Another week, and it’s all happening!

Another week has slid by and quite a few things have happened, both good and not so good.

What hot weather! This is hotter than Bali, for me. Yes, Bali is more humid, but I can tolerate that as long as I have a nice fan to cool off with. The pool is right there – instant relief.

Mt Bromo, Java, looking across the sand plain.

Now we’ve got volcanic ash from Mt Bromo causing cancelled Bali flights, and a cyclone heading our way as well. Exciting, ain’t it?

Looking into the crater of Mt Bromo
Mt Merapi smoking in the distance from the rim of Bromo
That’s me, second from left, on the rim of Bromo 1989
The horses that take you across the sand plain in the pre-dawn mist 1989
Dawn from Bromo’s rim

If you ever get the chance to see Bromo, it’s worth the trip. It was one of the highlights of my life. Take a bow, Geoffrey Williams, who instigated it.


I contacted the estate agent who’s been highly recommended to me and she was going to come around on Thursday afternoon, but she had to cancel because she needs an urgent hip operation so it looks as if we won’t meet after all. I’m sure I’ll be able to work with her colleague, though. Meanwhile, I’m still on tenterhooks – what is my house worth and how easily will it sell? All this and more in next week’s exciting episode of “The Emigrant”.


I can sell this house now with the added feature of a new set of wires from the street pole to my eaves and power board. Western Power contractors have just been here to install a new line, just as a maintenance thing. Poor blighters (two out of three of them were Irish!) were working in this heat while wearing full safety gear, that is boots, long trousers, heavy day-glo jackets, thick gloves and helmets! The sweat was pouring off them.

These guys are fearless!

Pictured above is work done on the power pole outside my house in February 2005. Those wires with the big insulators are at 22,000 Volts! That’s a minimum – the voltage could be higher. At this voltage sparks can form and jump across to your body like lightning.

The bucket they’re in is insulated from the ground, and they’re wearing full body insulation as well. The main lines are covered in those orange plastic sleeves so they can’t touch the wires by accident. Notice that the switches at the top are pen, so in theory, the wires to the left are not live. I wouldn’t want to test the theory.


I’ve had friends saying how excited and envious they are of my move to Bali and it’s set them wondering about doing the same. Well, good news, because the developer of my villa says he’s considering another set of villas of the same design nearby to mine, so if you want to do it, guys and girls, step forward. It would probably take a year or more to build the new villas, so you’ve got time to get your skates on. I’d be delighted to have a group of friends around me. Couldn’t think of anything nicer. Well, maybe I could think of one or two nicer things, but … at my age? In these shoes?


Work continues apace on copying all the DVDs and CDs. I do believe I’m almost finished the DVDs. I’ve done 131, plus another 20 or so music DVDs, and I’ve got about 20 or 30 to go, although I don’t actually have to copy them to hard drive now. It’s a small enough bulk now to box them up to take up.

The CDs are a different matter. It’s a slow job and although I’ve done more than 110, I’ve got more than 500 to go! I might have to just take the discs out of the covers and box them, with their sleeve inserts, in computer disc boxes. That’ll be much easier. I can finish the job in Bali if I want to.

Did you know we’d had a nuclear explosion in Perth?  T his was 7 January 1995. It’s a fire.
Stormy scene, Trigg 1990s

STOP PRESS: it seems that our possible cyclone is approaching. Maybe I’d better go outside and put the umbrella away, stack the chairs and generally put things in the shed. Could be exciting?

Further news: at 7.30pm, there’s been no effect at all here at my place, except for a little bit of rain. I belive there’s more to come, maybe early tomorrow.


A week has slid by

Minnie after chasing a dove. Could you leave her?

Sorry for the lack of news. It’s been quite a busy week, but it doesn’t quite seem interesting enough to write home about.

Last Monday saw me paying the Notaris fee for the villa. A Notaris in Indonesia is a solicitor, and I had to pay him 1% for his work in drawing up the legal agreement. It’s a lotta money, but that’s the way it is. Unfortunately, the Qld floods knocked the A$ exchange rate around and it cost about $150 extra from last week. Can’t be helped.

Last Monday evening (17th) saw the passing away of our last uncle in the Croft family. He was the eldest, but the last of the three brothers and one sister. He was much loved and I’m very glad I had the opportunity to have a good, long meeting at their home in late 2008 (he was of the Queensland Crofts).

Minnie in her comfort zone. My old life.

The next couple of days had me cleaning out old clothes for the Sammy’s bins. What a stupid hoarder I’ve been! I must have discarded 30Kg of clothes, at least. I had trousers from the 1990s which I had never worn, nor even removed the labels! Far too small for me now.

