Saturday, February 26, 2011


Another Fine
Farce from
Stuff & Nonsense,
To Wallyworld

 A sudden decision to slap an additional tax on foreign movies – by means of a “revision” of licensing and customs duties, apparently the latest effort from the febrile scriptwriters at Stuff & Nonsense, Jakarta’s world-beating comic production house that has the market in overbearingly large and completely ineffective bureaucracy sewn up – would like many things here be funny if it were not tragic.
     Reality shows are not the favoured medium in Indonesia’s official theatre of the absurd. Instead, fairytales and farce dominate the bill of fare. There is a subtext in play, as the rent-a-fanatic FPI, the so-called Islamic Defenders Front, continually demonstrates. The actuality of Indonesia’s constitution, let alone the legal requirements it places on citizens, are forever ignored by those who only listen to whichever latest rant takes their fancy, usually after another demotic declaration at Friday prayers.
    We see Punks – misguided individuals they may be, but human beings with rights they certainly are – pursued in Aceh for the same reasons and by the same one-eyed enforcers. Closer to home, there are early signs of Balinese Hindu activism beginning to surface in a belated response to the activities of other Balinese Hindus in enriching themselves by selling their heritage.
    Shutting off access to foreign films may suit someone’s political agenda, but it flies in the face of the eclectic pluralism that makes Indonesia the fascinating (and in a very real sense inclusive) society it is. It is not a religious matter: those who wish their lives to be governed by someone else’s interpretation of prophesy are welcome to feel themselves to be thus guided. It is not even a social issue, except for the very real risk that if thickheads are not stopped early in their piece their numbskull activities too often result in actual blood on the streets. The game is the usual vain – and vainglorious – battle for political turf.
    The extra movie tax (however it was explained when someone woke up to its idiocy) is a symptom of a debilitating disease of the political/bureaucratic system that stymies Indonesia at virtually every turn. There are formal policies but they are ignored; rules and regulations exist but either no one takes any notice or those who wish to circumvent them bribe their way through; and bright sparks with ridiculous and unworkable plans to gouge ever more money out of people’s pockets are given free rein to promote and promulgate their idiocies.
    President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has a dilemma before him: he can either be a leader (which means telling idiots, some of whom may be his friends politically or otherwise, to go away) or a shambolic symbol of national dysfunction. He could start in a small way, by telling the film regulators to look for their scripts at the fine premises of Common Sense, because Indonesians have had enough of Wallyworld.

Sacred Plot

This year’s Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (October 5-9) will pay special tribute to a formative force in world understanding of our unique island: Kawi-Wiku (poet priest) Ida Pedanda Made Sideman. Its theme – Nandurin Karang Awak, Cultivate the Land Within – is taken from an evocative line in his epic poem Gaguritan Salampah Laku and he will be given a special tribute at the festival.
    Bali has many special features and points of uniqueness. Perhaps the head of the Indonesian entrepreneurs association, Panundiana Khun, might care on reflection to ponder that essential element before he next suggests an idiocy like sending Bali’s farmers to Sulawesi and other places because he and his mates want to build even more tourist edifices all over the island.
    UWRF’s February newsletter – it hit the Diary’s in box on February 21 by the way – notes that Ida Pedanda Made Sidemen is considered one of Bali’s greatest poet-priests and in a lifetime of priestly reflection created several important literary works. He was also a respected authority on traditional architecture. In that respect it is a particular sadness that he left us – allegedly aged 126 – on September 10, 1984. We could use his sage appreciation of what truly constitutes Bali and its unique society today.
    In Bali’s Hindu tradition cultivating the land within – the mind – is an important philosophical concept which, as UWRF’s newsletter notes, is crucial to the spiritual landscape. He possessed nothing tangible in his life, by choice: no land, no personal riches, choosing poverty and exile from modernity in pursuit of an unwavering conviction that life is about one’s own potential, the land within.
    Festival organisers say this year’s event will be devoted to redefining the boundaries of consciousness, surely a project in which the sentient would always wish to engage. They say “more than 80 established and emerging authors will convene on Ubud” (sic) – we think they either mean convene in or converge on but never mind, it’s the thought that counts - in a celebration of literature.

