Friday, December 31, 2021

New Years: Happy or Not, Here it Comes

 Well here we are again on New Year's Eve. I know I've mentioned before that I have always disliked New Years. And now I've mentioned it again. I don't like the drinking or the parties or the fireworks or the noise or having to stay up until midnight. Lol. Funny thing, though I spent some years as a drunk, I never went out on New Years. That's how much I dislike it, I guess :) 

So anyway, there will be no party here tonight, and in fact I didn't even buy myself any treats to eat, because I had forgotten altogether that it was New Years. Unlike past COVID years, the clubs in Bali, or some of them anyway, will be open and gatherings will be allowed (to a limited capacity, I would guess). 

One certainly hopes above all things as this year closes that 2022 will finally see the end of the scourge of COVID, for it has truly become oppressive. Moreover, it has put a hell of a lot of people out of work here in Bali and depressed the economy something awful. So here's to 2022 and better times, a return to normal, or as close to normal as we can get. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas to All

 Christmas Eve in Bali, otherwise known as 'Where Are You, Christmas?"

Well, as the Sanur Weekly notes, last year at this time the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was just approaching its first real peak in Indonesia and no one felt very Christmassy as it was pretty clear that the situation was not going to get any better any time soon. 

A year later, most Christmas and New Years Eve celebrations have been cancelled with the arrival of Omicron and of course the travel restrictions are still in force. Bali has, on the other hand, experienced a rather large uptick in domestic tourism (although foreign tourism is still nil). 

Can we hope for a significantly better 2022? Not so sure about that. Probably more of a slow crawl out from under this mess, with some face plants along the way. 

In yet another purse snatching incident, a Balinese woman has been seriously injured after being pushed off her motorbike, breaking both legs. Somehow the perpetrator, a 31 year old man who fled the scene (naturally), has been apprehended by police, confessed to multiple similar crimes and is facing a long term in prison. 

In Bali's Buleleng regency police are investigating another case of gang rape, this one being unusually shocking as all those involved were minors, four boys aged 14-16 having raped a 12 year old girl. It is not yet known what will happen to these little shits. 

Tomorrow, although not news in the Sanur Weekly, Louis will host a Christmas lunch, to which I have been invited. Something to do anyway on a day I would otherwise spend watching TV or napping. As Louis' villa is 45 minutes away down in Nusa Dua (farther than I want to drive a motorbike in my old age), she is sending a car to pick me up along with some of the other guests who will gather to catch the ride at my house. It is also terribly hot these last few days--32C, cloudy, and deadly humid--so we will enjoy the two swimming pools she has available. 

Today I am still receiving nasty comments on Facebook connected to yesterdays "debate" on the existence or non-existence of God, but I've tired of the subject and of the uncharitable reaction it has created so I'm just kind of swiping past them without answering. Not gonna let these dummies ruin my Christmas spirit (such as it is)! Lol. 

And that's it for now. Merry Xmas to all. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Christian Haters Unite for Christmas

 Well, I almost got through Christmas this year without being attacked by the Christian haters--those folks who are particularly fond of declaring, especially during the holidays, that there is no God and that all people who have chosen to believe that there is must necessarily believe as well in the tooth fairy and leprechauns and all other fantastical creatures. (I wonder if it ever occurred to them that God is not a creature but a spirit). I don't mind the debate, and I don't mind personally that they disbelieve, but many of them do seem to mind rather intensely that I do believe--and that's where the trouble comes in. I mean, why is my belief so offensive to these folks? And if they have such an affection for debate, how is it that they have not learned that arrogance and insult are not part of civil debate, and certainly not effective in conveying whatever point they meant to convey? Go figure. In any case, we're hardly going to sort the thing out on Facebook, are we? Why not read a few books rather than poke and sneer at a lowly fellow like me? The weakness in the lion's share of these arguments of course is that the anti-Christians are not talking about Christianity at all, but about fundamentalist/evangelical distortions of the faith. In short, they are fulminating against something we already know to be false, and indeed are more outraged at this than they. How can we even begin to talk about Christianity when Christianity is being defined by the one side as precisely what it is not? And how do we even begin to explain to these folks that they are contending against their own straw man? Oh well. I will try to clear all this unpleasantness from my memory and simply celebrate the Savior in the days to come.

Sweet little Jesus boy, we made you be born in a manger. Sweet little holy child, we didn't know who you were. 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Have Yourself a Very Little Christmas

 This year in Bali is less Christmassy than ever before, which is to say that there is practically no hint of Christmas at all, and this is because there are no western tourists. Why go to the trouble of putting up Christmas decor, the store and mall owners no doubt reason, if there are no foreigners here to celebrate the holiday? One sees a plastic Christmas tree here and there, but really nothing much other than that. No window displays, no Santas in the stores. Heck, there are not even any carols playing on the Starbucks sound system. Might as well put up a sign: Christmas closed this year due to COVID. 

Moreover, the weather is deadly hot, often raining, and deadly hot whether rainy or sunny. The expectation of a certain sort of weather during Christmas is deep in the soul of a native Oregonian. Something in him just automatically anticipates cold, frost, maybe even snow. This blunt and beating sunshine is just not right. 

But maybe Christmas is kind of a drag this year no matter where you are.  COVID has interrupted and mutated so much of our shared experience. And then of course there are the yearly Christmas and Christian haters on Facebook, telling us tirelessly, once again, how religion is the greatest evil known to man. 

Sweet little Jesus boy, they made you be born in a manger. Sweet little holy child, we didn't know who you were. 

I hear that all of the little dogs will be neutered on the 23rd of December. This seems part of the neighborhood peace treaty with the dog haters. Boy do those dogs have a Christmas surprise coming. 

The house that Louis is building behind my little place has a second story now and is actually starting to look like a house rather than an immense pile of stones, bamboo poles and mounds of dirt, the latter element often being spread through my place by the dogs. I am told that the house will have three bedrooms, a fully furnished kitchen, of course, and even a small indoor pool. Sounds nice. If I could only find two other people willing to pay 3 million rupiah a month along with my three million, I'd move in myself! 

Sunday, December 12, 2021


 Sitting alone this muggy evening on the patio of the street side cafe, just barely on the dry side of breaking a sweat, I note the soft strains of a familiar tune in the air, coming from nowhere in particular. Nowhere and everywhere. I know this song. I cock an ear, listen during the spaces between the passing motorbikes. Winter Wonderland. That's it. Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening. The man brings my coffee and an ashtray half-filled with powdered coffee grounds. I light my cigarette. I open my book. I sit gazing dumbly into the lowering of evening, thinking of something. A woman, magic, several hours of life. Everything else seems so plain. Like snow on a TV screen. Like the pages of the book in my lap. Sudden children all dressed in white dash past on the sidewalk. A flurry of children. Here and gone. And I can't help but note that the song has changed. God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay. 

A Pleasant Change of Pace

 This past week I had the pleasure of meeting Eveline, a woman from the area of Jogyakarta whom I often chat with online, along with her delightful daughters, Monica and Michelle, 19 and 20 years of age respectively. The daughters have been living for some months here in Bali in order to attend university and a special yoga program, and so their mother had come to visit and made time to visit me as well. We went to the usual cafes in Sanur (though not usual for her, of course), strolled here and there on the beach, and just generally enjoyed the days. All are just very easy to be around, and the daughters reminded me so of my stepdaughters, Jamila and Ja'nat, at that age, the younger very outgoing, charismatic, and the elder more quiet and pensive. Now that mom has returned to her home town, along with the younger daughter, all seems very quiet and a little bit lonely. But hey, that's the life that I know, and so I'm sure I'll slip back into it like rain absorbed in the earth. 

I am a creature of habit, and habit, now, is pretty much all that I know. I am so habitual, in fact, that other people have "learned me" and know what to do the minute they see me. For example, the girls at the Daily Baguette know the instant they see me drive up to the curve that I'm going to want the usual cappuccino and slice of banana bread, so that by the time I walk in the door, they have already begun to prepare my order.

Speaking of habit, while I was talking to my online friend Darman the other day, it occurred to me that something felt very familiar about him. So I asked him to tell me about his day. 

"What time do you get out of bed?" 

"Four o'clock, for morning prayer." 

"And then breakfast?" 

"Breakfast is at 8." 

"And what do you eat?" 

"A banana and porridge." 


"Yes, I like the banana and porridge." 

"And then." 

"Then I log into YouTube and get the news and so on."

My goodness, I have a doppelganger in Java!

