In the bag

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My new bag, front side.

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New bag, backside.

It was another long tiring day yesterday, but successful.  First, though, I’m writing this at 5.45am due to another sleepless night. I slept about two hours until 1am, then woke and despite lying there for hours, have not got back to sleep. So now I’m listening to ABC Radio National via the internet and having some coffee and a small snack. I guess I’ll crash later, but since it’s Sunday and I have no schedule, it hardly matters.

It was successful because I took my laptop with me to check size and found the bag above fits it OK (not perfectly, but good enough), so I bought it. Fossil brand. Real leather and grey cotton canvas. Not too many pockets, so you don’t lose stuff. Another handbag for me.

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I was sorely tempted by a US made Tumi brand above, but the prices were astronomical, over $500. Beautifully made, but that’s too much.

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While waiting for the Kura Kura bus today, I had a long talk with Gus, the duty manager of this Taksu Hotel. Very nice guy, probably younger than thirty and already a proud father of one boy, with another boy in the oven. He knows the sex before it’s born. Two sons will help him with his old age support, as is necessary here, where there’s no pension or any form of social security, but he’d like a daughter next time. He lives in his parents’ house with his own family and a sister, and his mother who is in her 50s. His father is older and infirm in some way and is in separate accommodation. I didn’t understand that bit.

He’s very keen to get my business and when I said I’d definitely stay here next time, he said he’ll give me a better price than any of the on-line booking sites. Bagus. He gave me his phone number and email and said just call or write.

[Holy smoke! I’d just written a long paragraph, when I saw it literally disappear before my eyes. Something erased it, and it wasn’t me. Damn! Infuriating. The bugs in this Word Press software are numerous and annoying and are never fixed. Grrrrrr! I suppose I can’t complain about free software, but I will. Word Press, lift your game!]

So now I start this paragraph again, if I can remember what I wrote. I said whenever we/I have chosen another hotel, invariably it’s disappointed us, sometimes in big ways. The Taksu is almost the perfect hotel as far as I’m concerned, and I’ll keep coming back. I’ll resist any attempt to persuade me to use another hotel. Sorry, my dear.

The rooms seem especially spacious. I’m in the cheapest room at the moment, but at 35m2 it’s still exceptionally large. It has a big armchair and footstool which I love. The bathroom is excellent, everything is in good condition, the bed is kingsized and has soft white sheets and pillows. The room safe works and is bolted down (the Artotel safe firstly didn’t work because there were no batteries in the door, and it was just sitting on the shelf, not fixed. I could just pick it up and walk off with it. Huh!) The restaurant is run by a separate company (Bali Bakery) and is a little pricey, but the food is nice. I can’t seem to get out of there for less than $12, which is a bit dear for Bali, but not by much.

The only complaints I have are trivial: the toilet roll holder is too far back, so I have to remove the toilet roll and put it closer; they insist on putting the ripple-folded bath mat right in the doorway of the bathroom – I trip over it and it’s hard on my feet – I have to move it; and there’s no ice cube tray. That’s about it. Nothing, in other words.

Oh yes, one more thing: I wish they’d move the hotel about 600m closer to the beaches.

By the way, there was a red Mercedes E63 in the car park yesterday. That’s a 6.3 litre fuel injected V8. Does 0-100km/h in about 4.5secs. It belongs to the owner of the hotel, apparently. Hmmm.

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I had a very nice little snack for lunch yesterday, a Tiger Roll, shown above. The text says: “A delicious mix of soft bread, spicy chicken floss, smoked beef, scallions and zucchini. Rp14,000” or $1.40. I’ve never seen anything like this, and it was very tasty. Pick it up in fingers to eat. Notice the price and text in Japanese. They cater to them.

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I also saw these for sale in the SOGO Japanese department store. Can you believe these are brand new, for sale. I didn’t see a price, but I bet they’re not cheap, yet they look as if they should be thrown out in the old rags bin. Crazy. What next, pre-soiled? Showing my age, I guess.

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Next, how about black ice cream? Very delicious, actually. It’s not aniseed flavour as you’d expect, just normal vanilla or something. Looks like something to be eaten on the black sand beaches here.

