Bali, Sanur, day 20

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Why do I post this? That pattern in the circle is the Philips PM5544 test signal that’s been in use in TV stations for decades. It tells almost everything about a transmission path. Here it tells me I can’t escape my past. Aaaarrrgh!

Only day 20? Time flies when you’re having fun. We’ve been moving around a fair bit — Pemaron, the Astana Hotel and now here at the Artotel, Sanur. There’s a move back to Pemaron on the cards soon. We’ll work on that today.

Meanwhile V has had a nasty accident in the hotel pool. The ladder is made of 2″ diameter stainless steel tubing. That means the rungs are round and slippery, and she slipped along one rung and dislocated her left big toe. Ouch! It must have been painful. I’ve slipped myself, though not that badly.

Trouper that she is, she popped it back into position herself and, back in the room, plunged it into iced water. That seems to have done a lot of good, because she can walk on it and has gone to breakfast while I write this in the room. Later: not so good. A lot of bruising has come on and she really can’t walk on it. The hotel admits it’s their responsibility to provide a doctor, but here we are 90 mins later and still waiting. They suggested massage might help. I don’t think so.

Later still: the Dokter came and has examined the toe, finding no serious damage, but has taped it up with the toe next to it and suggested pain relief strategies. It’s hurting, though.

We had a ding-dong with the hotel over the charge for the doctor though. They thought we said we’d pay for the doctor, but that’s not our recollection. We maintained that it’s a hotel pool fault and they should pay. After some teeth sucking, they’ve agreed.

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It’s smaller on the inside than the outside.

That’s another black mark against this hotel.

  • The hotel is not finished building. The room is too small, but the bigger rooms are not finished.
  • It’s not especially comfortable. The mattress is hard. We had to ask for extra chairs.
  • The pillows are too big (high) and stuffed hard. It’s difficult to find a good position. V brought her own, luckily, and we’ve acquired a couple more.
  • The bathroom is all black stone tiles and has no exhaust fan. It smells.
  • The toilet leaks – just water from the fancy washer, luckily.
  • There’s inadequate wardrobe space.
  • The fridge is tiny. You can’t make or keep ice in it. It doesn’t get cold enough.
  • The safe was not working when we arrived and although it’s OK now, it’s not fixed to anything. A brazen thief could walk away with it.
  • There was a very bright light shining above our balcony, but it couldn’t be switched off. It was so bright that we were driven mad by it. They finally brought a ladder and partially unscrewed it, but only after three nights of pulling the curtains tightly closed, so that we couldn’t have the balcony door ajar for the night air.
  • There’s an external steel stairway right next to our balcony, and anyone on it can potentially see into our room.
  • There’s far too much sound leakage from the restaurant up through the atrium and into the room for my liking. This is not a quiet hotel.
  • There’s far too much construction noise, some from within the hotel and some from next door. Hammering, drilling, angle grinding.
  • Although the web advertises a rooftop bar, it’s not finished and not operating.
  • The pool ladder is dangerous – see above.
  • There are numerous small step changes in floor level in the walkways, where I have to watch my feet lest I trip. I saw a young woman slip and fall near the pool a couple of days ago.
  • The floor tiles outside the rooms look awful! They are grey polished concrete and look dirty at all times.
  • The floor in the room always feels dusty, we can’t work out why.
  • The room lighting is crazy. The switching is on one side of the bed only and operates by a master switch, but nothing is labelled. One of the three subordinate switches doesn’t seem to do anything. If I get up in the night, I have no light to see by.
  • The walls in the room are bare smooth concrete, with all the blemishes that concrete has. Ugh. They have an “art” pattern painted on, but it doesn’t help.
  • The aircon keeps switching itself off. I wake in the night too warm, and find it’s off.
  • Some of the furnishings (e.g. bedside cabinets) are made from steel. It feels cold and ugly.
  • As soon as you put the card in the slot on entry, the TV turns on with stupid pop music video that repeats ad infinitum. I’m sick of having to find the remote to turn it off.

