The BALI STORY 2000.  

Here are some quick links to the chapters of the story -

Getting Ready,

Getting There,

Day 1,

Day 2,

Day 3,

Day 4,

Day 5,

Day 6,

Day 7,

Day 8,

Day 9,

Day 10,

Day 11,

Day 12,

Day 13,

Day 14,

Day 15,

Day 16,

Getting Back.

The Bali Travellers, 2000.
Claire, Phil, Janelle, Chris and Jay.
Scot was to join us later.

 

 Getting Ready.

This is the beginning of the personal Diary of our holiday in Bali in late September 2000.
This introduction to the travel group and then the organisation (or lack of it) for the trip may not be riveting, amusing or highly entertaining for you. If you're more interested in the travel and the destination you might be better off going to the next part, 'Getting There' or the third part, 'Day 1.' that follow, but at least read the profile of our group first so that you know a bit about us. This might lead you to a better understanding of the things that follow.
There are nineteen parts in total, finishing with 'Getting Back' after' Day 16'.

Proceed at your own risk.

It might be a good bedtime story but -

DO NOT INGEST DURING OR BEFORE DRIVING!



OUR PROFILE:
Our group has a core of experienced Baliphiles, Nell and Phil, with 12-year-old son Jay are the seed material having travelled to Bali and other south east Asian countries at least once a year since Jay was 2.  On most of these trips Chris has accompanied them, frequently taking his son Scot, who is a great companion to Jay and who is this year old enough to buy his own beer.
Claire and I first went to Bali over 20 years ago.  Claire was a seasoned traveller but this was my first O/S trip.  In fact it was my first significant trip anywhere.  It was intended (I think) to be our bindingly sinful sojourn away from prying eyes and negative influences. Because of work and family commitments we had not subsequently returned for many years until six years ago when Claire, through work, met Nell and Chris and we were thereby drawn back to a place we both had fond memories of. 
Phil is a sports person, having been a league footballer in younger days and is still an imposing figure anywhere but assumes giant proportions amongst the smaller stature of the Balinese.  He is now a manager in this field while the rest of us are present or past teachers in the secondary system.
Our ages range from 12 to 60+.  Most people would think of us as well off middle class urbanites, generally staid and conservative but given to an occasional fling as long as not too many people are looking. 
The youngsters are occasional party animals but we (the oldsters particularly included here) don't destroy ourselves on a regular basis. 
The central core has usually attracted a different group of satellite travellers each year.  This year, however, Claire and I are the only additions to the core for our fifth trip.  (Are we now close satellites or regulars or nearly core players?)

Understanding these things the reader will perhaps nod more knowingly at some of those things that follow.

Part of a holiday must at least be the journey itself, as well as the days of leisure and pleasure and I suppose that if the journey includes the planning then a holiday, like a story, can be started at any time. 

This Bali Story starts on Sunday 1 July, 2000, 10 weeks and 2 days before we even leave, simply because that's the time I first sat down to start the record.  It could have started 20 years ago, or six, or in 72 days time when we will land at Ngurah Rai Airport, Bali, but a lot of the ecstasy and the agony would be lost to the fogs of time if it had been delayed until then. 

It is a Diary record and as such it will not be short (the early start should at least give some strong indication of this).  Determination will be needed for the stranger to complete it, let alone relish it.  It is to be a personal documentary for my future years and I don’t want to omit any of the gory details in case I also omit the gems.

I first wrote about our Bali adventures last year, in a letter to family, friends, acquaintances and others.  It spread far wider than the audience for which it was originally intended.  It also seemed to be well accepted in certain critical quarters (a group of my fellow retired colleagues who worked in the English language field - which I did not so don’t expect a work of art to follow) and met with mild acclaim from others perhaps less qualified to judge. 
All of that has had a significant impetus to the commencement of this saga.

I hope that at some time in the years ahead I will be able to read the diary of this trip and thereby recall and re-live the finer details that an old memory will lose.  Perhaps too, at some time in the future my family will review it and find some understanding of me, and my feelings for Bali.  If readers are curious, or in the mood for self-flagellation, the "Bali Saga '99" is currently linked from our
Home Page and there are some pictures to go with it there also.

I guess that you have to be geriatric to understand this urge to write and record.

Why did I decide to start writing this early?  Well, a frequently frustrating but critical part of a group holiday is the prior planning and decision-making process that occurs within the group.  The more people involved the more critical and more difficult - and the more dummies are bitten down on before they can be spat (or spit as they would say in the USA).  I want to document this process a little because it has been an exciting, but at times tense prelude to the actual trip.  The mixture of emotions varied from extreme excitement at the thought of the holiday to utter frustration and at times barely concealed anger when decisions could not be agreed on, or those that had been agreed upon one week were mysteriously back in a state of flux the next week. 
Although it was often said that we could all go our separate ways and do our own thing if a planned activity did not suit us this is not always easy to put into practise.  If you are part of a travel group then companionship is a part of your needs and that is immediately lost if you leave the group.  You lose contact and you don' share the experiences of the others and a little uncomfortable feeling of being left out creeps into your memories. 
This alone is enough for all of us, I think, to want to have an agreed itinerary that we thought we would be happy to follow even if we did decide to change it if circumstances subsequently changed at the last minute. 
The planning usually took place on Friday evenings, over a few drinks and some sort of a meal, at Phil and Nell's home although this changed later because of their new circumstances.

This year the planning process was made partly more and partly less complicated by the total unavailability of any seats for the Frequent Fliers of the group.  Over past years this situation has steadily deteriorated from no problem at all 4 years ago, to having to pay for airfares to other Australian capital city departure points where seats to Denpasar were available which was the situation last year.
When you have budgeted and spent carefully all year long to accumulate points it is frustrating in the extreme to find that the airlines, (both Ansett and Qantas in our case) can't meet their end of the bargain you have presumed was in place.  I have seen it suggested that this is discriminatory to people who work in education particularly, and who can not take holidays whenever they might choose but are confined to holiday times which are of course the peak travel and accommodation periods. 

I would not disagree with this assessment! 
I have often wondered what Bali is like out of the school holiday peak season, when it is less crowded on the streets.  One day I intend to find out. 

As 'free' seats were not available we would at least all travel together this time and the search for the best travel bargain became a common concern. 
So it was that, right from the start, our past loyalty to Ansett evaporated.  When it became obvious that Qantas was in the same situation but was not prepared to be totally open about it, they were also disregarded in our search, and Aussie loyalties succumbed to an outraged sense of the fair thing. 
Our quest became centred on Garuda Indonesia airlines, as there were not many other options: in fact there were none.  Good comments about Garuda on the Bali Forum (http://balitravelforum.com) gave confidence to the less enthusiastic members of the group.  The much cheaper prices available from Garuda were attractive to those now without regular incomes and clinched this decision. 
The greatly reduced travel times resulting from the direct flight with no stopovers was an added bonus.  Five hours in the air means that we will arrive much fresher and ready to go than we have been after twelve and a half hour flights all round Australia on previous occasions. 
This short flight time also means that our arrival will be just after noon rather than just after midnight effectively giving us an extra half day in Paradise. 

As we only had the options of going in school holidays and July was too near, September was the obvious answer to the 'when?' question.  It only remained to decide where! (Within Bali of course). 

And this was a torment!

After much reading of the brochures, much perusal of the Bali Forum, many debates about past venues, the construction of comparative charts on the computer, repeated digestion of the relevant and irrelevant facts, reason was abandoned. 
The Sheraton Nusa Indah Resort was chosen as the new initial venue for this year and the old faithful Holiday Inn Bali Hai at Tuban would become the mainstay for shopping forays and short adventures further afield for the main part of our holiday.

The best price we got was through The Flight Centre, but only after we got a really good package from a small local Getaway agent and Flight Centre lived up to their advertised promise to beat any offer - but only by A$20 per adult as it turned out.  The final figure was $1830 (and $150 for no-excess family insurance) for 4 nights at Nusa Dua and 12 nights at Tuban. 
Through Ansett last year a similar package with one day less and only 3 nights at Nusa Dua was well over $2300!  This saving of nearly $500 (for the non Frequent Fliers at least), coupled with an exchange rate that is at the moment consistently over Rp5000 to the dollar (compared with around Rp4000 to 4200 last year) should mean lots more massages, lots more shopping, lots more clothing, bigger presents for our Balinese friends and so on. 

It will not mean less money actually spent I'm sure.

We actually got very good accommodation rates through Bali Villas (the hosts for the Forum mentioned above) but we couldn't get any discounts on air fares so the total turned out to be above the travel agents' package prices.


Monday 10 July.
Nine weeks and four days to take-off - and two problems have arisen - or have they?
Nell has won a promotion to a country site, and Phil and Jay will go with her of course.  What communication stresses will this put on the planning and organisation that centred on social Friday evenings at their home? 
Only time will tell, but it is probable that there will be some difficulties because Phil is the contact person with the travel agents.
The other is really less of a problem.  We have been advised that there are no Garden View rooms available at the Sheraton Indah.  A Poolside room will cost an extra $44.  What do we want to do?  Phil makes an instant, autocratic decision and says that we will all take the Poolside rooms!
All being swimmers, no-one argues the point, and probably no-one wants to go back to the difficulties of selecting a new hotel either! 

I've been tracking the exchange rate (via the Currency Converter on the Bali Travel Forum) for the last month or so and today it's 5473.73 rupia to the Aussie dollar.  It's been a bit higher, peaking at 5490, but I can't help wondering if it’s going much higher.  If the tourists are returning to Bali after the scares of the Indonesian elections and subsequent civil riots, I think the exchange rate will decline.  Should we cash a couple of hundred dollars now as a hedge against it dropping?  I have all sorts of altruistic thoughts, like clearing some of Australia's rupia stocks back to Indonesia and having more to spend with the natives when we arrive, thus returning it to the economy at the poorest level rather than into the wallets of the rich.  But perhaps really it's just another way of trying to get a bargain?
I must speak to the others about it.

Started to look at the prices (not really important) and the current version numbers (much more important) of computer software today.
I have no doubt that I'll be tempted when we get into Platinum at Matahari’s in Denpasar or Harry's Computers.

I've also had a stamp made that I can use in the Spirax Note Pads that I use as travel diaries.  They fit comfortably into the shirt pocket, which makes them easy to carry at all times.  On the back cover I paste a print of my commonly used phrases, Salamat pagee, Apa Kabar? and so on.  If I'm overtaken by a fit of 'KRAFT' ('Kant Remember A Flaming Thing') I only have to lift it part way out of my pocket and look down thro' the bifocals to have a bit of a cheat. 
Inside the back cover I’ve pasted a 'cheat sheet' conversion chart for 100 to 500,00 Rp (into A$) at exchange rates from 4700 to 5200.  I'm not too quick at this bargaining business and find this little cheat sheet is a great help at telling me where I’m at in the process.  It's again easy to refer to in my shirt pocket although at times I've kept it in the bum bag with the calculator and Passport photocopy used for changing Traveller’s Cheques. 
Anyway, back to the stamp which I've had made. 
It's to note the essential details of each photo as I take it.  Film type, shutter speed, 'f' stop, polarising filter use etc.  I can fit 6 stamp prints onto a page in the notebook so 24 records therefore only take up two leaves in the book.  (I only ever use 24 shot film so I can get it printed to see if I need to repeat a shot that I'm not happy with.)  If I want to re-take a photo I know what I did the last time because I've got this record, and so I know what changes I need to make to improve the photo.  It's also helpful to refer to later to get some idea which films handle different colours best; good greens for rice paddies, or good yellow for flowers, and so on. 

We're due to leave in 8 weeks from tomorrow.
For some time I've been toying with the idea of leaving before the others.  I have that freedom because I'm retired whereas the others are constrained by work commitments.  I could leave on Monday rather than Friday and my reason for thinking about this is that I'd like to see the more distant parts of Bali; parts that the others, Chris excepted probably, are not really enthusiastic about.  They are more inclined to continue exploring the recognised tourist areas and re-visiting familiar and friendly haunts, mainly shops.  If I left on Monday I would have an extra 4 days to follow my own inclinations without any commitments to the others.  And when you are travelling with a group there are commitments to the party I think, and I do miss their company after a day or so.

We're now due to leave in 7 weeks tomorrow.
I've given up the idea of leaving earlier than the others and going off exploring - at least this time.  I've floated a few questions on the Bali Forum and sent a few faxes and e-mails.  The conclusions that I've come to are that although there are no more flight costs involved (nor are there any savings this close to school holidays) the accommodation cost of travelling as a single are almost the same as a couple!  This puts too great a strain on the available finances. 
I've also tried to find those cheap $5 - $10-a-night places but frankly, sight unseen, the thought of cold showers for 4 days is not appealing, and going to a squat toilet in the dark back yard of some unfamiliar establishment makes my toes curl.  It's a long time, also, since we all flew out together as we are doing this time, in fact not since the first time we all went in '94.  I think that this is something I'd like to experience again. 
The thing that finally sealed the fate of my plans was Claire's decision to take some long service leave next year.  This will give us the chance to stay in Bali perhaps for 4 weeks or more, moving around to different areas with possibly as much a week in one place, digging a bit deeper than we have been able to so far.  I'll use this trip to investigate and inspect some potential little hotels around Bedugul/Lake Bratan/Pura Ulun Danu as well as Lovina/Singaraja, and perhaps even Candi Dasa. 


7 weeks tomorrow! 
That makes it time to pay for the flight and accommodations.  I'd better make a note of that.   I'll be in no end of strife if I forget!!!!


6 weeks to go and we've booked Ketut Juari for a day trip up north. 
Pity he can' get to us before 9 am.  I think that's going to mean second rate light for photos by the time we get to Bedugul.  Still, I can plan what I might want to do next year when we might have more time in Bali.  Scot (Chris' son) is not coming with the rest of us as he wants to do some flying training.  He's due to get there on the second Monday. 

5 weeks to go last Friday - that's 35 days. 
I've managed to get a Sharp Electronic Organiser to take with us. It'll hold all of the notes I've saved from the Bali Forum for the past few months.  It was a bit disappointing for a start because it doesn't download Word files directly from the PC.  I've found an intermediary program on the net which translates Word files into a language that the Sharp does understand - and as a bonus it allows downloads of more that the 2Mb limit that the Sharp has inbuilt. 
After 2 days of frustration the bonus is a welcome reward. 

Tickets to be picked up today.  Miserable weather, cold, windy, wet.  Have to take the car to Glenelg instead of the bike.  Max (our dog who usually rides on the back of the motorbike) doesn't seem to mind.  It's warm in the car with the heater on full. 
Little problem!  Claire's flight ticket is for Mr. not Miss.  Has to go back to Garuda for re-issue - Flight Centre to pay the re-issue cost.  Wait till I tell her!!  Probably better to get it fixed now than to have some poor airline worker filleted on the runway because he wouldn't let her onto the plane, and it would be difficult to make her look like a 'Mr'! 
Hotel bookings at Sheraton Indah are for a Garden View room instead of the expected change to a Pool View.  Flight Centre says that they can fix that with a fax.  Hope they're right.  More filleting if not!! 
Salesman Scot at the Diamonds Duty Free photo shop says that nearly all my order is in.  The filters should arrive later this week but I'll be lucky to get more than half of what I've ordered because I've picked out so many odd ones.  I guess I'll see on Friday. 
By then it'll only be 22 days to go. 

Just over a week to go and the tension is getting hard to control. 
Hell, I've even taken three trips down to the airport to try to get decent photos of Garuda flights taking off so that I've got the opening for this year's photo album. 
I am certainly looking forward to getting there.  The only worry is how many traumas there will be when we have to come back at the end of the holiday. 
Perhaps this is not something to worry about before we even leave.

I've made up a daily count-down sheet onto which I can write things that have to be done: haircut, bottles of bubbly (sorry, frothy coffee) and cardboard cartons of cold tea kept fresh in silver plastic liners, business card wallet, travellers cheques and so on. 

Having physio twice a week for a crook back.  It doesn't seem to be responding yet but traction last session seemed to help. 
Only days to go!  Will it be OK? 

Still have one camera filter to get.  Expected it today but it's not in!  Next Wednesday is getting a bit too close to the Friday am take off.  Should I take my business elsewhere?  Similar thoughts about my planned driver for a day trip north.  He may be the best there is (according to the Forum) but is he worth nearly twice as much as anyone else?  I need to canvass opinions amongst the others about this. 


Seven sleeps to go.
The bloody rupia has dropped to it's lowest rate for months and months, and it's still describing a line on the graph paper like an Olympic (can I use that word here without paying royalties to someone in 'Sydeney' I wonder?) diver wearing lead boots! 
Why didn't I give in to my avarice 7 weeks ago and buy some rupia at the peak exchange rate? 
This is going to put financial pressure on arrangements that I thought were well and truly cemented down. 


Four sleeps to go - that's if you can sleep! 
Pick up money and travellers cheques today. 
Damn filter for the new camera lens is still not in. 
I'm trying to organise a means of getting dog food to the Bali Street Dog Foundation - toy teddy bears to the orphanage. 
Hell!  Where is that orphanage? 
Must get Adelaide T-shirts for the massage girls on the beach. 
Scads of e-mails and a new multi address posting to set up on Hotmail. 
Check the Forum postings.  Does Fernandez want to start an interstate war on the Forum?  Have I encouraged him in my reply? 
Update the new Forum recommendations into the PC and on to the web page.
Joan the Pet Care lady came over last night to settle our minds about Max's welfare when we're gone.  She comes twice a day to feed the beasts and to take him for a walk.  Cheaper than kennels and he stays in his own familiar environment, eating familiar food with much less stress.  Its well over 12 months since she was here last but he remembers that last time as she left he got doggy chockies from the boot of her car.  As soon as she opens the front door he's off and sitting by the boot waiting!  I think he'll be all right.

had to mend one of the school’s cooking pot for Claire.  How do you lose three out of the four screws that hold the handles on, but still use it for long enough to fill up the three vacant holes with Lord knows what food residue?
There are things in this world that the mere male of the species is not designed to understand I'm sure. 

Ketut is advised that the trip north is off.  We may in fact still do it but it will have to be on a cheaper scale to fit the now reduced sum of rupia we will get for our bankroll.  We'll do this by using local drivers.  As this means we can leave earlier perhaps I'll get the good photo light at Lake Bratan that I hoped for?  I'll keep in contact with him to (hopefully) ensure his services next year when we can really explore the byways.

Will I post this on the Forum before we leave?  An attractive option as it will mean all the negative comments will be buried in the archives by the time we get back and I won’t have to read them.

Aha!  The missing camera filter is in.  Race off to pick it up, with the cash and TC's. 
Get saturated in the day’s only rainsquall so far. 
There are mysterious forces - -
Dry one soggy (and smelly) Max before Claire gets home.

What have I forgotten?

Tuesday 12th.  Three sleeps to go. 
Phil rang last night.  He has a new job and has to come to the city for a conference on Thursday so Nell will also come with him and get in a bit of Duty Free shopping.  They had intended to drive down (or up or across or whichever way it is from Big River country) on Thursday night so this is really a bit of a blessing.  He also raised the question of a small Aussie type present for Liz and John, the American couple who used the Bali Travel Forum to invite people to their Bali wedding.  I confess I hadn't even thought of it!.  My suggestion of a tea towel (dishcloth?) with an Aussie motif drew heaps of scorn and derision.  Claire has consequently been put in charge of research. 
Yesterday I recalled a Forum report in which the writer described the smile and kiss given by a small child in response to a Chuppa Chup (small sweet on a little stick - lollipop?) gift.  It was an image which I couldn't resist and so I went down to the corner BiLo store and bought 2 dozen. 
The pile of stuff to be packed continues to grow!  Thank God the packing is Claire's task.  I just buy the stuff. 

Max knows something is afoot I'm sure.  He regularly jumps up onto the desk now and quietly, gently, insistently, puts one paw on my hand so I can't continue these keyboard entries.  I give him a bit of a pat, scratch and squeeze.  He puts his chin on my shoulder for a few seconds and then curls up on the towel next to the mouse mat with an audible sigh. 

What to do today? 
*
Physio first at 9.30. 
* Downtown Duty Free for small tape recorder and supply of tapes. 
* Ring Garuda. 
* Chemist for bottle of fluoride tooth scrub.  Should try for 'Aquaear' also. (Another Forum recommendation.) I had an ear infection there last time and it was a miserable two days that I don't want to repeat. 
* Find phone number for 'Baliopoly' for Nell. In Denpasar? 
* Claire's end-of-term school faculty dinner tonight.
* Try to remember what I've forgotten to get. 
Time to get started!

Wednesday the 13th. 
Two sleeps to go.

Last night on the way to Claire's faculty dinner (that dinner is probably the reason the letters on the screen look crooked this morning) she suggested giving Liz and John an Ostrich egg for their wedding present.  Well, I suppose it's uniquely Australian but the logistics of getting it to Bali, and them getting it back to the States in one piece boggles the mind despite the fact that the shell is built like a bomb case!  And what would they think of an empty eggshell? 
We differ, and so she will contact higher authorities (fellow travellers) with better taste than mine for supporting opinions.  Supporting her opinion that is.

Retired teacher's lunch today.  I can't wait to casually drop to old friends the little message that I'm off to Bali on Friday.

Have found the phone number for Baliopoly for Nell - 732 617 - need to replenish the supply of Chateau Cardboard (carton of everyday wine) before tonight.

Sew the dog food into a hessian bag for transport.  I guess the bag might be useful as bedding too.  Post to Helen on the Forum to let her know she has not wasted her time raising the needs of the Bali Street Dogs Foundation.  Feedback for good deeds is too often forgotten these days I think.  Like the 'Thank You' letter to hosts after a visit and hospitality.  Am I showing an ancient set of values?  The ease and speed of the net makes it easy to do these things, but easy to overlook them also it seems.

Ah-ha.  I find that Si Badak (of high status on the Forum) is unexpectedly going to Bali on Friday too.  Be interesting to meet him face to face over a Bintang. 
I believe he drinks.

Remembered to put the waiters friend corkscrew out for packing, and to sharpen the blade so it will peel salaks and cut passion fruit (oh boy, I can taste them as I type this) and mangosteens. 

But what have I forgotten?

Thursday and one to go.

Claire's gone for a job interview this morning.  Not a good time with Bali on her mind but, 'poo happens', so they say. 
Nell rang from up-state to wish her luck but she'd already gone. 

* Physio again today.  Last time before take off. Back's not good and I've got out the anti-inflammatory pills but I think they've given me the wrong ones.  Have to go back to the chemist and check. 
* New flea collar for the cat. 
* Get 'Chateau Cardboard' that I forgot yesterday. 
* Take CD player for repair while we're away.
* Check Forum for new tips and print out summary of recommendations to take with us.
* Post this on the Forum at the last minute with a separate warning posting so that readers know what to expect.

I see on the Forum weather forecast that Bali is for 32 degrees minimum and 26 overnight, 55% humidity, slightly overcast and with a 14-knot south-easterly breeze. 

This is expected to be repeated tomorrow with a slight clearing of the overcast and a consequent rise in temperature. 

Here it is 14 degrees and I have just been soaked riding home from the physio's.
'Why are you going to Bali?' he asked me! 

Perhaps I should ring him from Bali tomorrow and tell him? 

If you have persisted this far, dear reader, you can give yourself a grade of A++. 

The remainder will be written (and posted) after our return. 


Filo.

Thursday September 14, 2000.

 


LATER, AFTER OUR RETURN
The story begins -

If you want to press on to the second episode (I promise that it's shorter) "Getting There” is the story of the trip to Bali, from the short ride to our airport and the flight across the centre of Australia, over the Timor Sea to the first glimpse of the Island of Smiles.
 


 

 Getting There.

 

Garuda Airlines 'Airbus Industrie A-330' leaving Adelaide Airport, 2000.

Up a bit after 5. 

AM that is. 

Been awake since the toilet trip at about 3 anyway.

Max wakes up and is still groggy as I get dressed to take him for his normal walk at a somewhat abnormal time.  He doesn’t care – a walk is a walk in his world and nothing starts the day off better.  He follows so close that I can feel his ears brushing on my ankles as I walk around the house.
It’s dark and cold outside.  We don’t mind the dark. 
He’s grey in colour and I loose sight of him as soon as I let him off the lead at the oval.  That’s not a worry because he knows the check points where we sometimes deviate from the well known track and will wait for me to point if we are going to change directions. 
Back home about 7 am, Claire is up.  Get breakfast as usual.  Check e-mail while I’m eating it as usual.  Leave a farewell message for friends.  Not usual and I smile inwardly as I do it. 
Finish packing and close the bags.  Max knows now.  Start loading bags into wrong car.  Get the message and correct.  No 1 daughter
Em and Max get into car and off to the airport.  At least this year we wont feel the need to apologise to a taxi driver for only taking a short 2 km trip.  Max will be quite happy in the car while we leave and not so upset when Em returns and drives him home. 

Our departure in the Garuda Airbus Industrie A-330 is delayed 20 minutes.  It’s nervous waiting.  What do you do?  You’ve said your goodbyes and checked the door into the departure lounge, gone through the list of things to be done at home while you’re away.
Mainly you just stand mute and look.

Eventually the door opens and you part with mutual relief I think.  Off to the lounge and eventually to board.  My seat is 38A, on the left side against the window and towards the back of the aft section.
The plane taxis to the beach end of the runway and turns onto the runway.  10.10 am.  No pause, just that surge of acceleration, the rumble of the wheels felt through the seat and the floor but not heard over the deafening roar of the two Rolls Royce engines.  This is a roar that is to stay with us for nearly 5 hours before abating as we descend into Ngurah Rai airport. 
I expect the take off to be over the city but we begin to turn left soon after clearing the airfield, climbing at an almost unbelievable angle that I don’t recall from other aircraft in the past.  The turn takes us over our house, or at leas
t looking down the left hand wing as we turn it seems that we are over the house.  I can see the clear plastic sheets in the workshop roof quite clearly.  The trees in the back yard rise above the shadow of the house stretched out in the morning sunlight.

The turn straightens and we head almost due north up the coast of Gulf S
aint Vincent.  Over the ICI salt pans and familiar fishing grounds at Outer Harbour where the sand drifts are clearly defined in the shallow water.  If only they were as clear from our boat when we were looking for productive fishing drops!  The other side of the gulf is also easily visible beyond the mangrove swamps that stretch up the eastern side of the gulf. The ground becomes a patchwork of many coloured fields, greens and yellow mainly, with an occasional brown.  Spencers Gulf appears as we pass Port Wakefield and begin a left-hand turn towards Bali.

We have never flown this way, always having gone on the round-the-world route with Ansett or Qantas via Melbourne at least.  That route seems to always have a lot of cloud cover and is pretty dull, colourless and, eventually, boring.  The enchantments of this track, up the gulf and then turn half left, are the variety of the scenery (even later as we cross the desert) and the clear skies which enables you to see.  Time will tell if they are enduring enchantments I suppose.

Port Pirie and Whyalla come and go under our left side wing, Port Augusta seen down through the windows on the right as we are allowed to walk around.  The shallows and the ship channel are clearly visible. 
Past Whyalla the lines of the Stuart Highway heading north and the Trans Continental Railway going north of west at this stage, are visible landmarks and show that our track is north
west.  The occasional pattern of fenced paddocks quickly gives way to endless scrub, marked only by red tracks. 

The video screens along the cabin relay a steady stream of flight information before the movies start.  I am curious and find this of interest.  We are at 10,500 meters or 34,000 feet, travelling at 792 kph and we will arrive in Bali in 4 hours and 11 minutes
but I don't think that this takes into account the time zone difference.  Maps of both large and small scale show our little ‘plane progressing across southern Australia, or across a much larger map of this part of the world, toward our destination.
We are all sitting in a line directly across the cabin, which makes conversation impossible from end to end due to the noise.  Some of us occasionally meet at the rear toilet/crew bay where we have a ‘hooligan soup’ or two.  Urgent messages to see this and look at that are relayed across, mouth to ear.

Into the heart of central Australia the earth patterns are wandering black lines
of trees along dry watercourses against red sand soil.  Shadows show an occasional change of elevation as a ridge appears or a gully is deep enough to be shaded along its bottom.  These are the drainage patterns marked by vegetation along (presumably) dry river and creek beds in the Gibson Desert.  Occasional red roads go straight towards the horizon where they disappear in the hazy mists of the distance.  The graceful arc of the silver and grey wing rises from the yellowish grey of the inversion layer along the horizon up to the bright winglet at the tip that itself contrasts against the deep blue of the sky above us.  Multicoloured salt lakes in whites, pinks, red, buff, tan and lemon yellow appear sharp against brick red sand drifts and a camouflage pattern of blackish green strips of scrub.

How far out from the aircraft at this height can you see into the distance before the features are lost in the haze?  If we are at 12,000 meters can we see 12,000 meters away from our track across the ground?  This would mean that the line of sight angles downwards at 45 degrees if we ignore the earth’s curvature.  It seems to me that I can see at a shallower angle than this.  Not as little as 30 degrees down from the horizontal, I think the yellowish mist is at about that angle, but perhaps 35 or 40 degrees down.  If I am right how far am I seeing?  How far away are those distant lakes with the black borders?  I resolve to ask old friend Ralph who’s a boffin and does lots of flying with a laser mapping mob.  He’ll come up with an answer in a wink, and he’ll probably be right too.

Is that meandering track the stock route from Godfrey Tank to Liberal Well? 
Is that patch Tobin Lake or Percival Lakes? 

And there are two roads that actually intersect!  What meetings might occur at that lonely place?  Do drivers stop when they arrive here?  Does one give way to the other on his or her right if two vehicles actually arrive together?  Have two vehicles ever arrived together? 

