His regular diet of worms and other tasty morsels
Bali, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017
WHERE Indonesia and Australia are concerned, you can always count on something unexpected to suddenly ripple the waters. It’s a bit the same as an Indonesian volcano: it’s quiet until it goes boom.
In Australia, it’s mostly a careless minor politician or some media “celebrity” who clumsily drops a pebble in the pond, or very occasionally a former prime minister. In Indonesia, it’s just as likely to be a military personage drawing himself to attention by banging a big nationalist drum.
That these little interruptions flow chiefly from ignorance is no comfort. The reverse, in fact, since Indonesia has been functionally independent for 72 years and formally for 68, and was politically and materially supported by Australia in its resistance to post-World War II Dutch efforts to resuscitate their dead colonial dreams.
By the end of the Japanese war Australia had become the least imperially minded member of the Anglosphere. Except for isolated attempts at ridiculous recidivism on the right of Australian national politics, this welcome and natural process has continued.
The latest little political difficulties involve an invidious inscription allegedly seen by a Kopassus officer who was attending a language course in Perth and the raising of the West Papuan flag at a protest in Melbourne.
Neither incident is really worth wasting time on further discussion. Posturing is painful and counterproductive, especially when it becomes fodder for insensate commentary in the blinkered depths of the social media pool.
THE sudden imposition of new regulations on the Australian low-cost airline Tiger, which is owned by Virgin Australia, seems to have come straight from the Because We Can clause officialdom likes to cite now and then.
If this were a place where you could have confidence in regulatory policy even if a particular set of regulations disadvantaged you or others, then it would be easy to accept changes. They shouldn’t be sudden, they should be discussed – socialised is the term they use here – and they should of course be facilitative rather than the reverse.
Someone must have had an “oh, doh!” moment, because the Indonesians later gave Tiger permission to fly 2000 passengers out of Bali back to Australia over the weekend.
Tiger was forced to cancel Australia-Bali flights virtually at a moment’s notice. They seem to have been told their scheduled operations here had been transferred from the office that handles scheduled airline services to the one that regulates charter operations and requires much more complex, flight by flight, arrangements. Go figure.
The airline’s scheduled services will resume, we assume, at some point. That’s if Tigerair Australia and its parent airline company can be bothered continuing to scratch for profit when local low-cost players want the lion’s, or in this case the tiger’s, share of the market.
That might be the ultimate twist in the tail, so to speak.
THE shocking events at a Seminyak glitter strip venue the other day, when security guards restrained a protesting Russian partygoer by bashing him so severely that he has lost an eye, demonstrate very clearly how far down the road to perdition Bali has gone in its quest for the tourist dollar.
There is still time to retreat from the precipice, and to regain some of the island’s past reputation as a place where you can have fun – and even be a little naughty – without risking life and limb. But swift action is needed.
Properly trained security personnel can deal with such events easily. A quick knee in the groin and a half-Nelson arm twist will effectively and temporarily disable anyone who has had the temerity to query their bill.
Of course, proprietors of such venues need to possess a socially balanced brain themselves, or be forced to act as if they have, and must spend money on actually doing things properly. That’s another side of Bali’s tourism and regulatory environments. It applies (or should do) to entertainment venues everywhere, especially in the Kuta-Legian-Seminyak-Canggu riot quarter.
The authorities and the police must be proactive. That’s a polite way of saying they really should get off their bums and do something. We know; that’s a difficulty. Goon squads, empowered quasi-official thugs, mobs amok, and fire-and-forget non-thinking is the usual form here.
The latest event was the second publicised one at the venue recently. In the first incident, two Indonesian customers were criminally bashed by security.
For the record, the venue is La Favela, in the thoroughfare colloquially known as Oberoi Street. A favela is a Brazilian slum. Just saying.
WE hadn’t been to North Bali for the best part of a decade until last weekend, when we spent two lovely days at Villa Patria on the slopes behind Lovina.
It really is a magic place, set 355 metres above sea level but only some six kilometres from the coast. There’s only one guest villa, plus a lumbung, and the owners live on site with first-class staff running the show.
