8degreesoflatitude

THINGS THAT INTEREST, ENGAGE AND ENRAGE

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Sep. 3, 2014

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

  

Welcome to Bali, Far Queue

We keep hearing about the new model management at Ngurah Rai International Airport. About this beneficence we can only say that it will be good if the promissory notes it is issuing and that denote improved service have actual as opposed to notional value. It’s not clear that anyone should risk turning blue in the face while holding their breath awaiting these developments, however.

There are so many things. The rude entrapment of departing passengers in a maze of duty free shops is but one. You can’t get from passport control to anywhere you’d want to be without running the gauntlet of shop girls desperate to separate you from your money. Far more important and even more irritating is the security check shemozzle before you even get into the airport building. It’s a circus.

That’s when you’re trying to leave the Bali. It’s worse when you’re trying to arrive, especially if you’re a visa-on-arrival passenger. It’s an insult that anyone should have to stand in a horrendous queue to buy a visa and then join the tail end of another melee to get a passport officer to stamp it. It can sometimes take four hours. Welcome to Bali – Not.

It should be noted that staffing of passport control desks is a function not of the airport authority but of the government, but surely someone must have noticed that if there are 2000 incoming passengers from planes that all seem to have managed to land at once, four passport officers at the desks is hardly enough. Rosters, anyone? Perhaps the airport authority might mention this to someone, somewhere (possibly even in the Istana Negara) if it would like to encourage passengers to continue to arrive in line with their revenue forecasts. Perhaps it has. If so, this would be nice to know.

If you survive this tedious circuit of paper-shuffling, Indonesian style (why give one person a simple job when you can give it to four and complicate it beyond measure?) and the next queue for the baggage scanning, and make it to the exit, the rapacious taxi monopoly is then waiting for you. Or not. If it’s after midnight because you’ve been held up in the queue to get in, that particular piratical crew might well have gone home.

 

Give ’Em a Wave

ROLE Foundation Bali put on a Waterman’s’ Benefit Night on Aug. 30. We’d have been there but for the displacement factor: we’re still in Australia at the moment. The Grand Prize was indeed grand. Padang Padang 8″2′ Doris Gun Surf Board + 13 Night Surf Boat Trip on Doris’ Ship ‘The Raja Elang’, Mentawai, Sumatra Organizer Sean Cosgrove billed it thus: Padang Padang 8″2′ Doris Gun Surf Board + 13 Night Surf Boat Trip on Doris’ Ship ‘The Raja Elang’, Mentawai, Sumatra.

Doris is of course Tony Eltherington, a good bloke indeed and a man you can rely on to lend a hand in any circumstances, however difficult. He is memorialized in many places, including at InSalt, the little surfers’ warung on the Balangan road at Ungasan, where a burger has been named after him. InSalt is the nearest local eatery to The Cage. The Doris Day burger is OK. The mie goreng is too. And the music is cool.

The raffle prizes at the Aug. 30 show – the Doris special included – were all top-notch. The money raised was to benefit the Soul Surf Project, a non-profit organisation that helps underprivileged orphans in Bali experience the thrill of surfing by providing lessons as a means to grow awareness of the environment to keep the sea and beaches clean. Party-goers performed a public service as well as enjoying themselves.

It was at Old Man’s, Batu Bolong. Along with awards, great prizes and an auction, there were live sets by Hydrant and the Mangrooves. 

 

Hanging with an Old Friend

Made Kaek is an artist of exceptional talent, something that was happily revealed to The Diary and Distaff nearly a decade and a half ago on an early holiday trip to Bali. This discovery resulted in the purchase of two of his 2001 works which then travelled to Queensland, Australia, where they hung, much loved by ourselves and frequently admired by friends, in our house in Brisbane.

When four years later we subjected our lives to a sea change and shifted domicile to share Western Australia and Bali on a sort of extended and largely informal fly-in fly-out basis, the Made Kaek paintings went into storage along with the rest of our art. Nomads don’t generally travel with a collection in their baggage.

Now, however, with the retirement of some other works at the premises, they have found another wall to hang on, at the place in Busselton (it’s conveniently close to many fine wineries) that functions as our Australian home. Among the works now adorning the walls are the two Made Kaek pieces.

Since 2001 Made Kaek’s work has developed in style and presentation, and in some ways genre. This has taken it beyond his earlier form. He regularly produces work that one would covet were it not a sin to do so, in all three religions of the Book and most others. And buy, if one’s wallet were as flush as it was in former times.

There’s a school of thought – it seems to owe some of its genesis to the irritating post-colonial counter-cringe that gets underfoot in Bali and the rest of Indonesia, as it does in so many places – that suggests contemporary Balinese artists face a challenge in defining the relationship between their traditional cultural heritages and being a modern artist. According to the Balinese anthropologist Degung Santika (surely writing tongue in cheek) this is probably part of the “burden” of being Balinese.

It’s true that outsiders often expect the Balinese to conform to stereotypes that don’t fit their individual characters. It’s true too that in the West most of the exhibitions of non-Western artists are in ethnological museums rather than museums of modern art. But these are Western problems, “outsider” problems, not Balinese ones.

Made Kaek and other modern Balinese artists rise above their cultural roots but continue to acknowledge their heritage. Made Kaek’s art might owe as much to New York City’s graffiti artists as it does to Balinese ritual and religion, but modern art is trans-cultural, globalized, and increasingly anarchic. He does his very well indeed.

 

Heading for a Crunch

Speaking of the art of anarchy, the continuing expansion of condotels in Bali provides a prime example (unfortunately not pretty) of the wilful way in which developers and governments – at all levels – ignore both reality and their own future fiscal security. Planning laws are a joke, where they aren’t just a mess. Regents, doubtless citing the panjandrum clause that apparently makes them and their local districts functionally independent of the province within which their little bailiwick is located, approve hotels and other accommodation houses with gay abandon.

Governors, whose spatial planning regulations are routinely ignored, climb on the bandwagon and back mad schemes such as the filling in of more bits of Benoa Harbour to build more tourist-attracting facilities. At central government level, environmental laws are more notional than national.

In Bali, focus of most of Indonesia’s high-throughput tourism trade, the inability of existing or “planned future” infrastructure to match demand is plain to see, even by Blind Freddy. Oversupply of visitor accommodation is foolish. It is a way to lose money and markets. Not in the immediate future, of course; though that is exactly where planning falls apart in Bali. No one thinks beyond the current calendar or visualizes over the horizon.

Recent reports indicate that there are 5000 Condotel units already operating in Bali with another 8000 entering the market over the next few years.  A study by Cushman & Wakefield Indonesia points to coming pressures on value of properties. It’s true that everything has its price. The problem is an oversupplied market sets prices below return levels for investors.

A timely warning on another aspect of Bali’s one-egg-in-one-basket dollar economy – tourism – again makes the point that the push for more and more tourists is counterproductive since it will devalue the product.

The chairman of the Indonesian Tourism Association (GIPI), Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya, said recently that Bali’s past success was no guarantee of continued performance. He fears that Bali’s reputation may be on the downturn because of the emphasis over the past three to four years on becoming a bargain destination.

He has a point. Premium and bargain are generally terms that are mutually exclusive.

Hector tweets @scratchings on Twitter

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Aug. 20, 2014

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

Trash Can be Beautiful

A month or so back we dropped in on a Green Drinks meeting in Ubud organized by organic food guru and long-time Ubud luminary Darsih Gede. It was an interesting and inspiring occasion. The presentation was on the then forthcoming Bali Creative Reuse Centre and its plans to engage children, their parents and their communities in finding innovative ways to recycle trash.

The centre opened in late July (it’s at Jl Bisma 53). Its goal is to collect waste from local businesses, schools and families and package these in activity kits or sold in bulk to teachers and families. The message is that trash is a valuable resource to reuse for art and as learning materials.

That message is being delivered by Eka, a local teacher who is running the centre, and American volunteer Renee. The centre supports local Indonesian artists and organizations with workshops on the artistic and practical value of recycled trash and acts as a resource centre. It supports local schools and community programs offering arts programs reusing their trash and helping them find resources to support environmentally safer ways to dispose of their waste.

A website is being developed. They have also just finished their first teacher workshop at Dyatmika and are designing a recycled materials space for them.  The aim is for this to become a model to replicate in other schools and villages to promote creativity and inspiration to use trash as a medium to produce useful products and eye-catching art.