A station property appears just under the haze.  As it approaches sheds are clearly visible, and a dirt airstrip stands out in a broad stroke of colour.  Many tracks lead out from the hub of the buildings, meandering away into the scrub.  From here there are no visible reasons for their changes of direction, seemingly at random but probably not so. 
I look up again from making notes.  It is gone!
Were there people down there looking up as I was looking down?  Did anyone see our track and remark on it?  Are we leaving a track to be seen? 

Ah ha!  Lunch.
Now here’s the acid test.  I select the prawns from the menu, I think they were described as ‘spicy’, rather than the chicken.  Accompanied with a white wine that I’ve never heard of but which turns out to be a nice surprise.  And so are the prawns.  They are very tasty and the salad is crisp and cold with a good dressing.  Prawns seem to be the favourite all around me and everyone agrees that they are good, even magnificent for airline food, certainly not to be complained about anywhere.
The dessert is chocky sponge pud with raspberry sauce.  Sweet for some but the two and a half that I had were all OK. 
Some of us are still boozing but I’ve chickened out on this trip of the refreshment cart and gone for lemonade.  There are no complaints about the regularity of its visits, with those who developed a thirst between trips quickly served at the push of the cabin crew button on the seat handle.

Full marks to Garuda. Our concerns about flying cheaply now all dispelled.

The scenery out the cabin window is pure central Australia in all of its spectacular desert wilderness best.  Row upon row of sand hills, standing in serried ranks off to the murky horizon.  Silver-grey salt lakes on a bright copper background.  Occasional green-grey trails wander across the canvas.  Dull colours, but sharply contrasting one with the other, and colourful none the less.
For over half an hour the sand hills march on.  This must be the Great Sandy Desert.  It is great.  The red turns to a bright coral pink but the ridges go on.  It looks far more fascinating than the whorls of dots on the map that I am following. 
More of the same and yet more of the same follows more of the same.
Then the roads begin again, red lines through the Mandelbrot patterns of scrub and sand.  The coast must be near.  Will I see enough shape to pinpoint it on the map?  There it is.  An enormous pattern of sweeping scallops and deep indentations pointing to what must be rivers.  Wide bays and narrow inlets, with short lengths of cliffs separated by splashes of broad cream coloured sandy beaches edged with white surf separate what must be deep swathes of mangroves. 
I have no idea where we are and the scale of the map is obviously no help in pointing to the reality of the landscape shapes seen out of the window.  Never-the-less imagination reigns supreme and I convince myself, with the aid of the little plane on the map covering the video screen, that we are over the coast near Broome.  But if the great circle route takes us north of a straight line on the map then we are nearer Derby and King Sound.  If southwards then closer to Lagrange Bay at the top end of Eightymile Beach pointing further south towards Port Headland.  (The trip home suggests that this might be the more accurate location.)  Magical names of mysterious places – heard of but unknown although clearly pictured in the imagination.

The curve of the wing, lifting towards that elegant winglet at the tip, has remained rock steady against the azure of the sky for so long that it comes as a bit of a surprise when there is unexpected turbulence which lightly shakes the seat as we cross the coast.  The blue and featureless expanse of the Indian Ocean swallows the land features that I can point at.  Somewhere between Rowley Shoals and Scott Reef I’m sure.  (I can imagine Ralph the Rabbit reaching for the LADS maps I’m sure he would have created with DSTO surveys he was doing before retiring.)  The ailerons on the trailing edge of the wing have not perceptibly moved for as long as I have been able to stare at them.  We seem suspended and immobilised.  Absolutely static in a world consisting of dark blue sea and deep blue sky with that thin yellowish haze marking the boundary.  We seem to hang in that line between space and sea.  Only the steady roar of passing air and jet engines establish life, motion and reality beyond the window. 
Then, at the precise time that the toilet called
me, turbulence began.  It is difficult to control bodily functions when the whole world between the incredibly close walls of an aircraft comfort station is pitching and rolling.  It would be incredibly embarrassing to miss.  Perhaps the enclosing size is designed deliberately to keep one facing the right direction and more or less upright.  Relief at last.  Stagger to the safety of the seat and collapse into its welcoming security.  Below us those little puffy cotton balls of clouds stand out against the sea and the streaky white washes that appear to move above the more defined clouds.  Where do the cotton balls come from?  What suddenly creates them here in the unchanging, featureless emptiness of sky and sea? 
I have spilt the toilet perfume over me (I only meant to splash the wash basin surround.) and I stink.  I think everyone is looking at me as they walk past in the aisle, wondering just what I have done that merits this excess. 

The clouds begin to disappear but the turbulence continues with the wing tip now describing vertical arcs across the sky, dipping down towards that yellow haze and then rising into the blue.  The ailerons are now moving perceptibly.  The engine and wind noises continue without change. 

The immigration and customs forms are brought around.  Confusion, and when filling it in I make an unforgivable blunder of blatant honesty
about alcohol without thinking.  I must ask for another one.  What will they think?  Will they want the old one to inspect?  The request is met without even a tremor of an eyebrow or a discernible crease of the immaculate forehead.

The loudspeaker rasps into life at a pace, volume and pitch that each makes nonsense of understanding.  What is being said?  Even when it is repeated in English I can make no words recognisable from the accent.  I have yet to become accustomed to the Asian pitch, and will find out that I am not to do so for the whole holiday.  The movies are finished (the first one makes me chuckle aloud here and there as indeed it does again on the return flight) and the earphones are collected.  The little plane appears on the big map again and flight data begins to roll through its cycle.  39,000 feet, 835 kph ground speed, time to destination 34 minutes.  The picture of the little aeroplane is just below the name ‘Denpasar’.  We are nearly there!

Suddenly the engine/air noise dies to a whisper of its former self.  In the silence people look at each other and remarkably change to normal speech volume in mid conversation.  The fuselage tilts down.  The seat belt sign comes on with its accompanying gongs. 

The video information is in English, Bahasa Indonesian and Japanese I think.  Denpasar is 289 km away, with a temperature of 31 degrees Celsius.  I can almost feel the warmth.  How marvellous. 
We are on a long glide path to Bali. 

The pattern of the re-appeared cotton wool coalesces into broad sheets with dimpled tops.  The aircraft banks left and then right for no apparent reason.  Then a long sweeping bank to the right begins with the wing tip on my side climbing up into the sky, well above the now clearly defined horizon and I lose sight of the sea.  Through the window on the far side I can see only cloud tops.  The air is calm and smooth at first, then little tremors again.  The clouds are in layers, one moving over the other as we pass, but the surface of the sea remains featureless.

This is so peaceful!  A sensation of just quietly floating (well almost if you can push the low noise of the passing air into the background) with only an occasional slight tremor in the floor to underline the reality of our motion which is actually quite fast.  This is a proper way to approach Paradise; respectfully and peacefully. 

714 kph ground speed – (444 mph) – 55 km to go – (41 miles) – 15 minutes.

The flaps lower to their first stage and the noise and vibration increases slightly, the airframe trembling.  The nose lowers to maintain airspeed as the aircraft sinks more quickly through the cloud.  A long banking turn to the right and as we straighten out waves intermittently appear on the surface of the sea. 
Forehead presses close to the Perspex window, peering as far forward as possible for the first glimpse of our destination. The little plane at the end of the red line on the video visibly jerks forward, closer to ‘DENPASAR’. 
Steamy clouds obscure the view briefly as the flaps go down further with an hydraulic whir.  Similar noises terminating in a distinct thump as the landing gear goes down and finally locks into place. 
A line of surf appears forward in the distance, stark white against the sparkling deep blue sea surface that begins to turn turquoise over patches of sand within the darker coral reefs.
The wake of a little boat powering along in the same direction as us and even smaller prahus or jukungs, traditional local fishing boats now devoid of their traditional crabs-claw sails, leave outboard motor trails in long loops as they troll for fish.
We approach low and slow for a minute or so then, forward under the wing tip, appears the breakers of the Tuban reef just off the end of the runway that juts out into the sea at this western end.  For what seems a long time we hang over the runway which flashes by, then thump and wobble, the deceleration of heavy braking and reverse thrust from the engines cause bodies to strain forward against the restraining seat belts.  We seem to slow only just at the end of the runway and turn quickly into the last run-off leading to the taxi strip.  Left turn again and we retrace our landing path back towards the terminal. 
My view now is across the airfield to the bordering banana trees and coconut palms rising over low, leafy growth and rice fields rising up the slight slope into the distance.  How picture book, Hollywood, tropical, typical Bali!  To complete the Hollywood atmosphere there is an old, vintage looking biplane parked at the edge of the runway.  It is more remarkable because it is painted, totally, a bright lolly pink.

We stop short of the terminal buildings and covered stairways are wheeled up to the doors while buses follow quickly to their bottom ends.  We gather luggage from the lockers and join the slow queue to leave.  As we near the doors the warm air surrounds us and perspiration pops out on foreheads chilled from the plane’s air-conditioning.  A short ride to the immigration building and we join the short lines forming at each counter.


We have arrived, and it feels so good.


Filo

2.10.00

 

. . . graceful arc of the silver and grey wing rises from the yellowish grey of the inversion along the horizon

to the bright winglet at the tip that contrasts against the deep blue of the sky above . . .

 

 

 

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*  take you back to our Home page -

*  take you to more
photos of our first four days at the Sheraton Nusa Indah in Nusa Dua.
 

 

 

 BALI STORY 2000    -    Day 1.

Our first four nights of the 2000 holiday were at the Bali Sheraton Indah Hotel, a large and luxurious place in the up-market tourist enclave of Nusa Dua, a district on the east coast of southern Bali.

Day 1 covers the drama of the short ride from the airport to the Sheraton, the things that just don't work in Bali - no matter which hotel you're in, "Pool side"?, money changing and - what comes next?

 

Permanent 'guests' in the grounds of the Sheraton. 

Ducks play an important and fascinating part of Balinese country life, but you do not expect to see them wandering in the grounds of a 5* hotel !!
Not only do they provide eggs and meat for the Balinese but they provide a profession for the duck herders who contract to clean pests from the rice fields with their flocks. The flock is trained to follow
the shape of a particular tassel suspended from the tip of a long, light bamboo pole. By moving the tassel right or left, forward or back, the herder takes to ducks to the correct fields and avoids those he has not been paid to clean.
I'm told that in the Catholic Parish residence in Tuka there is a local picture depicting Christ as a duck herder, the missionaries finding no sheep to form His flock in Bali
they wisely substituted what was known
.

 

 

Friday 15 September 2000.      Day 1.
After a very pleasant flight with Garuda and a smooth passage through the Immigration checks, with none of the delays anticipated from previous experiences, we secured a porter with a nice crisp $5 note and waited for the luggage to appear.  Again, little delay, and no dreaded chalk crosses on the cases despite being more than 1 or 2 kilos overweight.  The 18 kilos of dry dog food for the Bali Street Animal Foundation sat in its hessian sack on top of everything else as we marched off to the Customs desk.  We were heading straight through behind the porter when the unusual sack caught The Man’s eye and he imperiously pointed at it and, almost in the same motion, beckoned us over.  Needless to say we obeyed without hesitation, well maybe I did for just a fraction of a second but not enough to be noticed.  We had written all over the bag what was in it and to whom it was going, but we were required to explain it in detail anyway for his benefit.  When he was convinced that we were not pulling his leg he broke into a smile which may really have been a restrained laugh.  Who would ever think of bringing food all the way to Bali to feed the dogs?  In case we really were crazy, and it might have been catching, we were quickly sent on our way.  The glass containers of bubbly tea and the cardboard cartons of pre-mixed coffee remained safely where they were, far down away from casual eyes. 

Nell negotiated a 6 seater to take all our gear and us from the airport to the Sheraton Nusa Indah.  With consummate skill and little delay his opening price of $20 became an accepted $10 and we were loaded and away.  The pleasant ride along Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai to Nusa Dua came to an abrupt end when the proffered $10 Australian was vigorously rejected and $10 US (nearly double) was demanded in an uncharacteristic display of loud anger.  Nothing would calm the situation and what I thought was a reasonable explanation, that he was meeting a plane from Australia and we didn’t sound at all like Americans and he had not specified US dollars in the negotiations, were a waste of time.  The offered money was pushed back at me with contempt and words I didn’t understand but could have a good guess at.  Eventually he stormed off and I went to join the others at the check-in desk inside the hotel with the money in my shirt pocket.  A few minutes later he stormed back accompanied by (I think) the hotel Reception Manager.  I explained what had transpired in detail and again offered the money that was again brushed aside.  He was asked to leave and stormed off once more.  The Manager shrugged his shoulders and went back to whatever he was doing.  I was not aware until later that the driver had then gone to Phil and demanded his money.  Thinking that I had already paid him Phil waved his hands and said, ‘No!’  This did not ease the situation and shortly he was back yelling at me again.  Again I offered the money and in very clear English he asked if I expected him to give me a tip too, and held out a note.  His ability to use quite clear English that I could now easily understand suddenly annoyed me and I said, ‘Thank you’, and reached for the note he was offering.  It was withdrawn with the speed of light and the A$10 I was holding out snatched up at least as quickly.  As he stormed off for the final time he threatened to kill Phil which I thought was very brave of him as Phil is not a small mountain of humanity.  He seemed to think better of it when Phil turned and looked at him, leaving without any further word. 

I am still puzzled by this confrontation, as it is quite un-typical of the people.  In all our visits I don’t think any of us had seen anything like it.

The spacious and spectacular towering entrance lobby of the Sheraton returned to its normal calm and we relished the welcome drinks that were offered.  The check in procedure was smooth and very pleasant, more so probably in comparison with our recent confrontation.  Even the sack of dog food was calmly stored for future collection and an official receipt issued to me. 
Regrettably we were all allocated rooms in different wings and on different floors of the hotel.  The Sheraton is a quite large hotel and we were to get lost a few times going from one room to another, hindered by the lack of little number plaques and arrows that are common aids in other places. 
Our room was supposed to be a ‘pool view’ room.  It would be more accurate however to describe it as a ‘poolside’ room (as opposed to an ‘outside’ room I suppose).  The only view of water was a small corner of the duck pond visible through a thinner area of the intervening screen of coconut palm fronds on one side of the balcony.  ‘Poolside’ too, I guess, could be open to funny interpretations, as we were certainly not near the side of the pool, which was quite a trek away. 

Our decision to have a swim before heading off to do some quick shopping for sustenance necessities lead to the discovery that the shower was only capable of dribbling straight down, almost against the wall at the end of the bath.  A shower over the bath in a hotel of this class is not something I expect (but in fairness I must say that it was not something that either of the others endured in their rooms) and to have it so dangerously unusable was a nuisance.  A quick call to housekeeping brought the promise of a plumber to attend to it and I had no sooner hung up from this call than I found that the in-room safe would not lock.  Things were going from bad to worse.  I was getting a little up tight as I made a second call to housekeeping.  I had no sooner hung up from this call than Claire began to orbit at high speed looking for the two bottles of Chivas Regal scotch that she had bought Duty Free.  And her new sunglasses were also missing! 

The door chimed and the plumber materialised in a remarkably short time from the call for help.  Claire disappeared back to the lobby to look for the wayward scotch and the plumber quickly declared the shower rose broken, promising to return shortly with a new one.  To my utter surprise he was back in about three minutes with a replacement which he fitted in about the same time before calling me to inspect and approve the performance of the replacement.  It truly was a transformation and I congratulated him on the efficiency and quality of his work.  He confided that he had taken the replacement from the vacant room next door and would bring a proper one later in the afternoon.  I was astonished! 

As the plumber left another man with a small bag and a screwdriver arrived to fix the safe.  Ah ha, I thought, this is more like Bali service.  A screwdriver to fix a malfunctioning electronic safe that is, I hope, securely bolted to the floor with tamper-proof nuts.  Again I am confounded as he quickly tries the locking process, nods, and prescribes new batteries which he has in his little bag!  Well, I am silenced as he quickly unscrews the inner cover of the door, removes the small plastic battery holder, inserts four new AA batteries, replaces the door cover and demonstrates the success of his work.  Less than five minutes again!  I am left confused by feeling on the one hand that the hotel is falling apart and on the other hand applauding service that I would probably not get in a 5* hotel at home. 

A quick trip to the lobby
bar secures a double Chivas over lots of ice and a splash of soda  to ease Claire's anguish at her loss.
It helps only a little.

Given this level of attention to life
's problems things are looking up a bit and positively shine a little later when Nell turns up with the missing scotch. 

We have a quick dip in the pool, to which everyone gives a big thumbs up although we think that the rooms at the Hilton which we had last year were larger and had a better layout. 

By Taksi to the PT Money Changers at the Kodak shop opposite the Kin Khao Restaurant on Jl Dewi Kartika.  We used Pt Central changers exclusively throughout our stay and never faulted them.  This Kodak shop was
one we most frequently used as it was conveniently located for us, but those at other shops and the main Department stores like Matahari and Ramayana were equally trustworthy.  Our only complaint was the delay at busy times and the annoying frequency that Matahari’s, in particular, ran out of money.  I think that this was sometimes when the girl just wanted a break, as nothing significant seemed to happen before the service started up again.  The rate at the time was Rp4650 to one Aussie dollar.  It varied at least once daily, from a low of Rp4550 to a high of Rp4700 as we were leaving to go home two weeks later. 

From Kodak to TJ’s
restaurant in Poppies Lane for dinner.  As good as ever, two courses and three large cold Bintangs for Rp57,000 (A$12.26) on average for each of the six of us.  Not the cheapest meal we would find in Bali but we didn’t expect it to be.  We knew we would be satisfied with the quantity and quality.  Sure enough, everyone is Happy as we stroll out into the cooling night air. 
What a pity such good food and service is marred by toilets which I graded only 4/10.

Off to Matahari’s for the essential stocks; cheese, biscuits, mixer drinks etc, and then a Taksi back to the Sheraton, well satisfied with our short first day.

Coming with Garuda certainly beats arriving at midnight or after as we have done before on other carriers.  It really adds a bonus half day to the holiday and you wake up fresh for the start of the first full day, not feeling as though you had celebrated a bit too much the night before.

We all gave it a big tick of approval!

3.10.00



From here you can go on to
Day 2 which tells of the pool, the beach and the first massage. Breakfast at the Galleria and flirtatious locals. Shopping prices, spectacles and Versace. The search for a white shirt and dinner prices in Bualu village.

If you would like to see more  photos
of the first 4 days of our stay at the Sheraton Indah in Nusa Dua you can click this link.

If you want to go to our
Home Page and follow other links to different stories or other Bali site links you can click on this link.   


 

 

An early morning view of the Sheraton Nusa Indah pool and south wing of suites.
There are many more people later in the day.

 

 

 

Day 2.

Dawn breaks and two fishermen tend their traps at the edge of the reef just off the Sheraton beach.

 

 

Saturday 16 September 2000.
An early morning swim and the pool at the Sheraton Indah is still very nice. 
There are few people around in the hotel, not in the pools nor in the restaurants or in the bars or on the beach.

I decide to go for a bit of an exploratory walk along the beach to get then lie of the land. The tide is out leaving the roped floats which mark the hotel’s piece of (partly cleared) sand resting on the flat reef, pools and patches of sand.  Further out towards the main reef fishermen are lifting and re-setting their strip bamboo traps, tying them to lumps of dead coral with flimsy and much knotted string.  The idea seems to be to anchor the ‘bottom’ ends so that the opening faces down tide flow, thereby encouraging fish to swim up current and into the one way opening.  Others are wading the shallows with floating baskets or foam boxes, bent double and peering intently down into the water.  The Security Guard tells me that they are collecting shells and small crabs. 

Southwards down the beach there is a small headland joined to the shore by only the narrowest of sand strips.  At this distance there appears to be a building on the crest of the headland and I think that it would be the sort of place where you could expect to find a temple of some sort.  I decide to wander along the beach-edge path in the opposite direction this morning and investigate the headland later. 

As I walk along the waters edge sellers appear out of the palm trees at the northern end offering sarongs, shells, kites and massages.  The girls get some sarongs that are a bit different to those of past years and I opt for a back massage for Rp 25,000 for half an hour.  The massage is good but hard, and probably overpriced but really it’s only A$5.50 and this is Nusa Dua after all!

 

        

 Looking north, up the beach. At low tide the edge of the reef appears near the groynes.Looking south. The shallow bay is just behind the end of the trees on the left.

 

We decide to breakfast at the Nusa Dua Galeria, (a collection of shops of all kinds originally set up the cater to Nusa’s Japanese clientele, and therefore rather high class and certainly high priced compared with similar outlets at Tuban/Kuta/Legian/Seminyak) a short walk away in the warming morning air.  After investigating the nearest few restaurants we decide on UNO’s near the supermarket.  An American breakfast is Rp86,031 for two, with tax and service charge added and after a 30% discount was applied.  Nice, but not that nice, and not a filling quantity either. 
We lined up at a money change situated in a small booth near the restaurant and waited – and waited – and waited!  The rate was comparable with what we later saw in Kuta but the computer connection was soooo slow. 

While the others went off to spend their recently gained rupia I had a chat to two locals at the nearby Information Booth.  One, a particularly attractive young girl perhaps in her 20’s, was badly scarred on her arm and shoulder from a motorbike accident and probably earnest but terribly unskilled plastic surgery. 
They marked on my map the location of the Dijon Deli that we had heard about and wanted to visit.  Each year we seem to take over kilos of nibbles in the form of cracker biscuits, pates, cheeses, smoked oysters, dips and so on.  We had noticed the increased range of some of the more common items and brands in Matahari’s but would be very happy if we could fill out the selection at Dijon's and so save the weight.  As it turned out we looked in vain for
Dijon's as we passed the God statue with the coiled snake quite a few times but never saw it and did not stop to really search. 
Our conversation soon attracted a couple of the local lads who were probably there chatting up the girls (it goes on in every culture I think, doesn’t it?).  The usual ‘Where are you from?’ questions prompted a mini geography lesson with a (dodgy) map of Java, Bali and Australia drawn in my notebook. (Chris actually carries printed maps of this section of the world with the various names of places written in Indonesian.  They are an instant hit when he pulls one out, and it inevitably gets passed around with much interest.) I am regularly surprised by their knowledge of Australian cities but the concept of ‘states’ bothers them.  I tried this year to use the analogy of the divisions in Java but it was not a total success because I’m not sure of the system there myself.  I have to say that their knowledge of Oz is far better than my knowledge of even the main islands of Indonesia. 
I make a formal introduction between
the young girl and Chris.  She agrees, shyly, that he is a very handsome man and that he has nice pale skin and beautiful fair hair, blushing all the time, I think.  We are really never satisfied it seems.  She was the first but not the last to express admiration for light skin and hair and blue eyes (even though Chris insists in great detail and absolute sincerity that blue eyes are no good in the dark).  Most of us westerners with these traits however, spend countless hours in the sun, and considerable agony at times, trying to achieve what the Balinese already have but don’t desire. 

Did I mention shoppers and shopping earlier?
Well would you believe that within walking distance there is Armani’s, D & G’s, etc, etc, etc. 
And I missed out on all of them – this time round.

We did later wander into
the Keris Department Store in the Galeria where I checked the prices of some items that did interest me;
- Jacobs Creek Chardonnay ’99 Rp160,000 (A$34.50),
- Hardy’s Nottage hill Chardonnay ’99, Rp164,350 (A$35.35),
- Rosemont Shiraz ’99 Rp205,100 (A$44.10),
- Houghtons White Burgundy ’99 Rp164,350
- Martini Bianco Vermouth Rp183,700
- Chivas Regal Scotch 375 ml, Rp240,500, (A$51.75),
- 750 ml Rp396,400 (A$85.25)
- Penfolds Semillon Chardonnay ’97 Rp203,000
- Wolf Blass Shiraz Cab. ’98 Rp 248,925 (A$53.55)
- Rosemont Estate Traminer Riesling ’99 Rp173,850,
and so on.

At the upstairs Keris Café where we had a late lunch, a small, cold Bintang was Rp12,000 (at most restaurant/cafe happy hours a large Bintang is Rp7,000) burgers were Rp13 – 18,000, fries Rp5,000, spaghetti bolognaise Rp18,700,
nasi goreng (very nice but-)Rp19,500 (A$4.20).
Now many would argue that A$4.20 is damn cheap for a spag bol, and it is (or it would be if you could get it at this price in a mid-class eatery) in Australia.  But we are not in Australia, we are in Bali where we were to have many similar, good meals at half these prices, and no one was going ‘bunk root’ because of those prices.  There is much nice dress jewellery at the foot of the stairs leading up to the Keris Café, but when you have made your selection the difficult part comes and you have to run the gauntlet of the serving tribe.  First you have to find the right cashiers table.  The wrong one simply wont do, but you will be escorted, with great respect and dignity but no haste, to the correct one – which is not always the nearest or the most obvious one from where you made your selection.  Even the Shop Assistant who writes you the required triplicate docket and must accompany you on your journey may take you off in the wrong direction.  (Is this just because they want to see a friend along the way?  Or is it in hope that you might see something else in their department that you will buy?)  Eventually the goods and money are passed on to a Checking Assistant who inspects the docket and the counts the cash.  The checking Assistant then passes the cash on to the cashier, who counts it again and works the money till.  Meanwhile the goods and the second docket are passed to the wrapper who checks the goods against the docket triplicate that is vigorously stamped before the goods are wrapped.  Any change due, and the duplicate docket is passed back to the checker who counts it out for you to also check and accept and finally staples the triplicate, stamped docket over the opening of the little (or big) carry bag. 
After nods and ‘Terimah kasihs’ (‘Thank you’) all round, with smiles of course, you are able to wander off and the Shop Assistant goes back to her allotted station.
This system is not peculiar to Keris I must say.  All of the larger stores more or less follow a similar pattern.  There really should not be any unemployment in Bali.  This system could, with a little imagination, be extended to street and beach sellers, taxis and other areas, thus possibly requiring even, the importation of labour from other islands.

We also lined up for prescription eye glasses at the Optic store in the Galeria.  Frame prices ranged from Rp65,000 (less than A$15.00)to over Rp2,000,000 for Italian frames.  Yes, that’s 2 million rupia.  A$430 ! 
With cheaper frames my single focus glasses for use at the computer (and not to be taken down to the workshop, I promise) cost Rp275,000 (less than A$60.00).  These were more expensive that those chosen by the others because my eyes don’t both look in the same direction as most peoples do.  The others were ready next day but mine took a week and I had to pay a Rp 50,000 deposit. 

Off to a taxi, via a second visit to the Versace shop where there was up to 70% off ‘normal’ prices.  But I didn’t understand that the girls needed new clothes for tomorrows wedding in Ubud.  This visit takes three quarters of an hour and a few hundred thousand rupia.  I also didn’t understand how you could wear 5 pairs of jeans (all new) to the wedding.  I am indeed a simple soul! 
I am assured however that they are cheap.  Genuine Versace jeans for Rp169,000 (A$35), tops for Rp100,000 (A$21.50). 
And then to the taxi – but not to the hotel.  We first need to stop at the local markets, on both sides of the road, at the end of
Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai.  I think Phil must have known about this, or at least suspected, but didn’t warn me.  He and Jay decided to walk back to the hotel!  By the time we have finished ‘just 5 minutes’ at the markets I am sure that I have walked ten times that distance.  I bought a floppy hat to keep the sun off my dome whilst standing and walking.  I paid Rp15,000 and later bought another identical one at the Kuta markets for Rp10,000. 
But we had to find a new white shirt for the wedding. 
A pity really, but we didn’t find one. 
I can’t believe that still. 
Mind you we did manage to load a few bags into the taxi eventually.  ‘Jalan, Jalan, Jalan’.  Walking, walking, walking!  ‘Jalan!  And I really did think I was going back to the hotel.  I realised that I’ve fallen for a three card trick again. 

Eventually we did get back to the hotel and a dip in the refreshing pool.

A champagne or two and a couple of beers, shower, dress (some of those new jeans got a try out before the wedding I have to say) and off to Hann
's restaurant in Bualu for a much anticipated dinner.

 

The waterfall in the Sheraton pool.

There is a pool bar to the left when you go through under the waterfall.

 

At Hanns restaurant regular whisky is Rp27,000 (A$5.80), premium whisky, Johnny Walker Black Label, Jack Daniels, is Rp29.700 (A$6.40). 
Cocktails are Rp33,000, (A$7.10)
Mumm Cordon Rouge Champagne, 750 mils, is Rp850,000 (A$182.80)or Rp37,500 by the glass (A$8.10). 
House wines are Rp37,500 (A$8.10) by the glass, a half litre carafe Rp105,000 (A$22.60) or 1 litre is Rp210,000 (A$45.20).  Rose house wines are a little cheaper.  It’s probably the local Hattens wine. 
A small Bintang is Rp10,900 (A$2.35), large Rp16,000 (A$3.45), beer by the pitcher Rp50,000. (A$10.75), Fosters and VB is Rp30,500 (A$6.56), I guess by the can or small bottle. 
Soft drinks are Rp8,000, Diet Coke Rp12,000 (A$1.72 and A$2.58). 

We have been fans of Hanns since we first ate there, and I have regularly recommended them on the Bali Travel Forum, but this year was a great disappointment to us. 
We sat at our table for almost half an hour before we approached a waitress and asked for drinks.  She suggested that we go to the bar and order what we wanted.  At the bar we were initially refused service but eventually our order was accepted, but not at Happy Hour prices as it was one minute past the deadline!  Our protests that we had been waiting fell on deaf ears until the manager (?) was approached and eventually agreed that we could have one round of drinks at Happy hour prices.

