Sunday, August 7, 2011

Back home at "Riverbend"

As I shiver through an early morning here at wintry "Riverbend", my thoughts go back to Bali and the expats I met there who chose to make it their home.

I am reminded of Louis Becke who once wrote about life in the South Seas, "Return? not they! Why should they go back? Here they had all things which are wont to satisfy man here below. A paradise of Eden-like beauty, amid they wandered day by day all unheading of the tomorrow. Why - why, indeed, should they leave the land of magical delights for cold climate and still more glacial moral atmosphere of their native land, miscalled home?"

Life in Bali is gentle and cheap: $500 A MONTH affords you a comfortable Western lifestyle. Compare that to the $1000 A WEEK in Australia as suggested in this article.

Are you interested in living in Bali? Read this ebook, published by, to get you started.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Indonesia-Australia Travel & Business Services

We met John Penrose totally by chance at Banjar Hills - and we are so glad we did!

He is a retired Australian school teacher who has lived for the past fifteen years in Bali. What he doesn't know about Bali isn't worth knowing and, of course, he speaks the language like a Native.

He gives personalised guided tours in a lovely, laid-back way - no hassling, no pressures - and assists with just about anything else you may need help with - making hotel bookings, buying and shipping home Balinese artifacts ... you name it, he does it.

Here's his business card if you want to ontact John:

Click on card to email John

Bali's best hotel manager is now Bali's best General Manager

Bali's best hotel manager, our personal friend Hengky Tambayong, is now General Manager of the four HARRIS hotel properties in Bali. Congratulations, Hengky!

He arranged a late 5 p.m. check-out for us as our flight was not until 11 p.m. and he saw us off in his usual friendly style. We look forward to seeing you again next year, Hengky!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Batik Keris Discovery Shopping Mall Bali

You could, of course, go shopping for batik in any of the thousands of shops but we always go straight to the best, Batik Keris, who have shops all over Indonesia, three of which are in Bali.

Our favourite is the one in the Discovery Shopping Mall, an easy walk down the road from our hotel HARRIS in Tuban.

Tucked away in a corner of the large shop, and barely visible, was a Reflexology Massage Parlour and so, while Padma was trying on expensive batik-dresses, I indulged in a relaxing foot massage.

As I was the only customer, I asked the young girl if she had been busy, "No", she said, "you are only my second customer." She was only paid 10% of the takings which meant that on this day she had so far earned Rp.8,000 - that's not even ONE DOLLAR! On days when there are no customers at all, she goes home with nothing! And yet she smiled and performed her work enthusiastically and with dignity.

Of course, I tipped her very handsomely as I reflected on the tens (hundreds?) of thousands of Australia's so-called 'unemployeds' who have been spoilt by our generous social security system.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Kupu-Kupu Butterfly Park

At first glance, the Bali Butterfly Park, with its Rp.50,000 per person admission seemed to be another tourist rip-off as there were few butterflies in sight.

However, once we had entered the 'hatchery' - or whatever they call the place where the pupae change into butterflies - , we were enchanted by all the colour around us.

Thanks a lot, Tanah Lot

The brilliantly located Tanah Lot, perched on a little rocky islet, is possibly the best-known and most photographed temple on Bali. It's an obligatory stop on many tours and a well-organised tourist trap, starting with its huge car park and ticket collectors, after which one walks past (or through) a sort of sideshow alley with dozens (hundreds?) of souvenir shops before reaching the sea.

Not for me, so thanks a lot, Tanah Lot!

Bali's best personalised transport service

We met Ketut Yadnya at the Banjar Hills warung of Ibu Kade. We were immediately taken by his genuine friendliness. When we booked his car to take us back to the airport several days later, his honesty of asking for a modest price instead of 'trying it on' further impressed us.

As it turned out, he not just took us straight to the airport but made detours via Munduk and the lakes and made stops for us to take plenty of pictures, to feed the roadside monkeys, to visit several temples, and visit the Butterfly Park as well as Tanah Lot.

Of course, we tipped him handsomely and so will you, if you come to Bali and book him for a trip around the island. His name is Ketut Yadnya and his mobile number is 081 353 344 370. What he lacks in English language skills, he makes more than up for with his genuine desire to please you and show you his island.

We recommend him highly!

The biggest smile at HARRIS Tuban

Suwalo at HARRIS Tuban is a jolly fellow, always happy and always with a big smile!

Our trip back to Denpasar

Click on map to enlarge

Rather than going back to Singaraja and then south through the centre of the island, our driver, Ketut Yadnya, agreed to take us west to the small town of Seririt from where we headed up into the hills to Mayong, then east to Munduk, and the twin-lakes Tamblingan and Buyan, before joining the major north-south road again.

After saying 'good-bye' to Padma's favourite gym in the village of Banjar, we headed into the hills.

Our first stop was at the Bali Panorama View Point Restaurant.

Then came enchanting Munduk, probably the nearest thing to the New Guinea Highlands I have ever seen.

The area around the twin-lakes Tamblingan and Buyan is a hiker's paradise and I want to come back here one day.

But why do they sell boomerangs in the local souvenir shop???

Then came a lot of monkeying-about before we joined the main road again.

Of course, no picture collection of Bali is complete without the ubiquitous water buffalo. This one even talked to me. I think he said, "I'm a lot of bull."

We say "Selamat Tinggal" to Banjar Hills

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Bali Bathroom

Despite my many visits to Bali, in the "Sturm und Drang" of renovating the bathroom at "Riverbend", I had totally forgotten how beautifully functional and simple a Bali bathroom can be: slate-covered walls which, with their natural unevenness, any fool can do himself, with just the odd piece of slate positioned horizontally to serve as a "shelf" for the soap and the odd flowerpot; a concreted shower run-off covered in smooth river pebbles, with a few concrete squares below the showerhead to stand on; and a perspex-covered roof to let the sunshine in.

Instead, I bought expensive tiles, engaged an even more expensive tiler, spent a small fortune on a freestanding glass-screen for the shower, even more on a spa bath and vanity unit, and all up parted with $25,000 to finish up with a bathroom which has none of the 'natural' feel of a Bali bathroom.

Perhaps next time I bring back this toilet roll holder for "Riverbend" 's toilet.

Bathroom at Riverbend