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Titbits from his regular diet of worms

The Cage, Bali | Saturday, Apr. 28, 2018

 

DIAN Cahyadi, with whom we had the pleasure of working in Lombok more than decade ago, on a little and now extinct monthly newspaper called the Lombok Times, has achieved a new personal best for 2018. Actually, it’s a double triumph.

He scaled Mt. Rinjani, a feat in itself. We’ve seen photographic evidence. It wasn’t photo-shopped. It did look a tad chilly up there at 3,726m, where if the air is dry – and it is at the moment, now the dry season has properly kicked in – the lapse rate can easily take 25 degrees Celsius off the sea-level equivalent temperature.

Lombok’s Sasak people are not necessarily built for chill. This is a property they share with most Indonesians whose good fortune it is to live in an equatorial archipelago. His wife Barbara, who with Dian produces the useful Lombok Guide monthly, tells us the air temperature was zero Celsius when hubby and party left their long-way-up-the-mountain base camp at 2am to trek to the summit for sunrise. Brr-risk.

He’s a glutton for punishment, too. He’s done the climb four times now, an annual treat at the start of the climbing season. He and his mates clean up rubbish left on the mountain and take time out to educate porters and local communities about the importance of the environment.

(This item has been edited subsequent to its original publication, to reflect information later made available.)

Plumb Line

THE Governor of Jakarta says he’d like to see all the boats that service the Thousand Islands off the city operate safely. That’s an eminently reasonable position to take. It follows a report by the national maritime transportation safety agency to the effect that most of the boats are unsafe and poorly crewed.

There’s an easy solution. It is to ensure that boats are well built, adequately maintained and their crews competent, that navigation is conducted by the rules and not by whim, that boats are not overloaded, that weather conditions are taken into account, that harbourmasters work as harbourmasters instead of collectors of additional fees, and that the waters are effectively and not just ephemerally patrolled by enforcement agencies.

In short, the trick is to run things as they should be run and not as an informal and frequently manic circus. We made that point publicly. Someone came back immediately and said, well, that’s where the grand plan fails, then.

It’s hard to argue to the contrary, though we wish this were not so.

What Refugees?

THERE’s an interesting article in the Jakarta Post today – the newspaper is celebrating 35 years of telling it like is, give or take a line or two, by the way – that points out the refugee problem Indonesia faces. There are 14,000 such people, that we know of, who have arrived in Indonesia for a variety of reasons. One of these is that Australia remains a preferred destination for people seeking a new life, or any sort of life at all.

The Australian drawbridge was pulled up sharply some years ago, of course, assisted by a policy of employing the country’s navy to turn back unauthorised vessels. Australian policy is to deny entry to anyone claiming refugee status and specifically to keep such people out of Australian waters where, should they reach them, the courts might take a less political and more humane view of the country’s responsibilities.

It’s a policy that has worked, in terms of reducing basically to zero the number of people who are able to place their lives in the hands of rapacious people smugglers and get on leaky boats that might sink and drown them. Stop the boats was the Australian government’s mantra. It was a constant refrain.

It has left Indonesia with a problem, however, though that’s not Australia’s fault. These people – refugees, economic migrants, potential pogrom victims, whatever – are in Indonesia after unauthorised arrival and are therefore Indonesia’s responsibility. None will be going on to Australia, short of a change of conceivable government and a Damascene conversion among the electors. That won’t happen. So they’re stuck.

Kuta Crawl

WE’VE just had the considerable pleasure of a visit from an old friend of the Companion, and of the Diary’s by natural association. She’s a journalist who lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland – and who had a lengthy spell in Hong Kong too, long before its reacquisition by China – and whom we had been trying for ages to get to come and see us.

She and the Companion go back a long way, more than three decades, in fact, via various adventures and misadventures, and she’s a lively sort. So we all had fun. Ubud and Candi Dasa were on the expeditionary schedule, in pleasant accommodations (Tegal Sari in Ubud and Bayshore Villas in Candi Dasa) and plenty of activity (Venezia Day Spa in Ubud and Vincent’s – for the Thursday evening live jazz – in Candi Dasa) plus time at The Cage with its cooling Bukit breezes, ocean glimpses and chance of chainsaws. On the latter, it did seem that the gods had smiled upon us and declared a moratorium on borrowed buzzing for the duration. Or perhaps it all took place while we were away.

On her last evening we went into Kuta, toured the shops, bought some things, and dined at Un’s, a favourite spot of ours. Their frozen margaritas were declared a thing. The traffic afterwards, in contrast, was declared an unimaginable thing. And so it was, but then it almost always is. The more bucolic lifestyle of the western Bukit is much better, especially if you want to take photos of pretty little cows.

Handbag Parade

THE Kuta outing provided another chance for the Diary to prove his credentials as Handbag to the Companion. This is something we’ve done, in various places and forms, over rather more years than it is now comfortable to recall.

These days, it’s not corporate hand bagging. We are no longer required to stand around, consort-like, and engage with small talk persons who are unknown to us and whom we might otherwise wish to keep in that state of dimensional offset. It’s actual, physical, handbag carrying that’s now all the go. This is a duty we perform with serious intent, since a woman’s handbag is like one of those black holes in space. Things go in them that are apt never to be seen again, but it wouldn’t do to be the duty handbag holder if something were to be required from within and could not be found. Not finding things in her handbag is a job reserved for the lady who owns it.

In Jl. Legian in Kuta this week, while the distaff detail was in a shop looking for things with bling on them, we stood sentry outside, toting the handbag and trying to ignore the importuning of the massage ladies across the street. Sometimes it’s good to have reached an age where, like other things among life’s former functions, blushing is no longer feasible.

Whine o’Clock

180428 HECTOR'S DIARY CARTOON

This is a very good point. More information please.

 

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Chin-chin!

Blots on the Landscape

HECTOR’S DIARY

HectorR

 

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

Bali, Jul. 20, 2016

 

Where to start? We’ll leave aside (for the moment) certain segments of the bar scene where duty of care, which shouldn’t be an entirely foreign concept, is spelt WTF, and winks and nods at malfeasant bad behaviour, if not actual complicity, are commonplace. They’re blots on the social landscape. The ones at issue in this instance are actual, physical, blots. The latest to come to attention is the groyne built out over the coral reef in front of the new Kempinski hotel at Sawangan on the southern Bukit. The hotel wants to make a playground for its guests.

That this has altered the natural wave break pattern – with possibly incalculable future impacts – and destroyed the reef habitat is of no consequence to people whose interest lies solely in chasing money. Surfers who have been deprived of The Nikko, a great surf break, and the shooed-away local seaweed growers don’t count. They’re not in the 5-plus-star demographic. There’s a petition out on Change.org. We’ve signed it. It’s unlikely to move the rocks, but at least they’ll know we don’t like them, and why.

Just round the bend – how appropriate – and up around the Jakarta-by-Sea that developers have created with what locally luminous landscaper Made Wijaya dismissively (and quite properly) writes off as New Asian Architecture along the Ngurah Rai Bypass, the row continues over the plan to turn Benoa Bay into Port Excrescence. There was another huge Tolak Reklamsi demonstration on Jul. 10, organized by the local villages and banjars. We’re sure Governor Pastika heard about it. We do wonder what he said about it, though.

In a related move, there’s popular action in Lombok to stop massive sand extraction contracts there from going ahead. Apart from anything else, they seem to be illegal, created under the brown envelope rules that blight Indonesia. Tomy Winata needs all that silicon to fill in the Benoa mangroves and kill a natural, traditional community so he can construct an artificial one.