Otherwise, life in the little town of Sanur meanders on. We learn from the Sanur Weekly that the required quarantine period for foreigners entering Bali has been changed once again, this time from the overly hopeful three days, a plan which lasted about one quick minute, to ten days now, to be spent at an approved hotel at the cost of the traveler. Not surprisingly, they are getting no bites at all from foreign travelers and not a single airline has scheduled a direct flight to Bali. 

We learn that Mt. Semeru in east Java, only 150 km from Bali, erupted on December 4th, claiming the lives of 14 and completely destroying more than ten villages. 

A Dane, having spent time in prison for the crime of blasphemy, has been released after seven months and sent home to Denmark. The Dane, as it turns out, did not commit the more usual blasphemy against Islam, but a blasphemy against Hinduism for damaging a Hindu shrine. Why he decided to damage this shrine, the paper does not say. 

A 33 year old Ukrainian resident of upscale Nusa Dua has been arrested for somehow "skimming" 2 billion Rupiah from a single ATM in the space of four days (which amounts to 140,000 USD). I have no idea how she managed this, or even what skimming is, but it is clear that she did not plan the crime very well. 

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Civil War

 The drama of the 'unruly' dogs has reignited in the neighborhood and ended up causing a bit of a civil war, neighbor divided against neighbor on the lines of whether they like or dislike dogs, these four in particular, Jagger, Otis, Loki, and Dixie, who run free, inflicting either delight or disdain in the hearts of those whom they meet. 

The problem, once again, seems rather simple. The problem is shit. Now, I don't suppose that anyone is particularly fond of shit but, well, it happens, you know? But what moves a person (as it has one neighbor) to threaten to kill one or all of the little dogs? What, over shit? My goodness. Wouldn't it be simpler just to pick it up or sweep it off the side of the road and into the garbage filled jungle on the other side (about which, by the way, they do not complain)? 

So after this threat, one prominent neighbor, a dog lover, 'seceded' from the friendly neighbor Whatsapp community and was soon followed by other like minded folks, myself included. It is fitting, perhaps, with history in mind, that those who left the community all live on the far end of the street while those who stand against the dogs live on the other. A nation divided, one might say. A new WA community was forged by the original protestor, to which the others soon added their names while deleting them from the old group. 

The dogs themselves, blissfully I guess, are unaware of this division of men (and women) and carouse about one end of the street to the other as if war had never been declared. 

Now as it seems to me, the dog lovers had already gone out of their way during the period of time wherein this conflict brewed to find an amiable solution, volunteering basically to be deputized all as daily pooper scoopers, but this, like the compromises that preceded the American Civil War, was ultimately not enough.

The sad thing is that the grim and less charitable seem poised to win, for he who had initially declared his murderous intentions took himself forthwith to the nearest Banjar (Balinese community association) and was told that he would be within his rights to kill any dogs that are loose and unattended. 

Poor little fellas. For my own part, I enjoy them way too much to be overly offended by their faults (pooping, for instance, or the bugs they bring into the house, or their overzealous self-appointed sense of responsibility for guarding the house, even against the guy who comes to collect money for the water fee or the garbage fee. Yes, there are people on this street who do keep their dogs inside and let them out only on leashes once or twice a day. But you know what? I feel sorry for these dogs. The houses here are mostly very small indeed, one room like mine, with no yard. What is a dog to do other than sleep all day and grow fat and dull-witted? What a difference it is to see these four free pups tear up and down the street, visiting place to place, friends to all, a free home security service at night? 

To me, it makes all the difference in the world.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

November 1, 2021

 Bali's short-lived and always less than likely return to normalcy has been rudely torpedoed by Omicron, COVID's latest offering to the long suffering world. Which is to say that all recent measures toward reopening have now been reversed--back now to the seven days quarantine requirement and other odious, tourist-repelling restrictions. In other words, here we go again. 

Perhaps as one result of the island's long isolation and increasing hopelessness, illegal drugs have been booming, with the number of arrests tripling from last year. So much for the conceit that drugs are mostly brought in by evil foreigners, as there have been no foreigners, evil or otherwise, entering for the last year and a half. What does one do when his business has gone bust, when the island's favorite industry has collapsed? Smoke weed, apparently. 

In a similar manner, the beaches in Jembrana, Bali's southwestern regency, are facing an annual problem of being awash in trash. This time around, the favorite excuse--that being that foreign tourists are responsible--is unavailable, as, again, there are none. There is no one to blame but the residents themselves. Reality bites. 

It is reported that a 14 year old boy has been killed in a single vehicle accident on Sunset Road in Kuta. According to reports, the boy crashed his motorbike after losing control at high speed. The boy had no license, nor a registration for the bike he was driving. He died of severe head injuries after hitting the pavement (which is to say, no doubt, that he wasn't wearing a helmet either). 

In nearby Canggu, a Balinese man was arrested after trying to snatch a Canadian woman's purse while both were in motion on their own motorbikes. The attempt resulted in both of them crashing. Bystanders then helped the victim and pinned down the perpetrator, who is now facing a lengthy jail term for attempted theft as well as assault. Hopefully the young woman was not seriously hurt. I can't help but be reminded of a similar though far more deadly incident some years ago involving two thieves and a young woman, Chinese if I remember correctly. In this case, however, as the thieves tried to tug the woman's purse free from her shoulder, she fell from her bike and ended up on the pavement in front of an oncoming truck. She was killed outright. I never did hear what happened to the two men who assaulted her. 

Saturday, November 27, 2021


--That's what's amazing (about big old churches). At two in the afternoon there's nobody in any of them. There they sit with all that stone and mahogany and stained glass--and they're empty. I mean, they must have been crowded at one point, right?--for someone to have gone to all that trouble. There must've been lines outside the confessionals and weddings with girls dropping flower petals in the aisle.

--From baptisms to eulogies ....

--Exactly. But over time the congregation has been winnowed away. The newcomers set up their own churches and the big old ones just get left alone--like the elderly--with memories of their heyday. I find it very peaceful to be in their company.

--Amor Towles, Rules of Civility, a Novel

This strikes a note for me. This strums a chord. Here I am left alone, empty, yet strangely content. What, after all, is the alternative? I am a dull, unattended eulogy to myself, stone, mahogany, stained glass and all. I am found at the same places day in and day out, week in and week out, though sought by no one. There I am at the table with my book, in this or that cafe. The man, the book, the coffee, and the banana bread. Nothing to see here (or perhaps it is occasionally wished that better use might be made of the space).

Did you know that two people engaged in conversation are more likely to be interrupted than one person reading a book?  

The other day, the neighborhood dogs brought bad feelings to a head when some of the neighbors began to complain. Ultimately, the trouble was narrowed down to their shit. By some, it was not appreciated. Especially by those who own little warungs on the street that serve food and desire customers. An acutely, rather painfully polite argument, something that only truly be accomplished by Indonesians, ensued via text on the neighborhood Whatsapp line. There were those, myself included, who prefer to see the dogs run free, leaving everyone responsible for their own property, and there were those who preferred to see the dogs somehow corralled and leashed. It all petered out eventually in the vague agreement that everyone should do what I have already stated--that is, take care of their own shit (or rather that of the dogs which happened to end up on their property or nearby in the street. 

Everyone would be responsible, it was agreed--but it was added by one writer that an exception to this general rule should be one Mister Richard who was "sudah sepuh" and should not be expected to carry out the task under discussion. 

Sudah sepuh means old, elderly. 

The big old ones just get left alone, not good, to put it another way, for shit. 

Not that I mind. 

Nor do I mind the fact that sepuh is a bit different from tua--both meaning old, but the first carrying a shading or honor and respect. 

Nonetheless, I feel the quiet surprise and pain of those old churches, standing outside of their own world, once central, now peripheral; once essential, now forgotten. 

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Second Shot

 Yesterday morning, I went for my second vaccine. Got there bright and early, about 8:30, but found that everyone else had also gotten there bright and early--in fact, a little more bright and early than I. Under the large canopy outside dozens of people waited in plastic chairs or simply sat on the curbing. Okay, this is gonna take some time, I thought. But when I went to the front desk to check in, I was motioned to a chair nearby within the entrance and then straightaway ushered into the examination room. Bule privilege? Here, my blood pressure was taken. I was told it was normal (it wasn't, in my mind anyway--about 150/130, as I recall). But normal enough to get the injection, I guess. 

From there, one goes to the interview room where he is asked if there are any medical problems or conditions. No, I'm just old, I answered, as I had the first time around. 

And then comes the shot. All done. 

After the first vaccine, I had become quite ill--high fever, body aches, fatigue--ya'all probably know the drill. With the second, I got a bit of a fever some hours afterwards, but otherwise felt fairly normal. No trouble sleeping. No shakes or aches at night. 

