Happy New Year, Selemat Tahun Baru

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That’s a shot from home, but it seems appropriate for New Year. All the best for 2017, my 70th year. I’m getting a strange delight in telling people I’m 70, even though I’m not quite there yet. I reckon I’m in not bad condition for a 70 year old. I’m wrestling with myself over the decision – do I have the drastic and risky gastric bypass operation or not? The surgeon might make my mind for me, he seemed a bit reluctant last time we spoke. Give it three or four months after the band removal (22 November), he said, then we’ll talk again. OK with me.

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I’m writing this in a Gloria Jeans coffee shop in Jalan Legian. I wanted to eat local type food but this seemed to be the only place active. The “maitre d’ ” seems to be camp as a row of tents, oozing over all the customers, but it’s fun.

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We arrived here on Friday evening at about 6pm after driving from Lovina. I took over the driving from Singaraja as V was feeling a bit unwell. This was my first experience driving a car in Bali (I rode motorbikes 30 years ago), and it’s a manual transmission, so it ain’t easy. Up over the mountains, feeling the lack of power from what seems to be a 1300cc engine, finding the need to keep the revs up near 3000rpm to get any power on the steep winding road. Phew! Getting stuck behind slow trucks grinding their way up, looking for a way to pass, seeing a possible break then finding another car or groups of motorbikes already on my right passing me and the truck, forcing me to wait.

Then getting to the outskirts of Denpasar at twilight, heavy traffic, winding, narrow roads, glaring headlights, suicidal motorbike riders coming at me from all directions, even on the wrong side of the road, riding alongside me on both sides, including passing me on the nearly blind left side.

At one point we were looking for an ATM. I saw one in a service station, made a snap decision to turn sharp left into the driveway – bang, crunch, yell. There had been a motorbike rider and his girlfriend pillion passenger riding beside me on my left and they got a small bang. And, I hope, a lesson not to ride there! No injuries or damage, luckily, just apologies all round, but the car has a new set of scratches on the left side. No dent, so they can just be sprayed and polished.

But more serious was the first night we had the car, last Thursday evening. A misjudged attempt to reverse into a narrow lane way so as to turn around on the main road, an engine stall, a roll back and a forced meeting with a steel pole on the driver’s side door. Crunch! It pushed the door in, with a lot of paint damage, and an electric window that couldn’t be raised. Inability to lock the car. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Worry about a possible day’s delay in our trip south.

But next morning, in the cool air, before she was awake and with the help of the house security/dogsbody guy, I managed to get the door lining off and pushed the dent out from the inside, enough to get the window up, anyway. We can lock the car now. V’s going to try to get a new door from the Daihatsu dealer in Denpasar. It may be cheap enough to simply replace it. That’ll be tomorrow, Monday.

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Today, Sunday 1 January is a day of sleep-in after our Happy New Year last night. We were at a club right on Legian beach, part of the Bali Mandira hotel. Wow, pretty good. All built from bamboo poles (have a look – http://azulbali.com/ ). It’s spectacular. There were fireworks going off all around the Kuta/Legian/Seminyak area all evening, from around sunset, continuous. The noise was deafening at times. Thousands of rockets and bangs, for hours, to a crescendo at midnight. Tight security, of course, with a bag search for me, no problem, happy to comply. There have been warnings.

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The fireworks were nearly continuous for five hours!

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At the Azul Beach Club, German friends on the left. I like this shot. Look how animated I am!

We four were seated next to a big table of about eight young ladies, and they were all from Perth, social workers, friends seemingly from my area, Butler. We were invited to join our table to theirs for a while, and join in a “roll o’ the dice” drinking game, but we couldn’t figure out the rules so that got stale. The music from a DJ and a live band was deafening, along with the cacophony of bangs from the fireworks, so I spent most of the evening nursing my drinks. No problem, it was all good fun.

The crazy thing is that there was supposed to be a complete ban on road vehicles of all kinds from 4pm on the night. We were in a bind – the club was nearly 1.5km away, a bit of an ordeal for me to walk. V spent a lot of time trying to organise some kind of transport but without success. I said it’s OK, I’ll walk.

But when we walked out of our hotel to the street at about 8pm, the first thing we saw in Jalan Legian was a taxi. There were guys all around saying, “Transport? Transport madame?” So we got a very nice people mover to the club after all. A bit pricey at Rp100,000 (A$11 approx.) but there’s no choice on a night like that.

However, getting home was harder. Get a taxi at 1am on New Year’s Eve? You must be joking. We waited about 20 mins in a crowd but the taxis were all taken by the time they got near to the club. In the end we had to walk it, and after a night of strong drinks, it was hard going. But we got “home” at about 1.30am and fell into bed exhausted. It was a good night, though. Beautifully cool and not too humid and we were seated right under a good fan. I enjoyed it, my best New Year’s Eve for many, many years.

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V has met two friends out from Germany, one on her first visit to Bali. Unfortunately, one has minimal English, so all the conversation has to be in German. That’s as it has to be, but it’s a bit boring for me. We’re in Legian until Wednesday, and not sure what’s on the agenda after that. White water rafting at Ubud for one, apparently. Not for me!

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I return home in 10 days’ time and it’ll be good to get back. There always seems to be something happening in V’s life and some of it is a bit stressful for me. And for her too, I think. I need a holiday! I look forward to home and my own bed.

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