On the positive side:

  • The staff are excellent. They realise it’s not finished, but there’s nothing they can do. All they can do is apologise. That’s fair enough.
  • The restaurant breakfast, included in the room rate, is fantastic. Probably the best we’ve had. Again, the wait staff are terrific, always ready to get water, juice, coffee, eggs, whatever. Think of it, and it’s done, almost. It’s good.
  • The coffee comes from proper coffee machines – the beans are ground in the machines. It’s good fresh coffee.
  • The room also has a capsule coffee maker, the Dolce Gusto one. Again, good coffee (says he, with shaking hands).
  • The location is great: right opposite a small shop, with ATMs (that don’t work), an Apotek (chemist) around the corner, a pizza shop with gluten free pastry, a frozen yoghurt shop, plenty of restaurants, and a short 250m walk to a real beach and a great restaurant, the Stiff Chilli. This is an Italian restaurant, Aussie owned now, open to the sea breeze, with a Balinese waiter who can speak passable Italian. How about that? He said he learnt it from tourists. Amazing. Plus he speaks Balinese, Bahasa and English. Pretty good!
  • The sheets and towels are changed every day and the towels are thick, new and pure white. Nice.

That’s enough for now. I won’t labour the point. We had high hopes for this hotel, having booked 14 nights and pre-paid, but we don’t like it much. Eight nights to go.

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Sanur fisherman. (C) PJ Croft 1986, 2016

Some random thoughts on Bali:

  • The use of English is increasing, taking over from Bahasa Indonesian in many instances.
  • Likewise, the intrusion of American cafe and fast food joints. Obesity, here we come.
  • The traffic is often horrendous. It can take 40 minutes to go 5Km.
  • The rubbish in the ocean water is very bad. Plastic bags are often floating by. I shudder to think what else is in there.
  • The locals are as friendly as ever. I’ve never had a bad experience.
  • But they still tout for your business at every opportunity. That’s OK with me.
  • Prices are steadily rising, for we tourists anyway. Some of the restaurant bills are approaching Perth levels. Wine is especially expensive: $8 for a 150ml glass. That’s a small quantity. The quality varies from awful (Hattens) to excellent (Aussie, South African and Chilean wines).

More as I think of it.

Bali gold fisher R3b

(C) PJ Croft 1986, 2016

Bali, Sanur, day 18

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This is the view from our hotel doorway right now. Gunung Agung, around 48Km away. It’s huge, by any stretch.

It’s another fine day and I went for a long walk this morning. I needed a haircut (gunting rambut) so I went to the Peni Weni Salon near the Taksu. They remembered me from March. Hey, how could they forget? I’m the guy who had a manicure and got his fingernails painted.

I had a coffee in the kulkas (fridge) that is the Taksu coffee shop, then set off down Jalan Sudamala to Jalan Cemara, then left, heading back here. My purpose was to check out a villa that one of the salon ladies was trying to persuade me to rent. In Jade Villas.

Yeah, right. First, it’s already rented and is booked out for most of the year, and second, it’s US$200 a night! Hah, forget it, lady. The villa is in a fantastic complex, down a lane and quiet. It would be nice.

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Anyway, I continued on the last few hundred meters to the Artotel. All up, about 1.34Km.

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That’s Artotel, across in Jl. Poso to the Taksu, down to Jl. Cemara, then across and around to Artotel.

In this warmth, that’s not bad for a 69 year old, obese, geriatric guy. I handled it OK, walking slowly, stopping a couple of times to cool down a bit in the shade.

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I’ve just seen, in the Bali Advertiser, that there’s hardly a beach left in Bali that’s not polluted by raw sewage at some time. That’s not just disheartening and shameful, it’s also a big risk for someone like me with a compromised immune system, possibly unnoticed small skin breaks and in view of the near end of antibiotics. It’s scary.

This hotel has a rooftop pool (there’s nowhere else to put it!) with an infinity edge. We can only hope it’s properly chlorinated.