Shoot! There’s an idea

Apparently it’s not illegal to import unlicensed weaponry into Indonesia if you can get your new killing toys stuffed in the diplomatic bag. This is what members of the presidential security squad did in the USA. A man who assisted with their acquisition has been before the American courts since (perhaps astonishingly, although thankfully) it is unlawful to export guns from the Land of the Second Amendment unless you have a permit.

You can buy them there willy-nilly, as mass shootings by homicidal madmen demonstrate with tedious regularity, because Congress and the National Rifle Association seem to believe it’s still 1791 and that the right to bear arms has more validity than the nakedly bare truth.

But because the Indonesian presidential security squad was able to organize to get their new guns into diplomatic protected baggage, no crime that legal process can adjudicate has been committed at either end of the deal. Here at home, according to reports, administrative measures are under consideration (or at least they were when we wrote this). We don’t think we should wait up for a meaningful result.

Dr. Hannigan, We Presume?

British writer and skilled Indonesia hand Tim Hannigan, whose archival skill at demythologizing Raffles and other Names of Empah will always have a laudable capacity to sabotage the keyboards upon which post-imperial paeanists like to tinkle, wasn’t at last year’s Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. He had a prior engagement in Mongolia, though not among the marmots of the Gobi or indeed the yurts of same, since yurts do not exist, though marmots do, and carry plague. The large tents of the local nomads are called Gers. This is pronounced grrrr in the way one might voice imprecations against massed idiot bike riders who turn right from the left lanes at the numerous traffic lights on Sunset Road and heedlessly cause karmageddon.

Sadly, Hannigan won’t be at this year’s festival either. He will be at Leicester University in England, doing a PhD on the ethical issues of travel literature that’s being funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the M3C (Midlands 3 Cities) doctoral program.

Hannigan recently revised Willard Hanna’s Bali Chronicles, which are due to appear around festival time (UWRF 2016 is Oct. 26-30) as A Brief History of Bali, with a foreword by Adrian Vickers. Never mind, the Diary will have a beer for him on opening night.

His lovely light history, Raffles and the British Invasion of Java, deliciously upset the Hyacinth Bucket-style riparian delights favoured by certain imperial historiographers when it was published in 2012. Come to think of it, we owe him at least a beer for that, if not a G&T. He also wrote A Brief History of Indonesia (2015) and says he hopes to be back in archipelago during the northern summer of 2017. He’s a dab hand at fishing out historical and other anecdotes and Indonesia has a rich lode of those.

A View With a Room

Lunch at Sundara, Four Seasons Jimbaran’s eclectic beachside swan-around place for the locally well placed, is not to be missed. There’s plenty of outdoors for outdoor types and it’s airy inside with a lovely view of the bay beyond, especially at high tide. We recently ruminated there, on a very pleasantly passable Caesar salad and other delights, in the fine company of chief 4S Bali spruiker Marian Carroll. We made a couple of notes, as you do on such occasions, though the divine mini lemon meringue pie we had for dessert rather got in the way of concentrated effort.

Of primary interest was that the Ganesha art gallery has been reinvented as a multimode arts and cultural space. That’s great news. Of this, GM of Four Seasons Resorts Bali, Uday Rao, says: “We believe it is our responsibility – as well as our honour – to give guests the opportunity to personally meet and learn from Bali’s talented artists, who are hand-picked and invited to share their knowledge and skills. Guests can take a lesson in woodcarving, painting, dancing, making offerings for ceremonies, or weaving fine songket (cloth).”

Officially it’s the Ganesha Cultural Centre. It opens on Jul. 29. We’ll get along there soon enough.

Sundara is also spreading its wings. It is introducing a long brunch. We’ll have a word with Sophie Digby of The Yak about that. She’s a brunch and bubbles girl from way back, and the launch date (Aug. 14) might already be in her diary. It does seem to be a pretty good way to spend a lazy Sunday.

Animal Welfare? What’s That?

News that Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea have moved to seriously tighten up and enforce animal welfare laws may furrow the odd brow here. Isn’t that sort of thing best left to karma? A dog’s life is – well, a dog’s life.

It shouldn’t be. In the Australian state of New South Wales the government has announced greyhound racing will be abolished from July next year, because of rampant cruelty and mistreatment of dogs. There’s a chorus line of unrepentant recidivists now in pursuit of the premier, Mike Baird. He apparently will not be budged; neither should he.

Here in Bali, animal welfare outfits often have a hard time when they try to help animals. It’s not only dogs. Monkeys – intelligently sentient beings – are locked up in cages and made to perform perversely infantile tricks so their “owners” can make money. We won’t even touch on civets forced to shit for a living so people can drink Luwak coffee (ugh!) or the poor dolphins of Keremas, whose unhealthy and woefully inadequate “pool” affords them nothing but pain and – if they look wistfully over the edge – a view of the nearby ocean that is their natural home.

When clear evidence of gross abuse of dogs comes to light, as it has recently in a case where patient and horrendously expensive negotiation that went on for weeks thankfully resulted in a large number of animals being rescued from hell, no one in authority was prepared to do a thing.

Animal welfare laws in Indonesia are antiquated – they date from the Dutch era – and are shockingly inadequate. They are rarely enforced. The example set for Jakarta by Malaysia, Thailand and South Korea cannot be dismissed as yet another instance of western policies that have no relevance to Indonesia Raya.

Make Vroom

It was pleasing to see recently that Rakesh Kapoor, who is equally adept on two wheels or four, has returned to Bali from Jakarta, though not to his former domicile, Tampak Siring in the green rice terraces of Gianyar. He’s popped up as general manager of Seminyak Village Mall

HectorR

Hector’s Diary appears in the print and on line editions of the fortnightly newspaper the Bali Advertiser

Gaia Waives the Rules

 Hector’s Bali Diary

HectorR

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

June 22, 2016

 

This seemed to be the consensus among the worriers, at least, those who observe ephemeral climatic events as a message from someone or other (and of course, themselves) about the dangers of human environmental iniquity.

But climate is cyclical as well as seasonal, warming and cooling in response to all sorts of things, even sunspots. That’s why people were able to grow grapes and make wine in England in the early Middle Ages and then a couple of centuries later could ice-skate on the Thames every winter. It’s why millions of years ago there was a natural episode of global warming – we call it the Carboniferous Period – that produced worldwide rainforests that later turned into the coal with which we are now polluting the atmosphere

The problem today is that you can’t say these things without being buried under a chorus of criticism because you’re denying global warming, or worse, are possibly one of those ghastly dinosaurs who hold that man has no influence on the atmosphere and the climates that result.

For the record, we are not among that challenged cohort.

We do need to stop polluting both the atmosphere and the planet’s surface, stop breeding millions of mouths we cannot adequately feed, and stop chasing economic growth as the be all and end all of human progress.

So, to the point at issue: The recent high tides and big ocean swells that hit Bali were unusual, though far from unknown. The coincidence of lunar cycle high water, the continuing effects of a powerful El Niño event, storms in the Indian Ocean and big Antarctic lows generating huge swells was spectacular. Tragically, as always with such events, there were human casualties. Despoilers of the beaches for profit found that indeed they had built upon the sand. Silly, shortsighted chumps will always collide with karma. It was the same in faraway Sydney.

