Back again

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I’m back on the Island of the Gods, for my 5th trip this year and my 14th since 1980.

The shops and taxi driver are saying, “It’s so quiet. There are no tourists.” Where is everyone? My taxi driver had been at the airport since 7am and my hire at 12.30pm was his first of the day. I bought some DVDs just now and the poor woman said I was her first customer all day. She remarked on how boring it is to sit there with no customers. I feel sorry for them. It’s good for me, of course, not crowded, shops wanting to do any bargaining to get a sale.

So what’s wrong? Is it fear of terr–ism? Bermbs? I feel safe enough, as long as I avoid the flashy nightclubs, but I wouldn’t go there anyway. Assuming they’d let this portly, balding, 70 yo gentleman in. 😉

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I flew Garuda and the spacing between seats is much nicer than Air Asia Cattle Class. I can easily get the tray table down, no trouble. A full breakfast is served, with wine if wanted. I wanted. Full movie entertainment in the seat screen. A 30kg luggage allowance (I used it all). Lots to like.

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The movie I watched was marvellous! It was called Genius, the story of a book editor called Max Perkins at a Baltimore publisher in 1929 and on. He edited Thomas Wolfe, as the subject of the movie, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Ernest Hemingway even made a scene.

The star was Colin Firth, and what a great actor he is. Wolfe was played by Jude Law, and Fitzgerald was played by our Perth hometown boy, Guy Pearce. Wolfe’s wife lover was Nicole Kidman, in another great performance. All in all, it was a good Aussie showing.

I highly recommend this movie. Firth plays an understated role and (almost) never removes his hat, even at the dinner table at home.

I’m confused though: is this the Thomas Wolfe who wrote The Bonfire of the Vanities? I thought that was set in the 1960s and 70s, whereas this Wolfe died in 1950 aged 31. I must look it up.

PS: I looked it up. There’s also a living author called Tom Wolfe, born 1931. He wrote The Right Stuff, about US test pilots who become astronauts.

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And here was another of my amazing coincidences. At the airport I was talking about the author Ken Follett with my friend Geoff, who drove me out there. I recommended he reads The Pillars of the Earth by that author, which I found to be a great story.

One of the characters in that book is a woman named Alene, and she shines as being very intelligent and resourceful, becoming a leader of that medieval community called Kingsbridge, which happens to be the name of a street where I live, Kingsbridge Boulevard, Butler. But that’s not the coincidence.

Here’s the amazing coincidence: who is Thomas Wolfe’s wife in this movie, Genius? Her name is Aline, played by Nicole Kidman.

Dang blast it, Alene and Aline, just a few hours apart! It’s a cosmic force, I tell you.

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Denpasar airport Customs were much more interested in me than usual. I had nothing to declare, but I had a suitcase, a big cardboard box weighing 7.5kg, my CPAP, all bubble wrapped as checked baggage, my camera bag, my insulin bag and my duty free bag, quite a load.

They pulled me aside after I’d gone through the Nothing to Declare line, and asked about each item. I had to open the insulin cold bag, my camera bag, and they asked about the CPAP, what it was. Then they pulled my suitcase off and X-rayed it again. They didn’t ask me to open it, which I would have happily done. The one thing they didn’t ask about was the big box, and that one I was a little nervous about because it had some food things in it, Xmas pudding, biscuits etc. But they seemed oblivious to it. Lucky, because opening it would have been a major hassle, being all taped up and tied with twine.

So it was all for nothing. I don’t know why they chose me today.

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My cosmic good luck has let me down. I unpacked this afternoon and went to get another insulin cartridge out of the box in the fridge. I brought four boxes, each with five cartridges, enough for four weeks.

But the top box was empty! It was still taped to the other three, but contained no cartridges. Fool!

It means I’ll have to ration my supply, and I’ll look to see if I can buy insulin here. The big pharmacies (Apoteks) are big on diabetes supplies these days, so it’s quite possible I’ll be able to get it.

But here’s another blow: I just went to take my evening tablets and found that I’ve left this morning’s Webster pack (a week’s worth of tablets) on the bathroom counter at home. I’ve only brought three of the four I prepared.

I’ve got spare tablets, and I think it’ll be enough to make this pack up again, but I might have to ration things. I’ll sleep on it – too tired to think about it now. G’night.

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That’s if I can sleep with the noise of the live band playing in the restaurant one floor below. Grrrr. And the light on the balcony that can’t be switched off, it’s on a timer and goes off at midnight. Double grrrrr!. Luckily there are full curtains to black it out.

But when I arrived at 1pm this afternoon, tired from lack of sleep, I had to stand at the entrance for 10 minutes trying to attract the attention of the reception people to bring my things in off the forecourt. I was getting annoyed. I asked them to bring the trolley, but to no avail.

Then they told me check-in time is 2pm and the room was still being cleaned. Please wait, they’ll be as quick as possible. But they weren’t. I had to wait in the foyer until 2pm before they took me to the room! I was tired and falling asleep! I’m not happy about this because I told them at booking more than a month ago that I’d be arriving at 1pm. Anyway, if things are so quiet, is this the only room? Couldn’t they have given me a vacant room? I think a written complaint might be needed. Very poor check-in, pokey bathroom, light on the balcony that can’t be switched off, excessive noise from the restaurant. What next?

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