Eka has augmented her teacher qualifications by training at the Bali Environmental Training Centre (PPLH) in Denpasar and is teaching children in villages to use plastic for weaving and crocheting to make bags and other functional products they can sell.  She has also met Bali Recycling to inform local villagers about ways they can recycle and get money for their trash.

An open day is planned for Sep. 7. This would be a great opportunity for all segments of the community to have a look at the innovative programs the centre offers. Trash is everyone’s business, after all.

It would be good to see other not-for-profit organizations in Ubud getting aboard this great civic and educational initiative. There’s nothing to beat cooperative engagement.

 

In General, Not a Good Idea

Former General Prabowo Subianto has made a bit of a mess of losing the presidential election. It seems that everyone other than himself is to blame for the fact that he failed to win the support of more Indonesians than his opponent, president-elect Joko Widodo.

Perhaps on Aug. 17, Independence Day, he might have found time to reflect on reality. In a democratic election the candidate who wins most votes is elected. Prabowo either can’t add up or doesn’t want to. It’s not as if he was beaten narrowly. The margin was wide enough to make a declaration of a result beyond the reach of anything other than a most inventive challenge.

Independence Day celebrates Indonesia’s nationhood and the 69 years of history that now stands on the record. Prabowo played a small part in some of that history, as a military man. He’s entitled to run for civil office. He’s not entitled to claim he was robbed of a victory that he plainly didn’t win. Civil society and democratic elections do not run on a military command basis.

He can try again next time, if he wants. A sensible appreciation of Indonesian politics and the voting figures this time shows clearly that Joko Widodo will have to accommodate a spectrum of views and policy positions, including those espoused by Prabowo’s party, which says it seeks a greater Indonesia.

That’s practical democracy. It is also the Indonesian way. It’s just not a good idea to ignore facts, even if (actually, especially if) you’re a retired general who was drummed out of the army under a cloud.

 

We Are Not Amused

American Bali muse Susi Johnston, who lives at Mengwi in a villa someone else has been trying to seize for their own enrichment, is in more trouble. This time someone has poisoned her pet dog and beloved cat in – on the evidence she presents – a carefully planned and deliberate manner. It might just be a case of VBS – Vindictive Bastard Syndrome, which like dengue and a lot of other avoidable endemic disorders is widespread in Bali – but given the history of her case that seems unlikely.

There are several aspects of her situation that are profoundly disturbing. They are worrisome for other long-term expatriate residents who contribute to the wider life of the island and whose presence directly benefits the Balinese and other Indonesians they pay or otherwise support.

Johnston has endured a lengthy campaign to remove her from the villa she shared with her Italian husband Bruno Piazza, who died in 2011 and whose name was on the nominee agreement. It has involved threats, break-ins and raids by thugs on the premises; detention by police pending “investigations”; a court process that has been stymied at every turn; and sundry other molestations that only the truly mean-spirited or graspingly acquisitive would visit on a widow. She assumes, with what seems to be good reason, that the pet poisoning is the latest incident in this lengthy round of bastardry.

In such circumstances the fainter of heart might simply mutter “this is not to be borne” and move someplace else where the rule of law, the principles of basic justice and common sense apply. But Johnston’s not a quitter. Bali is where she has made her life. The “system”, such as it is, should recognize that.

 

Revealing Fatwa

The roving eye was caught the other day by news that the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has issued a fatwa against women teaming the jilbab with “tight” clothing below the neck. Apparently its fatwa proscribing pornography (as defined by Islamic leaders) also means Muslim women should not show the shape of the body.

It’s true – as we’ve noted before – that some of the more excessive revelations made possible by modern western fashions are over the top. It’s not quite clear how or why painted-on jeans and bust-enhancing tops are pornographic, though we concede they must be dreadfully uncomfortable to wear.

Modern Islamic fashion for women is in its own way highly decorative, and that’s good. Seeing women primarily as sexual objects is a male disease, a genetic disposition that should have dropped off the scope very shortly after Urk, Gurk and the crew vacated their cave dwellings and got a bit civilized. It’s a shame that it hasn’t.

We agree with the vice-chairman of the MUI, Ma’ruf Amin, that women already choosing to wear the jilbab should not do so in a vulgar way. Vulgarity of any kind is offensive, after all; including the vulgarity of presuming rights to proscribe the elective and legal behaviour of others.

 

Blush Highlights

Sydney jazz singer and Villa Kitty ambassador Edwina Blush is back in Bali for her annual season of swingalongs. Through to September she’s playing the Three Monkeys Restaurant at Sanur between 6pm and 9pm every Tuesday and Sunday with her cool Blush Sextet (Yuri Mahatma on guitar,  Astrid Sulaiman on keys, Helmi Augustrian on bass, Pramono Abdi and sax and newcomer Wisnu Priambodo on drums; and Thursdays at Il Giardino in Ubud with the trio (7.30pm to 10pm).

Blush arrived in July with a program including four different combos and three different variations on a Jazz theme Classic Jazz, 20’s Swing and SkaJazz. Good stuff!

In her Villa Kitty hat she’ll have been pleased to see that Elizabeth Henzell’s Ubud establishment featured on the Australian TV series What Really Happens in Bali.

 

New Deal, Old System

The new management at Ngurah Rai International Airport has put a stop to the “VIP arrival services” that permit those unwilling to mix with the masses in the Visa on Arrival melee to pay to be fast-tracked around the bottleneck. Experience and an understanding of how things really work here suggest that normal service will be resumed shortly, if it hasn’t already.

If the new management is really interested in improving customer service at the airport it might like to look at a system that rosters porters (and provides luggage trolleys) when they’re needed and not simply at the porters’ convenience. We’re told by a traveller that mid-afternoon on Saturday, Aug. 9, neither porters nor trolleys were available in the arrivals hall.

Then there’s the piratical taxi monopoly. That warrants managerial examination too.

Hector tweets @scratchings on Twitter

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Aug. 6, 2014

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

 

Let’s Hear More from Her

Nafsiah Mboi is a very impressive person. This is immediately obvious to anyone who hears her speak, reads what she says, or takes an interest in the febrile nature of global health challenges. As Indonesia’s health minister, she is the shining star of outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s cabinet, unarguably from the Diary’s perspective his best ministerial appointment.

She was the star panellist too on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s flagship Q&A program on Monday, Aug. 21, on the topic of HIV/AIDS and held at the same time as the International AIDS Congress in Melbourne. Tweets to the show’s Twitter hashtag included this memorable one: “Can we have a health minister like that too?”

Someone else suggested that incoming president Joko Widodo should reappoint her as health minister. Now that is a great idea. Indonesia’s congressional system makes it possible to appoint technocrats and academics to cabinet from outside the formal elective system.

Nafsiah Mboi is an academic, health researcher and Harvard graduate. She should indeed be continued in her appointment.

Another stand-out performer on the Q&A panel was the eminent Australian jurist Michael Kirby, whose finessed judicial mind and personal preferences made him ideal for the occasion.

Kirby is a darling of the intellectual left in Australia. There’s nothing wrong with that, except for what’s wrong with the intellectual left in Australia, which these days has cornered the market in received wisdom and adopted the position that anyone who argues with it is mad or bad or both.

Kirby is certainly an activist jurist. He has not only said that judges make law, but he has also done the really hard yards in reinterpreting the Constitution to the embarrassment of various governments of the day.

But he’s not for turning on a point of judicial value. Q&A is moderated by the oppressively self-assertive Tony Jones. On the program he expressed – with the trademark arched eyebrow, surprised look and dismissive wave of the hand favoured by those who know they know what everyone else should think – his view that it was somewhat strange that Kirby should have given a speech the day before praising Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for increasing AIDS funding to Papua New Guinea when every other bit of the budget is being pared to the bone.

Followers of Australian politics will know that Abbott has been declared beyond the Pale by those of the left. Kirby skewered Jones, in less than 50 words, and showed with stark clarity why he (Kirby) is a judge and Jones is just an up-market shock-jock. It was delicious.

It’s sad that Australia Network, which screens the must-watch Q&A among many other quality Australian programs to Indonesia and the region, will be going off the air in September because of another decision, a foolish one, of the Abbott government.