The moral is that the ocean is for fish and the beach is to visit. We are a terrestrial species. Perhaps, eventually, Governor Pastika and Benoa Bay non-environmentalist Tomy Winata will note this and grasp the good sense of Tolak Reklamasi. Both should be familiar with that term by now.

Make a Splash

Waterman’s Week 2016, which is coming up in July, has many events at many venues designed to honour the marine environment and raise awareness of its human-made problems.

There’s fun to be had that’s not too energetic, as well. One of the sponsors of the week, Island Mermaids, is staging a Miss Mermaid Bali 2016 Photo Shoot Contest. So if you’ve ever dreamed of being a mermaid (and are female and over 13) this is your chance to become one of the mythical creatures and help save the oceans too.

The idea is that mermaids need clean oceans. Well, no one would argue with that. Doing so would certainly set the Sirens off. All funds raised from the contest will go to the new Zero Waste to Oceans Education and Demonstration Centre being built by ROLE Foundation at Nusa Dua.

Details are available at www.island-mermaids.com.

Tea and Sympathy

Ross Fitzgerald, professor of history and erotic writer, has just enjoyed a short sojourn in Bali. He was here with his wife Lyndal Moor and stayed at Puri Saraswati near the royal palace in Ubud.

He and the Diary repaired to The Melting Pot on the Queen’s Birthday Australian holiday (Jun. 13) via a nice light lunch at a nearby warung, to watch the Melbourne-Collingwood AFL match that day. Fitzgerald was a very disappointed man; his team Collingwood got thumped by 46 points. The Diary didn’t care. We get our own doses of disappointment from St Kilda.

But in between groans, and speculation about the very large rat we’d seen running along the top of the wall behind the bar, we had another chat about his candidacy for the Senate from the state of NSW for the Australian Sex Party. We’ve mentioned that before. There’s an outside chance that we could soon be chums with Senator Fitzgerald. The Sex Party’s not all about, um, that. It has some very progressively sensible social policies too.

Fitzgerald told us he had recently debated the Rev. Fred Nile, a NSW state MP of, shall we say, rather rigid Christian views, at a little soiree organized by The Sydney Institute which is run by another old friend, Gerard Henderson. It would have been fun to be there.

He told us another tale. On his Garuda flight up from Sydney the happy arrival video they screen included advice that you’d have to pay $US 35 for a visa on arrival. Um. That was scrapped a while ago. Perhaps the world’s best airline for cabin service would like to update its AV primers? They should also have a chat with their cabin staff. Those on Fitzgerald’s flight didn’t know either.

Ramandhan Special

The official thuggery visited upon a poor food seller in Semarang, Central Java, who dared to keep her little stall open during Ramadhan fasting hours, is a prize example of many things. The woman has debts she needs to pay, and apparently customers who wish to eat, presumably not being required by their religion to fast.

The incident caused a furore. President Joko Widodo, familiarly called Jokowi, gave the woman Rp10 million to compensate her for the food that overbearing religious instructors and heavy handed public order police had stolen from her. Regional police chiefs have now received advice that they should not allow this sort of vigilante action.

There’s a verse in the Holy Quran that seems apposite.

“Their [acceptance] of guidance is not your responsibility. It is Allah who awards guidance whom He wills. And whatever wealth you give away (as charity donation) goes to your own benefit. It is not appropriate for you to spend but for Allah’s pleasure alone. And whatever you spend of your wealth, [its reward] will be paid back to you in full and you shall not be treated unjustly.” (Al-Baqarah 2:272).

Festival Time

Among the panoply of festivals and celebrations that these days grace Bali – or otherwise, depending on individual taste – is the annual Bali Arts Festival, the doyen of the stable, which has been around now for 38 years.

This year’s, now under way, was officially opened on Jun. 10. President Jokowi dropped in for the show and the street parade of thousands of Bali artists. The annual month-long festival showcases Bali’s traditional arts. It coincides with the school holidays, which gives the kids something to do in their down time. That’s always a good idea.

The President made a speech. He began with greetings in Balinese, to loud cheers from the crowd. And then he said this, which is worth absorbing:

“I feel very happy this afternoon that I can be here, on the Island of the Gods, Bali. For me, the Bali Arts Festival is not merely a people’s party or an arts festival. It is an event that has not only cultural and educational functions, but also a function as a driving force for the economy, especially the Bali community.”

Indeed. Indonesia has a rich and hugely diverse cultural heritage. This deserves protection from those who would turn its cities into lookalike Legolands. And properly appreciated, facilitated and managed, it is itself an economic driver.

Up the Poll

Some may have noticed that Australia is having a federal election on Jul. 2. It’s a rare double-dissolution election for the House of Representatives and the full Senate. If you’re a registered Australian voter here you can cast a pre-poll vote in person at the consulate-general in Renon up to Friday, Jul. 1. You won’t be able to vote there on polling day itself.

You’ll need to show your Australian passport or your current Australian driver’s licence to get into the consulate to vote. They won’t let you in without it. The consulate is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 4pm.

Applications for postal votes, which are an alternative way of avoiding a fine for not being ticked off on the bean-counters’ defaulters’ list, close on Jun. 29 via the Australian Electoral Commission website.

Harley Man

Former Bali boy Ric Shreves, now firmly established in Portland, Oregon and working for a worldwide charity doing things that have recently seen him in Turkana, Kenya (that’s a little different from Bali) has acquired a new toy.

It’s a rather tough-looking Harley Davidson hog: Happy riding, Ric.

Surf to Save

The Bali Animal Welfare Association recently got a wonderful offer from visiting American surfer Tommy Michael – he would organize a fun surfing school, Surf2Save, and direct the proceeds to BAWA. The event, on June 4 at one of the Bukit’s famed surf beaches, went so well that BAWA is looking for someone to run another.

Michael’s inaugural event was strongly supported by the local surfing community, which has always been very community minded. He’s now returned to Costa Rica, where he lives and does similar things for local charities there.

Hector’s Diary, edited for newspaper publication, appears online and in print in the fortnightly Bali Advertiser.

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Jan. 7, 2015

 

 

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

BAWA with a Bang

BAWA, the pre-eminent animal welfare organization on the island because of focused effort and the seminal role played by founder Janice Girardi in dealing with rabies when it broke out in Bali in 2008 – the disease is now endemic, but that’s Indonesian bureaucracy for you – ended 2014 with a bang, though not one that would frighten the doggies.

It held a Bridge to New Year fundraising dinner on Dec. 29 at Ubud’s Taksu Restaurant, an event at which the organization was able to brief guests on its plans for 2015 and beyond. It came complete with musical entertainment provided by BAWA staff members who, when they’re not doing their day jobs, sing and strum a guitar with enthusiastic aplomb.

Earlier in December BAWA announced a real coup. Ubud prince Cok De Piko (Tjokorda Gde Dharma Putra Sukawati) has become a BAWA ambassador and, because of his enduring love for dogs and particularly the very special Bali Dog, will be seen out and about with BAWA teams as they perform their daily work.

His favourite quote is from Mark Twain: “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.” Cok De studied in Australia, where he did not adopt a dog because he wouldn’t have been able to leave it behind when he returned to Bali. That’s the sort of thinking casual pet owners the world over should get their heads around.

Ubud’s traditional royalty remains very influential in the local community and is extremely well connected where it matters.

On Jan. 3, BAWA hosted the third of its series of events at Kuta Beachwalk, themed around its Adopt-Learn-Chat with a Vet program. That came along with really good music that ran late into the evening; a selection of beautiful puppies; ready-to-chat veterinarians; and some lovely art from Urban Sketchers. The event was sponsored by Beachwalk, Legian Beach Hotel, and others including Scooby-Doo, the dog food-delivery people.