All my heavy winter gear has gone, of course. I have a couple of Timberland and Nautica jackets which are too good to discard, but there’s no point taking them to Bali. I’ll give them to good friends. Likewise my Olympics and Seven Network jackets and T shirts.

Part of my DVD/CD chaos.

I’m also well into copying all my CDs and DVDs to hard disk. It’s incredible — a 1TB (that’s 1,000 GB, or 1,000,000MB) hard disk is now only $56. (I can remember buying a 40MB hard disk in about 1990 for $425!)  I bought two new 1TB drives, one for music and one for DVDs. It takes about 5 mins per CD and 30 mins per DVD to copy them, and I’ve done about 75 of each so far. Many, many more CDs to do than DVDs, but it’s fun.

I just do the DVDs while I’m doing other things, (watching TV), but the CDs take much more concentration because (a) I can do two at once with two drives; (b) each only takes about 3-5 mins; and (c) due to the need to change the file names to the music title and CD number, I have to concentrate on the job. I’m keeping the paper front cover inserts which will go into a plastic sleeve file, so that I can look them up, and even recreate the CD if I want to. By copying in lossless format, all the information is still there. Marvellous.

Two down, two up. The bedrooms from the living room.

This also lends itself to a networked file-server means of having music in any room of the house. In the villa, I could be upstairs in the bedrooms while the music hard drive is 30m away downstairs in the living area, yet dial up music for upstairs anyway. I’m also looking forward to a trip to Singapore, the home of high-end audiophiles, to buy a pair of really good loudspeakers, eg QUADs.

A few hurdles have cropped up:

  • I’ve found that the Centrelink Health Care Card (which cuts my cost for the 10 medications a day I have to take) cuts out after three months overseas. However, speaking to the pharmacist, I can have three months of prescriptions at once, so if I simply return to Perth Every three months, that should do the trick. We’ll see.
    He warned, having lived in Asia himself, not to regard medicines made there as being 100% kosher. He said Singapore’s OK, but there are too many counterfeits and too lax QC in other countries.
  • Once I sell this house, after paying for the Bali villa, my remaining assets will virtually rule me out of the pension next year. I should have expected it, of course, and I shouldn’t be greedy either.
  • I had an idea on the sale of this house which might have allowed Minnie to stay in her home, but it fell through. Bit of an unrealistic hope, I’m afraid. I’ve come to realise that taking Minnie to Bali is probably not possible, but what to do with her is a big problem. It’s worrying me.

 On the other hand, I’m gradually coming to realise that what I want to take to Bali will almost fit on the head of a pin! Exaggerating, of course, but it really isn’t much. Maybe a dozen boxes? A few suitcases?

One worry is that Indonesia has imposed a new law requiring the payment of import duty on all goods above a total value of $250, for everyone! That means if you go to Bali with a $1000 camera and/or a similar value laptop computer, you’ll be charged duty, even if it’s only for your holiday and will be taken home with you!

They plan to inspect all bags and cases after the X-ray inspection, and so there’ll be new delays on arrival. It seems unrealistic and unworkable, and I suspect it’ll only last a few weeks or months, but I’m not looking forward to it because all my personal effects will be dutiable and there’ll be some pretty expensive items in my gear.

My brother is going next week and will be able to report on the system. His iPad alone will be liable for duty. Uh oh!

I contacted a valuer today to get an independent house valuation, but their fee is double what I was told to expect, so I backed away.

Then I contacted a real estate agent who’s been highly recommended to me, so Thursday will see some movement there. This might actually be a quicker process than I thought, as she said she has a buyer now who is looking for a house to rebuild in this area. Hmmm.

Selemat Siang, especially to Wiwin.

Lots to do

Busy, busy. I paid the balance of the deposit yesterday at the local CBA branch and I must say it was well handled, efficient and painless. That gives me a solid claim to be the new owner of the villa. Nice.

Then I saw the gastric surgeon yesterday afternoon to discuss options for further weight control.

His advice is that there are simply no facilities in Bali to cope with any gastric band emergencies, so if I consider it’s not working, then the best path is to remove it.

Therefore on 17 February, it’s coming out. It’s been an expensive failure – nett cost of $3,000 to have it put in, and another nett cost of $1,000 to remove it. Ce’st la vie.

This bull should give up smoking.

We also talked about gastric sleeves and gastric bypasses, but no, thank you. Irreversible, involving removal of a large part of the stomach and with potentially awful side effects.

So the only option is diet and exercise. As if I didn’t know!

When I was slim! 1983

For gallstones, there’s no real option but removal of the gall bladder. I’m not having real problems yet, so no need to rush into it, but that may be next. That involves dietary changes and usually results in weight loss, so… blessing in disguise.

Dancers 1985

I’m enjoying having Lola, next door’s dog here this week. We’re old friends, so it’s a sheer pleasure.

So tired, sorry. Malam.


