Some pics from Ubud to Sanur

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This is Putuh, daughter of Kadek, the pembantu or cleaning lady.

Better today. Not the big loss I thought yesterday. But a dose of the back-door-trots to keep me confined to my room.

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I was really worried last night as my ulcerated left leg had swollen to twice its usual big size (I have a bad vein, leading to pooling of the blood). I thought it might be a repeat of the problem I had last trip when my right leg got infected, requiring i/v antibiotic at BIMC, at a huge cost, nearly $600 I think.

No, after a good sleep with my leg up on a pillow, it was back to its usual slim, shapely, svelte size this morning. šŸ™‚

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While I remember, I’ve been meaning to mention that service stations sell LPG, of course. Guess what it’s called? Elpiji, of course. How logical.

They also sell nitrogen gas for your tyres. You pay Rp10,000 (A$1) for a fill. I can’t do this at home, afaik.

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This morning I tried to check my Air Asia flight home on Sunday, only to find it is not listed on the Manage My Bookings web page. Grrr.

So I’ve just spent quite a long time in Web Chat with Nisa, and she assured me it has been recorded and would appear. Does it? It does not, an hour later.

OK, I’ve got my original printout of the booking from when I made it six weeks ago, so I should be OK, but …

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Now for a lot of pictures taken during the drive from Ubud to Sanur yesterday. Most of these were shot from the moving car. The camera chooses a shutter speed up around 1/1200sec or faster, so little or no camera shake. I also shot some 4K video outside the car window, nice and clear, but I can’t show it yet. All these shots have been edited, cropped, adjusted for rotation and exposure.

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Lake Bratan, near Bedugul

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Closer view of the village. Can’t find the name.

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Watering the bat. See him hanging there?

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Same shop, bats and an iguana. The sign says, “Don,t be photographer from the top of the car” (sic)

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Hallo sir, where are you from, you buy T shirt?

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Genuine authentic Indonesian boomerangs.

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No caption needed.

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Waiting for business.

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Looking SE, Gunung Agung at left in the clouds. The buildings at right are an abandoned half completed hotel.

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The blue shed.

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Traditional Bali

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Stocking the shop.

That’s all for now. Bit cloudy today, nice and cool. I’m going to walk about 800m to a restaurant on Semawang beach, the Stiff Chili. Yum. Meeting my love again. Nearly lost her. We’ll be OK.

Woe is me

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Slow, sluggish and defensive. How I feel.

Not a good day. A rotten day, in fact. I’m tired, I’m dispirited, I’m sad, I feel sick. And my left leg is even more swollen than it normally is, like the right leg was when I had the infection last trip. I feel a bit feverish and my nose is running like a tap.

And I’m alone. I tried my damndest.

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We stayed at a hotel in Ubud last night, the LadyBamboo off Jalan Kajeng. V had previously booked it but couldn’t use it, and had to use up the credit by tomorrow.

It was pathetic. This is supposed to be an upmarket hotel and the Garden Suite room for US$100 (AU$130) looked large and luxurious in the web photo. But we were given a small, narrow room dominated by the bed, with no garden view that we could see, except if you left the door open. Even for this price, breakfast was not included.

We protested and moved to the room next door, which was bigger, but still much the same. Not like the web photo.

It had high windows that we couldn’t close unless we climbed and stood on the bed. It got cold last night, but the cold air poured through these windows down onto the bed. I was cold! The view through the windows over the bed was of a concrete brick wall. Terrific.

The floor was dirty. There was a drinking water jug but it had an insect in the water! Otherwise there was no bottled drinking water. Lucky we brought our own.

The toilet had no toilet roll holder, just a half roll sitting on the cistern. I got up during the night and tried to use it in the dark and was nearly panicking when I couldn’t find the roll by feel.

The towel had very suspicious looking stains. They were thin and old. The hot water took so long coming that I was finished my shower before it came.

So all in all, this hotel was crap. Not recommended. We seemed to be the only guests. I wonder why.

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By contrast, we had dinner at an Italian restaurant nearby (in Bali, yeah) that was excellent. It had a really comprehensive menu and the service was top class. The tables were arranged around a central pond with fish and frogs and water lillies and bullrushes.

The food was excellent. I chose to have a Balinese pizza, which wasn’t so good – too much onion and too messy/wet for me. I could only eat about 1/3 of it. Didn’t even want a doggy bag.