BAWA’s Christmas card was interesting, by the way. You might say it was highly traditional. There was snow everywhere. This did not bring to mind Snowing in Bali, Kathryn Bonella’s book about the drug scene. Instead, it reminded us that snow looks great on Christmas cards and is murder anywhere else. We did wonder what the lovely Bali dogs and the little monkey on the BAWA card were thinking.

Please, Do Amuse

Jade Richardson, the peripatetic scribbler, recommenced her writers’ workshops in Ubud this month. This is good to see. Her approach to the written word is unique and she has a mind that is fun to engage. It’s no surprise that in Bali, where Ozymandias still lives in self-nominated splendour and where so many have built glittering local reputations upon the geographically distant rubble of pasts imperfect, she’s not on everyone’s most-favoured list.

Her mission with The Write Path is to get intending authors of books, biographies, short stories, poetry and those with ideas for articles or scripts fictional or factual, to take that first bold step and release their inner muse. Richardson, who is not one with whom to trifle, says that her process with writers “releases a genie from the bottle – meaning that I can assist those who have the call to write to discover a genius for storytelling that they never knew they had.”

She started her workshops in Bali and they’ve since been to Ecuador, the Galapagos and Thailand and online. It’s good to see her home again. It’s worth looking at www.heartbookwriting.com too.

Play-tonic

Plato always gets a good rap at The Cage. He’s well up Hector’s Top Ten Thinkers list. So it’s a bit sad, as he is so anciently a posthumous source, that his engaging aphorisms, real or otherwise, get co-opted by the ignorant for all sorts of nefarious purposes.

A case in point: On Dec. 28 there was an event at Dragonfly Village in Denpasar billed as Sensual/Sexual PlayDay – Conscious pleasure with consent, organized by someone called Matthias Schwenteck. This gentleman purloined for his own purposes the Platonic observation (one of the many Plato didn’t actually utter) that “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”.

The event seemed more suited to Ubud, where lots of people like to spend their time examining their navels while harbouring the intent to get a close-up glimpse of someone else’s.

Perhaps the fixation with things better organized privately, or which are undertaken singularly in darkened rooms with the doors locked, really is spreading beyond the confines of Loopville.

Alpha Mail

An item a fortnight ago noted that the new British envoy to Indonesia, Moazzam Malik, was still ambassador-designate because he had not yet presented his letters of credence to President Joko Widodo.

Well, he hadn’t engaged in this ancient formality when we sent the previous diary in by its deadline. He did shortly thereafter, it seems, though this was not without a little last-minute hitch. He tweeted on Dec. 18, the big day: “Almost forgot my letter from the Queen – had to run back to get it.”

Banzai!

We had a pleasant drive (we jest) one Saturday evening recently when the Distaff decided she’d like sukiyaki for dinner and suggested we journey to Seminyak to enjoy the table-top cooking at Kaizan. We hadn’t been there for a while, so a plausible excuse to avoid the trip did not spring to mind.

But Kaizan wasn’t there – perhaps the extortionate rents now demanded in the area had driven it away – so we dined instead at another favourite nearby, Kuni’s, on seaweed salad, Gyu asupara maki, Gohan, Sukiyaki Nabe, and a delightful green tea mousse. This was accompanied in order by “one large Bintang two glass”, some rather pleasant sake and a nice plum wine.

The Distaff has a thing for Japan. This dates from many years ago. And for sukiyaki, ditto, though it is more a home-cooking dish than a fine-dining experience. Her view on sukiyaki, as on many things, is “Doko ga warui no desuka?” It’s a colloquial Japanese transliteration of an interrogative “What’s wrong with that?” And we agree.

The drive from Ungasan was another matter. Large numbers of idiots were dangerously riding their motorbikes and the drivers of all the tourist buses were clearly on speed. Half the street lights were out on the by-pass. There were Hindu ceremonies everywhere that required fierce-looking village guards armed with Star Wars-style magic wands to stop the traffic so that scattered little groups of celebrants could wander at will across the thoroughfare.

The airport traffic circle was mayhem as a result. Northbound traffic had formed eight (we counted) “lanes” to force a way into the circus. The Distaff closed her eyes and thought of sukiyaki while her driver, whom we know as Perpendicular Pronoun, edged and all but nudged his way through. It helps, we think, to have been a lemming in a former life.

He’s Cooking

Vyt Karazija, the inveterate blogger, was thinking virtually out loud on Facebook on Boxing Day evening as to whether he should go out to eat or stay home and cook. Neither prospect amused him. We (and others) tendered advice. Ours was simple and direct: “Easy. Starve.” In the end he decided to cook and explained why:

“The prospect was get dressed, release security cobras, then quickly lock up premises, don wet weather gear, get bike outside, lock gates, ride to restaurant while trying not to skid, fall off, get hit by some moron, park bike somewhere where it won’t fall over/get stolen/get flattened by some blind idiot with a Hummer, order food, get accosted by friendly drunk, argue about the ++ charges on the bill and then do everything in reverse just to get home.

“Then having to round up the security cobras and put them back in their boxes and pacify them because I forgot to pick up their mice for dinner.

“Or alternatively, cook dinner and eat it.”

It’s a piece of cake, really.

Dance Class

A chance remark the other day, offered by an acquaintance who may have been concerned that some might have missed the module on delicious irony when they were majoring in epithet, prompts us to say that we know the iconic Bali dance that tourists have been going ga-ga about since it was invented in the antiquity of the 1930s is called Kecak.

Readers may have noticed a reference or two to Kecap dances in the diary in recent times.

It is often called Kecap by tourists and in many less than scholarly references on that global kindergarten primer, the world-wide web. Kecap is sauce. Though it must not be confused with ketchup, which is to piquant what semolina is to Bubur Injin.

Hector tweets @scratchings on Twitter. His diary appears in the print edition of the Bali Advertiser and at http://www.baliadvertiser.biz

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, 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

 

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Apr. 2, 2014

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

On the Wrong Bus

An outbreak of gratuitous and unnecessary angst caught our eye the just before the 2014 Bali Spirit Festival got under way. It was said – by dog lady and artist Linda Buller of all people, on Facebook, the favoured resort of the whickering classes these days – that Spirit was not what Ubud was all about. Apparently this was because it brought in hordes of yoga practitioners who clogged the streets and seemed to wander around in a little world of their own.

Well, hello? If indeed they do, in that regard Spirit patrons are no different (in any essential that matters) from patrons of the other festivals that feature in the Ubud calendar. There’s little difference, for non-participants, between being obstructed by someone off with the yoga fairies and someone else (say) who is wandering the streets musing about literary things such as from where their next or possibly their first royalty payment is going to come.

Ubud is no longer what once it was. The same can be said about anywhere on the face of the planet. We’d recommend a trip to Leh in Ladakh for any doubters of this fundamental truth.

Nor is Ubud a community in which foreigners (or even Balinese or other Indonesians from elsewhere) can expect to have much of a say in political and social affairs. The early tambourine-bangers who colonized the village may have thought they had found a personal little Nirvana, or Shangri-la, but like any foreign colony anywhere, they were fooling themselves.

Ubud’s future, and Bali’s, depends ultimately on its Balinese. Wisely or not, they seem happy enough to profit from the desire of foreigners and others to buy up rice fields and build little palaces or more humble abodes. It’s that which is changing Ubud, not the Spirit Festival or any other esoteric navel-gazing interests.