 

Apologies

The last edition of The Diary didn’t appear. Those who might have felt disposed to cheer this outcome should cease their chatter now. It was an administrative error on the part of your diarist, who had as usual been belting along full-pelt, as he has always done, oblivious to the natural processes of aging (including acquisition of common sense) and in complete ignorance of the great big wall he was about to hit.

The Eagles’ Life in the Fast Lane has always been the Diary’s addiction, especially this little stanza:

She said, “Listen, baby. You can hear the engine ring.

We’ve been up and down this highway; 

haven’t seen a goddam thing.”

He said, “Call the doctor. I think I’m gonna crash.”

On a West Australian sabbatical, a visit back to the other home, we crashed. That is, in the metaphorical sense. But fortunately the splendid intervention of the West Australian hospital system got us (and a bitterly twisted gut) out of the wreck and reconnected the circuitry.

A painful lesson has been learned. All life forms are finite. At some point, you have to slow down.

 

Jazz and All That

John Daniels of Bali Discovery Tours and Bali Update sent us a cheery get-well note when he heard of our circumstances. It’s always nice to get a note from Jack. And nice in this instance to note in turn a recent item in his Update that refers to Ubud, which we love for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes we even love it for its traffic, though its range of cuisines generally wins the vote, when we finally make it to the restaurant.

It’s good for jazz too, as Jack notes. This will be demonstrated again at the 2014 Ubud Jazz Festival on Aug. 8-9. This year’s theme is “Awakening Indonesia” and headline national and international performers will take the stage.

Scheduled to appear are Gilad Hekselman Trio (USA), Dian Pratiwi and Uwe Plath (Germany), Astrid Sulaiman and Yuri Mahatma Trio (Bali), Balawan BID Trio, Rio Sidik, The GAPPProject Feat Dave Barlow (Australia- Indonesia), Dwiki Dharmawan (Indonesia), Erica Tucceri (Australia (Bali), Ben van den Dungen Quartet (Holland), Deborah Carter (Holland), Endo Seiji (Japan) and Chika Asamoto (Japan-Bali).

There’s also an educational element, presented in cooperation with The Dutch Jazz Summer School form South Korea. The six-day “Jazz Camp” running Aug.3-8 offers six study courses including guitar, drum, piano, double bass, vocal and wind instruments with special focus sessions on music theory and jam session performance.

 

So Long

The West Australian trip had been timed to meet some family needs which need not concern us here. But there was one feasible element, not expected in the timeframe but judged a possibility, that required suit, black shoes and army tie to make the trip too.

We’d been friendly acquaintances for the long time with a chap for no reason other than the fact that life’s little pathways, rivulets and occasional landslides carry you where they will. We had nothing in common, fundamentally. He was from country WA, which is about as far as you can get from the Diary’s bricks and mortar and pleasant parklands. He’d long ago given up trying to get us to go on fishing trips or home-brew expeditions, or down to the pool hall every Tuesday afternoon.

We had settled into a pleasant communion of ruminative breakfasts on our infrequent co-locations. He made a good cuppa. He could never understand why a round of toast and marmalade could possibly be better than a plate piled with the dead remains of former beasts removed with great energy and enthusiasm from one or other of the many freezers.

But we chatted amiably in the earlier portions of the mornings, now and then, in the calm before the daily ceremony of the Risings of the Distaffs (and the chores that inevitably followed) and we muddled along.

He had one thing in common with my father, though the code of football was different. If my dad had been on the field every time the Scottish rugby side ran on, they’d have won every game.

My chum’s fun was found in Australian football. The West Coast Eagles would have found similar game success if he’d been on the oval rucking, marking, kicking six-pointers, spoiling tackles and taking miraculous long marks right in front of the goal posts.

He was 80 and had been a national serviceman. He deserved a salute at his last parade.

Fate dictated that he leave the field while I was indisposed and unable to be present. I’m sad about that.

So long, Mal. Catch you for a cuppa sometime.

 

Hector tweets @scratchings on Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, July 9, 2014

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

So Nearly the Big Chill

This edition of the diary comes to you from the chilly depths of wintertime southern Western Australia, for reasons that really don’t matter. What does matter is that The Diary inadvertently left its wallet in seat 9C on AirAsia flight QZ536 from Bali to Perth on June 23.

It is pleasing to be able to report that The Diary and the wallet were then miraculously reunited through the intercession of a couple of AirAsia ground staff angels at Perth International Airport.

It was one of those horrible “Oh No” moments. We had breezed through passport control – an e-entry without even sighting an official with a stamp, oh joy! – as well as baggage collection and customs. We were in the car park loading the suitcase into a friend’s car when the alarming lightness of the back pocket came to notice.

Aside from cash, credit card and all sorts of other essential plastic impedimenta without which modern life is impossible, there was the question: What Does One Tell The Distaff? This is a very important issue, since it has been apparent for several millennia that The Distaff doesn’t think The Diary should ever be let out alone. An unsupervised drive to the shops is about the length of the leash, and then only with the right money.

So there was nothing for it but to break just about every security rule in the book and bowl right back into the customs area – through the exit door by which one had recently legitimately exited – and find a friendly soul to help. Going to the airport arrivals hall desk wasn’t an option. It would be far too complicated and would take too long.

It was interesting to see that the old rule still applies. If you look as if you know what you’re doing, official people will rarely challenge you. We found a nice customs officer (a woman: they’re nearly always a better bet because of their female capacity for lateral thinking).

She got on her phone to someone while The Diary rang the number displayed at the service desk for use if the desk was unattended and spoke to one of the angels, who said she had already got the wallet.

Very soon the two angels appeared. They had been on the aircraft when they received The Diary’s call. Thank you again, ladies.

 

Fit to be Tied

Merritt Clifton, the American animal activist who takes an interest in Bali matters from faraway Washington State, USA, posed a very interesting rhetorical question in an article on the Animals24-7 website on June 28.

It followed the Governor’s incomprehensible announcement that any dogs found running loose in Bali villages would be killed as part of the provincial government’s dysfunctional anti-rabies campaign.

Clifton wrote: “If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly, each time expecting a different result, Bali governor Made Mangku Pastika on June 26, 2014 fitted himself for a strait jacket.”

He went on to write: “Disregarding four years of steady progress toward quelling a canine rabies outbreak that began in mid-2008, Pastika repeated the same general invitation to cull dogs that sent the rabies outbreak into overdrive in the first place – this time ordering the massacre of about 300,000 healthy vaccinated and mostly docile neighbourhood dogs, allowing unvaccinated and largely nocturnal feral dogs to reoccupy the habitat and breed up to the carrying capacity.”

Disregarding in turn Clifton’s assumption that unvaccinated and largely nocturnal dogs in Bali are feral (that is, wild) which overwhelmingly they are not, in the formal sense, he’s right on the mark. It’s true that the island’s rabies control program has gone haywire. Or perhaps that should be “missing”.

Why else, apart from madness, would you revive a killing spree that failed to work when you tried it before and which in any case all the literature on rabies control and eradication shows won’t work? Negligently shredding the basis of herd immunity that has been built up by the vaccination program by killing anything that moves outside someone’s notional property boundary is complete madness.

The Bali authorities apparently choose to define madness in terms that wouldn’t be readily recognized anywhere else. But that’s no surprise. After six years of toil and trouble, all we’re left with is a muddle. There are no surprises there either. Since reasonable excuses cannot be found, a scapegoat or two are essential political tools.

In the rabies imbroglio, there are two scapegoats. One is the dogs, which despite being savagely culled by government diktat and significantly reduced by rabies, are claimed nevertheless to have repopulated the island to a level equal to or in excess of the pre-rabies 2008 estimate. The gallant lads at animal husbandry plainly deserve fulsome praise for that egregious triumph.

The other scapegoat is the animal welfare lobby in general, which strangely persists with its view that in order to achieve something you have to do the work required, and particularly the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA), which led the anti-rabies battle. The Gianyar district authorities closed the BAWA clinic last year on grounds that would not survive administrative appeal in any jurisdiction with fixed rules. BAWA remains in operation, but with some of its previously valuable services curtailed by out-of-sorts, or out of pocket, officials.

There are only two fixed rules in Indonesia, of course. Neither is visible on the statute book. One is, don’t even look as if you’re telling us what to do. The other is, don’t step on toes, especially the precious little toes of the local panjandrum. Unfortunately the immediate human and animal health requirements in 2008-2010, to step on rabies quickly, required both these rules to be broken.

