Australia Bali Environment Food Festivals Politics

Absolute Rubbish


Titbits from his diet of worms



Ubud, Bali

Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2018


THE perennial problem of rubbish has yet again raised its head as a topic de jour. The trash that litters Bali’s beaches – it’s not only in the tourist-overburdened south – is something that won’t go away. At least, it won’t without concerted government-led action to set up efficient, sustainable and sufficiently funded waste management programs island-wide.

Getting troupes of anti-litter activists out onto the beaches to pick up trash isn’t the answer. It is merely a necessary immediate response (and very welcome and public spirited) to the universal practice of despoiling the island’s environment, from the tourist beaches where it’s blindingly and revoltingly evident to the piles of discarded garbage thrown away everywhere. The way to deal with the overall crisis – for that is what it is – is to reduce the amount of trash that gets dumped in the drains (ha!) and little streams and creeks, and the one or two watercourses that actually qualify as rivers. This is a local problem, not a tourist one, though of course the authorities point out that without tourism there wouldn’t be the level of waste with which they choose not to deal because official indolence is easier than effort. That way, in the methodology of Indonesian excuse making, it’s the tourists’ fault anyway.

There was an irate outburst on Facebook recently, from someone who lives in a family compound. She reported that she went off – there’s no better way of expressing what she did – when she saw one of her family neighbours littering the collective home environment. There’s no excuse for doing that. It’s not a matter of education. The only explanation is that the perpetrator doesn’t give a shit.

Yet as Yoda might say, “A shit is what we must give.” Until that happens, the criminal littering of Bali will simply continue.

Rubbish on a beach in the Sanur area recently.

Photo: Ton de Bruyn |Facebook

Plain Sailing

IT’S abundantly clear that Australia won’t be joining ASEAN in its present format, not least – as Aussie-Kiwi Indonesian hand Duncan Graham recently noted in a post on an Australian site for more conservative chatterers, On Line Opinion – because every member state has an effective veto on such matters.

Nonetheless, it’s a theoretical question that should be raised now and then, for example in the context of Australia hosting an ASEAN summit, as it did in Sydney recently. Such navel-gazing is in the interests of all parties to any such future arrangement, and James Massola, the new South-east Asian correspondent for the Fairfax media group, was right, not naïve as Graham implies, to do so. He had asked that question of President Joko Widodo and had received a Javanese answer. We’re sure Massola understood that this is what it was. But it was an answer that should be placed on the record.

Australian membership of South-east Asia’s leading geopolitical architecture would make more sense, in the future, and in the regional political circumstances that might well arise on the coattails of Chinese instead of American hegemony, than metaphorically sailing Australia round the world and anchoring it in the Atlantic in the middle of the New Anglosphere, as some Australians apparently would like.

Der Dummkopf

THE Commonwealth Games, a quadrennial sporting festival held among the countries that in long-ago days were jewels in the British imperial crown, and which have recently finished at the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, provided the country’s leading former fish and chip shop proprietor with yet another opportunity to embarrass herself.

Two Indians won shooting medals at the games. According to Senator Pauline Hanson, she of the burka ban farce in the Australian parliament’s upper house in August last year, this was unsurprising since Indians were Muslim and Muslims do this sort of thing (shooting) for a living. She said this on Sky News television, the station of choice for those with towering intellects.

There are many Indian Muslims, but they constitute 14.2 per cent of the population. Hindus are the majority, totalling 74.3 per cent. It was possible, and indeed would be unremarkable if this had been so, that both Indian medallists were Muslim. But they weren’t, as their names would make abundantly clear to anyone even lightly briefed on the sub-continent, such as (even) an Australian fringe politician. The male winner was a chap called Jitu Rai. The female – she’s only 16 – was Manu Bhaker. For the record the men’s silver medallist was Australian Kerry Bell. He’s also neither a Muslim nor a terrorist in training.

Expeditionary Notes

WE’RE in Ubud again, as we write, with a visiting Australian friend who was last in Bali shortly after that dove got back to the Ark with a twig. She notes that things have changed. She enjoyed our drive up to Ubud from the Bukit the other day. It didn’t quite teach her any new words, but the form and expression of them was something of a novelty.

We’ve dined – again – at Kagemusha, the little Japanese garden restaurant at Nyuh Kuning, and the girls went shopping and dropped into the Diary’s favourite Monkey Forest Road café, The Three Monkeys, for a cooling drink. It’s hot work toting the totes.

