Bali Thoughts

Bali

Horns honking, scooters everywhere some loaded up with desks, kids, shopping. Shrines everywhere you look, offerings of flowers, incense, sweets and cigarettes outside shop doors and at junctions on the roads. Trash everywhere, ramshackle buildings alongside beautiful carved stone walls and decorative gates. Scooters coming from all directions, some headed the wrong way down the street, into the traffic. Tattered signs and flags fading in the sun. Petrol for sale at the side of the road in old vodka bottles. Frangipani everywhere. Smiling, friendly open faced people say hello, a lovely surprise after the coolness of Perth. Sparrows chirp and swoop in the morning. Rice fields full of water, storm drains full of rubbish. Beautiful carving on gates, a lady walks down the street balancing a basket on her head. Buddha smiles out from the stone wear shops. Huge kites flutter in the skies. Giant penises carved from wood stand on the pavement. I’m not tempted to buy one!

Bali Bird Park

They all smell different. A Hornbill girl nestles into my shoulder for a cuddle, so sweet but her mate gets jealous and we have to break it up. Anna Maria the Palm Cockatoo whistles and clicks at me as we snuggle up and she scratches at her neck to tell me watch she wants. How can I refuse. She is majestic, beautiful, she can fly and she could leave but she doesn’t. She taps at her beak so that her handler will offer up another peanut. Her beak is so perfect and she strips the skin off of the nut with the delicacy of a jeweller. I’m instantly in love with her and she accepts my kisses with gentle sounds. She rests her giant beak against my nose and then my cheek, the soft, warm, red skin of her cheek a surprise. I expected feathers there. When I wake the next day, she is the first thing in my mind. I know she will be for some days yet. She is perfect.

Two hours turns into four and I could stay for longer but we must leave. I stop to say goodbye to a salmon and white coloured cockatoo on the way out. He accepts a scratch and then climbs back up to his usual spot. I smile all the way back through the traffic, gasping at the daring of the scooter riders.

FIVE STAR PRICE, THREE STAR SERVICE.

Developer John Spence, whose Karma Royal Group runs the Rottnest Lodge, has had his plans to redevelop the Lodge agreed finally after trying for 10 years to get it through. Richard and I took our daughter, future son-in-law and our 3 year old grandson to stay at the Rottnest Lodge for one night last month. The cost for the ferry, two rooms at the Lodge, dinner in it’s restaurant, a bus tour around the island and the train up to Oliver Hill plus drinks, lunches etc. came to just shy of $2000. Yes, $2000.

We know what to expect of the accommodation at the Lodge. It’s rooms are basic but I have always thought that it’s simplicity was part of it’s attraction so that’s not an issue. We decided to eat at the Lodge restaurant and turned up at 7.30pm. We were seated by 7.40pm and our waiter, who was french, was really very nice and so polite. Unfortunately the food took so long to come that we missed the comedy show that we had planned to see after dinner and so headed straight to bed at 10.30. At 11.00pm the loud music that we could hear from our room ended and was replaced by a procession of loud, drunk and extremely inconsiderate people walking past on the road outside our doors. This culminated in a slanging match and near brawl at 1.00am which was when I gave up trying to sleep. I spoke to the duty manager and the problem went away after 15 minutes only to come back later on with more shouting and bottles being thrown.

In the morning, with bags under our eyes we headed into breakfast where at any one point there were either no cups or glasses or some or other food item had run out. Once again, the wait staff were doing their very best but whoever was overseeing things wasn’t doing it very well.

It was very busy on the island when we stayed and the Lodge possibly had a lot of guests but I do think that at $260 per night for our rooms, you should be able to expect a better level of service from the Lodge even if it is full. Once we got home, Richard figured that if his business was failing in this way, then he would want to know, so he wrote an email to the duty manager describing our experience hoping only for the courtsey of a reply. He’s never had one.

I think that the RIA should really start considering how they deal with anti social behaviour on the island particularly as it is sold as a family destination.

We came away from our trip feeling that we had paid a lot of money for something that wasn’t worth it as far as the Lodge goes and that far from the people of WA’s opinion being so important to John Spence and his company as he stated recently in the media, they don’t care enough to even reply to an email. We also felt threatened and uncomfortable because of the behaviour of people who have no consideration for others and have no idea of how to behave and seemed to be free to do whatever they liked. It costs a lot of money to stay on Rottnest and it’s something I hear over and over from people that you can get to Bali and stay for longer for less cost. I love Rottnest Island, I think it’s such a beautiful place but come on Mr. Spence and the RIA, get the basics right before you do everything up and try to charge people even more money to come and stay.

Facebook Addict, not anonymous.

Hello everyone, my name is Sally and I’m an addict. A Facebook addict that is. No disrespect meant towards the poor souls battling more serious addictions. It is the first day of 2015 and today I started as I mean to go on by NOT immediately reaching for my mobile phone and heading straight for that addictive little blue and white button. I’m going cold turkey after realising that I am wasting a massive amount of my time scrolling down and down until I hit where I left off yesterday.

Normally I have at least 3 books on the go but it is taking me forever to get to the list of great literature that is waiting for me on my kindle. I have been reading a beautifully written and gripping book, “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter”, over the past few days and it’s made me realise that I should be spending my precious time on real art rather than looking at videos of people doing funny but pretty silly things or reading badly spelled comments about where, or indeed if, you can get a decent curry in Perth. Don’t get me wrong, I love the news links and the bird watching/photography group I belong to supplies me with a wealth of stunning photographs to look at and use as reference material for my art.

Initially I joined Facebook to keep up with friends and relatives across the globe but I have come to realise that a lot of the people that I care most about in the world hardly appear at all on Facebook these days. It is nice to keep abreast of things that I probably would miss without it but in general I think that actually catching up with the news of my loved ones probably accounts for 5% of my time on the site.