Eventually our orders were taken but delays continued.  A New Zealand couple and their two children, who shared the bus from the Sheraton to Hanns, finished their meal and were leaving as the first of our entrees was served. 
The restaurant did not seen to be totally full and we did book beforehand. 
Our plans to return to the Hann for breakfasts while we were at Nusa Dua went out the window. 

My entrée of Crispy Spring Rolls (Rp15,000), were very tasty but were NOT crispy. 
The main course of Crispy Prawns with lemon sauce was Rp45,000. 


5.10.00

 

 

Day 3.

Day 3 involves massages, more money changing, breakfast in Benoa, Sukawati, the wedding we didn't get to and compensation.

 

Sunday 17 September 2000.

START THE DAY WITH A MASSAGE ON THE BEACH !

Now there’s a motto for life; and one to live for.

If only . . . . . .

This morning she gets those sore spots.  Just when you are about to cry, “Hold. Enough!”, she smooth
s it all down in the opposite direction, just like settling a cat’s fur.  But when you’re feeling nice and relaxed again those thumbs, without any hesitation or warning search, hit them dead on again.  Bullseye! 
Aaarrrgh ! 

Have a swim – and yes, the pool’s still nice.

Check the e-mail.

Down towards Benoa to change some money ready for the day’s activities but the Kodak shop changer recommended on the Forum, opposite Club Bali Mirage, is not open.  With a taxi waiting this is no time to quibble.  Ten paces further down the street there is a little stall with one of those sandwich boards on the footpath that we seriously try to avoid.  Boldly, hoping our suntan is dark enough already not to mark us as fresh off the plane and ready for plucking, we take a fresh grip on our calculators and step up to the mark. 
‘Do you have big notes?’ we ask, perhaps hoping she’d say ‘No’ and we could avoid the issue and depart. 
‘Oh yes!’ she replies, ‘100,00 rupia if you want them.’ 
OK.  I brace myself and step forward to go first.  Travellers Cheque given a cursory glance, ‘Sign here’ she says, ‘name on back and address!’  ‘You want hundreds?’ 
She’s obviously done this so many more times than I have its plain that if I’m going to be swindled I’m probably not going to know about it until much later, and at least, I console myself, I’m going to be swindled by someone who is pleasant.
With great care and what I hope is an air of casual expertise I start counting the money, spilling it all over the counter half way through. 
DAMN.
Start again, with Claire watching intently.  All correct I think.  I glance sideways at Claire and she nods in agreement.  I look up at the lady and say ‘Terimah kasih’, thank you.  Is that the wisp of a smile at the corners of her mouth? 
Claire changes (much more than I do) and we climb back into the waiting taxi and head off to the Mini Restaurant for breakfast. 

The Mini Restaurant is just where the posting on the Forum said it would be, opposite the Novotel Hotel but there’s no one in it.  Still it’s fairly early on Sunday morning after all and the waiter comes to greet us in a friendly manner as we pay the Taxi the Rp6,500 meter fare which includes waiting time at the money changer.  $2.68 in home-money terms!  I don’t think I’ll ever again look an Aussie cabbie in the eye without smiling.  I think Claire gave him Rp10,000 which is our normal habit if we can get the guy (are there any female taxi drivers in Bali?) to talk to us.  If we only get grunts to our enquiries about how long has he been on this shift?, or is he the person who keeps the taxi so very clean?, we wait to get the change (or to see if we’re offered change) before deciding what we’ll pay.  Because the restaurant is deserted we would probably have looked elsewhere if the waiter had not advanced to open the door for us.  I think that it’s the little thing in life that seem to guide our actions in ways that are so subtle that we usually don’t recognise them and in fact we probably don’t even recognise that we’re being guided along certain paths and guided away from others.  Is there really a grand, divine plan?

Hell, this is Bali. 

Forget the philosophy and get back to the diary! 

We opt for the Rp12,500 (A$2.68) American breakfast again, in my case to compare it with the disappointing Rp43,000 one at the Galeria in Nusa Dua yesterday.  It’s about the same but we get both fruit juice and fresh fruit this morning whereas yesterday we had to choose one or the other.  Even if we add in the cab fare, this one still wins hands down, and we’re not surprised. 
We hail a Blue Bird taxi for the trip back to the Sheraton.  Beware the blue taxis that are just a shade darker in colour than the Blue Birds but are not so reliable in their use of the meter
and the sign on the roof spells 'TAKSI' not 'TAXI" as we are used to.  I can’t remember one occasion when I got into a Blue Bird taxi and the driver had not already put the meter on or was reaching to do so.  That’s so much better than needing to ask, and I suppose I’ve got to admit that asking is still a long way in front of forgetting and being stung for five times the correct fare!  And I’ve also got to admit that that did happened to me once on this trip.  But more about that later. 
We stop on the way to pick up a Fuji Superia, 200 ASA, ‘4th colour layer’, 20+4 shot film for Rp25,000 on the way back to the hotel.  The taxi fare was Rp9,300 because it is apparently necessary to drive up around the Bualu markets on the way back, avoiding a one-way section of Nusa roadway. 
This is the day for the wedding at Ubud which we are looking forward to, so the day is planned around much shopping on the way. 
The Sukawati Markets (which are supposed to be the market at which the ordinary street/Kuta sellers buy) are almost the same as ever but this year we find out where to get a drink way down the side street.  It makes it almost bearable. 
The main market building, that multi storey concrete monster crammed with material goods and humanity, is so crowded that the walls seem to be bending outwards under the pressure!  I kid you not, it was so obviously packed that the girls unanimously decided against entering and opted for the stalls down the side road instead.  Now that’s FULL! 

Evidently a more or less regular trip is organised by sellers in Java. They come over by the bus load to buy in bulk for their businesses in Java - and today was the day!
I suppose that’s what you get for trying to shop on the Lord’s day!

I am intrigued by a fast flowing, concrete contained stream which I find disappearing under the north side of the road but can see no sign of, even behind the houses, on the south side.  The map certainly shows a river flowing through Sukawati at about where I think we are standing, and which reaches the Selat Badung (Strait of Badung) near Segara north of Sanur.  None of the locals seem to know, or indeed care, where the miserably littered stream goes. 
One points vaguely along the road and allows his hand to wander off to the left somewhere between here and the horizon. 
Does it indeed go along under the road before being turned left and spilling it’s load of foetid God-knows-what across the rice fields behind the village?  If it does then the thought of driving over it along that road will forever haunt me, and considering the Balinese/Indonesian disdain for any sort of standards in their civil engineering road collapse is not beyond reality.  It would be like putting your foot down an open cover into the drains under the footpaths of Kuta, but on a much grander (is that really an appropriate word for these circumstances?) scale.  Now there’s a thought to put you off your lunch. 

I am a little concerned that we will be late for the wedding in Ubud, but it seems that I am mistaken because we head off, not to the wedding but to the Ubud Markets from Sukawati.  More of the same there but, somehow that I don’t understand, its different!  Along the way we’ve identify Ananda Cottages where the wedding is to be and the Indus Restaurant where we will have dinner afterwards.  We’ve brought along two bottles of my favourite Sparkling Burgundy Champagne, with champagne glasses, so that we can share a toast with the bride and groom. 

It should be easy to get back there after the markets.

And so it proves to be, with about 3 minutes to spare before the reality that I have of this image of the shyly smiling bride gliding down some sort of an aisle towards a trembling groom.  Some of us gather around the back of the mini-bus changing our sweaty clothes before we take up our places.  Jay is amongst the leaders rushing into the Cottages reception area. 
When I turn around the next time I can see him coming back to the bus.

  ‘It’s not until tomorrow.’ He says.  ! ! ! !  

I think I must have frozen in my tracks, and Nell says, ‘That’s right. You’ve got the date wrong.’  In a mental fog I go back through the e-mails I’ve received and clearly remember the last one that confirmed the change from Monday to Sunday. 
I forwarded that to everyone else so that they all knew. 
What could have gone wrong? 
To this very day I don’t know, but I do know I was on the receiving end of some less than funny remarks for a few days – and I still am when the occasion presents itself. 

Well, never let a good opportunity pass by without profit, is the motto of some people, so it’s back into the bus, open the Sparkling Burgundies and head off to the new Galeria shopping complex which includes a new Matahari’s. 

Along the way we stop to have a walk across the old Dutch bridge and inspect Murnie’s Warung nearby.  I’m invited by the hostess to walk down the stairs to the bottom level close to the river where the world is lost under a dark green cover of forest lifting up the sides of the ravine that the river has cut over the years.  I am told that the lower levels are lit by naturally occurring glow-worms at night.
It certainly looks as though it could live up to the recommendations that it has received. 

 

Waterfalls along the river at Murni's Warung restaurant.

This is where the glow worms display their talents at night.

 

The new shopping centre is very impressive with a grand entrance and well spaced, gleaming service counters amongst the displays. 
It's not yet finished and construction work and fitting out is still going on.  This is now Sunday night, remember.  Never-the–less there are things to be purchased. 
I think I’ve said that before somewhere.
All prices are in US dollars and it doesn't take too many conversions of the price tickets to scare us off into the adjacent Matahari's.

Eventually back into the bus, back to the Sheraton and a Room Service dinner for all.

A day to be remembered, or a day to be forgotten?

I guess only time will tell but it seems to me that the time between the end of breakfast and bed was pretty much a waste of a day in Paradise. 

 

7.10.00

 

 

 

Where would you like to go today?
 

 Now Day 4 does mention massages again, but also raises the question of whether the Galleria can be cheaper than the beach for shopping. I get stung by the hotel's taxi service, Benoa fishing village and the beaches, Jl Pratama restaurants.

 

Day 4. - Monday 18 September 2000.

The by now obligatory massage and swim. 

How tough can life get?

I wanted also to buy scarves on the beach for friends wives back home but they were much dearer than those that Nell thought were nicer at the markets.  Rp 70,000 here whereas those at the Galeria were Rp15,000.  Now there’s a change – the Galeria appears cheaper than the beach.  It’s at times like these that life gets complicated for a simple bloke.  I prevaricate despite the advice that comes thicker than the fleas on a Bali dog’s back!  Now you all know that not much can compare with that. 

We are to meet at 10.15 for a late breakfast, or early lunch or something.  It’s at times like these that you begin to realise that the Balinese habit of eating when you’re hungry and not when the clock says its time makes absolute sense.  Until then we do our own thing. 

There are a lot of fancy fountains along the road through Nusa Dua so I set out to get some photos.  I have decided that the photo theme this year is to be water, in any form.  I have been practising with long exposures when the opportunity presented itself and got some nice shots earlier in the year when I went to see Daughter #2 at Alice Springs.  Funny how all the good intentions of life go out the window when the crunch comes.  I think I got really serious about water about three times in the whole trip and but was captivated by new flowers, again, far more often.  Ah, well – Bali time.  Maybe next year.
After walking for about half an hour because I took a wrong path I find that I’m down to the last shot on the last film.  I’ve been a banker to Claire and find that I don’t have enough money left to buy more film, or enough to get a taxi back to the hotel.  Walk some more.  I eventually find one particular fountain that I wanted and set up for the last shot in the locker.  I take extra care (and time) because I know that I can’t bracket a series of shots around what I think are the right camera settings but need to get it right first time.  I must really look odd because I attract the attention of first one, then two security guards.  The first just comes over and watches the antics closely from a seat under a tree, but the other is evidently more serious about his job and questions me closely with an apparently casual air for a minute or two.  After a short conversation between them they evidently come to the conclusion that I’m not planning to steal the fountain, or blow it up, or whatever concerns they actually have.  Number One becomes really curious now.  He’s evidently never before seen a mad photographer with heavy-duty tripod, several lenses, multiple coloured and close-up filters and remote shutter release, all stuffed into a canvas bag.  As I move around and add or subtract bits and pieces I invite him to have a look through the viewfinder each time.  He seems particularly enthralled with the graded blue filter that I can put into the frame one way and get a blue sky, or reverse and get blue water.  He even sneaks a quick look into the lens from the wrong direction when I go off to the bag on one occasion. 
I wonder what he would think if he saw the result a day or so later?  Not that I would have shown him or anyone else, it was a total disaster. 

I have to rush off back to the hotel because all this has made me a quarter of an hour late.  Too late as it turns out and I’ve been abandoned.  Little Astini whom we’ve befriended is working in the lobby bar and gives me a big ice water drink while she rings all the rooms.  No answers so as a last resort I amble off to the pool in the hope that they’re even later than I am. 
There is no sign of anyone. 
Knowing that breakfast was to be at the Galeria I decide to walk off down there to find them.  I can’t see them anywhere so its off back to the hotel to get some travellers cheques so that I’m financial again and can put at least part of the day in at Tanjung Benoa, which no one else seems very interested in. 
When I get to the room I find a note that Claire has left me, - ‘Change of plans . . . . . ‘.  
Ah well, a day on my own wont kill me but more shopping, even with lunch at Momma Luccia’s just might. 
I load up with the necessities and a couple of cheques, ready to set off. 
I ask for a Blue taxi at the lobby transport desk and settle down to wait.  In a short time a white cab comes and the Transport Manager beckons me over.  This is not the blue cab I asked for but he manages to convince me that it’s just the same when the hotel calls them so off we go. 
First stop is the Kodak Money Changer by the Mirage which was closed when we called there yesterday.  The changing is faultless but,   Oh,   so 
 --- w  !   Waiting for the computer to make its connection and print out the receipt takes more than five minutes for each customer.  Eventually I get to the counter and receive a wallet full of Rp20,000 notes from an exchange rate of 4675 rupia to the dollar, and I mean FULL. 
The next stop is for film because I’ve forgotten it at the Kodak shop and don’t want to wait in the queue again.  There is a little shop a few doors down with a Fuji sign.  The lady serving speaks very clear English, even to these old ears, and her little daughter is engaging as we exchange ‘Ayo’s’ and ‘Terimah kasihs’.  I got two films, 24 shot Fuji, one 100 ASA and the other 200 ASA.  At the time I intended to see what differences there were, if any, in the end results from the different speeds.  Like the intention to concentrate on a water theme, this was another thing that I never got around to doing. 
Loaded up, into the cab and off to the fishing village and market right at the tip of the peninsula.  The driver decides that I’m mistaken and stops at the hotel strip about a kilometre short.  I eventually convince him that I do want to go to the end and we continue.  The trip takes about five minutes more and we stop almost on the water’s edge of the very old and picturesque, but very dirty village.  As I gather up the gear and look at the meter to find the cost I realise that I’ve fallen for the oldest trick in Bali.  The meter is not on! 
‘Rp30.000’, he says. 
‘How do you know?’ I ask, ‘The meter’s not on.’
‘Meter stops when taxi stops’ he lies.
‘Then why didn’t it stop when I changed money? I ask in futile frustration.
This is too much for him and he can only say, repeatedly, ‘You pay Rp30,000’
So I paid, and as I got out, from sheer frustration and anger at myself, I wrote down the cab number in my notebook, resolving to tell the Transport Manager that I mean Blue next time I want a taxi at the hotel. 

From here the day looked up considerably. 

Across the narrow harbour entrance there are surprisingly large and modern freighters seemingly only a stones throw away, crossing wakes with little jukungs.  Speedboats towing terrified tourists nearly airborne crossing wakes on long inflated banana floats and jet ski’s more nearly out of control than usual because of their riders obvious inexperience, as they frequently fall off just sitting there or when climbing back on.  Boats without observers tow brave parachutists back and forth before dumping them (particularly the Japanese girls) into the groping arms of the dozen-strong beach retrieval teams.  Oblivious to all this fishermen, barefoot on the stony ramp and coarse sand beaches, continue to clean plastic crates and drums in the shallows edging the channel.  Outside the entrance the waves surge onto the beaches and the anchored boats of all descriptions tug against their anchors and stern lines leading onto the beach.  Everything seems to be ready to come apart at the seams and would give the Harbour Master at the Royal Yacht Squadron instant apoplexy. 

 

  

The fishing village at the end of the Benoa peninsula. Across the entrance, just a few hundred metres away, is Benoa Harbour and Sanur.

The distance from here to there by road however is over 20Km which is why a bridge is often proposed, but abandoned because of religious sensitivities.

 

I walked around Benoa, sticking fairly close to the beach as I went and eventually got down as far as the Novotel and about half way back to the fish markets again, with several stops for Aqua along the way, including one with the nice lady at the Fuji shop.  Her little daughter was still there and joined me at the street side table for conversation as I refreshed myself and un-parched a very dry throat.  Mother is listening closely to the conversation from the shop counter and several times helped her daughter with a troublesome word.  When I had finished I thanked them both, and they thanked me in a embarrassingly warm way, the little girl holding my hand in both of hers.  This is the Balinese friendliness that you don’t easily get used to if you come from a ‘civilised’ country. 

 

 

It's HOT on Benoa beach.

 

I walk perhaps five fascinating kilometres in all before eventually hailing a Blue Bird cab back to the hotel.  His fare, on the meter, was Rp7330 for the return trip of perhaps a kilometre shorter than the outward journey.  I mentally kick myself again, not because I’ve lost maybe five dollars but because I’ve been suckered. 

It’s the ego that’s the problem! 

Seasoned Traveller Falls on Face!  reads the headlines in my mind. 

The Lobby Bar rescues me with a long Bintang and some of those small, sweet Indonesian (or are they Balinese?) peanuts.  When I have re-gained my breath I order a Club Sandwich for my room (Club Sandwiches in decent hotels in Bali are a fair meal for two) and
I have a warm shower before it arrives.  Replenished I decide to investigate the pools of the higher priced Sheraton Laguna right next door to our Indah.  I have noticed in passing that at least one of their pools has little sand beaches and am curious to find out how this is achieved without sand getting everywhere and migrating off the ‘beach’ to the lowest point of the pool. 
The water in the first pool is very warm and the spa section rather weak when I turn it on, comparable to a small school of farting fishes, so I soon move on to the next (main?) pool that has the sand beaches. 
The beach, I find, is fairly well contained by a sharpish rise in the bottom that forms a containing rim to hold most of the sand in place.  There are actually two beaches and I am surprised to find that the pool has a flexible vinyl liner on the bottom like many home pools in Australia.  The tiles visible above water stop about one tile row beneath the surface.  This is a much larger pool and is a little cooler than the first, perhaps due only to its larger size.  As with the Indah pool much of the return water comes into the pool via a waterfall which probably helps aerate the water and keep it fresher.  There is also a little ‘river-rapids’, running over large rocks that are piled up from the bottom of the pool and rise up over the edge. 
I think that the Indah pools are better than these, but the filtering in neither is really good which is particularly surprising here as there seems to be so little use. 
Surrounding these two pools is a wide strip of garden landscaping which separates them from the third series of pool that run right along the front porches of the ground floor rooms.  These rooms each have a set of steps that provide private entrances to this long curving ‘Laguna’ or lagoon.  Little bridges cross the Laguna at intervals and provide access to various bars, cafes and the beach. 
Beside myself there are only three other people in these pools and no one in the bars despite the fact that it is quite late in the afternoon, almost Happy Hour time.  In the hour or so that I am there I see only a few people come up from the beach.  It’s sort of eerie, but the distinct impression is that the hotel has very few guests.  This indeed is confirmed later in our stay when I have an early morning conversation with a Security Guard on the beach.  Many staff have been put off over several months and he is concerned that his job too will also soon go. 

I decide to try the Jl Pratama restaurant strip for dinner. 

Coming from Nusa Dua the first Café/Restaurants are the Sari, Hemingways (with one ‘m’) and the Arena, then a short break to the Beringin. 
For me, the first of note is the Jukung on a dark section of Padama road almost opposite the Peninsula Beach Resort.  It has lots of patrons and seems fairly large.  Next is the Bumbu Bali, opposite the Nusa Dua Clinik which I am sure is not a bad omen as it too is very busy.

It is easy to find groups of three to six eateries almost adjacent to one another along this road.  I stop near the Club Bali Mirage where, between the Club Bali Mirage and the Grand Mirage there is the Café Bagus, the Padma, the Warung Bali and the Kecak Restaurant and Cooking School.  As I walk along the street looking at the menus displayed with unfortunately faded photos of the fare, I am earnestly but not aggressively invited to enter. 
I select the Café Bagus and Bar for no good reason when compared with the others.  I am given a complimentary drink in a small shot glass with a plate of generous prawn crackers that are still warm from their preparation, as I settle down to select from the menu.  The drink looks like watered down orange juice, and tastes like that initially, then the Arak bites and I’m glad the bit of orange juice is there to protect my tonsils. 
As it is Happy Hour large icy Bintangs are Rp7,000 and I select a Carlsberg at the same price.
Gado Gado is Rp 9,500 (this is becoming a favourite of mine and later in the holiday I begin to wonder if I’m missing out on other delights each time I find myself leaning towards it.) 
Nasi Goreng Special is Rp13,500,  Chilli Prawns Rp30,000,  Nasi Campur Rp25,000,  Chap Cay Rp10,500 (another favourite),  Sweet and Sour Pork Rp16,500,  a Club Sandwich Rp18,500 (it comes with fries and salad I observe), Sirloin Steak with garlic butter, Rp24,500 and Hatten Rose, a local Balinese wine, Rp70,000,. 
I have the Gado Gado, which is not a very large serve but adequate.  The vegetables are hot and crunchy while the salad is fresh and cold.  The accompanying peanut sauce is mild, tasty and smooth. 
With the initial plate of prawn crackers this satisfies me and I ask for the bill which totals Rp18,150 including tax.  Adding the cost of the taxi from Nusa Dua (Rp5,000 including tip) the evening has so far cost less than A$5.00.  Who should complain really?  The Café is not large, seating perhaps 40 diners, about two thirds under cover and the rest under the stars where it is nice and cool in the breeze and not too noisy from the street traffic.  The toilet (singular) would rate 9/10, but it wouldn’t flush as the handle had come unfastened from its internal mechanisms somehow. 

Bed calls, as the legs are nearly down to numb stumps from all the walking, which really is the best way to see things if you’ve got the time.  A Blue Bird taxi stops without my bidding and I am on my way to the land of nod. 

9.10.00

 

 

On to Day 5. Massages again would you believe? The temple headland and the waves on the reef. Moving to the Inn at Tuban.
 

 

Day 5. – Tuesday 19 September 2000.

This morning I went to the little headland just off the beach to the south of the Sheraton beaches.  As has been usual the tide was low and, of curiosity, I looked at the figures on the blackboard by the water sports lockup at the Laguna.  It seems incredible that High Tide, due about midday, was shown as 21 feet or about 6.5 meters for residents of the non-imperial world. 

The headland is joined to the beach by a narrow but steep edged sand bridge perhaps less than 100 metres long.  It must surely be washed away at stormy times of the year but now the sand on the top half is quite dry and loose.  Walking up the slope of the edge reveals for the first time just how narrow this neck of sand really is, and how deeply scalloped and narrow is the next bay.  At this stage of the tide it is almost cut off from the sea by the reef which seems to start at the next headland south.

 

   

                The temple headland. Just after dawn and at low tide.                                            The shallow bay on the other side of the temple headland.

 

  The enclosed area of this small inlet is perhaps four or five Aussie football fields in area and fairly flat across in general terms, made up of flat coral reef lightly covered with yellow sand and with shallow, sand bottom pools all around the beach edge.  The light morning breeze sends little ruffles of cats-paws wandering across the surface for a short distance before they seem to become exhausted by the effort and vanish. 

Individuals and families, from what appears to be a local village in the coconut palm groves at the far end of the beach, are bathing, playing or apparently just socialising in these pools.  Each group has its own pool and the only strenuous activity seems to come from the smaller children who run, jump and splash their elders, with evident glee on their part and complete tolerance on the part of the older children and parents.  Many a ‘Salamat pagee Papa’ brings my response ‘Pagee. Apa kabar?, and their reply ‘Baik, baik’.  -  ‘Good morning father’, ‘Good morning. How are you?’, ‘Well’, or an occasional ‘Bagus’, ‘Very good’.
To my left, in contrast, the sellers are on the hotel beaches, the shell and crab gathers are intently wading, doubled over in their intense concentration and the fishermen are tending their traps. 
On the reef, which stretches away as far as I can see in this direction, the ocean waves pound the outer wall and send up sheets of spray or booming, dumping waves depending on the depth of water over the reef I suppose. 

The ying and yang of the Bali Sea Demons are plain for all to see here. 

Beyond the reef large, fast, outboard powered jukungs patrol back and forth, sprouting the rods of sport fishing tourists hoping to catch Yellow
fin Tuna or Mackerel.  From the sandy link I can see large waves break on the headland to the south then run across the reef of the little bay.   in front of me only to magically re-appear in a few seconds, running up the reef to the north.  Eventually they become lost in the distant mist of the spray and the glare of the still low sun rising towards Tanjung Benoa and the port of Benoa further away still. 

 

'They disappear behind the headland . . . '

 

It’s a scene that I think I will always remember. 
Across the sand bridge a few cut steps rise up to a recently laid cement path (it would be an unwarranted exaggeration to call it concrete) which seems to encircle the almost-island around its lower edge. A track in the dirt bridges the gap between the lower path and a series of low cement walls that follow the rising contours towards the crest.  It is obvious that some efforts have been made to cultivate the flat areas between the little walls but the task has been abandoned.  Straight ahead is a small compound enclosed by remnants of a bamboo picket fence and unchecked, rambling shrubs.  A small, three-sided, low bale is set along the right boundary and there are carved stone altars adorned by fresh flowers and tattered black and white check cloth directly opposite the narrow entry gap.  There are low trees to the left.  Building sand and stone are piled at the entry signifying the intent to continue the restoration or new building works; in ‘Bali Time’ perhaps. 
Behind the altars the ground continues to gently rise and investigation along the wandering dirt paths reveals the abrupt edge of the cliff which drops down perhaps five meters to a narrow ledge just above water level at this stage of the tide.  A leaking tap at the end of a partly buried irrigation pipe clearly show that more work and perhaps even planting is intended, or were intended.  If completed the whole could be a very picturesque and peaceful place amid the roiling sea. 

On the northern edge of the cliff I look down on an old fisherman, and I mean really old with sparse, wind blown, white beard.  He glances up from setting his trap and looks at me briefly before nodding and returning to his task, finishing one trap before picking his way slowly across the reef to the next.  The drum type of split bamboo trap is tied by its closed end to a lump of dead coral or to an outcrop that can be encircled by his piece of incredibly knotted cord, like Jacob’s coat, of many colours.  I suppose that this lets the open end face towards any fish that are swimming into the current.  I can see no sign of any bait in the trap and wonder if the turbulence of the water just behind the end of the trap attracts fish to that area.  Here the current would be less and a fish could rest a little before swimming forwards again, through the hole in the end and into the body of the trap. 
Further out there are now other fishermen with small hand spears and clear nylon throwing nets which sparkle as the sun catches the beads of water flung out from the circle as they are thrown over what it is obviously hoped will be a small school of small fish.  The returns seems hardly worth the effort but I guess even small returns are better than no returns. 

Around the little headland I finish off the film that is in the camera and wander across the exposed reef in a shortcut to the Hotel beaches.  It turns out not to be such a short cut but eventually I reach the path with wet and sandy sandals.  I use one of the Laguna’s beachside massage tables to put down the camera, bag and tripod while I try to clean and dry my feet.  The Security Guard comes along to check up on me and, deeming me harmless, sits down with me for a chat.  He seems to think that I am from Italy and I have to bring out a copy of Chris’ little map showing the local world with Indonesian titles.  He is enthralled and immediately begins an animated conversation in Bahasa Indonesian.  I eventually convince him that my knowledge of the language is confined to the words and phrases that I have stuck to the back cover of my notebook and that I am not Italian. Although I insist that I am from Adelaide his concept of Australia seems bounded by, ‘Sydeney Olympic Games’.  He bluntly confirms my thought that there are very few guests at the Laguna.  He is concerned for his job as many of his fellow workers have already left.  The old question re-occurs to me, what do you do when you lose your job in Indonesia? 

Hey!  Its Tuesday confirms the waiter at the Lobby Bar.  This is the day we transfer to the Holiday Inn at Tuban (now called the Bali Hai Resort & Spa).  We are due to depart at 11.00 am.  On Sunday I left the yellow plastic folder holding all my notes in the back pocket of the mini bus seat.  I have tried to locate the driver, through the remarkably good efforts of the hotel desk staff, to no avail.  I decide to be a bit pro-active and use the time left this morning to see if I can find his contact where we first met at the Galeria.  This turns out to be a fruitless exercise and I return to the hotel only to find that he has returned it in my absence.  I am stunned with my good luck.  As a reward the others have decided to use him again to transport us to Tuban, with the bag of dog food that has not yet been collected. 

It costs the two of us Rp600,000 to check out of the Sheraton.  This is made up of room service meals, drinks and laundry.  $65 Australian each for living in a five star hotel for four days is, we think, not too bad. 

The rest of the day slides by with transport and settling in – and you, dear reader, should not expect another afternoon and evening to go by so easily in future episodes of this diary. 

9.10.00

 

 

 

Day 6 tells of the real massage that my back's been waiting for. An emotional home-coming on Tuban beach. Breakfast at the Pantai. ENI Tailors, Dolphin Leather, fixing the sandals and Margaret arrives.

Check the photos again?

 

 

 

Day 6 Wednesday 20 September 2000.

 

This IS a long one, seven pages, partly because its got a bit of yesterday in it but mainly because I get a bit maudlin and introspective and sink into useless philosophising again.

If this is not to your fancy don’t go on, jump to Day 7.

