HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Mar. 6, 2013

by 8 Degrees of Latitude

 

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

Wrinkle Wars

Bali’s latest entrant in the medical tourism sector is set, says principal Louise Cogan, to catch the next big wave in the industry that will propel the island to equal rank with Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Cocoon Medical Spa at Legian – it’s on Sunset Road – opened in February with discount specials. And Cogan tells us that while we’re five to seven years behind Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Phuket, we should be up there with them by the end of the decade.

       Says Cogan, who has spent the past 10 years in medical tourism in Asia and who also says Cocoon Medical Spa offers treatments, products, technology and training that are the best in the world: “The development of world class centres like BIMC and Siloam Hospital will increase patients’ perceptions of medical quality which will see a boom in medical tourism.”

      According to Cogan perceptions of Bali as a medical tourism destination are growing and the local industry will grow with it as people see that they can now get quality medical care here. “This will see both an enormous influx of tourists who would normally have gone to KL or Singapore, and secondly keep residents in Indonesia, rather than them going abroad for medical treatments,” she tells us.

  Cocoon Medical Spa is very different to any other clinic or hospital in Asia, says Cogan. It offers non-invasive cosmetic, anti-ageing and wellness treatments in “a beautiful haven” of Balinese calm. “My initial aim was to have a beautiful international standard cosmetic centre that offers comprehensive treatments at Bali prices,” she says

     Like any industry, the skin-fix sector regularly needs a facelift. What Cogan is promising is more of a total (non-invasive) makeover. It mightn’t do much for superannuated diarists, but we know a lot of people who will be very keen to try a bit of comfy cocooning.

I Say, Old Fruit!

There’s an election on, for Governor that is, and as anyone knows, at election time a candidate is likely to say all sorts of things. Governor Pastika, who is running for a second term with a different set of political collaborators (the fluidity of Indonesian politics is a joy to behold) now says he’d like us all to eat local fruit. Now that’s a good idea. We eat it all the time here at The Cage.

      But it needs to be leavened with fruit from elsewhere; it’s a foreigner kind of thing. And, you know, foreigners are the ones in the big hotels who will be forced to select from Pastika’s table d’hôte. This seems not to have occurred to The Guv, who predictably has turned to regulation as his mechanism of choice. According to reports, new rules are to be brought in to compel hotels to use local fruit and to ban imports.

       The a la carte, as usual, has been placed before the horse. Foreign tourists might like to come here and eat local fruit – in fact they’d be mad to miss out on that opportunity – but they want quality. Small brown shrivelled things that might once have been some other colour, and blobs blotted with spots and blemishes that are possibly harmless but you wouldn’t know until you found they weren’t, are not an attractive component of an expensive five-star breakfast buffet.

       It would be really good if local growers could benefit economically from becoming trusted suppliers to the food supply chain. That means consistent quality. It means certainty of supply. These are but two among the multitude of things that overcrowd the too-hard basket in Bali.

Spectators All

There has been a measure of jollity at The Cage recently that exceeded even our usual high-laugh diet. (We do a great maniacal guffaw; it is, or it should be, admired by all who have to deal with the daily nonsense of life in these parts.) Its cause was not the surprisingly active monsoon, which this year has apparently been intent on drowning you or blowing you away every time you set foot outside. The reason was the gathering together of three old media types from Queensland under two neighbouring roofs, ours and the villa next door.

      Two of us are resident – though one only temporarily, working on a project at the Institute for Peace and Democracy just a manic 15-minute drive away – and one flew in from the Sunshine State for a 10-day break. It was raining when he left there and raining when he got back, so he felt remarkably at home here.

       He brought with him a copy of the latest Spectator, the Australian edition, which was instantly devoured by your diarist, starved as he is of stuff to read that’s on an actual printed page. What a delight! English prose of English rose standard; grammatical construction; piquancy in every piece; and a finely honed non-PC view of Australian politics – though that’s not surprising given its Australian editor Tom Switzer, also known to The Diary, is a gentleman who might in some circumstances advance the theory that the world is flat and then invite you to a Tea Party.

