Saturday, September 25, 2010

Some of Tanto's music to bring back memories ...

Tantowi Yahya's music brings back memories of Bali and Indonesia every time I feel like heading north again.

Aryati Dikau mawar asuhan rembulan
Aryati Dikau gemilang seni pujaan
Dosakah hamba mimpi
berkasih dengam tuan
Ujung jarimu kucium mesra tadi malam
Dosakah hamba memuja dikau dalam mimpi
Hanya dalam mimpi .
Aryati Dikau mawar ditaman khayalku
Tak mungkin tuan terpetik daku
Walaupun demiklan nasibku
Namun aku bahagia seribu satu malam

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Here's a "Strategic" move to escape the post-Bali blues: book yourself onto one of the recently introduced flights with Strategic from Brisbane via Townsville to Bali from around $300 one way!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Happy Birthday to me!

Back at "Riverbend" just in time to blow out the candle! And back to cleaning up the property which took a blow during the storm that hit it just a couple of days after I had left for Bali. The cleaning-up of the grey-green leaves of Australian gum trees after the stunningly bright colours of Bali is a fitting metaphor to describe my "Bali Blues".

Travelling is as much about leaving one place as it is about going to another, perhaps even more so. Leaving a place means not only to leave behind a lot of physical clutter but also freeing oneself from a lot of mental clutter. For twenty years, from 1965 to 1985, I relocated regularly from one place to another, from one country to the next, allowing no clutter, physical or mental, to accumulate.

Since 1985 I have lived in just two places, Canberra and "Riverbend", and it shows as I seem to have lost my physical and mental agility to the clutter and repetitiveness of this existence. Twenty years in fifteen countries - and now this!

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."   - Mark Twain

Some more interesting quotes on travel.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

For more photos go to ...

And here are some more photos by the "short chubby Greek":

Goodbye, HARRIS Hotel!

On our last night in Bali, we were going to 'go Greek' and dine at the seriously apostrophe-challenged Mykonos Greek Taverna in Seminyak. After an hour of being stuck in Kuta's traffic jam - it's Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, and everyone is on holidays -, we told the driver to turn back to HARRIS where we said "Καλὴ ὄρεξη!" to some beer and chips!

Next day, not wanting to get stuck in another traffic jam on our last day before the late-night flight back to Australia, we made use of HARRIS's 2 o'clock late check-out after which we hung about the pool, at HARRIS and the adjoining Bali Prani Hotel which is under the same management. The Prani is actually a much nicer hotel - at about half the HARRIS-rate! - and it seems such a pity that it will be pulled down in a few months' time to make room for a much bigger HARRIS hotel.

How much is that doggie's life worth in the tiny birdcage?

Just walked past that poor little dog again. He's still there! HE'S ALWAYS THERE! And this morning he's sitting in his tiny cage right under the broiling sun!!! It was too hot for me to walk out there; how much hotter it must be in his tiny cage at pavement level and exposed to the exhaust gases of those thousands of cars roaring by all day and night!!!

He is imprisoned in his tiny cage outside the door of a small suburban hotel, a 'homestay' by the name of nu'Pondok2A - see here - ; their email address is Perhaps if we all email them, they will do something to make the little dog's life a little easier?

I thank you and so would the little dog if he could talk with more than his sad little eyes!

Last night ...

... I became very upset! I walked up to the little Circle-K shop to the left of HARRIS and there, just one house before Circle-K, is a house that has a puppy dog inside a wire BIRDCAGE!!! That little dog is the most traumatised dog you will ever see!!! It is crouched in a corner of the tiny cage, shivers with fright, and cringes at everything that moves past him (which is thousands of vehicles every day!) He's almost too big already to get outside the door of the cage and certainly hasn't been outside for a long time.

