Posts Tagged ‘Bali’

The Beach resort and large Stomachs.

January 10, 2015
Holiday fun at Port Macquarie.

Holiday fun at Port Macquarie.

We came back last Thursday from 5 days at Port Macquarie. It used to be a small town about 400 Km North of Sydney. Now it has grown into a large town with own airport and is overrun by hordes of sun and beach seeking tourists during the summer months, especially during the Christmas school holiday. We too went there as tourists and had booked a 3bedroom apartment. The building was called North-Point and bravely admitted to being a ‘resort’. The resort title was somewhat overstated. It did have a ping pong table and a pool with barbeque as a concession to recreational features. I mustn’t be too chagrined!

The apartments are being advertised as being air-conditioned and well equipped. The combination lounge-dining-kitchen did feature one of those wall mounted air conditioners. I seem to always be switching those types of air cons on and off continually. They blow cold air down on my knees at a rate that seems to vacillate at its own selfish will. Their remotes, as a bonus, are often incoherent with little things indicating mysterious options. The rest of the apartment had ceiling fans, a much preferred option. I like the reassurance of whirring fans. Perhaps seated on a cane chair one could easily drift into a Somerset Maugham at Raffles adventure. A kind of Razor’s Edge recall. In any case, with fans you can chose ‘low or high’, so simple.

Our five days at Port Macquarie, after reflection, made for a somewhat minor observation. Holiday makers, especially the beach and surf fans seemed to have grown in size! Our apartment was on the second floor of a ten story building. Each floor would have five or six entrances to other apartments. There was a continuous movement and shuffling in the corridors of people clad in skimpy bathers. Christmas holidays in Australia traditionally always included entire families on the beach and swimming. In earlier times, it was the rent of a sea-side cottage, the caravan or camping ground. Today, many seek Bali, Thailand, or, if staying home, go for the ‘resort’. Well, we chose the ‘resort with ping pong table’.

A much lamented complaint by overseas visitors in Australia is the lack of availability of Wi-Fi. Of that we were not disappointed. The resort did not have Wi Fi but did offer the name of a provider, who, for a cost, sold different packs of access to the Internet. We tried several restaurants but all offered no Wi Fi. Now, last time in Bali, the waitresses would politely ask if they could type in the Wi Fi code on your device, all part of the service. Same in Koi Samui- Thailand. North-point resort at Port Macquarie did not even gave an excuse. Of course, for us and our grandkids it was a bonus. Instead of tablet fiddling, it was swimming or table tennis, water slide and strawberry picking on a farm.

They, the tourists, came or entered the lifts all day till late in the evening. You could not leave the place without being confronted by swimmers. The lifts stated a maximum of fifteen people. Perhaps when this building was erected people were still of a moderate size. I felt like printing a sheet stating that 8 might be the maximum now. The bathers would have normal limbs but when the lifts opened up, one would be almost pushed aside by stomachs appearing first followed by the bather. There was no modesty, coyness, reticence or any kind of holding back. Why would they? Oh no, everyone was large now. It is normal. I am the freak in my long skinny RM Williams stock-yard jeans and heavy boots. Not them.

A good time was held by all. Daughter and grandchildren enjoyed themselves. I played table tennis and was surprised how my form had slipped. I used to always have a good way of putting enough spin on the ball for the opposing player to miss a return hit. All gone now. In fact, with my dodgy eyesight the ball slipped past the bat on a few occasions. How dreadful this matter of ageing. Still, I loved the salt and pepper calamari. The reason for large stomachs soon became clear. All day and at all hours people now eat. They eat while swimming, walking, driving, crossing the road, even talking. Entire streets, towns are taken up by roving eaters. You can almost even hear it.

Eating has become our raison d’être.

Me, no complain.

Mr Hoover; Look what you have done!

November 15, 2014

First flush of love

First flush of love

One of my all time heroes is Quinten Crisp. He proudly stated that in having lived for over four decades in a London bedsit, he never once cleaned it. “After a while, all dust just settled in the corners of my room just like snow.” You could not define this more poetically, could you? How utterly sensible and wise. The advent of so many suffering with respiratory lung troubles is now seen as a problem asescerbated by the overtly cleanliness and obsessive use of Pine-o-Clean and other disinfectants, killers of benevolent bacteria. We seem to kill the goodness in dirt and filth. The biggest problem and cause of this obsession though is the vacuum cleaner.

