Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2009


Strike a Light. They’ve Done it Again

PLN, euphemistically known as the public power utility, blacked out Bali in spectacular fashion on Sept. 16. Island-wide blackness lasted only 25 minutes – they say – but many places were in the dark for up to five hours, including most of the bits of southern Bali where international tourists come to contribute significant dollars to the economy.

As usual, it was impossible to get a straight answer from the chirpy chappies who want to put your electricity bills up by 30 percent (and will do so as soon as possible – count on it). They did allude to the fact that it had been raining at Gilimanuk at the time and that perhaps the undersea cable had been struck by lightning. They use the right logo, then (see it here).

That may have been a translation error – they do that with as much panache as transmission errors, their key incompetency – and we can probably safely say they meant that the cable had been struck at some point either side of the Bali Strait.

It may have been raining, of course. This dry season it seems to have been doing that a lot. But we don’t think any thunderstorms were showing up on the weather radar at the time.

One good friend of The Diary – a Balinese businessman from Nusa Dua, with whom we dined that very evening (in the dark) – said of the event: “One Nyepi a year is enough.”

PLN must have been trying to make a point, however. They pulled the plug on a lot of Bali the very next night too – but only for three-plus hours this time.

In the Bag

IT ISN’T very often you see one of Her (Aussie) Maj’s consul-generals getting down and dirty for a beach clean-up. They call such things an emu bob in her Great South Land (for obvious reasons). But that’s what Lex Bartlem, consul-general in Bali, did last Saturday morning when the consulate sponsored a clean-up session at Sanur Beach.

The Australian Government is a strong supporter of the annual Clean Up the World campaign. This year the Consulate-General in Bali played its part in combating the worldwide problem of pollution by organising a Clean Up Sanur Beach event. Local civic leaders and a Sanur crowd, among them lots of school students, took part, while Eco Bali and Yayasan GUS demonstrated recycling methods and gave pointers to how everyone can help the environment in their daily lives.

Similar clean-up efforts were held elsewhere, including at Nusa Dua.

Clean Up the World grew from an initiative in 1989 by an Australian, Ian Kiernan, who, motivated by the growing pollution of the city’s world famous waterway, organised a Clean Up Sydney Harbour event. The following year it became an annual Clean Up Australia Day. And in 1993 the initiative gained the support of the United Nations Environment Programme and became the Clean Up the World campaign.

Last Saturday’s Sanur event kicked off at 9am. That was Earthquake + 2 hours, as it turned out. That (and the prophylactic sounding of the tsunami klaxons) would have cleared the beach of people, if not the litter.

All A-Twitter

T HE local twittersphere was all atremble last weekend, on Earthquake Day. It was such fun learning who among one’s friends and acquaintances had dashed in undies – or less – for the safety of open ground when the temblor struck at 7.06am. And fun too to work out from that volunteered intelligence, offered on Twitter and Facebook, who among them is by custom a late riser.

Hec was at his computer of course (memo to self, he says: Get a life). But Mrs Hec got a rude jolt out of slumberland, though she was dissuaded from joining the multitudes in a deshabille dash. Hec refuses to panic – well, visibly at least – and affects a sangfroid in the face of looming disaster that has long exasperated a great many people. They say it is thickheadedness. He says he hates headless chookery.

That said, Saturday’s jolt was an unpleasant reminder of the hair’s breadth that often separates self from destruction; and of the ephemeral and uncertain qualities of real life. In disasters, though, often the greatest risk to individual life and limb is panic.

Were They Switched On?

NOW that Idul Fitri and the Lebaran holiday are behind us, we wonder whether President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will ask for an audit of mobile phone use over the break by all those officials he told not to switch off.

He said they should keep their mobiles switched on at all times so that service to the community did not take a break as well.

The presidential edict was issued in Jakarta when, looking at some locomotives, he told the media he had told key officials: “Do not let difficulties happen if there is a need to contact the official in charge when there are issues that must be overcome. Mobiles should remain enabled, in order to remain coordinated.”


RICO, from the Martini Appreciation Society, sent Hector a cheerio on his blog ( during the week, a result of   last week’s item on the martinis and x-rated readings to take place at Naughty Nuri’s in Ubud during the Writers and Readers Festival, which starts on October 7.

He wanted the lazy buzzard to know that the society had nothing to do with the organising of the evening, which was all the work of the extra-mile crew at the UWRF. Well, we knew that, of course.

But just in case there’s anyone out there who would think for a moment that martini aficionados would waste valuable drinking time listening to smut instead of the gentle swizz of their wizened olive, let’s make it crystal clear: Naughty Nuri’s provides the venue. Martini appreciators will be there to drink martinis. And whatever else goes on is … well, something else.

Rico did ask Hec if he’d like to join the society. Now there’s a thought.

For Two Pins

HECTOR had a call from an old Aussie mate the other day, a chap who – unlike Hec – has secured a financial inducement to return home to Queensland after a lengthy sojourn beyond the borders of Australia’s best state. He had a tale to tell, which is worth repeating.

It concerns the Queensland Club, an institution in Brisbane, the capital (and not without coincidence also Hector’s former refuge from the uncouth and the loudmouthed, and the former pipe-layers who seem to have taken over the world).

He popped in there the other day, he tells us, and breasted the bar. There were surprised looks all round. Someone eventually broke the silence to ask: “Where have you been?” Our chum replied: “I’ve been in jail.”

This is not the sort of rejoinder to which institutions such as the Queensland Club, or indeed its members, are either accustomed or can deal with very well. You could, our mate says, have heard a pin drop. There was a sudden shuffling of feet and instant body language which said plainly: “Let’s get away from him as quickly as we can.”

So he put them out of their misery. “Actually I’ve been living in Adelaide,” he said. “But I’m so ashamed of that, I thought I’d rather say I’d been to prison.”

Apparently everyone wanted to get him a drink on their bar chits then. Lucky fellow.

Dance of the Dills

THE unedifying recent row over stupidity, as in the attempted theft by some ignorant Singaporeans of Bali’s sacred Pendet dance as part of a promotion for “Malay” Malaysia, has produced an echo.

The Malaysia Star, which thankfully is not a newspaper of record, published this on its blog (apparently from a paid hack and headlined Dancing to the tune of Bali): “The dance in question was the ancient Balinese Pendet Dance of a Hindu community of Bali in the Indonesian state of Java.”

Empire Spreads

T HE Laguna restaurant chain, a neat little operation with two outlets in Nusa Dua (in Jl Pantai Mengiat at Bualu and at Bali Collection) has started a third arm of the empire. Hector and friends dined there on Tuesday, the official opening night.

It’s at Tanjung Benoa, across the road from the time-sharers at the Peninsula.

In a tourism environment where critical mass often eludes local operators, for all sorts of reasons, not all of them connected with the power of imported big bucks to overrun competition, it is pleasing to record a truly local success.

The food’s good too. And it comes at a reasonable price.

Diary Date

MONDAY is World Rabies Day. It’s an annual event dedicated to eradicating rabies, a zoootic disease, in humans. At this time, in Bali, it is an apposite date on which officials most closely concerned with controlling the outbreak here could usefully reflect on what they really need to do to achieve that objective.

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