It’s possible that Buller was just joshing us, in her Australian way. But in case she was serious, we repeat what we noted in the Diary of Mar.19: Meghan Pappenheim’s spirited baby is perfect for Bali and especially for Ubud, where if you ignore the big buses full of Chinese tourists seeking bric-a-brac you can in fact still almost smell the ether.

 

Watch Out for Spam

An announcement that the national government will invest in water infrastructure for South Bali in partnership with the provincial authorities, Denpasar city and Badung regency, is good news of a sort. The existing infrastructure is creaking, frankly in a terminal fashion.

The South Bali region has been included in Indonesia’s Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Economic Development (MP3EI) to improve existing infrastructure related to the provision of water. The region including Denpasar, Badung, Gianyar, Tabanan and Klungkung (and known in the Indonesian compound fashion as Sabargitaku) is recognised as an asset for the Bali/Nusa Tenggara corridor because it earns substantial revenue through tourism.

It has now apparently come to the attention of those who control the national budgetary strings that there has been pressure on the existing infrastructure of the area. Full marks are due then to Djoko Kirmanto, the Minister for Public Infrastructure, who has now noted that demand has reached unsustainable levels.

Under the Djoko Plan a new water supply system, draining system and sanitation program (delightfully, apparently it is to be known as SPAM) will be put in place to accommodate growing demand. It notes that one of the problems in the Sabargitaku region is the uneven distribution of water throughout the four areas. Well, there you go!

A total of Rp 344.3 billion will be invested from the national budget, Rp 97.5 billion from Bali’s provincial government budget and a further Rp 120.8 billion from the Denpasar and Badung regency budgets.

It would be good if that sort of money got into the pipeline and if quantities of it did not thereafter leach out en route to its functionally productive public destination.

 

K9 KO

Lizzie Love tells us the KK9 project she initiated at Kerobokan Jail has had to be canned, for reasons that have nothing to do with the value of the project, which was to give inmates an opportunity to bond with friendly dogs. Likewise, it had nothing to do with the prison authorities, who supported the program.

That’s sad for all concerned and especially for inmates who had already made friends with a particular dog. But as Lizzy tells us, the welfare of the dogs is paramount. Any uncertainty on that front is an automatic shut-down signal, quite properly.

The demise of this project turned out does not detract from the great work being done – by volunteers and inmates – in other areas at Kerobokan. KK9 may have been a misstep, but that’s all it was.

 

Greying Anatomy

Well, we know it. We’re, well, sort of part of it, really. But it’s good in a way to hear that Bali is set to boom in the coming years, with Australians looking for cheaper retirement options. That’s if they can get the pension too, of course. If they’re filthy rich and can afford to duck the restrictions attached to Australian age pensions, they’d be better giving Bali a miss in favour of someplace else where the gap between official and informal outlays and value for money on the services rendered is narrower.

According to something we saw in The Beat Daily recently Australians – who are now approaching retirement in record numbers courtesy of the post-World War II baby boom – are increasingly looking to Bali as a more affordable alternative. This intelligence reaches us via Matthew Upchurch, chief executive of luxury travel network Virtuoso.

It’s not surprising that Australians are looking at Bali as an affordable alternative to retiring in the Odd Zone. It’s close to home, but free of several irritants. If retirees stay home the nanny state and its overweening bureaucracy interest themselves in everything from their bank accounts to their daily motions.

Bali is gearing up to meet this emerging demographic in a range of areas, from medical tourism – where BIMC Hospital at Nusa Dua is pioneering new facilities – to retirement living on the pattern long ago established in Europe, such as a new facility being built by Sentosa Worldwide Resorts at Umalas.

It’s the coming thing, it seems.

 

Essential Research

You have to plan carefully and be sure not to overdo things, but the West Australians produce such good wine that no visit of a longer than fleeting nature would be complete without a visit to a winery.

Our own “local” vineyards are in the south-west, in the Margaret River and Pemberton wine regions. The fact that we’re there fairly frequently does not mean we can afford to miss updating current research at every available opportunity.

On our most recent trip we visited Aravina (it used to be Amberley) and Wise. We had lunch at Aravina, which is on Wildwood Road at Yallingup, and afternoon tea at Wise, which is in the Cape Naturaliste uplands and offers a delightfully Provencal outlook, complete with plane trees, north and east towards the waters of Geographe Bay.

The rose at Aravina and the moscato at Wise were alone worth the trips. At Aravina we doubled our benefit with a fabulous polenta dish and significant dessert. At Wise, we confined our culinary attention to a rather yummy flourless pear cake.

While we were in the area Noela Newton of Artisan Wines got in touch. She was heading to Margaret River and wondered if our schedules might match. Unfortunately they didn’t. But Artisan and Margaret River have a very close connection. That cannot be a bad thing.

Cheers!

 

Piecing it Together

Nina Karnikowski of The Sydney Morning Herald had some useful guidance for Australian readers recently, on what’s hot and what’s not in Bali. She did a Q&A with chef Chris Salans of Mozaic Restaurant Gastronomique in Ubud and Mozaic Beach Club at Batu Belig.

We’re of the same mind as Cordon Bleu trained Salans on at least one seminal Bali factor: Jajan pasar is a sweet treat not to be missed in any circumstances. It’s a regular feature of the household provisioning budget at The Cage.

Ours comes from the cake shop attached to Bali Jaya, a locally owned supermarket on Jl. Raya Uluwatu at Bukit Jimbaran where the Diary is happily on smiling and chatting terms with the lovely lady proprietor. It’s where we buy our Indonesian wine and whisky and those things in packets of 20 that in most places nowadays you’re not even allowed to think about, let alone mention in polite company.

Salans has been living in Bali since 1995 and will be a double-decader next year. Perhaps that’s why he likes Lawar Nyawan, a traditional Balinese salad that features bee larvae as its chief ingredient. He concedes that it may be an acquired taste.

Hector tweets @scratchings on Twitter

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Jan. 8, 2014

 

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

Beat That!

The Beat Magazine edition of Dec. 20 carried a little feature quoting what it said were a few notable people around town on what 2013 was like for them and what they were looking forward to in 2014.

Hector, in the person of his ghost-writer, was among this number. We’re sure we’re not really all that notable, especially to the young and playful who read The Beat. But never mind, it was nice to be asked and great to supply responses within the requirements specified. Not more than 140 characters per year. Sort of like a Tweet in print.

Being a senior scribe, at least in years, we can also count. Others either didn’t read Stuart Wilford’s brief or – in the time-honoured practice – chose to ignore it as something that couldn’t possibly apply to them. Editors, such as the Diary in earlier times, have been known to tear their hair out about such things.

Never mind. We did rather empathize with one of the other notables, Morgana, Marketing and Communications Manager at Cocoon in Seminyak. She told us she couldn’t believe 2013 was nearly over. Well, Morgana, each year has 365 days unless a leap year, which has 366. Each year has 12 months. If it’s the twelfth month, the year’s nearly over. Do keep up!

But this little thought from her appealed: “Haven’t been home in a year so seriously looking forward to flying out to Byron on the 1st of Jan and plonking myself down on a white sandy beach.”

Byron Bay is a magic spot at the easternmost point of the Australian mainland and a Diary resort of premium choice over many years. Enjoy, Morgana.

It’s the Year of the Monkey in 2014, the Diary’s own. Perhaps, if Lotto wills it, it may even be a Byronic year.