  

 

A massage from Wayan on the beach in front of the Bintang Bali Resort just up from the Holiday Inn, past the Pantai restaurant.  This is what I’ve been hanging out for.  The right way to start a day. 

 

I actually came down yesterday afternoon after checking in and as I walked down the beach of course I was approached by one of the many girls who offered a massage, but I refused asking where Wayan was. 

She yelled out down the beach,  ‘Ayo, Wayan . . . . !’ 

Adi popped her head up from behind the closest wall to see who was calling her friend Wayan and saw me. 

How they ever remember individual people from the hundreds they must see in a year or more is beyond me, but she recognised me and remembered. 

Down the steps she came, two at a time, even leaving her precious bags of sarongs, scarves, shirts, shorts and sox behind.  “ Papa, Papa, Papa . . " she called over and over again as she actually ran towards me, grabbing me in a bear hug with her feet dancing up and down off the sand. 

‘You come! You come!’ 

Yes, I had come and at this moment I realised why it was that I kept on coming back to Bali.  Nowhere else that I could think of would I get this sort of a genuine welcome from almost strangers after an absence of sixteen months. 

When I was squeezed into stillness she suddenly let me go and turned to race off further up the beach joining the call, “WAYAN, WAYAN, - Papa come!” 

With damp eyes I confess I continued up the beach after her, aware of all the eyes turned my way, local and visitor alike.  Ahead, at the far end of the Bintang Resort’s wall I saw Wayan appear to look after the commotion.  When she saw me she too ran down the steps and along the beach, massage mat in hand, just reaching me ahead of Mistri who had appeared from somewhere.  The bear hugs, back rubs and even kisses on the cheeks were repeated for what seemed ages amidst questions for Nell?, Chrees?, and long looks back down the beach to find them.  ‘Later’ I tried to explain, and succumbed to the pulling hands which led me up those steps to the shade of the trees and the thin foam and vinyl mattress which was quickly overlaid with fresh sarongs as I got my clothes off and sank down.  They all looked the same except that Wayan was now wearing glasses.  She just smiled and shrugged a little when I pointed to them and raised my eyebrows in silent question. 

It only occurs to me now, as I re-live this welcome, that I didn’t ever ask for a massage, nor did they ask if I wanted one, or did we haggle over or even mention price.  Plainly I was going to get one ready or not. 

Wayan did the massage, as she was to do every time thereafter.  I was hers it seemed and everyone else understood that.  Adi just sat and held my hand in both of hers and Mistri knelt and very gently rubbed the calf of my right leg.  The questions about when we arrived, where we’d been, were we staying at ‘The Inn’ again?, who was here and why not Scot? tumbled out but were gradually overtaken by their chatter to one another and then by silence except for the waves on the beach and the wind in the trees overhead.  Adi couldn’t resist for long and did the nails of my hand and Mistri really got to work on my leg. 

Eventually, out of the fog came the voices of the others and although Wayan did not change position, Mistri and Adi got up to the welcome the others.  Nell eventually settled down to haggle with Adi over the price for ‘X’ scarves.  (Where ‘X’ is a large number as the maths teachers always said.)  Chris chatted to them all in Bahasa Indo and Claire passed out some little Oleh olehs (gifts) to everyone, even the rubbernecks who had just come to see what was going on, before settling down for Mistri to give her a massage. 

 

A little storm had run along the beach stirring things as it went, but now it was gone like a summer whirlwind in a dry stubble paddock and things were back to normal again, whatever that really is. 

 

But all that really happened yesterday and this morning, well this morning was not much different. 

After the works, with a little bit of ointment #1 here and a quick wipe of salve #2 there for at least an hour, it was back to the hotel pool for some exercises and a few laps before the next anticipated delight, the Pantai for breakfast.  I opted for the American breakfast again for Rp12,500, the Continental was Rp10,000 the Indonesian Rp11,500, the Pantai Sea Side Rp14,000 and the Special Omelette Rp14,000. 

We found that here as almost anywhere else, the Club Sandwich (for Rp13,750) is a real meal or a breakfast for two. 

 

There is a tailor who has a shop in the Pantai and Phil talked to him about embroidered promotional caps for Cherry Tree Farms in the Riverland of South Oz.  I talked to him about caps for the Bali Travel Forum/Sammi and Sussi Bar on the beach at Legian which Chris and I have been planning.  We had heard that caps could be made-to-order in the Matahari at Kuta, near the entrance.  We had checked but not seen anything because we were looking in the store rather than just outside the entrance as we to later discovered.  The tailor sounded sort of promising and we were to see him the next day but we were not impressed and because of our doubts we continued to ask around the streets.  About a week later Phil was surprised to find a source for his caps through one of our favourite watch sellers, Tony Marrone on the Holiday Inn street, Jl Wana Segara.  Bali is a strange place in many regards but buying embroidered caps from a watch shop is a bit far out.  Chris and I got ours, and one each for Sammi and Sussi, from Matahari.  Cap and six letters for Rp30,000, extra letters = extra rupiah of course. 

 

For Rp7,500 I am able to get a six-litre bottle of clean water for our bathroom from the little shop near the Inn where we replenish our stocks of beers and mixers.  I have to confess that its one of my great pleasures when we have returned home from Bali to have a shower and clean my teeth without being concerned about swallowing buggy water.  Buggy water and crappy toilets!  If only they were not.  This year the number of Balinese who are drinking bottled water, rather than the reticulated stuff, has surprised me.  I have not noticed this in past visits. 

 

The girls are off to see Yoyan the Tailor at ENI’s, at his little shop at the Kartika end of Jl Wana Segara. 

Yoyan underwent his baptism by fire last year, or was it only protracted torture?  This year he seems pleased to see them anyway and they place their orders with gay abandon.  Four pairs of pants, one three-quarter-length skirt, and one long jacket in selected micro-fibre cloth for either summer or winter wear results in a bill for A$200.  Nell’s order is somewhat similar but larger and, with the orders from other guests met and given the good word at Happy Hour, Yoyan has to put on extra tailors for a night or two.  This move brings its own problems, however, as the power and lights drain more than the fuses will stand and we find them all sitting in the gutter one night with the open shop in darkness, waiting for an electrician to come and get them sparking again.  I am told that Yoyan carries a good range of cloth, and will get in more for inspection if colours are not quite right.  All of his stock is in light and medium weights, and this is where his experience resides.  Although he would get heavy winter weight materials for anyone his work may not be up to the standard expected, as he may not be skilled in handling it.  The girls decide they don’t have the time to check him out or tutor him in this aspect of his work this year. 

 

Went to Dolphins in Melasti Street for leather clothing again.  We had decided to look at other leather shops to compare quality of work that has been reported as cheaper, but we just didn’t get around to it.  I was told that I could get cheaper work if it was done in goatskin but it wouldn’t last as long.  I don’t really know who uses what but I do know that over the years we’ve never had any reason to complain about gear bought here, and others whom we buy for (from measurements) keep asking if it’s their turn to get something again. 

I also know that I have never seen the shop, or Melasti Street itself, as empty as it was this year.  ‘Things might be crook in Telarook’, as the old saying has it, but I’ll bet they’re worse in Bali at the moment.  Bike jacket and pants for #1 daughter $135 and $100, LARGE mans very fancy suede jacket $155, ladies long jacket of alternate suede and leather panels also $155, ladies leather back bags with shoulder straps (fashion item) $50. 

 

Somewhere along the way, I think in the Ubud markets, I bought a pair of Nike sandals.  The rubber soles felt solid and the leather straps seemed to be good quality.  The adjustments around the heel were by made doubling the straps through plastic buckle-type rectangles and back upon themselves, then being fixed with a piece of Velcro at the right size.  I should have known that there would be a weakness and it was in the plastic buckles that began to break at the second wearing. 

Equally, I should have known that there would be an after-market remedy – for a price.  I continued to wear the sandals which only had one broken buckle each, enough to ensure that they could not be done up and thereby put strain on the other buckle to cause it too to break.  Walking into Matahari's this afternoon young sellers on the steps offered me another pair.  I grimaced theatrically and shook my head.  ‘No bloody good’ I said, pointing to the broken buckle.  The immediate reply, guessed by now by anyone who has been to Bali was, ‘We fix!’  And they could.  They had obtained from somewhere, a rectangular shaped piece, or pieces, of chromed wire which they could twist open, insert into the strap loops and then bend closed, replacing the brittle plastic originals with superior steel.  Ingenious!  There is always a way to fix things in Bali, probably because so many things are cheaply made with weak points in them that break. 

Do they do this deliberately to create a self-sustaining market I wonder?  All that remained was to arrive at a price.  I think the opening price was Rp 20,000 per buckle or Rp80,000 to fix the pair.  As tradition requires I protested that this was too much, in fact more than I had originally paid for the sandals.  ‘Good price for you Papa’, came the response, ‘We do all for 50,000.’  ‘No, no, no.’ I replied ‘You do for 1,000 each.’  Much alarm from the lads and laughter from the bystanders.  I had started too low for this to be going in the right direction as far as they were concerned.  All Bali travellers would know the next half page if I was to write it so suffice to say the agreed price, eventually, was four for Rp7,000 and I sat on their stool while one took the sandals off and another disappeared with them round the back of the little stall.  I was then engaged in the usual conversation of where and when, so the standard geography lesson followed with Chris’ little map.  I really do think that they were interested and we were right into it when the sandals came back, of course with only the two broken pieces replaced not all four.  The expected circus began again until, eventually, the lad agreed to do the others as per the deal.  His friends cheer, no doubt enjoying the game no matter who wins.  The sandals were returned again and passed inspection, accompanied by my flattering comments about the speed with which he worked and the obvious top quality of the results.  I dug a Rp10,000 note out and gave it to him, whereupon he had no change of course.  Laughter all round again and I remained firmly seated on the stool with outstretched hand.  Eventually his friend offered two rotten, red Rp100 notes that I decline to accept.  By convention it was now my move, so I offered to take my note and to change it at the desk just inside the door.  I think that this was perhaps seen as an affront to his monetary manipulative skills so, miraculously, he managed to find some bucolic, blue Rp1,000 notes which he offered as change.  I accepted but remained firmly seated and offered to tell them a story.  A story always seems appealing to Balinese, I think it is part of their culture, but I was a bit surprised when they all sat down or squatted or the steps.  This had better be good I thought to myself.  ‘Well’, I began, ‘If a man tries to rob you what do you say to your friends?’  Well they all have tales to tell about this.  It seems that Balinese try to cheat other Balinese as often as they try to cheat anyone else!  Of course they will all tell their friends that this is a bad man – and their friends will not trust him any more and would not do business with him.  And it is the same for tourists like me, I say, and with a flourish pull out my Electronic Organiser into which I have entered all my Bali notes.  Now this it seems is a powerful teaching tool and when I say that I have got all this information from the World Wide Web they understand what I am talking about.  When I scrolled down to a ‘Don’t eat here’ note a few look at me and nod.  Then I scrolled back to the note that said, ‘The Pantai is the Number 1 restaurant in Bali’.  This caused those in front to move around behind me to see more clearly.  'So’ I said, ‘what shall I write about you?’  Ah!  Much discussion occurred between them and I thought I’d made a point, but I hadn’t finished yet. 

‘If you give a customer good service and they come to the shop too, and if he gets the right change without needing to ask and he is very happy what does he do for you?’  Well, they know all about tips, and when I gave the change back to the boy as a tip, all 65 cents of it, they laughed louder than ever.  They slapped me on the back.  As I left to go up the steps I had an escort to clear the way for me. 

Every single time I went back to the Matahari after this one of them saw and recognised me.  I never bought anything else from them but I was treated like one of their group.  They made me feel so good that later, when I passed a sort of hardware store in Denpasar I bought a pair of very poor quality pliers for $2 and later gave them to the boy.  I have wondered since what happened to the pliers.  Did he use them with the other pair to save his fingers and thumb when bending and straightening the wire buckles, or did he sell them to a friend who started a business of his own?  Even now I’m not sure how I feel about this interaction.  Did I have any right to do this, to try to show them what I had been told was ‘good business’ and ‘fair trading’?  Are these universal rules or only the rules of western culture?  Did any of them understand what I was trying to show them?  If they did will it change anything?  Where are ‘my’ pliers today?  

 

(I refer to the ‘boy’.  I’d guess he was in his early teens which probably means he was 20+.  What is a boy in Bali?  At Git Git waterfalls children who could have been no more than 4 or 5 years are skilfully selling necklaces and bracelets to passers by, bargaining and manipulating money.  Have they had time to be children, boys and girls?  Will they ever?) 

 

I have begun to find that taking notes on a pad kept in a shirt pocket is very difficult in this humidity.  Biro’s may have originally been advertised with the useless but catchy claim that they wrote under water, but I now think that they must have changed the ink formula or used waterproof paper.  My note pad is decidedly soggy after a day of shopping and walking and writing is impossible. 

 

I had another massage from Wayan this afternoon, just north of the Pantai.  Again we were under the shade of the trees which form a sort of tall hedge between the Bintang and the Sunset Café next door.  Above me the branches of two different trees interlocked.  One had large leaves and the others were almost fern-like by comparison.  The breeze moved these leaves in different directions and at different speeds, creating a confused, moving pattern of green against the darkening but still light blue-grey sky.  Little pieces of one or the other fell down intermittently and Wayan paused often to gently pick them off my skin.  Without my glasses I could not focus clearly on anything and the whole soft scene was almost hypnotic with the sensual rhythm of the massage. 

 

Happy Hour at the pool bar calls afterwards. More of this terrible relaxation time with little to do except catch the eye of the drink waiter.

 

Sunset from the pool bar at the Holiday Inn.

 

Tonight is the Mongolian theme night at the Holiday Inn.  We know from past experience that despite the Rp70,000 cost it will still be good value.  I venture the opinion that it is more of a stir-fry than a Mongolian, but I am soon made to understand that I am quite wrong.  Is it good to know that you’re quite wrong early in life or is it true that ignorance is bliss?  A friend of mine has a good outlook about this.  “You have two choices in life.’ she says, ‘You can be wrong or you can be wrong to blazes.  Please yourself but remember it’s your choice so don’t complain if you make the wrong choice.’  Maybe she doesn't actually say 'blazes'.

Our friend Margaret is staying at the Barong in Poppies Lane and has contacted us this afternoon.  She is on her way home from a 12-week round-Europe-and-Britain-on-a-shoestring tour and joined us for the meal. 

 

It turned out to be a big feast and a long night. 

 

I don’t remember too much about it. 

 

11.10.00

 

 

 

Day 7. - Thursday 21 September 2000.


At seven pages this is not really a long episode considering it covers our day trip to Lovina, which I found so visually different and fascinating that I did not take many notes. 
The north may not be ‘the real Bali’ as some like to claim but it is, without argument, a different Bali to that found in the south, and perhaps more intriguing because of the difference.



We eventually decided to do this trip which had been on and off the itinerary so many times it was looking like the magician’s rabbit.  We were to do it on the cheap, using simply a local driver rather than a specialist northern guide.  There was even talk at one time about going in two taxis, one to Git Git only and the other to press on to Singaraja/Lovina for those who wanted to go that far in one day.  How this would have worked out as far as cost is concerned I really don’t know.  As it was we used an 8 seater and driver whom we had used earlier and hoped that we got a cheap rate because of our more frequent use.  Because the driver spoke little English (supposedly none but this proved to be not quite true) his friend came also to act as a guide.  His depth of knowledge about the area outside Nusa Dua where we first met him was so little that we even had to tell them the way to Poppies II.  When it came to information about the north you can imagine how deathly the silence was at times!  There were only five of us, including our friend Margaret, so space was not a problem and the trip was quite comfortable. 

Our route took us north of course, but to the west of Denpasar through countryside that I must have travelled before to get to Tanah Lot on the central west coast, but which I could not remember.  The growth over the past few years in Legian and Seminyak on Jl Legian just north of Kuta was amazing.  So too was the traffic going towards the south, mainly people going to work we guessed as it was just after 8 am as we passed through these ‘suburban’ areas.  The Money Changers at Bemo Corner in Kuta was not even open as we passed through, that’s how early we were. 
Jalan Legian changes to Jl Seminyak and then to Jl Raya Kerobokan as we head north to the west of Denpasar.  This was logical progression as I would expect, but time and again, particularly as we searched in vain for street numbers, frustration set in as there was no apparent sequence that we could discern. 

Through Kerobokan, which I remember simply as a village linked to others but with a longer length of straight road.  Through Celuk, which is not the well-known Celuk of silversmithing fame
that is about the same distance to the east of Denpasar as this one is to the west.  Through Tegeh, Kapal, Tambaksari (let that one roll off your tongue a few times), Muncan, another Kapal, past the cattle markets at Bringkit (not as in ‘bring-it-'ere!’) and eventually Mengwi and the old ‘Floating Palace’ or Pura Taman Ayun.  (‘Pura’ means temple, or literally, a space enclosed by a wall.)  This is the large temple of the old Mengwi Kingdom, which collapsed about 1900 under an onslaught from their neighbours in Tabanan and Badung. 
It would be our first stop, about 24 kilometres from Tuban. 

The Floating Palace is surrounded by a rectangular outer moat about 20 meters wide and well over 100 meters long on the front, and shortest, side.  Hence the ‘Floating’ Palace.  The moat is largely open water but with some water lilies.

 

 

 

A wide, arched stone bridge crosses this and leads to a grassed outer courtyard perhaps 100 meters broad, with ponds and some small buildings.  Central within the grass area is the inner temple, surrounded by a grey stone and red brick wall, quite tall at the front, rising from the outer corners to a central flight of several steps.  A pair of massive wooden gates tops these steps, hung between two wide, symmetrical, carved stone and brick columns, the ‘candi bentar’.  Parts of the carvings are Raksa, the fierce guardians at the sides of the door, and the bhoma, the evil face with outstretched hands above. These ugly figures are intended as guards to deter the evil spirits from entering the temple.  As a secondary safeguard there is a wall running across the gateway just inside.  Since evil spirits cannot turn right-angled corners this is an effective defence against those not frightened by the outer guards. 
The central bridge over the moat, the path across the grass courtyard and the inner wall that rises up to the towering gates are all aligned on the longitudinal axis of the temple which points towards Mount Agung as one enters and to the sea behind.  This symmetry gives the entrance perspective a sense of order and an elegantly simple design that I have not noticed expressed so strongly at other temples. 
The contrast between the simple bridge over the quiet moat
and the wide grass expanse, gently rising up to the towering, intricate, forbidding gates is stark and extreme. 

The opposing forces of Ying and Yan? 

 

 

The Floating Palace at Mengwi.

 

The height of the inner wall decreases quickly at the corners and from the simple dirt path that encircles the wall it is easy to see over from the sides and rear into the rectangular expanse of the temple proper.  Just inside this wall is another moat of less remarkable width which encircles the inner temple area.  Four, tall, eleven roofed ‘merus’ or shrines dwarf the many smaller buildings contained by the inner moat.  Balinese merus always have an odd number of thatched roofs which taper upwards, eleven being the maximum signifying a most sacred temple such as the Mother Temple, the nine Directional Temples or, in this instance the most important and central temple in the state.  Unlike many other small temples the inner sanctum here is not open to visitors. 

There is a large travel group at the temple.  At least 40 or 50, from Central Java, not just Java mind you, but, they emphasise Central Java.  They want us to use their cameras, and finally mine Claire insists, to take photos of them with Phil, who absolutely dwarfs them all, up and down as well as across, and fair-haired Claire who also stands out by at least a head amidst the dark haired throng. 
They would be a portrait photographer’s delight as, without bidding, they fall into a rectangular mass with the smallest to the front and no face in the rear ranks covered by another in the front.  They are perfectly attentive and react immediately to a brief hand gesture bidding the right and left extremities of the group to close in a bit and then move back out a modicum, those behind automatically doing a little shuffle to clear their faces anew.  All join in singing “Old MacDonald's Farm” as I conduct and lead them, and finally all count down, ‘Three – Two – One!’ as a single chorus. 
It shames me to admit to this unnecessary manipulation but I think they would perhaps have taken great joy in their performance even if they had been aware
that the directions were senseless.  Maybe they made up for it afterwards when every man Jack of them and every woman Jill too, insisted on saying ‘Thank you’, shaking my hand and bowing. 
My back was killing me. 

' EVERYONE BACK ON THE BUS!' 

On to Bedugul, Lake Bratan and Pura Ulun Danau just a few meters off its shores. 

 Almost at the peak of the east-west range that divides north from south Bali, Bedugul is a small vegetable growing and farming village that just happens to find itself on a growing tourist route but is perhaps not quite sure yet what to do about it.  The same cannot be said for some obviously rich developers who are in the throes of massive constructions on the most scenic ends of prominent ridges.  The Suharto family is said to be one of these developers.  Artists seem to flourish in Bedugul, which is not surprising given the scenery of mountain ridge, plunging valleys, forests, vegetable fields and rice terraces evident even from the roadside.  Little ramshackle stalls line the road selling drinks and paintings of great diversity, price and quality. 

From Bedugul the road winds down into the extinct volcano now filled by serene Lake Bratan.  Roughly rectangular, 2 Km by 3, Lake Bratan this morning is a peacefully calm, an almost mirror surfaced sheet of grey, reflecting the misty overcast, but with a distant, narrow line of green reflected from forests along the far shore.  This is a transient illusion however, as a loud speaker barks from what looks like a barracks or convention site far across on the southern shore and echoes around the caldera.  As if this is not sufficient affront to the Gods an outboard powered speedboat takes off from a small landing just around the point from the temple, followed by an unstable Jet Ski.  Thankfully these obscenities are intermittent, but the canoes quietly and slowly leading arrowheads far out in the lake look far more suitable for the area. 
From the vehicle park the path leads past the ticket box (Rp500 from memory), past the showmen with their assortment of captured wild animals, birds and reptiles with which you can be photographed for a fee.  Then into the grassed gardens of the outer temple area where an enormous Banyan tree seems jacked up off the ground by a thicket of roots and dominates the space.  To the side here there is a Buddhist stupa
(shrine) containing two freshly dressed and flower bedecked statues.  With the main Hindu temple not 100 metres away, just off the shore by a stone’s throw, and the Muslim temple just across the main road, this site is a prime example of the pluralisms which sit happily within the tolerant Balinese way of life. 
This is a smaller temple that predates
the Water Palace, Pura Taman Ayung, at Mengwi by over a century.  It has a single main meru with eleven thatched roofs and three roofs on another meru which is much smaller.  The split gateway has no doors, perhaps because the temple sits on a small grassy island only a few metres larger than the temple walls themselves, and this isolation is seen as sufficient protection. 

 

         

Buddhist stupa.                                                                           Pura Ulan Danau.                                                                   Git Git falls.                 

 

On to Git Git Falls, up the side of the caldera again and into the mountains.  Here the road winds along the sides of the steep valleys, climbing, falling or turning as the terrain demands.  There are no bridges, little or large, over the heads of these valleys, nor cuttings through the ridge crests.  Just the natural fall of the land that takes the road around hairpin bends in the depth of the jungle forest or out around a reflex angle on the edge of nothing as it passes around a ridge.  The mist lowers and rain begins, gently at first but the drops get bigger and denser as we go higher.  Occasionally, through a lift in the overcast or a brief space between the showers I can look across a narrow valley and see the road we have just traversed apparently a little over an arm’s length away but on the other side of am almost sheer ravine
On the way down we are slowed as we approach an accident, a sort of half-way-head-on meeting between two vans.  Its not hard to imagine each being unseen by the other through the rain, perhaps a windscreen wiper not working as it should or a somewhat bare tyre losing grip and allowing one vehicle to slip outwards on a sharp corner.  The drivers’ side of each is crunched, on the smaller one almost right back to the door pillar.  There are no apparent injuries
, which the damage would suggest is a miracle, and a group of men are trying to bounce the van back to the side and then right off the road. 

I find myself wondering what sort of trees are these?  I try to imagine meranti, luan, and even teak, but my knowledge is deficient and I can only wonder.  Frequently, along the side of the road, there are stacks of timber billets, probably firewood, either tied into bundles of carrying size or staked into consecutive heaps that are perhaps small truck-size loads.  Under the bark the timber is predominantly white which does not help my efforts to identify it. 

The car park at Git Git has an adjacent restaurant, which is fortunate, as the girls decide the climb down, and up again, coupled with the rain is bad karma and the drink house looks fortuitous.  The path leading down is sort of paved, with a variety of surfaces.  The scenery is varied also, grassland changing to rice fields and to terraces.  Further down ill formed steel tube handrails with angular un
-joined ends lead past sheer cuttings on one side and equally sheer drops on the other.  Every possible site contains stalls for clothing and crafts.  Little children, much less than 10 years of age and perhaps only half of this, offer bracelets and necklaces with slick patter and financial aplomb.  At the bottom of the falls is a pool with some hardy fools swimming, and a small roofed shelter.  I try hard to get some photos but, with the rain coming down and the spray coming up I really need wipers on the lens.  At the choicest shooting site Phil and a tour guide try holding a towel over me and the camera, but its hopeless.  I try shifting under the roofed shelter but here I'm facing the spray rising off the falls which immediately coats the lens with trickles of water.  In desperation I face downstream into the falling gorge and snap off a couple of shots.  Later, one turns out to be a gem.  So much for skill! 
It’s a long climb down, but its even longer climbing up when your shorts are sticking to your thighs and the towel covering the camera is so sodden its leaking down your back.  Not that you can feel it running down your
saturated back but the steady stream falling onto each rear-most calf is telling.  Still, I suppose it’s a long way up even when it’s dry.  The girls are quite happy when we finally arrive back.  They’re dry on the outside and at least damp on the inside. 

The old Dutch capital of Singaraja is next and as its early afternoon the first stop is a fair sized, open sided restaurant right on the beach facing the ‘Laut Bali’, the
'Bali Sea' I think.  There are sellers there of course because this is a common stop for bus tours, but they seem to have an agreement with the owners and do not encroach past a low line of stone fencing which evidently marks a boundary.  The sand here is a very dark grey, near enough I suppose to justify the commonly used phrase, ‘black sand beaches’.  The sea is calm, different from the south, just an occasional low swell heaving itself up the beach with a tired sigh, and, despite the rain back in the mountains which is clearly visible from here, the black sand is hot and dry. 
The food at the restaurant is good, or maybe we’re just very hungry as by now its early afternoon.  The chicken and corn soup is particularly tasty, as is the sticky rice pudding with coconut milk.  Phil declares the Spring Roll disappointing but I notice that it takes nine over two servings to reach this conclusion.  Where oh where in Bali can you get good, tasty and crispy spring rolls? 
Just behind the restaurant there is a series of rice fields and in the lower one a farmer is ploughing with his water buffalo.  The temptation is too much as I think of an old
Bali Forum friend who was enamoured of a similar photo that I took last year.  I wandered along the narrow banks between the paddies, being careful not to tread on the small peanut plants atop the banks that looked a bit like young beans.  The farmer saw me coming with the camera and stopped the ox at a point close to my position.  He then moved around to the side of the nearest animal and pushed it into a striking pose with one front leg stretched way forward.  He then took up his own preferred position with a pose like a triumphant ringmaster, one arm held high and the other outstretched towards the animals.  I tried to get him to move on but he simply urged the beasts into another pose and changed his own to the rear of the plough, still with the same arm positions.  With a sudden brilliant flash I cranked my hand in the motion of an old time movie camera man and he suddenly nodded vigorously and returned to his ploughing, waving happily as I packed up the tripod to go back to the bus.

A real third world ham. 

I wonder what story he told his friends that night? 

Through Singaraja too quickly, and the Lovina beaches, to ‘Air Panas’, the hot springs.  A beautiful setting along the side of a steep gully, with tall coconut palms silhouetted against the blue sky.  Equally colourful was the water in the baths, a dull lettuce green.  I tried to convince myself that this colour came from some sort of chemical reaction with the sulphur content of the hot-warm water, like a large-scale school chemistry experiment.  The first footstep on the stairs leading down to the top pool belied this hope, however, as the surface was like liquid Teflon underfoot.  Despite the embryonic soup of neophytic slime and Lord knows what else, no one seems to get sick because of it.  A group of German youths defied all common sense though, I thought, by diving in from the sides and engaging in all sorts of underwater high
-jinks with members of the opposite as well as the same sex.  The colour of the water in the pools was one concern before entry and the colours of the toilet equally so after exiting.  The only toilet that was worse was, I think, at the Ramayana Department store in Denpasar.  It still pays to heed my old grand-mum’s frequent warning – go before you leave home. 

 

 

' Air Panas. '

 

As it was getting late in the afternoon by now we accepted that we were not going to see any hotels in Lovina, to pave the way for an extended stay here next year.  Nor did I get to see the famous statue of the soldier looking out to sea on the foreshore in Singaraja, the Independence Memorial I think it is called, nor the equally famed dolphin statue.  The trip home got faster and faster the further we went.  Phil became convinced that the driver was on a promise when he got home, or at least another driving job that he was due at some time ago.  It seems, however, that the speed limits (if there are any) do not apply after dark if you don’t switch the vehicles light on.  If Phil had spoken his mind I would certainly have agreed with him even though I was in the back seat, not the front where it was even more hair-raising.  We survive however, up the mountains one side and down the mountain on the other.  Across the plains at the highest speeds, on the remarkably straight (for Bali) road back to Mengwi.  From there we were forcibly slowed again for the more normal bends and corners, and the evening traffic as we got into the outer ‘suburbs’ of Denpasar; Seminyak, Legion, Kuta and finally Tuban and the friendly Inn. 