Blow It

Reader Dave, who lives at Suwung (and incidentally has seen neither hide nor hair of any anti-rabies dog vaccination teams) and recalls our item on the Great Gas Regulator Scam last year, reports that it’s apparently alive and well and coming to a rumah near you – or possibly even your house – very soon.
    He told us in an email note received this week: “My sister-in-law has just ushered out  a couple supposedly checking the gas. We’ve already replaced our regulator with a good certified one, and a hose as well. The man asked to see our receipt. We refused.”
    Dave also says he and wife Nyoman have just got to get a bigger dog. Apparently Nyoman’s dainty little five-kilo house pet specimen just doesn’t cut it in the seeing-off-the-fake-gasman stakes.
    So be warned. These gas “inspectors” are anything but. They come from shops in Denpasar and they prey on the gullible.


There was an important series of meetings this weekend including one in Lombok in connection with the work the Australia-Indonesia Institute (AII) and its local counterpart, the Indonesia-Australia Institute, have been doing here for a quarter of a century. The AII board was visiting Jakarta and Lombok for calls on a range of calls on government, civic society, academic and cultural figures and in Lombok teachers and students at a school that is taking part in the AII BRIDGE programme which links schools in Indonesia and Australia. Its board meeting in Lombok will consider new initiatives to expand people-to-people links.
    Australian ambassador Greg Moriarty said on Monday: “For more than two decades, the institute has fulfilled a unique and vital role in fostering friendship and understanding between our two nations.  In this new era of Australia-Indonesia relations, with deeper and broader engagement across many sectors, the work of the Institute is more relevant and important than ever.”
    The AII was established by the Australian government in 1989. Its present chairman, Professor Tim Lindsey, said: “It is a pleasure for the board to be back in Indonesia with our Indonesian friends and colleagues who have been working in partnership with us for more than two decades to build bridges of understanding between our two countries.”
    Few would seek to argue with those sentiments.

Shift in the Wind

For a travel agent, Jack Daniels is amazingly directionally challenged. His little e-update this week advised people that cyclone Carlos – the latest in this extended La Niňa season of excess weather – had shut down flights between Bali and “Darwin, Western Australia,” for two days. Um, Jack, try “Northern Territory.”
    The Diary was in Perth this week. It didn’t look in the least like Darwin. It did have one moment of excitement of its own, however. An avant garde Argentine artist’s “aerial sculpture,” floating 12 metres above ground level for the Perth International Arts Festival, blew away in strong winds.
    It was reported to have been destroyed. The artist was reported to be devastated.  

Back Home

It will be great to back home this weekend, with SEB 1/2011 under our belt. SEBs - short for Short Essential Breaks - are essential, for all the reasons set out in a recent Diary item. But they must also be short. Travel’s fun, but being home again is best of all. Lengthy absences remove you from the sequence of action.
     SEB 2/2011 will be held on a date to be fixed. That date depends on the performance of the benchmark Frustration Index.

Hector's Blog appears as The Diary in The Bali Times, published on Fridays. For print editions anywhere, see NewspaperDirect.