He can't walk as there is no walking space and he just exists! Death would be a release for him! The owner came out to see me and said, "You like dog?" I said, "Yes, but not in a birdcage" and I told him that in Australia he would have to answer for his cruelty to the police. He just said, "Yes, boss", and walked inside again. I felt like killing him!!! (On reflection, killing him would be too kind to him: put him inside a tiny birdcage and slowly cook him under the tropical sun!)

I didn't take a photo of the little dog as it would remind me even more of his tragic existence! Having to cope with it in my memory is bad enough!

P.S. I just spoke to Evi, the hotel's F&B Manager, and she knows about the puppy who's been there in his tiny cage for quite some time. Other hotel-guests have complained, too, but there is nothing anybody can do.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

At home at HARRIS

We're back at HARRIS Tuban. It's just on 10 o'clock in the morning and check-in time is not until 2 pm.

We drove past the LORIN at Saba Bai which has been closed down since 2006 and now looks completely neglected. Nick is quite impressed by it and can see its potential if it were re-opened. We have got the telephone number of the local contact person in Denpasar who in turn knows the owner(s) in Jakarta. Maybe we talk to him before we go. It all depends on how keen Nick really is!

This very exclusive luxury hotel, where Padma and I stayed in 2000, closed its doors in 2006, and has since then greatly deteriorated. It is on a beachfront block of land of 4.2 hecatres (10.5 acres or 420 are) and consists of two presidential villas, sixteen two-bedroom villas, sixteen executive suites, and sixteen junior suites. Somebody should rescue this wonderful property and restore it to its former glory! Why not us, Nick? Are you reading this, Stylianos Koureas?

(On second thoughts, since the property is rumoured to have belonged to Tommy Suharto, the ex-president's son, who may not have had all the legal documents for the land, it may be a political "hot potato".)

I also met the old lady at the warung who seemed to remember me. Anyway, she hasn't aged at all and her warung has prospered and is much bigger now, built with brick and a proper roof and tables and chairs inside.

View Larger Map

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A cold Kuda Putih for this dark horse!

We went whitewater rafting; then we hired pushbikes and cycled through the ricefields; later we went elephant-trekking!

Well, almost! We read about all these activities in a tourist brochure while we sat down for a typical Indonesian meal of Pizza Napolitane and a Greek salad.

The owner had two little dogs who were the spitting images of Malty and Rover. I took pictures of them which I will upload later.

Monday is our last day in Ubud. On Tuesday we drive back to Denpasar for one more night at HARRIS Tuban before boarding the Red-Eye Special on Wednesday night. Arrival in Sydney Thursday morning 6.30. Padma will be waiting for me at "Riverbend" with my birthday cake!!!

So what does one do in Ubud on a Saturday night?

One goes to the Lebong Café in Monkey Forest Road and watches the All Blacks beating the shit out of the Wallabies, that's what!

Followed by Everton vs. Manchester United with Manchester leading 3:1 for most of the time with a dramatic final effort by Everton to finish the game 3:3.

This morning we are walking up Jalan Kajeng to check into the Arjana Bungalows for two nights from where I shall reconvene the Arjana Ool Club - there is no p in it; please keep it that way!

The last night we will spend at HARRIS Tuban again before catching the Midnight Express back to Australia. If Nick had his way, he'd catch it today as all he wants to do is go home again!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shop 'til you drop!

Buying DVDs in Bali is as addictive as Balinese massages!

I bought several more DVDs which sell for Rp.10,000 each (approx. AUS$1.10):

Samson & Delilah
The Road
The People Speak
The Pursuit of Happyness [sic]
Goodbye Bafana
Faith Like Potatoes
Eyes Wide Shut
Letters to God
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Gran Torino
What Lies Beneath
The Last Station
Meet Joe Black
Captain Corelli's Mandolin (as a spare for our "Riverbend" guest cottage)
Pope Joan (as suggested by Nick; never knew there had been a female pope!!!)

Also bought several cup cakes, a dozen chocolate-and-apple buns, and a chocolate-coated vanilla icecream, all for Rp.15,000 (less than AUS$2).