Back in Perth

Phew, tiring day. Thank goodness, this time for the flight home, we had a normal aerobridge. In November I had to climb the stairs on the tarmac and it was bit of an ordeal.

It was supposed to be a 9am flight from Denpasar, but although we pushed back on time, we sat there for 20 mins and then went back to the terminal. We just had to sit there while the techos worked on it, and after an hour they came out with smiles and a thumbs up, so at 10am we pushed back again and we were off. Better to have a fault on the ground than in the air!

Magnificent air shots on the way. WA is an artist’s palette – all ochre reds and greens and brown and blacks.

Ochre watercourses

Watercourses everywhere! For such a dry state, where is all the water? What made these huge water gorges?

Water, water, where?
The cuttlefish. Off the WA coast somewhere.

So we arrived in Perth an hour late. That coincided with a jumbo arrival, so the baggage hall was chocka. Luckily I managed to get through pretty quickly. But a Customs woman made me open my suitcase! Why? She simply lifted one corner of my clothes and said, OK, you can go. Crazy. I’m carrying a walking stick and lifting the case onto the table is a bit hard for me, but it didn’t matter to her.

One point was that the Customs form asked if I was a resident returning and did I intend to spend the next 12 months in Australia? For the first time, I said No. Did it make any difference? No, no-one asked any questions. So what’s the point of the question?

I’m also grumpy about the stupid grammar of the card: Please turn over the card. NO! Please turn the card over.

It’s the same with the QANTAS form: “Subtly, each aircraft is different.” WHAT?? No-one speaks like this. They’ve been using this for 15 years, so it seems I’m the only one to object, but this is stupid syntax. If you’re talking to people for whom English is the second language, using “subtly” as a preposition is just ridiculous.

Grumpy Pete strikes again.

Too bloody hot in Perth! 38C today. Bali is wetter and more humid, but I tolerate that better than this heat.

Taken at 250mm while landing ie image stabilisation works well.

Minnie was beside herself to see me, especially as I arrived with Keith. She shows her pleasure very nicely. I now have the pleasure of looking after next door’s dog Lola for a week, and I’m delighted to do so.

When I die, I want to come back as a dog.

Nothing much of note

It was a nice day today.

We went to the bank and did some business.

Then we went to a big shop.

Then we went to a restaurant and had duck for lunch.

Then I went to another big shop and bought some drink which makes some people intoxicated.

Then I went home.

More dealing, but it’s done

Whooo, what a day.

Fixed the hotel credit limit snafu at the desk this morning. Yes, it seems my credit card had not been charged when I booked, and so the Rp.6,450,000 was for thr first 6 nights’ accommodation and etcs. So I paid it and all was sweet. But they never told me of any credit limit or that they hadn’t already been paid for the room.

Anyway, I went to breakfast at the Art Cafe at 9am, expecting Yudhi to collect me at 10am as he’d said. Nope, this time, just as my order arrived, he texted me, “peter please bring your passport I pick you up now”

I said, hang on, I’m eating my breakfast. But he arrived 10 mins later with John and Patricia in the car, so I had to hurry and finish eating and post the blog this morning.

OK, so we set off and it turned out we were going to the Notari’s office, ie a solicitor, to draw up some documents and formalise the transfer. OK with me.

It took a while! This was a guy John had never met, so it was a neutral field for both of us, which was good.

The solicitor was a young, intelligent, charming guy who put us all at ease, even with halting English, and we felt happy with his conduct.

The agreement took nearly two hours to write up and duplicate, using a dot matrix printer by the sound of it.

Eventually he came back and read it to us and there was lots of signing and initialling and stamping of seals. John has done this before and was pretty familiar with the ropes. I felt fine with it.

The result is, I have to pay some money in the next few days, but I am now the legal owner, (no, 30 year leaseholder, with option of 20 year extension) of Jasmine Villa, Jalan Blanjong, Sanur, Bali.
That means I can start fitting it out, so next stop was a furniture maker nearby to order a custom made bed. Nothing fancy, just a base, but of solid timber in a Japanese style (my choice). About $200.

Then to Denpasar to the Commonwealth Bank to try to arrange an interbank transfer to pay John and the notary. Sorry sir, we do not have an on-line connection to Australia. We cannot do. What??!! So the good old CBA has let me down again. I’ll have to risk it over internet banking on an unsecured wi-fi connection tonight.

Then it was on to a big furniture and electrical place in Denpasar, a Hardly Normal equivalent (but with helpful staff!) There I picked out a fridge, a microwave oven and spotted a mattress that looked just right. I didn’t buy – these were just model numbers to be shopped around by Yudhi for the best price from his contacts.