That Scream?
It’s Just

Last week an incautious forecast emanated from The Diary. It was issued without taking into the account the variable humours, not to say the jealousies, of the cyber gods; or indeed of the universal application of Sod’s Law. It said that readers would not even notice that this week’s Diary had a provenance not of Bali, since in cyberspace not only could no one hear you scream, but they had no idea where you were.
    Alert readers may therefore have been a little discomfited to hear the distant echo of a scream from deep in cyberspace on Tuesday. It was (of course) from your incautious and ill-advised Diarist, on being apprised of the fact that his laptop computer had toppled off the perch. Monty Python-sketch-like, it was no more. It was deceased. It had ceased to be. The Monty Python sketch owes its own provenance to an Athenian joke from the fourth century, in which someone is complaining (to the seller of the same) that his slave has died; it turns on the – entirely reasonable – counter argument from the former owner that the slave in question was alive and well at the time of sale.
    Today’s slaves are of course computers. Like the slaves of old, blast them, they have minds of their own and a determination to use them. And not necessarily to their master’s advantage. In this case the battery was refusing to charge and the diagnosis – well, post mortem as it turned out – was that neither the battery nor the charger was to blame, but the integrated connection within the motherboard itself. Your Diarist, at heart the uncouth individual you all instinctively know him to be, instantly interposed a six-letter word between mother and board. But we digress.
    The result of this unfortunate coincidence of inclement events: Get a new laptop, on cost grounds if for no other reason. Finding a new slave and buying one was likely to be cheaper and less time-consuming than attempting a miracle resurrection of the incumbent. Besides, a few more gigabytes might be useful.
    The search is on.


One result of temporary absence from the internet these days is that one’s life falls apart. Well, perhaps not quite. But being suddenly deprived of ready access to The Bali Times website and other good places is a pain. It’s true you can read the papers – though in The Diary’s present location the local paper is not exactly reading material of choice – but absent the web, one feels deprived.
    Mind you, a drive down into the wine country of Margaret River is both an admirable antidote and an excursion that should never be forgone. The Diary and Distaff returned last weekend to a fine establishment last visited 21 years ago – that seems impossible but is regrettably the case – at which lunch and a decorous modicum of fine wine was consumed.
    It was Woody Nook, a Ruritanian-style retreat just a little to the north of Margaret River itself, where the meals in the Nookerie are first-class. The Diary indulged in a beef ravioli helped down by a very pleasant red, and left a card lest Simple Simon of the Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association should ever drop in.
    For two decades Woody Nook it has been Nookie Wood in Diary parlance. Many among the lunchtime crowd last Sunday looked as if they might have had the same idea.

Oh for the Bukit

One desperately tries to avoid visiting southern regions of Australia in their winter. It is far too cold and wet for comfort, especially for those who have trained throughout their lives for the amiable beneficence of the tropical zone. In The Diary’s view, anywhere south or north of Latitude 10 is asking for trouble.
    But a summer visit to the West Australian Riviera however is not without its problems either. When you live on the beautiful Bukit (Latitude 8S) and enjoy daily maxima of 28-29C, minima of 24-26C, and thrill to the chill of the occasional 22C morning, 34C-plus in the shade is a tad too much.
    Down here on 34S, there’s been all this strange blue stuff above us, too. It seems to be sky. We’re just not accustomed anymore to clear skies over the Bukit. It’s so difficult for it to bucket down unless masses of those woolly grey things get between you and the blue.

Festive Note

It was good to see, in a window of opportunity between no internet access and internet access this week, that Janet de Neefe has been busy promoting this year’s Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. She enjoined us in an email to mark October 5-9 in our diary as the dates of the 2011 extravaganza. We were grateful for this confirmation and have duly underlined these auspicious dates in our calendar.
    Bali’s annual writers’ festival, whether or not one of the six best in the world according to some distant glossy journal, is of course an event to be welcomed and applauded, and promoted. We wanted to do this last year but were not allowed to be a participant, having apparently offended someone or other, perhaps by being an actual newspaper that not only reports the news but subjects it to analysis and sometimes – heavens forefend – pens a critical comment or three.
    We look forward to an opportunity to promote the event – and subject it to objective analysis – this year. The theme for 2011 is Nandurin Karang Awak, Cultivate the Land Within. Let’s get digging.