 

A Short Fuse

Plans to turn part of Benoa Harbour into Port Excrescence by shooing away the ocean and building artificial land on which to erect explicitly non-Bali infrastructure (including a motor-racing circuit) have angered a lot of people, mainly Balinese. The widely held view is that if Governor Pastika proceeds as planned and creates the proposed monstrosity for the profit of its promoters and developers, all of Bali is lost.

That may be gilding the lily (not to mention mixing a metaphor) but it can certainly be argued that there’s already enough around in the tourist-attraction field to fulfil the legal desires of most visitors, and most of the illegal ones too. Bali is a special place. That’s its marketing edge. We shouldn’t blunt it further.

There have been a number of demonstrations that have made these points with some force. Let’s hope someone was listening.

 

Who Gives a Toss?

It’s not really a question, and we’re not being rude. Pizza-tossing is the topic, and Ayana Resort and Spa at Jimbaran was the venue, because the Pizza Acrobatics world champion 2001 and 2002, Pasqualino Barbasso, was there from July 2-6 to demonstrate his skills, which are no doubt essential in Sicily.

Well no, to answer Ayana spruiker Marian Carroll’s query, we didn’t know there was a World Champion of Pizza Acrobatics. So many aspects of our education were neglected while we were being schooled in algebra, calculus, physics, logic, Latin, Greek, Eng Lit, history and comparative religion all those years ago.

Barbasso was at Ayana to flip the dough and perform thrice daily, free, for diners at the resort’s Sami Sami restaurant during his five-day extravaganza. Since the restaurant is on the cliff-top overlooking the precipitous drop to the Rock Bar and beyond, the pizza champ was doubtless on the alert for sudden orographic up-draughts and the attendant risk of unauthorized flying pizza.

Sadly, geographic displacement meant we could not be present to attempt to order that modern challenge to both cuisine and poor spellers, Pizza Hawaiian, and thereby cause a Greco-Roman incident.

 

Marginal Note

Indonesians vote today (July 9) in the presidential election, which as expected has come down to a race between Jakarta mayor Joko Widodo and former army general Prabowo Subianto, the latter formally endorsed on July 1 by outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as his pick for Supreme Leader. It’s moot whether the opinion of a lame duck with a 10-year record of under-achievement counts for anything beyond a querulous quack.

But that’s not what concerns us here. What does is further entrenchment of the Indonesia-Australia relationship through a new agreement between the National Archives of Australia and the Indonesian national archives on archives cooperation.

Under a new five-year Memorandum of Understanding, Indonesia and Australia will continue to collaborate on developing staff skills, sharing professional resources and participating in scholarly and cultural exchanges.

Indonesia’s and Australia’s relationship and shared interests extend back into the end of the Dutch colonial era. Indonesians with a sense of history understand the role Australia played in persuading the world to accept the beneficial fact of Indonesian independence, unilaterally declared on August 17, 1945, and its practical and material help towards that goal too.

 

Hector tweets @scratchings on Twitter

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Jun. 25, 2014

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

Browned Off

PLN is up to its old tricks again. No, we’re not talking about the sharp round of rises in its tariffs. It’s the lingering brown-out after its triumph in the 2010 globally unplugged championships that’s focusing our mind. PLN said then that there would be no more power cuts in Bali. No one believed them of course, but that’s entirely to be expected and anyway it’s hardly the point. PLN delivers on its promises with the same level of commitment it shows to providing service.

It’s so obviously a problem – lack of capacity about which the monopoly state-owned power provider effectively does nothing except buy cheap high-polluting Chinese diesel generators instead of more expensive but cleaner German ones – that we think its actual business plan, which of course no one has ever seen, has “Dysfunction” where normally you’d see “Function” above that happy little paragraph promising the world.

So here at The Cage we’re giving serious consideration to proposing to PLN that we pay them 80 percent of their tariff, based on the average voltage actually delivered, and further reduce that, pro rata, for time over the billed month during which nothing was delivered at all.

We’ll let you know how we go with those negotiations.

 

Think of a Number, Run With It

It can work for effect, if you’re in PR. But sometimes you despair of the bureaucracy and its political bosses here. Actuarial process always seems to take second place to inventive accounting, whether that’s of money, some promotional boosting, or a handy story to sell to the punters.

We heard recently that some official had stated there were now 500,000 dogs in Bali, which is the same, more or less, as the pre-rabies 2008 figure. More likely someone’s barking mad (a clue: it’s not the dogs). The figure can only be an estimate. Such is the way of things. It sits oddly with the 294,000 (est.) said to have been here in 2010, after two years of widespread canine rabies deaths and panicked culling following the tardy realization in late 2008 that the disease was on Bali. Unless, that is, the authorities really have being doing two-fifths of five-eighths of you know what about it, which they deny.

The 2008 outbreak naturally came as a complete surprise to the authorities. Well it would. If you were in charge of Bali’s animal or human health you’d obviously fail to see any reason for anxiety in the fact that we’re in regular commerce with Flores, the third rock along in archipelagic terms, where the disease has been present for 17 years.

Given the ravages of the disease among dogs (not to forget the 150 human deaths) plus the ill-planned, uncoordinated, often informal, thoroughly counter-productive and completely shameful killing sprees that have occurred in the six shambolic years since, half a million seems rather on the high side. But we’ll go with it, just for fun. The government is now going to vaccinate 80 percent of these dogs. Well, that’s the plan.

It tends to support the conclusion that no one officially has much of a clue about anything at all. What’s worse (since ignorance and short-funding will always be with us) is that the real official position appears to be similar to that expressed by Rhett Butler as he left Scarlett O’Hara in the movie Gone With The Wind.

The latest figures from the government on rabies distribution in Bali are, however, both interesting and of some statistical value.

According to the Bali livestock and animal health service 36 confirmed cases of rabies in dogs were recorded in the January-May period. Buleleng (11 cases) and Jembrana (10) were the worst districts. No confirmed rabies cases were recorded in Badung – where most tourists are – or in Denpasar.

Gianyar (which includes Ubud) had five confirmed cases of rabies in dogs, neighbouring Klungkung four – as well as a small mainland area, Klungkung includes the islands of Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida – and Bangli one. Tabanan district recorded three cases and Karangasem two.

April was the worst month for confirmed cases of rabies in dogs, with 14. There were six cases in May. January-March therefore produced 16 cases. The cautious optimist therefore would assume an annualized average of four to five reported and confirmed cases in dogs per month. That’s between 48 and 60 a year.

Under World Organization for Animal Health rules, two clear years (24 months) must elapse between the last reported animal and human case of rabies for an infected area to be declared free of the disease. So if a miracle occurs and May’s six cases were the last, May 2016 could be looking good.

Short of that miracle, the emergency is not over. There have been two confirmed human deaths from rabies this year on which details were released (they were in Buleleng in the north) and others in which all the indicators point that way.

 

Happier Tales

Still with the doggies, here are two happy tales. Iconic British animal rights and environmental warrior Jane Goodall and Bali Animal Welfare Association’s leading light Janice Girardi got together at the Green School’s weekend dedicated to conservation and sustainability on June 14-15.

Girardi was there to talk about BAWA’s vision for the future. Goodall, whose research work begun five decades ago led to her becoming the chimpanzee champion in Tanzania, was the weekend’s special guest. Both women know that it’s never easy being an advocate, let alone an activist.  Perseverance pays off. It’s a fundamental rule of human and individual progress.

On June 20 in Vancouver, Canada, BAWA benefited from a Wishbone charity night organized by supporters of its educational and animal welfare work here. All donations went to BAWA to help heal, feed and protect neglected and abused street animals.

Among things wags at the show could do was be pampered and learn insider tips from make-up artists, hairdressers, manicurists and eyelash technicians. Or they could try a henna tattoo.

We think their efforts rate a very big woof.

 

All Aboard

The man in the white mess kit, expatriate Glaswegian Neil Carl Hempsey, of Indo Yacht Support at Benoa, is gearing up for the seventh annual Ray White/YSG Super Yacht charity do on Aug. 1. We’ll keep you up to cruising speed on that.