13.10.00

 

 

On to Day 8. "Oleh-oleh" from the beach girls, Hero's Department store, Denpasar shopping, the pool and dinner at the Kin Khao Thai restaurant.

 

Day 8. - Friday 22 September 2000.
 


Day 7
, continued – just for a bit -

If you thought yesterday’s diary ended quickly and in a funny way you are right.  As I’ll record later, this note taking is being influenced by ‘Bali time’, and I’ve just found a page of notes made way out of order, half a pad away from where they should have been. 

After our trip north we had arranged to meet at the Pantai for dinner. Claire and I were a bit late and when we arrived the atmosphere was tense and every one was either glum or angry. 
Nell and Jay had not gone north with us as Nell had decided to have a rest day and give Jay time to play with friends he had met and made at the hotel’s Mongolian Dinner the night before.  While they were off sometime during the day Jay had been ambushed in the stairwell by other boys who had plastic BB guns, replica pistols which were fairly commonly available from the local shops and which fired small spherical plastic pellets.  He bore the marks of a number of shots fired sufficiently close to leave red marks and bruises even under shorts and shirts.  Upsetting as this would be on its own it was compounded when a hotel Security Guard he asked to take him back to his room told him to go away and walked off leaving him to face further assault.  The real clincher was the attitude of the assailant’s parents however.  When approached and asked to take the pistols from their sons they initially laughed and eventually became abusive.  We were faced with the prospect of living in this atmosphere for another week! 
Eventually the hotel management intervened in some way and there was no further sight of pistols in the hotel, but there was a noticeable increase in the Security Guards who were far more active around the grounds and passageways. 

Despite the gloom I have to say that the food was great again.  The Chap Cay
, (does anyone really know how to pronounce this, or how to spell it?  
(Later; Spelt ‘Cap Cay’, pronounced ‘Chap Chay”.)  I had was slightly spicy and very tasty with cool and crisp salad bits on the side.  I couldn’t really complain about the Anker beer I had with it either. 

We tried to get to the Kodak shop to pick up some prints and leave another film but they were closed by the time we got there.  A cool walk back to the Inn followed by a leisurely swim in the warm pool led easily to bed and bliss. 


Day 8.

Each morning we have little presents for Wayan, Mistri and Adi on the beach.  Each morning I say to myself, ‘This is not necessary.’ but the next morning I’m glad I didn’t listen to myself.  There will probably be many who will read this and laugh at an old fool, or who will say that there is this cause or that cause that I should be supporting because they are worthier. 
And they may be, but this is what I choose to do. 
I’m not trying to change the world, well, maybe I would like to, but I find it satisfying to try to make some difference to someone some of the time. 
I don’t think that this makes me unique or even special in some way, it just means that I am able to do something for people or things, and so I do.  There are many others who do the same and many who do more.  I’m not troubled by those who can’t because I’ve been there myself, but I do worry a bit about those who can but don’t.  And if you’re saying I shouldn’t judge then you’re right, and I shouldn’t preach either. 
But this is my diary, mainly for me, and a bit for my family.  It wouldn’t be worth anything if I didn’t truly say what I’m thinking. 

This morning Wayan brought us two small, peeled and vertically quartered pineapples from her garden.  We could eat them just like fat sticks of celery.  They were just as crisp and crunchy as celery, or apples straight out of the fridge, but the taste, the sweetness and the flavour . . . . . .  You would have to try them yourself because you wouldn’t believe me even if I could describe the sweetness. 
I’m sure that she, probably they, was/were really happy, more than just pleased that we so obviously enjoyed them. 

When any one in business takes a new step forward others in the same business must follow or their business is likely to collapse.  You would consider ‘keeping up’ essential in your business if the alternative meant that you and your family didn’t eat.  It’s no different in Bali when the business is massaging tourists.
Wayan and Mistri each bought a thin foam mattress covered with vinyl over two years ago.  It was a significant step forward from massages on the sand.  The cost I can’t remember, it isn’t important.  The significant thing is that they are still paying for them and will be for at least another two years unless there is a miraculous change in the level of business, perhaps even longer if their business continues in the decline that it is now in. 
The interest rate on their loans is 30%, which has a severe effect on their family income. 
This situation vexed me and I know that it did Nell also.  Whatever the cost of these things either of us could probably have paid for them, certainly together we
would have and not missed the cost very much.  But how to do this vexed us even more and we could not see a satisfactory and fail-proof method.  We could have simply given her the money but were not convinced that she would pay off the mattress but would spend the money on the family, particularly her children or grandchildren.  To pay the financier directly was a bit risky because he might have found extra ‘expenses’ if he thought a sucker was on the horizon.  In the end we gave up.  For every tactic we could devise we could also think of a hole into which we, the cash or Wayan and Mistri could fall, or which might embarrass them or make them indebted to us, and we didn’t want that.  I simply resolved never to haggle about the price of a massage.  It was easy the first time because all I had were Rp50,000 notes (A$10.75) which was a dead cheap massage when compared with costs at home.  The next time I found it just as easy when I’d been to the Changers the night before and only had Rp100,000 notes.  Still a cheap massage by home standards and, what I didn’t know then was what sort of massage you could get!  But I found out from then on!  Nothing funny mind you, just a mixture of careful and sensitive agony and bliss, superbly sensual, almost approaching sexual, with what seemed a total fixation on my smallest reactions.  Nails and soles of feet were included, potions, ointments and salves, pineapples, bananas and little sweet rice pudding things, home made I’m sure, tasting of dates (?) or nuts and wrapped in aluminium foil.  If this was what Salamat datang meant I was not going to resist. 

 

  

                             The 'morning beach' at Tuban.                                                                          Mistri, Adi and Wayan under the massage trees.

 

Often on these mornings I would take a pocketful of sweets and pass them out to little kids on the beach as I went.  One morning I had the remains of a packet of chocolate éclairs when I got to the girls and passed them out without thinking, simply to get rid of them before I lay down.  It created an instant mini crowd as the other sellers and even the Security Guards lined up for one.  It turned out that Adi has, or quickly developed, a weakness for chocolate éclairs.  Thereafter she always looked for one, happy but not content when I had something else.  On our last day when we simply gave them anything we had left and didn’t want to pack like toothpaste, shampoo, soft drinks and so on, we made sure we had a full packet just for her.  It was as though Father Christmas had arrived at the kindergarten with new bikes for everyone.  On another occasion I ran out as we returned to the Inn, giving out the last two sweets just before we reached the steps over the breakwater.  One last little boy ran out of the trees behind us and I could only fumble in my pocket and come up with nothing.  The look on his face was heartbreaking and in desperation I called him back as he turned away and gave him a 5,000 rupia note.  Although he could have bought a packet for himself he was barely consoled.  It was obvious he would rather have had a single lolly like his friends.  Next year I want to take over a pack of plastic spoons and see what sort of a riot I can create with a tub of Streets ice cream from Matahari’s. 

With the kids of all ages in Bali, you certainly get a lot of mileage out of the little things. 

My promise of recording relevant details each time I took a photo went by the board on about day two I think.  I’ll never be a professional, I get carried away by the vision of the moment too much. 
Similarly, the written notes I have been making so that I can write up this diary have also become much harder to maintain.  The notes are getting fewer and more cryptic.  There are single words on otherwise blank pages that just don’t ring any bells now.  They must have meant something at the time or I wouldn’t have written them. 
Ah, ‘Bali time’ again. 

The rest of the day was spent shopping in Denpasar.  Little Astini whom we had met and befriended at the Sheraton a few days back came to the Inn with her husband, who has a
'mini-mini' van, to drive us and be our guide for the day.  In passing we stopped briefly (I write in jest of course) at the Hero’s Department store made famous for its pure white, triple Velcro sneakers in the Bali Saga ’99.  Readers who remember that epistle will of course recall this inspirational part of the tale. 
To the Tiara department store in Denpasar, a new provider to our girls who left no goods unturned in their hunt for items to fill the required number of plastic bags.  While this was going on I left to go to the computer software shops on Jl Teuku Umar (Platinum and Harry’s) and nearby Jl Imam Bonjol
to 'pcMac', one of the very few shops in Bali – are there any others? - who can supply Apple Macintosh discs. 
I suggest that when anyone thinks of all Balinese as third world peoples, and it happens easily, they should go and talk to some of these guys.  The breadth and the depth of their knowledge, and their willingness to share it with you, is astounding.  Very little is impossible and given only a little time, they will bend over backwards to fill your orders.  I found this particularly at pcMac where their business is hardware rather than software.  I was also very impressed with Platinum to whom I had e-mailed a base order.  All of the order that they had available was packaged and under the counter waiting for me. 
All material is pirate of course, and illegal outside of Indonesia, if not within it as well, and if Bill Gates was not a trillionaire I would certainly be concerned.  I now have several friends who are pushing the boundaries of their minds and their world using $10 programs that they could not afford to buy at many hundreds of dollars in retail price. 

I left to meet the others and a little tour of the Ramayana store followed. I picked up some games here for friends and a bit of educational resource stuff, while the girls did something or other else all over the store.  I am not a little surprised when it is declared ‘Panas, panas’.  Panas is hot, and anything repeated is more so, so a double panas was stinking and sweaty!  Matahari's is postponed for another day and we flee to the Inn and the pool before setting out to dine. 

Dinner is at the Kin Khao Thai restaurant on Jl Kartika Plaza right opposite our favourite Kodak money change where the rate is 4725 to the dollar tonight, the best we have had this trip.  Not surprisingly several of us find the need to cash up again before or during dinner.  Our only regret is that they have only old Rp20,000 notes and the thickness of $200 of these makes it impossible to fold a wallet over.  I wonder if there are any new Rp20,000 notes in Indonesia
?  They certainly get a good life from their hard used currency and it will be interesting in future years to see how the new plastic 100’s stand up. 
The Kin Khao
(Pron: 'kin cow'.) is good and can be recommended but I don’t think it is as good as we have found it in past years.  It has been my absolute favourite, except for the Viet-Thai in Adelaide, for crackling Spring Rolls.  This time they are disappointing, tasty still, with a sharp sauce, but lacking that snap in the pastry covering.  The barbecue cooked on a brass plate over a brazier of coals set into a hole in the middle of the table is great for those who order it.  As for the others, although it probably keeps the mozzies at bay, it is just uncomfortably hot on bare knees and legs. 
The quantity is sufficient for most but not generous.  It grieves me to say it but two days further on I find the meal is generally forgettable.  I think that the superb service of the past has also lost some of its spark but it’s still prompt and not intrusive.

A mini bus back to the Inn, with a quick stop at ENI tailors, a brief sojourn at the Pool Bar and another day in Paradise draws to its inevitably replete conclusion.

 

The pools and the pool bar at the Inn.

 

Its been a funny sort of a day I conclude, sort of busy but quiet too. 


14.10.00

 

 

Day 9 takes us to Dolphins Leather again, to the Sri Ratu to meet Si Badak, and we try to get caps for Sammi and Sussi who keep the Forum Bar on Legian Beach. We have dinner at Kori's.

Back to the
big photos?
 

 

 

Day 9. - Saturday 23 September 2000.

This is the eleventh chapter of the diary of our trip.
It is not the usual short and snappy ‘Just Back’ report but it’s only three pages today.

 

         Flowers cascade over the balconies at the Inn.

 

Should I tell you how we started the day?

Mistri brought us pineapples today and, if Wayan’s were gob-smackers yesterday, these are the original nectar of the Gods.  The bananas look so damn awful that we would not buy them at home, but close your eyes and suck them in and they are incredibly creamy and ‘bananery’. 
At this point in my notes I’ve written, “I can’t resist – I’m going to have one now’, and there is an oily mark on the corner of the page. 

Sort of mid-morning we picked up Margaret at her Barong Hotel in Poppies Lane.  Two star? Three star? I don’t really know but the pools were nice, the first floor room she had was clean, the double bed looked comfortable enough for a party animal to sleep soundly in it early in the morning and the bathroom was more than just adequate.  Surprisingly, despite this being mid Saturday morning, there was no street noise from either Poppies Lane traffic or from that in nearby Jl Legian.  We felt venturesome, and didn’t realise the distance, so the vote was taken to walk through to Dolphins Leather in Melasti Street to pick up our order.  The map, when I looked at it later, shows no streets directly between the two, but we walked, one left – next right, wandering generally north.  There are some interesting little shops and stalls, cafes and home stays, through these back pathways that I never knew existed. 

We are greeted warmly at Dolphins again, and the long thin bloke breaks out into unrestrained laughter when I walk in with my back to the wall and obviously keeping a firm grip on the top of my shorts.  Last year when I was trying on a pair of trousers I was told to hold my stomach in.  I did so and the trousers, having nothing left to hold them up, fell to the floor.  There was stunned and embarrassed silence until I pulled them up again and, after a brief pause, repeated the performance.  The silence turned to gales of laughter and when I pulled them up for the third time ‘long and thin’ sneaked up by my side and with a swift and un-ceremonious yank, repeated the show without my assistance.  Claire was fortunate to catch him in the act with her camera and it is one of our treasured snaps of Bali.  By this time strangers were putting their heads in the door to see what the noise was all about, and were quickly being measured and given quotes.  They had not forgotten the incident, or us when we first came in to place our order, and this time again we all re-lived the fun once more before getting down to business over a cold soft drink. 
One of the earliest things I remember Chris telling me about his impressions of the Balinese was that they have a quiet but unquenchable sense of humour.  That he is right was shown here once more. 

From Dolphins by taxi to the Sri Ratu Hotel in Legian, further north, where ‘Si Badak’ was staying with his Sunshine, Marie. 
Si Badak is the web name used by a garrulous old ex-Irishman turned garrulous Ozzie from Western Australia.  We met through his regular polished prose and God-awful doggerel on the Bali Travel Forum, a web site we both frequent.  Strange thing, as we walked up to the reception desk to ask for him, I noticed a figure sitting in a breezeway by the far side of the pool.  ‘I’ll bet that’s him!’ I said to myself with unusual certainty, and it was.  Somehow he seems to have transmitted his image to me through his writing.  We talked, ‘of shoes and ships and sealing wax’ over a couple of ‘hooligan soups’, with Marie getting in an occasional word too, before accepting his invitation to have lunch with them.  Margaret felt quite at home with these two ‘paddies’ as she had just spent a fair bit of time in Ireland and could swap new tales for old.  Lunch was good and plentiful Mi goreng for three, with drinks, for Rp45,000 in total.  I’m sure we’ll go back again sometime. 

We had to leave too soon to go back to Nusa Dua Galeria to pick up my glasses ordered a week ago.  This was unknown territory for Margaret so she came with us.  I think the guy who fits the lenses into the frame was having his afternoon sleep.  As soon as I asked if they could be sent to the shop at Legian which is much closer to us it seems that they would only be half-hour we if we’d like to wait for them.  This is particularly fortuitous, as there was now time for the girls to slip across to the Armani shop and pick up a bag or two of jeans etc.
The glasses eventually turn out to be fine, which is no mean feat given my wobbly eyes.  The acid test would be when I get them home and sit down in front of the computer with them, and when I did they were still fine. 

To the Inn via Matahari’s in Kuta to pick up the caps we were getting embroidered for our coming visit to the Forum Bar by the Life Saving tower on the beach at Legian.  One out of the four was right so we left to change more money while three were re-done.  This also provided some welcome time to do a bit of shopping in Matahari's!  When we returned one of the re-done caps was still not right so we left them to be picked up later and headed off to Happy Hour and a shower at the Inn before dinner at Kori’s in Poppies Lane II. 
Kori’s will never make the list of the 10 cheapest restaurants in Bali or the list of those with the widest variety of cuisines, but neither will it make the most expensive list.  It may, however, make the best food list, the best value list, the most reliable list and the list of those with the highest ceilings.  Claire and I have pre-dinner drinks at the bar while we are waiting for the others who are fare welling new found friends who are off home tonight.  I’m not ready to think about going home so I’m a bit surprised and a little curious when they all turn up for dinner and thoughts of home come to mind again!  It seems that the flight is delayed and instead of hanging around the airport for three hours they decide to try the highly recommended Kori’s. 

We had the Grilled Bruschetta almost all round and they are good.  Thick, with a slathering of topping loaded with garlic.  It’s probably a good thing that we did all have them! 
Claire has fish grilled on a very hot stone that she can’t resist and declares it delicious.   I have the Bombay Curry in which there is a nice contrast in textures between the potato and the cauliflower. 
With drinks and aqua the bill is Rp212,520.  It sounds a lot, and in Bali it certainly is, but it’s really A$22.50 each.  We can’t think of too many places in Oz where we’d get this quality for that price. 

The taxi ride back to the Inn is Rp4,750 – A$1.00 before tip, and qualifies because he’s a friendly, talkative guy who comes from Padang, an island way up north off the middle of Sumatra’s south coast, beyond Java even.  A long way from home to get work.

A late night cool-off in the pool, shower and a half-hour trying to get these notes into shape before welcome bed. 


Another quiet sort of a day if you’re not an avid shopper.

Tomorrow is another day – and a new notebook.


15.10.00


 

 

 

On to Day 10.  Today we visit the Street Animal Rescue home at Sidakarya village. We shop at Mayang Bali and at Matahari's. We get to Sammi and Sussi's bar with their caps and have dinner at Mamma Lucia's.

View the
larger size photos of Days 5 - 10.

Home Page, for a new direction.

 

 

Day 10. - Sunday 24 September 2000.
 

Would you like to guess how we started the day?

Wayan found some very sore spots this morning.  I’ve not been doing my exercises, I’ve been sitting too long and walking too much.  Now I’m paying for my sins of omission and commission. 
Despite my groans she keeps on returning to the left buttock and both calves, working her thumbs in deep with the aid of something that smells worse than Goanna Salve.  When I think I’ve got to say enough, she soothes it all again by rubbing with the flat of her hands in the opposite direction.  When it’s all eventually over she helps me up with a smile!  I’m not going to say that I felt better (except that it was better when she stopped) but I am consoled when I find later that I have continued to get about for another day without agony. 

My notes say that I have just stopped for a couple of those orange coloured, tennis-ball size Passion Fruit.  I can now see the evidence in the purple stain of their skin juice on the page, just like the banana oil yesterday. 

I spent half an hour exercising in the pool afterwards.  Letting the warmth of the water soak in and letting the Bintang sweat out, watching the frangipani flowers fall from the trees and listening to the slap of the waves on the beach which covered the background chatter of other guests at breakfast. 

Tough life this.

We decide that this is the day to go to the Bali Street Dog Rescue Foundation.  We see from Pamela’s ‘Thank You’ card that it has now been re-named the Bali Street Animal Fund because they, and the volunteer vets from Oz, treat anything that villagers bring them or that they find on their street sweeps.  This has included an elephant recently, and as she says, it’s not too many trained or trainee vets who have a chance to work on an elephant.  We phone to get some clearer directions and she suggests that we get an orange cab because she regularly uses them to retrieve injured animals and they know where she is.  We accept the suggestion and the hotel phones for an orange cab which are evidently centred in Sanur.  Half an hour later we are still waiting and the desk clerk rings again only to be told that they have no cabs in the Tuban area at the time.  We abandon the wait (foolishly as it turns out) and take a blue cab.  We showed him the address and we are off, getting to Sidakarya Street in a surprisingly short time.  The village, or suburb, of Sidakarya is a bit over halfway between Tuban and Sanur.  Number 2 is at the start of the street but we can not find 2B, or anything that looks like a dogs home.  When we ask a man sitting in a drive he waves further down the street but all we can find, no matter how far we go, are higher numbers.  We drive up and down the street four times, with the driver asking everyone he sees and they all wave in the direction of the street where it ends at the T junction where the numbers are in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s.  Eventually a man, back by No2, fabricating what appears to be aluminium display shelves for shops agrees to come with us and show the driver the right place.  Although Sidakarya street seems to end in a T junction it actually continues around the right hand corner and the Foundation is in a cluster of houses on the right, not far around this corner and down a little lane.  We would never have found it. 

Pamela is an enthusiast, and it should come as no surprise when you think of what she has dedicated herself to.  She is American, a negro, and has the biggest eyes I can ever recall seeing.  Her white hair is in the tightest, scalp hugging curls imaginable.  She and Max, with his Astrakhan-like coat of grey (Ooops, sorry, SILVER) twists, would make a great double act. 

Having said that she is American do I need to note that she can talk?

 

Pamela and Herself with an inmate who has more important things on his/her/its mind.

 

The house is traditional Balinese with separated building/rooms linked by covered bales (areas of raised floors) and breezeways.  There is a little cultivated garden but mainly neatly trimmed lawns (read ‘grass’).  The dogs, of normal Bali size and small, including a few pups, behave as you would expect dogs to do at home, perhaps with a bit more restraint – except for Stuart Little who is a little bucket of over active mischief.  One of the more recent arrivals sort of hides for much of the time under a long-legged double bed in one of the breezeways while we all sit there sippin’ soda and nibbling corn chip crackers with chilli dip.  One of the not so recent arrivals climbs onto the lounge with us and innocently, surreptitiously, but persistently, adjusts his position of repose in such a way that “he” is forever getting just a little bit closer to those corn chips.  He absolutely oozes across the covers. 
It seems that under all that repulsive stuff that surrounds them, if you can ignore it, Bali dogs are really just normal dogs in an abnormal state.  This is one of the thrusts of the rescue effort.  Although a number of dogs are put down if there are not the resources to save them from further suffering, those that can be rehabilitated are, with the aim that they should be returned to the Balinese people, either families or individuals, as pets.  The concept of a dog as a cuddlesome pet is not part of the local culture and if the children can be given a feeling for pups or dogs a great step forward in the care of animals, and importantly in the control of animals, will be taken.  There are signs that the tactic is working albeit in a small way.  Individuals in powerful political positions who offer all sorts of exotic forest animals do not help the work though.  If you’ve got a new shopping centre to open they can hire or sell you such attractions as tiger cubs, orang-utans, baby chimps, birds and snakes, all at a couple of days notice.  Where they come from and what happens to them afterwards seems of little concern. 

[LATER INSERT.  A few days later I found out that, while I was writing this, Stuart Little died in his sleep.  He had evidently been ill for only a short time but the medicine that he required was simply not available.]

The web site, http://www.balistreetdogs.org.au, is an Australian support organisation and gives a more varied account of the work being done, including the story of ‘Lucky’. 
You’ve probably guessed that we support their efforts. 

Back to the Matahari for the caps to take to the Forum Bar on Legian Beach.  On the way we manage to do a little shopping at Mayang Bali, an apparently high quality (and high price) jewellery shop on the corner between Matahari and the Kuta markets.  It’s not all high priced and Claire gets some more small elephant pendants for about A$15.  I find it interesting to watch the little group of jewellers who work in a corner just inside the main door.  The place really looks like a million dollars, and I’d be surprised if you couldn’t spend that much in there, but there are still some bargains amongst all those sparkles. 
From the Mayang to the Matahari we have to pass through the Kuta markets (Please don’t ask me to explain, in a geographic sense, how it is necessary to go south west in order to get north east.  Just accept that, in a shopping sense, it is so.) to pick up an item or two. 
In relative terms this is a quick trip but I find it wise to buy another hat to keep the sun off my head for the period.  I surprise myself by buying it cheaper than Claire has bought one for a friend.  I’m surprised also to find that I can buy a watch for Rp30,000 from Arifa at shop #22, while we have been paying a ‘good customer special price’ of Rp40,000 at our normal suppliers. 
It is a sign of the present times I think, and we are only mildly surprised when, later in our stay, Claire is offered two watches for Rp25,000 in Melasti street. 

Eventually we manage to get to Matahari’s and pick up the caps, and a few other things as well of course. 

Back at the Inn we have lunch around the pool, with a libation or two, shower and change for Sammi and Sussi’s Bali Travel Forum Bar on the beach at Legian, just up the coast a bit.  Chris and I have been looking forward to this ever since first finding out about it on the Forum ages ago.  It is really a simple thing.  A Balinese couple, Sammi and Sussi, fill up a red esky with beer and ice each afternoon and take it to the beach by the lifeguards tower at about 5 pm.  They have stools to sit on and from all parts of the world Forumites gather for refreshments and to put faces to names they have ‘met’ on line.  This goes on until sundown. 
There is a tropical and romantic aura to all of this, and a history as well.  The story of the ‘advertising’ umbrella that almost required the presence of the Indonesian army to restore order will surely be written into the history of the country.  Some with no soul will say that it is all a ruse to get a group of tourists to sit down in one place while they are bombarded with the wares of the local sellers. 
We were disappointed because we expected too much perhaps, or perhaps because it was just a quiet night.  It was good though to meet the only Forumites‘, Bob and Ann (Melb)’ who talked football to Phil for ages.  There were others there who were not Forumites, friends of ‘Bob and Ann (Melb)’ who had accompanied them on their trip to Thailand and an American who traded in gems which he had set in Bali.  His stories of passing through customs, which he does regularly, were, to say the least, entertaining.  The best was of the time he was asked to pay greatly more than usual and, after protracted negotiations only partly succeeded in reducing the amount, produced a US$1,000,000 note to pay the duty and asked for change.  He described the circus act that followed, and the inevitable accusation that the note was a fake.  To this he retorted that the gems were too, and his description of the laughter which followed all through the Customs room was especially poignant to those who had been recently caught with an excess of the demon drink in their cases.  Their feelings were not eased by his tales of buying confiscated wines through an un-named supplier
at a back door in the airport

Recently on the net ‘Bob and Ann (Melb)’ reported that Sammi and Sussi were still wearing their embroidered caps and that they were now a badge of identification on the beach. 

Come sundown and we were off to Mama Lucia's for dinner. 
Italian of course, with a bit of other cuisine thrown in for non-followers of the Orthodox faith.  It is another of those reliable eateries like Kori’s that are a feature of the Kuta area.  (I almost said ‘a feature of Bali’ but I had visions of ‘not the real Bali’ reflected in my glasses and just caught myself in time.)  We went armed with champagne and a cask of good South Oz riesling to celebrate ‘daughter and son-in-law’s 25th wedding anniversary’.  That meant Phil and Nell.  I thought it was a much better thing to celebrate than my equally fictional 70th birthday that Nell had dreamed up at the Kin Khao a few nights ago.  This is strictly an excuse to drink our own wines after having a few of their beers take the edge off our thirst.  At least Papa got the chance to make the speech tonight, which the staff politely applauded at its conclusion. 
Mamas is not cheap.  20,000 for a Singapore Sling, 12,000 for a large Anker beer.  Bruschetta was 9,900 but not up to the size or quality of Kori’s.  Grilled Chicken was 18,900. 
I had a pizza for 30,000.  It was the folded over type, like an Aussie or Cornish vegetable pasty in shape, but with great, empty, dry ends, and no tomato sauce to fill them with.  The bit in the middle was tasty though.  But for A$6.45 what should I have expected?  In Bali, more than this!  Bucatini Ala Amatriciana (Rp40,900) was more than Nell could handle but Phil is not one to be beaten and cleaned it up after declaring his Spag Bog. (35.900) partially satisfying. 
It is a noisy place and I find the atmosphere sterile and cold. 

By the way, it is interesting that the two good drinkers of the party have investigated Huey’s this afternoon and given it the big thumbs down, despite the freebie that comes after a couple and the great reviews given on the Forum.  If you’re under 30 maybe, is their verdict. 
The too rare practise of including, in Forum reports, a profile of the writer and the social norms of the party clearly have value for others trying to assess the information and translating it into their own realms of personal relevance. 
What suits the kids (and I’m certainly not knocking their turn-on) is not always fodder for the goose and gander. 
To each his own. 
One man’s meat is another’s poison. 
Live and let live. 
Its all been said before in many ways but its easily and too often forgotten. 

Also by the by, there is a new section at Matahari’s, we think it’s new, offering bulk and packaged spices of all sorts, ice creams in familiar brands and  Oz and NZ cheeses. 

Recent postings on the Forum indicate that all taxi fares have gone up recently so you may no longer get from Kuta to Nusa Dua for Rp15,000.

We walk to the end of the street and catch Taxis back to the Inn, via ENI Tailors.  This is to arrange for fittings in the cool of our hotel rooms tomorrow morning.  It is not nice trying to fit fitting clothes onto a body that is hot and sticky from the walk down the street. 

I write up my notes while the others wind down (or up?) at O’Brien’s Bar under the Inn lobby. 

A nice shower and off to the land of nod. 



16.10.00

 

 

 

On to Day 11.  Scot arrives today - to much excitement. I find the Bali Rock Crystal Natural Deodorant - I think.  Fast Eddy and the Tuban markets. Dinner at the Pantai as the sun goes down.

 

Day 11. - Monday 25 September 2000.

 

The big news is that Scot is to arrive this afternoon, just after 3.  I don’t know who has been hanging out the most, his dad Chris, or his playmate Jay.  I bet that they’ll both be there to meet the plane!

The question of the day was, has he gone solo while we’ve been loafing around over here?  He’s doing pilot training at Parafield Airport in Adelaide with, I think, the British Aerospace Flying College.  His aim is to achieve a boyhood ambition to join the RAAF as a pilot.  Chris thought that he would go solo the previous Wednesday, in a Grob G115, while we were having a quiet day of shopping and getting my sandals repaired on the steps of the Matahari. 

I want to hear about it straight from the horse’s mouth as it were.  I remember my own, and want to re-live it a bit I think. 