Fanatic Note

If it were not so serious it would be laughable that the Iranian government is in such a flux over the outcome of events in Egypt. Its leaders are clearly petrified that the outcome of the inevitable Egyptian “revolution” will not be a triumph for Islamic fundamentalism. Anyone could tell them that, the Muslim Brotherhood notwithstanding, Egypt is about the least fundamentalist nation you could find in the Islamic diaspora.
    The Iranian political leader, I’m a mad dinner jacket, has made common cause with the ayatollahs in pursuit of an Iran that the country’s intelligencia reject and which will not work. The genius of Iran lies in its history, its acceptance of modernity, its nationally defined accretion to Islam, and its educated classes (of which their present political leader is an errant member).
    The expansive and progressive future of Iran is more perfectly expressed by the life (and unconscionable death) of Neda Agha Soltan than by the man who acquiesced in, if he did not directly cause, her murder by an authorised sniper on the streets of Tehran in 2009.
    Indonesia’s own fundamentalists, who wreck churches, kill “errant” Muslims, would put every one of their countrymen in Purdah if they could, and similarly seek to abolish the modern world, might properly and profitably consider this.

In for a Grilling

There are benefits to having a short sojourn in Western Australia. You see all sorts of things. One little chap seen the other day was fixedly engaged on a marathon swim. He was 10 metres offshore and paddling madly, first westwards and then eastwards, while his friends (a man and a boy) kept walking pace along the beach. And he did really well, for a short-haired terrier.
    Another little item of interest was fits of ersatz outrage in the West Australian parliament over the absence of National Party leader and minister for something or other Brendon Grylls. He was not at his seat because, sensible fellow, he was having a holiday in Bali.

Hector's Blog appears as The Diary in The Bali Times, published on Fridays. For print editions anywhere, see NewspaperDirect.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011


It Seems That
Sacred in
Gamba Land

Last week’s demonstration by students outside Bali Police headquarters, protesting against the extraordinarily light penalty awarded to long-term resident Italian illegal pratima collector-distributor Roberto Gamba will doubtless be dealt with in the time-honoured way of things here. That is, the complaints may be noted; they could possibly be filed though this is doubtful (and if they are, will never be found in the filing system afterwards); and they will certainly be ignored.
    The rash of temple thefts which began – by complete coincidence of course – in 2006 around the time Gamba arrived in Bali to set up shop in the already over-serviced “collector” sector, resulted in six Balinese gentlemen who robbed temples of their sacred objects being charged, excoriated by the giants of jurisprudence who dealt with their cases, and thrown in the slammer for six years.
    Gamba, without whom we can safely assume the six local miscreants would have had difficulty finding a market for their stolen goods and most likely would not now all be in jail for a long stretch, acquired a top lawyer, or at least a loud and pushy one. This brought an immediate benefit: a basically closed court hearing (seemingly, money deflected the otherwise inevitable embarrassment of publicity widely fingering him as a felon). Another was that he got off with five months – an incarceration conveniently coincident with time he had already spent in jail on remand awaiting trial. He was out of pokey last week.
    The Diary was pleased to hear that he was then taken straight to the airport. We hope he left our shores with his passport stamped as forever an undesirable alien. 

He’s Weird

People get weird ideas about Bali. So we are informed by Liam Fitzpatrick in TIME Magazine’s February 14 edition. He was giving a plug for John Stanmeyer’s photographs, and that’s fair enough. They’re really very good.
    But Fitzpatrick clearly speaks from personal experience when he talks about weird ideas. He says of Bali that “the Eat, Pray, Love brigade likes to see it as a crazy occult isle, its sarong-clad populace in thrall to wraiths and babbling shamans.”  Well, let’s not quibble with the grammar. He’s writing for a mag that likes to be hip in the modern, post-literate, American way. So it grates. So what?
    But he goes on, and we do quibble. “Every other tourist who has drunk a lemongrasstini on Kuta Beach goes gaga for Bali, mysterious land of animist phantasms lurking behind every 7-Eleven, instead of Bali, a place of ordinary people preoccupied with workaday stuff like paying grocery bills and saving for a new scooter, who, in their spare time, don't always stand in front of the nearest shrine in a tongue-lolling trance but watch TV and check their Facebook just like the rest of us.”
    That 77-word sentence captures every reason why some people shouldn’t be let out with a laptop. There are no 7-Elevens in Bali – they’re a global minimart franchise that’s only just started trying its luck in Jakarta. Animist phantasms do not by definition lurk behind any non-existent convenience store, let alone every one of them. Devout Hindus (and anyone with a brain) would be offended by the tongue-lolling put-down. And what on earth is a lemongrasstini? And whatever it is, would you want one?
    Here’s a tip, Liam. Check out a few real Facebooks before you start your next electronic scribble.