Load of Rubbish

Linda Buller, artist, BARC lady and interesting lunch companion, spent Christmas at Candi Dasa. It’s a beautiful spot. We always stay at Pondok Bambu when we’re there, because it’s such a great place for relaxed listening to the waves. The views are magnificent: Nusa Penida, the long, low, outline of Nusa Lembongan and sometimes Lombok away to the east; and – at night, if PLN hasn’t pulled the two-pin – the distantly twinkling lights on the Bukit.

So it was rather sad to hear from Linda that rubbish is piling up on the beaches, courtesy of the fine appreciation of Bali’s clean and green environment that one finds widely distributed among the people. Rubbish is invisible, you see, once you’ve tossed it over your wall, or dropped it at the roadside as you meander along on your motorbike, or dumped it in the local waterway.

Marine detritus has much the same provenance, although some of it is the sort of stuff you find washed up on beaches anywhere. Most communities that depend on tourists to call in and part with their money try to keep their beaches clean. Dirty beaches deter dollar-bearers, you see. Here? Well, that’s problematical.

Fresh from her Christmas sojourn, Linda thought out loud about organizing a clean-up. We’d happily grab our floppy hat and lend a hand as well as a pen.

It’s an all-over problem. John Halpin of Oberoi Bali was having a bit of a rant on Facebook the other day. He and a crew from his multi-starred lodgings had just cleaned up Seminyak Beach (again). He said this: “[T]he answer is not just ‘clean it up’ … the answer is ‘stop throwing’.”

Sound the Retreat

Ubud’s a fine place for retreats. They come in all shapes and sizes and something can be found to suit nearly all tastes. The little hill town suits seekers after truth and other substances. Walking the streets it looks as if it’s thoroughly urban but in fact it’s not. It’s more like a Hollywood movie set. Look behind the shop fronts and you’ll see rice fields. Look into the rice fields and you’ll see timeless, natural space.

It’s this environment that has now attracted a very different kind of retreat. Australian natural fertility specialist Dr Alex Perry is running a series of week-long retreats in Ubud this year for committed couples – of any provenance and sexual preference – who wish to conceive using his signature patient-to-parent program. Perry is a doctor of Chinese medicine whose Canberra clinic, The Perry Centre, records an 86 per cent pregnancy success rate with infertile couples.

Perry is moving to Ubud run the retreats, the first of which commences on Jan. 19. He keeps numbers small to ensure personalized treatment for couples. The aim is to de-stress – stress is a huge inhibitor of fertility – through a tailored program including massage, meditation, proper diet and reconnection between partners.

He says of his program, to be held at Ananda Resort & Spa, that that while the world has other fertility retreats, the Bali program will be different. “I want couples who join me in Bali to enjoy the environment, relax, have fun and take away with them new and lasting skills for conception. I’m very excited about the retreats and their potential to give couples the children they long for,” he says.

There’s more about Perry’s innovative treatments and the retreats program at http://ganeshafertilityretreats.com/

Heart and Soul

The seasons change – it’s a natural cycle, rather like hotel management changeovers – and we note that the long summer of public exhibition openings at Ganesha Gallery at Four Seasons Jimbaran has come to an end. These affairs are now for house guests only.

That’s a pity and not just because they used to give you half-decent wine. They afforded an opportunity to chat with the artist and network with interesting people, or even with Four Seasons executives. More importantly, Ganesha Gallery presents an eclectic range of art.

Next up at the gallery is an exhibition of works by Hengki Pudjianto on the theme of Colour is Life. It opens (for the in-house crowd) on Jan. 20 and runs through to Mar. 20.

Hengki, who grew up in Surabaya and now lives and works in Bali, started his career as an abstract painting artist. He is self-taught, always an interesting concept though not one readily accepted by tenured academia. His latest works are more figurative and
modern, deeply emotional and present art that seems sensual and alive and catches the beauty of colour and form. This exhibition is one to see.

Reality Bites

We do bang on about this, we know. And we know that some people would prefer we didn’t. But we’re not stopping. The issue is rabies, which as everyone knows broke out in the Bukit area of South Bali in 2008 – and then broke out of the Bukit into other parts of the island before the island’s disengaged and somnolent bureaucracy bothered to notice.

Rabies is a zoonotic disease – that means it can be transmitted from its animal vectors to humans – but fortunately not one that creates vast pandemics. It is transmitted by direct insertion into muscle tissue, host to victim. These are parameters you would expect any medical or veterinary body in Indonesia to be right across at all times. That wasn’t the case in 2008 (though that is absolutely no surprise) and we’re still paying a high price for that culpable inattention nearly six years ago.

A rabies control campaign, largely funded from overseas, was instituted after strenuous efforts to get the authorities to realize they had a real problem on their hands. It worked, so far as it went. But it couldn’t go far enough. The bureaucracy and public ignorance saw to that.

In the time-honoured fashion, various targets were set to achieve eradication of rabies from Bali. It was to be 2012. Then 2013 passed, astonishingly without any further grandiose pronouncements. Now it is 2014. The new possible eradication date is 2015. This is because under the rules two full years must pass from the date of the last recorded animal or human case before an affected area may be declared rabies-free.

There was a human case of the disease – fatal as always – in Buleleng last September. It wasn’t publicly disclosed until much later. Again, that’s no surprise. Genuine public information is an ephemeral practice here. Perhaps someone’s keeping count of human fatalities from rabies. But all we can say is that the Buleleng death adds to the “more than 150” since 2008.

Today there are far fewer street dogs around and in some areas villages are seeing the benefits of looking after their dogs and having them neutered and vaccinated. An understanding that if you feed a dog once it believes it is part of your family and that you are responsible for it, is now taking root in some places. That’s great.

Hector is on Twitter @scratchings

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Nov. 27, 2013

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

Get Smart! Get Agent 99

It may all have blown over by the time this edition of the Diary appears. (Well, no it won’t, even though it certainly should have.) The piquant sauce de jour these days is the spy scandal that has embroiled Indonesia and Australia. A quick point: It was Kevin wot dun it, the Nambour Kid, saviour of the universe and serial winner of the motor-mouth prize.

This is not to be unkind to the former Australian prime minister. It’s just that, well, he is the former Australian prime minister. He’s not even in parliament any longer. He decided since being re-elected on Sept. 7 as the member for Griffith – disclosure: the seat, in Brisbane, was once the Diary’s domicile for the purpose of scribbling gratuitous advice on ballot papers – that since the Australian people had belled him out it was all too much and he’d be better off saving the world from someplace else.

Nor is this to say that the present incumbent, Tony Abbott, wouldn’t have signed off on the same scam if he’d been in the big office at the time. But let’s not forget that 2009 was a particularly complex phrase in the long narrative of the world. The Bali bombings of 2002 and 2005, the Australian embassy bombing in Jakarta in 2004, the Marriott attack in 2003 and the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton bombings in 2009, created difficult circumstances. Indonesia was facing down – very creditably, it should be noted – a significant domestic terrorism threat.

Traditionally, governments don’t comment on intelligence matters. This isn’t because they haven’t got any – it just looks like that sometimes. It wasn’t very smart to eavesdrop on President SBY – heck, it wasn’t even Maxwell Smart (lady Agent 99 was so much smarter) – but, well, that’s why democracies nurture journalists: to keep the bastards honest. Though journalists don’t always write everything they know either, for all sorts of reasons; legal, chiefly, or corporate or political, or sometimes for self-preservation.

