Bali – 1 January 2015

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Happy Noo Year! Croak.

I’m writing this at 4.00am, in another sleepless night. I lay there for two hours from midnight but sleep wouldn’t come. I’ve taken a mild sedative and I can feel myself slowing down so I’ll go back to bed soon.

I went to the free buffet dinner with mixed results. They placed me at a table by myself away from the main dining area, down three steps and right next to the kitchen doors! Grrrr. They told me all the up-steps tables were reserved. Bit annoying. The food was satay, of course, and all the usual salads and spring rolls and so on. One thing I tried was deep fried taro, which I’ve heard of but never tried before. It’s a bit like potato, I suppose. Not bad.

But to make up for the seating position, there was a Balinese dance performance which I wasn’t expecting:

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(C) PJ Croft 2015

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I said “Smile”, but he wooden.

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Charming girls. (C) PJ Croft 2015

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There were big fireworks displays going off all around here. Unfortunately I’m screened by big buildings so I could hear all the bangs and see an occasional burst of sparks, but that was it. It really crescendoed at midnight to the accompaniment of a choir of female screams. The huge bangs were good – the screams less so.

I often think how interesting it is that we still regard fireworks displays as the best thing we can do to celebrate events even after more than 1000 years, since the invention of gunpowder in the 9th century.

I think the Dubai hotel fireworks are going a bit off the plan, though. I’m watching CNN from Dubai now. Wow, what a display!

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11am: Uuurrrgh, feeling woozy, tired. I got to sleep eventually at about 4.30am but woke again at the usual time of 5.30, then 6.30, then 7am and so on. I’ve had brekky and I’ll have to try to sleep again.

I turned the TV on (CNN) and a new record! In less than three minutes, the day’s first use of ‘iconic’. This word has become the world’s worst cliche. It’s so bad that I’m making a public announcement: I’m offering a reward of $1 per article to any journalist in the world who can show me an article they’ve written that does not use ‘iconic’.

I’m also setting up Iconics Anonymous, offering help to journalists and scriptwriters afflicted with this awful addiction to iconic. We’ll hold meetings where you can freely confess your sickness. Treatment will be aversion therapy, where you’ll be given articles to read where iconic is used over and over again. There’s no shortage of articles. Don’t worry, even the BBC is not immune. We’ll do our best to give you substitute words you can use, like famous, or well known, or historic and many other words. You can do it! You can stop saying ‘iconic’. Try it.

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TV in these hotel rooms is cable, of course, with 60 channels to choose from. Only some are in English and of interest, of course.

The thing I’m noticing is how repetitive the programs are. The same few news items are sent out over and over again, each hour. There’s very little new news. CNN is especially bad in repeating major things like Amanpour, the interview program by Christiane Amanpour. She does and interview, then it’s repeated three, four, five times over the next few days.

I especially like the National Geographic Channel, but again, a program I’m really interested in is repeated, day after day. I can understand reusing programs, but it does get boring.

One of their programs that especially good (for me) is about Dubai airport and all the behind the scenes stuff. I love this. Changing the spark plugs in an Airbus jet engine. There’s one on each engine. Fascinating.

It’s notable that all the major staff at Dubai are British, Australian, South African or other English speakers. Some Arab staff seem competent, but …

Another really, really interesting program is How Do They Do It, a program showing how things are made. I love seeing this. I might have to weaken and get pay-TV at home. Maybe.

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Rice paddy terraces, near Tegalalang. A shot grabbed out the window of the moving car. It’s quite sharp. (C) PJ Croft 2015

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Honest Aussie Money Changer. Don’tcha just feel so safe?

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Crumbs, I’ve just been hearing lots of shuffling sounds in the corridor and lots of sounds like someone pushing on my door. I assumed it was the cleaners, maybe bumping their trolley against my door or something. Then there was a knock at the door.

I opened it and there was an Middle Eastern looking guy in shorts and T shirt and typical Muslim beard, and his woman, more covered up. Unsmiling. They just looked at me without saying anything. I said, “Sorry, you must have the wrong room.” I don’t think they believed me! They looked past me, into my room, as if to try to see their friends or their stuff.

They didn’t say sorry, they just mumbled and walked away. Bit rude. I’m glad they didn’t get me off the bed.

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 9pm: I’ve just had dinner in the hotel restaurant. I’ve been seeing an ad in the lift for the past few days for Bebek NyatNyat. It’s such a curious name that I had to try it. Bebek is duck. It’s braised duck with spices, whatever nyatnyat means.

I should have known better. I don’t think I will ever order duck again. I’m always disappointed. It was half a duck carcass all covered in some spice mixture, and very tender, but all bones and skin and fat. I got a little nice meat off it, but at great waste of time and effort. The nyatnyat seemed to be just veges and white rice. Very disappointing, in other words.

Considering I was feeling a bit nauseous from the antibiotic and the Byetta, ugh! I ordered dessert to try to cover the taste: a green tea pancake with ice cream. It was nice, but all drizzled with honey and a caramel toffee thing, sickly sweet. It sure covered the taste of the duck.

To make up for all this, I was served by a waitress  I’d noticed before, and she knows me by now. Wow, she is something special. The way she talks says just what I like to hear, voice lower register, fast, precise speech. Very smart. If only …

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