Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The air is still and heavy, and the lagoon is warmer than body temperature. About as refreshing as swimming in seaweed soup. Promising banks of black cloud build up, then dissipate without delivering a drop.  It's troppo time.

See some more photos of the changing light on the lagoon here

shoulder season

Each year our time here extends a little, pushing into the shoulder seasons of March and November, with the hope of an uncrowded surf and the option of a right hander.  The swell is small at the moment, but Aquaman is still getting a few fun waves with a couple of the old blokes.

on your bike : petrol power

As expats have settled in to the area, the collection of motorbikes has expanded, and come the off season when the winds are onshore, the board racks are loaded for surf missions further afield.  A friend has lent us his brother's motorbike for the week, and while it sounds like a lawn mower and feels like sitting on an old washing machine, it handles the bumps better than the scooters and is free.

Monday, November 29, 2010

on your bike : pedal power

Our preferred mode of transport, and for those locals who haven't been lured by the hum of a two-stroke.

project benchtop

There is a time in every season when we seem to take a step backwards; back to before we had running water and a kitchen.  Some part of our house is always under renovation or remodelling, and this week it is the turn of the kitchen benches.  The sink is again a bowl on the ground, in the outdoor shower, which is handy in this heat as I can do the dishes under a waterfall.

We originally added a plywood top, which was unsuccessfully sealed with resin, then covered over with another thin layer of ply. Finally the concrete bench tops are at the top of the list.  I insisted that my handy husband "practice" in the bathroom, then his office desk before attacking the kitchen.  He does like to experiment, and this way there are two opportunites for success or failure.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

land's edge

It takes a decent sunset to impress a Sandgroper, spoiled are we with a life of the golden orb dipping below the ocean horizon.  I thought this one was worthy of a snap.  Off to a going away party now, sure to be dead animal and Bintang beer on offer, so I'm taking a salad.  The expats are all departing to their off season homes, only eight of us left, with me the only female.  Four of the remaining blokes are hooked up with local girls so have a more of a reason to hang around during the wet.

early morning wander

With only two weeks left in our island home, my senses begin to hone in on my surroundings, the sights and sounds that are the everyday, but such a contrast from our life in Australia.  Put your sneakers on and join me for a walk before the sun gets too hot and the humidity heavy.

Inland from the village, the soil is red and loamy, perfect for crops of maize and soya beans.  While the beach is home to the coconut, di atas is the domain of the lontar palm.

Almost every house has a collection of pot plants, dutifully arranged in rows or clumps on the verandah.  The gardening bug is a recent phenomenon and it is has brought more colour and greenery to the village. Neighbours share cuttings and divide clumps of succulents, and so the displays expand from house to house.

Moose's sister was the first local girl to marry a westerner; and Aussie surfer she met working at a home-stay. They have since divorced, but she still lives in Brisbane with her son and new partner.  The family don't see her very often, and have never been to Australia to visit.

Away from the one main road that bisects the village, there are still a number of very basic shacks; no more than humpies of tin, sticks and rock, with dirt floors, no toilets, water or electricity.

Pigs and goats are never far away.  The piglets are so lovely, and trot along squeaking like big mice.

School starts at 7.00am, so from 6.00am kids begin to walk in from all over the district, filling the back tracks with laughter and chatter.  Always full of cheek when a bule comes along, especially one with a camera.  The kids are responsible for cleaning the yard, and bring home-made brooms to sweep up the dust.  I can't imagine Australian kids ever starting their day like this.

The lontar tapping season is coming to an end, but pots of fresh tuak can still be seen boiling in backyards.  It is amazing that a simple green leaf can stop the pot from boiling over.

Almost home.  Back on the white sand track beneath the coconuts, past the simple hut on the corner where freshly washed ikat cloth has been hung out to dry.

Boats are pulled up to dry dock for the wet season.  The onshore wind is incessant and cyclone season is near.

Home.  Time for a green smoothie and a spot of blogging.  Have a great day.

Friday, November 26, 2010

up the top

The villagers don't live near the beach, they prefer to be where the action is, along the road or further inland; the area simply known as "di atas" or "the top".  This works in everyone's favor.  The locals were more than happy to lease their beach front blocks to the westerners, and put a new tin roof or concrete cell block extension onto their house by the road.  Years ago an NGO project installed water tanks and pipes from a spring further up in "di hutan" (the jungle).  It deteriorated rapidly, the tanks cracked, pipes split and the project was abandoned, leaving wonderful blank canvases for public art.

I like to wander around through the village near our house, say hello to everyone, usually twice or three times, and snap photos of their yards that have them all laughing and yelling.  How bright is this yellow rope?

There aren't many of the old rendered cottages left, rapidly being replaced by the statement materials, tin and concrete.  The front yard of this house has been swept and watered down and swept so many times it has hardened like an adobe floor.  The facade reminds me of a shy person peeping out from beneath their fringe.

There is a hell of a lot of sitting goes on up the top.  Sitting, dozing and playing cards.  A group of men huddled around a table with pegs all over their face is a common sight.  If you lose, you peg.  It can be a long and painful game. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

washing day

Almost every house has a rope strung between two coconut trees as a crude washing line.  If not, the fence, or a large bush serves the purpose.  On any given day, the assortment of colors and garments hang like festive bunting throughout the village.

bayley's on the rocks

The cliff project is really starting to look like the concept drawings, now that the lontar leaf rooves are complete and the rendering process has begun.  The design nods to Africa, Greece and Indonesia, blended to create a unique house that is sensitive to the contours and natural features of the environment.

Walls are curved and organic, with looking holes that vignette the wild ficus trees and view beyond.

Glass blocks let light into the walk-in wardrobe behind the open walled master bedroom.

The edge of the living room drops a sheer 7 metres onto rocks below; perfect for abseiling or instilling fear into parents of small children.  Don't worry, it isn't quite finished.

Completion may take some time if these blokes don't quit laying around in the sandpit.  The one on the left is sporting one-eyed sunglasses because "he doesn't get paid enough."

Viewed from the road, the structures mushroom from the palms and scrub. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

the corner store

In this free market, anyone can set up a little shop and have a go at on selling 2-minute noodles, packets of biscuits and cigarettes.  Kiosks come and go with the energy and cash flow of the vendor.  Most of the time they are set up as an excuse to sit down all day and chat with your mates.  Our closest kiosk offers comfortable road side seating next to the fuel drum. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

it takes two arms

To handle these whoppers. The biggest papaya of the season, home delivered to very satisfied customers.
A$2.50 each

A most satisfying and nutritious lunch.  Papaya, mango and banana, with a squirt of lime.  

falling barometric pressure (and 200th post!)

After a month long dry spell, the winds are swirling again, bringing action to the sky and rain to the parched garden.

This is my 200th post. Feels like I should be leaping around wrapped in bunting, but it just slipped by quietly.

the path to nowhere

The local authorities in their infinite wisdom, thought it a good idea to lay a concrete path along the fore dune. It starts at the hotel's fence and heads south to the village boundary, where it makes an abrupt stop inside a beach hut.  It is likely to stay this way for quite some time.  The longer the better as far as we are concerned, as we do not want it cutting off the beach in our neck of the coconuts.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

private pool time

The hotel is closed for the season, however we have permission to use the pool at our leisure.  Private resort facilities - my kind of exclusivity, at the right price.  The panacea for hot low tide afternoons. Thanks Greg. 

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