Glasgow is in the spotlight at present as the venue for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, from July 23 to August 3, at which Indonesia could be competing if the British had been our filthy colonialists of the age instead of the Dutch. It’s a fine city, Glasgow, as well as Scotland’s biggest. It has a character all of its own and a bracingly damp climate to go with it.

Some Glaswegian humour, which is generally best kept at home if only because the accent with which it is delivered is impenetrable, has been given an outing in honour of the occasion. We saw a lovely photo of a bus whose lighted destination sign advised “Ah’m Nae in Service”.

There’s also a map which bears a certain very rudely short word that nowadays, unfortunately, is in common currency among the lexicographically challenged. It suggests that Glasgow is the epicentre of Scotland, a city of “Guid [that word]”. Guid is good, by the way. It also suggests that Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital awa’ a wee bit on the east coast, is a city of “English [that word again]”.

The Diary demurs. We’re sure that Edinburgh native and occasional correspondent Alistair Speirs, who publishes Now Bali and ensures we still get to read The Stranger, would agree with us that Auld Reekie is nae such thing. Sassenach, yes; but English? Never!

 

A Useful Muse

Susi Johnston, the Muse of Mengwi, has crafted a masterly compendium of things you can do to reduce crime and the risk that you’ll be a victim, either of street crime or of a break-in. It’s on her blog (ubudnowandthen.com) and should be a must-read for everyone.

We should not of course get into tizzy over crime. The incidence is rising here, but objectively it’s highly noticeable chiefly in comparison with received wisdom as to the carefree, crime-free days of yore that nearly everyone says they can remember.

That said, clearly the risk of becoming a victim of theft or worse is increasing. Avoid risk (as Susi says and we’ve noted ourselves in the past) by not being a visible target. Don’t walk or ride alone at night in places you don’t know and in which people are scarce. Lock up. Keep your valuables secure and out of sight. Common sense really.

She mentions the reporting facility at POLDA in Denpasar which many may not know of, and the presence in Bali of a special police unit, OBVIT, that is tasked with protecting vital assets – of which Bali is one – and of which almost no one has heard.

Don’t forget, either, that the Tourist Police now have a special reporting system and a Facebook page.

Hector tweets @scratchings on Twitter

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser Jun 11, 2014

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

No Place for Mugs

Airlines operate on razor-thin financial margins, the virtual space between the cost of operating a flight and the net revenue gained from it. That’s no bad thing, since it is evidence that competition benefits people who want to fly, which is the object of the exercise.

The days are long gone when airlines could afford to over-staff, or position crews on standby except under the most stringent of budgetary conditions. And sensible rules about the allowable working hours of flight and cabin crews proscribe extension of these under most circumstances. So interference with a flight is an extremely costly business.

The eruption of Mt Sangeang off Sumbawa caused an ash cloud that resulted in flights being cancelled between Australian cities and Bali and Lombok. That’s a natural hazard and it’s really not possible to be angry with a volcano anyway.

But when interference comes from disruptive passengers, as it did recently with the Australian airlines Jetstar and Virgin, it’s very galling. Jetstar’s experience with a drunken lout aboard one of its Melbourne-Bali services stranded more than 240 Brisbane-bound passengers. It cost the airline heaps in accommodating those travellers, whose Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight home was a temporary non-event.

Jetstar took firm action with its alcohol-fuelled defaulting passenger. He was handed over to authorities at Ngurah Rai, denied entry to Indonesia, and deported. He then became a person of interest to the Australian Federal Police. Good.

There used to be a view that Australian drunks were risible characters, larrikin types, just good blokes (plus the occasional sheila) who had had too much of a good thing. In a pub, within limits, that might still be the case. On an aircraft they’re a bloody nuisance as well as a hazard to themselves and everyone else. And more to the point, they’re breaking the law.

Perhaps if a few bloody nuisances found to their horror that their thoughtless misbehaviour led to them being sued in the civil courts for restitution (a substantial six-figure dollar sum) it would deter all but the most stupid among future offenders.

Just a thought.

 

Snatch and Grabbed

Good news to report, and plaudits to the police to hand out, over an alleged bag-snatching gang whose seven members are now in custody and under criminal investigation. According to the on-line Indonesian language newspaper Suluh Bali  (a great operation by the way) police were quick on the trail after an incident in Kuta on May 26.

They had a little help. The brace of bandits on a motorbike that snatched the handbag of another rider, a woman, lost their licence plate in the melee as they sped off. It lay upon the road begging for attention. It got it. The registration details led immediately to the owner of the bike and thereafter to the arrests of seven young men, all from Denpasar.

The two youths who committed the crime (they are aged 16 and 17) could face up to seven years in jail and their accomplices up to four. Publicizing crimes and reporting sentences handed down to perpetrators is a significant deterrent. So we’ll be watching this case with interest.

The woman who was robbed in this instance was an expatriate, one of a number recently. But local women are targeted by these low-life characters too. A dear friend of The Diary and Distaff was injured in a bag-snatch as she rode her bike in Jl Bali Cliff at Ungasan recently.

The Beat Daily, which provides a very useful English language digest of news, also reported the Kuta incident. The dyspepsia caused by the news was heightened by this line: “A police investigation into a bag snatching last Monday lead to police successfully catching two teenage boys and investigating five others.”

Um, fellas, try “led”. It’s in the English dictionary, past tense of “lead”. Not to be confused with the metal of course, which is pronounced “led”.

 

Getting Together

The good burghers of Ubud are getting together in a number of ways. The latest initiative is a monthly Ubud Village informal meeting, the first of which was held on Jun. 1 at Paula’s Rice Terrace Cafe in Jl Suweta, Ubud.

Organizer Douglas Snyder says the meetings, on the first Sunday of every month, are a chance to say hello and get to know people and make the village a little more personal. He hopes to create an environment in which people actually meet instead of just on Facebook. That sounds like a capital plan.

Crime of a petty or more serious nature is now part of the landscape in Ubud. This is a comparatively recent development and a very unwelcome one. The death of British resident Anne-Marie Drozdz apparently during a break-in at her rented villa is especially disturbing.

A candlelight vigil and a meeting of concerned residents followed her death. A man was arrested in Jakarta soon after the crime.

 

Have a Treat, Jump the Queue

The magnificent marketers at AYANA Resort and Spa and RIMBA at Jimbaran have found a way for non-resident guests to jump the queue to the Rock Bar, the destination of choice of many who wish to imbibe a cocktail or three at sunset at that iconic cliff-side watering hole perched 14 metres above the waves. It’s a must-do thing. You can watch the people or the waves.

The Rock Bar’s popularity is such that in high season the walk-in trade can sometimes find itself waiting 90 minutes for the glide down the inclinator to those glasses with little brollies in them. Not surprisingly, some among such putative patrons are disinclined to do so.

Priority access to the Rock Bar is reserved for guests staying at the hotels but now outside guests can get priority access too if they relax and take special spa packages (Rp480K plus tax). The deal runs until Sep. 30.

Two packages with one free Rock Bar cocktail are offered: the Perfectonic Package, which is a two-hour Aquatonic massage at Thermes Marins Bali Spa (in this process, we’re told, 60 therapeutic jet streams, micro-bubbles and geysers whack you around in seawater); and the Rock My Body Massage, a 75-minute deep relaxation experience available at both Thermes and RIMBA’s new Rooftop Spa.

Sounds cool! We might give up food for a month and drop in. We’d dress properly too, as per requirements. Well, we always do. We don’t wear singlets or board shorts and we don’t own anything that says Bintang.

Better leave the Wise Guy tee at home though. It comes from an up-market winery we favour at Cape Naturaliste in Western Australia. But it might not pass the no-alcohol-branding rule.

 

Can You Help?

Bali Pink Ribbon stalwarts Rrashida Abdulhusainn, Priya Bojwani and others were looking last week for donated material for a second-hand boutique stall at the Bali Pink Ribbon Bazaar at the FX Church, Kuta, this Sunday (Jun. 15).

New or second hand clothing, bags, shoes, sandals, jewellery, glasses, ceramics, painting, books, magazines, towels, napkins, pillow cases, bed sheets, bed covers, school bags, children’s clothing, scarves, home ware, glasses, cups, etc, were on their we’d-really-like-it list.

So if you’ve got anything that would look better making money for Pink Ribbon’s breast cancer awareness programs and seminars, get on to the Bali Pink Ribbon Centre in Jl Dewi Sri, Kuta. Email balipinkribbon@gmail.com or phone (0361) 83 52299.

