Wow again

Dieng hot springs 387B

(C) PJ Croft 1991, 2018

Wow, another earthquake last night.

After a long and tiring drive from Sanur, we arrived at V’s place at Lovina about 7.40pm. One of V’s workmen was there to let us in and we were just standing chatting when there was a great rushing sound, like wind in the trees, and suddenly everything was swaying. It was accompanied by a definite rumble this time, not loud, but the water in the pool went crazy, sloshing and slopping end to end. By my watch it was 7.48pm but the reports put it at 7.45.

We were standing under a timber framed verandah with rattan thatching and didn’t feel in any danger, but the floor felt like jelly for about 20 seconds. We felt no need to run away; I quite enjoyed the feeling. It was a very slow and gentle rocking.

But when we read the reports this morning, it was a 7.0 magnitude centred off Lombok again, stronger than last Sunday’s at 6.4, and I’ve heard 82 people died on Lombok.

And in Kuta, there were reports and photos of damage in the underground carpark at Galeria and more damage at the airport. No reports of any injuries, that I’ve heard anyway.

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It was overcast and cool all day yesterday and the further we got into the foothills on the way up north, the more it was raining, not heavily, but steady. Then we got into the mist and cloud at the top of the mountain and it was quite dark and eery. The windscreen in the car kept misting up but being a car made for the tropics, there’s no demister. We had to put the aircon on high. That worked, but it was freezing in the car.

The suicidal motorbikes were still out in force, passing on the left, cutting in front suddenly, passing fast on the right on the wrong side of the road, oncoming also on the wrong side, our side. Rules? What rules? Double white lines mean nothing. Even on blind curves! Aaaaarrrrgh!

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Yesterday was very cool, about 24C max I’d guess, but today, here on the north coast, it’s warm and sunny again, or the other way around. We went for a dip in the pool before bed last night and it was cold! It was too cold to stay in for more than five minutes, but it looks very inviting now.

V’s rental house is small and mostly built for outdoor living and eating, but quite comfortable. It has neighbours, and their roosters seemed to start crowing at 11pm and went all night. Fortunately I like the sound.

I haven’t got my bearings yet, but walking anywhere looks as if it will be difficult. The dirt road is a bit hilly and very uneven, so it’s lucky my friend has a car.

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We’ve been looking for a place to stay during Perth’s winters and we think the Grahita will be ideal, near perfect in fact. They have two 2-storey suites, very large and spacious downstairs, with a full kitchen and a toilet under the stairs, and a large double bedroom upstairs with full sized bath, shower, toilet and masses of wardrobe, cupboard and drawer space. TVs both downstairs and upstairs. Large balcony overlooking the hotel pool. All near new and immaculately clean. The location of the hotel complex is also ideal, on Danau Poso near the Cemara corner, so an easy walk to the beach.

The only thing is whether we can negotiate an acceptable price. That might be difficult. Fortunately we’re on great terms with the manager, who believes I’m going to find an Aussie husband for her. I’d like to.

She’s a bright, intelligent, very good looking woman, divorced and wanting to spread her wings and fly. I’d love to help her.

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Bali is full of steps! Changes in level, every step you take. My new multifocal glasses have three zones and depths near my feet are tricky to judge. Many times I’ve nearly tripped or taken a tumble.

It didn’t take long here. There’s a fair step up from the path to the verandah – about 250mm I’d guess – and sure enough, I missed it going down last night and fell. No damage except a bit of skin off my left forearm, which bled for a while, but it’s OK. Especially as I’m still taking the antibiotic. It works for me.

I was talking to John, the property developer last week and he said there is a standard step height in Australia, I forget what it is, but here they seem to make arbitrary heights, we know not why. Many times I find it difficult to get up the step into shops and banks, and there’s rarely a handrail.

Speaking of which, the Grahita suite has two tiers of stairs to reach the upper floor, so if I live there, I’ll just have to get used to it. It wouldn’t be a bad thing. I really like the place.

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That was fast

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Yudhie!

Holy cow, where has the time gone? I’ve lost track of the days. Last weekend went missing somewhere. That’s fine, it’s great at this hotel, the Grahita Suites and I think this may take over from the Taksu as my favourite place. Being a bit cheaper may have something to do with it.

We’re in a large room with a kitchen. It has a two burner gas stove, a small sink, plenty of cupboard space and a medium sized fridge, which freezes really well. It also has a small dining table with two armchairs and a long sideboard under the TV, where I am now. The bed is king size, the mattress is new but a bit hard, and the bathroom is good sized and immaculately new and clean. The verandah has a table and two chairs, and the pool is 10m away. It was too cool to stay in last night. I think we got the winds from the big anticyclone over WA.

