Checked it Out
On a Three-Day
Better late than never, they say. And so it is with this week’s Diary, delayed by Hector’s schedule, no longer driven by determinants other than his own. It was disrupted by the need to go to Lombok. It’s always a pleasure to visit Bali’s sister island just to the east. The contrast is interesting. The barely perceptible bump as you transit the Wallace Line is fun – especially in a Wings Air ATR72-500 in cloud at 5,000ft on the 60 nautical mile flight between Ngurah Rai (Denpasar) and Selaparang (Mataram). And especially when to make the flight last the advertised 30 minutes your plane flies out into the middle of the Lombok Strait and describes a couple of s-l-o-w figures of eight to while away the time.
Never mind. You get there in the end, even if Wings Air pilots seem to like to land at near cruising speed and then hang out every anchor possible to stop before the end of the short Selaparang runway. That’s what life in Indonesia is all about: adrenalin. (Coming back three days later our ATR72-500 pilot demonstrated similar thrill capacity by landing a long up the strip, missing the otherwise easily attainable taxiway turnout and having to turn around and trundle back to it, all the while under the baleful glare of a big jet waiting to take off .)
Ngurah Rai’s domestic terminal is still testing the limits of chaos theory, by the way. On our return from Lombok on Sunday passengers were playing guess-which-carousel in the luggage collection area because the information screens were blank.
It would be inaccurate to describe Senggigi, focal point of Lombok’s mainland tourism (the Gillis run their own race) as a centre of anything much. It’s pretty small beer if compared with other tourist centres elsewhere. Kuta (Bali) would swallow it whole and not even blink. Of course, Senggigi would swallow Kuta (Lombok) whole, ditto. That gives an idea of the relativities involved.
Nonetheless, the little joint was jumping the three nights we were in and around the strip looking for dinner. Some of the light bulbs have been changed and there are one or two new shingles hanging up outside diners-deluxe and otherwise. At Square, a long-time favourite, the Distaff swore that before she arrived at our table (she had diverted to check out the facilities) your Diarist was being assessed by the management for girl receptivity. That seems highly unlikely (they wouldn’t want a cardiac arrest on their hands, surely?) but then again, three decades of direct experience have amply demonstrated that the Distaff is rarely wrong. Fortunately, then, she arrived in the nick of time and saved your Diarist acute embarrassment and a nasty bout of irritation.
We shan’t be going back to another old favourite, De Quake, in a hurry. The lamb was anything but and, for the Diary’s money, the goat from which chunks had been sawn before being improperly dealt with was an older one than even your Diarist. The Distaff’s fish was off and they threw us out early because the staff wanted to play cards. It’s sad, because we were at De Quake’s opening in 2007, its waterside premises are first-class, and its corporate connection with the American owned upmarket Qunci mini-resorts chain had been promising.
Our third eatery was of course Asmara Restaurant, where, we happily report, the delightful Sakinah Nauderer is still serving up the finest Teutonic cuisine. The meatballs were delicious.
It seems Diarist and Distaff must be among the mere handful of global citizens who did not watch the British royal wedding last Friday (it started at 5pm Indonesian central time). We were staying at Holiday Resort, where old chum Stefan Leu is general manager, and when we met him for a brief say-hi at 4.40pm – we were on our way out – he pleaded pressure of business and disappeared (we met him again next day for a much longer chat).
It turns out that the business that was pressing was getting into the lounge chair in front of the TV in time for the nuptials. Ah well, the whole world loves a spectacle. Or so it seems. Someone we met on Saturday who had been in Jakarta airport at the bewitching hour reported wall-to-wall Indonesians glued to the TVs in the terminal.
Not a Klui
As reported, we stayed at Holiday Resort on Lombok this time. It’s a well-run establishment and the refurbished bathrooms are pretty good. The hotel’s employees are super-friendly, the beach traders in the area are pleasant (and pleasantly manageable) and the facilities – if you overlook the usurious rates for connecting to Wi-Fi – are all you’d ask for at below super-stellar level. We’re glad we stayed there.
We mightn’t have. When the need to visit Lombok – it was business related – emerged we had attempted to connect with the plush new Jeeva Klui at Malimbu, a little further up West Lombok’s spectacular coast. Unfortunately, it seems, they just can’t be bothered to reply to emails.
The establishment bills itself as just upon the Wallace Line. Just below the Plimsoll line would seem a more appropriate pitch.
That’s the Spirit
This year’s BaliSpirit Festival drew 6,000 attendees, according to figures just released by organiser-in-chief Meghan Pappenheim. It also raised US$15,000 for a local HIV/AIDS prevention programme that many see as being most directly relevant to those most at risk, which in Bali nowadays is senior school students and young adults, and sex workers. It long ago ceased to be an affliction of homosexuals and intravenous drug injectors and thus worthy of being ignored by people whose consciences are unaffected by fatalities among the undeserving.
In another sign of the times, BaliSpirit’s Facebook was viewed by 250,000 people in March and its website recorded 115,000 visits.
International attendees at the event, held the Purnati Centre for the Arts and ARMA Resort at Ubud, included record numbers of Australians, Americans, Canadians and Germans – and Indonesian visitors were also a record.
On Your Big Bike
The arrogance of posses of big bikers is legendary, in Bali no less than anywhere. Here their threatening road-hogging convoy tactics are outweighed only by the official arrogance of police escorts (often found “escorting” bands of big-bikers on their little outings, for a fee of course) and the mindlessness of truck and bus drivers who sweep all before them (literally if you’re not super-cautious). It’s part of the Rafferty’s rules that substitute for common sense here.
So it was interesting to see that a group of motorcyclists had a run-in with Governor Made Mangku Pastika, who was returning from a weekend visit to Buleleng in a private vehicle. It wasn’t an official visit because if it had been he’d have had a police escort and the bikers would probably have been monstered themselves instead. We read about the incident in Indonesian press early last week, and it was amply covered in The Beat Daily, the email news briefing put out by The Beat Magazine. Naturally when the bikers discovered to their horror that they had beaten up on the Guv, major grovelling took place.
If it results in these highway bother-boys mending their ways – and in the police regulating their rides rather than abetting their bad behaviour – then that’s all to the good. Bike clubs raise a lot of money for charity. They provide an outlet for testosterone-challenged boys of all ages. But they are a pest when they’re on the open road apparently doing auditions for a remake of The Wild One. That the Governor has now told them this may be a promising start on their road to rehabilitation.
Not sure it was a newspaper lead story a week after the non-event, as the Bali Times seems to believe, but these are sorts of decisions that apparently get made when you’re revealing the real Bali from somewhere in Ireland.
This year’s Yak Tennis Classic open tournament kicked off at the weekend at Canggu and runs to May 7. Entry is free to all spectators and there are some eatable and drinkable treats as well. The action takes place at the Canggu Tennis Centre, part of the Canggu Club and just across the road from the plush central premises of that establishment. Weekday matches commence at 3pm and weekends at 10am.
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