Thursday, July 14, 2011

HECTOR’S DIARY For the Bali Advertiser, July 13, 2011

The Gripes of Roth and Better Fiction

We had a good laugh recently when that loud and verbose bore Philip Roth, the self-proclaimed king of American social critique, announced he had given up fiction as irrelevant. Many people we know gave up Roth years ago, citing much the same reason. But not your diarist, who believes the three best rules of life are read, read, read. Besides, it’s difficult to argue that someone’s writing is mind-blowing rubbish if you haven’t bored yourself rigid reading the stuff first – and we do like an argument.
    But never mind. The mewling of people uncertain about their place in the world is better left for history – in this case the history of literature – to adjudicate. For most of us, more practical and immediate matters are of greater concern.
    So, absence of Citybank cash notwithstanding – you’ll remember they had that little local difficulty over a defaulting credit card customer and one of the collateral damages of that little exercise in total idiocy was their three-year sponsorship of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival – the festival crowd up at Ubud are putting together a great programme.
    The Diary is particularly keen to meet the naked traveller, Trinity, who will be presenting a travel blogging workshop at the festival. We assume her tips will include advice to make sure you pack some clothes if you’re going off travel-blogging.
    Trinity is Indonesia's leading travel writer. In 2005, she started a travel blog at and in less than two years the blog was nominated as finalist in Indonesia's Best Blog Award. This led her to switch her corporate career to become full-time traveller and freelance travel writer.
    Her debut book The Naked Traveler (these American spellings are a nuisance but that's how she spells it) was a compilation of stories from her adventures around the world. The book inspired many Indonesians, especially young people, to travel. And that can only be good.
    The Naked Traveler has now been published in its third sequel and the book is Indonesia's best-selling travel book to date.
    UWRF’s Facebook is a good one to keep an eye on, by the way.

Strategic Glitch

A little while ago some friends we haven’t seen for years dropped us an e-line to say they were coming to Bali. They didn’t make it (they’ll try again later) because they were flying (well, meant to be flying) Brisbane-Bali with Strategic Airlines and its only available bus was stuck on the ground in Malaysia with a broken bit awaiting a replacement from somewhere or other.
    These things happen, and when you’re a small player like Strategic having one aircraft off line has a dramatic impact on your core business. You know what we mean: the bit in the business plan that says your business is all about flying fare-paying passengers on schedule and with minimal disruption.
    So we asked Strategic’s new corporate communicator, Heather Jeffrey, a refugee from Virgin Australia (and previously Air New Zealand), for an explanation of the service failure and specifically what the airline was doing for passengers stranded in Bali at the end of their holidays. Apart from anything else, it presented an opportunity for the airline to score a brownie point or two with a friendly reference to their great concern for the travelling public.
    Sadly, nothing was heard back from Ms Jeffrey, who must have decided that indiscretion is the better part of valour.  It’s a strange way to run a PR operation – and an airline, if you’re trying to drum up business, which Strategic is desperate to do.

Cliff-Top Sensation

We dropped in at Ayana Resort & Spa on Sunday, June 26, for the post-Bali Triathlon party, as the guests of Ayana spruiker and triathlon participant Marian Hinchliffe. She was looking remarkably spry for someone who had spent the day doing all sorts of things we’d never dream of – running, you know, and riding bikes and taking long swims – and we had a good chat. Which was very nice.
    Jack Daniels, whose Bali Discovery Tours had a hand in the event, this year sponsored in chief by local internet provider Biznet, was his usual ebullient self, and by all accounts – his included – the whole thing was a great success. That’s good to hear because Bali needs as wide a range of attractions as possible.

It’s a Breeze

Some other long-time friends from Australia were here recently, staying – as they generally do – at The Samaya at Seminyak. We dined with them one night, catered from Breezes, the plush resort’s signature beachside restaurant. But we dined in their villa, a pleasant ambience though on the other side of the road because the rest of Samaya has been demolished for extensive resurrection.
    The night started well. Our hostess – who may have been suffering shock, we heard a little later, since she had thought an earlier ring on the villa gate was her dear family returning from an outing but on opening the gate in a state of considerable dishabille found to her horror it was a work crew coming to fix something – offered us a beer and promptly (and spectacularly) dropped the bottle. A sprayful of large Bintang goes a long way.
    Things got rapidly better after that, though. So much better that the Distaff managed to leave her glasses, an apparently vital hair comb and certain other sundries concealed behind the cushion on the long couch upon which she had spent the evening wining, dining and gabbling.
    It was a difficult two days before we were able to retrieve the items. Life took on an altogether different and fierce aspect. They were her rose-coloured glasses, you see.

Smile, Please

One of Bali’s most deserving charity causes is epitomised in the Smile Foundation (Yayasan Senyum) whose leading light, Mary Northmore-Aziz, has just deservedly been in London to receive an MBE from the Queen.
    Smiles are worth paying for, the more so when they are smiles on the faces of children born with deformities that can be corrected by intricate and expensive cranio-facial surgery. So Adelaide (and Bali) identity Sally Black – with her son – are in the process of organising the Arafura Miles for Smiles. Sally and Arie – who is 14 – will bike it from Bali to West Timor to raise money for the charity.
    They are in Darwin at present – shame they had to be there in the tropical city’s coldest June on record, a function of global warming no doubt, but there you go – arranging necessary logistics. They have to get their motorbike from Kupang to Darwin at the end of their ride, for one thing, and are looking for a sponsor to fund this operation.
    Air North, which used to fly Darwin-Bali and may do so again, was on their list of possible sponsors to approach. It would be great if that came off.
    The Diary will follow the Ride for Smiles (well, figuratively speaking). So watch this space. And if you’re on Facebook (isn’t everyone?) check out theirs (Arafura Miles for Smiles). These two websites are worth a visit too: and

Silly Chump

Those who observe the Australian scene may have noticed that the miners there are up in arms over the government’s plans to introduce a carbon tax (in the odd belief that this will avert or at least ameliorate global warming). It’s probably a silly idea: it would far better to use the tax system to properly subsidise developments in and usage of renewable energy. But it’s not a killer blow to magnates domestic or foreign who earn their overly-thick crusts from ripping out the country’s minerals, including the coal now being demonised by the Greens for political purposes.
    So it was strange that Twiggy Forrest, a West Australian magnate, should foolishly raise recently the spectre of secession. The West Australians voted to secede in 1933, in a referendum, but it did not proceed then – and wouldn’t now – because, well, it was (and is) a ridiculous idea.
    WA makes a living out of complaining that Canberra takes all its money and doesn’t give enough back. It’s a familiar refrain in any federation and has its own small echoes here in Bali over much tinier revenue flows from visas on arrival.
    Most West Australians, properly informed, would understand that if WA was suddenly independent it might keep all its resource revenue but it would have to pay the full whack for education, health, infrastructure and social welfare – not to mention defence and security and all the other impedimenta that come along with independent nationhood.

The Bali Advertiser is online at Hector is on Facebook (Hector McSquawky) and Twitter (@ Scratchings)

1 comment:

  1. Bali is very nice place...
    nice info & thank you...