 

Marathon Muddle

Pheidippedes the Diary is not; and certainly not a modern marathon runner either. A modest outing over 10km in boots and patrol order webbing, with rifle, in pursuit of an annual fitness rating in the military service of HM Queen Elizabeth II in two of her several symbolic crowns, was ever the best we could manage. And that was a few years ago.

Maybe that’s why, in the Diary of May 28, we mistook the Bali Marathon for the Bali Triathlon. Or perhaps it was just inexcusable inattention. Jack Daniels of Bali Discovery Tours and the invaluable Bali Update, and the triathlon, may have a view on that.

The 2014 Bali marathon is being held in Gianyar later this year. It involves no swimming. For its part, the 2014 Bali triathlon – in the inimitable style that Indonesia has made its own – has been postponed to 2015 so that presidential candidates can run around, splash out, and be told to get on their bikes instead.

The modern marathon dates from the 1896 Athens Olympics. It celebrates the myth of Pheidippedes’ 40-kilometre sprint from the 490BCE battle site of Marathon to Athens with the news that the Athenian lads had seen off those nasty Persians.

In the manner of such myths, the poor chap expired from his exertions immediately after giving the anxious archons this happy news. There’s a classically kitsch 1869 painting by Luc-Olivier Merson that depicts the heroic demise.

Hector tweets @scratchings on Twitter

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser May 28, 2014

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

Bad Burghers

A new Facebook group has appeared in cyberspace, dedicated to curbing crime in Ubud. This is an unpleasant sign of the times. Ubud may be where everyone goes to commune with the fairies, go Vegan, try to find anything that remotely resembles the purported revelations in Elizabeth Gilbert’s bodice-ripper book Eat, Pray, Love, and get in touch with their inner Pilates, but it’s also catching up with the modern world.

Some of the good burghers of Ubud, local and foreign, are upset by the intrusion of street crime and motorbike bandits bent on petty theft. The sexual predator is also present. It excuses nothing, of course, but those who suggest foreign visitors in particular should comply with local custom and dress respectfully are on the mark.

We recently saw a female tourist – she seemed to be Russian from the Slavic, not to say irritably strident, language in which she was chivvying along her oppressed male companion who in the global custom was carrying the bags – out shopping in a brief yellow bikini that was struggling to contain her bosom. Further, it was failing to hide much of her bottom. Clearly she hadn’t read the brief.  Or perhaps she thought she was in Malibu on her way to a porn shoot.

There are two fundamental rules to apply when travelling. The first is don’t be gross. The second is do not display wealth or otherwise draw spectacular attention upon you or your person.

Tourist areas in Bali are as much at risk of experiencing crime, petty or otherwise, as any other pleasure resort around the world. Community based policing and common sense help reduce the incidence.

There are bad burghers everywhere these days. And they don’t only target tourists. Locals are also at risk.

(Post-script: The death by strangulation, apparently during a break-in, of British woman Anne-Marie Drozdz at her villa near Ubud on May 22, adds a horrific dimension to Ubud’s problems.)

Get Weaving

We got a lovely invitation from the ROLE Foundation to attend Bali Living Colour (they spell it color in the American fashion, but these days even ancient Oxford English scribblers can live with that) on Thursday, Jun 5. It’s an open house for the Southern Bali Women Weavers Association and Bali WISE women’s business development.

It’s one of a number of grass-roots organizations in Bali that benefits from small grants from the Australian Consulate-General and operates from premises at Sawangan, an area of the southern Bukit where despite otherwise rampant development (that among other things has shut many locals out of seaweed farming) deprivation is a common factor.

The function will also formally inaugurate the Southern Bali Women Weavers Association and officially open the new weavers’ building, the natural dyes plant nursery and the colour sample display.

Since they’ll be serving organic juices, teas and snacks and providing music, we plan to be there. Especially since the Australian Consul-General, Majell Hind, is also scheduled to be present. It’s always nice to catch up with a Townsville girl.

 

Be Gentile, Now

Sydney-resident historian, wry wit and novelist Ross Fitzgerald, who will be coming to see us in June on his annual Bali pilgrimage with his wife Lyndal Moor – Fitzgerald and the Diary are due at Sambo’s Sports Bar at Bukit Jimbaran on Sunday, Jun. 15, to watch the Collingwood-Bulldogs game since he barracks for Collingwood and the Diary is still neutral since we’re still waiting for the Saints to come marching in – has an interesting engagement in Melbourne prior to that date.

He tells us he’s one of only two Gentiles speaking at the Melbourne Jewish Writers Festival. He’s on the dais for a chat on Jun. 1 with Dave Bloustein, John Safran and Howard Nathan (chairing the session). The topic: It’s Funny ’cos It’s Us.

Another friend of the Diary won’t be at the festival at all, even though he qualifies, since he’s Jewish and he writes. Journalist-blogger and sometime Ubud Writers and Readers Festival luminary Antony Loewenstein has views on Israel’s Palestinian policies that are regarded as unorthodox within the Australian Diaspora.

 

Favourite Mermaid

Everyone should have a favourite mermaid. Well, it’s a thought, anyway. And Celia Gregory of the World Marine Foundation is ours. We met her ages ago at a Rotary evening at Tugu Hotel at Batu Bolong and we were instantly captivated. She sculpts things and places them under water as an aid to coral regeneration, which is surely a lot more useful than many things a girl could do.

Gregory was speaking today (May 28) at yoga-focused Desa Seni at Canggu, on Living Sculptures in the Sea. Her work is already encrusted with polyps at Pemeruteran in North Bali and now she’s planning to do the same at Amed, with a work named Apsara, after the beautiful supernatural females in yoga mythology.

The structure is designed to create new homes for fish and coral at Jemaluk Bay.

The Desa Seni program Gregory is leading as creative director and founder of the marine foundation includes a special workshop on Jun. 4 with Angela Perez exploring and honouring the Apsara deities.

It ties in with World Oceans Day on Jun. 8.

On Jun. 7 there’s a kids’ workshop for children under 12 at which Gregory and Bali fixture Kayti Denham will explore the myth of the mermaid and her dolphin protectors.

Gregory’s foundation offers a visionary approach to one of the most pressing problems confronting the tropical and sub-tropical oceans. Coral regeneration is essential to the health of reefs around the world.

 

On the Rocks

It’s a shame the Australian government has pulled the plug on Australia Network, the satellite TV service that has been taking Australian culture (no that’s not an oxymoron) to the region for years under a special funding program from the foreign affairs budget.

The announcement came in the federal budget handed down on May 13 but had been long forecast.

Under the previous government it had been proposed to give the Australia Network contract to a commercial operator. This plan was then reversed in the face of argument from many that showing endless reality TV programs and titbits of tabloid “news” wouldn’t really work if the aim was to advance Australia’s interests. You need a public broadcaster with a commitment to cerebral thought to do that.

The budget had to sharply reduce spending, particularly in the forward years. Many people understand that fully. But the Australia Network contract was only worth $20 million (Australian) a year which is a drop in the bucket in comparison with much that appears in budget line items. The ABC has been progressing very well with its symbiosis of Radio Australia, Australia Network, partnerships with foreign networks (including one in Indonesia) and on line platforms and social media.

While it isn’t true that under the Abbott government advancing Australia’s interests overseas will in future be confined to dishing out free budgie-smugglers on a limited annual giveaway plan, there are some curiosities in the broader foreign policy area that worry a few people.

Australia Network runs – ran – on the budgetary equivalent of the smell of an oily rag and with proper direction was beginning to get some good runs on the board. It had just done a deal to get its service broadcast in China, for example.

The view in Australia seems to be that it’s primarily for expatriate Australians. They may constitute a sizeable portion of the existing audience demographic. It is a way to stay in touch with home after all. But that’s not the point. Unless some rabbit is pulled from a hat, “engaging with the region” may suffer a potentially serious and unnecessary blow.

It’s not clear (at time of writing) when the network will cease operating. A call to the Australian foreign minister’s office in Canberra elicited (after a little while on hold trying not to listen to some fairly offensive “rock” music) advice that discussions were under way with the ABC about the closure date and a suggestion that we should check the ABC website.

We’d already done that. Um, that’s why we called.

