July 10-16, 2009


IT’S A SET-UP: Neighbours actress Carol Bonner with props and a pal in a November 2008 episode of the long-running Australian TV soap opera. She’s on the right. The actress was in Ubud last weekend where, as well as lunching at Janet DeNeefe’s well-publicised eatery Indus, she dropped in on the homeless pussies and puppies at BAWA. See our Diary item here for further essential information.

Ah, Candi, You’re Food for the Soul

AS the old saying puts it, little fleas have littler fleas upon their backs to bite ‘em, and so ad infinitum. In the same way, expat sybarites who have fled their increasingly onerous homelands to seek refuge in Bali need a little local R&R sometimes, especially if they are domiciled in crowded South Bali and consequently need to deal with the usual determinants of life in urban Indonesia.
This is surely the reason lovely places like East Bali’s Candi Dasa exist, to provide a bolt-hole for the jaded of whatever provenance.
It was for these reasons that Hec and Mrs Hec sought out the peace and quiet of their favourite camping spot at Candi Dasa (Pondok Bambu) and its fine sea breezes last weekend. That and the Haloumi (with the rocket and blue cheese salad as a starter) at Vincent’s restaurant in Candi Dasa; and the nice little second-hand bookshop in town that is always worth a browsing visit. Invariably one emerges from the latter with “a find.”
This trip, a new chum emerged in the eating line: Le Quarante Huit at the new Zen Rezort, next to the lagoon. The “z” is intentional. The owners are French – well you’d sort of guess that from the fact that the restaurant is named as it is and is not just “48” (or even Empat Puluh Delapan) – and fortunately so is the cuisine, avec les sensations de l‘Asie.
The night Hec and Mrs Hec dined there, there was an unfortunate outbreak of Aussies of the gauche variety, but that can never be helped. Hec and the Missus just moved tables to avoid the embarrassment. The food was divine. Merci beaucoup, Pierre et Alex, et bon chance.
One disturbing sign: A significant number of foreign-owned villas in Candi Dasa are for sale. Is the Euro recession really beginning to bite?

A Monograph on Social Collapse

AS one ages, one’s personal life experience tends to resurface as an issue of interest, if not of conscience. Was I really that bad, you ask yourself? Of course, if you’re a kindly soul, you answer “No.”
Thus, a recent reading of the novel Past Imperfect, a 2008 effort by Julian Fellowes, producer, screenwriter (he got an Oscar for Gosford Park), scribbler and actor – he was the incorrigible Lord Kilwillie in the British TV series Monarch of the Glen – was not only entertaining but also disturbingly pointed.
Fellowes and your diarist are contemporaries. The difference between them lies chiefly in the fact that your diarist saw the writing clearly on the wall in 1969 and left the old country for good – barring the odd visit, chiefly for family reasons – in search of a better environment and a surer moral compass than would be provided by the wreckage of empire (all that redundant statuary!) and the triumph of the uncouth.
Reading the book is cathartic. Even if the old order had to go along with the aristocracy with the demise of its reason for being – and surely no one could argue with that – it’s a shame that what replaced it is apparently being run on the money of the few doled out to the loud, greedy, ignorant, slothful and increasingly criminal.

Flying High Again

THE news last week that the European Union will lift its two-year ban on Indonesian carriers flying within the EU is a useful fillip. Presumably it will chiefly benefit Garuda, the national carrier, which has the fleet (and, importantly, the direct access to government money) to make staging such a return feasible.
Garuda and three other airlines – Mandala, Airfast and Premi Air – got the green light. Garuda says it will definitely recommence Jakarta-Amsterdam services, probably next year.
The big domestic carrier Lion Air wasn’t given the nod, though it publicly welcomed the news. It has some regional routes and is planning to commence services to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.
But perhaps if it demonstrated commitment to rule-keeping it might have more luck. It could, for example, ground its MD-90 fleet as the government has ordered it to, instead of just using the planes on non-Jakarta routes so no one important sees them.
The widely unpublicised incident involving a Lion MD-90 at Mataram in Lombok recently highlights the airline’s cavalier attitude to regulation.

Think Ahead on Visas, Aussies Say

THE Australian embassy in Jakarta has suggested Indonesians planning to travel to Australia for holidays over the next few months should lodge their visa applications as soon as possible to avert delays.
The embassy processes more than 62,000 visitor visas for Indonesians planning a holiday or short stay in Australia. During the school holidays and Idul Fitri (Eid al-Fitr) particularly there is a strong rise in the number of visa applications received by the embassy, which incidentally approves one of the largest amounts of tourist visas of any Australian embassy in the world.
In a statement recently, Ambassador Bill Farmer said that while the embassy tries to finalise visa applications in less than five days, during the holiday season this timeframe can stretch.
The Jakarta embassy is also issuing more long-duration multiple-entry visas these days, allowing holders to travel as often as they like for a longer period.
From July 1, by the way, the charge for a visitor (tourist) visa rose to Rp880,000 (it was Rp790,000).
Visas are also issued by the Australian Visa Application Centre in Bali, which operates separately from the Consulate-General here.

Blackberry Pie

LAST week’s Once column by William Furney – who as everyone knows doubles as Editor of this august journal – canvassed the idiocies of the Blackberry age. It got an instant response. Well, you’d expect that, at least.
It came from James Watling (who signs himself off thus: Hello Bali The Island Key Powered by Matrix BlackBerryR) and is remarkable for having been written – on his Blackberry, natch – while supposedly at a dinner.
James disagrees with William. On Blackberries and other associated gizmo-gear. He says he would find it hard to live in Bali without his, since he can email and browse and even post to Twitter upon the little object, and that this is good because Indonesia’s cyberworld infrastructure is less than perfect.
Among much else, he tells us (well, William) that in “a fit of peak boredom during this dinner function” – was this boredom at its height, we wonder, or was he just piqued? – he found himself scanning the latest edition of The Bali Times (it’s a sterling read he says; we agree) and chanced upon the “Mobile Moan” article, to which, he further advises, “I must put finger-to-button in response.”
So he did. As one apparently does these days. It’s obviously part of the wholesale western collapse in taste and good manners. Or perhaps we should put it down to short-sightedness, another post-modern pandemic. He said his soufflé was going cold while he texted.

It’s Just a Snip

IF you’ve got a lazy US$5,000 to splash out, we know just the place. There’s a refurbished Jivana villa at the Intercon, at Jimbaran, where for just that little sum you can enjoy a night of luxury surrounded by saltwater aquariums in your living room and lots of water bordering the floor. The latter could be a significant risk to frocks and high-heels, ladies (and one or two gents these days, no doubt).
Intercon PR director Dewi Anggraini and Club InterContinental director Ryan South, an Australian, hosted a tour of the villa, refurbished to the desires of the property’s Jakarta-based owner, at which cameras (and doubtless Blackberries or whatever) flashed and guests, the usual who’s who in the zoo list, were required to float candles with their names on an attached leaf, and make a wish while doing so.
How very New Age. We’re sure many of the wishes were for the clocks to go back to pre-GFC days.

Bow-Wow for BAWA

THE good folk at BAWA who look after stray dogs and cats from their Ubud base had a treat last weekend. Neighbours actress Carla Bonner was in town and did a photo-shoot there.
We thought it might be nice to get a photo from this happy event and asked Liz Henzell, who writes our Instinct column and is the Big BAWA, if she would ask for one on our behalf.
Sadly, it seems, such pictorial treats are only for the chosen few. So we found a photo of the said actress anyway, lest any reader unaccountably not know the lady from a bar of soap.

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