, I also had sweet lips and would live to be 100 years old. I would be happy and eventually have three children exact same thing he told the people ahead on the line. He said I would not get rheumatism or arthritis. Problem is I already have arthritis.

    Its a wonder that such an old man, who no offense does not have many years (another 50 or so, I shouldn’t judge) ahead of him and who claims to be a religious Balinese Hindu (With a mixture of Buddhism) man would do this to people. With Karma taking such a strong part in the religion it is such a shame. I was angry but most of all disappointed. Well my boyfriend laughed at me a little and made me feel silly for getting so agitated.

    So to Ketut happy life and may you live to be 100 years old.

  8. guess what . got back from ubud last night met ketut lyer
    same as reading beofre me and reading after me

    still a buzz but a great shame you cant get his true potential from him

    1. Haha and he will continue to tell the same reading. i think he knows we’ve all figured out his game. he is just acting a character that we all want to believe in. the lady that had her palm read before me confronted him about the fact that we both had the same reading, and even though his excuse was that we had very similar palms (they were nothing like), he had a knowing smile on his face. he knew we knew.

  9. Well… talk about deja vu… I just went and saw Katut last week.. EXACTLY the same things were said to me. Lips sweet as sugar, I am ‘pretty’ that I was ‘special’ and very clever and that I would live to 100… (everyone was told the same thing).

    We worked out that he was earning at least $7000 AUD a week… not bad huh? His son is a teacher and his other son a Doctor… well not surprised that he can send them overseas to Uni…haha.

    But, I have to say, it was a fun experience. I wish that he had told me something interesting, but having seen the movie… I am still not sorry I did it… but… I hope the money goes to someone that needs it.

    1. wow he’s earning more than me! didn’t know his kids went to uni overseas! I’m not sorry I did it either, it was still fun and I got to blog about it, but I do hope some of the money goes to the community.

  10. So interesting to read your blog. I’m an Indonesian but I don’t live in Bali. And I’m curious about this man until I read this blog. Now, I’m curious why he did it to you all but he did great for Liz (author of Eat Pray Love)?

    1. I am wondering that too Wilson. I was JUST about to book my ticket and go in August, but now I am not sure anymore. I have read more ‘bad’ stuff somewhere else and it even says that the locals in Ubud want to go back to peace and they want people to leave. That is why they are calling it ‘eat pray leave’ now. I am not sure what to think anymore, so I will wait and do a bit more research. Maybe it is all made up and just a money making. That would naturally NOT surprise me. ;-(

  11. WELL!!! That all sounds disappointing and if there weren’t so much ‘negative’ input, I would have booked my ticket next week. Now I am wondering. Hmmmmm????

    I don’r watch TV, but a friend of mine ‘made’ me watch the film with me. She said you got to watch this, it so reminds me of you…. dare I say, I have watched the film ‘Eat Pray Love’ 5 times. Bought the amazon ebook reader and bought the ebook ‘Eat Pray Love’. I am just at the ‘Ubud’ story in the book and I got really into going there the more I read. Now, after reading all of the comments on here I wonder if the Elizabeth Gilbert story isn’t made up? Wouldn’t that piss off a lot of people in their search??? It certainly would me. I wouldn’t want to pay out even $30 to listen to sugar lips and being a 100 years, as I would KNOW it is the same story everyone else has been told (including Liss – as Ketut is supposed to have called her?)….

    I will do more research and unfortunately my excitement about the decision to go to Ubud for a month turned into a ‘sour taste’ in my stomach… Now I am suspicious!!!

    1. carol guilbault

      please read my post about Ketut do not support him..he is an evil man! do not waste your time or money. support one of the local animal org in Bali who is actually doing good for the community. i just found out that not only does he have excotic birds in small cages, a golden retriever tethered to a post..he has 2 pitbulls in tiny cages in the back fo his compound suffering in the heat and in need of medical attention. please pass this along and do not support him. i will not stop until this man is out of business and all the animals are freed! i go back to the US today but wont give up on these animals…please join me in the efforts to stop him!

  12. carol guilbault

    I went to see this jerk today. I was amazed to see how he treats animals. He has used his money to buy exotic birds and keeps them in small cages, they look sickly and very unhappy. He has a golden retriever who has a metal chain around his neck and it is imbedded into his skin. There was a old dog who was clearly in need of antibiotics, yellow puss coming out of his eye and respitory issues and was kicked by his adult son right in front of us. I asked several staff members to please put a collar that fit on the golden and they just laughed.
    Of course just like all the others i have sugar lips, i will live to be 100 and the man of my dreams will come into my life in a year and we will be married for life.
    If you give money to this person you are contributing to animal cruelty and I suggest you take the 250,000 and donate it to one of the local Bali animal rescue groups that need money to help spay and vaccinate the local dogs and cats. BAWA or Bark are org’s that need of support.
    If you do decide to be foulish like i was then please open a cage and let one of the birds free! Go out back of his compound near the bathrooms where he keeps his exotics.

  13. Well i’ve just returned from Bali….and Ubud. Iwas at Ubud 25 years ago. So much has changed. I also saw Ketit Liyer and I waited three hours. I’m not pretty I’m beautiful ha ha. Take out of it what you want like anything in this world that someone tells you. It wa an experience just seeing his smiling face and listening to his laughter. Go to Bali see him after all you are the tourist. XX

  14. I went and saw him in August 2011. I had my daughter and son with me 11 & 9 years. My son had been growing his hair long to have it beaded in bali, which it was when we saw him. When we all sat down to hear the reading he also told me I was very very pretty,very very lucky,very very rich and I would have 2 daughters even though my son kept telling him he was a boy he insisted I had 2 daughters, 1 husband and to wake up during the night and have good sex???? A$25 later I heard him tell the lady after me and the 2 ladies before me the same story. I saw the birds and the dogs….. they didn’t look harmed though. It took 4 hours to get to see him, he does 25 readings a day for $25. I read the book years ago and really wanted to see him so I was glad I saw him but I was disapointed because it was on my bucket list….and I am glad I did it just wish it was a little “real” rather than a production line. Can’t blame him though Bali is a poor country and he got lucky, very very lucky and very very rich.

