Monday, January 09, 2012

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser January 11, 2012

Super Idea

Proposals for a redenomination of the rupiah which have resurfaced from Bank Indonesia are essentially sensible and should be welcomed. There is however one difficulty with the proposal – insofar as the details are known – to knock three zeroes off the currency under which Rp1000, Rp2000, Rp5000, Rp10,000, Rp20,000, Rp50,000 and Rp100,000 would become Rp1, Rp2, Rp5, Rp10, Rp20, Rp50 and Rp100.
     This is because by reducing Rp1000 to Rp1 you lose the capacity to divide below the primary number. Rp1 would therefore become the minimum available currency value. It would mean no one could mark up prices by Rp500, for example. Or reduce a price by the same sub-unit amount (assuming there was ever a blue moon).
      The central bank could reintroduce the sen (cent) of course. But we have heard of no plans to do so. And in any case, it would then be better to strike four zeroes off the face value – converting the current Rp10,000 into the new Rp1, divisible into 100 sen.
      That’s complicated. There is another way to simplify things and reduce the confusion wrought by zero-overload. That is to superscript the zeroes on banknotes and the Rp1000 coin. Like this:  Rp1000; Rp2000 ;Rp5000; Rp10000; Rp20000 ; Rp50000; Rp100000. Leading retailers already do this in stock display signage. It would also need only a minor redesign of banknotes and existing lower denomination coins could remain in use.

Dig it, Dig it

According to Lombok Network, the online site that’s widely regarded as probably the best source of information on the island and its attractions, the forested slopes of 3726-metre Mt Rinjani, Indonesia’s second highest volcano, perform a vital task (hitherto unsuspected: read on).
     The website says that Mt Rinjani is so high it creates its own weather. They mean it rains a lot up there, in other words. This benefit is then multiplied because the well-timbered and therefore un-eroded slopes “act as water-collectors for the hole of Lombok.”
     We think Lombok’s a magic place. It’s not a hole at all.

Mopping Up

This is the time of year for whimsy. Well, Hector enjoys it anyway, even though what has been exercising his mind is more Stephen Donaldson than Tolkien. From the constant cacophony endured at The Cage over several long days (and even longer nights) recently, he speculates that Santa’s latest attempt to annex Bali has been defeated, a cheering thought for everyone who’s utterly over fat little men in silly red suits.
     But judging from the noise around the Bukit that began before Christmas, including what seemed to be a massive fire-fight on the night of December 31-January 1, mopping up the raiding parties of elves and Kris Kringle lookalikes that General Jollygent peppered the place with is proving to be a long and arduous process. It went on at full pelt well into the New Year and may indeed not yet be over by a long chalk.  Perhaps the new Dragon will manage to end it all on January 23.
     We’ve been a bit worried at The Cage, because some of the firing has seemed pretty close. We’ve been sending out our own patrols during lulls in the combat just to make sure the immediate surroundings are clear of elves. They have been so far; and no reindeer have been seen trying unlawfully to befriend the local cattle either.
     We made inquiries, of course, as we do every year, about this annual insurrection. The local Banjar tried to tell us it was only people letting off fireworks.  Yeah! As if anyone would believe that fairytale.

Top That

Being fair-minded, the Diary dropped back into Pepito Express at Bukit Jimbaran after writing an item (Hector’s Diary, Dec. 14) that rather castigated the place for having recently acquired the ambience of a trade store.  We wanted to check whether we’d been unkind.
     We hadn’t.  There was indeed insufficient room in the aisles to swing a tikus (rat), let alone a small cat, although it should be noted that on this occasion the fresh greens – which on the previous visit had been as limp (and as inviting) as dirty wet socks – actually were fresh.
     It was Christmas Eve, however, and our mood, already buoyant, was given an immediate lift when at the check-out we found that a very svelte young creature was present to relieve us of our money. She had managed – doubtless under management direction – to team her invitingly revealing Kebaya and very clingy sarong skirt with a lovely pair of antlers.
     Things looked up even more keenly when she blushed very prettily after we said: “Itulah topi yang indah yang Anda kenakan” (“That’s a lovely hat you’re wearing.”)
     We were being polite in our best dictionary-derived Indonesian, of course.  We could have just said “Phwaar!”