Tomorrow we’re off to Candi Dasa. That’s a 57-kilometre drive which Google Maps told us today would take an hour and forty minutes. We’ll see tomorrow how long it actually takes to shift by road from Tegal Sari in Ubud to Bayshore Villas at Candi Dasa.

Tomorrow night it’s live jazz at Vincent’s. Pianist Nita Aartsen and her trio are on the bill. They’ve just performed at the closing night of the Ubud Food Festival.

Get It On

WE had a little note from Clare Srdarov the other day, telling us that An Evening on the Green is on again. This one’s on Apr. 28, at Hatten Wines in Sanur, with lots of wine, beer, games, raffles, auctions, and of course food trucks and bars. There’s music too, from four bands: Kim Patra, Muara Senja (from Ceningan), Eastern Soul and Linga Longa. Entry is by pre-purchased tickets only (Rp.200K a pop) and funds raised will go to BIWA, Solemen, Rumah Sehat and Trash Hero Sanur. Hatten’s technical adviser Jim K’alleskè, who also goes by the moniker Blue Cat Jimmy, was at last year’s show in his party hat as well as his Hatten one. This one should be a good gig too.


Australia Bali Food History Indonesia Indonesian Law

Good on You, Renae



His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences


Dec.7, 2016


THE indomitable Lizzie Love, who we’ve always thought would have made a first-rate Flapper if she’d been around in the Roaring Twenties last century, is a very fine friend to many in Bali. In particular her interest in prisoners in Bali’s jails marks her as someone very special indeed. She’ll probably cringe when she reads this, because another of her attributes is discretion that often borders on invisibility.

We saw a note from her the other day pointing us to the Australian magazine New Idea. It’s not our usual reading, except perhaps in back copy form in doctors’ waiting rooms. But its latest issue features Renae Lawrence, the Bali Nine drug mule, and her remarkable rehabilitation in the drug offenders prison at Bangli.

Lizzie wrote: “Well done Renae. You have come a long way – no turning back now. I am so proud of you. Fair-minded people will not define you by your past and they will support your efforts and success in turning your life around.”

To which we can only add: Amen.

At Bangli, where the lush surroundings and the prison staff encourage rehab, Lawrence is busy teaching dance fitness classes and training her pet rescue puppy.

The former catering worker has converted to Hinduism and discovered her softer side.  New Idea quotes one long-term prison visitor thus:

“Renae has changed a lot since her arrest and the years she spent in Kerobokan. She has become calmer, healthier and happier, and just dotes on her little dog Ozzi, who’s been with her since he was only two weeks old. He was the runt of a litter brought into the jail so Renae feels he was a bit of a reject, like her.”

There is one other thing to add. Congratulations to the jail authorities, who have made Bangli a model prison.

He’s a Headache

Perhaps Jamie Murphy, the 18-year-old Australian pipsqueak who bought a bag of crushed headache pills from a man in the street who told him it was something that would make him feel good, has by now had an opportunity to reflect on the consequences of crass stupidity.

He spent two days in police custody after being found with the powder at a security check at Sky Garden, a Kuta nightspot. His parents flew from Perth in Western Australia to collect him from his dramatically curtailed “schoolies’ week” trip to Bali.

Everyone is aware that law enforcement here is random and malleable. Even the police ride around without helmets when they’re not on duty. That’s stupid too, but it’s something for another time.

Indonesia’s drug laws are harsh. Everyone knows that too, or should. The Australian government specifically warns travellers of the potentially deadly risk of using drugs and getting caught. The Australian media is full of reports of what happens to drug-using and trafficking miscreants. Even an 18-year-old untutored in life skills and who in the fashion of the young probably thinks he’ll live forever and is excused the need to heed restrictions, should be aware of that.

Murphy wasn’t, and Murphy’s Law caught up with him. Fortunately for him in this instance, he was dumb as well as stupid.

He caused everyone a headache. Silly boy. He should come back and see us when he grows up.

Diva Doings

Christina Iskandar tells us the Bali Divas & Dudes Christmas lunch on Nov. 25, at Merah Putih, Kerobokan, was a grand success. We never doubted for an instant that it would be, despite our enforced non-appearance, or perhaps because of this.