    1. Totally agree….are people really thinking he can tell their future. Its a game and everyone that goes to see him are playing the game. Good luck to him….its his chosen profession. If my $25 helps him educate his kids and help his community, its money well spent.

  15. My husband, adult daughter & I visited Ketut Liyer a couple of weeks ago & he told all of us the same story VERBATUM, same story I have read on this site that he has told everyone else. I hope that means we will all live till 100 & be successful but something tells me he is reading from a script.

    I was so disappointed.

  16. Wow, I am so glad I didn’t see him when I was over there! The Balinese are such nice people, but look what happened with the ‘healer’ Wayan in the book. Liz helped her out and then she tried to get more and more money out of her! I also heard about the tours with Ketut and figured these people will have so many tourists visiting them now there’s no way it would be as authentic as Liz’s story and there are probably hundreds of people in Bali with the same gifts that desperately need money.

    I was in Ubud for one day (I was staying in Sanur) and decided I wanted to see a spiritual healer or something similar for the experience, i tried booking into a couple but couldn’t get in for weeks ( the place was absolutely heaving with tourists but it was my first time in Ubud so I don’t know if it is always like that), eventually i came across Wayan’s shop and although she was working on another woman (an american woman asking her to read her mind!) she invited me in. For about 250,000 you’re there for about 3 hours, and you get a body scrub, a massage, and a variety of drinks and herbal medicines to take home. Wayan still has the same humble little shop Liz describes in the book, and she was very sweet and funny.

    There was nothing spectacular about the treatment though, I had far nicer ‘Balinese’ experiences with the gorgeous locals, chatting with the ladies on the beach whilst having a pedicure, and feeding the homeless dogs wandering around!

  17. Wow!!! I’m so disappointed now, I just got from having
    My reading with Ketut. Was so happy when he said
    I was gonna have 3 kids with my wife, live till a 100, I was smart and had sweet lips
    Dammmmmmnnn!! Think I should pop in tomorrow to see Mr “LIAR”

  18. im so courious too with this man, im Javanese living in Bali 4years…..but just 2 days ago saw him to read my hand line and i didnt want to pay actually…but i shame to other peoples who paid Ketut already before me, and next row waiting ‘victims’…
    so i decide to call his son today and i want my money back………………….i wish i could take back my money………………….olalalaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa how stupid i am go to Ubud to be a Ketut’s victims …………..

  19. Hi, I just saw your blog and all the replies. But was to let for me, just came back from Ketut Lyer !!
    I should read yur blog earlier, wasted 250,000Rp for telling that I am pretty, very lucky, I will be rich, I do not have to cry because I will met someone and get married in 2 years, lips sweet as sugar, blablabla. When I asked him if a can ask a question he was embarrased, I asked him if I know the man I will get married to, He said :”don’t worry, you wll get married you will have kids, stay with your husband until end of your life” Ok but He didn’t answear my question. He also said that I have to be careful on the road with cars, don’t drive to fast (I do drive to fast)

    My aunt she used to read furtur on the card, and she told me that a real palm reader (in France we call than medium) do not accept a lot of money, because it is a gift.

    I am very disappointed.

    So in august 2012, he still tells the same stories !!!

  20. Well I can’t say I’m surprised, but that’s totally disappointing. I loved that book! He has to make a living just like the rest of us. If you’re going to get a reading, at least it’s as positive and hopeful as living to 100 and finding love!

  21. Airynaa Tannberg

    My husband and I saw Ketut yesterday, and he is running the same broken record readings as he has done for the last several years as mentioned. by the comments herein. I had the same reading as my husband and he asked my husband to repeat his name 4 times!!! There is ongoing construction on the property and there are two new rooms that have been built for tourists to stay which was shown to us by his son. Hopefully the money being collected is being used for the good of the Balinese people as I would think there would be some karma involved.

  22. I went with my husband to see Ketut few days ago.Paid 250,000 Rp for the same story.You are pretty, successful, your husband very handsome…I must say I was amazed with his personality. I was calm and relaxed around him. Its such a shame that this book has changed him so much, wanting only money.I went to see him today as well because I wanted to see his paintings,drawings.His son wanted money from me and my husband again.We didn’t want to pay. I wanted to talk to Ketut about meditation.His son didn’t allow us to talk to his father.He said that there is many people in Bali I can talk to them about it.We checked all paintings as well.I wanted to buy one drawing which was similar to the one which Liz got it.Ketuts son wanted to sell me it for 500USD because it is magical. Ketut was sitting in the distance.Today’s experience really has opened my eyes. I werent allow to talk to him like human to human without paying any money.Basically all his family want only money.His is like a bird in the cage….I am really sorry to say it, especially his is almost 100 years old.

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  24. Elizabeth Gilbert wasn’t sincere with Ketut lyer story; she never really believed in him, it’s just
    an idea to write a book…. the entire story of her travel around the world searching for herself trying to keep her balance was a fake, a fiction. But with the big success with the book an posterior film was necesary to keep the game. She pretends and says that Ketut was an inspiration and an indirect way to reach her destiny (bullshit!). I was in Bali and was quite dissapointing, nothing to do with the beautiful images shown in the film. This is Hollywood you fools!!!

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