Gone With the Wind

We had a good laugh the other day when we read that Malawi proposed to legislate to outlaw personal emissions in public. Well, it was just a giggle, really, not the sort of all-out laugh that might inadvertently lead to Malawi law being broken.
    FBLs (full belly-laughs) are reserved in these parts for PLN excuses; the Governor’s Thomas the Tank Engine obsession; police explanations about why they can’t catch all those long-wanted criminals everyone else has seen daily, standing outside their headquarters thumbing their noses and sticking their tongues out; and for the ubiquitously visible but completely ineffectual traffic police who watch, apparently without even bothering to wonder, as everything whizzes past them any which way (and the red light).
    But Malawi’s announcement was a useful reminder that politicians come up with really strange ideas. Not far from Malawi a psychotically deluded chap called Robert Mugabe seems still to believe that his people love him. Perhaps the Central African upland air is particularly strongly endowed with ether. (The Diary once lived in what is nowadays Mugabeland. Aha! So that explains it, some readers may think.)
    More profitably, it also reminded us of a lovely old joke about the night the duke and duchess had really important company for dinner at the ducal seat. The duke, poor old fellow, being English, and a duke d’y’know, had a way of interpolating his personal emissions policy into any break in the conversation, and the duchess, of whom quite sensibly the duke was mortally fearful, had strictly enjoined him to avoid such an event during dinner that night.
    He tried, dear chap, but in the end he failed himself (perhaps the cook’s consommé was not the best, again). An audible emission escaped. Terror gripped him. Then he had another instinctual moment, the sort of thing that has so nearly saved many a boy on a burning deck. He wheeled around, glared at the ancient retainer behind his chair, and commanded: “James, stop that!”
    James, imperturbable as always, bowed his head in strict Old Retainer fashion, and replied: “Certainly, Your Grace. Which way did it go?”

A Sick Joke

Julian Assange is a witless cyber-freak who doctors stolen videos (the Apache helicopter murders for example – stupidly manipulated in the circumstances because on any test other than the Americans’ rules of engagement in Iraq it was murder anyway) and is so untutored in actualité that it surprises him (apparently) that diplomats make assessments of their foreign counterparts and report these to their superiors.
    Mr Wikileaks is also of the opinion that the Australians, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard in particular, should now save him from himself. Why this should be so defies belief, unless you’re a lawyer looking for a brief or a politicised counsel or a journalist besotted by misconceptions of global conspiracy.
    Warren Zevon, who famously sang “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” and is now doing just that, also gave us the song Lawyers, Guns and Money. It’s a great song. Its best line, one that Assange seems to have made his anthem, goes: “Send lawyers, guns and money, the s**t has hit the fan.”
    At the same time the Swedish “rape” charges on which Assange is being held by fortuitous convenience are a sick joke. They probably are even to most Swedes. He might be a grub, or one of the many socially dysfunctional would-be sexual predators who litter the landscape of male failure, but seeking gratuitous sex from a promiscuous array of evidently willing partners who have morning-after regrets is not a crime.
    And if the Americans don’t like him because the ever-ready capacity of their apparatus to perform pratfalls is a continuous embarrassment to them, well, that’s their problem. 

