I’m back

Gunug Agung+cloud 85

Gunung Agung, in quiescent mode.  (C) PJ Croft 2018

Ah, back on the Island of the Gods. Beautiful blue skies, soft breezes, low humidity in their “winter” season, cool pool, temp about 27deg. Lovely, couldn’t want for more. We’re staying in a near new hotel, the Grahita Suites, and we have a very spacious room, a small kitchen and most importantly, a good sized fridge that will actually freeze iceblocks. Speaking of which, I was reading the Perth forecast for today: 100km/h winds, heavy downpours, cold. A “storm such that we get only a couple of times each winter.” You’re welcome to it.

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The mountain is actually still rumbling and erupting to some extent, but not enough to disrupt flights. At the moment. There are some pretty dramatic pictures on the web of the forest fires a few weeks ago. My friend says she sees fine ash on her car in Lovina at times. The lava is not like the Hawaii volcano, but still pretty dangerous. There’s still a 4km exclusion zone around the summit, which is very hard on the locals who normally live and work there.

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When I went through the emigration glass gates at Perth airport, where you have your passport scanned and have to face the camera, it rejected me three times! I felt unwanted by this robot, sob! But I was a bit pleased because the lady at the counter could obviously see what was happening and said, “Just try again, Peter.” Quite pleasant and personal, in other words.

I tried three times at that first gate with no success, so moved to the second gate and tried twice more also without success. The cameras just couldn’t match my real face with my passport photo.

The woman was again quite pleasant and said to join the queue for manual processing. Ugh. It was quite long and I didn’t want to shuffle along in it, so when I saw a guy go through the adjacent gate without a problem I thought I’d give it one last try. This time it worked. The light was much brighter than the other gates, so maybe that was it. But the point is, I was quite pleased at the personal, first name approach by the Border Force woman. Nice.

By the way, no need to fill out that annoying departure card any more. Good, it was a drag. All in all, the streamlining of entry and exit at the airport is quite good. Providing the robots are in a good mood.

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I brought two boxes of “stuff” with me on the flight, mostly air dehumidifier cartridges, gluten-free breads, medications, books and a couple of magazines and so on. All sealed up with tape on all the edges and solidly tied with string.

When I came through customs at this end, I didn’t expect any problems as I’ve done this before. But at 11pm I was pretty tired and sweating a bit, so I must have looked a bit nervous, I suppose. I will give high praise to the immigration queue guys – I was nearly last at joining the mile long queues and although I saw a sign for DISABLED, I didn’t try to join it. But one of the guys could see I was limping a bit and looking a bit distressed, I suppose, and waved me into this Disabled queue, with only three people in it. Very nice of him. I’ve encountered this before in Bali, respect for the elderly and extra consideration. I wish there was more like that at home.

So after the usual bag X-rays, I was pulled over for an inspection. Unfortunately, the guy wanted to see what was in the boxes, so both of them were cut open. He rummaged around, looked a bit dubiously at the medications (for my partner), inspected most things but there was nothing to get excited about. Thankfully, they taped the boxes closed again and I was on my way. He paid no attention to my suitcase or duty free alcohol (I was a 200ml over the 1 litre limit). Or my bulging shoulder bag. It’s silly because I could have been bringing something in, but all he wanted to see was the boxes. Oh well. Could have been worse.

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We haven’t done much because my legs are very stiff and sore from unaccustomed exercise (ahem) and we’re quite happy to take it easy. But I have to get a local SIM card and my partner is looking at phones, so we may go out later today. Her car is away having paint scratches fixed, so taxis will get our business.

I’ll update if (when!) anything interesting happens. Cheers.

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