It would be invidious to speculate on the real reasons the Australians and Americans bugged the presidential hand phone. Suffice to say it probably wasn’t to find out what SBY says when the chauffeur turns up late; or that it was even about the president himself at all.

The real villain in this piece is Edward Snowden, the latest “heroic” leaker, a man who like so many others these days is without honour. Without his imbecilic cyber incontinence this silly situation would not have arisen. If he didn’t like what he was doing he should have resigned and gone away. The world only needs one Julian Assange. And even that’s debatable.

 

Watch Out

An incident in Seminyak the other day serves as a timely reminder that the crowded tourism-oriented parts of South Bali are not necessarily crime-free safe areas, despite claims to that effect by various figures in authority who would obviously like it to be thought that everything here on the Island of the Dogs is just hunky-dory. It’s not a bit like Dodge City, really it isn’t. No, really.

We hear that a knife-wielding bandit assaulted an expat man in broad daylight outside a convenience store in Jl Oberoi, plainly intent on robbery. His intended target did the sensible thing and ran away. What’s more, he ran straight to the local banjar and told them the story. Apparently they caught the miscreant.

We hope he was simply handed over to the police. There was a dreadful case reported in another area – not all that far away – some months ago when a man stole Rp800K from a local warung and ran. A mob caught him, stripped him naked to humiliate him, and then beat him to death. They threw his body into a ditch. It was said at the time that the police did not regard it as an incident worth investigating since the robber had been caught and the crime had therefore been solved.

Murder is apparently not murder in a wide range of circumstances.

 

Grub Alert

A Canadian woman who lives in Ubud reported on Facebook recently that an Indonesian man had molested her in the street as she was going home after dinner in the evening. He groped one of her breasts and then left the scene, doubtless to boast of his triumph to any of his friends who, similarly mentally defective, would utter the Balinese or Indonesian equivalents of “Phwaar!” and think him a good chap rather than the mental midget he plainly is.

There are, of course, badly behaved idiots and low-life grubs in every society. An overly large proportion of those who come to public attention are men. This is distinctly displeasing to many of us who are represented by the little arrow on the gender signs you see around nowadays, instead of that friendly plus. It is especially irritating to the majority of men who are tired of being implicated in what is apparently seen as a global rape collective.

This is not to downplay the serious nature of assault and especially that by random men on passing women. We often wish we had not disposed of our lovely riding crop, once used as a friendly guide to various mounts upon which we have cantered. In circumstances such as that just reported in Ubud it would have been good to have been in the area and to have had it to hand. Pak Groper would still be in a very sorry state if that had been the case.

But that said, it’s a pity that what is primarily a male sickness from elsewhere – lack of respect for the persons of women (as opposed to their social and economic status, which remains a burdensome problem in many places) and of their absolute right not to be molested – is gaining a foothold in other cultures that really should know better. Perhaps the man involved in this incident has some sensible friends or family who have pointed out the demerits of being a grub. We can but hope.

It would be a shame if incidents like this – to say nothing of the one reported in the first item – caused further damage to Bali’s reputation as a place to have a holiday. Such things can no longer be safely ignored because they can be made to disappear.

Nowadays there is nowhere to hide. Everywhere is in the international spotlight, even Bali.

 

Where There’s a Will…

Now on to happier things: This gave us a lovely giggle when we saw it on the Ubud Community page on Facebook – a conversation between a man and a land buyer. Thank you to Ani Somia for posting it and her Dad for, well, sending at least one acquisitive land-grabber off with a flea in his ear.  

Ani’s post put it this way (it’s verbatim here for the full flavour): 

Some conversation between my father n the broker who requested our land to be rented due to a huge hotel is being building nearby our house in Ubud.

Buyer: Excusme bapak we are interested to rent out or buy your land. We hv some cash for you n we giving good price.

My dad: Oh ampura. Aka excusme sir. The land is not belong to me but it’s inherited. Could u please ask my father first?

Buyer: Yes bapak for sure we will. Where is your father now?

 My dad: He is in the grave yard died 50 years ago!

Me go inside my room n giggling then I cant help laughing hahahahaha proud of you dad!!

Way to go!

 

Wheel of Fortune

Rotary clubs are always a hive of action and Rotary Club of Bali Seminyak is no exception. Coffee drinker Barb Mackenzie tells us – via the RCBS Facebook page – of one seasonally worthy cause that surely deserves support. Rotarian John Glass told the club’s Nov. 13 meeting (held as always at Warisan, a fine watering place) that the Seeds of Hope Children’s Home in Dalung, between Denpasar and Canggu, is looking for Christmas presents for the live-in orphans at the home.

Sixty-seven children aged from 10 months to 18 years live at the home, which has a special Christmas party planned for Dec. 22. It’s suggested that appropriate gifts valued at around Rp200K (US$20) could be given to a specific child on the day. The kids like music, board games, CDs, arts and crafts, sports equipment and toiletries.

The home is also looking for a volunteer Santa on Dec. 22 if anyone fancies wearing a hot white beard. We’d do it ourselves except that our frequently preferred stubble – a Jimmy Barnes-style three-day growth – is probably not quite what Santa’s helpers are looking for. It’s the right colour, but perhaps that’s not enough.

Guest speaker at the RCBS meeting on Nov.13 was India’s consul-general in Bali, Amarejeet Singh Takhi. He’s India’s first consul-general here and took up his post in January 2012. He reminded his many listeners – the lunch was well attended – that Indonesia and India have trade and cultural links that go back two millennia.

Hector tweets @scratchings

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser Aug. 21, 2013


His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

Dancing on an Ethereal Stage

It is always tragic when someone young and full of life is taken from us by that inevitable final caller, death. It is doubly so when the person concerned has been among the brightest talents around. So it is with Bali’s internationally acclaimed contemporary dancer and choreography, Nyoman Sura, who has died aged 37.

     Sura, who was born in the Denpasar village of Kesiman in 1976, was destined by the fates to be an interpretative dancer who dazzled at the very edge of the performance envelope. He failed the entrance exam for an accountancy degree course at Udayana University. So instead he fell back on his childhood attraction to traditional dance and enrolled at the Indonesian Institute of Fine Arts (ISI).

     In 1995, when he was 19, he was awarded Best Choreographer in a Java-Bali dance competition. When he graduated from ISI the next year he remained at the campus but on the faculty. He taught dance and movement.

     An exponent of both traditional and contemporary dance, he later studied at ISI Surakarta (Solo). But he remained committed to Bali traditional dance as his works Sri Tanjung (2009) and Ritus Legong (2002) amply demonstrate.

     He broke very new ground in 2002, however, when he danced nude at the premier of his work Waktu Itu (That Time) in Medan, North Sumatra. He caused a stir nationally, especially among the prudish, institutional and otherwise, but said the dance portrayed man’s transitions from birth to life to death and that being naked reflected the state of man at the end of life when he must face God free of all earthly accessories.

     It is the artist’s lot to be outré. The truly “out there” are dreadfully missed when they leave us.

     Sura is reported to have died of pancreatic cancer, a vicious disease.

     Jack Daniels of Bali Discovery and the weekly online briefing Bali Update wrote a very moving eulogy. It’s on the Web (posted on Aug. 12). You should read it.

 

Silent Night

There was supposed to be an item in the print edition of the diary this time, about jazz singer Edwina Blush’s benefit night for Villa Kitty, the Ubud establishment that does so much for our neglected feline friends.