However, and here comes the catch. Dirt and dust don’t easily combine with domestic bliss. They don’t marry and live comfortably in the presence of conjugal stability and effervescent cohabitation between the different or not so different sexes. The Hoover Company knew that back in the thirties and cunningly took advantage of the hunt to eliminate dust and dirt. The broom was doomed! The original Hoover was called ‘a suction sweeper’ developed by a man called Spangler who suffered from asthma and blamed his lung problems on dust. The war on dust had begun.

And yet, what could be simpler and more aesthetically pleasing than to observe the workings and sounds of the simple broom. Remember this simple broom with willow twigs bound together around a nice and smooth handle? I remember the lovely swishing sounds it used to make. Now, one has to go to simple villages of Cambodia or Bali to yet see again, hear and get back into touch of the broom and their early morning swishing sounds. This sound and crowing roosters, how honest, earthy and essential.

Now look what damage you have done Mr Hoover. Please, go and ponder the hideous looks of the modern vacuum cleaner. A monstrous design. Mr Alvar Aalto would turn in his grave. The bulbous multi buttoned rocket look. Is it meant to land us on a comet or double as a spare bazooka trained onto foe and neighbour? This hideousness is rampant in the world of so many household aids but especially vacuum cleaners. It is promoted as having ‘cyclonic and climatic ‘ properties. Cyclonic? All those buttons and twisting hoses, wheels and gyrating whirling motors, just for dust? Give me back my willow broom!

My mother and Hoover

My mother and Hoover

But, in the quest for domestic harmony, I too have succumbed, like my parents did, back in Rotterdam, to a vacuum cleaner. I too do the rounds, listlessly but with enough determination to fill the bag. I too pull this machine around obstacles and sincerely lie, when asked if I have removed all the bedside tables, or vacuumed under the bed. (I avoid doing that because it always sucks up a sock.) It is painful and mind dehydrating. At the end, the machine disgorges its bag with dog hair and grey dust, a strange pink rubber ring, a hairpin or Milo’s abandoned crust of Pane di Casa into the bin of discontented household garbage.

Look at the happiness on the faces of my parents, seduced by a new Hoover. The newly weds. They would have been the last of the Mohicans in willow broom usage.

It makes me weep bitter tears.

It’s a Miracle.

October 25, 2014

heart7 The beach

I once lost my glasses when knocked down by a large wave close to the beach on Indonesia’s island of Lombok. Lombok is a large volcano and the beaches bank down steeply into the ocean. Within a few metres of the beach you cannot stand up in the water anymore. I assumed my spectacles would gently roll down to the depth of the sea with the occasional calamari perhaps peering through them, wondering what sort of two eyed glassy creature is beckoning.

Next morning my wife and I went for a walk along this beach and I found my glasses washed up on the sand.
The sea had returned my glasses. It was a miracle and for true believers, performed by Allah.

Let me explain. We had been to Bali before and on one of those trips decided to go to the island next door called Lombok. We thought of going by ferry but they were booked out. A good friend told us that Lombok is what Bali had been. I suppose he was referring to tourism having spoiled a rather peaceful island into a place swamped by loud, beer swilling and hairy armpit scratching bogons. Together with encrusted bikini clad dreadlock knitted girlfriends looking for ‘ a good time’! The murder rate was steadily climbing up, as were muggings and stolen passports. However, despite all that, even today, Bali’s culture of the pre-dominantly Hindu faith is still largely intact. The Island is renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music. Perhaps art overcomes all?

After arriving at Lombok we noticed a difference. Next day at about 4am I woke up. It was H, who poked me in the ribs; ” what the fuck is this”? she said gently. It happened to be the very loud and amplified call to all Moslems to come and pray. It woke H up. I am profoundly deaf, so, there are benefits. 😉 Anyone who has ever been to an Islamic country would know. We did not. The Mosques and Imams use the spires of minarets to call the devout for prayer. Lombok is mainly Islamic even though next door to Hindu Bali.