But I’m especially happy with the fridge and microwave, both Panasonic and both examples of good design, in my opinion. The fridge is 463L, (19% bigger than mine at home), bottom freezer with Fast Ice Cube section, and top section with the thinnest walls I’ve ever seen in a fridge. $644.

The microwave oven is an inverter convection/griller type with a mirror glass front and heaps of functions. $311.

I didn’t choose a mattress even though I saw a nice one, but it was $440. We’ll look again tomorrow. It was 4pm by then and we were all tired out.
Oh, and the phone line is already connected at the villa (but there’s no phone on the end yet!) and my new number is 0011 62 361 28 33 86. And, I have ADSL on that line!!!! Can’t get it in Perth, but I’ve got it here, now. Doesn’t that say it all?

So back to the Mercure for a shower and rest, and in theory, Yudhi is taking us to his restaurant tonight for Crispy Duck, but if he doesn’t show, I won’t be sorry. A bit too tired at the moment.

I was nearly going to write that the day was remarkable for the lack of rain, but it’s bucketed down tonight. No worries! That’s life in Bali. Malam.

It’s a Done Deal!

Sorry, rushed post:

Well, I’ve done it. I shook hands with the owner of Jasmine Villa yesterday afternoon and as soon as I pay him 10% of the 10% deposit today, it’s effectively mine. In fact, he’s a very straightforward, plain talking guy and since we shook hands, it’s effectively mine now.

It’s greatly helped by the fact that the owner is a Briton who’s been living in Perth for 25 years and is a self made man, running his own businesses, buying and selling property, and has now retired to Bali himself with his wife. We’re just on the same wavelength as each other, both have the same attitudes and feelings about Perth and Bali. It’s almost a case of completing each other’s sentences.

We met for lunch yesterday with Yudhi, then went to the villa and spent nearly two hours going over it while I pointed out rough bits that needed cleaning up and minor fixes. In fact, John spotted many things I hadn’t and volunteered willingly to fix them.

Best of all, I’d spoken about the need for an electric lift way of getting to the upper floor, since I’m finding the stairs a little difficult.

He says he can source a glass enclosed lift which will easily do the job and can be mounted on the outside, in an ideal spot next to the stairs. Being fully glass enclosed, it’s weatherproof. He says it’s not expensive, but I don’t know what that means yet. No problem.

It’s ideal, because John is well used to sourcing supplies and parts for his business, so “just does it.” If it were me, I’d be agonising and faffing around, trying to design and build one myself and never achieving it.

We also agreed on sliding timber doors for the double garage to provide security and weather protection, so at last I’ll be able to build my DCC model railway! How ironic – no room to do it in Perth, and had given up on the idea, but here I can revive it, in Bali!

I also said to John, why would I want an oven here? At first he was surprised when I said all I want is a microwave oven, but then he realised he could take my (brand new, in box) oven away for another villa and credit me on a microwave instead. Solved to both our benefits.

So today we’re going to the CommBank branch here to arrange a cash advance, then to a bedding shop to buy a bed and mattress, then to choose a fridge and microwave, all these for later delivery. And a sheet set. The airconditioners work in all four bedrooms, so sleeping should be very nice.

And we agreed that the bathroom toilets need a patterned glass door to give privacy. At the moment, the toilet is in full view if anyone comes out of the bedroom, but even I draw the line at that! Open plan living goes only so far.

We also arranged for a stainless steel ladder at a gentle slope to be made for the pool, and a few extra intermediate steps to make the step-ups a little less effort.

So all in all, it’s a done deal. I’m even going to be able to leave some heavy and bulky items here (CPAP, tripod, monopod, and some clothes) so that I can travel back light and easy.

And best of all, they asked when my flight is: it’s 9am on Wednesday, which means leaving this hotel at 6.30am or so. I was hoping the hotel would provide transport, but no way! Not this rip-off palace. But Yudhi and John said they’ll drive me! I’m amazed.

So back to hotel atrocities: there was aletter under my door when I got in last night. “Dear Mr Croft, we have a credit limit of Rp.1,000,000 ($111) and as you have reached Rp.6,450,000 ($715), please come to reception and settle this amount immediately.”

What??!! I was shocked. All I’d booked up was three beer tabs of $15 or so each and one meal of about $25. I thought there must be some mistake. Had someone else been signing stuff for my room?
When I booked, I had to provide my credit card details, of course. I assumed I’d paid in advance, on-line, since this was a cheap(er) rate non-refundable booking.

I haven’t been to reception yet (Monday morning) but I sincerely hope it’s just that the credit card on-line was only a guarantee, and that the big amount is just for the first six nights acommodation. It better be just a misunderstanding.

OK, breakfast a the Art Cafe across the road and free unlimited wi-fi with it, for $5.50 instead of the $15 this hotel wants for breakfast. Grrr.

Later: hotel bill fixed OK.