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Marathon Event

This year’s Bali Marathon has deserted Jimbaran and its sheltered waters for Gianyar regency. It will be interesting to see where the organizers propose to stage the swimming part of the deal, given that the Gianyar coast is rather well known for having very dangerous beaches and offshore currents.

Registration for the Sep. 14 event opened on May 17. The marathon is sponsored by BII Maybank. Professional and amateur participants are expected from throughout Indonesia and overseas.

If you’re planning to stretch yourself, you can register on line at balimarathon.com.

 

Hector tweets @scratchings on Twitter

The Day That You Were Born.

8 Degrees of Latitude:

This is a lovely birthday card from my friend Lottie Nevin to her son Theo, on his 18th birthday, just celebrated. Happy Birthday Theo!

Originally posted on Lottie Nevin - The Rioja Diaries:

Isabel helped to bring you into the world Theo. She was my midwife. When she wasn’t delivering babies, she’d be delivering lambs or calves on her own farm. She was a large, strong, Yorkshire woman, down to earth and practical. I reckoned that if she could pull a calf out, she wouldn’t have a problem with us.

foxinsnow

On New Years Eve afternoon it started to snow. I was in the girls bedroom changing their bed sheets when I looked out the window and noticed large goose down snowflakes starting to fall. Your dad and I had been invited to a party that evening but the snow didn’t let up. By early evening it had become a blizzard and strong winds felled the electricity lines. We lit candles and cooked soup on the wood stove.

paintinggillbeck

January 1996 seemed like a very long month to me. Your dad struggled to get to…

View original 1,677 more words

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, May 14, 2014

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

Intriguing Art

One measure of a country’s social maturity is how it responds to and interacts with those within its society whose culture is a minority expression. Most countries have minority populations. Mostly, let it be said, they do not demonstrate cultural maturity in their dealings with them.

Australia is by any measure an ethnically diverse nation. Even before the great post-World War II migration boom, its settler community included people of many different origins. Among these were large numbers of Chinese. But as with other settler societies within the Anglosphere – the United States, Canada and New Zealand – it is the descendants of the dispossessed aboriginal inhabitants who are most deserving of goodwill and a substantial helping hand.

Without canvassing colonial policy towards Australia’s Aborigines – about which the historical literature is excoriating – it is pleasing to note that today’s policies seek (though imperfectly) to return to Aborigines the self empowerment they lost when British settlers arrived two centuries ago.

Part of the problem is that much of today’s Aboriginal population is not in the same pre-bucolic hunter-gatherer circumstances as Bennelong, who is remembered in the name of a federal electorate in Sydney and whose place in history (as First Dupe, one might say) is assured.

Australia has long passed the point where it would Anglicize the name of its national animal symbol as “kangaroo”. Some sources assert that this means “I don’t know”, an early whitefella having asked a passing local what they called that strange animal. It has passed, too, the point where a future township (in Queensland) would be called Cunnamulla, which means midden.

It’s rather nice to think that while they were being harried out of their ancestral territories by a pack of uncouth and frequently murderous Brits, the Eighteenth and Nineteenth century Aborigines still found time to have a joke at the expense of those who were doing the harrying.

In the two centuries since British settlement and the beginnings of a distinct Australian culture and indeed ethnicity, the Aboriginal source of some of this identity has generally been left out of the narrative. That is a tragedy.

Complete redress remains a distant goal. But the Australians are actually trying rather hard across many areas of human endeavour. One such effort is the world-touring Message Stick exhibition. It portrays indigenous identity in urban Australia.

The art in the exhibition is challenging, in some instances because it itself perpetuates emergent myths about the principles and purposes of earlier policy towards Aborigines. Some is very striking, especially Christian Thompson’s three 2007 Hunting Ground works.

The exhibitions in Indonesia are the show’s last stop before it repatriates itself to the former Terra Australis Incognita. It was at the eclectic Maha Art Gallery in Renon, Denpasar, from May 4-14. New Consul-General Majell Hind did the honours at the opening assisted by Vicky Miller, First Secretary (Cultural) at Australia’s embassy in Jakarta.

 

Write On

Before we leave the Antipodes for other matters, one other thing deserves a mention. It is the Australia-Indonesia Emerging Writers Exchange organized through the Australian Embassy’s arts and cultural program.

Australia’s Luke Ryan took part in the Bali Emerging Writers Festival over the weekend of May 3-4 (it’s a useful spin-off from the annual Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, this year from Oct 1-5). He and his Indonesian counterpart, Ni Ketut Sudiani of Bali, will be at the Emerging Writers’ Festival in Melbourne (May 27-Jun 6) and the National Writers’ Conference (May 31 and Jun 1) where they will discuss the exchange and potential for Australia-Indonesia collaboration.

Ms Sudiani notes that being in Melbourne will provide a completely different experience from her home in Bali. True. For one thing, the city’s climate is apt to give you all four temperate zone seasons in one day.

But it’s a fabulous place. A representative taste of the city’s contribution to Australian culture should include seeing an AFL game at the MCG, a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria, a peek at St Kilda beach (or Brighton for a different ambience) and plenty of coffee and culinary treats in Lygon Street.

Enjoy, Sudiani.

 

ART-ful Plan

Delphine Robbe, the motivating force behind environmental efforts on land and under water in Lombok’s northern Gili islands, is promoting a new project to grow a coral reef off Senggigi on Lombok’s west coast.

There’s novelty in the project, which is similar in concept to the successful Biorock coral regeneration in the Gilis. It is using metal works of Teguh Ostenrik, one of only a few Indonesian artists in that genre who exhibit widely in galleries. He is the founder of the project.

Among the novelties is the name – ART-ificial Reef Park Lombok. Look it up on Facebook and if you’ve a mind to, join its growing list of fans.

 

Pink’s the Go

Anti-breast cancer campaigners Bali Pink Ribbon organized a breast screening road show this month, in which free screening is offered to Balinese women at various locations around Bali. This is essential preventive health work and a very valuable effort.

Bali Pink Ribbon founder Gaye Warren tells us Bali Pink Ribbon is working with volunteer doctors and nurses from FeM Surgery Singapore and led by Dr Felicia Tan. Two mobile ultrasound units were sent to Bali for the road show, on loan from Philips Singapore.

BPR volunteer doctors and nurses led by Dr Dian Ekawati from Prima Medika Hospital in Denpasar also took part. Prof. Tjakra Manuaba, head of oncology at Prima Medika and medical adviser to Bali Pink Ribbon, led a seminar at the Badung breast screening road show.

The annual Bali Pink Ribbon Walk is on Oct. 25 and will be held as usual in the Nusa Dua tourism precinct. It’s always fun and the money raised is essential to help keep breast cancer education programs and screening going.

Free screening will be available at the Oct. 25 walk and a three-day screening road show will follow.

On Oct. 17 BPR has an “In the Pink” lunch and fashion show planned. It’s in our diary, as is the walk. Advance purchase walk tickets are available from Pink Ribbon House, Bali Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Support Centre, Jl. Dewi Sri IV/ No.1, Kuta. It’s off Sunset Road. Or check their website: balipinkribbon.com

 

Late Notice

There’s no stopping Nigel Mason, viewed by many as the undisputed king of adventure tourism in Bali. He celebrated turning 70 last month in spectacular style with a dazzling party at his Bali Adventure Tours Company’s headquarters at Ubud on Apr. 13.

According to Diana Shearin, of the aptly named DISH public relations outfit and who helped with the fiddly bits, Mason pulled out all stops with an evening of non-stop entertainment, decadent cocktails and an enormous buffet for 400-plus guests.

Mason’s Balinese wife of 31 years, Yanie, and their two sons Jian and Shan were present, as was Mason’s daughter Katia, who lives in Australia.

The proceedings were helped along by Australian comedian Kevin Bloody Wilson and a troupe of lissom young ladies who had delightfully forgotten (as so many do these days) that you’re supposed to wear something over your scanties. Still, this isn’t Aceh.

Shame we missed it. It’s also a shame that an accident in cyberspace prevented the appearance of our original brilliant report on the affray in last edition’s diary. The Great Cursor sent it to a galaxy far, far away. Or we hit the wrong button or something.

 

Won’t Work

Blogger Vyt Karazija posted a great little video on Facebook recently, relating to education about not dumping trash in waterways. He suggested – entirely reasonably – that it should be screened frequently on Bali television channels.