SEB Time

Your diarist for the next two editions will be scribbling from Western Australia. We mention this not because The Diary’s content might appear oddly different – or even odder, some might say – because it won’t. In cyberspace not only can no one hear you scream, but they have no idea where you are.
    We mention it merely because it is SEB time. That’s SEB as in short essential break. These are short because one wouldn’t wish to be away from home for too long; essential because those among us not genetically auto-immune to chaos get fidgety without an occasional infusion of Regulated Bland; and a break because, well, if you don’t get away now and then you start breaking things.
    The Diary will be enjoying lengthy walks on long, clean beaches, unmolested by dogs or sunglass-sarong sellers; traffic that (predominantly) adheres to a widely understood and rigidly enforced highway code; and pavements that for the most part are wide enough to let two people pass each other (even grossly oversized Australians), that are out of bounds to motorbikes and generally don’t threaten the momentarily unwary with disabling injury or worse. Oh, and some decent wine at reasonable prices.
    Then we’ll be back; which will be even better.

Hector's Blog is published in the weekly print edition of The Bali Times, out Fridays, and appears on the newspaper's website Print editions of the newspaper are available worldwide through NewspaperDirect.


Friday, February 04, 2011


How Not to
Spoil the

Most people, especially the Balinese you would think, are acutely aware that our island is rather less than the unspoiled paradise the tourism sector promotes it as. Most are also aware that having packed the place with millions of tourists, we now need to provide working infrastructure. Proper planning and effective budgeting would of course put the horse before the cart rather than the unworkable reverse of that configuration but, hell, you can’t have everything. And muddle through is much more fun. Isn’t it?
    All societies change to accommodate new realities, or else they ultimately implode or fracture. This is something Indonesia’s tiny minority of fanatic Muslims need to consider, rather urgently. There is a vast gulf between educating for ethics and morality and enforcing unnecessary, unworkable and religion-specific rules and legislation upon an unwilling citizenry. That’s an aspect of life here that columnist Novar Caine canvasses in this edition.
    At the same time, we need to look to the health of Balinese society. If 60 percent of the island’s farmers live below the official poverty line, then something is desperately wrong. They may be resistant to change but again, effective socialisation of new ideas and ways to bolster farm incomes could provide not only benefits but also a demonstration that the strict social boundaries that have hitherto existed in Balinese Hindu culture can be stretched.
    Udayana University academic Professor Wayan Windia, an expert on the subak (traditional irrigation) system, says he opposes plans for a second international airport in Buleleng in the north, and the Governor’s Thomas the Tank Engine railway plan, because such developments will hasten the destruction of Balinese society. That’s an overly narrow and pessimistic view that does not give sufficient thought to the ability of people to manage essential change.
    But it is not necessary to fully subscribe to the professor’s arcane conservatism to see that he has a point. Outside the fleshpots of the Kuta zone, foreigners travel here to see Bali as Bali should be (or could be with a little effort). It’s a modification of the old ways, of course. Atrophy is not good public policy. But if your idea of a holiday is to see something unique or at least different from your normal environment, then the inside of a hotel that could be anywhere or a loud and uncouth bar (ditto) is probably not where you should be.
    Those of us who live here – and who would not want to live anywhere else – understand that Bali needs a strategic plan. You hear that refrain constantly among your Balinese and other Indonesian friends. There is no place in strategic plans for instant good ideas or for kneejerk responses to perceived problems. Such a plan, in Bali, must include a workable arrangement to develop agriculture in productive and income-building ways. Landscape is everything (unless you’re a myopic bar-fly).
    Bali’s natural and social environment is magnificent. It just needs considered and sensible help to make the long delayed transition to modernity. 

Sock ’Im

We heard a lovely little story the other day, from a new and remarkably young Facebook friend, from Yogyakarta but Bali-resident. It seems she was on her way into town on a recent Saturday night, riding pillion on her best girlfriend’s motorbike, when a passing rider molested her in a rather forward way.
    She told her friend, an apparently rather feisty young Balinese woman, about this unwanted encounter. She (the feisty Balinese) took grave offence – and took off in hot pursuit of the miscreant. They caught up with the defaulter. She (the feisty Balinese) laid one on him. With some force, we hear.
    Wish we’d been there to see it.