The Kecak Dance

At last, here’s my recording, edited, of the Kecak Dance last Tuesday evening, 6-7pm at the Ulu Watu Temple site. Apologies for the length at 17 minutes but I shot 27 minutes and this is as much as I could cut. All of it is interesting!

It was also very difficult to edit, being shot on only one camera. There are no cutaways in this mode. It was all handheld, and there has been no image stabilisation apart from the camera’s during shooting.

I hope you enjoy.

Oh my aching …

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Christmas night at Surya’s party. Portrait by the artist.

… my aching feet and hips! And back. I’ve been on my feet, standing and walking around, for six hours. I’m back at my hotel at 7.30pm and I can hardly summon the energy to get some dinner. I may not bother, actually.

I arrived to find that my door card key doesn’t work. Luckily a hotel guy was nearby and let me in. When I got in, I found a very nice bowl of fruit and a card welcoming me to the hotel. Thanks, but make up your mind, folks.

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I bought a Kura Kura bus three day pass for Rp150,000 today and I’ve only had the chance to use it once. I went from Galeria to Lippo Mall OK, but, after waiting half an hour for the next bus, when I said I wanted to go to Galeria again, the guy said no, no, it will be a three hour trip and waved me away. Huh?

So I walked about 500m in the 3pm heat to Discovery Mall, to find that the only camera shop of any worth that I know of outside Denpasar itself has converted to watches and simple stuff.

I had a BaskinBRobbins (trade mark?) ice cream and only thought after I’d ordered it, kerrumbs, Rp60,000 = A$6, for a single cone of ice cream? That would be expensive even at home.

So I took a taxi back to Galeria, giving the guy Rp50,000 when the fare was Rp27,000, and he was very, very grateful. However, it was only to find that the last Sanur bus had gone by 6.30pm, no more tonight. Grrrrrr! That meant another taxi, and the fare was Rp87,000. I gave him Rp100,000 and again got a big thanks. This is the second time I’ve bought a KK bus 3 day pass and found it’s not necessarily good value. Last time I didn’t actually use up the value that I’d paid. Ho hum. I must try harder. However, it doesn’t take many Rp100,000 taxi rides to use the value.

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I bought a swag more DVDs today, making about 30 overall. Plus some PC software CDs. This is mostly old stuff, as nearly all software is sold by on-line download now, making piracy impossible.

Unfortunately, I seem to have doubled up on several DVDs, forgetting which ones I’ve picked in a previous selection. At $1 each, it hardly matters. I’ve also got a few discs I would never have chosen. Have I got some of yours, my dear?

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As usual, I’m being seduced by a bag, a Fossil, but even by Australian standards, it’s expensive. I’ve walked away, thinking it over. Hmmm. Do I need it? No!

What I do need is a potong rambut, a hair cut. I’ll go to the Peni Weni salon next door tomorrow. It costs A$6 compared with $22 at home. I should come to Bali every time I need a haircut, I think. 🙂

Alone again, naturally

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Christmas night.

Well, I’m back at my favourite hotel, the Taksu in Sanur, and I’m alone for the first time in three weeks. The silence is deafening! I’m torn between wanting some solitude, but not wanting to be alone. I’ll see my partner again on the 10th, albeit briefly.

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Some notes from the past few days:

Crumbs, four days into the year already. It’ll be Christmas soon.

Monday 2 January: Sitting in the Si Doi Café at 0845 having the Special Breakfast – OJ, fruit platter, two eggs on toast, sausage, mushies, tomato and Bali Kopi for $5. And free wi-fi. I may be here for some time. I slept badly last night, just couldn’t get to sleep until after 2am, hence I’m a couple of hours in deficit. I’ll go back for a bit more sleep after this. It has just rained a downpour but now the sun’s out and it’s sparkling in Jalan Legian. V’s gone off for a massage.

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We part on Wednesday (today), she going off on a few days’ tour with her German friends and ending up in her villa in Lovina, while I’m staying here in Sanur for my final week. I don’t particularly want to go over the mountains to Lovina again, then up and over again to come back down south for my flight home next week. The first few trips over the mountains were good, but the novelty has very definitely worn off, especially if I’m driving.