For two years I have been trying to find, or re-locate, the supply of Bali Rock Crystal Deodorant.  I picked up my first one quite by chance and was very impressed with it, until I dropped it on the edge of the hand basin in the bathroom, whereupon it shattered into unusable fragments.  Most of the normal deodorants result in an itch from armpit to a-----e on me, or don’t do a damn bit of good, so I was very sad at its demise.  I’d kept the little green cardboard insert from the cellophane wrapper it came in and regularly flashed this at shopkeepers in the vague hope that someone would  just reach out a hand and – ‘voila!’ – there it would be.  So far no ‘voila’, but lots of interesting glances!  Quite by chance I was down at the desk of the Inn this morning and as I opened my wallet, out it fell.  The Desk Clerk picked it up and glanced at its aged and wrinkled form in curiosity.  ‘Do you know it?’ I asked.  He looked more closely and slowly shook his head.  ‘Why don’t you ring them?’ he asked, pointing to a prominent phone number on the slip.  Well now, you could have knocked me down with a feather.  You can believe me when I say that I had never even noticed the phone number and certainly never thought of trying to ring anyone. 
‘Would you like me to call them?’ he asked. 
Well, would I ever!   Yes please!   Oh, thank you! 
So it came about that I located the very original source of it.  A Furniture and Antique shop in Kerobokan, which we would pass through on our way north and a bit west going to the orphanage later in the week.  (The ‘Barang Barang Shop’, No28X Jl Raya Kerobokan on the left hand side of the road as you come from Tuban/Kuta if anyone’s interested.)  Everyone who has ever been to Tanah Lot Temple will have passed the Barang Barang Shop and probably never noticed it although it looks as though its been there since Tanah Lot was new.  And if anyone thinks it strange that a second-hand furniture shop should also manufacture hypo-allergenic deodorant then you haven’t been to Bali. 
A second coincidence, or is it a third?, occurred when I was telling Tony Marrone the watch seller down the road later.  ‘I’m from Kerobokan!’ he exclaims,  ‘I can get it!’  and by now perhaps he has and you can buy it from him on Jl Wana Segara in Tuban. 

 

Claire went off to a massage this morning and was to bring back an order of scarves for some very old friends back home.  But I was trying to be good and catch up on my exercises in the pool.  Nell was doing a few laps just to show me up by going much faster, and Phil and Chris had gone down to the beach to meet Shayasta, our favourite Happy Hour cocktail mixer.  He has recently become a proud father and the chance to show off his Number 1 son to old friends is too much of an opportunity to miss. 

It is a lovely morning in Bali.  You might ask which ones are not, and I couldn’t answer. 

Yoyan, from ENI tailors, appeared at the desk while I was there and I checked him into the
Inn.  He would not move out of the lobby without an escort and I was happy to take him off to Nell’s room to start the fitting session arranged on the way home last night.  For some reason I’m not invited although I’m pretty good at fits. 

We intended to get some watches from Fast Eddy in his new shop way round the corner of Jl Wana Segara, past the Pantai, where it becomes the Kartika Lane I think. 
Eddy, with the flashing gold tooth that was the symbol of his wealth, was once the master of the watch sellers in Tuban, always sitting on a bench opposite the driveway of the Inn unless he was off to Java to get a case-full of new stock for everyone.  Eddy set the prices and distributed the various styles to the other sellers, with careful consideration for the market demands of their sites and with a fairness that apparently
never ruffled feathers. 
When street selling was banned a bit over a year ago all the sellers had to have a shop base in an area approved by the government in Jakarta.  Every one had to tout for their own sales and to advertise their trade and location through the now common business card. 
Eddy was lost! 
For some time we had known that he could add and subtract but he could not multiply or divide.  If you bought nine watches at Rp45,000 each he had to add 45,000 nine times, and he seemed to be able to do it in his head.  What we didn’t know was that Eddy could not read or write either.  Those little rows of symbols on watches that made up a name were simply a mystery to him and he must have memorised all the name brands that he handled.  He could not write a business card or an advertising sign for his little counter next to the Fuji shop.  He was nearly beside himself with gratitude last year when I made him a sign in the Inn’s Business Centre.  He still has it, wrapped in plastic film, on his counter. 
The young lads who were once his protégés had an advantage and were now able to topple the Master – and they did, not to take his place or to put him down but simply to survive themselves. 
Eddy is surviving but only just.  He now sells from a quite poor site, way off the most used tourist walks, in the middle of a street replete with other watch sellers.  He has had to sell his precious motorbike that gave him the mobility to oversee his empire, and to adapt to a much lower status amongst his peers.  As I found out later, however, after others had failed, he still has the best contacts when a watch needs repairing. 

 

 On my walk I found a woven Table runner thing that I have been searching for, for another very old friend.  It came from a new market we had not seen before this visit, on Jl Kartika Plaza almost opposite the entrance to the Bali Bintang Hotel.  There are a few goods of a different variety to those most often seen.  Claire manages to fill a bag or two while I was doing nothing much except stand around practising my seven Bali phrases ad nauseam. 
Again it was obvious that the sellers are doing it hard.  Not only those in newer markets like this, which have sprung up since street selling was banned, but also those in the more established places.  These sellers were not really pushy, but every one tried hard to catch your eye with something and as you passed there were a stream of offers for this and that.  If you bought something the word seemed to spread and you were besieged with offers for the same item all the way down the line of shops.  While we spent about an hour in this market of perhaps 60 to 80 shops I can recall seeing only one other couple looking at the goods on offer. 

From the Inn’s Business Office I faxed an order for software to pcMac in Denpasar.  As they would have to either make the discs or get them in I felt that a fax from the Inn would give them some assurance that I was a genuine customer.  I gave the girl in the office a little felt kangaroo with spring grip paws.  We had picked these up in long packs of about a dozen in Adelaide’s Central Market stores before we left and, again, it proved to be a very popular gift.  When I got back to the rooms the cleaners were there and I gave them one each also. 
‘Kandaloo’ accompanies the little squeals of delight! 

Chris rang Scot just before he was due to leave and he confirmed that he had indeed gone solo.  I was surprised that I got a real stirring of the blood when I heard the news.  An empathetic adrenalin rush indeed. 

At the pool I had Spring Rolls and share champagne for lunch before getting organised to go out to the airport to meet Scot.  We were early (or the plane was late, I can’t remember which) so there was a chance to have a look at the airport complex which we have only ever seen in the rush of disembarkation or the darkness of leaving.  It’s really an interesting place, particularly the new departure building and the little shops along the outside walkway that I had never noticed before.  I suppose that we’ve always had other things on our minds when we’ve been here catching a flight home in the past.  I also noticed that lockers are available and things can be stored for Rp5,500 per item per day. 

At last Scot walked out the door, to such yelling that makes some obviously demure locals decide to move away from us just a little.  Scot had a mile-wide grin, as did Jay who grabbed his mate, and as did proud Dad.  The ride back to the Inn was full of talk and it was not too long before both Scot and Jay were leaping and wrestling in the pool.  We eventually struggled off to the Pool Bar for Happy Hour and to program the evening.  The heat of the last two or three days must have be getting to us and we concluded that we could only raise enough energy to struggle off to the Pantai for dinner.  No one raised any arguments against the plan. 

 

Fransiskus Ruben came to greet us just as we were sitting down.  I asked about little Ema and, proud father that he is, he launched into a largely unintelligible story of her latest antics.  Normally his English is very good but Ema gets him excited and emotion took over his vocal chords and they just seemed to tangle while his tonsils tripped over themselves.  I manage to get the message that she loved the toy white rabbit that we had brought for her.  It was her favourite amongst the others. 

We had pink (red?) champagne from home for starters and our waiter wasted no time in getting a glass for his first taste of this delight.  I got the impression that he was not delighted but was too polite to say so. 
My Crab and Asparagus soup was delicious although crab is not my favourite taste.  This was followed by pork with mushrooms, both dishes accompanied by chilled Yalumba Riesling from a 2-litre cask.  Phil swears that his hamburger was as good as he has had anywhere including the Hard Rock Café but he needed two seafood cocktails first to take the edge off his appetite, and those were not small entrees either.  Chris had the Avocado Vinaigrette and simply licked his lips and smiled.  Jay had fish fingers while Claire demolished Grilled Crabs, leaving the waiter in awe of her sparkling plate.  I can’t remember when we have been even mildly dissatisfied with either the meal or the service at this restaurant, and the bill at the end never caused any ripple either. 
If only the toilets rated more than 6/10. 
But then, its not too far back to the Inn. 

 

     Bali Travellers with Fransiskus Rueben at the Pantai.



16.10.00

 

On to Day 12.  Day 12 sees us off to Denpasar for ordinary (?) shopping and for computer software. Shopping Bali style at Ramayana. The Lotus Tavern.

 

 

 

Day 12. - Tuesday 26 September 2000.
 

This is the fourteenth part of the personal diary of our trip.

TRAVELLER'S PROFILE:
Our party consists of -
* Phil and Nell, middle aged, with 12-year-old son Jay. They have been regular overseas travellers for the last 10 years, mainly to
Bali. 
* Chris and his son Scot, 18 years, are also regular Bali travellers. 
* Claire and myself are a bit older than the others.  We first went to Bali over 20 years ago but did not return until 5 years ago and have been annual visitors since then.

We are middle class professionals in upper level management positions or, in my case, retired. 
The two boys are students. 

Don’t try to read this if you’re not patient.



For a couple of days at least I haven’t reported on the massages which have generally started my day or have been slotted in at some time later.  They had, however, been ongoing. 
On the way down on this morning, at about 7, I tried to take a few photos along the water’s edge but I was too late to get the light that I wanted.  If Max were there he’d get me up at 6.30 because that’s walk time and I would really have had no choice. 
Wayan will not be on the beach tomorrow, as it will be the day for the annual ceremony at her temple of origin.  This devotion which pervades Balinese life is a bit difficult for the average western semi-atheist to come to terms with.  ‘Pervades’ is a pretty accurate word to use because it’s not an ‘add-on’ to their lives.  Every day Wayan puts a woven, palm-frond, offering basket on the beach before she even unpacks the mattress, her breakfast, or anything.  There is a little ceremony that accompanies this which culminates in sprinkling the offering with water, often using a flower as the water carrier.  I’m sure that she would have done the same thing at home as soon before she came to the beach.  Mistri is quite sure that she will take care of us when Wayan is away, and so are we. 

Our plan this morning is to return to Denpasar, me to finalise the purchase of software for myself and for friends, the others to finish (I don’t believe it for one minute) shopping.  After re-negotiating friends’ purchases with them via e-mail I sent a fax to pcMac yesterday hoping that the order would be ready to collect when I arrive.  The reason for the re-negotiation was because the estimate I had given friends, of about $10 per disc, is shattered when I believed the quote from pcMac to be over three times this amount.  Their returned fax, therefore, was for about a third of their original request or five programs.  When I arrived the order was ready for me but there were only two discs!  Eventually I understood that the price I have been given per disc is just that – per disc – containing as many programs as they could fit onto each one.  The five programs that I ordered are not Rp750,000 as I expected (5 x Rp150,000) but Rp300,000 because they all fitted onto two discs – at Rp 150,000 each disc!  Quick as a flash, before the rules change, (not that I expect they would), I apologise for my lack of understanding and re-order the other programs that were struck off the list.  The extra programs, I found out at 2.00 pm the same day when I returned to pick them up, fitted easily onto one disc, so the unused space had been filled up with other programs that he thought we would like. 
Now that’s service!  Bob and Geoff will have an interesting Lucky Dip when they get them. 
I also called in to Dragon Bali Computer at Jl Imam Bonjol #336G (pcMac is at 226) which I had been told about by a pair of like-minded Aussies I met at Platinum.  A different sort of store again, dealing in PC’s and, when you asked, a large cardboard box of software was produced from under the counter which you rummaged through to, hopefully, find your needs.  For this inconvenience the programs were cheaper than elsewhere at Rp25,000, but it was strictly, ‘Seek And Ye Shall Find’. 
The normal price for PC programs seems to be Rp35,000 for the usual one-disc programs, Rp60,000 for two-disc programs and Rp120,000 for four-disc programs such as ‘Office’. 
I returned to Platinum to correct another mistake I had made in yesterday’s order and found out that they are almost ready to open a store in Legian.  By the time this is posted it could be open, saving the trip up to Denpasar and, hopefully, give knowledgeable service unlike that which you get at Matahari’s that is a bit hit and miss in my experience. 
While I am in Denpasar I briefly visit Harry’s Computer College and eventually found the way in.  The front door had a ‘CLOSED’ sign on it but that only referred to this particular door, not the shop as a whole.  If you pressed on you found an open door at the side of the shop.  I had sent three e-mails to my previous contact at the shop but never received a reply.  I was eventually approached by an assistant to whom I expressed my disappointment, not failing to mention that I had now filled my order at Platinum.  He was very apologetic and gave me his card with assurances that he would personally attend to my calls in future – and I really believe that he will. 

After all of this walking, with a bit of driving, I caught a cab back to Ramayana where I had arranged to meet the others.  As I went into the store I suddenly realised how big it was, and how lucky I would be to find them in the throng of shoppers.  I was reckoning without the bulk of Phil who stood head and shoulders above most of the displays.  Within a few minutes I had found them all.  While here their range of very small, self-tuning AM/FM radios tempted me.  The smallest was about half the size of an Aussie matchbox and performed incredibly well even inside the store.  I eventually settled for some a bit bigger for Rp 25,000 (about $5) as presents for friends. 
I was also tempted by slices of Black Forest Cake in the display counter near the radio/telephone counter.  I eventually came away with the (not very nice) slice of cake, but not before I was again left to wonder why there should be unemployment in Bali.  From the cake display counter one of the three assistants took out the slice that I pointed to and gave it to one of the others.  The third wrote out a docket and signalled for me to accompany her.  Off we went, into the nearby food supermarket to line up at the checkout.  We eventually progressing to the cash till after nearly six minutes, the docket was scrutinised, with explanatory comments (I presume) from my guide.  Money was passed to my guide, transferred to the ‘check-out-chick’ and the change, by the reverse route, then passed back to me.  I was then escorted back to the cake counter where the cash register receipt was scrutinised, stamped and filed.  I was then given my cake, by now wrapped up – and I do mean wrapped!  Quadruple wrapped, if there is such a word.  When it came out of the counter it had paper on the cut sides of the wedge and under the bottom.  It had been over-wrapped on these three sides and placed on a small triangle of cardboard.  The whole was then placed into a paper bag, carefully folded so that nothing touched the cream and shaved chocolate topping.  The bag was then stapled twice so that it did not collapse under the pressure of another, totally enclosing, plastic bag.  This bag was sealed by adhesive tape and had a small carrying flap worked into the top above the centre of gravity of the package. 
By the time I got it open, much to Phil’s amazement as he watched the execution of this task, I needed the energy it provided.  It was a real pity that it looked much better in the display case than it tasted in my mouth. 

Today, for the first time in this holiday I was given coins in my change, and it has happened twice.  I normally try to avoid these, as it only seems to add to the complexities of shopping for little real value.  If you can find a small and innocent child they can be given away if the parents are not looking.  If anyone sees you, however, there is no doubt that you are immediately branded as a cheapskate. 
I have collected six coins, two gold (coloured) Rp100 (worth about 2 cents), two silver (aluminium?) Rp100 and another two gold ones valued at Rp 500 each.  These Rp500 gold coloured coins are almost exactly the same size and colour as Australian $1 coins.  This likeness is to play a part in me being taken for a ride for the second time in the holiday – but that is a tale for later. 
I don’t mind the little lollies that the supermarkets give you as very small change however, as they are coffee flavoured and nice to eat. 

We were all eventually shopped out (only a temporary condition for the girls) and retreated to the pool again, for some respite from the heat and for lunch from the pizza counter.  Another small Happy Hour at the Pool Side Bar and we went separate ways for dinner tonight.  The two boys are not feeling well so their carers decided to have room service.  Claire and I eventually settled on the Lotus Tavern, one of Five Lotuses in Bali with another in the chain in Singapore. 

The Lotus Tavern is in Jl Wana Segara, at the other end from the Inn, near ENI tailors.  It has lotus ponds across the street frontage and deeply carved wooden panels across one end wall.  The polished timber floors are topped by a traditional Balinese roof structure of open poles and dressed timbers supporting a thatch roof that has beautiful plywood under sheets which I think have sliced surface veneers of cedar and the inner veneers are probably cedar also.  I keep forgetting that we are in the tropics where these exotic and beautiful timbers grow, so I’m regularly amazed to see them used for such mundane purposes. 
Just before the Hot Springs (Air Panas) which we visited west of Lovina on our trip north a few days ago, there were a new group of shops being built.  We stopped to watch the workers for a while and it suddenly dawned on me that the carpenter sitting just in front of me, hand planing a flitch of timber, was actually working on an enormous slab of wonderfully figured, solid teak.  The waxy surface of the wood gleamed at each stroke of his plane. 
I looked carefully at the timber, and at the construction, and had to come to the conclusion that he was preparing a simple roof beam to go across the front opening, bridging the gap between the ends of the side walls.  I tapped the piece and pointed to the space overhead where I thought it was to go and he nodded in agreement.  The piece he was working on was about 5 meters long and 175 mm wide by 125 mm thick (16’ x 7” x 5”).  My guess is that you would need
quite a few hundred dollars to buy such a piece at home.  At the back of the shop there was a stack of probably ten or fifteen such pieces.  I know of wooden-boat builders who would kill to have such a stock sitting in the back of their workshops.  That roof will be a piece of generally un-noticed magnificence, slowly being covered by dust and rat droppings, and it will last for a hundred years at least, if it doesn’t burn down. 

But, back to the Lotus Tavern.  I had to keep trying the Spring Rolls, still looking for a place to recommend. The Lotus provided two only for an entree, but they were quite the largest spring rolls I think I have ever seen.  But best of all they were crispy and tasty!  The generous dish of peanut sauce was almost crunchy.  All in all worth 9/10 at least – and so they should have been for Rp13,000 + 10%. 
All prices here are + 10% here.  Some restaurants quote full prices and yet others quote prices + 10% + government tax which seems to vary from 10% to 20%, up to 40% for some alcoholic drinks.  It can be confusing when trying to compare one place with another.  The Nasi Goreng Special is Rp26,000 and good but not as good as that which we had at the Sri Ratu with the amiable Irishman a while back.  The Soup of the Day is Minestrone for Rp9,000.  It is salty, with an unusual although not unpleasant spicy tang, but no pasta content at all.  Herself awarded it 8/10 which is not a bad recommendation as she makes a deadly minestrone herself.  I had the Balinese Babi Kecap (pork morsels with Balinese spices and sweet soy sauce) with steamed rice for Rp24,000.  The meat is nicely spicy but not chilli hot, firm but not tough.  The bowl of steamed rice is very generous and it was came with a very small dish of sliced celery and carrot that was delicious and a nice contrast to the heavy sauces of the pork.  Claire as might have been anticipated chose the Grilled Fish for Rp 34,000.  It was called a Red Snapper when she asked, whatever that really means.  It came sprinkled with olive oil, parsley and garlic accompanied with a small dish of rather nothing, salty vegetables, and not the spring potatoes that the menu promised.  The fish was generous with moist and tasty flesh and nice barbecue flavours on the skin but a wedge of lemon would have been nice. The fish was awarded 10/10 but the rest suffered with only 5/10. 
When the mozzies from the pond got active it was a sign of the attentive service that it only took one slap of the ankles for two smoking coils to be quickly placed under the table.  There were only three other tables in use but we found that our waitress, Putu, was charming, helpful and unobtrusively attentive.
Perhaps we expected too much of the Lotus, or perhaps some of the meal promised so much, but other parts did not live up to that promise.  The Lotus sits in the great divide that we have not been aware of in previous trips. It has some good food but is not good value when compared with others.  A nice Balinese atmosphere, if you can ignore the muffled disco beat competing with the exhausts on the street, is not going to compensate for this comparative lack of value.  The middle to higher priced restaurants seem to be cutting quality or quantity or service, and in so doing are losing out to the cheaper places like the Pantai and the SA Café where the overheads are probably lower.  Whatever the reasons it seems to us that repeat custom is going to focus on value, and the more fancied eateries will suffer from this trend when times are tight, as they are now. 
Our total bill, including Aquas at Rp5,500 each, comes to A$21.30 and you’d be excused for asking how critical can you get for a meal that costs $21.30?  A good question but for an answer you only need to go to the Pantai where the food is consistently good.  Here the Balinese beach atmosphere is supported by the intermittent splash of the ocean waves on the beach, the quiet sizzle of food in the kitchen and the murmur of conversation floating away on the breeze into the night.

I find it hard to determine value when I’m eating a meal.  What do you compare it with?  If you compare it with a good average restaurant at home then the Bali variety has good food and always wins hands down for value.  But, ‘When in Rome – ‘.  If you’re in Bali you compare one restaurant with the others there that you can choose from, and some come out better than others in the comparison. 

We have a pleasant walk home, not too far to the Inn, with a cool, gentle night breeze giving the local bats a small soaring advantage when hunting insects in the glow of the street lights. 

 

 

There are little things you see and suddenly remember from past visits.  Like the small, faintly luminous arrow that points to Mecca on the ceiling of the hotel room.


18.10.00

 

 

 

Back to our Home Page to pick up a different thread? Perhaps 'The Owl and The Pussy Cat', or 'By Bike to Queenscliffe'? 

On to Day 13.  The boys are sick! We inspect nearby hotels while they rest. Photo problems and wood carving at the Inn. Some odds and sods and education for the watch seller's friends.
 

 

 

 

Day 13. - Wednesday 27 September 2000.
 

This is just over six pages in length and nothing earth shattering happens. 
Don’t even try to read it if you’re not patient.

Day 13

The two boys, Scot and Jay, are not well. 
Scot has had a pretty intensive week of flying and study, with the tension of his first solo thrown in for good measure.  I think that his systems have just begun to relax from the high that he has been maintaining and he’s crumpled into a heap.  He has a bit of a temperature and the doctor says bed for a couple of days.  When he turns down the chance to go White Water Rafting he’s certainly not on top of the world. 
Jay’s got a bit of a cough and a sniffle but he’s also had a pretty tumultuous month or so, moving from Adelaide to the country, leaving old friends and making new ones, a new home and a new school in an unfamiliar place.  His funny tummy of last night seems to be a bit better this morning.  He might be in sympathy with his big playmate too. 
Whatever, they’re rooming it for a while, under watchful eyes.  When kids are sick everyone’s holiday gets put on hold for a while.  Things that you might delay about at home, with a wait-and-see attitude suddenly become a bit more of a concern when you’re thousands of kilometres away in a somewhat unfamiliar country. 

‘What is your program for today?’ 
Every one seems to ask.  The room cleaners, the waitress at breakfast, the Desk Clerk, the girls on the beach.  Certainly the taxi drivers and mini-bus drivers, and if you don’t have one they’ll try to sell you one.  Rest days just don’t seem to be very satisfactory for them. 
For this morning ours is not too different from yesterdays or the day before or the day before.  The girls need to change some money and are going ‘last minute shopping’ would you believe?  Since this is Wednesday and we don’t leave till Sunday morning this is going to be the longest ‘last minute’ in history.  Phil wants to have a look at some alternative hotels for future consideration, but I think it will take an earthquake to shift him from the Inn after all these years.  And he makes a good point too.  We have tried other hotels at Nusa Dua and at Ubud and found things to like about them but the Inn is familiar territory with more that a few good points.  Yes, its tired and need a good re-vamp, and my pet hate is the short necked showers which lack good adjustment, and I don’t think anything that wants to be more than a two star hotel should have showers over the bath.  It’s uncomfortable and damn dangerous.  But the place is right on the beach, and that means right on.  It’s compact.  You don’t have to go down five floors and walk a long way to get to the pool.  The towel shack and the icecream counter and the pizza hut are all within sight of the pool and the kids playing.  The grounds and gardens are not really big but they are interesting and varied.  The staff are friendly and we know most of them, and its not hard to get to know other guests if you want to.  Perhaps above all we know it and feel comfortably ‘at home’ there. 

I think that I’ll go with Phil on his investigations and so do the others, after all we’ll be walking towards the markets, old and new, and towards the shops of Kuta and Legian.  This should take care of the morning program, and I’m sure the afternoon will take care of itself when the time comes. 
One of the images I have of several hotels along the way to Kuta is of bright, soaring and spectacular entry lobbies.  They are really impressive but you don’t live in the lobby and the downside of this space is that its just so much further to go to get to the pool or a restaurant or the road or your room. 

I have a processed film to pick up and a dozen 10R Jumbo enlargements also.  10R jumbos are 31 cm x 21 cm and cover the full length of the negative which is best for very rectangular subjects especially panoramas.  10R size prints are a bit cheaper but you loose a little off the ends of the negative, which is OK if the subject is squarish or round, like many flowers. 
The 10R cost is Rp12,500, A$2.70.  At home they would be five times this although I also have to say that they would be better prints.  There does not seem to be any quality competition amongst the processors in Bali.  They all tend to run their solutions beyond exhaustion, allow the temperatures to vary too much and accept the machine’s automatic exposure and filter settings without really looking at the image and making manual adjustments to best suit the photo.  At times things seem to get just too much out of whack and the old telltale problem of the photo whites being grey when compared with the paper back of another print is a dead giveaway. 
Anyway they are not to blame for my images.  This is not a good result from four films, three decent shots per film, but I manage to convince myself that I’m still getting used to a new telephoto/macro lens and coloured filters which I have never used before at all.  I seem to be getting better, there was only one decent shot in the first film but six in the last one. 

At the Inn there is a wood carver, I Nyoman Sujana who, besides the usual figures and scenes, carves all sorts of name plates from the most intricately baroque to a very plain piece of wood if that is what you want.  I usually get some thing made each year.  These have included a business card holder with a company logo carved onto it, a flat wall name plate, a desk stand with ‘Ducatti’ on it, for a friend who restored one of these Italian beasts, and a couple of BMW trademarks as paperweights for friends who own these bikes.  This year I think that a triangular block with ‘Grob G115’ and the date of Scot’s first solo flight will be an appropriate memento for him.  The letters are to be coloured sky blue just like the BMW signs that he did for me last year. 

 

 

 

Nyoman was intrigued with this unusual sign and I explained to him what had happened.  He was a little amazed, I think, that young Scot can really fly an aeroplane. 
The sign would be finished this afternoon so I could give it to Scot at Happy Hour that evening.  The price we agreed on was Rp30,000 and a daily supply of Chuppa Chups for which he has developed a passion, just as Adi has a passion for chocolate éclairs.  Every time Nyoman saw me he stuck his finger in his mouth and sucked, imitating the destruction of another Chuppa and the need for more supplies.  The price is a reduction from Rp55,000 for ‘Good customer only.’ ‘You not tell friends!’ 
The smiling young girl at the icecream counter also liked Chuppa Chups but could not eat them while she was on duty. She was more than happy however with a small koala which she clipped onto the lapel of her white jacket.  She looked for me every time she came past our favourite sun lounges after this, just to smile and wave.  Or was it just to see if I had more Chuppa Chups? 
Nyoman’s brother (or is that cousin?) works with him most days, painting egg shells with traditional Balinese themes or images of Bali scenes.  The work is executed in incredibly fine detail, as I suppose it has to be when your ‘canvas’ is limited to the surface of an egg, and in rich, brilliant, glowing colours.  They have devised a packaging system that comes in the price and which virtually ensures the eggs safe transport back home.  I have found that a major part of the satisfaction in owning one of these is that you can actually watch it being planned and then painted day by day.  I don’t think I could ever buy one at a shop now, and not know something of its creation. 

Little bits of nothing much. –
* At the Kuta markets software CD’s are Rp50,000 compared with 35,000 or even 25,000 at Denpasar. 
* Honda Astrea, or Astrea Impressa, Astrea Grande or Astrea Supra’s make up about 29 out of 30 motorbikes in Bali.  The other one is either a Suzuki Bravo or a Yamaha.  The police bikes are Yamaha 250’s and I don’t think the cop at the ‘Station’ on the corner of Kuta square was joking when he offered to hire me one for Rp500,000! 
* A brimmed sun hat with your favourite logo printed on it could be purchased in the Kuta markets for Rp120,000, particularly if you were Japanese, or for Rp7,000 if you were a really persistent haggler and the day had been slow for the seller. 
* Today a Calvin Klein watch could be purchased for either Rp75,000 or for Rp35,000.  Tomorrow the price was to be two for Rp50,000. 
What really is the cost of things in the markets? 
* Matahari’s has fly spray and insect repellent in familiar brands such as Mortien and Johnsons.  This is cheaper than at home. 
* Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce is Rp18,500 for 150 mils. 
* Tomato Sauce is Rp 4650 for 400 mils. 
* Smiths crisps are Rp19,900 for 100 grams.
* A large Anker beer was Rp7,600 here but cheaper in the street shops and only Rp7,000 served cold at most Happy Hours.
* Chuppa Chups were Rp750 each. 

When I bought one supply of Chuppa Chups I offered one to the girl who served me.  She was initially very reluctant to accept but, with the encouragement of the other two assistants she eventually accepted it, but only if she could keep the sales docket.  I suppose that this was her insurance in case she was accused of stealing it as she left the store after work. 

On the way to lunch we stopped at the Kodak shop so that I could pick up the photo enlargements.  I was disappointed to find four of the twelve were covered with white dust spots and/or white lines from either hairs or scratches.  The operator did not want to re-print them, and I really can’t blame him as there was a large building project in full swing just next door to the shop. 
I took the negatives back to the Kodak shop on Kartika Plaza, opposite the Kin Khao restaurant to have these four done again, as well as two from the new film.  I was later even more disappointed to find similar problems remained with two of the new prints.  Without asking the operator here offered to re-do them but the results were no better and he demanded full payment even though the spots on each had changed places on the new prints, clearly indicating that the problem was with the cleanliness of his machine and not with the negatives. 
Later, at home, I had them done at my local store which is a Fuji franchise.  The owner operates the printer himself and I think is a photography club member.  He is sufficiently interested in his work to do more than the usual amount to rescue my negatives and produced two prints that we were both proud of. 