Best of all, the manager, Kasih, is so friendly and intelligent that we feel really at home here. She can’t do enough to help. She’s the one who spent an hour trying to stop the bleeding last week. The wounds are fine, by the way. Still needing a dressing, but clean and dry. Starting the antibiotic immediately was a big help, I think.

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She drove us in my friend’s car into Denpasar today to fix up an insurance problem, and I’m glad she was driving. It’s quite safe, but the traffic is thick and the motorbikes are a curse. They thread and weave and swarm their way into every gap, with their noise and fumes. Many intersections on busy roads have no traffic lights or give way signs, so it’s a matter of bluff and courtesy and may the best man win. It’s scary, but it works, and Kasih managed to drive and keep up a continuous conversation.

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We’d had lunch at my good friend Yudhie’s restaurant (a warung, actually) overlooking the rice paddies. I was amazed a few days ago when I said to her I had a friend here. We waffled a bit and after Kasih heard his name, she said, “Oh, he is my friend too, we went to school together.” Bloody hell, it’s a small world.

The breeze was cool and the food was gurami fish, Balinese style. Very delicious, although complete with bones, fins and skin.

He gave good news that my other ex-Perth Bali friends are still alive after cancer scares, are here in Bali in their villa, and he’s still working at 92 or 93. Amazing. I hope to see them tomorrow.

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We had a very nice dinner at a bakery last evening, the Goddes Bakery in Jalan …. somewhere in north Sanur. We initially just wanted to buy bread, but it’s a full service coffee shop, beautifully presented, fabulous menu, so enticing we went beyond our initial thought of just coffee. We got talking to the manager, who also happens to be a friend of Kasih, and he presented us at the end with a complimentary coffee concoction, like a mini cappucino but cold and with a biscuit base under cream. Yum!

This Goddes Bakery is so good that I feel like writing them up on Trip Advisor.

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I’ve actually had a bit of Bali belly in the past few days, unusual for me. After my first couple of visits in 1980 and 1983, I never had any more trouble. But I suppose taking high doses of the antibiotic hasn’t done my gut any favours. It’s not a bad case.

Dinnertime!

Jumpin’ jackfish

earthquake map

First, to my many fans, all three of you, I’m fine. Possibly you’ve read about our magnitude 6.4 earthquake this morning? It happened at 06.50am and jerked me a wake. The bed was jumping, I thought, and I said aloud, “Oh, it’s an earthquake!” It only lasted 30 seconds or so here, but was quite unmistakable.

Not so good for the poor people on Lombok, with three killed.

I was a bit late looking at the pool. I thought there might be a tsunami, but no such luck. It looked pretty normal.

Aaah, escaped death to live another day.

My wounds are healing slowly but properly, with no signs of infection, thanks to the antibiotic, I think. I’ll have to buy some more. You can buy it here over the counter. Very sensible.

Encore!

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Super blood moon, March 2018  (C) PJ Croft 2018

Again. I’m injured again. A little bit.

We were walking looking for a restaurant on Thursday evening and I was closely watching my feet. If you know Bali pavements, you have to be very careful. Sudden changes in level, loose tiles, pot holes, slippery bits, it’s a minefield. There I was, being ultra careful, with a bit of trouble with my new triple zone multi-focals, and low light levels, shadows, you get the idea. We passed to the left of a parked truck when suddenly, WHACK!. I had walked bang into the truck’s mirror on its extended frame.

I thought I’d broken my glasses at first, they took such a hit. But once I resettled them, it hurt a bit but I recovered and carried on. Having reached the restaurant, the waitress pointed out that I had blood on my nose. It was just a small graze high up, and a serviette cleared the blood, but there you go, two injuries in two days. Duh.

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We went to a restaurant/bar last night to have dinner with a friend of my partner’s, Ernst and his wife. He’s Austrian, she’s Indonesian and they live here. The restaurant’s called the Arena, and wow, what a great place. It has a long bar with plenty of seating and normal tables as well. It’s a multicultural mix of cuisines, kind of specialising in German, Austrian, Swiss, Aussie, and American, with a few Mexican and local dishes as well. Plus the widest range of beers and wines this side of Dan Murphy’s.

It was the manager’s birthday and he got the rock band in to celebrate. Wow, it was LOUD! After a slow start, many of the women got up to dance, putting on a good show. There were only two or three guys.

The food was great, the beer and wine were cold, the music in tune and the prices reasonable. We finished up at about 1.30am I think.

Then it was taxi back to our hotel and a dip in the pool at about 2.30am, looking up at the moon dipping between the clouds. Strangely, I coudn’t see any red moon eclipse. I don’t know why. This was just naked eye, of course. Oh well, I saw a red moon eclipse back in March. The next one’s in 2123 so I’ll see it then.