Prayer, or Salah, is one of the five essential pillars of Islam. Taking time out to pray, five times a day, helps Muslims remember Allah and their purpose in life – to worship Him. When they turn towards Mecca, they are united with all the Muslims around the world who face the same direction, and when they raise their hands to begin Salah, they put aside the stresses and worries of life to remember their Lord.

I have often thought about the event of finding my glasses on the beach. Against all odds. Was it a miracle? Was the combined praying at all helpful in bringing my glasses back onto the beach, uphill, against a steep incline and against the law of gravity?

Here some wise Islamic saying that seems to unite all, even those from different faiths.

Make the most of your life before your death.”

Make the most of “your health before your sickness.”

Make the most of “your time before you become busy.”

Make Among the most of “your wealth before you become poor.”

Make Among the most of “your youth before you become old.”

 Near Ubud, Bali

Near Ubud, Bali

The Venice adventure looming.

September 10, 2014


We thought it wise to continue our travelling. The seventies are marching on and one just never knows. We still have all our limbs and can walk unaided. But for how long? Our intestinal organs are floridly in good health and have kept us away from any precarious situations so far. Lately though, I have found myself scanning available public toilets. Just in case! I would hate to be running through Venice and over a steep bridge, in search of one. I remember vividly and was desperate for one in Paris. No paper, no water and just my cheque book slips for use while squatting above a very odoriferous and gloomy hole. I had trouble contemplating over the beauty of gay Paris. It took a train trip to the Château de Versailles and gazing at chandeliers to get over that one. I even had a full plate of ‘Raw Steak Tartare avec un raw egg’ after that.

From our last trip to Bali and the lack of food and water, we will be sorely tempted to fly a plane whereby the passengers will be kept alive as much as possible. The worst aspects are the miles and miles of walking through the acreages of getting through customs,, the ignominy of taking belts and shoes off, the padding up, down, and across, then, to the gates and again be padded down before traipsing inside to the plane. The hoisting of bags over-head and selfish knees protruding in such limited spaces. Duty free emporiums, and the hopping about in socks and dropping trousers before even getting on the plane. Why can’t the duty free be separate from the airports for those keen on buying yet another watch or pearl earring? Do people travel now in order to do the same as at home, ‘shopping’?

Soon there will be airports where people can mow a lawn or put out the garbage, pay the rates and go to Aldi.

Venice is beckoning as never before and am already speaking per favore et grazie to our postman who comes from Messina. We are prepared.
We can’t wait!

Bali, Ubud and Plane tribulations.

September 3, 2014

We came back on Sunday and I am recovering ever since. Am wearing a blue fluffy morning coat with the pockets stuffed with hankies, both paper and cotton. ‘Crook as Rookwood’ they used to say! Rookwood is one of the largest cemeteries in Australia and even had its own railway station whereby the inhabitants of coffins could be unloaded for an uncertain but cool future below ground level. Another apt expression of feeling below par was ‘ I feel I am ‘on the train to Rookwood.’ They are lovely expressions but are at risk of disappearing when so much of the local Lingua franca gets overtaken by United States terminology.

I have a good cold. A direct hit given by a small child on the plane back. She was coughing all night between Bali and Sydney. Poor little girl.

We flew with Jet-Star. Little did I know what stood ahead of us. No food, no water. Can you imagine? Apparently the latest in economy fares. Soon there will be cheap flights whereby we will just stand up hanging from a strap. I booked ‘on-line.’ I picked direct flights between Sydney and Bali and never even thought to order food and water. I have never been flying anywhere whereby there would not appear (soon after take-off) the familiar little carriages, stooped over by flight attendants, with food and small bottles of wine. ‘Would you like a shiraz or a smooth chardonnay Sir or Madam’, was a common question, soon followed by a tray of all sorts of foods wrapped in cellophane that needed a chainsaw to open. Even a toothpick individually wrapped.