It wasn’t cheap – the total bill, including a $50 bottle of Argentinean Chardonnay, came to about $130. Ouch!

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Then our transport driver, a guy I’ve used before, failed to arrive at 1200 checkout time as arranged. When I phoned him again, he was still in Sanur! He could be there in an hour, he said. No mate, you’ve lost the job. We got a local driver through the hotel, and he was good. We got back to Sanur around 3pm.

The traffic in Ubud is just paralytic. The roads are clogged, hardly moving at times. It’s bad, but impossible to change, unless they banned cars and just allowed small electric vehicles, possibly.

We missed President Obama by one day. He left on Wednesday. A few days ago I dreamed that I shook his hand and said, “It’s an honour.” He looked at me and said “Thanks”. Vivid dream.

Another fine day

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There was a big buildup of cloud over the mountains and a huge thunderclap this afternoon, followed by some very nice rain. We gathered in the washing off the line just in time, still damp but mostly dry. I can’t understand why I had so little to wash, but I guess it’s because I haven’t been wearing much. It’s nice and cool but a bit humid, naturally. [STOP PRESS: I found another plastic bag with more used clothes, which I’ll now have to take home. Ho hum.]

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V has a new phone, a Huawei, to replace her Sony which is having doses of the persnicketts (switching itself off and rebooting). We’ve been trying to transfer all her data between different brand phones. Urrrrgh. So far we have not succeeded, although we have a backup of everything. Twice.

We’ve found a program that does it, but it’s not free, unfortunately. The search goes on.

Next day: after much tearing of hair and rending of clothes, she got it done, but it took a long time.

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My new phone is bloody wonderful. It’s the OnePlus 3T and it just responds! So fast, compared to my old Sony Experia El Cheapo. This means I might be able to make proper use of my DJI OSMO gimbal camera, which is controlled by your phone via wi-fi.

That sounds fine, but when I first tried to use it last year, I found you have to register it over the internet with DJI in China.

But I didn’t have internet over the phone company on my phone! I connect to the internet by wi-fi. But I can’t do both at once, connect to the DJI web site and connect to the camera. I was stymied for quite a while. There are almost no instructions, of course.

I had to ask a friend who has the same camera and an iPhone to do the registration for me. It worked, but it took around an hour of head scratching and cursing, from my recollection.

So I hope I don’t have to go through this rigmarole again.

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Ooooh, the light outside has turned pink at 6.20pm. Loooovely.

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I’m flying Air Asia on Sunday. I hope the engines are securely attached. Gulp. I know, I know, it seems to have been one or more turbine blades came off on Saturday. That can happen to any engine on any airline, but I hope the correct maintenance procedures were being followed.

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I’ll be glad to get home, because my leg ulceration is pretty ugly. I’m taking an antibiotic daily and I don’t think there’s any infection, but I have to keep a waterproof (and fly proof) plaster over it at all times. I’m used to this, but it’s worrying and no fun.

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Croft CastleĀ  (C) National Trust

Not sure if I mentioned it, but I want to make the effort to go to England to see Croft Castle, and I feel it has to be this year, before I lose more energy and ability. I don’t have much stamina these days, and can’t walk far.

I want to reproduce the itinerary I did in 2008, because it was such a great trip. I’m probably trying to recapture a dream, but I’ll try.

So, preliminary searching finds a flight from Singapore to Paris one way for about $700. This is Jetstar Asia for the first leg, Singapore – Bangkok, then Etihad from Bangkok to Dubai, stopping for a few hours and changing planes, I think. Then on to Paris, arriving at about 7.30am. This is what I did in ’08.

I remember I stayed at the Europa Hotel a short walk from Gare du Nord. If it’s still going, I’ll stay there again. It had a lift and was run by two gay guys (I think) who were utterly charming, excusing my stumbling French.

This time, I hope to achieve my dream of taking the Eurostar through the Chunnel to London. The fare is GBP67. I had a ticket last time, but got to the station (Gare du Nord) to find chalkboards saying the trains had been cancelled due to a fire in the tunnel.

So it was a long, boring day on a bus to the ferry to Dover and then another bus to London St Pancras. It was a wasted day.