We bought rubber sandals yesterday to protect our feet from the sharp coral fragments in the water at the beach. At $5.69 a pair, they don’t break the budget, even if they break the style council rules.

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Ain’t that cute?

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Another view of my “girlfriend”.

 

Bali, Sanur, day 16

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Padang Padang Beach near Uluwatu. Sorry about the power lines, I’ll fix that – see below.   (C) PJ Croft 2016

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See? Fixed. PJC

We moved hotels yesterday to what we both thought would be a very good choice. Huh. Mistake.

The problem is that this hotel, the Artotel, is quite new and has only been open for three months or so. I give top marks to the staff, they are as friendly and cooperative as they can be, but the hotel is not fully finished and the room design is not satisfactory, shall we say.

It’s advertised as 30 sq.m. but it’s just too small for us. For one person, it would be fine, but for the two of us, we have inadequate wardrobe and cupboard space. I’m having to leave my suitcase packed, only opening it on the bed as required.

We asked strongly for a bigger room, being prepared to pay the extra cost, but we’re told there are no beds yet in the bigger rooms. They’re just not finished.

The light switching in the room is just weird. There’s a master switch on one side of the bed, and another switch which is just plain confusing. We can’t work out how to use it. One overhead light isn’t working, and there are no bedside lamps, so we can’t read in bed. But worse, if I need to get up in the night, I would have to go around to the other side of the bed and negotiate the master switch if I want light in the bathroom. No, no, no.

The toilet seemed to be leaking water onto the floor as well. The whole bathroom is tiled in black stone tiles. It feels dark and constricted. At least the floor is not slippery. The tapware is stupid, design gone mad.

But the funniest thing is the safe. I should have let the room guide finish showing me how to use it, because he would have found what I found: first, there’s no power on the safe so you can’t lock it; and second, it’s not fixed to anything. Any thief could pick it up from the shelf and walk away with it. Crazy. They’ve promised to fix it, but I doubt it will happen.

There’s a balcony, but we’re right next to an external stairway so that anyone using it (workmen do) can see into our room. There are no chairs out there and it’s in full sun, nearly all day, anyway. It’s also too small to be useful.

On the good side, there’s a capsule coffee maker in the room, and the coffee served in the restaurant is also capsule coffee made to order and served in double walled glass cups. The staff are fantastic. They’re super friendly and cooperative and are listening to our complaints and doing what they can. Unfortunately, they can’t solve our problem – the too small room.

On another good side, the front ground floor restaurant is great. It’s open air to the street and cooled by fans, with comfortable padded arm chairs and seats if you want to lounge.

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Uluwatu       (C) PJ Croft 2016

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Sambal, sir? Ulu Watu.     (C) PJ Croft 2016

We went to Uluwatu on Tuesday and I got ambushed by a monkey. The little bastard came up behind me when I was sitting on a low wall and tore my glasses off my head. I immediately yelled and a guard came, quick smart, and got them back for me, but the left arm is bent out a bit and they won’t sit straight. It should be easily fixed, but I haven’t had a chance yet.

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A water dragon in the pool set aside for the monkeys! Uluwatu

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Just working on his tan. Uluwatu

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For once, the wi-fi in this hotel is WPA secured. That means I can look at my banking with a reasonable degree of confidence that no-one else is looking over my shoulder. It’s also pretty fast, although utterly variable. Download 7.58Mb/s, upload 4.47Mb/s – at the moment! But a minute later it can be 1Mb/s. It  doesn’t matter, it feels fast, and faster than at home where the best I get is 1.3Mb/s through iiNet.

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After Uluwatu we went home via Benoa harbour, where the passenger terminal is. Nearby were moored two yachts. Look at them!

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This is super-rich stuff. The Beagle is Cowes badged and the other, the Sarafin, is Georgetown, Cayman Islands  badged. Both gleaming, immaculate. I’d have better photos but the battery in my camera chose that moment to die.