We used to be greatly comforted that everything was done to make the flight bearable with at least including some food and liquid. Not anymore now though. If you thought Isis was tough, try and take a cheap flight somewhere! Avoidance of DVT (Deep vein thrombosis) is greatly helped by staying hydrated during the flight. Well, you try and get water on board a Jet Star flight! I finally managed to get water from a water tumbler in the kitchen at the back of the plane. I was feeling very dizzy by then.

Of course Bali is still Bali with hordes of tourists scampering over everything possible, especially the bars and nightclubs. God, how tourism destroys everything, like locusts.

Of course we were tourists as well. But at least tried to escape. No elephant cave, monkey forests or Hindu temples for us. No tours or trips to rice paddies or local Ikat factories, wood carvings or silver smithing. No trekking or sunset watching, surfing or sampling of dodgy cocktails including the arak laced with kerosene.

We were within 100 metres of the main street in Ubud and elevated above street level catching the cool mountain breeze and waving palms with bits of kites suspended in mid flight. It was lovely and re-vitalising just watching the locals and hordes of tourists. I noticed that many tourists like running around maniacally. Why is that? Perhaps they are so wound up that, having spent money on fares and accommodation, they do not want to risk missing out on anything? They run around frantically like chooks without heads. Their mouths twisted in tenseness and set at twenty past eight o’clock. Chill out, dear European. The end is not nigh.

Ubud is the centre of Balinese culture with music and ceremonies the order of the day. Despite the influx of foreign tourists, Bali’s culture seems to have survived and homage to their Gods is practised everywhere with smoking incense and offerings given at any time of the day.

The togetherness of its people, the smiles and laughter and above all, the inborn desire to make beauty from table settings to wood-carved furniture, tables with marble tops, the lighting and ‘cosiness laced with feelings of intimacy. Schoolchildren with arms around each other, laughing and joking. Cheerfulness in bucket loads.

We are now back in Bowral and it feels all so dreadfully serious. Where is our ‘joie de vivre?’ Perhaps, all on the train to Rookwood!

Three or six Carrots?

August 16, 2014
Pradha guest house

Pradha guest house

We are again on the cusp of taking yet another break. We know that between birth and death there is life, so, while we are still able we would like to travel, not least now that the mortgages have been settled, the credit card in credit, and the kids have more than left home.

We don’t like the fridge keeping food for our return and normally prefer eating it empty. Even so, we had misjudged our appetite and found the fridge bare with yet still two days to go before our departure.

That’s why we found ourselves this morning at Woolworth deciding on how to sustain ourselves without going on a binge of last minute eating before the plane takes off. I suggested we could always take a few sandwiches on the plane or a nice crispy salad with bits of toast in lieu of croutons. I got smacked.

H suggested making a chicken curry dish for two days. A good choice as I had discovered a couple of thighs (chicken) at the back of the fridge. As we only had a few stalks of chives I decided (decisively) to buy some vegetables to go with the chicken. H wanted a bag of carrots but I felt this was overdoing it. For two days a bag of carrots? “Are we feeding a horse somewhere,” I asked? H; “Oh, lets not go into that again”. “Do we have to go on about the number of carrots?” “Is this what we are retired for” she added and gave a good sigh to emphasise a determination to get her way?

“Ok, ok, lets compromise and get 6 carrots”, I said. “That’s three each for two days, plus a zucchini that I found in the fridge as well, and two potatoes, I added for good measure.”

While the chicken is on the way, the carrots sliced and simmering, I decided to concentrate on trying to figure out not to get charged exorbitant 3G IPhone charges. The most horrifying stories of thousands of IPhone users being charged enormous costs on using their IPhones overseas appeared on Google. Even not using the IPhone costs thousands. Apparently all those ‘Apps’ keep rumbling on in the background, adding costs even when you are asleep and not using the IPhone.

Despite all the hints of switching Off Data while overseas, I still haven’t found this button on my Apple IPhone. I suppose to have a button on my ‘settings’ to disable all data downloads. But I can’t have that button, no matter how often I check and re-check. It is all so tedious.
Worse than 6 carrots.
Anyway, here is the address:
Just ignore the ratings. We do know the place and the friendly owners.