Do Drop In

We love wildlife. There’s so much of it at The Cage, for one thing. But there’s also too much of a good thing sometimes, and so it is with the geckos (big and small) that are quite deaf to suggestions that they should respect the space of the frighteningly huge creatures that also live in the house, play loud music and, even more scarily, seem to run around on two legs.
      These thoughts are currently at the forefront of the collective mind at The Cage, since some of the larger geckos seem to have adopted the habit of defecating from a great height upon the stairs linking the living level and the bedroom suites.  We don’t really mind if that’s their real opinion of us, and indeed might even be persuaded by reasoned argument that this is to be understood.
      But the results are tedious.  Lately Hector, normally a mild-mannered chap to whom an accusation that he was being uncouth would be tantamount to a death sentence, has been heard to mutter as he (again) gets out the brush and dustpan: “These geckos are giving me the shits.”


Another good reason to visit Ubud has emerged, traffic permitting. It’s the Chillout Lounge in Jl Sandat off Jl Raya Ubud in the middle of town. Lloyd Perry, chief chill person at the establishment, tells us it’s been open for business for three months. He has some theme nights on the go, including something called Giant Twister, on the first Tuesday of every month, which is for the yoga adherents of Ubud and involves them in trying to outstretch each other.
     This might not suit everyone, especially your diarist. It sounds more like a dead-set way to seriously dislocate oneself. But it suits the ambience of Ubud where – as the Diary’s favourite fun gal, globetrotter-blogger and passionfruit cowgirl Jade Richardson likes to remind us (please don’t stop, Jade) – the guruhood has its fingers firmly on the hot little go-buttons of a great many who are seeking satisfaction of one sort or another.
     There’s also a Who Wants to be a Millionaire night.  What a ridiculous question. And anyway such contests – even if only for a million rupiah – so often provide risible displays of the focused non-functionality of people who should not have got out of bed that day. And that’s fun.
     Thanks for the heads-up, Lloyd. We’ll drop in one day.


The idea of an annual all-expenses-paid tipplers’ trip to distant parts has a certain appeal. Perhaps the wine teams at the St Regis and Laguna resorts at Nusa Dua could find a vacancy for a superannuated cockatoo? No? Shame! But never mind, we can get a vicarious vigneron fix from Jack Daniels. That’s local identity John M., not the old guy from the distilled quietude of scenic Lynchburg, Tennessee – though some wits do say Lynchburg’s not such a great place to hang around – whose product rightly graces bar shelves everywhere.
     We learn from a recent item in Daniels’ Bali Update – which Jack likes to remind people was once dubbed the Pravda of Bali; apparently he has forgotten (or perhaps he’s never known) that while pravda is the Russian word for truth, the infamous Soviet-era newspaper of the same name retailed nothing of the sort – that this year the lads (and lassies we hope) toured some of Western Australia’s finest wine country, having last year plonked themselves down in France.
     The Diary read the latest report from the field with interest and not only because we do devoutly hope St Regis and Laguna understand the critical difference between Vin Ordinaire and Vin Very. Margaret River is an old stamping ground – almost ancestral territory in fact – so it was interesting to see some familiar names.
     A couple struck one as odd, however. We hadn’t heard of Moos Wood winery (perhaps it doubles as a dairy farm) though the products of Moss Wood, which by astonishing coincidence is in the same area, are excellent. And when we’re next down that way – it won’t be long – we’ll try to find Pimberton, even though it’s not on any maps.
     Pemberton is, though. It’s not all that far from Moss Wood, at least at Australian traffic speeds. We like to go there whenever we can, to visit some lovely people we know very well who in their lifetimes never moved from their pleasant little Karri forest timber town and now never will. 

Hector's Diary appears in the fortnightly print edition of the Bali Advertiser and on the newspaper's website Hec is on Twitter (@Scratchings) and on Facebook (Hector McSquawky)

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