He’d found it while trawling Facebook, which despite its many demerits is a very useful social medium. The clip features a red truck dumping trash into a river near a sign that proclaims “No Dumping”.

So of course we had to rain on Vyt’s parade. We pointed out that while it was indeed a good idea, it just wouldn’t work. Most red truck drivers would simply assume the rule couldn’t possibly apply to them. And drivers of all the other trucks, the green, yellow and blue ones, could say without fear of contradiction that they don’t dump anything from red ones, so what’s the problem?

 

Swell Party

We dropped into the Legian Beach Hotel on Friday, May 9, to help celebrate the opening of the new Ole Beach Bar there. The LBH is a grand local success story. It celebrates its 40th birthday this year and is doing so with the assistance of its significant cadre of return guests, some of whom have been holidaying there for decades.

General Manager Arif Billah, who hails from Lombok, is rightly proud of his staff and the hotel’s place in Bali’s tourism sector.

The drinks at Ole Beach Bar are great too.

 

Hector tweets @scratchings on Twitter

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Apr. 30

 

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences 

 

A Shocking Disgrace

Someone made a video of quarantine officials killing 31 dogs by cruelly amateurish injection at Gilimanuk on Apr. 15 (it looked like strychnine from the way the dogs died). It doesn’t matter that the video was made by someone who had planned to illegally ship dogs to Bali and didn’t care enough to pay to save his own animals.

What do matter are two issues that have returned to the debating table. First, that because of the nature of social media these days, the inhumanity of what occurred has been seen around the world. Bali’s carefully nurtured folkloric and touristic image as the Island of the Gods has been damaged – yet again – by the clownish actions of the authorities.

Second, the action was justified by reference to regulations that prohibit transhipment of dogs and some other mammals as an anti-rabies measure. Those regulations are in place legitimately and should be observed by everyone, but again that’s not the point.

But rabies is not epidemic on Bali. If the report we saw in the Jakarta Post is accurate in quoting a quarantine officer at Gilimanuk as saying it is, the gentleman and the newspaper are profoundly misinformed.

However, the disease is now endemic. This is because of six years of government action and inaction, that deadly duo, and prevarication.

First, it failed to respond in time when the first human cases occurred in 2008. In time-honoured fashion it then (a) engaged in hideous and counterproductive culling campaigns alongside international and NGO action to vaccinate free-living dogs and reduce their numbers by sterilization programs; (b) indulged in the usual siphoning off of funds to line official pockets; and (c) became embarrassed and then angry when people told them they weren’t doing things the right way and when its sorry succession of “rabies free” target dates could not be met.

It’s true that long held practices and beliefs here relating to animals and their care require significant education to overcome. Perhaps the government should attend classes too if it insists on writing the reports on rabies control that go to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the American based World Society for the Protection of Animals.

Rigorous accuracy in formal reporting is an essential bureaucratic skill.

 

Mugger Menace

The perpetrator probably doesn’t care, if in fact he knows, that the elderly expat lady he pulled off a motorbike and mugged and severely bashed in Jl Drupadi in Seminyak on Apr. 10 is still in a coma in hospital and very ill indeed. Muggers are not misfits. That’s a cosy western fiction. They’re vile little criminals.

Her name is Valeria. She is Italian and has lived in Bali for 30 years with her husband and son. They are not rich, except in the relative sense in which Balinese and other Indonesians view foreigners. Fate has dealt them a cruel blow. They have no medical insurance and € 170,000 is now needed to fly her home to Italy for critical care at state expense. (Mugger to note: This is equivalent to Rp 2.7 billion. Did she have anything like that in her purse?).

An appeal for funds was started by friends. Money raised so far has been spent on daily medical bills. If you can, donate here:

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-save-valeria/161690

It’s unwise to resist a mugger or any violent person. But in situations such as that which cruelly afflicted Valeria, instinct tends to prevail. On that score, we note that in another mugging incident recently – not the one in which a French woman was similarly robbed in Kuta as she rode her motorbike – the perpetrator got a painful lesson. The 15-year-old girl he attempted to rob chased him down and put her karate skills to work.

Perhaps the police will notice that motorcycle banditry is getting a bit out of hand again and do something. It’s not just foreign women who are targeted after all. Local women are just as much at risk.

The police are not usually visible unless they’re flashing their lights to push through the traffic because they’re late for tea, or are traffic police out collecting lunch money from the day’s preferred cohort of motorized miscreants. And public safety on the streets is anyway better left to local communities to organize.

In Bali that means the banjars. The Basangkasa banjar in Seminyak operates a security system using local village guards. It’s paid for by the local ATMs, the foreigners who live there, but that’s just the way things are here. It keeps Jl Oberoi and part of Jl Drupadi on the “safe zone” list. Few muggers would want to risk mixing it with the Pecalang.

It’s an idea that could be adopted widely.

 

He Came Bearing Gifts

Diary and Distaff had a lovely lunch on Easter Sunday with an old friend, Robin Osborne, who was transiting Bali on his way to Kupang. We went to the Jimbaran Beach Club, just along from the fish cafés, and ate and drank lightly and watched the tide come in and go out while we talked of many things.

There was rather a lot to talk about. We hadn’t seen him since 1983 in Port Moresby when we were all jobbing for the yellow press. He was at our wedding there in 1982. We agreed it would be unwise to wait another three decades for Reunion II, the flesh being mortal and the march of time inexorable.

Osborne is no stranger to Indonesia or to Bali. He was until fairly recently with the Northern Territory health department where another Bali fan, Kon Vatskalis, was the health minister who pushed forward the Royal Darwin Hospital-Sanglah link.

One of Osborne’s missions on this trip was to look for rare Lombok weaves, in which he has a collector’s interest. He went to Lombok in search of same and stayed at Villa Sayang at Lingsar north of Mataram. In Bali he also visited Ubud where the navel-gazers are always worth watching.

He left us with a fine bottle of Taylor’s very drinkable red and the new book by Damon Galgut, Arctic Summer, which has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Its central character is the English novelist Morgan Forster (E.M. Forster). The Diary reads anything – even the labels on tins of baked beans – but Forster, although a writer who richly deserves his place in the Pantheon, had never seemed attractive as a subject. He was a repressed homosexual in the manner of his time, a womanish, waspish man.

Fortunately the world (largely) has moved on from conformist, proscriptive Victorian-Edwardian ill-humour and rudely intrusive desires to regulate the sexuality of others. And the book is tremendous. It was instantly devoured.

 

We’ve Been to Dubai Too

Though it might surprise Made Wijaya and his Jakarta based publisher Alistair Speirs to hear this, the Diary and the Stranger do share a view rather more often than either of them apparently believes.

Wijaya had a lovely line in his Stranger in Paradise column in Now Bali’s April edition that made a neat point and is certainly worth repeating. He was, he wrote, on his way to a Barong ceremony at Pura Dalem Tunon on the beach near the Ramada Bali Bintang at Tuban.

Tripping as lightly as he could over the 200 non-heritage metres required to reach the temple from the hotel on Jl Kartika Plaza, he had just passed a lone Batak singing Tie a Yellow Ribbon, widely believed locally to be a favourite with tourists, when his gimlet eye for cultural excrescence fell upon a large vacant space walled in by New Architecture.

He wrote:  “We walked on the new dimly lit beach promenade, past a big empty restaurant called The Wharf (how do they come with these dumb names in a sea of rich local culture I think; hoteliers must just close their eyes and think of Dubai).”

Wijaya’s far from subliminal suggestion that the de-Bali-ing of Bali culture is a serious mistake and a clear danger to the island’s appeal is very much to the point. It’s true that it mightn’t worry the new tourists from Indonesia’s big cities, China and other smog-shrouded East Asian places, where crass is the new black.

Few visitors seeking unique cultural experiences would want to waste their money on a facsimile of the Big Durian, however.

 

Load of Rubbish

Three tonnes (3,000kg) of rubbish was collected from five kilometres of beaches at Seminyak, Kuta, Legian, Kedonganan and Jimbaran on Easter Saturday, as part of the 2014 Earth Day global program. Earth Day itself was on Apr. 22,

Six hundred residents and tourists took part in the clean-up, which was sponsored by Coca-Cola Amatil, Quiksilver and Garuda Indonesia.

 

Hector tweets @scratchings on Twitter

 

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