We had a pleasant outing recently, to Hotel Tugu at Batu Bolong where the Rotary Club of Canggu meets and which, on that occasion, was inducting SoleMan Robert Epstone, a fugitive from Seminyak, as a member. It was a horrendous drive to get there from the Bukit (we saw a sign en route, near the eager burrowing going on at the underpass site at Simpang Siur, which proclaimed “Road Works Ahead” and thought, with a sigh, “We wish”) but it was worth it.
The decorative Hellen Sjuhada, Tugu’s bespoke mouthpiece, wasn’t there for the meeting, which was understandable but a pity nonetheless. By way of excellent compensation we had a lovely chat with Epstone’s engaging wife Shelley about this and that, including a comfy little ongoing narrative she’s putting together on behalf of one of her little pet dogs.
Epstone (Robert) is trudging around Bali at the moment on the annual SoleMen charity walk for Bali’s children living in poverty (hint: it’s a place just outside the tourist enclave) and SoleMen is in the running for Best Community Services in the annual Yak awards. We declare both an interest and a cast ballot. They deserve it, so does Epstone, we’ve voted thus, and we hope to see the gong go to them at the 2012 Yakkers. This year’s über bash for the incredibly dressed is on Sept. 28 at Mozaic Beach Club, Batu Belig.
Carve It! Carve It!
The Canggu Rotary meeting was the first the Diary’s been to in years: For all sorts of reasons we shan’t canvass here. But the evening was enlivened not only by the Pinning of Robert (happily the pinner missed the vital arteries) but also a lovely presentation by underwater sculptor Celia Gregory.
Gregory’s interest lies in enhancing coral regeneration. She is involved in the ongoing Pemeruteran project in North Bali and also in Lombok’s fabulous Gilis, where the Biorock process is helping to rehabilitate and re-establish fringing reefs. She creates sculptures – not actually under water, which seems a shame since the very thought of such enterprise makes one want to learn scuba – that are then placed as coral growing agents.
One such entity now sunk off the Gilis is a female Buddha. There’s also a motorbike.
Gregory is now in the UK raising funds for a coral regeneration project at Amed in Bali’s north-east. We’ll keep an eye on that.
You Can’t Kick the Bukit
The delightful Gibson Saraji, whose Gorgonzola restaurant and wine bar on Jl Raya Uluwatu at Bukit Jimbaran is a big draw (you can’t miss it; it’s just across the road from the immigration detention centre) has added another string to his bow. He now operates Gorgonzola Gourmet from the same premises. It’s a handy fruit-and-veg shop, has all sorts of other goodies and is now offering his own smoked meats as an additional incentive to drop in and be tempted by the best espresso coffee on the Bukit.
Saraji, who is originally from Sumatra and likes to give his special friends a playful frisson of faux-fear now and then by reminding them that he comes from a long line of cannibals, also offers all-day breakfasts – a favourite with the Distaff– and nurtures a lovely orchid-filled garden with lots of shade. There’s plenty to graze on (from the kitchen) and free WiFi. And there’s live music on Saturday evenings too.
A little further up the road, just beside the GWK entrance, is another establishment we’ve recently noticed: Anchor Fish & Chips. We kill for fish and chips! Owner Laura Lucas – she’s Bali born; her mother was originally Dutch and her father a sea captain – runs a nicely tight ship. Its entrance might challenge some, though not the Diary in search of fish and chips, since it involves several flights of stairs. But she’s placed inspirational notices on each set of stairs (“Come on Granddad”; “You’re Nearly There”; and “Don’t Give Up Now” are fixed in your diarist’s mind).
From the terrace on top you get a wonderful sunset to complement your pre-dinner drinks. There’s free WiFi there as well. It is de rigueur nowadays, a fact some other Bali establishments should think about.
See You in Ubud
Janet DeNeefe’s fragrant annual rite, the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, this year from October 3-7, will be headlined by Australian author Anna Funder, winner of the 2012 Miles Franklin Award for her book All That I Am. Funder joins Australians John Pilger – the preferred worrywart-in-print of many media-watchers – and Nick Cave, who also sings and occasionally acts, and former Timor-Leste president Jose Ramos-Horta in a strong line-up.