 Near Ubud, Bali

Near Ubud, Bali

C U after 31 August.

I fancy the ‘Batman box.’

June 5, 2014


Anyone who has been to Bali knows that crowing roosters are unavoidable. It is what Bali is about. People go there to infuse themselves with the sound of crowing roosters. They want to find their spiritual selves again and have great hopes of continuing on their ‘journey’. Indeed, the spring solstice of their birthright is embedded in a visit to Bali. Anyone who has seen roosters know they don’t crow for nothing. Roosters are serial monogamists. But, as always there are downsides. Chicken eating is also big in Bali.

No street stall would be without ayam goreng. It is common to see motor bikes parked along the road that have their owners barbequing chilli marinated chicken pieces on small charcoal fires. It is somewhat pitiful to see live chickens, feet tied together, hanging upside down from the handle bars of those motorbikes, waiting their turn while comrades being slaughtered and cooked along the road. However, Bali is poor and the tourist chicken eating does provide a few dollars for families that are still living a very marginal life.

Some years ago we stayed in Ubud’s Bali in one of those delightful ‘home stays’. Most of them are run by families. Balinese families are not like our nuclear compact model of mum and dad with 1.6 kids in private isolation behind the blinds and fence. No, they are huge with hundreds of aunties, uncles, even Royals. Funerals are big events. Not surprising with so many siblings.

One day a couple walked through our sun drenched tropical home stay. Palms waving in the wind and the day was full of beginnings and activity was on the rise. I remember it well, as I was outside reading Patrick White’s ‘Vivisector,’ We had enjoyed a generous breakfast of golden crispy pancakes with black coffee, for which Bali, apart from roosters, is also world-wide known. The couple stopped in front of our small veranda, encouraged perhaps by seeing an English language novel and asked; are there any roosters here as well? Sure, said my wife. Why do you ask, how many do you want ?

Oh no, she said, (with a strong US/Canada accent.) We haven’t been able to sleep well because of the roosters waking us up. My wife raised an eyebrow and said; Oh, we sleep well because of the reassuring sounds of those roosters. When have you last slept with the call of rooster’s heralding a new day, she asked somewhat haughtily or even testily? Yes, but we expected peace and quiet, the husband said. I had to inhale in order not to suggest to them to sleep at the airport’s hotel with the sound proved double glazed windows. Each to their own, especially roosters that enjoy a nice crow. I wondered how their journey was going?

Well, sorry, but there are roosters everywhere, Helvi said. The couple walked off. Odd, that people go to an oasis and paradise of an unequalled cultural paradise of serenity and calmness when the one thing that Bali has; ‘roosters that crow’ is seen as a blight on a holiday.

Some years before we drove with a few friends to the country, just to go and look at a gallery that we had heard about. There are so often baffling things that you find out when travelling with companions. Nothing brings out the strength of a relationship than travelling together.

One of our travellers, a man in his late fifties asked if we could stop at the next KFC fast food outlet. Why, are you hungry? Yes, a little bit, but I really like their ‘Batman Box’, he stated. This friend was totally normal, an accountant and well travelled. Not to be seen as totally dominating our dietary habits, we thought of complying and when the KFC Colonel hairy countenance appeared on the horizon’s highway, we stopped. The man could not stop enthusing about this bloody Batman Box, the perfect advertisement for KFC.

I especially love the gravy, he added. The ‘Batman box’



came with little toys which are now collected by avid Batman fans…

And, so it goes!

The ‘Body Corporate AGM meeting with imposing Table.

August 20, 2013

If your life ever gets to a point where you need to take a break from neck breaking activity, intellectual (pouring over nothingness) or otherwise (pouring concrete), consider going to meetings, especially official meetings. We went to one yesterday, and I have never felt more ready for action than afterwards, any action.

As we entered the meeting room some people were seated already. There was a nod and a formal murmur of ‘morn’ from people that we see almost daily. Do AGM meetings make people change into frozen officious beings, trapped into a pre-destined kind of ‘meeting type?’ The metamorphosis from ‘normal being’ to ‘meeting being’ happens as soon as one is within the range of a large oversized table with the ‘minutes of the last meeting’ distributed out for all the members to ruminate over. The table is so large and intimidating that all seated around it immediately appear much smaller than usual.