Round Table View

We journeyed to Ubud for a lovely dinner on Saturday, which included a magnificent spicy chicken soup a la Medan (thanks, Santi). It was an interesting evening among health professionals and a lawyer (with The Diary thrown in for amateur value) and discussion was equally wide-ranging and the views disparate.
    But there was complete unanimity on one issue: the need to confront rabies head-on and to reduce the number of dogs. Given that the gathering was at what might be described as the high end (excusing the presence of the yellow press) it might surprise that the view on what to do about rabies is so close to the popular view. That is, shoot them.
    That assessment is that rabies can be controlled where there are limited (and also controlled) numbers of dogs. It comes from experience in the field, not from Wish List land or from supine acceptance that a decades-long vaccination-focused rabies management programme is the only way to go.
    This may be something the dodgy lobby (oops, sorry, doggy lobby) and the Bali government might like to consider.

Double Dutch

We were in one of our favourite eating houses the other night when the resident eminence commented that he had had a chat recently with a member of the passing trade, someone from the Netherlands via New Zealand and Australia, who said, on learning that The Diary occasionally dined within, that he would really like to meet the scribbler.
   The Diary responded: “Well Hector would like to meet him, but he’s a cockatoo.” (For evidence of this essential fact, look at the logo that heads this column.) Back came the response: “No, he’s a Dutchman.”

Put it to BEDO

Ric Shreves, who may or may not himself be digitally enhanced and who has lately been updating people on something called Joomla, which is a complete mystery to diarists, gave a talk to the Bali Export Development Organisation this week. The organisation, a not-for-profit outfit dedicated to the essential task of building productive business in Bali, is engagingly known as BEDO.
    Shreves was talking about effective techniques for generating awareness and driving traffic to your website. He knows all about this (someone has to!) and would be a good person to listen to on a lot of topics.
    Water&Stone, of which he is a principal and which bills itself as Bali’s only full service digital agency, was driving traffic towards the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival site last year. Its work, though Bali based, is global – another signal that if you’re in the right business and you have the skills and energy, you can do anything from Bali.
    That should put to bed the pervasive belief of so many that Bali is just the New Age Mallorca and who do everything possible to avoid making sentience part of their business plan.

VIP Flight

Some friends arrived last Sunday for a little holiday in Bali. They flew up from Perth on Strategic, the Australian full-service airline that offers an alternative to Garuda – whose cabin service is excellent by the way – and the pack-’em-in low-fare providers.
    It was just after Mt Bromo overlaid the aviation map of Bali with all that unpleasant high-altitude ash, causing many airlines to temporarily cease services and – no doubt – creating confusion in the minds of some intending travellers.
    But at the same time, it is frankly astonishing that Strategic’s Airbus 330 had all of eight passengers aboard. The eight-strong cabin crew would have been swept off their feet, poor things, having to deal with that burdensome flight attendant/passenger ratio.
    Strategic also flies from Brisbane to Bali, presently via Port Hedland or Townsville, though a direct (non-stop) service is due to start next month.

Garden Path

Janet de Neefe is just back from India, we hear. She was apparently in Mumbai buying a pashmina or two (or possibly trying to avoid buying them). There was a photo of her on her Facebook of her with one pashmina salesperson. Well, a girl’s got to find something to be photographed with in her downtime.
    We see, also from her Facebook, that she received advice from Michael Made White Wijaya on what she should really have been looking at in the former Bombay. Naturally, it was one of his culturally interpretive designer-gardens.

Hector's Blog appears as The Diary in the weekly print edition of The Bali Times and on the newspaper's website at Print editions of The Bali Times are available worldwide through NewspaperDirect.