I went to the Daihatsu dealer in Sanur on Monday to enquire about a new door to replace the damaged one. Success, I have a part number and the price, Rp2,450,000 or about $250. That’s bare, of course, and in grey undercoat. It has to be painted (black) and all the glass and fittings have to be swapped over, then the door fitted to the car. The painting will cost about $80, and the labour?

The problem is, the door has to be ordered, from Jakarta I’d guess, and will take two weeks. Vero goes to Vienna soon and is not sure about timing, and whether the work can be done in Singaraja or if the car has to come down south. Unfortunately the owner of the car has the insurance papers (if it is insured?) and doesn’t know about the damage yet. He’s not likely to be happy, apparently. The relatives of the owner want to see if it can be panel beaten and repaired. They dread telling the owner of the car. Worry, worry, worry.

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A taxi driver spontaneously told me yesterday that there are too few tourists here. Is it berms or terrierists? He thinks it’s just the world uncertainty and people avoiding spending on holidays. It’s bad for the Balinese, but great for us of course. I’ve just booked at my favourite hotel in Sanur for this last week and for a huge room (35 m2) it’s A$61 a night.

I do like the Taksu. The rooms feel so spacious, the sheets are white, the bathroom is well designed, things are in good repair and there’s a two seater couch to lounge on, with a coffee table. I’ve stayed there three times now and I’ll keep going back. The pool is above ground, and it’s a fair walk to the beach if you want to swim in the greasy, littered Sanur water, but the Kura Kura bus stops at the front door every three hours for cheap transport.

What am I going to do with my week? Water-walk in the neck deep pool for exercise (I was doing 20 laps of the 25m length each day last time, about 1km). Use the internet, sleep, read a book, which I never get a chance to do these days. Go shopping. Yes, I love buying small things, DVDs included, and I’m always on the lookout for a good bag, especially a camera bag. I’m a sucker for that. I can’t help myself, it’s like women and handbags or shoes.

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Wednesday 3 January: Wow, we went to a performance of the Kecak Dance last night at Ulu Watu, on the peninsula, at 6pm, around sunset. Spec-tac-u-lar.

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The amphitheatre filling up. They let too many people in, in our opinion.

Unfortunately it was very crowded, too crowded really, with an estimate of over 1,000 people viewing. The dance area was reduced and there were not as many performers as I expected. Even so, it was good. The photos show some of it, but I have nearly 30 mins of Ultra Hi-Def video, excellent quality, no camera shake or silly zooms. I’ll try to post some here, but it takes so long to upload that it’s very difficult.

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An impromptu performer.

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A central oil burner.

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The dancers make their entrance.

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The evil spirit.

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The monkey clown.

The monkey clown, above, moved around among the crowd and at one stage was sliding down a wooden railing beside me. I wasn’t aware he was there and I had my walking stick handle hooked over the banister. He had to stop as I hurriedly removed it so he could continue. Ooops. It was all good fun.

Strangely, at the beginning I noticed something on my shirt front and looked down to see what I thought was a spider. But I realised it was a small crab! It was about 2cm across the carapace and about 3.5cm overall, just a pale beige. I went to try to pick him up but he was too fast and scuttled down to the steps below. How he got onto me, I have no idea as we were a long way above the ocean.

Sitting on wet concrete steps of the amphitheatre was not much fun, and my bum quickly went numb. It was a bit claustrophobic, being packed in so tightly in such a huge crowd. I’d hate to think what a panic would have produced as the aisles were not kept clear.

Towards the end, people started leaving before the performance had finished and I was getting pretty annoyed by people walking across in front of me. They all seemed to be Indians or Pakistanis, including several guys in turbans. I was also pretty browned off by people sticking their “selfie sticks” with their camera phones up in my view. I hate these things.

The traffic! It took us more than an hour to get there from Legian, in a tour bus (just four of us plus guide and driver), then I had to guard four seats in the arena until the others arrived after seeing the temple. The performance was from 6-7pm, then another 20 mins or so of walking and waiting to get to our mini-bus, then about an hour fifteen of crawling to get back to the hotel. Exhausting. Crowds! I hate it.

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OK, now for some beer and an early night, sleeping alone. I’ve made my bed, now I have to lie in it. uh huh.

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.