This morning however, having ordered my coffee and pastry, I'm suddenly feeling a bit shaky. Probably should have just stayed home. But oh well. I'll buy some groceries pretty soon and head on back to the old corral and a nice lie-down. 

As far as I know, they won't be requiring, or expecting a third shot here in Indonesia. It has been difficult enough to get through the two. At this point in time, as I understand it, about 80 percent of the people in Bali are vaccinated, although the elderly population is lagging behind at around 60 percent. This, I guess, is partly because Indonesia did things the opposite from the way they were done in the US--old people last in line rather than first in line, and partly because ... well, because old people are set in their ways, you know? Gonna die anyway, right? 

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Lincoln Highway

 Last year (or something like that, as my indistinct sense of time these days would have it), I read a novel by Amor Towles called A Gentleman in Moscow. I was so impressed with Towles' talents and so nourished by his tale that when a new novel by this author showed up on my Kindle Store home screen, I straightaway clicked on buy, not realizing at the time that this was a prepublication offer. A couple of weeks ago the novel appeared at last in my Kindle library, much to my surprise and delight, for I had forgotten all about it.

The Lincoln Highway is the great American novel all over again, a la Towles this time around, and it is a thoroughly American novel indeed, full of echoes--of Faulkner, of Fitzgerald, of Steinbeck, of Salinger, of Mark Twain and of Huck's journey down the river--for this is a journey novel crossing the great expanse of geography, of time, of history and mythology, beginning deceptively with the notion of a classic western journey (in this case from Nebraska to San Francisco), and yet taking the the four main voyagers relentlessly eastward, away from their destination, and ending in upstate New York. 

I had the sense in reading this novel of savoring every bite, looking forward to every new fork-full of the feast, and yet regretting that it was disappearing from the plate so quickly. It is a novel that you live in as long as it is before you, and one that you miss when the last page is turned. 

Well, I had some passages that I wanted to copy and paste, but I find that my mind has wrongly remembered the page numbers. Therefore, I will say just this: Read it!

Sunday, October 31, 2021

This Day In Sanur

 This day in Sanur, Bali can be best described as simply stifling. Like living inside a furnace. Hot or not, I would usually go out to the air-conditioned Renon Starbucks on Sunday, but for some reason I decided to go down to the beach. Generally I avoid this on Sunday because of the crowds, but I guess I forgot about that and went anyway. I realized my mistake when I found that the only open seat at Oomba cafe was in the full sunlight. So I sat there not enjoying my coffee, squinting at the iPad screen, obscured by the pounding light and feeling like it might explode in my hands at any moment. Happily, the cup at Oomba is only small, so in no time I was done and on my way back home to swelter there. 

Actually, I suppose there were a couple of reasons I didn't go to Starbucks, one being that my laptop battery is dead, thus requiring me to lug along the power cord, and the other being that my brain is empty anyway. And even if there does happen to be some vague thing rattling around in there, I can find no way to put it down in writing. Or I simply lose interest after the first couple words, deciding that it was really of no interest anyway.

The older I get, the more I keep silent. There is the sense that my thoughts need to be hidden, that they are inept or embarrassing or will somehow betray me. I don't know how to say it, really. I don't know how to explain it. It is as if advertising them will make me seem feeble and weak. Nor are they generally even of particular interest to me. 

Finally in the evening time the clouds all gathered together, done at last with roaming the horizons, met in the center of the sky and exploded in lightning, thunder, and rain, and praise God the day cooled off a bit. This is nothing other than the usual drill for this time of year. You'd think I'd be used to it by now. 

I've probably said this before, but there is nothing so disarming to the typical American such as myself than the unworldly friendliness of Indonesian people. It always surprises me, and ultimately delights me. Yesterday evening as I sat outside at my front table smoking a cigarette, a young man, part of the work crew from the new house behind me, showed up at the gate, lingered there a while, just smiling, and then finally struck up a conversation. Most people back home would see that you were sitting there smoking and move on rather than standing there smiling, right? 

Well, he had a number of questions. Do you live alone? Where is your wife? How long have you been here? Do you have friends here. 

"Excuse me, I'm sorry," he said. "May I be your friend?"

Who says this kind of thing? Can you imagine someone just walking up in America and asking if he can be your friend? It's weird, right? And feels automatically disconcerting, leading to two questions in one's mind: Why? and What do you really want?

"Well, uh ... sure, I guess so," I answered. 

"May I come in and sit with you?"

So that he did, and we chatted together, as best as possible anyway, for his accent was very thick indeed, as he spoke what's called bahasa gaul (street language, you might say). 

After a time, I went inside and came back out with my cane. 

"Will you go somewhere now?" he said. 

"Yes, I need to go to the corner store, buy some cigarettes."

"Oh. Do you want company?"

"Umm ... sure, that's fine."

So off we went, continuing our conversation. About Jimbar, Java, from whence he comes. About the work he is doing here. About the fact that he is only 16 years old. Impressive indeed, for this is hard, hot, back-breaking work. 

"I will go to bed now," he said as we returned to the gate. "Thank you. Selamat malam. I will see you tomorrow, okay?" 

Umm ... yeah. All righty then.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

October 27, 2021

 Although Bali has been open for a couple of weeks now to international tourism, there is so far a decided paucity of takers--as in none. This is assumed to be due to the persisting COVID restrictions such as mandatory five day quarantine and two mandatory PCR tests. Sounds more like a visit to the doctor's office than a vacation. Moreover, there is the announcement that tourists will be closely monitored and will run the risk of fines and/or deportation if found breaking the quarantine rules. Whoopie. Anyone for a vacation in North Korea. 

Oh well, of course they must do what they must do. We certainly don't want another uncontrolled breakout of COVID on the island. The long and short of the thing is that it will still be some time before people can make an 'old-fashioned' visit to the island paradise.

Illegally building in Green Zones is in the news these days. Technically, building is prohibited in Green areas, typically land close to beaches or rivers. Nonetheless, building in these areas has been rampant over the years (it's all about money). What to do now? Well, probably nothing, as the Sanur Weekly points out. As a matter of fact, I do believe that my house (my rental, that is) is in a Green zone. I remember someone mentioning this early on, during the building phase, with a shrug of the shoulders. 

A domestic tourist and his Balinese guide have been swept away by waves at Kelingking Beach on the island of Nusa Penida. What, Nusa Penida again? Seems like that's often happening there. And these guys weren't even swimming at the time. 

The Sanur Weekly points out that it has been "extraordinarily hot" over the last weeks, which of course is something we already knew. The scientific folks tell us that this is because of the position of the sun directly over Bali in October and November. A bit of a no-brainer there. 

In my own neighborhood of late we have experienced an invasion of snakes slithering about on the road or in driveways or up and over the top of front gates. Most of these are probably two or three feet in length and apparently not of the deadly sort (or so someone told me). However, the neighbors do not care for these snakes at all and have rallied all the neighborhood residents to pitch in for a work crew to clear the mud from the roadside ditches and streams, which had risen nearly to the top and thus conveyed the snakes onto dry land. Where the snakes plan to go during this project, I do not know. 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

October 24, 2021

 Bali continues to gear up for visitors, holding its breath as COVID recedes. Malls, supermarkets and cinemas are now allowed to operate at 70 percent capacity and water tourism (such as Waterbom in Kuta) is now being allowed to operate again. The Bali international airport, which opened a couple weeks ago, has nonetheless seen not a single international airline booking, at least as of October 20th. At the same time, Bali's governor has declared that more than 20,000 foreign tourists have booked hotel rooms for November. Not sure how they're going to get here without an airline, but we'll see. 

The La Nina weather phenomenon, which increases the country's monthly precipitation rate by 70 percent, is set to be in effect from November to January. So I guess we will have more than 20,000 wet tourists. 

For my own part, I continue to enjoy watching these dogs develop their adult personalities--for they are puppies no longer. Jagger, for whatever reason, has taken on the role of alpha male. I don't know why, but he is the first to eat, the first to choose his spot for sleeping--the 'authority' among his three siblings. Curiously, Loki, who is as large as Jagger (the two being the largest and huskiest of the four) is the lowest in the pecking order. In all things, Loki comes last. Otis is the gentlest of the pack and prefers to spend most of his time on his own. Dixie, the female, is far smaller than the other dogs, and yet she is not to be messed with. She loves to play, to get the other dogs to chase her. She's fast as a streak of lightning and when tiring of the chase, hides beneath something that the others are too big to get under (such as my easy chair). This frustrates them to no end. And then suddenly she will dash out again and the chase continues. Dixie is, however, quick to anger, and if one of the other dogs becomes too rough, she will tear into him with a vengeance, leaving her victim cowering in shock. 