Bed at about 4am and we slept nearly all day.

Uh oh, that didn’t take long

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As I said, everything was going fine yesterday, our second day here. Then about 6pm I was trying to get out of the pool, relying on stepping up from a low underwater wall, and I slipped and fell backwards into the water. I’m a heavy guy, and I fell heavily. My left hand made aloud “Whack!”, which must have sounded like a bone breaking, but wasn’t. But my right leg scraped on that low underwater wall. A couple of guys immediately came over to help me up. I must admit, I was a bit disoriented in the water and had to say hang on, give me a minute.

Then they got me standing up on the pool surrounds and we could see a couple of bleeding grazes on my right shin and knee, not too bad, I thought. So I slowly walked back to our room, about 25m away, and stepped up onto the smooth tiled verandah. Then I nearly went for a slide. We looked down and there was a bit more blood than there should have been.

A very kind and attentive hotel lady took over and discovered a 1cm cut under my right big toe, bleeding a fair bit. Being on anti-coagulant medication, it didn’t want to stop. She started applying ice cubes, and to cut a long story short, it took an hour of ice cube TLC before we felt we could apply a dressing. She actually phoned a local doctor and showed him the wound by using her phone. How about that? Modern technology. He didn’t think it necessary to come, just recommending antiseptic and tight pressure bandaging.

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One of the hotel guys went out to an Apotek in the street nearby and came back with gauze bandages. When I saw them I realised I had some of my own, but no problem. I had also brought large waterproof band aids, so by about 7.15pm I was all bandaged up, although leaving Betadine marks all over the tiled floor. None of this was painful (not very much anyway), so I was happy. Full marks to the hotel ladies and guys for their solicitude. It was lovely.

The thing now is to prevent infection. Being diabetic, it’s always a danger here, so I’ve started the first packet of Cephalexin antibiotic. Better to be careful.

So what a bugger. I can still walk OK and it’s not painful, it’s just a nuisance at the moment, and the trick is to stop it becoming more than a nuisance. I don’t want to have to go to the hospitals, they’re expensive.

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My blood moon shot from March. (C) PJ Croft 2018

There’s a blood moon eclipse on Saturday, at 01.14am WA time, with Mars also visible. Might be worth making an effort to see. Here’s an article about how to see it: https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2018/

I’m back

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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.

And so it goes on and on

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Sitting duck.

More evidence of systematic exploitation of workers: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/

Businesses have been forced to pay back almost half a million dollars to 616 workers following Fair Work ombudsman audits of the hospitality industry in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane that found 72% of businesses had breached workplace laws.

Fair Work inspectors visited 243 businesses on Victoria Street in Melbourne’s Richmond, Glebe Point Road in Sydney’s Glebe and at Fortitude Valley in Brisbane. They interviewed staff and checked employment records, issuing 71 on-the-spot fines and 63 formal cautions, and finding workers were owed $471,904.

Of the businesses found in breach of workplace laws, 38% underpaid their staff, while 28% failed to keep adequate employment records and pay slips. Failure to pay overtime or to give staff adequate meal breaks were other common issues.

And https://www.watoday.com.au/  (Sunday 15 July)

“Research, including our own, shows that it is widespread and entrenched, particularly involving vulnerable temporary migrant workers in small businesses.”  Widespread and entrenched!

The authors: Dr Stephen Clibborn and Dr Chris F Wright are from the University of Sydney Business School. This article is based on their article in the current issue of Economic and Labour Relations Review: Employer theft of temporary migrant workers’ wages in Australia: Why has the state failed to act?

They offer solutions, the first of which is to increase the resources of the Fair Work Ombudsman. The government says they have increased the office’s funding by $20m, but the authors say they can find little evidence of this $20m.

Second, instead of demonising unions, make them part of the solution. Australia used to have an effective minimum wage enforcement regime, relying on joint regulation by unions and the state, in the context of permanent migration. High membership coverage and relatively free right to enter workplaces gave unions knowledge of employer non-compliance and opportunity to address it. Employers were deterred from underpaying wages given the high risk of detection.

Unions now have little role as enforcers. They have virtually zero presence in workplaces in low-wage industries given their diminished membership. Having lost their formal role as joint regulators they also have limited rights to enter workplaces. Restoring some of these rights and empowering workers to speak up could significantly address the widespread problem of underpayment.

What have I been saying?  This right wing government, ever the friend of business, found plenty of money to run a Royal Commission into Trade Union Corruption (nicely prejudging the issue), which found very little evidence against unions.

Yet here is pile after pile of evidence of business corruption (and we haven’t even begun to see the mountain of corruption that is Australian business), and the government takes virtually no action. I wonder why?  Could it be the well paid directorships and board places awaiting retired Liberal and National Party politicians?