I hope to spend a week in London, then visit my former next door neighbours in Butler, who have returned to their home near Norwich in England. We got along very well, but they had to return when the pound crashed as it affected their pensions.

From there, I’ll rent a car and drive across the country to Croft Castle in Herefordshire, where I hope to “claim a brick”. They’ll probably tell me to shove off, but …

Then it will be on to Bristol in Wales, where I hope to stay a few nights with a guy I worked with at Channel 7 way back in the early ’70s. He had to return to the UK due to a personal tragedy, and I never expected to see him again, but due to the wonders of Facebook, we’ve reconnected. Wondrous!

After that, I don’t know. It might be nice to drive up to Scotland again to see Sue Haig, and the rest of the Isle of Skye that I missed last time, but it’s a long way.

Then if I could stop off in Vienna on the way home … not sure, it would be expensive. Then home via KL again? I love this planning.

I kept a diary and spreadsheet of every cent I spent on the ’08 trip, so I have a good idea of costs. I’ll try to do it more cheaply. Hah.

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Oh, this damned dog next door is screaming and yelping and barking. It’s just awful! I’m told the owners put it in a cage at night. They don’t care if it disturbs us. It’s utterly distressing!

Nice gesture

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V has a Balinese friend, Fetty, who is very intelligent and has a degree in IT. She’s married to an Austrian guy, hence the connection.

Fetty (I like that name) doesn’t work in IT, preferring cooking. I’ve been to their place a couple of times and sampled her food. Nice!

Today, being Eid ul Fitre (however you spell it), she has delivered the above box of home cooked food, for me! She motorbiked it over, I didn’t even see her. But how nice. She must think I need fattening up.

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The poor screaming dog is at it again, from the farm over the fence. It’s distressing to hear it all the time and be unable to see it or do anything. We asked Putuh, our security guy here, if he could find out anything, but I doubt he’ll do anything. Shrug ‘o the shoulders.

[15 mins later: Putuh has just walked past as the dog is screaming. I say, “Oh, this is awful. Can’t you do something?” He just says “Dog in cage. Cannot do anything.” Shrug.]

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Grrrr! I bought a new OnePlus 3T phone and have used it to shoot some nice pictures and especially nice looking HD video.

But when I connect it to the laptop, it appears as a device, but when I double click to open it, there are no files or folders to be seen. Bloody hell.

I’ve downloaded the OnePlus USB driver and installed it, restarted, and it made no difference. Why should it be so difficult???!!!

[STOP PRESS: found it. You have to select on the phone between charging and file transfers. Now I’ve got my pics and video. OK, OK.]

Home again

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Heading out to watch dolphins – 7.45am

Back in the Lovina homestead after five beautiful days at Bali au Naturel. We never want to leave that place, but the dollars mount up. We talked to the manager for a while on leaving and asked about pricing. The result was that we can deal direct with him, but we get the same price from Agoda, so we may as well use them. No special prices. Odd.

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There’s some bad news late this afternoon when we were at home: the owner of the car we rent, Werner, phoned; his wife has dengue fever and he needs the car for the next four days. So we’re without transport. There are no taxis here, so we’ll have to phone a Balinese friend and ask him to drive us if we want to go out. This is not like a normal street in a town; we’re down a long narrow laneway off a main road and there are no shops around here within 15 mins walking. Tidak bagus. Can’t be helped.

We are due to go south in a few days anyway, so we’ll get the same guy to drive us, I think. He has a bigger car and is a good driver.

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Dieng hot springs 387B

Dieng Plateau hot springs. (C) PJ Croft 2017

It’s Idul Fitre, the end of Ramadan, and so it’s family feasting time. But can you believe, all banks are closed today and for the next six business days as all the staff take time off to visit their villages.

No banks for nearly two weeks! You can still use ATMs, luckily, so V was able to do an important transaction, but … gasp!

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V likes coconuts, but the kelapa muda type, “young coconut”. They are huge, heavy and green, straight off the tree. She likes the top lopped off with a machete and drinks the water inside, nice and cold if they’ve been in the fridge, then, if possible, likes it split open to eat the soft jellylike flesh inside. They’re nothing like the small, round, hairy things we get at home, although they are the same thing. Ours are just split and husked, that’s all. No wonder, because whole coconuts are heavy, maybe 5kg. You wouldn’t want to be under one when it fell.