      Speaking of The Spectator, which has been the Diary’s weekly rant of choice since Noah was last to be heard complaining about the mess the animals had made of the ark, its English edition retains the services of a delightful antediluvian called Taki. He is a columnist who is so non-PC that even his laptop won’t talk to him.

      He recently found cause to complain about a further disastrous lapse in standards. He wrote: “Travel is now an exercise in being among slobs. Tracksuits, trainers, loud dirty children, fat people drinking out of bottles with wires hanging from their ears, they are the best excuse I know for paying through the nose and flying private.”

      We sympathise. Nowadays, sadly, it’s even worse up the pointy end of the plane.

Inside Job

Among the reading material that is de rigueur at The Cage is the online journal Inside Indonesia. It is 30 years old this year, a milestone which it recently noted was probably unforeseen by founders Pat Walsh and John Waddingham when they published its first edition in November 1983, with Max Lane in the editor’s chair. Since then 111 quarterly editions of Inside Indonesia have been published and, since going completely online in 2007, new articles also appear weekly.

     Its mission remains the same as always: a commitment to raising awareness about the diversity of Indonesian society and the struggles of Indonesians who wish to achieve greater democracy, human rights, gender and racial equality, tolerance and environmental sustainability. Inside Indonesia may sometimes not be comfortable browsing material, but that’s OK – there’s more than enough PR pap around to satisfy the needs of those who prefer to Mogadon themselves – because it runs high-quality articles by experts, researchers and practitioners in the field that are always worth reading.

     Indonesia is vastly different today from 30 years ago. In 1983 the autocratic New Order was at its height. Today, albeit in a flawed fashion, democracy has taken root and Indonesians are benefiting from greater freedom, higher disposable incomes, and an expanding service sector. Once, Inside Indonesia arrived at a subscriber’s Indonesian address in an unmarked brown envelope. Today it drops into inboxes everywhere, free from the malicious attentions of any thought police.

Go Green and Clean Up

The Irish lobby, the global collective that seems to imagine it’s still digging spuds in the Emerald Isle – or feels it should be and we’d all be the better for it if it was – has staged another coup. Fortunately it’s yet another forgettable one. On March 17, in honour of Ireland’s chief patron saint, St Patrick, the Pyramids of Giza outside Cairo and the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, will “go green.”

    Patrick, actually Patricius since he was a Latin-speaking Romano-Briton and if indeed Patricius was his name, first went to Ireland as a boy sometime in the fifth century CE when pagan pirates captured him and took him there as a slave. He later escaped, went back to Blighty, became a Christian missionary and returned to Ireland as a bishop many years later. Legend credits him with banishing snakes from Ireland and promoting the shamrock (a clover) as a public emblem.

     His saint’s day is an honoured occasion in Ireland and beyond, and quite properly so. Though why we should all be enjoined to drink green beer on the day and why various global landmarks should be temporarily turned a similarly bilious shade, is a separate and quite impenetrable issue. The Irish tourism board gets a kick out of it. But Bloomsday – a literary, secular and profoundly profane celebration on June 16 each year – is far better entertainment.

     Wonder if Bali will go green – or even clean and green – for St Pat’s Day this year? It’s only five days after Nyepi.

Hello? Hello?

The Red Cross Blood Donation Centre at Sanglah Hospital in Denpasar wants foreigners living here or visiting to donate blood, especially the rare rhesus negative type. Rh negative is rare anyway and all but exclusively found in Europeans. But it is in demand from hospitals throughout Indonesia which face a chronic shortage of the type for emergency use and of ready sources of it.

The director of the Red Cross Blood Donor Unit at Sanglah (PMI – Palang Merah Indonesia), Dr AAG Sudewa, says foreigners in Bali who have this rare blood type should donate whenever possible. Well, Dr Sudewa, The Diary is O Rh neg and has tried to do just that. Alas, it was to no avail since first we failed the Indonesian donor age test (it’s 60 and we negotiated a dispensation validating the western standard, 70) and a trip to the middle of Denpasar from the Bukit would drive up the blood pressure of a saint, or possibly a cadaver.

We’ll try again, though. We do like to be helpful.

Hector’s Diary is published in the Bali Advertiser in print and online at http://www.baliadvertiser.biz. Hector tweets @scratchings and is on Facebook (Hector McSquawky)