I was sitting on a bollard and as I stood up, I nearly tripped on a thin rope. Lucky I was carrying my walking stick as it acted to stop me falling.

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More money supplies. Jimbaran (C) PJ Croft 2016

Bali, Sanur, day 13

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Moonrise over Lembongan.    (C) Veronika 2016

What a night was last night. Thanks to V’s perusal of events and things to do, we went to a beachfront “market”, for want of a better word, last night, Sunday night. It’s just a big cleared area off the main street of Sanur on the beachfront. There are tables and chairs, lawn for picnics and a big range of food and drink stalls. Fabulous, cooked-to-order food, with beer or wine available. A stubby (330ml) of Bintang is Rp25,000 or about $2.50, and a large glass of wine was about $10.

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Anyway, the highlight was that we were sitting on the beach when I noticed a faint red glow above the island of Nusa Lembongan or Nusa Penida. At first I thought it was a fire, but it grew rapidly and then I realised it was the full moon rising. Wow!

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The dot at top right is Venus.   (C) PJ Croft 2016

I had my camera, of course, and over the next hour I shot 85 frames. (That’s the great thing about digital, you can just keep shooting almost regardless. With a 32GB card in the camera, I can take about 10,000 shots!)

So here are some more samples.

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(C) PJ Croft 2016

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(C) PJ Croft 2016

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(C) PJ Croft 2016

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(C) PJ Croft 2016

Looking to the left (north), there was a brief fireworks display above the Bali Beach Hotel:

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After that, a couple of guys walked in front of us above the waterline and pushed something tall into the sand. What was it? A skyrocket.

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(C) PJ Croft 2016

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It sent about eight rockets up.  (C) PJ Croft 2016

Veronika went over to talk to one of the guys when it was finished. He was a Kiwi and said it cost about $20 for that multiple rocket launch.

I was excited by the prospect of some good photos, but unfortunately working hand held at ISO1600 meant that my pics are pretty noisy and many were shaky or blurred. I had to switch to manual focus. I have nothing but praise for the camera, the Panasonic FZ1000. When shooting in MF, it brings up an enlarged centre square with sparkly edges when you hit focus. Even in the dark, you can see this and also the horizon line so that you can keep the camera level. Add image stabilisation and it’s a revelation. If I’d had a tripod, I would have done much better, though. Overall, with a taxi back to the hotel costing only $2, it was a good night.

Sanur, Bali, day 12

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I had an interesting night last night, to say the least. We went to a cabaret show in Legian that featured performers who were not what they seemed.

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I’ll let you draw your own conclusions. I wore a sarong. Almost needless to say, it’s Aussie owned and run. I enjoyed the night, but the music was so loud that we were having to cover our ears at times. It was almost at danger level – it probably was. Unfortunately, the club has to compete with another bar across the street also playing music very loudly.

It was very noticeable to me that there was a big crowd of all sexes (sic) and ages. Women with women, older men, young people – they knew what it was about and were loving it.

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But the traffic getting to and from the night club! What should take no more than 20 mins takes nearly 45mins or more. The risks motor bike riders take – yi yi yi! The attitude of drivers is to grab any gap, forcing other drivers to give way, even if there’s no advantage in doing so. Drive in the right lane, then force your way across to turn left at the last minute. I just have to shut up and ignore it. Even so, I can’t help emitting gasps and exclamations.

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Another type of show.   Malang, Java 1989  (C) PJ Croft 2016

It’s Ramadan for the Muslims from Sunday 5 June to Tuesday 5 July. Bali is Hindu, of course, but there are many who follow this tradition, I’m told. No food or drink between sunrise and sunset, and prayers every three hours, even through the night.

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A couple of nights ago we had dinner at an up market Japanese restaurant in Jalan Danau Tamblingan. It was probably the best Japanese I’ve had.

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This was V’s Sushi Crocodile. That’s eel on top, which she passed to me and I tried for the first time. It was OK but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find it.

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Beautifully presented.