I think I skip the fancy hotel-dinner tonight which is all appearance and no substance and just read one of my books!

On the subject of exchange rates, cash is much better than travellers' cheques; however, the best rate yet is via the ATM as Nick demonstrated when he drew on his Australian bank account and received Rp.8,330. In Indonesia, a mere AUS$120 makes you an instant millionaire.

Australian banknotes give you a mere Rp.8,000 for each dollar, and travellers' cheques come a poor last at Rp.7,700. I thought I just mention this for the benefit of anyone who wants to make their cheap Bali holiday even cheaper!

Back in Arjana Number 3

High above Ubud and far away from the noisy crowds, Arjana No. 3 is, at Rp.150,000 a night incl. breakfast, still the best value in town!

Saturday morning in beautiful Ubud

After waiting for some time for the dining room to open - jam karet! - we had a large continental breakfast of telur mata sapi, fruits, and Bali kopi. Two cow's eyes later, we are ready to explore the town.

I had some Balinese Duck last night which may not have agreed with me as I am suffering from frequent 'buang air'. Nick seems to have got over his; now it's my turn!

I have convinced Nick to move into the Arjana Bungalows Nr. 3 for the rest of our stay here and we will move up Jalan Kajeng tomorrow to our spacious bungalows amongst the ricefields.

In the meantime, we are wandering through the shops. I am happy to report to Padma that in addition to "Country Breeze", "Friends", and "Livin' With Dreams", I have found another three CDs by Tantowi Yahya . They are "The Best of TY" with Jangan Pernah Berkata Benci, Anggrek Bulan, and Selamat Tinggal; "Southern Dreams", and "Country Manado" which has Malam Minggu, Polo Pa Kita, and many more on it.

For myself I found the music video "Golden Hits Lobo" (which takes me right back to Burma and my time there in 1975!) and the movies "Slumdog Millionaire", "The Men who Stare at Goats", "Is Anybody There?" with Michael Caine, "The Motorcycle Diaries", "The Kite Runner", and - by Nick's recommendation - "The Bucket List" with Jack Nicholson.

Ubud also has a couple of good bookshops. I have never been known to pass a bookshop without going in and buying something, and today was no exception! I found Joseph Conrad's The Return and A Smile of Fortune, Gombrich's A Little History of the World, and The Sultan and the Mermain Queen by Paul Spencer Sochaczewski.

Nick and I also bought matching sunhats and shirts and now look as debonair as Tweedledum and Tweedledee While I am walking around with my 'I LOVE BALI' shoulder-bag, Nick is still trying to find one that says, 'BALI TRAUMATISED ME'!

Found a 'bis serat' to mail the few postcards I've written to friends and am now back at the hotel for a rest.

Friday, September 10, 2010

If it's Friday it must be Ubud!

Our driver picked us up from Lovina and drove us all the way around the top of the island via Amed to Padang Bai, one of my favourite spots. The Puri Rai hotel where I had meant to stay was full and two other hotels we tried weren't quite what we wanted. Anyway, Nick is suffering a bit from the heat; so perhaps we should head back to the hills (although I absolutely love the heat and the humidity!)

Never mind! We jumped back in the car and told the driver to take us straight through to Ubud where we are now checked into the Pradha which is just down Jalan Kajeng from my old "home", the Arjana Bungalows.

Arjana Bungalows will have two vacant rooms tomorrow so perhaps we will move there. Nick needs television - the more wide-screen, the better - as he wants to watch his favourite football team but maybe he can tear himself away from it long enough to enjoy the peace and quiet of the Arjana Bungalows high above Ubud amongst the ricefields.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thursday afternoon

Nick got sick of being asked, "Where are you from?" and bought himself a pair of thongs to strut his nationality

Having overpaid on his first pair, Nick spend the rest of the trip checking on the prices of thongs

I nearly bought this hotel for Padma

My favourite restaurant!