Facebook is a like a mirror of people’s souls. Some use it as a weapon, posting passive aggressive comments which reach many but are only meant for one or two, attention seeking (guilty as charged m’lud!) and the worst of all, the comment such as “Some people make me so angry!” or “Can this day get any worse?!” which leave people wondering what on earth has happened and draws a haul of comments like a trawler dragging a net behind it. Groan. Others use it as a positive tool, to raise money for charity or bring important issues to the fore. I have been guilty in the past of showing off on Facebook, posting when I have run a long way or am at a great restaurant. I’ve never posted a photo of my dinner though. I don’t think so anyway, but if I have it will be there still, permanent evidence of a moment when I actually believed that all of my friends want to see a picture of my plate of food. Actually, I have! I remember posting a photo of some particularly impressive and enormous Yorkshire Puds I made once. Oh dear.

I’m not ready to give up my addiction completely and certainly won’t be committing Facebook suicide which I’m not even sure is that easy to do. My profile will probably carry on longer than I will myself judging by the small amount of dear and much missed friends who have passed away and yet still live on through their Facebook pages. I will dip in occasionally but only when I have nothing better to do and my fellow addict will keep me informed of anything momentous being posted by anyone I’m sure.

By the way, it’s 4.40pm and I haven’t looked at Facebook once!

Happy New Year everyone. I hope 2015 is a great year for you.

Christmas in a Foreign Land

Christmas is looming fast. I’ve gone through the motions, the tree is up, most of the presents are nestling under it. I will sally forth to the shops tomorrow to track down a turkey and the required trimmings, which I am told by my youngest MUST include Yorkshire puddings. I keep waiting for the spirit of Christmas to make an appearance but I have so far not felt it at all, not even a twinge and I think it is because some of my Christmas traditions are missing.

Growing up in Surrey in the UK meant that Christmas Day was always on the chilly side if not downright freezing. My parents would get up and drag out the torturous wait by lighting the fire and making coffee until finally calling my brother and I downstairs to set about our pillow cases stuffed with toys, books and the like. Then we would have a cooked breakfast, followed later by a trip to the local pub where we were allowed, as it was a special occasion, to enter the adults arena so long as we were inconspicuous and sat drinking our bottle of coca cola quietly. It certainly was an improvement on hanging around outside the door, prey to the friendly local sex offender who would throw some revolting comment at you on his the way to the lav. So we felt very privileged. Then back home for Christmas dinner, a spot of TV or a game then off to bed regretfully saying goodnight and goodbye to another Christmas.

Things didn’t really alter that much as I  grew older, I swapped the bottle of coke for a glass of wine and was allowed to stand at the bar with my parents and their friends. Fast forward to adulthood and having children of my own. There isn’t anything to beat seeing a small child’s wonder at Christmas. Behind every family Christmas however, there is a woman (usually, sorry to any men out there who do this) frantically swimming against the tide of equally frantic shoppers, tracking down the elusive must-have toy of the year, making endless lists that get longer every time she looks at them and juggling writing dozens of cards, wrapping presents, remembering to get a gift for the schoolteacher, preparing a feast which has to be perfect, in her mind anyway and trying to control every aspect of the whole affair so that it will be a lovely Christmas for her family. This exhausting routine was certainly part of my Christmas tradition. Later on as the children grew up our Christmas altered somewhat but although visiting a pub wasn’t part of it, the rest stayed pretty much the same.

3 years ago we moved to Perth. Every Christmas since we’ve been here, until now, we have had visitors from the UK. This year our regular house guest is putting off his much welcomed visit until January so it will just the 4 of us this time. I started buying gifts early in the year and ordered much of it online, thank you Amazon! I’m very relaxed about getting the food because I know that when I go to the shops tomorrow though it may be a bit busier than usual, I will still be able to park my car and I won’t sit in a huge traffic jam trying to get there. Any gift buying I have had to do I have done on a weekday and if it weren’t for the Christmas decorations in the shopping malls you wouldn’t even know it was that time of year. I haven’t just heard Slade or Roy Wood on the radio for the twentieth time today. I don’t have anything against either of them but I must admit to enjoying them more for having had a substantial break from them both. And it’s hot. I don’t need to wear my coat to the shops only to then have to carry it around all day because the shops are all so overheated.

So, back to my lack of Christmas spirit. I don’t mean the goodwill to all men thing, I  feel that most of the time anyway, apart from people who kill innocents who were minding their own business buying their morning coffee or idiots shooting down a plane full of no doubt lovely people who were happily living their own lives and have been robbed of it. I mean that elusive spark of excitement about the whole thing. I realise now that the crap part of christmas, the sitting on the M25 or trying to get over Staines bloody bridge any time after the end of October, the queues in the shops, the cold mornings, the back ache from carrying your haul back to the car and then wrapping all of it, it’s all part of it. All of the work to get to that moment when it all comes together, or doesn’t as is often the case, is just part of the experience. The things that I was desperate to see the back of are now the things that I realise are an integral part of the whole shebang.

Himself is 50 and I am just about clinging on to 47 so we are a bit old to change our ways. However, I think it is time to forge some new traditions. Better ones. I’m sure we won’t ever shake off the fact that Christmas should be cold but we are here to stay so we must embrace it. I can certainly embrace the difference in getting everything together which is so much easier here, I can certainly embrace our walk on the beach after breakfast with our beloved hound wishing all the lovely, friendly people who frequent Peasholm dog beach a “Merry Christmas” and I can embrace sitting by the pool with a glass of bubbles while the turkey roasts in the oven. That’s one tradition we won’t change. Christmas isn’t Christmas without the family around the table, whatever form that family might take.

Merry Christmas to you all wherever you are.