We had lunch eventually, at the SA Café in Jl Wana Segara.  We were able to sit in the raised bale at the side of the café.  With its three open sides, raised and tiled floor and vaulting roof overhead it was pleasantly cool, particularly with a cold drink in hand. 
Our food choices included soups for Rp9,500;  Club Sand Triple ‘Dekker’ Rp 14,500 and what a feed it was with fries piled on top;  ‘Chesse’ Burger Rp14,500;  ‘Mixican’ Burger Rp 15,800;  Pastas from Rp 15,750 to 17,500;  Fillet Mignon with Pepper Sauce Rp23,000;  Sweet and Sour Fish or Fish and Chips Rp20,000;  Nasi Goreng Rp13,500,Pizza Rp15,500. 
My Bakmi Goreng was spicy
and tasty.  A full plate for Rp13,000. 
House wine by the glass was Rp6,500. 
The toilets were graded at 5/10. 
The atmosphere here is nice, cool and relaxed.  Roosters crow in the back yard under the row of bamboos that sway in the afternoon breeze.  A large, striking cabinet stands against the wall.  It is made from solid teak with carved door panels and back.  The workmanship is good and the piece would be worth a fortune back home.  Here it just sits in the open bale.  The cavernous ceiling of the bale is lined with cedar plywood, clear finished and with marvellous grain patterns in many sheets.  The sheets seem to be at least 9 mm (3/8”) thick as they are clearly self-supporting at the edges between the roof beams, over a span of perhaps 600 mm (2’) or more. 

It must be hot.  Even the locals are saying ‘Panas panas’.  One ‘Panas’ is enough to indicate that it is hot, two indicates very hot.  The cardboard covers of my notebook are limp and the paper is difficult to write on as they have been soaked in so much sweat in my shirt pocket.  Frequently the cab drivers don’t turn their air conditioning on until they get a fare.  Today the two cabs we’ve caught have both been almost chilly inside, instantly cool as we opened the door to enter, indicating the drivers have felt the need for it even when they had no customers. 

Back to pool-side for relief.  I sat down to talk to the wood carver, Nyoman.  (The name is virtually universal for all third-born in Bali. I Nyoman signifies male and Ni Nyoman signifies female.  The oldest child is Wayan, the second Made and the fourth, Ketut meaning tail.  If there are more children the cycle is often repeated.)  Nyoman wanted to see what I had in the cardboard folder so I took the photos out to show him.  Not unexpectedly all the nearby clan gathered round out of curiosity, even the Security Guard and the girl from the icecream stand.  A guessing game followed, trying to identify the locations of the photos.  Some, such as those of the temple at Lake Bratan and the ‘Floating Palace’ at Mengwi were easy to identify but others, particularly if I had used a colour filter, had them stumped.  They were a very appreciative audience, however, and I rewarded them all for their good taste with Chuppa Chups. 

After Happy Hour, because we had a late lunch and were not yet hungry, we walked off down the street to see Yoyan at ENI tailors.  There was another fitting as it’s cooler now.  Some pieces were OK and some need more minor adjustments.  Yoyan took it all in his stride, calmly and with diplomacy, though if he was seething inside one could not blame him too much.  Those items that were deemed OK were paid for as we go so that his cash flow is not disrupted and the extra workers can be paid. 
On the way back to the Inn we stopped to talk to Tony Marrone in his corner of the shop.  A number of his friends, probably aged in their twenties or early thirties, were sitting in the street just outside and gradually became involved in the chatter.  Claire turned the conversation around to school and we were a bit surprised that some of them had only gone to elementary school for a few years. They are mainly from small villages in the deep country, having come to the city for work to support their families.  Most could neither read nor write, Tony being the exception in this regard, perhaps indicating the reason he was running his own business and they were sitting in the street.  All of them could handle figures with an easy facility and had an apparently good command of several languages including English, Japanese and German.  The lack of reading and writing skills, even in their own language, was a handicap they regretted and of course it was the one that fixed their employment status.  Education, and even access to books, is financially way out of their reach.  I resolved to try to get an Indo-English dictionary for Tony so that they might learn something from it, but I never succeeded in this. Maybe next year.  There is always a reason to go back to Bali it seems. 

An e-mail from #1 daughter, Emma, lets us know that Max has settled into her bed each night, sharing with her cat, Sasha, one on each side of her legs.  They evidently start off with the greatest possible distance between themselves but relax more as the night goes on.  I readily understood that there was not much room left for her. 

Champagne and nibbles on our room veranda turned into room service for dinner. 

A Bintang or two for me leads to bed after a quick swim.  Some of the others’ who have yet to come to an understanding of the reason the sun goes down at night, carry on and may even have seen tomorrow arrive if they were alert. 

That reminds me of the old army joke:  

BE ALERT!
The world needs more lerts.



PS. Yes, the day did start with a massage.



20.10.00
Now there’s a funny date!

 

 

Reception, observation deck and shops and the little O'Brien's 'night club' are in the top right hand corner building.
The Ratna Satay bar is in the tower to the left of reception. Outdoor dining tables are set up for a Theme Dinner in the bottom right, and the Pool Bar is under the square thatch roof between the Dining area and the main pool.
The kiddies pool is in the fore ground. The Activities Board for the Kiddies Klub is at the head of the pools and the Pizza Bar is under the coconut palms to the right of the board.
The beach and sea can just be seen in the top left over the tops of the palms with Kuta Beach at the right end of this horizon.
The accommodation wings are just out of the photo to the right.
All nice and compact. Quiet at night when you want to sleep but an easy distance to the excitement of Kuta.

 

  

Water lilies in the ponds at the front of the Inn.

 

 

                     This one is in a pedestal pond at the SA Cafe in Jl Wana Segara, Tuban.

   

 

 

Back to Day 12?

The Day 5 to 10
photos again?
- or the Days 1 to 4 photos?

Sick of Bali? Need a change of diet? What about the shoppers friend - a Cheat Sheet; or a brief outline of Mans' Demise? Then you need our
Home Page to make a different selection.

 

On to Day 14?  Day 14 includes the mysteries of massage, Peter's Dragon kite, the fishermen and lunch at the SA Cafe as well as coconut lessons and a trip around the reef on 'Capt. Wayan'.

 

 

Day 14.  Tuesday 26 September 2000.
 

Day 14

Had a late massage this morning as I slept in till after 7.  Late maybe, but still good.  As I sit here now writing this I’ve just paused.  I can feel the warmth of the air, hear the background ssssss of the waves running up and down the slope of the beach.  I can hear the chatter as girls who are arriving even later than me exchange morning greetings with their friends before setting out their little offerings on the soft sand and completing their ritual with a sprinkle of water. 
I noticed that when Adi arrived with her bags of clothing she quickly sat down and helped herself to the aromatherapy cream to give herself a work over.  She is a real ‘wild woman from Borneo’ until she does up her straight black hair.  The mischievous spark lingers in the corners of her eyes, however, seemingly a reservoir for an occasional raucous outburst, which is surely a bit rude as the others break out laughing. 

A little shiver runs across my shoulders at the memory. 

Claire started and finished before me this morning, so Mistri simply moved over to my right side, joining Wayan who is on my left.  They chirped away softly to one another and I seemed to be only distantly aware of their kneading and probing.  Turning over, when the time comes, is always at least a problem, and sometimes nearly impossible without help.  They always giggled like schoolgirls when the mind is off somewhere and the muscles won’t coordinate, but they always assisted firmly, putting wayward limbs where they wanted them. 
At one stage this morning I sort of opened my right eye and found it was firmly focused on the three hair stubbles at the end of my nose, shaved off three or four days ago.  This was not a pretty sight but it slowly dawned on me that I didn’t have my glasses on, and even if I‘d had them on I couldn’t remember the last time, if ever, that my eyes focussed at a distance of about two inches and an angle of 60 degrees.  I contemplated this for a while with my eye closed and, when I re-opened it, there they were, still in sharp outline.  In case my eye was going to stay where it was I closed it again and tried to ignore the situation.  The connections in the mind must do strange things to muscles when everything is relaxed. 
The knots didn’t hurt so much this morning so they must have been loosening up a bit at least.
Wayan brought us pineapple again and smiled when I immediately opened the bag and began to eat a piece. 
The ‘Adelaide’ T-shirts which we brought over for them have evidently been taken by husbands or sons but this doesn’t seem to matter to them, so why should it matter to us, if we have helped the family then we have helped them too. 

This morning, for the second time, an exercise team came along the beach.
All males, I think (my eyes aren’t what they used to be), about 30 in number, dressed in more-or-less matching dark blue shorts and sweatshirts.  They came jogging down the beach in a rectangular formation, turning to run backwards every so often.  At the front of the Bali Bintang they stopped to jog on the spot for a while before changing into stretching exercises and one-on-one strength movements that were reminiscent of an army squad from the films (movies).  After about 5 minutes of this they re-aligned their rectangle, about-faced and raced into the sea where they dived under and repeated the beach exercises in thigh-deep water.  It was all very light hearted as they tried to resist the waves and burst into unrestrained laughter as one or another was toppled over into the surf.  Eventually they ran out, re-formed again and jogged off into the distance towards Kuta. 
When I first came to Bali twenty odd years ago groups such as this were a common sight very late in the afternoon.  If I remember rightly each village had a marching squad which competed in inter-village championships.  There seemed to be an emphasis on physical fitness as well as marching, and martial arts movements were also practised.  In hindsight this sort of thing could well have been encouraged by the government as a form of preliminary training for future enlistment into the armed services.  One afternoon on the beach in front of the Inn there was a group of children, aged from 6 or 7 years up to early-mid teens who were engaged in similar marching type exercises.  They were all carefully presented in coloured uniforms of trousers or skirts with jackets buttoned up the front and epaulets on the shoulders.  After exercising as a whole group, they broke up into smaller units to practise different skills of combat style exercises with sticks or marching manoeuvres.  It appeared all very military and not a little frightening. 

Peter the kite man was on the beach when we returned.  He too remembered me as I have regularly bought his bird kites and boat kites for friends.  His kites are beautiful works of art.  They are carefully hand crafted with every detail expressed skilfully.  Cheaper copies of his works are available at most markets after a while but they lack the detail that Peter put into his work.  The feathers on his kites, for example, have each part of the feather individually painted whereas on the market version the feather is made by one stroke of an almost dry brush. 
He greeted me warmly with the little touch on the forearm that seems to be so often used by Balinese when greeting friends.  He wanted to show me his new Dragon kite with its long waving tail.  There is little wind this morning so the kite hangs limply on a post stuck into the sand.  It is a development of his bird kite and each scale has been individually rendered on the built-up three-dimensional body, carefully formed from bent bamboo slivers.  The carved head has its mouth agape with a blood red tongue hanging out, waving in the slight breeze.  The long, flexible tail is carefully detailed, as are the spread legs and talons on the trailing edge of the wings.  The colours are vibrant shades of blues, greys and pinks with darker accents.  It is an arresting work of art, not just a kite. 
He has also further developed the boat kite this year by the addition of a noisemaker that is also available as a stand-alone item in a larger size.  The noisemaker is an ingeniously constructed, miniature football rattle type of thing, driven by a tiny windmill about 75 mm (3”) in diameter at the front of the boat. 
The main axle of the windmill is solid bamboo, carefully rounded and a bit bigger than a pencil.  At one end it is split into four quarters and cross pieces to support the sails of the windmill were pushed into the splits.  Short lengths of tightly fitting plastic tube slid onto the axle from behind and in front of the cross arms to contain the splitting.  The axle was fitted through holes made across a rectangular frame fabricated from bamboo about the size of the ends and sides of a matchbox.  A carved bamboo ratchet wheel was pressed onto the axle behind the front bearing hole
within this rectangular frame.  Onto the teeth of this clicked one end of a sliver of bamboo about the size of a match, held in the centre by a twisted rubber band strung across the middle of the frame. This is much like the arrangement of a Spanish Windlass that farmers use to tension the diagonal supports on old farm gates.  The other end of the bamboo sliver bears lightly against the paper skin of a tiny drum, about the size of a cotton reel, mounted in the rectangular frame at the opposite end from the windmill axle.  This sliver is flicked back and forth by the twist of the rubber band each time a tooth of the rotating ratchet wheel picks up the end and then releases it as the tooth passes, letting the other end tap down onto the drum skin.  Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr!  Rising in pitch as the rising wind turns the sails faster. 
The sails that drive this mechanism are brightly coloured silk triangles, (not cotton, as you will later find in the markets no doubt) glued around the cross arms.  The trailing corner of the sail is held into an aerofoil shape by a very thin sliver of bamboo forming a square around the ends of the cross arms, and holding the sail corner loosely back near the next sail arm. 
Now if you can picture that then I must be a brilliant word artist! 
Complicated you think? 
It certainly is, and to be not only created but also constructed by a delightfully gentle ‘third world’ man on the beach is even more brilliant. 

 

Here my notes are again stained with the purple juice from the skin of a succulent mangosteen.  I remember the juice from the flesh also dribbled out of my mouth and down into my chin whiskers, necessitation a wash-up over the bathroom basin. 
Yuk! 
How do I stand this? 

Later in the morning I walked down to the breakwater south of the Inn’s beach and spent an hour talking to three fishermen casting out into the rough water surging around the end.  They all have telescoping rods, one a recognisable ‘Daiwa” rod and reel combination, the others of a brand which I did not recognise.  They used live prawns for bait, kept alive in an insulated esky type box fitted with a battery-powered aerator clipped over the edge and bubbling away into the water through a porous stone.  They used a single hook at the end of their line and a running ball sinker stoppered about a metre (3’) from the hook.  The water is very cloudy as it is stirred up in the swirling current around the end of the breakwater and they are at pains to cast beyond this without flicking the bait off the hook.  I would have used the floats that they have in their bamboo basket to get the bait out into clearer water, but they scorn my suggestion and, chastened, I shut up and just watch.  Their bamboo basket was a work of art.  It was obviously made purposely to fit over the top of the railing post, holding it up not only within easy reach, but also to stop it being washed away in the occasional wave that ran over the top of the breakwater.  Bamboo is certainly a versatile material in this region of the world.  Its use has been developed into an art form, over centuries I suppose.  I asked them if they ever used berley, or ground bait as some know it, but the concept was hard to get across.  I think they eventually understood what I meant, but the idea of throwing stuff in for the fish to eat without putting a hook in it seemed worse than a waste to them I think. 

About noon.  Back to the Inn, the room, the pool, the cool, and then lunch.  The S A Café wins out because it is only a short walk and if we can get into the side bale again it will be nice in the early afternoon breeze.  Phil will, predictably, have his favourite triple decker cheese burger with two Bintangs.  I have to go to lunch too, as I seem to be the only one with a supply of money left.  I wont be having a hamburger though.  Even the thought seems obscene when there are so many tasty rice and vegetable dishes to choose from.  Perhaps Gado gado today? 
My mouth salivates even now as I type this. 
It is not to be however as I am tempted by the Sate Campur, a plate full of eight sates bedded on shredded cabbage accompanied by a bowl of rice topped with slices of tomato and cucumber on a lettuce leaf.  This, with two Bintangs and an aqua cost A$6.55.  Claire had a triple burger and shared the beers that were icy cold, at least to start with, and came with handle glasses straight out of the freezer cabinet. 
Neither of us could eat any more when we were finished so my earlier thoughts, about reducing the content in some cafes, certainly do not apply here. 

Scot, who was up and about again, and Chris did the surf shops over for the latest fashion trends in teenage clothes.  We would probably have an extended ‘show and tell’ when they return. 

A little bit about nothing much until you have to do it.
To open a coconut first remove the fibrous husk if this has not already been done.  On the inner shell you will see three faint lines in shallow depressions running from top to bottom of the ‘nut’.  These lines are spaced at fairly even distances around the circumference.  Hold the nut in the palm of your hand over a receptacle, to catch the water, and tap on each of these lines in turn.  One of them is a fissure line of weakness and, as you tap on this particular line, the nut will simply crack open in your hand. 

After lunch I strolled down the beach and was again approached by an old man who had given up trying to sell me things, or so I thought.  We talked about the weather, the beach, the fishing, kite flying and other nothing-much things.  Eventually, out of the blue, he asked me if I’d like to go for a ride around the reef.  Well, I had wished that I’d done that on several occasions, so we began to settle on a price.  After starting at Rp300,00 for an hour trip we eventually agreed on Rp80,000 because I thought that was about all I’d got left after lunch.  He went off to get the boat and I went off to get my wallet, a couple of towels and my swimming goggles just in case.  When I returned to the beach he was nowhere in sight but after a short wait ‘Capt. Wayan’ poked its bow around the end of the breakwater and pulled into the beach. 
‘Capt. Wayan’ is called a ‘jukung’ in Indonesian (I think), or a ‘prahu’ in Balinese.  It has a single, central, wooden hull about five or six metres long (15’ – 18’) and about 600 mm (2’) wide.  This hull has a rounded bottom, carved from a half tree log, and built up on the sides with a couple of flat planks fixed on edge to the top edges of the trunk part.  There are two arms extending across this hull, lashed down to it firmly with coloured polypropylene cord or small rope.  The outboard ends of these beams have curved timber pieces similarly lashed on to the straight cross pieces and droop down towards the water surface.  Their tapered ends pierce long, slightly curved poles of bamboo, also lashed on, which serve as outrigger floats, giving the whole craft great stability.  Planks fixed across the central hull form seats for crew and passengers.  In the old days, when the boats were still commonly sailed, the bow was carved into a stylish representation of a sword fish head with round eyes, gaping jaw and a long bill.  As outboards have replaced sails the carved bow has also begun to disappear.  This year, on the beach at Tuban, I saw a flat-bottomed boat made from sheet plywood covered with a fibreglass skin.  I found myself wondering if this was really progress. 
The old man hopped out and beckoned to me, introducing me to the driver in the stern, holding the tiller arm of an incredibly old 25 hp Suzuki outboard.  He also introduced me to the young lad in the bow, whose job it would be to point out all the just-under-the-surface coral outcrops to Captain Ahab (Captain Wayan really maybe?) in the stern, as it was almost the bottom of the tide.  The speed of the current over the reef increased tremendously as we approached the only opening in the reef through which we could pass.  The passage out is not straight at this height of water and I began to recognise the necessity of the sharp-eyed lad in the bow who held out right or left hand to guide us through.  The group of surfers we passed near the end of the passage seemed content to sit on their boards and talk as we passed.  The water was too low to surf over the end of the reef where small waves built up and broke into foam almost immediately.  I recalled one surfer coming back through the grounds of the Inn a day or so past, dripping blood along the path from his shredded leg and thigh which must have been the result of an encounter with the sharp reef corals.  Further out another group of surfers caught the occasional wave as we passed, but they all dropped off the back well before it crested and fell forward. 
Still further around the reef, towards the end of the airport runway extension, we passed through a long loop of perhaps eight or nine boats, similar to ours, which were trolling for fish.  This would be about the location where I saw the boats as our in-bound plane approached for its landing two weeks ago.  Their trolling speed seemed to be quite high compared to that which I would use in gulf waters at home.  I guess that they were hoping to catch tuna or mackerel, the old man just called them ‘white fish’, but whatever they were they must be much faster swimmers than the snook we usually target.  I hope to see one caught but none are.  That’s fishing. 
In retrospect I am a little surprised at the relative calmness of the water here.  There was a small wind chop of 200 – 500 mm (a foot or so), and this on top of a long, low swell of about a metre (3’) coming all the way across the Indian Ocean and around the bottom corner of Java.  Not a drop of spray came aboard the boat, however. 

In a glass tank at the Dolphins Leather shop, and also at the S A Café, there are fine examples of Saratoga fish which are also caught in north Australian fresh and brackish estuary waters.  They are a favoured target of that notorious has-been footballer and fish kissing gabbler who haunts the TV on weekends.  These fish must be quite content to live in an aquarium as the one at Dolphins has been there for five years that I can remember, and they told me that it’s the same fish. 

No one, I’m sure, will be at all surprised if I report that, in my absence, the others had gone to the money changers and then intended to do ‘a bit of shopping’ before Happy Hour! 

I had another passion fruit and decide that they really are my favourite fruit, nice though others such as Salak, bananas, pineapple and mangosteens may be.  The passion fruit here are just a little smaller than a tennis ball, yellow-orange-brown in colour, with a softish eggshell like skin that you can break by pressing with your thumb nails.  They are usually tied up in threes with a thin piece of vine when you buy them from Matahari’s.  The taste is marvellous.  Out of this world.  If you’re lucky, when you open a ripe one by pressing all around the equator with your thumbs, the bottom half of the skin comes away cleanly, leaving a mound of flesh, juice and seeds standing up to be enveloped by your mouth.  A quick suck and the whole lot comes out of the top part of the skin and you’ve got a gob-full of the most delicious taste – that’s if you can fit it all in your gob.  If you can’t it just runs slowly down the sides of your chin and you have to scrape it up with your fingers and then lick them.  Ahhhhhh!
Bliss.
I’m dribbling.

It was Scot’s choice for dinner tonight as it was really his first full evening meal since he came over and shook off his jet-lag or whatever it was.  He elected Kin Khao and no one argued, happy to go back again.  We favour the upstairs area of the Kin Khao.  Its open in the front and therefore not air-conditioned but, with a slight breeze blowing across what used to be a waterfall wall its not too bad. 
Soups are from Rp 20-32,000. (A$4.30 – 6.90.)
Claire had Tom Kah Gai, spicy soup with chicken, mushroom and coconut milk and said that it was fantastic.  Her Cordon Bleu taste buds say it’s not chilli hot but lemongrass spicy and very tasty.  She also reported that the Crispy Spring Rolls really were crispy tonight.
My appetiser was Prawns in Crispy Pastry w/- sweet chilli sauce. Rp22,000, and the pastry really was crispy.  Why can’t they use it on their Spring rolls?  Maybe tonight they have.  Is there a different chef on tonight perhaps?  Hotter oil in the wok?  Who knows. 
My main course was Special Khao Pad;  fried rice, mixed vegetables and pork pieces.  Rp18,000, (A$3.90).  Lip smacking good. 
The Thai barbecue of pork spare ribs is Rp22,000. 
Grilled Beef
with seasoning, herbs and chilli is Rp20,500. 
Prawns are Rp170,000/Kg. and fish is Rp50,000/Kg. 
Salads are Rp15-25,000.
Main course sea foods are Rp22-32,000, curries Rp24-26,000, stir fries Rp15-26,000. 
Local beers (Bintang, Anker, San Miguel) are Rp14,000, (A$3.00).  Australian imports are Rp15,000. 
Cocktails range from Rp21,000 to Rp26,000. 

Generally we are much more pleased than we were last time. 
The only exception is that one of our party complained that if another of our party was allowed to get too close to your potatoes with a fork in his hand before you had your last half potato it tended to disappear much faster than you could eat it yourself. 


21.10.00

 

 

On to Day 15? This is the day that Claire and I visit the orphanage at Tuka. We will never forget it.
We find the Bali Rock Crystal deodorant, the Toilet Test emerges and disaster at Fat Yogis.

I am going to find this one hard to write as it covers our visit to an orphanage just north of Kuta, in a village called Tuka, a few kilometres off the road which goes to the Tanah Lot Temple. 
Thousands of tourists in Bali will have driven past, quite close but unaware that it’s there. 
It’s going to be hard to write about because you can’t help getting emotional about the circumstances of these kids, and also because the government seems to choose not to know it’s there.
 

 

Day 15. - Friday 29 September 2000

 

The ritual massage was at 7.30 today.  It seems to be getting later each day as we slip further into ‘Bali Time’. 
Adi has an ‘oleh oleh’ for us today.  It is a perfectly formed pink, purple and gleaming, white seashell.  Although it must weigh at least a kilo I know immediately it’s going into our already overweight cases. 
I’ve heard that all of the shells sold to tourists in Bali actually come from Timor these days.  How true this is I don’t know, nor does it matter to us much as far as this particular one goes because it will always be special. 

We had a quick dip in the pool on the way back to our rooms and, while Claire organises our gifts for the orphanage, I walked out to the front of the Inn to see if our friend Made Dera is there yet to drive us this morning. 
A couple of years back we used Made almost daily but last year he totally slipped through our plans.  Made works from the little elevated stand on the Holiday Inn corner of Jl Wana Segara, with perhaps half a dozen other guys.  I don’t think they own their vehicles as, at a few minutes notice, they usually seem to be able to get bigger or smaller and faster ones if the need arises. 
Made is short, with a bristling black moustache and thick, shiny, straight, jet-black hair.  He has a quiet voice and a quiet personality to go with it, but he has the typical (I think) Balinese sense of humour that breaks his face into a broad grin and makes his eyes sparkle when there is a joke around or a funny situation in the offing. 
His English is not Oxford or Cambridge, or even Bostonian or New York I suppose, but he’s easily understandable in a conversation and he knows his way around Bali.  He is a very smooth and careful driver which suits us fine as we like to relax and look around when we’re travelling, without having our minds jerked back into the vehicle as corners are taken a bit too fast or brakes are jumped on a bit too hard. 
He has three children, the oldest a girl, Wayan of course, aged 21 and two boys, I Made, 19 and I Nyoman who is 15. 

I think we got away about 9.30 as the morning rush of traffic had subsided to the normal daily rush of traffic through Kuta, Legian and Seminyak.  Eventually we took the right turn onto Jl Raya Kerobokan again, the same road that we took on our northern trip a few days ago.  Somewhere along this road we were slowed, and eventually stopped in traffic that had been halted way up ahead of us, perhaps by an accident.  Made swung us off to the right, along some back roads and we eventually came into Kerobokan from the east rather than from the south. 
To our left as we approached I could still see an apparently stationary line of traffic, perhaps 10 minutes after we pulled out into the side roads.  In hindsight it may have been quicker to Tuka if we had gone straight ahead to the west when we got to Kerobokan but we turned right through the town on Jl Raya Kerobokan again. 
We were looking for the shop that made the Bali Rock Crystal deodorant but it turned out that we had missed it in our detour and left it until the trip back later in the day to search again. 
On through Batu, Celuk, Pendem and Gaji before the sharp left turn that leads to Tegah.  From here we have to turn back towards our destination, but passing through some very picturesque small-farming country and tiny clusters of rustic houses rewards us.  It’s only about three or four kilometres to Tuka and we are there too soon for my liking.  We stopped at a small village shop to ask where the orphanage was, only to find that it was just next door behind a substantial wall.  Made drove us in through the gateway and parked in a little parking area opposite a small but sparkling, clean shop.  We were later to find out that this was the first day that the shop had been open and we could have been its very first customers.

The purpose of the shop is to provide cash to the orphanage, needed to pay fees to the childrens’ schools.  The Indonesian government does not provide any funds for this orphanage as Dutch Franciscans run it and not Moslems, who do get some government support in their orphanages. 
This orphanage must be totally self-supporting, even being required to pay full fees for all the kids’ education at government schools. 
It was disappointing to find that, with one vocal exception
('Daisy' if I remember correctly) and a few sickies, all the kids were at school this morning.  We should have phoned beforehand, of course, but at least we were still welcomed by the staff and were able to look around all of the facilities which we would not have been able to do if they were full of kids. 

We were met by the Dutch nun who was in charge and ushered into the reception area in the office building.  Seated on comfortable chairs we explained why we had come and gave her the bags of goods that we had brought.  We were thanked warmly but later embarrassed by the inadequacy of what we brought.  Inadequate in terms of what we could have brought and inadequate in terms of what the real needs of this place are.
In tortuous English the nun described the activities of the home, how they received children (including from the government), the number and ages of the children and their schooling. 

The welcome cold drinks and homemade sweet biscuits we were offered and gratefully consumed, particularly the drinks, left us wondering which child’s snack we might be eating. 

The atmosphere gets you that way. 

It seems that the greatest need of the orphanage is money to pay the government school fees.  Our pencils, papers, erasers, glue sticks, coloured markers and other school items were certainly welcome as were the hair ribbons and shoe polish, but of little use if the kids can’t go to school. 
The single little three-year-old girl who was not at school, and who clung to the nun’s robes most of the time, thought the Chuppa Chups were better than all the school stuff, anyway.  It was uncomfortable when she wanted to kiss our hands regularly afterwards. 

We were asked to sign the thick visitors’ book before we went to tour the buildings.  It had only one other entry in English that I could see in the pages that I turned back.

All I could to think to write in the ‘Comments’ column was, -
      “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.” 

No, I’m not a religious person. 
As we left I still could not think of anything more appropriate to have written. 

It’s hard for us to imagine what life would be like without having any possessions at all, but this seems to be the way things are here. 
The children sleep in segregated dormitories on bunk beds.  The only sign of individualism, if you can call it that, was seen in the girl’s dorm where many of the beds had identical, bright yellow and blue teddy bears propped against the pillows.  The bunk beds here were pushed together in groups of about five or six.  It’s not hard to imagine the kids need for some sort of companionship in their world. 
There is an eating room next to a large kitchen. 
A wall with water pipes sticking out of it about head high serves as the showers.  The rows of toilets are on the other side of the wall. 
A tailor with a sewing machine makes and repairs school uniforms and a few clothes. 
Next to the dormitories are rooms with large cupboards.  In these cupboards, grouped according to size, are all of the clothes.  When a child gets up in the morning they go to the cupboard which contains clothes of their size and get dressed.  As they grow out of these clothes they go to the next cupboard which holds larger clothes. 
I don’t know what they do if they go to a cupboard and there are no clothes left. 
There is a homework/study room. 
All of the floors are cement. 
There is a chapel in a wing of the office building. 
It is clean but it is bare of all softening details except the fresh paint in the reception area. 

