Miscellaneous thoughts/observations etc… no particular order, just as they roll off the keyboard.
If you want to pick up on anything specific, start a new thread. It could get a bit unwieldy otherwise.
• Flew from Korea with Garuda. Marvellous service and flight. They’ve really picked up their game. Garuda (11) is rated higher than Qantas (15), Jetstar (doesn’t make the top 20) and Virgin (12) by Skytrax.
• Ngurah Rai a pain in the bum, tho a little better this time. You need a cut lunch and Bintang to go to and from the car park.
• Traffic!! Simpang Siur!! It seems to have ‘improved’ marginally with the slip lanes from the Sanur bypass to and from Sunset Road, and police rather than the lights during peak periods. The underpass and the Jimbaran/Sanur toll road should be great once they come on line. Tolls are suggested at 4k for bikes, and 10k for cars. My Balinese friends think the car price is fair. Premium is 4.5k a litre. They figure they’ll save the toll in fuel and gain the time.
• An exceptionally dry, dry season. In many areas no June/July rice planting. On the up side, Bali was self-sufficient in rice for the first half of the year.
• For you foodies, if you’re up my way try babi guling at ‘Yastika’ on the western road at Sembung. Rp5000 for soup, pig - white meat, a couple of sates, crackling, innards, rice, sayur and sambal. Or sate kambing from Ibu at the traffic lights on the Tanah Lot bypass/Pantai Seseh. Gorge on fruit, have cooking facilities or someone to cook seafood? Try the Pesiapan market (Tabanan). It gets humming around 2pm. Look for Urutan – fresh pig sausages.
• Nenek at my village turned 107 – confirmed, born 1905. On a war widow’s pension. Her husband died in the independence war – he wasn’t shot, or violently killed in combat. His ‘unit?’ was relaxing, holding cockfights. He got cut by the strap on knife, it turned septic. He died of blood poisoning!
• The industry of Balinese never ceases to amaze me. I’ve 5 or 6 large frangipani trees in flower. Almost every day the women walking by would ask ‘Boleh saya minta bunga kambodja?’ Dried frangipani flower is powdered and used in incense sticks. Rp80, 000 a kilo. That’s about 3 pillow cases full!
• Tourism numbers up for the first half. They mask a looming problem. The increase is almost totally from Australian (July almost 90,000). As expected Europe has gone into rapid decline. So Kuta and surrounds are humming, but areas further afield a being hit hard. Places like Padangbai, the north coast, west Bali rely on Europeans.
• Pleasantly surprised to see the number of tourists waiting for the Sarbagita buses. Google it. Clean coaches from Nusa Dua to Sanur and Denpasar. One fare no matter how far you travel – Rp3500.
• Corruption endemic. The latest? Government jobs, teacher, cop, local admin...being sold. Rp200 – 300 million. It’s seen as a great investment. I’m a rice farmer, getting old; my kids aren’t interested in farming. My land is worth 80 million per 100m2. 100m2 yields about Rp500, 000 profit a year from rice. I sell 400 m2 and by my kid a job. The starting salary will be around 2-3.5 million a month with free health insurance, pension at 70. He gives me 500 a month, everybody’s happy.
• Fondest memory? I’ve sawah on 3 sides, a cacao plantation on the 4th with a northern view of Gunung Batu Karu 10k away. 6pm, gin and tonic, classical music…..
More later when I overcome sleep deprivation. I’d pay a premium for a daytime Ngurah Rai to Sydney flight.