All of these dogs show up at my house as soon as I get home from my morning coffee, and there they stay, sleeping the rest of the day until evening when they are suddenly revived, at which point they run up and down the road or in the field or look for trouble with other neighboring dogs. After night falls, I do not see them again until I open my door in the morning, finding them all waiting in the driveway. It's just another day, quite reliably the same as the day before. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

An End And A Beginning

 Seems like there's been a spate of suicides hereabouts lately. I've not kept count, but they seem them pop up pretty regularly, just short clips of news about this or that person discovered in their home or apartment or hotel room, evidently dead by their own hand. 

The latest of these, about which I read yesterday, concerned, interestingly, an American national with MS who had hung himself from a tree in the Monkey Forest of Ubud with a plastic rope. The man left behind a couple of notes, discovered in his hotel room, describing an unwillingness to continue to live with MS. In one note, he asked that his ashes be spread in the Monkey Forest. By the way, he had hung there for two days before being discovered.

I find myself asking what it might have been about MS that he could no longer live with. Sometimes I think that a complete lack of mobility would do the trick for me, but this could not have been the case here, as a seriously immobilized man could not have managed to hang himself from a tree. So what then? Well, of course, there are no details in the printed news, so who knows? 

On a lighter note, I ran into my old friend Bhaskara down at the beach this morning. He was with his little daughter, whose dream, says Bhas, is to one day move to America and attend university there (about 15 years or so from now). Bhas therefore happily introduced me as a 'real live American', which had the effect of striking the little girl speechless. He tells me that she actually speaks English more often than Indonesian, and I take his word for that. They were on a swimming date, as it were, followed by breakfast at the cafe (which, incidentally, Bhaskara owns). She is also taking tennis lessons at the new indoor sports facility nearby. Looks like a damn nice lifestyle to me. Why the heck would she want to go to America? But oh well, exotic places are always faraway, aren't they, unseen and untouched, pure in the mind. 

Bhas tells me that a new, wider walkway is slated to be constructed all along the Sanur beach front, and for this reason he will need to clear the entire beach front portion of his cafe, which is basically where any and all customers would be sitting. He was to have done so by today, actually, but foresaw, as one who lives here is wont to do, that nothing happened, no workers had arrived, no constructions had begun. Wisely, he decided to stay open for the time being.

He described as well a very crowded town of Canggu--just like the old days--and he remembered the times before COVID when he had complained about the crowds and the traffic jams, and yet now feels thankful to see it all return, rising again from the ghost down days. Bali bangkit.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Thankfully Marooned

 It has recently been announced that Bali is now open to 18 countries for tourism rather than the six originally announced. Nonetheless, the restrictions remain daunting, to my way of thinking anyway. Tourists must come from a country with a positivity rate less than 5 percent, present a negative PCR test taken not longer than 72 hours prior to departure, provide proof of a completed COVID vaccination, must have health insurance with a coverage of at least $100,000, provide proof of payment for accommodation during their stay in Indonesia, quarantine for 4 nights/5 days at a pre-booked hotel, and must undergo two PCR tests, one on arrival and one on day four. 

Other than that, have fun!  

I read just now in the Sanur Weekly that visitors are also required to install and use the PeduliLindungi tracking app while in Indonesia--although I sure don't know how they're going to do that, because you can't get the app without having an NIK number (Indonesian identity). So ... whatever.

I do hear, though, that some 3000 tourists departed from Sanur's Matahari Terbit beach yesterday on tour boats bound for the island of Nusa Penida, so things seem to be looking up. Bali bangkit! they say. Bali is arising again. 

Oh, speaking of rising, there was an earthquake the other night. I woke up to the bed rocking mildly back and forth. In a distant province, as I read next day on Facebook, a house collapsed and a family was killed. 

And now for the good news. I discovered earlier this week that I will not need to leave Indonesia this year in order to renew my foreign resident permit (without which, of course, I cannot live here). According to normal rules, I would need to leave the country every five years, if only for a day. This rule, however, has been temporarily suspended (and quite reasonably so) in the presence of COVID and all the associated difficulties of both leaving this country and entering any other country. So hurrah! Likely I will have to face the usual rule next year, one year late, but for now I'm relieved. 

And who knows, I might not even be alive next year to worry about it. Not feeling well lately. Very fatigued, and there's some kind of pain in my right side, just under my ribs. Wonder what the heck that could be? Actually, I've had this before and it has gone away eventually, so I'll hope for the same outcome this time around. 

Sunday, October 10, 2021


 Finally, I got my SKTT document, which allowed me to obtain as well an NIK number and therefore enter this number into the PeduliLindungi app, all with the goal of being able to enter shopping centers or malls and so on. I personally found the app confusing, but then again I find most things confusing these days. I was entering various numbers and info in the app for hours on end until Louis showed up at the house and told me it was already working. 

So anyway I got to use it for the first time yesterday when entering the Grand Lucky supermarket. You just open the app, hold your phone screen in front of the strange computer design at the front of the store, and presto you're in. Take that! So excited was I about this that I decided to go to the mall as well. There, I found entry a bit more difficult. Not only must you scan your PeduliLindungi app, but must also present your passport or Kitas along with proof of your vaccination. As can be imagined, this creates a rather long, impatient line in front of the mall entry. I suspect the trick would be to go in the morning (whereas, I had gone in late afternoon). To tell the truth, I really don't have much reason to go to the mall anyway. I go only to visit the Gramedia bookstore, which more often than not has no good selections to read anyway, as was indeed the case yesterday. Ah well, the point really was just to get in! 

My second injection is still a ways away--November 13th--and actually I don't think they're supposed to let you in the mall without two vaccines, but I guess they decided to cut me some slack. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The Boy, the Dog, and All

 The large, deaf, possibly retarded neighborhood boy visits my house more and more often these days, generally accompanied by his troop of dogs. Recently, he noticed a cannister of cookies Louis had bought for me. These are very common cookies in Indonesia of a sort that nobody really much likes but buys anyway. Sort of like fruit cake during Xmas time, only year round. Seeing the cannister, the boy pointed to the can, pointed to his mouth, and said Ooo-iii. 

Sure, have some cookies. Knock yerself out. 

So he takes the cannister, plants himself on the floor, watches whatever I am watching on TV, which he can neither hear (because he's deaf) or understand (because he can't read nor speak English) and proceeds, along with the dogs, to devour the horrible cookies. At the conclusion of several visits over the next two days or so, the cannister was empty. The boy pointed to the cannister, showed the cannister to me, and said "Eee-Ahhh." 

Yup, it's eee-ahh, all right. 

The boy and the dogs are disappointed. They resign themselves to watching TV shows they cannot understand. 

Very often, I have my venetian blinds open and the front window open during the day, and so the large boy has decided that this must always be the case. If they blinds are not open, if the window is not open, he says "Ohh-ahhh", and opens them. I begin to wonder whether he is autistic as well. 

In the meantime, Otis the dog remains in bad shape. A story has traveled around the neighborhood that he may not have been hit, or kicked, or run over, but may have fallen from the roof of the house next door. The more this possibility is spoken of, the more it is considered the actual case. 

Whatever happened, Otis simply does not want to walk at all. He came to my house yesterday, lay down on the rug by the back door, and there he stayed, refusing to move even when night fell. His owners came looking for him, but still Otis would not move. "Well, just leave him be then," I said. "He can stay overnight." 

At least he doesn't mess around with my TV controller or take over the one comfortable chair in my house. 

October 6, 2021

The big news this week is that Bali's international airport is slated to reopen for international flights on October 14th. The bad news is that includes only a handful of countries--South Korea, China, Abu Dhabi, Japan, Dubai and New Zealand. So not very exciting after all. Arriving travelers will also need to be fully vaccinated and will need to quarantine 7 nights, 8 days at a dedicated quarantine hotel. Sound like fun? I didn't think so. 

In the meantime, COVID restrictions have been extended for another two weeks, until October 18th, although the island is now completely in the yellow zone throughout all regencies. 

Bali will host the G20 summit in November, which will at least bring in 6500 delegates from 20 countries. So if tourism is low, hold a summit. There ya go! 

A 50 year old woman has died after a minibus carrying nine passengers plunged into a 30 meter deep ravine in Bali's Karangasem regency. That is scary indeed, as I've been through that area with its narrow little road along cliffsides. 

In Denpasar, a police officer allegedly assaulted a 14 year old boy, breaking the boy's leg. The boy was a spectator at an illegal street race when the police conducted a raid. He was tasered, and while on the ground the officer in question stomped on his leg, resulting in the broken bone. The identity of the officer is not yet clear, according to the police, but a police offical comments that "If the boy's injury was caused by a police officer, and if we find the officer, he will be sanctioned accordingly." 