We couldn’t finish our food and had to ask for a doggy bag. No problem getting it. We also had a bottle of Chilean chardonnay – wow it was nice, delicate, one of the best I’ve had. The remainder is still in the fridge right now and I look forward to finishing it.

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Wave

What a beautiful wave. Photo ABC News website.

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Dieng Plateau, Java, 1989   (C) PJ Croft 2016

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Solo, Java 1989     (C) PJ Croft 2016

Bali, Sanur, day 11

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Near Kuta in 1983. It’s now nothing but buildings. Sic transit. (C) PJ Croft 2016

Another fine day in paradise. It’s very noticeable that the humidity is a bit lower and there’s no rain: it’s definitely the dry season. I like it, but being from boring old Perth, I like the variety and excitement of the daily changes in the rainy season. Strokes for folks.

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We’re in Sanur, at the Astana Pengembak hotel. It’s OK without being special. I’m about to have an after brekky swim, or Schwim as I’ve taken to calling it 🙂

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The pool is heavily shaded, which means it stays cool to almost cold, which we like. I must say that although they say they take no responsibility for any injuries while using the pool, if they leave a ladder loose in the tiles and creaking and groaning as you use it, if it came loose I would complain very loudly. The trouble with Indonesia is that things don’t get fixed.

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The room does not look like this. Disappointing.

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Anyway, moving out day is Wednesday and we’ve been trying to find another hotel until my departure date on 8 May. A couple of hopefuls turned out disappointing – yesterday we went to look at the Respati Beach Resort. At first, it looked fantastic, a room right by the pool with a view through the restaurant to the beach. I was enthused. But the aircon didn’t work, and when we asked if it could be fixed by next Wednesday, all we got was a shrug and a polite suggestion that probably no. We could perhaps have had another room, but it would have been upstairs, no lift, and was not available for our full two weeks. So we asked about a bungalow. The price they quoted was way above the Booking.com price, and even way above their own web site price. Huh? But the only suggestion was to come back next day when the manager was there. Sorry, Respati, you lost us.

So after a fair bit of searching, trying to accommodate each others’ likes and dislikes, we’ve finally found and booked what looks like a beautiful hotel, the Artotel, near Semawang Beach where we were last Wednesday. We both love the idea of being right near that beach with a very nice restaurant right there on the beach. The hotel looks very new, has a lift and a rooftop infinity pool. Wow. The rooms are all done in earthy tones, but with one wall above the bed painted in an art theme. We’re enthused and have booked. What a relief, to finally have certainty of where we’ll be.

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So now to think of some things to do in the next two weeks. Um, er, gee, duh, what to do in Bali??? Hah!

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Gunung Agung from Sanur Beach, dry season 1986. Maybe I could get some more shots like this?  (C) PJ Croft 2016

One thing is to get a boat or ferry across to the islands nearby: Lembongan, Nusa Peneeda, Lombok (a bit far), or the Gilis. Probably a bit ambitious, but just being out on the water excites us both.

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I forgot to mention last week that I continue to lose weight. It’s different scales, but I measured at least one less kilogram last week. I think one key to it is having a good slow digesting breakfast that sees us through the afternoon, not needing lunch, then a relatively early evening meal. Only two meals a day instead of three. I can do that with my Byetta, which suppresses my appetite. Bagus!

Since I’m returning to Perth sooner than expected (within my 30 day visa), I’ve emailed the gastric surgeon to ask for an earlier appointment. I’m not sure when it will be.

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Barnett kecil

Ha ha ha. Premier Barnett, little man, you’re coming up for election soon. Prepare to lose. Picture ABC News

The comments by federal immigration minister Peter Dutton are offensive and disgusting, as usual. He says refugees and immigrants are illiterate and will take jobs from Australians or be dole bludgers. He is just plain wrong, but he doesn’t care. He’s a Liberal – Liberals can say anything, tell any lie, make up any fabrication, break any commitment, many of them are psychopaths. This creature is especially despicable. To me, he is loathsome!