It’s been a good year for Funder, who also wrote Stasiland. She won the Independent Bookseller’s Award for best debut fiction, Indie Book of the Year 2012, the Australian Book Industry Awards’ Book of the Year and Literary Fiction Book of the Year, and the Barbara Jefferis Award 2012.
The festival’s full programme includes supplementary events – they’re not “fringe events” as is the overworked custom at festivals everywhere nowadays: perhaps Ubud is regarded as fringe enough as it is – and has attracted a number of ancillary events that are swinging off the festival, so to speak.
One lovely couplet in that line, that much attracts the Diary, is being staged by scribbler-guru Shelley Kenigsberg, who otherwise is found on the lovely Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia. One is the Life Writing and Memoir course (a three-day residential affair at Taman Bebek in the Ubud environs from Sept.29-Oct. 1) and her latest Editing in Paradise retreat (Oct. 8-13) being held at her villa in Sanur.
Kenigsberg, with whom we’ll definitely have a drink (or two) during the festival, has been a visitor to Bali for 25 years and says that she has finally found her dream island home, a place in Jl Mertasari in Sanur. She tells us: “I found the place through a series of coincidences (I now know never to construe them as such) and I just love it. I've been wanting to spend more time in Bali in a place of my own...for... ooh, 15 or so years. It is truly a little piece of paradise. And so that makes holding the retreats there even more special.”
She adds, delightfully: “The retreats themselves ... well, a privilege I reckon, to spend time with writers/creators who are so committed to their craft, their writing and their stories. We have a lot of intense discussions about all things words-like. But we have a lot of fun too. “
Still Barking Mad
It’s World Rabies Day on Sept. 28. Perhaps on that occasion Bali’s human and animal health authorities might pause to consider the deadly record lying at their door since the disease was belatedly identified as present in Bali in late 2008, following several unexplained deaths in the southern Bukit region.
Four years later, and after a tragic comedy of errors and do panic/don’t panic orders and counter-orders, around 150 people are dead (among other things they don’t do well here is keep accurate numbers). Six people have died so far in 2012; the latest reported (in July) a 55-year old woman from Ketewel near Denpasar who had not sought protective vaccination after a stray dog bit her. Last year, 11 people died. Falling death rates are being touted as cause for congratulation.
But any death from rabies is preventable. So sorry, fellows, six deaths this year is a deadly fail.
Take a Bow-Wow
We should remember that dogs don’t deserve to get rabies either – and that it’s not their fault they get the disease. Bali’s street dogs live in appalling conditions for all sorts of reasons, chiefly because the Balinese themselves don’t give a fig about them.
So measures to help alleviate their collective distress are always welcome. The Bali Street Dogs association’s Victorian branch runs annual Bali Nights in Melbourne. This year’s event is on October 19 at the city’s plush InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto.
Organiser Sue Warren – Victorian coordinator of BSD – tells us the cocktail party is the key source of funding for the year. It will be hosted by TV network Channel Nine’s Pete Smith and David Graham, better known to many Aussies as Farmer Dave. “Bali Nights is run by volunteers and we are auctioning only donated goods, so every dollar you spend will go directly to fund de-sexing, emergency and education programmes,” Warren says.
Bali’s street dogs – and stray cats, another problem – need help and Melbourne people have historically been generous in supporting the event. We should all say a big thank-you.
The Big Chill-Out
The energetic Lloyd Perry of The Chillout Lounge in Ubud – golly, we’re back up that hill again – reminded us a few days ago that his fine establishment is soon to celebrate its first anniversary. He actually wrote that it was “coming up on our 1st year anniversary” but in deference to the English language as it is meant to be written and spoken, we won’t go there. An anniversary is just that – it’s a word drawn from the Latin for year, der.
Never mind. There’ll be a big party at Jl. Sandat No. 4, Ubud, on Sept. 22 – it’s a Saturday – even though Lloyd’s baby isn’t a year old until the next day. The fun starts at 7pm.
We haven’t managed to sample Lloyd’s wares at The Chillout Lounge yet, but we’ll be in Ubud over the scribblers’ fest and may need to escape briefly from Ernest and Ernestine and all the other navel-gazers. Chilling out up the road might be just the ticket.
Hector's Diary appears in the Bali Advertiser, out fortnightly. The newspaper's website is www.baliadvertiser.biz. Hector tweets @scratchings and is on Facebook (Hector McSquawky).