It is stark! 

And it is home to about 100 children aged from about 3 years. 

Unlike other orphanages in Indonesia the children can stay here until they believe that they have prospects of an income and decide themselves to leave. 

To live there is totally beyond my comprehension. 


What would you have written in the ‘Comments’ column of their Visitors Book? 

As we left I gave the nun the money that I had in my wallet.  Little that it was, I felt better about leaving.  We will have to stop in Kuta to change money to pay Made.  We will also have to go back again next year, better prepared knowing their needs. 

 

  

A lush road-side farm near the village of Tuka.

 

Late lunch is a pizza by the pool.  I don’t think we’d survive for too long if it were not for the instant relief of the pool.  Civilisation returns, and exists, within the precincts of this little puddle of water.  A coconut weaving demonstration is today’s amusement, with big and little containers for boiling rice made before our very eyes.  They have a long woven rope tail so that they can be easily pulled out of the pot I suppose.  A western style woven handbag fascinated everyone, especially when the final cut along the centre of the frond rib was sliced to make a spring-shut opening in the top.  When coconut flesh was passed around I couldn’t resist and lined up for seconds.  It felt buttery as you chewed it and yet it was sweet and crisp.  

I decided to have a shower and an afternoon nap, and found the shower was barely luke warm.  The same problem occurred yesterday when the showers were cold at night, and I can remember the same thing happening in past years on one or two days.  I think the heating system is solar and probably designed for the hotel when its needs were less than they are today.  I like to finish with the shower cold, but I cool it down slowly.  It’s no fun starting off with it frigid.  I went back to the pool to whisper the news to Claire, not wanting everyone else to start a stampede back to their rooms, and loose the little warmth that was left. 

A quarter of Mistri’s pineapple from the fridge was enough to convince me that, if passion fruit is my favourite, then Pineapple must be a close second.  Perhaps it’s just a matter of the bird in the hand . . . Or should that be the fruit in the hand? 

Nyoman told me that he had finished Scot’s Grob 115 carving, reluctantly I think because that meant the last of the Chuppa Chups.  He handed it to me wrapped in clear cellophane, held off the still damp paint with a slice of bamboo resting on little blocks of Styrofoam at each end.  It looked as good as I’d hoped it would be and I think he’ll be pleased when I give it to him tonight. 

A quick trip into Matahari’s for something or other and while I was there I got a cap embroidered with ‘Fast Eddy’ for my next door neighbour.  Eddy often talks to Max through his kitchen windows, and when Max is lonely at night if we’re away he wanders over to have a conversation with Eddy.  If he opens the side gate Max is into his flat like greased lightning.  Eddy works at a re-cycling centre and I hope he’ll wear the cap to work.  I’m sure he’ll like it more than the carved wooden Komodo Dragon that I brought home for him last year.  That turned out to be more than just a bit of a bomb I think. 

Fat Yogi’s for dinner – just to be different and because its had a mention or two on the Forum.  Different it turned out to be!  Fat Yogis has a step down from Poppies Lane to floor level.  There were only two other people there but it was a bit early perhaps so no one gave much thought to this oft-repeated warning. 
While the others began putting two tables together for the seven of us I wandered off to the toilets out the back.  In my notes I have graded them 3/10.  This is really only a look-and-say system which should be more formalised perhaps. 

Think about this: 
   * If there is more than one toilet, or a toilet and a separate urinal for men, then 1 point is awarded. 
   * If the place is clean then up to four points.  Perhaps this should be five so there is no sitting on the fence (just a figure if speech you understand) as there could be with four points.  Give it 3, 4 or 5 points and its clean to some degree;  0, 1 or 2 and its crappy at some level.  (Is that a good choice of word?) 
   * If there is toilet paper provided, another 1 point, If it’s good, absorbent quality then another 1 point. 
   * If the flushing system actually works, 1 point.  Another 1 point if your deposit has really disappeared afterwards. 
   * If there is a hand basin 1 point; soap 1 point; hot water 1 point; paper hand towels or hot air dryer 1 point.  I don’t think I’d give anything for cotton cloth towels, even if they do occasionally show a glimpse of greyish white in one inaccessible corner. 
Now that’s a total of 14 points.  It should give a fairly broad evaluation and so allow a good range of assessments with an emphasis on cleanliness of the facility and cleanliness of the user, ‘sans event’ as the French might say. 

Perhaps I might devise a chart for my home page which prospective travellers could print off and make up into a little pad for their wallet or handbag?  Perhaps a sensitive commercial printer would make up pads with a headline where the establishment’s name could be filled in, along with the date; made in self-carboning duplicates so a carbon copy could be left with the establishment’s management?  I could have just started an industry!  I’d better copyright this! 

On a serious note, in case you don’t think I’m serious about noxious toilets, when you do come across an establishment with GOOD toilets, then I think you say so.  The opposite is even more important perhaps.  The manager or owner should be rewarded that much at least. 

Back to Fat Yogis. 
By the time I got back the waiter was just wandering over to take away the spare chair but there was no sign of menus or drinks so I asked at the bar/counter as I passed.  ‘Certainly Sir’, I was assured, but nothing else happened for a long time. 
They arrived just as we were deciding to go somewhere else. 
Oh, if only they had been a bit later some of us would think later!

Bruschetta Mediterraneo Rp8,500. 
Pan Focaccia Savoia Rp12,000. 
Soups Rp8,000. 
Salads Rp15,000. 
Pastas Rp20-25,000. 
Guacamole Rp10,000. 
Grills Rp20-25,000. 
Asian Rp10-15,000. 
Pizza Rp25-30,000. 
Sandwiches Rp10-20,000. 
Desserts Rp4-11,000. 
Beer Rp8-10,000. 
Soft drinks Rp3,500 – 5,000,  Lassis Rp8,000. 
Champagne Rp300,000,  Cocktails Rp10-25,000. 

The Focaccia was good but the Bruschetta lacked filling; a thin wipe in the middle with a small knife is not enough!
The soup was good too but the chicken was described in a-typical, un-restrained and un-repeatable terminology. 
“How can anyone destroy noodles?” was a muttered expletive overheard.  “Even I can cook noodles!” from a non-cook. 
The pizza was great and the lasagne was tasty but overcooked. 
The steak was well cooked, as ordered, but not up to class B rating according to our red meat expert.  “Thankfully small” was mentioned. 
I found my Gado gado a plateful with an interesting presentation.  All of the vegetables were individually arranged around the central mountain of rice.  I think I prefer the traditional way. 
In summary this was not a happy evening and it is most unlikely that we will ever return to see if it’s better on another occasion. 
While we were there only four other patron came in.  Perhaps we should have read, and acted, on the signs when we first entered. 

On the way out of Poppies Lane to catch a taxi Chris and I stuck our heads into Poppies Restaurant which has been variously blessed and berated on the Forum.  We were instantly and warmly welcomed as we stepped through the gate, and this did not change when we indicated that we were only looking.  We were escorted a short distance into the garden setting and shown the attractive arrangement of outdoor tables with flickering candles and party lights in the trees.  The menus we saw were clean and seemed extensive.  The prices were higher than we had just paid but did not seem too exorbitant at the time.  If, indeed, you do get ‘ripped off’ at Poppies then it seems as if it would be done to you in a nice way, and in a setting of tranquil ambience. 

We had a quick trip home to the Inn in a red cab.  The driver put the meter on when he was asked to, but obviously wouldn’t have otherwise. 

I had an early night, which is not unusual, but some of the others found the attractions of the Pool Bar, followed by the Ratna Satay Bar followed by O’Brien’s, were too much to ignore. 

24.10.00

 

 


On to Day 16.  Today we have withdrawal symptoms, rescue the shower head and get the last sight of Bali.  We have mixed feelings about the flight home, but ol' blue eyes gets done over first . . . .

Photos of Days 5 to 10 again - or the photos of the trip north to Bedugul, Lovina and Singaraja.


 

Day 16. - Saturday 30 September 2000.
 

The Last Day – well, almost.

We fly out at 1.00 am.  Yes that’s one hour after midnight, tomorrow I suppose really.  If there's anything we haven't done so far then we’ve got to get it done today. 

OK !

Let’s get this list organised and start at the top. 

Have a massage.

Today I’m not wearing a watch until later tonight, but I think the massage, foot scrub, rubbing and hand-holding must have gone on for nearly two hours.  Whenever I looked up, even if it was only to see who was doing what, my head was just gently but firmly pushed back down again.  In the end it was me who was exhausted I think.  I recall trying hard to focus on what was happening around me, so that I could recall this time, by sound as much as sight, but it was difficult. 
I have brief memories of the first touch on the soles of my feet briefly tickling, the kaleidoscope of leaf shadows moving on the sand, and later, through eyes narrowed to slits, the same pattern of black leaves moving against a dark blue sky. 
The thumping sound of breaking waves and the soft hissssss as the water ran up and down the sand, sometimes with a rattle as the pieces of dead coral were tumbled together by the outward surge. 
That peculiar high-pitched chatter of the girls further down the beach and the way it changes pitch when a potential customer is seen approaching.  There is a period of relative peace if they troop off to make a sale. 
The cool breeze of course, bringing smells of oil and lotions one minute and the smell of smoke from a smouldering leaf and litter fire another.  An occasional gust moves the remaining hairs on my cool pate from time to time. 
The gruffer voice of the Security Guard is engaging everyone in conversation this morning.  He’s probably telling them that the Inspector is coming this morning and they’d better be wearing their compulsory licence/ID tags that usually lay discarded by their sides.  My imagination prefers the thought that he is telling everyone that he has posed for me this morning and his excellent photographs will be going home to Australia with me.  Out of the corner of my eye I caught him once, repeating the ‘standing rigidly and watching steadfastly out to sea, with his head turned sideways-just-so, and inclined slightly forward’ pose. 
Strangely, even the rhythmic, mechanical thuds of the hotel’s pool pump further up the path seem to fit very naturally into all of this. 
Wayan knows where all the troublesome places are of course and in those moments of fierce attack she homes in on these like a pigeon coming to it’s loft to roost.  Just when I feel that I must groan in protest, or pull away from the torture of the probing thumb she reverts to the flat palm of her hand working in the opposite direction bringing peace and ease.  Just when you think it’s safe to back into the deep blue pool of semi-aware bliss, however, the thumbs go unerringly to the first tight spot. 
At times I find that I am looking at the weft and warp of the coarse fabric in the cloth covering the mattress, like the hairs on the end of my nose the other day.  The next minute my eyes close and an effort of concentration is needed to open them. 
At times I can feel every drop of fresh oil as it hits the skin of my arm or leg or back.  At other times I do not recognise the insistent patting on my shoulder which signals it’s time to turn over. 
Such contrasts of sensations which I don’t think I can associate with any other activity I’ve experienced. 
But did I say ‘turn over’?  Now there is an exercise in mental confusion and muscular un-coordination which is only surpassed by trying to sit up at the end to have the final thumping of the back and shoulders.  It takes minutes at times, and she waits patiently, helping when movement ceases totally.

Massage on the last morning is both a joyful time and a time that is bordering on the traumatic.  Everything we have brought over and not totally used we take down to the girls.  Old towels, nail polish and lip sticks, skin creams, shampoos, soaps, champagne and big brandy-and-dry glasses, sandals and socks, old shorts and T-shirts, biscuits and dips, anything and everything almost, except for some wineglasses we save for Ruben Fransiskus at the Pantai. 
The girls know we are going of course and, after sharing out the goodies, our massages are a full mixture of fierce passion and gentleness.  They have to last us until next year after all. 

The final parting is a time for hiding wet eyes.  Half way down the beach towards the Inn I have to turn back for that last look and wave, but they are gone, back behind the trees and the wall. 
Occasionally now, as I walk with Max in the morning, I think of them there.  They are putting out their little offerings on the beach of Paradise Island and chirping to one another.  And I’m here. 

Cynics will no doubt see in their regret, that their well-paying and regular customers are leaving.  And it may be. I prefer to think of it as a parting of friends, a separation of immeasurable, even inconceivable distances.  Certainly on their part the distances are unachievable. 
I want to believe that we all look forward to the time that we will meet again, to cries of, ‘Papa, you come!’, ‘Where Chrees?’, Where Claire?’, ‘Where Nell?’ 

 

   Pappa, you go home!

 

I also have to take two of last year’s watches to Fast Eddy, (Gang Samudra No.15X, off Jl Kartika Plaza near the Tuban end, Ph756 755).  Yes, we often get the Bali watches repaired.  Sometimes it seems to be a very simple thing and they do it quickly while you watch, but you never quite see what they do.  At other times the old case and band takes a complete new ‘works’ and you wonder if it’s really worth it. 
Eddy is the true master of repairs.  Tony Marrone has had our bag of junk for a week, and in the end has given up on these two.  One only needs a catch on the band and the other only worked for a week.  ‘By this afternoon is OK’, says Eddy.  True to his word, just before dinner at the Pantai tonight, I am able to pick them up, ticking away quite happily.  The cost is Rp 20,000. 

By the way, if you have a collection of watches, sort of a one-for-every-week-of-the-year thing, or more as someone I know has, you can save the batteries running down when they’re not in use simply by pulling the winding knob out to the first stop.  This acts as a switch and, the next time you want to wear it, you just set the time correctly and push the winder in to its normal position.  Saves a lot of battery changing. 

There is no doubt that the grapevine works better than the telephone in this place.  We had some initial trouble finding Eddy in his new shop and had purchased a number of watches before we found him.  Eddy knew who we had purchased watches from (within the Tuban area), what sort they were and how much we’d paid.  He would hold out a blue faced CK watch and say, ‘You got this one from Tony with pink face. I give you this one cheaper’, and he’d be exactly right. 
While I’m seeing Eddy the others (It’s been suggested that they should be known as ‘The Cabinet’ but I’m not sure that this would not ruffle hierarchical feathers.) had their last pig-out at the Inn’s breakfast smorgasbord.  And a real smorgasbord it is.  I’ve seen youngsters sit down to eight helpings of different fare, seen young adults wrap croissants and other pastries into serviettes and pop them into bags for lunch later, even make up sandwiches, and seen gentler folk stagger when trying to rise from the table. 
I tried to make a habit of skipping breakfast, to save time and to keep the old body moving a little more lightly through the morning.  Most of the time I succeeded in this.  When I didn’t, I tried to skip lunch.  Most of the time I did succeed in this.  When I didn’t, I tried to skip dinner and never succeeded in that. 

Today I refuse to wear a watch.  I don’t want to know what time it is until later tonight when I know it’s getting closer to flight time. 

I had a swim to cool off as it was by now late morning.  A shower followed while the water was still hot.  I write up some notes and suddenly feel hungry – it must be lunchtime.  Sandwiches I think. 
Back to the pool to join Claire and I changed my mind, ordering fish and chips instead.  When they came I wished I hadn’t.  I’m not a fish eater like Claire, not that there is much fish here – mainly batter and lots of oil.  The chips are nice and I like the ketchup, but I wish I’d ordered sandwiches. 

I’m feeling very flat.  It’s last day blues. 

I retire back to the room for a lay down and a back stretch.  I read the Jakarta post from front to back, which is not hard as it’s only eight broadsheet pages.  I removed the shower rose and extension and called for a plumber, with difficulty, to put the shower back to normal so I can take my long-neck one home with me again.  When the little man in blue coveralls arrives he looked in disbelief at the hole in the wall where there should be a shower.  After looking at me with equal disbelief he hurried off without saying a word.  I made a mental note to check the final bill for ‘Shower, 1, New, Missing – Rpxx,xxx.’ 
Shortly he returned with the original equipment and fitted it with a big grin from ear to ear and nearly beyond. 
I gave him our last Chuppa Chup. 

I glanced at the watches on the dresser.  3.30 pm here – 5.00 pm at home.  Max will soon be looking for his dinner.  I spent a moment or two anticipating his welcome.  It felt good.  Perhaps it is time to go. 

The rest of the day is a bit of a fog really.  I know that we must have got the bags packed.  Well, Claire must have.  I know when the only thing I can do is get in the way so I keep out of the way.  It seems to go best that way. 
We probably went to Happy Hour, even though it may not have been. 
We checked out and paid the bill for the extras.  Lunches, dinners, laundry and so on. 
We certainly went to the Pantai for our now traditional last night dinner and to say goodbye again to Fransiskus, the waiters and the cooks and I picked up the repaired watches from Eddy. 

The Inn transported us to the airport and I can remember waiting at the check-in counter as the man looked again at the little digital numbers that showing baggage weight, and we had almost as much in cabin luggage I thought. 
But no problems, it all goes through. 

Upstairs to Immigration and downstairs to the bus. 

Upstairs again to the rear seats in the Garuda A-300. 

Buckle up, out with the barley sugars and the map. 

We were pushed out backwards onto the taxiway and the engine’s note increased as we moved forward. 

It is 1.10 am.


24.10.00

 

 

 

Getting Back.

 

Bali Story 2000 - The Last Post.

Sunday 31 September 2000.

This is the final chapter of the personal diary of this trip.

It covers the last minutes “in” Bali and the flight back home.



Erratum Day 16.

I choked up yesterday, and forgot that I’d promised to tell the tale of the second time ‘ol blue eyes got taken for a ride this trip. 
It’s a salutary warning to all who might be tested at the time of their greatest vulnerability. 
Coming to or going from Bali, it seems that many Aussies tip the airport porters with gold coloured one-dollar coins.  Some might think that this is a bit cheap of us so I’d better hasten to say that the tip is usually a handful of coins, to get rid of the weight in the pocket as much as anything I suppose.  The porters are polite of course, and will not tell of the difficulty this places upon them as they cannot change the coins into local rupia – even at the banks.  The coins simply become a weight in their pockets, and a great one at that after a week or so - of no value at all unless they can find another Aussie who will swap them for changeable notes of the realm.  So they ask outbound travellers to change them, often at a good rate of say six coins for a five dollar note, or twelve coins for a tenner. 
And ‘ol blue eyes was so approached. 
Now my young mate Chris always tells the Balinese whom he often engages in conversation, that blue eyes are no good because they wont work in the dark and therefore brown eyes are best.  But I can’t really use that as an excuse because I knew about the scam and still fell for it.  For those of you whom don’t know it this is how it goes. 
When you’re under a bit of pressure, at the check in with overweight bags, or trying to round up the kids, or filling in an immigration form, or simply tired or bored from waiting, anywhere that you might not be at your sharpest, he will appear at your side asking you to exchange coins for notes.  If you hesitate the exchange rate will be increased with another coin added to the pile in his hand.  Hell, eventually you weaken and do the swap.  Good on ya!  You’ve just helped a struggling chap who really needed it.  And he probably did but he’s helped himself a bit more than you think.  Even if you check the coins ten seconds later and find the almost identical Rp500 (10 cent value) coins at the bottom of the pile instead of the 1 dollar coins you expect, he’s already disappeared into the crowd. 
I didn’t press for a better rate and only got two dud coins in the exchange but I bet if I’d haggled, every extra “dollar” coin added to the bottom of the pile would have been another dud. 

So what do you do? 

I could only laugh and yell at his back, wherever it was out there, ‘You rotten bugger!’ 

     :-)


Day 17 – Getting back.

1.10 am.  The Garuda Airbus Industrie A-330 rolled steadily along the taxiway of Ngurah Rai Airport, heading west towards the end of the runway extension that pokes out into the Bali Sea, and ending at the reef off the southern end of Tuban beach.  Or is it the northern end of Jimbaran Bay? 
It doesn’t really matter because I’m catching my last glimpse of Bali through a starboard window towards the rear of the aircraft.  The little lights of the fishing boats outside the reef appear first, bright against the absolute blackness of the night sky.  The lights don’t appear to be moving but without a background against which their position can be measured that’s just an assumption.  When we’ve seen them from the Pantai restaurant at night they seem stationary although they could be drifting slowly with the wind or tide.  I’ve never really discovered what these boats off Tuban are catching.  Someone suggested to me once that some, at least, net reef fish for tropical salt-water aquariums. 
As my window passed the end of the International Terminal this little vista of fishing boat lights expanded in a flash to encompass all the lights along the beaches and the narrow strip of development immediately behind them.  Looking down from this elevation I’m sure that I could see the lights of the Pantai, flooding down onto the beach.  The breakwaters along Tuban stood out in clear black silhouette against the flickering sparkles of the lights reflecting off the water behind them.  Above Kuta the glow of light was like a street-lamp halo on a foggy evening, with the same tinges of colour at the edges, probably made by a few neon signs and the red tail lights of cars.  Kuta is still raging. 
Beyond Legian the coastline faded into the black of the background night as the scattered lights of Seminyak marked the end of the developed tourist strip. 
I had a brief period of wondering what our various friends were doing.  I doubted that the Pantai was still open, and the watch sellers Fast Eddy and Tony Marrone would be closed too.  Shayaster and Setias
ta (whose spherical features are a constant reminder of the Bali Moon liqueurs he mixes so adroitly) may still be mixing them at the Inn, either in the Ratna Satay Bar or O’Brien’s.  Yoyan at ENI tailors could be working if he still has orders to fulfil – I’m sure work comes before sleep.  The beach girls will surely be asleep, as they will be up in 4 or 5 hours. 
We turned the corner at the taxiway, onto the runway proper and the soft growl of those Rolls Royce engines rose quickly, the thrust pushing me back into the seat and the massive weight of the aircraft down the track at an unbelievably increasing rate.  If you don’t enjoy any other part of a flight you must be impressed at least with this physical display of absolute power. 
The view through the window quickly changed to a similar one, though on a smaller scale, of the sweep of Jimbaran Bay. 
You don’t get much time to absorb the new view however.  The aircraft rotates on its main wheels and almost instantly the judder felt in the floor and seats stops.  That mechanical whine of hydraulic pumps seems to be felt as much as heard, and the wheels are coming up.  It is 1.15 am. 

Physical contact with Bali ends.  There are only visual, mental, and emotional ties remaining. 

The aircraft banks gently to the right, taking up the course for home.  Through the back edge of the window I can see the outline of the long straight finger of Tanjung Benoa, the roads and the lights of the hotels in blocks.  Further around there are fewer lights and the coast of south-eastern Bali is etched in light beaches and the glistening of surf against cliffs, edging the dark softness of the barren and desolate interior of the Bukit Peninsula. 

The scene slowly disappears behind, too far to be seen even with my neck twisted as far around as it will go and my face pressed against the Perspex window. 

Now visual contact is lost.  Only the connections of the mind remain. 

It’s 3763 Km from Denpasar to Adelaide.  We are flying at 978 kph at a height of 3,700 metres, 11,300 feet.  The little aeroplane on the TV screen, flying along the red line shows that we will cross the Australian coast north of Port Headland, tracking south of the Olgas.  Our ETA is 7.11 am.  How accurate is all this I wonder? 

I slowly curled up under the blanket and went to sleep. 

When I woke up, or was I woken up?, there was a continent of rippled clouds underneath us, sectored by spaces which look like rivers and lakes.  Through the other window the rising sun is in harmony with the idea of ‘the Red Centre’.  A bright yellow sky, deepening through orange, rests on a fiery crimson horizon underlined by the black earth. 
It is simply spectacular! 

Chilled orange juice comes around and we have brushes and toothpaste to brighten up the fuzz around the taste buds. 

Somewhere towards the horizon, below the clouds that I can see through the right hand window, is the Transcontinental Railway and further still the Eyre Highway.  Nothing is visible but the swirling clouds forming circular patterns that instantly remind me of pictures from space that I have seen in the National Geographic.  As the sun rises higher the clouds begin to dissolve revealing increasing vistas of the earth underneath.  There is a myriad of isolated and interlocking lakes, soldiering in long trails parallel to our path.  They look wet but I’m sure that’s an illusion in this country. 

The right wing gently rises as I watch.  A gentle turn around some unknown location on the track, so slow that with my attention focussed inside the cabin for a moment I am not aware of it.  I look out again to confirm that our heading is still changing. 

There are lumpy brown hills, their eastern slopes alight under the rising sun.  Roads that I imagine are pink spear through the dark, blue grey scrub.  Rectangular checker-boards of cleared paddocks with parallel ridges of bare, red sand hills running along them – then more scrub, olive drab to offset the gleaming touch of sunlight. 

Later cultivated paddocks, still with the red sand ridges running across them, making bright lines against the dull paddocks.  Looking away from our track the gaps between the clouds are hidden and the panorama of cloudbanks runs unevenly into the haze on the horizon. 

Suddenly the sunlight picks out a stand of gleaming white silos, the first sign of human existence to join the earth tracks. 

Perceptibly the nose of the aircraft lowers and the roar of the engines, that has been with us for so long that it is almost unheard, drops to a muted whisper, a relative whisper really.  Conversationers are momentarily caught out by the silence and words escape across the cabin rows before voices drop in volume to a new level. 

We are approaching home. 

As the aircraft drops lower the view through the window is across the clouds rather than down through them.  The new world becomes a tossed ocean of white and grey.  Not as flat as it appeared before now that we are closer to it, but deeply divided with soaring crests that rise above us in the distance.  The nose dips again and the downward angle now becomes apparent.  Green fields appear when a break allows clear vision, a quarry, and then a coast.  A township with more white silos in the distance, forming the tail feathers to the arrow of a T shaped jetty running from light green waters to a dark blue turning circle at the end of a distinct channel.  The surface of the sea is flecked with white splashes on dark ridges as the cloud thins to an occasional fluff throwing purple shadows onto the dark green sea. 
The cloud rises up to meet us with grey mists that whip past the window.  The view is instantly matt grey with narrow gaps through which, eventually, another coast appears, lined with creeks and swathes of mangrove swamps, their edges sweeping in towards the coast here and darting back towards the fields in little prongs that follow creeks.  The sunlight reflecting up through the trees is like the flash of a mirror racing along with us. 
Little houses with grey rainwater tanks.  Salts pans and black roads with visibly moving cars and trucks.  Almost instantly, across a broad and sandy shoal water, appear buildings, side by side, displacing the smooth mat of bright green.  We bank steeply to the left, seemingly away from where I now know our destination lies.  As we level out the familiar forms of the Adelaide Hills slide across the window.  The foothills, another quarry, much bigger this time, a power distribution station, a reservoir and strings of little dams joined together by shimmering lines that wriggle crookedly along bright green valley bottoms and cross tree lined roads. An enormous, water filled quarry appears and disappears in an instant, so close after the previous panoramas that I have become used to that it seems I could just step out onto the edges.
A long, even steeper turn to the right, the engines just a murmur in the silence of the cabin.  This must be the approach over the Modbury Beacon.  With ever increasing speed the taller buildings of the northern Adelaide suburbs begin to flash by under the trembling wing as we sink lower.  Intersecting roads, round-a-bouts, tennis courts, a swimming pool.  Factory roofs. 

The mechanical whirring again and the flaps depress along the trailing edge of the wing.  The wind noise rises in volume with the tremble through the floor and seat.  Flatter ground with more factories, narrow tree-lined streets with regular spacing of house roofs, red, green and white replacing shining green as the dominant colour, dual highways, lines of cars stopped at intersections.  More mechanical noises and vibrations as the wheels come down, with the feeling of that comforting ‘clunk’ as they lock.  The familiar sights of Henley Beach Road, my old school, our own roof and the clear panels on my workshop.  Marion Road is a sense rather than a sight, the boundary, the bitumen in sharp lines streaking back from under the wing.  Bump, rumble, serious engine roaring and forward pressure against the seat belt. 

We’re 4 minutes after the ETA predicted when we left Ngurah Rai. 
It’s 7.15 am here and a ¼ to 6 in Bali where another day is also beginning, but without us. 

It might as well be a universe away.

Immigration, Duty Free, Customs.  We have all of our wooden purchases packed in one cotton bag with a draw string top.  Claire puts it on the bench and the Uniform looks down, then up at her.  She smiles.  Each piece is unwrapped and minutely inspected, a small torch illuminating the hollows of bamboo and deeply carved pieces before they are wrapped again.  Finished at last. 
I looked up to follow Uniform’s gaze along the line that is forming behind us.  His gaze swung back to Claire. 
‘Any more?’ he asks. 
‘Isn’t that enough? she replies. 
‘OK’. 

Uniform looks at me and I swing the Duty Free bag up to the bench.  Uniform shakes his head and waves me by. 
I don’t blame him 
I’m relieved to be through and really ready to go home. 

Emma is waiting.  Hugs of welcome and then hugs of goodbye for the other travellers. 

‘Trolleys Ho!’ into the car park. 
As I approach the car I can see Maxie’s head silhouetted against the light of the back window.  As I get closer I can see it is fuzzy around the edges and I know his tail is going at nineteen to the dozen.  Talk about the tail wagging the dog!  I open the door and he springs out, so excited he can’t make up his mind who to go to first.  Around in circles, around the car, just around on the spot. 

Briefly I wonder if there is a dog in Bali that would behave like this at the approach of humans. 

It’s only a short kilometre drive home, five or six minutes.  When the car door is opened Max is out, racing laps around the back yard, only stopping when Priscilla rouses herself from the bilbergia patch to roll on the concrete drive for a tummy rub. 

It’s nice to go away, as an old friend says, but it’s nice to come home too. 

The end.   Really.



25.10.00

 

    I'm watching while Mum fixes my crook bunny.

 

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