All Is Rosy Until Yin Hooks Up With Yang

Just when you think you’re on a roll of good fortune and that you’ve managed at last to push boulders uphill to achieve the unlikely, the purveyor of portent dumps a cloud of gloom on your rainbow and delivers a dreaded Reality Check. And it’s a ghastly reminder that neglect of the little things, while […]

Time to Lend a Neighbourly Hand

On Lombok, which has a rich history of kingdoms led by expansionist Balinese from Karangasem, attention was fixed on Britain’s recent royal wedding. Our resort manager, a fine Swiss fellow who asserts he is not a royalist, declined our offer of drinks in favour of the royal telecast and admitted later that the spectacle brought […]

Clash of Cultures

The day began badly. A notice from a nearby housing development announced that non-estate residents should cease using a particular private road which links nicely to several public roads. Despite its blind hills and corners, the private road gives much less perilous access to most places than the public route which involves tricky negotiation of […]

When Paradise Gets Rough, Expats Turn Tough

“I can pick the foreigners who live here,” said the visiting sister. “There’s a certain attitude to them.” She meant arrogance, impatience and disdain – characteristics that chip away at the rose-coloured glasses of new foreign residents and eat into their starry-eyed perceptions until another cynical expat is unearthed. True, it’s a daily challenge to […]

Power of Conviction May Trump Recipes for Success

My husband wants a new baby boy, she whispered, and when we saw her four months later she was precisely four months pregnant. Dad-to-be Nyoman was pleased with himself. As the only son of his parents, the task of caring for the family’s many Hindu temples falls exclusively to him. And while he never complains, […]

Creatures of the Tropics Provide a Wretched Day from Hell

It was one of those days that assigns itself a theme, assaults you with the rudest awakening to its subject matter and spends its life relentlessly battering you on its chosen theme. Cruelly, the day had invaded my nightmares and raided my fears to find its theme – creatures of the fanged, scaly, slimy, hairy, […]

Delusion of Wealth Makes Hati-Hati the Bule Mantra

It’s difficult to discuss the widespread delusion of Indonesians that foreigners should pay them outrageously inflated prices for goods and services they may not want, or simply fork out funds to wrench them from the latest hole they’ve dug themselves into, because every bule has a vast fortune and an infinite willingness to gift it […]

E-Booking Takes the Gloss off Our Flights of Fancy

It was decided. We would spend two weeks in Europe in August. There’d be a reunion of the Playmate’s clan in coastal southern Scotland followed by a week exploring the previously unvisited central European city of Budapest in Hungary. In Scotland, siblings would gather from around the globe to scatter their parents’ ashes at a […]