The food is rather on the yummy side, so if you don’t want to venture out to sample that of others, dinner at home is a good idea. The tariff includes breakfast.
The little resort is set in lovely gardens, with a swimming pool, and high quality massage is available on call. Think of it as a home away from home. We’ll be back.
It’s a bit of a trek from the south of Bali. But if your travel plans can accommodate a 3.5-hour car trip each way – and the magnificent lakes and mountains and plenty of places to stop for a coffee in cool Baturiti or Bedugul – it’s an easy ride.
More Sad Farewells
RIO Helmi, the Ubud-based photographer and writer, wrote a wonderful obituary for Linda Garland, the bamboo lady, who has died in Australia after a long battle with cancer, at the age of only 68. It’s definitely worth reading.
There are many adornments to the expat scene here – there are many others in the resident foreign community who adorn only their preferred views of themselves, in the manner of the self-promotional everywhere, but that’s for another time – and Garland was several dozen laurel wreaths more worthy than most.
Her work here over many decades was immensely practical in terms of the inspirational and income earning opportunities it gave to the Balinese. Helmi’s piece describes all that, at length and much better than we can here.
Another old Bali hand has left us, too. Quirky photographer Pierre Poretti died at home in Switzerland, of a stroke. His art was magnificent and it, and he, will be sorely missed.
What a Shower
THE Australian feminist fulminator Helen Razer is always good. She’s exactly the Diary’s kind of social Marxist. Her summation in a piece she published this week about the greed-and-envy-fuelled collapse of the selfish capitalist dream helped our morning coffee go down with an extra zing on Friday.
It’s the sort of argument that fuels real discussion about things that actually matter. In such a setting, over a table, say, with prime Arabica to hand, we’d probably say this:
Have you read A Short History of Stupid? We found it a wonderful to-and-fro on many issues. Razer wrote it in counterpoint with Bernard Keene, who is exactly not the Diary’s kind of social libertarian.
The argument she puts in her piece is basically sound about the revolting Trump and his neocon mates and Bonfire of the Vanities cheer squads. They can all forever get golden showers from infinite numbers of Russian hookers before anyone should care about the moral and ethical depravity of their private personalities and behaviour.
It’s the moral and ethical depravity of their policies (if discernible) and politics that sicken us.
But the Diary has enough of old journeyman journalist in the veins (Razer does not) to get a good giggle out of the risible idiocy of populist celebrity “leaders” who think debate is about massaging their own egos, or having others do that for them; who apparently think the serial indiscretions that litter their private lives can possibly escape scrutiny in the global porn shop they’ve created and from which they grossly profit; who wouldn’t know a decent social (or economic or health or national security) policy if any of these happened by chance to tickle their coccyx while some fake-bosomed slag was teasing their private parts with perfumed tissues; and who are so functionally useless except in their own interest that they couldn’t boil an egg.
Today (Jan. 14) is T -6, by the way.
ONE of the Diary’s favourite R&R places, the Novotel Lombok Resort and Villas at Mandalika beach in the island’s south, has another deserved gong in its collection of awards.
The resort, part of the Accor chain, was named The World’s Best Halal Beach Resort 2016 at the World Halal Tourism Awards during International Travel Week in Abu Dhabi late last year.
WHTA estimates that about 1.9 million votes from 116 countries were lodged in the 2016 awards, over 16 categories and among 383 candidate properties. You can see all winners in all categories here.
Lombok is carving out a niche for itself in tourist and travel opportunities for Muslims, part of which naturally includes Halal food and a rather less raunchy entertainment picture. Even the sexy dancers aren’t, really.
Except in the northern Gilis – Trawangan, Meno and Air – which these days most visitors access direct from Bali by fast boat – the sun-sand-and-sin western tourist demographic is conspicuously absent, at least in large, noisy numbers.
Some people think that’s a good thing.
Hector also writes a monthly diary in the Bali Advertiser newspaper. The next appears on Feb. 1