Sunday, October 3, 2021


 Renovations have now begun on the house next door to mine--part of mine, really, for the place is like a duplex. And I realized this morning, amid the pounding and grinding and drilling, that this is going to be somewhat of a challenge. How am I to hear whatever Netflix show I'm watching, for instance? Moreover, this is going to be happening for some time to come, as an entire new house is being built behind mine and then attached to the one next to mine. Rather, it will incorporate the house next to mine as part of one big two story house. Humph. Oh, bother, as Winnie the Pooh used to say. 


 Sometime last night, somewhere in the early morning hours, still dark outside, I began to hear a dog crying outside my front door. The crying would wake me, go on for awhile, then stop. I would fall back asleep, only to awaken again to the same crying sound. It sounded to me as if perhaps the dog was merely hungry or cold or lonely, and so I just waited for the morning light. It is very difficult for me to stir myself from sleep, for I sleep the sleep of the dead, and function only as a zombie might when I finally do drag myself out of bed. 

Come 5 a.m., I gave up on further sleep, groaned myself out of bed, zombie-walked to the door, and found all four dogs on the doorstep. Jagger, Dixie, Loki and Otis. The first three immediately dashed into the house, anticipating food, but Otis did not move from beneath the chair beside the door. He did not stand when coaxed, did not want to eat, and soon began his crying again. 

At about 6, I notified the neighbors on the neighborhood WA line and soon someone showed up to collect Otis.

No one knows what happened to poor Otis. It does turn out, however, that he was not merely hungry, cold, or lonely. Somehow, as I am told, his left chest area had been injured, struck by something or someone. Was he kicked, or hit, or run over by a motorbike? No one knows. And of course Otis is not saying. 

I feel sorry for Otis, for he is the gentlest dog in the world--more than can be said for his ruffian siblings. He never hurts anyone or bothers anyone, but wants only to be petted whenever he's not busy grooming the other dogs. Isn't that just the way? 

Some are blaming an anonymous Gojek driver, saying that such drivers often dislike dogs, but no one actually saw anything happen. One of the neighbors, I believe, is planning to take Otis to the vet later, or at least get him some pain medicine. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again: It's a hard life for dogs here in Bali. One kind of has to expect from the outset that one disaster or another will overtake them.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

September 29, 2021

 As October approaches, Bali is once again gearing up for a hopeful reopening to foreign tourism, at least at some level. Under the best of circumstances, tourists will be able to enter if fully vaccinated. They must, however, undergo a week of quarantine at a designated quarantine hotel at their own cost. Not a very exciting vacation feature, as it would seem to me. Better than nothing? That remains to be seen. 

In the meantime, domestic tourist visits to Bali are increasing beyond earlier expectations. So there's that. 

In other news, 25 unclaimed bodies stored at Sanglah General Hospital have been cremated without being claimed. The bodies have been at Sanglah for up to two years. It is assumed that family members have not claimed the bodies because they have no money to cover the open hospital bills. 

This week's stupid criminal award goes to two men who tried to steal from a construction site worker while he slept. The victim woke up during the theft and the two men fled on foot, forgetting that they left their motorbike behind. When they returned shortly to get their bike, they were taken into custody by police on the scene. Both are now facing up to five years in jail. 

On my own street, there is a large boy who shows up daily at my house, usually along with the dogs or in search of the dogs. This boy, perhaps 12 years of age, is either deaf or retarded or both. Louis tells me that he is merely deaf, and I suppose that could be so. The boy does not speak other than to make noises. He has kind of taken it upon himself to arrange various things in my house for me. For instance, he opens both leaves of my gate in the morning. When he enters the house, which happens as soon as I get out of bed, he opens the sliding back door for me and draws the curtains. When I get my morning tea, he presses the hot water button on the water dispenser. 

This boy is particularly interested in grooming the dogs, by which I mean that he likes to hunt through their fur and remove fleas and ticks. Who needs a flea collar, right? This actually has always seemed kind of gross to me, but Louis used to like to do the same thing, plucking off fleas and other bugs in a way that seemed nearly obsessive. The dogs don't mind, by the way. 

And speaking of grooming, Otis, the one dog among the pack who is less aggressive and rough than the others, enjoys nothing more than grooming his siblings, especially when they are napping and not up to resisting his efforts. He will lick the inside of their ears tirelessly, then nibble into their fur from head to toe. So if the big deaf boy is not around, there is still Otis to get the job done. Better them than me. 

You may have seen from time to time an endearing story on Facebook or whatever about an animal of one kind taking care of an animal of another--a dog with a raccoon, for instance, or a cat with a duck. Well, there is a little poodle-like dog named Lolli who lives just around the corner from me, and Lolli, at some point recently, brought home a very tiny kitten from who knows where. The kitten has one blue eye and one gray eye and has decided that Lolli is her (or his) mother. The amazing part is that Lolli, who has no offspring of her own, has actually managed to produce milk for this tiny kitten. You know, I really ought to get a video of this. Post it on Facebook or something. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

September 24, 2021

 As I learn today from the Sanur Weekly, Bali is once again in shutdown, after a several day respite. This shutdown is forecast to be in effect for the next two weeks (not just one this time). At the conclusion of those two weeks, the situation will be reassessed. So the long and short of it is that apparently things were not going very well after all. Although a number of visa agents had begun to post "Bali is open" notices, this is untrue, mere wishful thinking. So don't get your ticket to Bali, folks. 

Beaches will now (supposedly) be under an odd/even entry arrangement, which means that on certain days vehicles with even license plate numbers may enter and on certain days odd license plate numbers may enter. This, as it seems to me, is not likely to work very well, if at all. 

The PeduliLindungi app, which shows that the holder has been vaccinated, is now being required almost everywhere, or so they say. I was able to enter the supermarket yesterday simply by telling the guard that I don't have the app, but we will see if that lasts. As I've mentioned previously, I cannot get the app until I get an NIK number and I cannot get an NIK number until I get an SKTT number. This will take about two weeks, and to the tune of 1.2 million Rupiah. The app, in any case, according to the newspaper, is "pretty buggy and well known to cause a massive battery drain." Sounds like a blast. 

A 23 year old Indonesian woman from Cianjur in West Java was arrested in her apartment in Denpasar,  Bali, for alleged "pornographic action", or live streaming of obscene acts on social media for money. Monthly profit from her shows is said to have been around 30 million Rupiah. According to the paper, she started her online career after running out of money during the pandemic. (This is actually a fairly common story--pandemic leading to crime). Shockingly, the woman is facing up to 12 years in jail. 

On Thursday night of last week, a law firm in Denpasar was attacked with Molotov Cocktails. A fire resulted, which was extinguished with garden hoses. No idea why the firm was attacked. 

Thursday, September 23, 2021


 It has been entertaining to watch these puppies grow up and grow into their own personalities. 

Jagger, who was supposed to have been my dog, shows no particular fondness for me, or really for anyone in particular. He shows up at the house every morning, along with the rest of the dogs, and waits to be fed. This necessitates getting rid of the other dogs, which I do by tossing a handful of kibbles out the door. The other dogs run out to grab the scattered kibbles, but Jagger has learned that if he hangs back, I will shut the door on the others and give him his own bowl of kibbles mixed with a bit of canned dog food. So he is at least a smart dog. This he finishes, tops it off with the leftover milk from my bowl of oatmeal, and then waits to be released back to the great outdoors. Often, I will not see him again until the afternoon, when he shows up to crawl under my chair and nap, accompanied, usually, by the other dogs, although Jagger has staked out the floor under the chair as his own space and allows no others to intrude. 

Jagger's brother, Otis, very nearly a twin, could hardly be more different in temperament. Otis is a sweet dog who likes to be petted and to sit close to people. He is a calm dog who seems not to enjoy fighting and wrestling nearly as much as the others. What he does enjoy doing with the others is cleaning them, which they will allow him to do when they are too tired to resist. Otis licks the inside of their ears and nibbles after bugs in their fur. He is very serious about this task, almost to the point of obsession. He will often stay most of the afternoon in my house and sometimes plants himself on the rug in the evening. Unwilling to leave, he must be carried outside when I go to bed. 

Loki, the third male, is light brown from head to toe, just like his father, and has already grown large, again like his father. Loki spends more time on his own than do the others. He is independent. And he is more a creature of appetite. Not really interested in affection or petting, but quite interested in food. Loki is also the naughtiest of the pack, most often found guilty of stealing shoes or clothing or rugs--anything he can get his mouth around, really. A few days ago, I was called away from my dinner for a moment to talk with one of the neighbors, and when I reentered the house, I found Loki sitting in my chair eating my food off the plate. 