I like the hard, dry, crunchy white flesh, but you don’t see that so much here. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough.

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Caught in the headlights, near home.

I had a “Like” of the previous post from as far away as Utah, USA. It’s amazing to think I’m read in other parts of the world. I only write this blog as (1) a personal diary; (2) a way to show my pictures; and (3) just to update relatives and friends that I’m OK and still around. And for the enjoyment of writing, frankly, just for the fun of creating sometihing. I hope others enjoy it too.

I’ve been going since 2009 and have done way over 1,000 posts. I’ve lost count. I use a thing called BlogBooker to download each year in pdf book form, so I have it all stored away. Maybe one day in 500 years’ time, some historian will find them, like Samuel Pepys. Yeeaah.

It’s the winter solstice!

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Oh, it’s cold. Mid winter in Bali, woe is me. Actually, it is quite cool, maybe 26C and a bit grey with light rain. No, I tell a lie, the sun’s out again.

We’re at a clothes optional resort in a room where we have almost exclusive use of a beautiful green stone tiled pool, which stays quite cold. Very refreshing, if you don’t mind the first dip. Yesterday I did seven laps, up and back, of the 20m length, so 280m of exercise. It’s fantastic. Feels good.

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This is the main pool, lower down:

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At night the underwater LED lights change colour. Very nice, although red water looks pretty odd.

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BaN beach 20Jun17

There are not many guests here (if they reduced the price … ?) but last night at dinner we had a Canadian guy who lives out of his suitcases and travels where he feels like it; a New Zealander, similar, who is a freelance video and film animator and CGI artist, making his living contracting his work in all these SE Asian areas, and working on the web with his Macintosh laptop; a guy from Tennessee with his Chinese female partner, who have a business making and exporting souvenirs and promotional items from Shenzhen to the world, including Perth; and my friend and me from Perth. Quite a crowd and quite a conversation for a while.

I gingerly introduced the topic of Trump politics with the Yank at breakfast this morning and found we are not quite of the same opinion, but I managed to avoid any problems.

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Meet Herman:

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They have a system of ponds near the restaurant where they have about six tortoises of various sizes. Yesterday they were cleaning the ponds, so they lifted all the tortoises out onto the lawn. A couple just huddled down and didn’t move, but a few set off exploring, one quite fast, up and over a low wall. They like to eat hibiscus flowers, I was shown. Faskinatin’.

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Lovina Beach, where we set off to watch dolphins. This is about 7.30am.

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That was a good trip.

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This is our last day here, dammit. Back to Lovina tomorrow. Time for a nap now, I think. Gee, this typing is tiring. [Stop Press: we like it so much we’re staying an extra day, back to Lovina on Friday instead. Bagus.]

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You think you’re tired. This is Yupi, the Great Dane.

Actually, preparing the photos and doing this blogging has taken me more than an hour.

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Oh, nearly forgot, we had a snake in the bedroom at Lovina on Sunday morning. Luckily it was a small one, about 300mm long and 5mm diameter. The cat brought it in and was playing with it. She’d given it a few bites but was fine herself, so it must have been harmless. I’m pretty squeamish about snakes but my friend ably got it in the kitchen tongs and dumped it in the garden. It was still alive, so maybe it survived. But the cat kept grabbing it and bringing it back in, so it got dumped in the pond. Bad cat!

A full day

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Dolphin waters off Bali’s north coast, near Seririt.

Sorry for the lack of posts. Partly it’s because not much has happened this week, but also because I get a burst of being quite busy, too busy to write. Today was full on.

The highlight was dolphin watching this morning. It cost ~$10 per person, three of us on a jukung, which I used to call a prahu, but a prahu is bigger and has a sail. These are dual outrigger narrow boats for fishing or sightseeing.

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Parked over clear waters with lotsa fishies.

We set off from the shore at about 7.50am and it took a long time, about 30 mins, to get to an area where there was any sign of dolphins. But once we started seeing them, they were all around us. A big launch sped by and although we were shaking our fists at them for the wake they caused, the dolphins seemed attracted, and from then on we saw dozens.

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Fishies loving their morning bread.