The Divas’ Facebook has some lovely snaps from the occasion, which was sponsored by Chandon and benefited the Refugee Learning Nest and Bali Children Foundation.

The Divas were nominated for best event in this year’s Yak awards, announced on Dec. 2 (they won!). That affray was themed British Invasion. They meant the music. Which is the best. One intending reveller noted that he might go as Keith Richards, since he wouldn’t need to dress up for the role. Chief Yakker Sophie Digby asked us if we might go as Freddie Mercury. We’re not mercurial enough was our modest response. Though perhaps someone from The Zombies might have been a fit.

The Yak party was at Vue Beach Club, LV8 Hotel & Resorts, at Canggu.

Pizza Special

Joy and Greg Hamlyn, proprietors of the Mudstone Spa Retreat at Yeagarup in the karri forests near Pemberton, Western Australia, are exemplary hosts. We were at the property one evening on our recent WA trip. We weren’t paying guests – though we’d very willingly be such – but present because they are connections of our connections. It’s a sort of 1.5 degrees of separation thing.

It was chilly the evening we were there, unseasonably so according to the locals and certainly a tad on the frigid side for thin-bloods from Bali. But the pizza feast they put on was magic. So was the wine. The additional presence of a young couple whose lack of job prospects had forced them to flee economically comatose Venice in Italy enlivened conversation even further.

It was far from our only culinary delight. In Perth we returned to Clancy’s Fish Bar at City Beach for fish and chips and a very nice pinot noir. We dined on gourmet burgers at Jus Burgers in Subiaco and sampled Papagallo at Leederville, with melt-in-the-mouth pasta and in fine company. Later in the trip we dined at Phoever, also in Subiaco, one of a chain of restaurants serving pan-Asian soups, curries and stir-fries, plus café fare. The beef meatball pho was to die for, as was the tofu stir-fry we had afterwards.

There were chopsticks on the table, since Australia’s addiction to exotic cuisine has substantially eliminated fear of these implements. The presence also of standard western cutlery did though remind us of an incident long ago, in a Japanese restaurant in Paddington in Brisbane. There, the waitress looked at us doubtfully and asked: “Would you like two fork?”

On that now distant occasion the Distaff kicked the Diary sharply under the table and managed to reply in the negative before the waitress went away and she allowed herself a smile and a fit of the giggles.


Well, the Diary’s back in Bali, which is lovely. A two-week break in Australia is good, but there’s no place like home. We arrived on schedule, on Jetstar, unlike a friend, Clare Srdarov, who that day was flying Air Asia and finally left Perth seven hours late. We chatted briefly in the departure hall and left her contemplating a rather nice Merlot that she thought might ease her pain.

Our return was not without incident, however. Jetstar views cigarette lighters as incendiary devices (Australian ones work more than once, just by the by) and won’t carry them. And on arrival at Ngurah Rai Officer Jeffry of Customs put on a politely official scowl and relieved us of an opened and partially consumed bottle of Jack Daniel’s finest, which he found in our checked-in baggage and deemed excess to the authorised allowance.

He insisted that we watch him pouring it down the drain they have in the customs area for such ceremonies. We’re not quite sure what he made of the smile and the thumbs-up we gave him when he demonstrated how gravity deals with bourbon from an opened upturned bottle. But we hope that it helped make his day.

Must Improve

We wrote ourselves a stiff note the other day, just after our return from that big island away to the south. It went like this:

The Cage, Nov. 30, 2016. The garrison will have to improve. The morning patrol today took 33 minutes. This is fully five minutes longer than the acceptable standard. Clearly, two weeks of flat terrain and formed footpaths and roadways in Another Place have reduced performance. On the plus side, the local dogs seem to have remembered us; they didn’t bark, but then they do swing between fury and languor, so perhaps they’re just having a dolorous day.

Calendar Date

It’s Pearl Harbour Day. Dec. 7, 2016, is the diamond jubilee of the mistimed event by which the Japanese started the Pacific element of World War II, an imperial adventure which, in due course, they discovered had not gone entirely to their preferred plan.

The international dateline seems to have been the trouble, not the surprise attack, which whatever one’s other views on the matter may be, was less an act of infamy than of legitimate war.

It was Dec. 8 in Tokyo, the date the Japanese government had set for its declaration of war. Unfortunately it was still Dec. 7 in Hawaii.


Hector also writes a diary which appears in the Bali Advertiser.