Dixie, the lone female, is much smaller than the males, but makes up for it with ferocity. She is galak, as they say here--vicious, temperamental. She holds her own in any dispute. She is a quick, bright dog, and the only one among them that will follow me for the entire length of my evening walk. This may be because part of the walk trespasses on the territory of other dogs in the neighborhood, but Dixie don't give a damn. 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Vaccine #1

So yesterday morning I got my first AstraZeneca injection. Felt fine until about 8 o'clock that night, then became very ill indeed--full body aches, high fever, sweats and chills, weakness. Around about 3 o'clock in the morning, having failed to sleep more than half an hour at a time anyway, I dragged myself out of bed and into the shower, drunkenly bounding off the walls on the way, in hopes that this would stop the shivering, bring the fever down. It didn't. Lying in bed, then, I thought Gosh, did I make a big mistake? Is it really true that people with MS should not get AstraZeneca? Am I dying?

Well, it turns out, after talking to some of the neighbors the next day, that some of them also had a very similar reaction to the injection. And in fact as I searched the internet, I could not find any particular caution against using this vaccine with MS. 

Anyway, I'm feeling better today. Still fatigued and a bit achy, but nothing like last night. Should be right as rain by Monday, they say. 

In the meantime, I have found that the paperwork I received at the vaccine site is not sufficient for me to attain a PeduliLindungi app on my phone. This is the app that everyone needs to have in order to do a whole array of normal things such as go to a mall or a supermarket or eat in a restaurant or take a flight or get a driver's license or get a vehicle registration and so on ad infinitum. 

One cannot get a PeduliLindungi, I have discovered, without first having an NIK (some sort of Indonesian resident record), and one cannot get an NIK without first having a SKTT (some sort of proof of domicile). 

Sometimes I hate Indonesia. 

I'm hoping that my agent here can help me through this process sometime next week, as I really have no idea of what they're talking about or where one might seek these documents. Nor do I know how much it's gonna cost me. 

Should I join the rebellion against vaccines? Hmm. Well, that would only get me deported, wouldn't it.

One step at a time, to be taken when my legs stop wobbling. 


Thursday, September 16, 2021


 Got kicked out of my first mall today. Well, not actually kicked out, because I didn't even get through the front door. I didn't get through the front door because I have no vaccine app on my phone. I have no vaccine app because I've not been vaccinated. I've not been vaccinated because Moderna is not yet available in Bali. I have to wait for Moderna because I have MS. The guard at the door muttered something about an official letter of excuse, but I don't know what that letter is or where one might get it. Certainly not from my doctor, who has already told me that he doesn't know anything about it. Lol. 

So at this point Louis has advised that we just f--k the Moderna and get Sinovac, which is readily available. Sinovac is the original Chinese vaksin that was the first to come here to Indonesia, I believe. 

So whatever. It's a quality of life issue, right? Also, I don't know how I'm supposed to survive if I can't go to a supermarket, for instance. Although I could certainly do without the mall. Trouble is, a lot of the supermarkets here are inside of malls. 

Anyway, here's the news of the week, per the Sanur Weekly: 

Bali has now decreased to Level III COVID restrictions. Not sure what that means. As I've mentioned, the beaches are open, for one thing. And I suppose that dining restrictions and operating hours may be relaxed (although, as far as I can tell, they are already pretty relaxed here, at least at local establishments). As always, the government is hoping for a swift decrease in restrictions so that tourism can reopen and the island can revive. However, in the past weeks, Bali has been the province with the most COVID-19 red zones in the country. So that don't sound so great. 

A 30 year old Balinese man who snatched a phone in Karangasem regency has been arrested and is facing a few years behind bars for theft. Moral of the story: Don't steal things in Bali. 

There Javanese men, temporarily employed as construction workers in Bali, have been apprehended on their way back to Java after stealing seven air-conditioning units from residents in and around Ubud. The units were were dismantled and sold for around 2 million Rupiah (140 dollars). They face up to 7 years in prison. Moral of the story: Don't steal things in Bali. 

Hundreds of sparrows dropped to the ground in Bali's Gianyar regency on Thursday of last week. Local authorities initially believed that heavy rainfall was the culprit, but apparently it was eventually pointed out to them that birds have been dealing with heavy rainfall throughout the ages and it was later determined that pesticide poisoning was at fault. The newspaper adds, somewhat oddly, that this is "certainly not the best news for all the organic-vegan-yoga community members in an around Ubud as it shows that living in the area is anything but healthy." Hmm. Do I detect a prejudice here? 

In closing, I will mention that while I have been typing this, a couple of friends have advised against Sinovac in favor of good 'ol AstraZeneka, as Sinovac is not recognized by some of the Asian countries and not accepted for travel. So AstraZeneka it is, for now. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Aches and Complaints

 Jeeze, I have this band of pain in my midback from flank to flank. Don't know what it is, but it did keep me awake during part of last night. Took some methylpredisolone this morning and some Panadol, and we'll see if that helps any. 

Otherwise, I see that the beach roads seem to be open this week, so perhaps I will be able to visit my favorite beach spots again. Then again, the roadblocks could reappear as quickly as they disappeared. Who knows? No one really knows what's going on around here. Just poking around in the dark, hoping for the best. 

One bit of happy news is that the COVID app check which I had feared (that which would have kept me out of supermarkets and such-like) doesn't seem to be in effect, or anyway is not being enforced. So far. I still, of course, have not gotten a vaccination and no one seems to know when Moderna or Pfizer will be available in Bali. So I'm just plugging along with a target on my back every day. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

September Ghost Town

 It's a lonely feeling these days to drive the main streets of Sanur, all but devoid of traffic, the sidewalks vacant of shoppers, browsers, diners. One zips along the road from one end of Sanur to the other in a fraction of the time it used to take--a nice enough feature in its own right, and yet a strangely eerie one as well, the persistent back-of-the-mind whisper that something is not right in this place. And one cannot help but wonder whether this will simply become the norm. Will Sanur, will Bali, ever recover?

Well, another week of lockdown is upon us, and new rules are about to be put in place. 

Nothing Has Changed For Bali, reads the headline in this week's edition of the Sanur Weekly. PPKM (Pemberlakuan Pembatan Kegiatan Masyarakat, in other words the lockdown) will now continue to the 13th of September. 

A chilling new restriction is about to be added (on the 14th) which will require all people entering a mall or supermarket to show their PeduliLidingi phone app, demonstrating that the holder has been vaccinated. Those not having the app will be denied entry. 

So a guy like me, who has neither vaccination or app, is in a bit of a bind, isn't he? How, I am wondering, am I supposed to get my groceries in the future. I suspect that the government is likely as unsure as I on this matter. 

In other news, a "plus-plus" spa in Denpasar (this being a euphemism in Indonesia for establishments offering 'happy ending' massages (a euphemism in itself) has reportedly violated the current COVID-19 restrictions in Bali by remaining open late at night. It has so far gotten away with this because the authorities in Denpasar and Badung cannot agree on whose jurisdiction the spa is in, as it is situated on the border between the two regencies. This is apparently a quandary without a solution, as the spa remains in full operation. 

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Various Interruptions

 Just about every day here after darkness falls there will come an ominous growling rising to a roar as a hoard of extremely loud motorbikes cruises up the main artery a block away, headed, I'm quite sure, nowhere in particular, given that most places during shutdown are closed at nighttime. Ah, but the point is not destination but how loud you can be on the way. Supposedly the police were to have put an end to this sort of thing by enforcing recent rules regarding motor noise, but who knows, maybe the police are among the enthusiasts. I will never understand what great pleasure there is in being as irritating as possible, and yet it is a sport that continues to attract a consistent following. For my own part, I think I would merely feel embarrassed to be inflicting this sort of auditory invasion on others, but hey that's just me. 

While at coffee this morning, a young man came over to my table to borrow my lighter, then asked if he could sit down and chat. This would be an unusual thing back in America, where we would think our space invaded or our time interrupted, but here it is common enough, and pleasant enough once you get used to it. 

Later in the evening, while on my walk, a little boy stopped me on my way to ask "Are you older?" 

What was your first clue? My gray beard? The fact that I walk with a cane? The fact that I don't walk very well even with a cane? My wrinkled face? My hunched shoulders?

And anyway, older than what? Huh? Huh? Answer me that! 

Friday, September 3, 2021

Turning Point: 9/11 and the War on Terror

 There is a new series on Netflix--Turning Point: 9/11 and The War on Terror--that every American adult really ought to watch, and most especially those suffering from severe Dunning Kruger Effect. You know the ones I mean--those folks on Facebook who have no idea what they are talking about, no grasp of history, even of recent history, no particular familiarity with the subject at hand, and yet no end of confidence in their knowledge of all things and no limit in their energy to express their views, generally in broken English. 