I’m sure the dolphins got their thrills from seeing all these humans with arms and legs lookin’ at them. We hung around for half an hour or so, then slowly headed back to Lovina along the coast, stopping to feed bread to the fish in clear, shallow, coral waters shown above. It was beautiful. We got wet from spray, and I’ve probably got some sunburn, but it was a magic morning. I shot mostly video, but I can’t upload it as Vimeo is blocked in Indonesia. There’s a way around it, and I’ll add it asap.

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See the kitten, just to the right of the box, under the flap.

While we were waiting, unfortunately we saw a less attractive side of human nature. Someone had dumped a box of unwanted kittens on this pile of wood. The poor kittens were wandering around mewing and looking cute. There were still four in the box that couldn’t get out, so I lifted them out. At least they’d stand some chance. They were gone when we came back, thank goodness.

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Then in the afternoon (after I caught up on some missed sleep from the night before), it was off to a locality called Bengkel to find a balian, a guru, for some spiritual or otherwise healing. It was a long drive, narrow twisting roads, incredibly dangerous driving by local motorcyclists, broken edges, massively loud trucks and stupid speeding pickup trucks. How we avoid accidents I don’t know. The bike riders are just suicidal. They just ride out onto the road without looking. They often ride on the wrong side of the road so they are coming toward you in your lane. They pass at incredible speed, then suddenly brake and pull into your gap from the car in front, then swerve left and pass the car in front on the left, in a single lane road!

Anyway, luckily we had a local lady with us to translate and ask directions. We found the place, but the guru wasn’t there. No matter, not wasted, we got what we wanted and headed home again. Heavy traffic! Saturday evening, in Ramadan?

So, after dinner on the Lovina beach front, it’s home, ready for our next excursion tomorrow to Tejakulah. Four blissful days.

Dinner at a beachfront restaurant (?) where the menu said this:

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Two Island Wrestling wine, yes? Maybe it knocks you out. I think they mean riesling, but I could be wrong.

But for now, sleep is beckoning.

It’s hot

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Lucky dog.

Saturday 10 June. The forecast is for 31C today, and with humidity, it feels every degree. Luckily the pool is cool and inviting.

I slept poorly again last night – usual thing, dropped off easily around midnight after some pleasant talk in bed, but I woke again around 2am and that was it. I gave up at 4.30am and came out to the dining room and watched some YouTube TV, episodes of The Island, with Bear Grylls. Good show, that, if you can understand the incredibly thick British accents.

Then I was given a sedative I haven’t tried before, Zolpidem. Within 10 minutes I was staggering off to bed at 0600 and I slept like a log until 11am. Wow.

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While I was up and awake, I tackled a problem with my laptop. I kept noticing a new User had been added at boot time, nuvfoykoxk. (Oh, I know, it’s Donald Trump!) I first saw it a couple of days ago and deleted it as a user. But guess what, it kept coming back. My anti-virus program didn’t flag anything.

So after a couple of attempts, I ran Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool. Nothing. No problem found. OK, next one, Malware Bytes. This time it found two potential files it didn’t like and marked them. I chose to delete them and bingo, no more strange user – at the moment. Let’s hope.

[Postscript: no, on Sunday it’s back again. I’ll do a web search to see what it means. Meanwhile, don’t use any important passwords, I guess.]

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Yesterday afternoon we had to walk a fair way to a friend of V’s place to pick up her rented Diahatsu mini-people mover (that’s a car for mini people, yeah?) I walked about 10 mins in the heat and it seemed we were only a quarter of the way there. I stopped for a breather at this little stall:

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This was the highlight of my day, such nice people. The woman in green was weaving the small baskets used for the offerings in ceremonies. She told me the name, but I’ve forgotten. There was enough English from one of the women and I have enough Bahasa to explain a few things, so we laughed and exchanged pleasantries for 15 mins or so while V went on and until she and Werner came back in the car. Ahhh, aircon.

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This was one of the most pleasant times I’ve had here. As you can see, my legs are giving me problems again. I slipped on some pool steps and scraped the left leg. It broke the skin and it’s oozing a bit. No infection so far, luckily. I’m applying Emu Heat Oil as a first resort. It seems to work in healing. The main thing is to keep the flies away.

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Once we reached Werner’s house to drop him off, it was time for coffee, cake and lemon water. Werner is a retired German policeman, same age as me, 70, who trained police dogs, so he knows what he’s doing.

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Yupi, the Great Dane. Lovely girl.