     Sadly, it had to be pulled just after we’d sent the column along to the Bali Advertiser, for reasons that will shortly become shrilly clear.

     Faced with the difficulty of finding a venue in a rush since other things had complicated the long-settled option, the energetic Edwina did a deal with Rouge, an establishment in Jl Bisma, to stage a night primarily of performance poetry there on the planned date, Aug. 29.

    This plan too bit the dust swiftly. Unbeknown to Ms Blush (and for that matter the Diary) the exotic settlers who inhabit that part of Jl Bisma don’t like the joint. It plays music, you see, being a place of entertainment, and this discommodes the ambiance, or rattles the rattan, or disturbs the peace, or interrupts the evening navel-gazing; or possibly all these things.

    A solution involving the Jazz Café and Sept. 2 has been found. This extravaganza is billed as The Cat Fight Continues (love it!) and the dress code is said to be cat/combat. Slink along and you’ll find things meowing nicely. The view at the Jazz Café is that anyone who thinks Bali is NIMBY-Land is off with the fairies. We agree.

     Blush has two other gigs planned before she heads back to Sydney in early September. The details are below. But first, you should read the original item, for the full flavour of the moment:            

 

Sultry Night

 

Edwina Blush, the seriously sexy Sydney songstress known for bringing out the blushes of many who attend her sultry jazz sessions inadequately briefed, so to speak, is on a mission in Ubud on Aug. 29. She’s performing on behalf of Villa Kitty, the Lodtundah cat refuge for which she is an ambassador, at a benefit being staged at Rouge in Jl Bisma.

      So here’s the drill: Donation on arrival plus any contributions to “kitty” during the night that Blush and crew can squeeze out of you; raffles, door prizes, and auctions; prizes for best dressed (Dress code: Kitty Rouge).

      And the line-up’s definitely not to be missed: Edwina Blush, jazz cabaret vocalist and performance poet; Skid More, comedian; Alexa Bauer; and Mr Richard H Simorangkir, Rouge house pianist.

     Blush performed earlier this month in Ubud. We’ll do our damndest to get along to the Aug. 29 “cat” show, though. So far we’ve managed to miss all her Bali gigs. Can’t have her thinking we’re pussies.

     There’s a sad aspect to this one, by the way. Marcus Page, the Ubud identity who died unexpectedly this month, was a fervent supporter of Villa Kitty and will be missed, by Villa Kitty Ibu-in-Chief Elizabeth Henzell and many others.

     Besides the Jazz Café on Sept. 2, Blush is performing at Il Giardino in Ubud on Sept. 4 and staging her final Bali session of 2013 on Sept. 5 at Oazia in Kerobokan. This will feature an eight-piece band with a full horn section.

    Blow it! Can’t make the 2nd or the 5th, but we’ll get to Il Giardino by hook or by crook.

     

A Sad Mishap

It’s been a bad time for untimely deaths. New Zealand-born Australian surfing legend Allan Byrne – he of the iconic Byrning Spears board brand – died on Aug. 8 of injuries resulting from a motorbike accident on Aug. 2. He was treated at a Jimbaran hospital (for a broken arm) but later collapsed and at another hospital was diagnosed with a skull fracture.

     He had been in Bali for the Rip Curl surf championships.

 

Virtually Certain

We know we’re getting the big APEC jamboree in October. The Bigwigs have already said they’re going to close the airport for extended periods so they can gad about on it and have a gaggle at everyone else’s expense. What we weren’t certain of (actually we still aren’t) is whether Bali will host the annual World Internet Forum (IGF), which is – Was? May be? – scheduled for Nusa Dua on Oct. 22-25.

      There had been, it seems, a “period of uncertainty” over the fate of this particular gabfest, a hiatus that the top flack at the communication and information ministry, Gatot S. Dewa Broto, recently felt confident enough to say was at an end.

      Apparently “several obstacles” had puzzlingly stood in the way of getting the show on the road. These had to do with money. The IGF is budgeted to cost around Rp22 billion – a snip at only US$2.2 million after all – but funding components from Indonesia had been, shall we say, sadly though somewhat familiarly sub-par. IGF organizers raked up Rp9 billion, the communications ministry chipped in Rp2.5 billion, and other Indonesian stakeholders divvied up a dribble. Luckily Google and other interested private concerns have dropped in enough dollars to patch us back into the world.

       Thus Minister Tifatul Sembiring, who is most often seen in his self-appointed role as Censor of the Nation, was able to advise at the eleventh hour that the dog that ran away with his homework had been collared and the paperwork retrieved.

       He said this: “Right now, myself and the ranks of the ministry of communications and information  technology will take whatever action is necessary to immediately complete a Host Country Agreement signed by Indonesia and the UN, as this the most important foundation of the implementation of the IGF 2013.”  In this pronouncement he proved yet again the theory that, for a politician, 46 words will always beat four (“OK. We’ve fixed it.”)

       It’s not entirely clear why 2,500 hot-wired itinerants have to come to Bali to discuss the virtual world they inhabit. Surely if what they say works, works, they could do it all on Skype or something. Never mind. There may be a bonus. Internet speeds here would give any geek a conniption. They may be able to advise how to lift that sorry performance. That would be really good.

 

Oh, I See…

Lion Air, which made a splash in the world news in April when one of its (many) new Boeing 737-800s “landed” rather spectacularly short of the runway at Ngurah Rai airport, frightening the fish in Jimbaran Bay, seems to have a novel PR campaign under way.

     This month another of its lovely new jets ran into some cows while landing at Gorontalo in Sulawesi. We don’t know why there were cows on the runway (elsewhere the mind might boggle over this question, but not in Indonesia). We do know, though, that pilots of large passenger aircraft are generally thought to have a duty of care to the human souls strapped into the seats behind the flight deck that extends to taking care to avoid significant visible obstacles while landing.

      Apparently, the pilots reported seeing dogs on the runway.

      One thing you can count on in Indonesia is a laugh; sometimes it’s a hollow one, but beggars can’t be choosers. This particular little chuckle reminded us of the 1990s Irish TV comedy Father Ted.  On one occasion in that ecclesiastical funfest naive novitiate Fr Dougal McGuile, spotting a herd of cattle grazing in a paddock some distance away, mused aloud that they seemed very small.

      It’s OK to laugh when all you’re doing is watching a sit-com.  When you’re on a plane whose pilots are apparently as challenged as a fictional nincompoop, it’s a little more serious.

 

Get Along!

Mike O’Leary from the ROLE Foundation is expecting a good turn-out for his latest fundraiser, Blues for the Blue, at Tapeo Gastrobar, Kuta Beachwalk, on Aug. 31. It’s in aid of efforts to deal with the 5,000 to 20,000 tons of solid waste and unknown tonnage of liquid waste dumped illegally in Bali every day. As he notes, the people who are responsible for waste management here seem unable to act.

     The Island Sustainability Education Centre is working on long-term solutions to give Balinese and other Indonesians who really care the know-how, skills and assistance to meet this challenge.

     The inaugural Bali Waterman’s awards will honour water sportspeople and adventurers. It’s Rp300K to get into the gig, of which San Miguel Light is a Gold Sponsor.

 

N-Ergized

On Aug. 8 – the date was darkly apposite: Hiroshima day was Aug. 6 and Nagasaki day Aug. 9 – the good folk at The Guardian in Britain twittered: “Fukushima leaks: Japan PM steps in.”

     We do hope his minders made sure he was wearing his yellow wellies.

Hector tweets @scratchings