Turning Point covers the events of 9/11, those that led to 9/11, and those that proceeded from 9/11, and does so in a thorough and, as it seemed to me, a balanced and fair manner, rigorously honest and direct. It is both an interesting and a painful journey. It is also a necessary journey for those who were very young or not yet even born when the attack occurred, and certainly worth watching for all of us as we live out  the end of this long episode in American history.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Ships in the Night

 While out for my coffee at the Daily Baguette this morning, a woman and a man stopped for a moment at my table to say hello. An attractive young woman, a handsome young man. And I had no idea who they were. 

"Oh, hello!" I responded nonetheless, in a tone, I hoped, of familiarity. "How are you?"

They were fine, as it turned out, particularly the young woman. The man kind of stood back politely, cueing my brain to recognize that I probably did not really know him, but must somehow know her. 

After some brief small talk, about the weather or something, the woman suddenly uttered an unusual sentence. "Will you be coming by the Permata today?" 

Ah ha! The bank. Permata bank. 

Now, the fact is, I have only been once to that bank, and that perhaps half a year ago. But she had given me a place to go with the face, you see? Not that I haven't seen her face any number of times, for I have. This is Putri, who used to work with Louis at a different bank, and whom I have seen occasionally through the years at various gatherings or meetings. 

Obviously, there would be no reason for her to suspect that I might be coming to the bank this day. And so, obviously, she had let that word drop because my confusion, however I tried to hide it, was clear to her. 

Well, perhaps ten minutes later, I'm engrossed in the book I'm reading when another woman emerges from the cafe and stops at the table. 

"Hi, Richard!" 

So here we go again. Now who the heck is this one? 

"Hey! Good to see you," I exclaim cheerily.

But she is in a hurry, can't stop, must hurry on. 

So ... well ... I guess we'll never know.

I've written before about this facial recognition problem, associated with MS. Or is it just senility? Or both? Who knows. It is in any case embarrassing.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

September 1, 2021

Missed out on the Sanur Weekly for a time. Things are operating less than smoothly here during the continued lockdown. Speaking of which, lockdown has again been extended, this time through September 6th. Basically, nothing has changed, although they are now claiming some small successes against COVID. Not enough to tip the island back into normal status. We are probably just going to have to get used to the idea that this is the new normal. No doubt, once restrictions are lifted, cases will rise again. And of course all around the world, vaccinated or not, people are having to face the likelihood that COVID will become endemic rather than pandemic at best. 

On the shady side of it all, more high ranking Indonesian officials have been busted for COVID-19 scandals, from jumping the vaccination or booster shot queue to embezzling public funds allocated for the handling of the pandemic. A number of high ranking officials in East Nusa Tenggara, including the governor and regional heads, have been caught on videotape at a beach party involving hundreds of guests, mask-less and avoiding any kind of social distancing. In Jember Regency, East Java, a local official granted a fee of 100.000 Rupiah for every COVID death in the region to himself and to a number of other officials in the region. This fee was, of course, paid using government funds. Former Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Juliari Peter Batubara, has been sentenced to 12 years behind bars for accepting bribes from more than one hundred companies which had applied for contracts to supply COVID-19 relief in the form of basic food supplies in the Greater Jakarta Area. Batubara pocketed 10.000 Rupiah for each food package supplied by these more than 100 companies. It adds up. The total damage estimated to the nation is about 32.5 billion Rupiah. 

And so on. 

The Indonesian Tourism Minister is pleading with Bali hotel owners not to sell their hotels. Some of the largest and most well established hotels in Bali have shown up on various real estate websites. Bali hotels have around 140,000 rooms but are receiving only a handful of domestic tourists. Most of the island's hotels are actually closed and have sent their employees on unpaid leave or dismissed them completely. 

Two Indonesian men are facing possible life sentences for trafficking a large quantity of marijuana in Bali. I repeat: life sentences. On the other hand, in the well known case of the "Bali Suitcase Murderer" -- wherein an American woman and her boyfriend murdered the woman's mother, stuffed her in a suitcase, and abandoned her in a taxi--the American is being released from prison, having served a sentence of 10 years (time off for good behavior). The boyfriend, who wielded the actual murder weapon, a glass bowl, was sentenced to 18 years. So, uh, life for marijuana, 10-18 years for murder. All righty then. 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

All Set

 Started out this morning by moving a few things over to the new house next door, clothes and such-like, but as it turned out, this was the extent of my efforts, for once the Nengah and her husband arrived, the job was out of my hands. From that time forward, whenever I tried to pick something up, they would immediately stop me short. "Jangan, Om! Duduk saja!" Translation: Stop! Sit! 

And so I did.

All settled in now and feeling quite at home--not surprisingly so, as this place is simply the mirror image of the other.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Poor World

 Coming up now on this week's end date for lockdown. The 31st, I think. How long has it been now? I've forgotten. 

Well, I guess it don't really make much difference to me. Most of the places I go aren't really following the protocol anyway. It's supposed to be that you can eat/drink coffee/or whatever only outdoors and only for 30 minutes before being required to pack up your shit and go, but that, for the most part, is not how it is in practice. My usual spots in Sanur continue service indoors and outdoors and you can stay as long as you wish. In western type establishments, such as Starbucks, the rules will sometimes be in effect, sometimes not, depending on whether the manager happens to be working that day. 

On the other hand, many of the beaches are actually closed, some being guarded by the local Balinese police, while some seem to be open. All, however, are rather deserted, many establishments closed, and so not very attractive venues these days. Mostly, I've been sticking to the in-town establishments in Sanur or to the Starbucks in Renon. 

Supposedly, non-essential shops at the malls are supposed to be closed, and I've found this to be sometimes the case, sometimes not. 

In any case, a general reopening of Bali seems very far away indeed as COVID/Delta continues to roar through the island, and through the archipelago, making the whole place rather pointedly unattractive, even if it were to open. 

Poor Bali. Poor Indonesia. Poor world. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Relocation Relocated

 Turns out that my big move (to the house next door) did not take place on Sunday as I had expected but has been delayed a week until this coming Sunday. Oh well, no matter, no hurry. I've collected a stacks of books that have been cluttering up my bookcase, half in Indonesian, half in English, and put them in the driveway to be taken for free, but it appears, as yet anyway, that people around here don't read. Books? What? To read? Why? They may just end up living in the driveway from here forth until eventually carried off by the weather or the bugs. 

As I was on my usual evening walk the other night, I happened to chat with a neighbor who revealed to me that the dog who had birthed the seven puppies of recent, now reduced to four by disease, has again become pregnant. Good Lord. Last thing we need around here is another herd of puppies. My own boarding room, as it is, is full. There is no room in the inn. God knows why she didn't get this dog spayed (although I could tell Him, actually, that it is very likely because she doesn't have the money to spend on such an operation). So why have the dog in the first place? Again, God knows. 

In the meantime, the lockdown in Bali, not surprisingly, has been extended yet another week till the end of August. They really may as well just say 'till hell freezes over' and leave it at that. Louis tells me that the Pfizer vaccine has now arrived in Jakarta, so that's a step toward getting vaccinated myself. But who knows how long it will take to trickle over the sea from Java to Bali? Anyway, I'll wait, as there is no other option. 

Friday, August 20, 2021

August 20, 2021

 As expected, lockdown in Bali was extended another week, now set to end on August 23rd, given the government's claim that they had seen positive results. The Sanur Weekly disagrees with this assessment, and I am inclined to believe them. The numbers continue to look terrible--too terrible, actually, to report with honesty. 

In the meantime, in the US, people are complaining that they might be "forced" to get a vaccination. Here in Bali, I wish they would force me to get one. Instead, they won't allow it. 

One of Bali's oldest hotels, located in Sanur, the Grand Bali Beach Hotel, has now become mostly a COVID isolation facility for asymptomatic COVID patients and those with mild symptoms. There are, after all, no other customers. 

Parasada Hindu Dharma Indonesia, the country's leading Hindu authority, has urged families of deceased COVID-19 patients in Bali to forgo traditional funeral rites for their loves ones after most morgues on the island reported being over capacity.

It is reported that police and port authority officers in Gilimanuk, Bali's gateway to Java, have been fleecing arrivals, claiming that their vaccination papers are not acceptable and demanding Rp. 50.000 to get through. It appears that bus drivers as well are also paying a fee to police in order to bring their passengers through uninspected. 