He has three Dobermans and looks after Yupi, the Great Dane that V had for a while, until she had to travel. Yupi is probably better off in the dog pack anyway. She’s lonely and demands a lot of affection.

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Then we bought some food. Street food – deep fried balls of a batter filled with beansprouts, carrots, tofu and onion, the size of a big softball, 10c each. V bought 20 for about $2. And tofu fritters. Delicious! Then we went to the fruit and vegetable market in Singaraja. Lucky we were in a small car, because there’s not mushroom inside, to quote the old song. It’s a huge street market, all on stalls or on sheets on the ground.

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Among other things we bought some beautifully flavoursome tomatoes, with the taste we complain that we don’t get at home any more. V bought about a dozen huge coconuts, heavy, weighing about 2kg each. Plus salad veges, papaya and so on. All amazingly cheap.

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These are all frame grabs from 4K video. I wish I could show that here, but Indo blocks Vimeo. There may be another way, but …

Kembali

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Yudi, my Balinese friend, at Mindarie Boat Harbour

It’s all happening! I’ve been pretty busy the past week. Above is my Balinese friend Yudi. After an initial planned visit to Perth, he had a visa mixup and it looked as if he couldn’t come. Therefore I booked my trip. But suddenly last week the visa was fixed and he got a flight last Thursday (1 June) for his first visit to Perth. He’s been to Australia before, but only on the Gold Coast.

So I picked him up from the airport and he stayed a couple of nights with me. Very impressed with my house, and liked the area a lot, but I don’t think he understood how far out I am and how great the distances are in Perth. Anyway, I showed him a little of the local scene.

Then my flight was on Saturday (3 June), so I put him on the train to Victoria Park where he has friends. It’s a pity our schedules clashed like that, but it can’t be helped. The weather was surprisingly mild for his visit.

Then it was my turn to come to Bali and here I am outside Yudi’s restaurant and business office, Tuesday 6 June.

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It’s beautiful here, just right temps of 27C and low humidity. My partner has come back from her island cruise and we’re in a beach hotel in Sanur. We hope to catch the high tide tomorrow morning, as it’s very low and shallow around noon.

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I said I’d never let anything come between us.

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This was Xmas 2016 in Sanur. I like this photo. It was taken with Yudi’s iPhone by a waitress.

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It’s fairly quiet at the moment. Ramadan might have something to do with it, but from what I read, although tourism is up slightly, the average stay is shorter, cancelling it out. It’s hard on the taxi drivers.

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I bought a new suitcase here because the locks are broken on my usual one. I tried to fix them at home but it was a waste of time. Le Suitcase et mort. I came here using an older soft sided suitcase, but this new one is hard cased, with a water resistant seal and no zips, just two latches on one end and a main combination locked latch on the main edge. It’s strong enough to sit on. It’s white, very trendy. So what if it gets scuff marks, it’s highly visible. I heard an airport woman say in a TV program, “Please, no black bags. They all look alike.” And suitcases are stacked six or more high in the cargo holds, so they need to be strong.

I didn’t want zips, by the way, because not only have I seen a zip opened with a Biro, I’ve done it myself. It took about five seconds. No way you’d get into this new one.

The guy set the combination for me in the shop, showing me how, and emphasising that the numbers are right to left. so last night when I used the combination lock for the first time, I entered the numbers as he said. I couldn’t get it open! I thought I might have the numbers wrongĀ  and tried different ways, but no go.

So next, I entered them L-R. Sproing! That was it. What was that R-L all about? Maybe there are instructions in the tag that came with it. Anyway, I like it. I’ll leave my soft sided suitcase here for next time.

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I considered buying this camera that I’ve mentioned before:

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But the Bali price is $510 (wouldn’t haggle) compared with the full retail price of $449, GST free about $400 in Perth. Perth is very, very competitive in photographics, computers and electronics.

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I’m up on the north coast now, in the Lovina area. It’s warm up here, seeming to be more than Sanur. Not much of a sea breeze. Humid too.

The ABC show Checkout has a segment about how packaged food looks compared with its actual appearance.

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I had this last week. The package tempted me and I fell for it, but as you can see, it isn’t the same. The sausages were full of bread filling and the gravy was gooey. The mashed potato was dry! It broke away in chunks. So I won’t buy it again. Lesson learnt.