Wednesday, July 28, 2010

how many layers?

Whoa, how many layers can a koala bare?  It is five years since I had to endure anything under 20 degrees celcius and I have forgotten how to dress accordingly.  I have to wear twice as much as everyone else who is acclimatised to the winter chills, and I look a sight with my tanned extremities peering out from beneath a beanie, uggboots, scarf & jacket. 

Back in Busselton for two weeks, to celebrate my dear friend Jane's 50th birthday and undergo a minor knee operation.  Loving fresh beetroot, pears, field mushrooms, juicy lemons, hot showers and all day power.    

I am busy building another blog, dedicated to words and pictures from the sweet life, and finishing off my (long overdue) website.  Stay tuned for the launch. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

political incorrectness

I bet there are plenty of restaurateurs that would love to erect a sign like this, and then enjoy a swift ride to the equal opportunities board.  In Indo, they say it like it is.  Such poetry.

it's merpati and we'll fly if we want to

Merpati Airlines is a national disgrace.  The planes look like they have been salvaged from a Russian skip bin, and I’m quite sure would not pass international safety regulations.   It is with good reason that the EU banned long haul Indonesian airlines (Garuda have recently been granted re-entry).   I am no aircraft engineer, but I don’t think the plane should be emitting an ear piercing sound like a high speed jackhammer.  My tray table flops down repeatedly,  the in-flight magazine is the February edition, and my seat isn’t attached to the frame – all the better to access the lifejacket that may or may not reside underneath. The toilet still has an ashtray in the door, and the tap is attached with sticky tape.  Despite being non-smoking, the smell emanating from the pores, hair and clothing of every Indonesian male makes the air putrid; and the single use plastic does not justify the unidentified food object and tepid tea on offer.  If this was long haul, I'd be employing the emergency exit.

Friday, July 23, 2010

frangipani love

Who doesn't love a frangipani in the tropics?  The vibrant colour, the heady smell wafting on the afternoon heat...  If this was smellablog I would infuse the screen with their intoxicating scent, but for now I offer you their sublime beauty.  Poolside in Canggu, Bali.

back in da blog house

Sorry for the blogging hiatus;  I was doing the school holiday family thing in Bali, and on return to island life, I slid into the calm lagoon and a few more days escaped me.

After a week blissing out at home, become reacquainted with my stand-up board, feasting on green smoothies and relishing the fresh air, I'm back on the road, carving a trail in the landscape between our eastern fair isle and Bali.  I am on my way back to Australia for a (minor) knee operation, and much anticipated girlfriend bonding.  The drop in temperature is going to be a shock; I'm not sure I remember how to dress in layers beyond a bikini and cotton shirt.  Look out for the tanned face peeking out from under a blanket and ugg boots.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

when the water falls part 2

The area around Munduk in north-central Bali, offers a smorgasbord of waterfalls and streams.  All that is needed are strong knees and lungs for the hike down and back up again.  East of Munduk is a little visited cafe with a backdrop akin to the Pixie Photo booth that used to move around regional shopping centres.  We had been alerted to the cafe by a small article in Bali's Insight magazine (thanks Andrew).  

Look out for the small roadside "waterfall cafe" sign, park up, and the "gatekeeper" will greet you with wooden walking poles to support your descent; well worth the 3000 rps entry fee.  Descend through regenerated spice gardens, cacao and coffee, cross the slatted bamboo bridge and take your seat at the modest cafe.  

 Fresh juices, smoothies, tea and authentic dishes are on offer, including lak-lak, a delicious Balinese dessert, like a small rice dumpling, cooked on an open fire, and topped with palm sugar syrup and coconut.

If you are game, this could be the cheapest place to try authentic kopi luwak, widely reported to be the most expensive coffee in the world.  Freshly shat from the intestinal tract of resident civet cats, it looks like a turd full of coffee beans, and is  claimed to  have smooth "intertwined" flavours with a lack of bitterness.  The question begs to be asked - why gave the coffee growers the initial urge to try this "delicacy?" 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

when the water falls part 1

Beyond the Bukit, the Bintang and the Bounty, Bali has some magic natural landscape for those who dare venture out.   The high rainfall feeds innumerable waterfalls that tumble off the volcanoes and through dense rainforest.  When you find one free from day-trippers and single use plastic, there is nothing but to leap in and let the life giving waters tumble over you.

At the base of steep, slippery stairs from Sarinbuana Eco Lodge, is this secluded gem.   The stream flows from Mount Batukaru, through protected rainforest, to form three pools and small cascades.  Just you, the birds, and the deep, dark jungle.  

 Aquaman found the water a little cool for lounging, so took charge of taking my photo. x

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

chai wallah

For those partial to a spicy soy chai, look no further than Biku teahouse in Seminyak. Served in an unusual teapot with a fine china cup and saucer, the blend of quality leaf tea, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and ginger is an authentic tribute to mother India.

If the mere thought of a hot beverage in the tropics makes you perspire, try the refreshing iced teas, infused with mint, star fruit, wild ginger blossom or lemongrass.  

Biku is the perfect place to lounge and catch up on gossip, email or your half read novel.  A small branch of Ganesha Bookshop sells new and used books, magazines and cards, so grab a pen and indulge in the old fashioned tradition of letter writing over a cup of loose leaf Darjeeling or Lapang Souchang, reported to be a "favourite of intellectuals and artists who seek inspiration and creative stimulation."

‘Tea’s proper use is amuse the idle, and
relax the studious, and dilute the full meals
of those who cannot use exercise, and will
not use abstinence”
Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784)

Monday, July 5, 2010

sari organic

Peak season in Bali and the living is busy.  Normally we would avoid July and August, but with family commitments and school holiday restrictions, we take what we are given. The  roads are choked with rental cars and holidaying Javanese, and I managed to scratch our shiny Toyota on a rubbish bin.  

Leaving the wheels behind, we take a pleasant stroll down a narrow path off the Ubud main road.  Rising from the padi is a simple open pavillion serving organic vegetarian food sourced from an on-site garden.  Conceived as a community project to grow non-chemical rice and vegetables, and to teach local Balinese about organic farming, Sari Organic has become an Ubud tradition. A fair trade program ensures farmers receive a good price for their produce, and the 15 families involved earn between 600,000 (A$80) and 1,500.000 (A$180) per month. The program has restored a sense of pride for the farmers, and is preserving unique strains of rice for future generations.  Individuals can purchase Sari Organic products at the twice weekly organic market in Ubud, or get walking and savour their salads and nasi campur at the cafe.

For those in the south of Bali, Sari Organic also have a cafe at the recently opened Little Tree eco-supply store on Sunset Road.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

echo beach

Sunday night barbeque has fast become an institution at Echo Beach, Canggu.  Tables are set on the stone landing with uninterrupted views of the wave, and as the sun sets behind the haze, candles are lit and the queue for grilled seafood lengthens.  Two vege skewers with free range of the salad bar is a bargain at 35,000 rps (A$4.50).

Carnivores can rejoice at the selection of pork ribs, chicken tandoori, king prawns, whole red snapper, beef fillet, scallops and local clams.  Personally I think they all should be left to live a long and happy life, but the masses don't tend to agree. 

The barbie in on each night, with Sunday being the big event.  So if you're in the area, do as the song says and "watch the sun go down on Echo Beach."  Especially if your job is as a boring office clerk.  It's not as "far away in time" as it once was, but if you get there before they finish the Sea Sentosa resort, you might still get a seat.

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