The sensible thing to do would be to appear incognito. I wondered what the reactions would be appearing in my Batman Outfit, mask and all. A hushed silence followed with a move away from my chair? Would procedures cheer up a bit? I cannot fathom the rigidity of the ridiculous format that AGM’s or any meetings really seem to adopt.

No wonder they don’t work. There is never an excuse for doing things the most stifling, the most mind bogglingly boring way. Do they hold meetings like that in Cuba or Bali, Mexico?

Anyway, someone asked if there was a ‘quorum’ present. Yes, someone enthused. Ok, let’s start with the agenda. No, not yet. Why not? We haven’t passed the last minutes from the last meeting. Ok, they are now passed. No they are not. We haven’t asked if there are any objections to the last minutes. And so it goes on and on and zzzzzz…

Item 1 on the agenda is the report on Fire Hazards and archive fees. Ah great, really, really great stuff, can’t wait for Item 2.

May I ask you for a dance? Shall we visit the local morgue, a bit of tap-dancing, feed the ducks?

No; Item 3 now. Anyone thought of passing Miscellaneous Expenses?

Love those Cows, (but not so much Boat People)

July 20, 2012

Posted on October 25, 2011by

Careful, watch it! Here is another one. A controversial piece, whose words could easily cause dangerous empathy, or for some, irritating disdain or dismissal, no one is obliged to read any further.

The ABC 4 corners have come up with 2 sessions that I found to be somewhat related. A few months ago there was this exposure of the mistreatment of cattle. It resulted in a nation-wide outrage. Who can forget footage of the poor cows being beaten, their sad pleading eyes as they went into their final death throes. Of course, this was all done in a naughty overseas country. Our condemnation went instantly into automatic or overdrive. Within days the export of cattle was halted and reassuring footage was shown of thousands of cattle being put back into holding yards and given rich grains pouring from laden bins. Thousands flocked to the NT and even Queensland and stroked cows. Thank goodness for our humane treatment of all thing living. Tearstained faces on the telly and many cancelled their holidays to Bali or Java. How barbaric. At some stage old footage of sheep being loaded alive in boots of cars by white frocked men, again in an evil overseas country, was again dug up and dusted off, just in case we had forgotten. We all felt a warm glow of empathy. We were not like that. We are caring and full of humanness. We felt good about ourselves.

Now, I find all this love and sweetness for animals somewhat at odds with what we saw last night on the 4 Corner programme on boat-people. There were sad and pleading eyes as well. There were people being beaten, shot at. Some were driven into suicide. There were lip sewing, knife or razor cuts, self-harm percentages, children in jail without parents. Opioids medicated people suffering the torment of indefinite detention without having committed a crime. Those ghastly scenes of boat people running around the dark with tracer bullets lighting up the sky, something reminiscent of a Kristalnacht.

This has been going on for years now. How odd, that we seem to accept that. Where is our indignation and love of humanity? I suspect that much of this lack of empathy can be squarely laid at the feet of the commercial TV and Radio world.  Last night on the ABC’s media watch, Jonathan Holmes pointed out about the way the commercial TV and Radio manipulate and hijack our national conscience and managed to change an entire nation into a kind Joseph Goebbels mentality. (Goebbels was Reich-minister of Propaganda for Hitler) There is a sizable portion of the Australian population who genuinely believe that boatpeople are being treated like royals. They are given red carpet treatment, palatial housing and benefits that other can only dream about. No matter how they are presented with facts or how often the UNHCR or Amnesty International points the finger at Australia, many persist in believing the gospel of Commercial Media.

I don’t know what the answer is. I haven’t got it. I am surprised that the Commercial media is so popular. I would not even know where our channel 9 or 7, 10 are. We haven’t watched those ever. The ads are too distracting. Perhaps, the freedom to corrupt and enslave us into Goebbels is not freedom at all. Should a Government be far stricter on the likes of Bolts, Ackermans, and Jones’ of this world?

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