Checking in or out, there are always big smiles

Nick felt at home

We're still at Lovina but have phoned our driver in Denpasar to pick us up tomorrow around 10 o'clock to drive us all the way around the top of the island down to Padang Bai where we will stay for another two nights until Sunday.

Then we'll stay until Tuesday in Ubud, before returning to Kuta for our last night at HARRIS Tuban before catching the flight back to Australia on Wednesday.

I'll add photos to this blog but this will have to wait until I get back to "Riverbend" as the local internet connections are far too slow here to upload any pictures.

Nick bought a pair of thongs for what he thought was a song: Rp.100,000. That's the equivalent of six delicious apple crumble with lashings of cream and a cherry on top! Now he carries them in his hand most of the time. Maybe he dislikes the idea of walking on six apple crumble! He also introduced me to the addictive world of SODUKO. I am still working on my first puzzle! I am also still trying to find a KUDA PUTIH beer; instead, I have discovered STORM, another Bali beer.

Checked the messages from "Riverbend" where everything seems to have quietened down again after the big storm on Monday. Sent my own holorimic message home, signed "Isle of View". Let Padma make of it what she will!

I'm staying!

I'm now the self-appointed business manager for the "Eternal Accoustic Music"!

They play on the beach at the Sea Breeze Cottages every night. Last night I asked them if they could play any of Tantowi Yahya's songs. They gave a beautiful rendition of Aryati, after which I requested Rinduku Padamu to be sung for someone I left behind at "Riverbend", and followed it up with Kasihmu Kasihku.

At the end of the evening the bandleader, Made, asked me how I knew about Tantowi Yahya. I told him that I am married to somebody who is absolutely mad about Tantowi and that we play his CD every time we drive from "Riverbend" to Batemans Bay.

So the band formed a small circle around me and kept playing and singing until well after the security guards had locked the place and dimmed the lights.

We talked about how they earned their money and I asked if they had a website and whether they had recorded their own CD.

- No website!
- Okay, I'll build you one!

- Yes, one CD!
- Okay, why don't you promote it during your performance?

And why not make it more apparent to the Western guests who think that the hotel pays them that they also depend on donations?

I suggested that they make up a nicely-carved Balinese box with the words "Donations welcomed" in gold-lettering on the front, and put it on their bandstand. Of course, they would also have to "seed" it with a few initial "donations" of a couple of Rp.50,000 and Rp.100,000 banknotes to suggest to guests what sort of denominations are most welcomed

And what about getting a 'proper' name, I asked. Who or what is "Eternal Accoustic Music"? I suggested they call themselves "Made and the Music Makers", and print up leaflets to be handed out to all the guests during their performance, which would read,

Made and the Music Makers welcome you to their concert and invite your requests for songs. You may wish to show your appreciation by buying our CD for Rp.100,000 or by making a donation. Thank you and enjoy your evening!
Made - Leadsinger
Gede - Percussions
Katut - Guitar

Watch out, Tantowi! Here come Made and the Music Makers! (and their new business manager Peter)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Coffee break

We've just come down the hills to the beach again and are now staying at the Sea Breeze, surrounded by restaurants, bars, money-changers, souvenir shops, and internet cafés.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Breakfast Bali-style

Just couldn't resist this piece of persuasive advertising and so it's bread-and-butter-pudding for breakfast today!

We are at the Banjar Hills Retreat. Made, Komang, and Nyoman made us feel welcome and we were the only two guests, taking two of the four bungalows.

The very aptly-named "Gede Boy" - he seems to be a good friend of the owners, nudge, nudge, wink, wink - turned up to give us a highly overcharged massage. He told us that the retreat may be up for sale. The price he quoted seemed very low so I told him to find out more.

Well, he did come back with a text-message from Jeremy who is one of the owners, Rp.5.8 Billion! What was Darryl Kerrigan's repeated line in "The Castle"? "Tell 'em they're dreamin'"? Exactly!