At a popular beach on the island of Nusa Penida, two domestic tourists were dragged out to sea while swimming. Luckily, both were rescued. I can testify that this sort of thing happens very quickly. It seems like you're safe, right up until you're not. My stepson and his friend very nearly got washed out to sea while swimming down in Kuta. They were rescued by two strong young lifeguards, who were in the water and swimming before us old folks even reached the surf.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Movin Day

 On Sunday, I will be moving--but only as far as the place next door to my present place. This, originally, was because Louis was going to build a house behind the duplex here and add one half of the duplex to that new house. Now she's not so sure, but will move me anyway as apparently one wall in my present dwelling is in need of major repair (having a persistent leak when raining). 

So anyway, this shouldn't be too much of a challenge, given that there's not really much to be moved. The place next door is exactly the same as mine, just in reverse. The good news is that maybe these flea bitten dogs will not be able to find me. Though that does seem unlikely. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Also Afghanistan

 The Afghanistan conflict has now captured the full attention and "expertise" of millions of Americans who previously knew nothing about it and never took the trouble to know anything about it. Currently they are trying to find the place on a map. Somewhere near Mexico, right? Must be, because I've read a number of Facebook comments about Afghan terrorists pouring across the Mexican border. My goodness, that happened fast! 


 Logic. Horse before the cart. 

I've been hearing for the last two days how terribly President Biden has handled the withdraw from Afghanistan. He should have been getting people out much earlier, they say. 

Well sure, I guess--if he had known that the Afghan army was scheduled to suddenly collapse on August 15th (or whatever day it was). I do not believe, however, that any such memo got widely distributed. 

And then there's this: How is it that we could have begun an early withdrawal of thousands of allies and civilians without telegraphing to everyone else that we really had no expectation whatsoever that the Afghan army, which we had said since the Trump administration was ready to stand on its own, would in fact stand on its own?

Do you see the fail in logic? It's all cart before horse stuff. It's all a mixture of superfluous hindsight and a belief in some sort of magical foresight. 

I do not personally think that our leadership truly believed that the Afghan army could ultimately win against the Taliban. I do think, however, that they believed the army would last a whole lot longer than two days. Who didn't? They believed they would have ample time to conduct an orderly retreat. I mean, where in history has there ever been a greater, swifter collapse than that of this 300,000 man army in Afghanistan? 

That said, however, retreats are rarely pretty affairs. They rarely go well. One might even say that they never go well. Do people look for someone to blame? I suppose they do. Those who are already inclined to dislike President Biden will naturally hurry forth to blame him. For my own part, I am more inclined to blame an army we had invested in and armed for the last twenty years, and a government rotten to the core with corruption and cowardice. 

Saturday, August 14, 2021


 I met a girl today by the name of Pipit. I already know a girl named Wiwik. The funny thing is that the t and the k are not pronounced. So you have Pee-Pee and Wee-Wee. 

There has been some kind of holiday going on here for the last couple days. I don't know what it is. There's always a holiday going on, it seems. This one seems pretty popular though, featuring a whole lot of people riding motorbikes, dressed in ceremonial type clothing, carrying baskets of flowers and fruits and who knows what all. For the convenience of the celebrants, the main road through Sanur was closed and I had to find a rather circuitous back road path back to the main highway. 

It does seem now that four of the seven sick dogs will survive. For the time being. It's a dangerous world for these little fellows, but for now they are out of the woods. (I occasionally miscounted in previous posts, as there were originally seven puppies, not six. Three brown, two brown and white, one grayish female and one black. The  black puppy's name was Nero and, strangely, he never did like hanging out with the rest of the pack, so he was easy to forget). 

Jagger, who is rumored to be my dog, is now the healthiest, most robust of the four remaining. The female, Dixie, is also very energetic, but thin. Well, maybe she's watching her figure. The other two, Otis and Loki, are lagging behind a bit at about 70 percent recovered. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

August 12, 2021

 This week's Sanur Weekly is pretty much all bad news. 

The first article concerns the development of a plan to require all people entering a mall or restaurant to provide proof of COVID vaccination. Bali is expected to be one of the first regions to be included in the trials. Now this would all be fine with me if I had been or even could be vaccinated, but as it stands, there is no vaccination for me in sight due to MS and to the lack of vaccines other than astrazeneka. So I can't help but feel kind of bummed at the prospect of being stuck in my house day and night forever. 

In the meantime, shutdown has been extended once again, until August 16th this time (at which point it will probably be extended further, given the ineffectiveness thus far of the shutdowns having any measurable effect. 

As any reopening of Bali appears very far away indeed, Australians are looking for new paradises for their vacations and seem to have hit upon Saipan as a pleasant location. Saipan, a US territory, is expected to have all of its inhabitants vaccinated in the near future. 

The bleak picture is made bleaker yet in recent announcement from the Bank of Indonesia urging businesses and business people in Bali to stop relying on the tourism industry, as it is not expected to recover any time soon. 

The one piece of good news is that three different motorbike licences will soon be required, according to what sort of bike one drives. This will make driving the annoying loud motorbikes more expensive (and hopefully, from where I stand, discourage their use). 

The Airport Hilton and the Hard Rock Hotel have suspended all operations for "at least three months". There's no one there, you see? 

In Denpasar, a Circle K convenience store has been robbed for the second time in four weeks. The break-in occurred while the store was closed. The thief stole 62 packs of cigarettes. It is assumed that he is "probably a pretty heavy smoker". 

And that wraps it up for this week. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Where Were We?

 So now, where were we with the plague-ridden dogs? 

Ah yes, they had all gone to the hospital to get infusion. Three came home that same night and three stayed, rejoining the pack the night after. 

All the dogs remained ill, of course, but four grew more ill yet. Jagger stayed at my house and refused to eat or drink. He began to eat just a tiny bit yesterday and otherwise just slept. 

I was surprised therefore this morning hungrily devoured half a can of dog food and drank some water as well. He then headed out the gate to see what was going on and soon returned with Dixie, who was also full of energy. 

One of the dogs, a little black one whose name I have forgotten, died, making the death toll now three of seven. Two are in very poor condition and have been isolated in cages. 

It was thought by some that I ought to isolate Jagger at my house, which I reluctantly attempted to do; however I must report that Jagger soon proved himself to be a first rate escape artist. No cell can hold him. Although the space between the bottom of my gate and the street is not at all wide, and certainly does not appear wide enough to allow a dog to get under, he nevertheless managed to do so. I addressed this issue by placing heavy objects in front of the spaces, but he still managed to squeeze through and slither away. So I finally gave up. Whatever. 

In summation, although two of the dogs appear to be on the mend, they are certainly not out of the woods, and two would appear to be near their end.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

No Vaccine for the Wicked

 Oh, btw, I finally talked to my neurologist about getting a COVID vaccination (the tardiness being my fault, not his) and he tells me that, indeed, I cannot presently get vaccinated as astrazeneca, which is being used in Indonesia, is not approved in the presence of MS or other immunocompromised conditions and moderna and pfizer are not yet available. So that solves that quandary for the time being, although it is still a mystery as to how Immigration will handle this as it pertains to my foreign resident permit. 

The Continuing Saga of the Six Sick Puppies

 Continuing the saga of the six little dogs, I found them in worse shape when I awoke this morning. Jagger had spent the night in my house and had vomited three times, and although he seemed bright-eyed in the morning, he was still not interested in eating anything. 

Soon, three of the six remaining dogs showed up at my door. The female dog, Dixie, was listless and refusing food. One of the little brown dogs, Loki, straightaway left a puddle of blood and feces on the floor and appeared to be in bad shape indeed, wobbly and confused. Otis showed up briefly, and seemed steady but listless.  The other two dogs I saw not at all. 

So I communicated all these things to Louis, who was on her way over anyway, and and it was decided, after a conference with concerned neighbors and by phone with a clinic, that all of the dogs needed to go to the hospital. , 

All of them, of course, have parvovirus, a common and quite deadly virus that afflicts puppies (what we tend to call 'distemper'). They were loaded into a neighbor's van and trundled off to the hospital with Louis and a couple of the neighbors. I myself was feeling ill, so stayed at home. 

At the hospital, the puppies received some sort of infusion. Three of them, last I heard, will return tonight, but must be kept separate in cages, while three will stay the night at the hospital, a rather dreary prognosis hanging over them at this point. If any survive, they will return tomorrow. 

As for Jagger, Dixie, and Mylo, they, if they survive five more days, will receive vaccinations. 

When Louis arrived back at my house after the experience at the hospital, she was in tears. This had all gone so very swiftly from six rambunctious puppies to six deathly ill puppies, and the hard fact of just how ill they were shook her up.

All of this is why I had said from the start that I did not want a puppy. It's just too hard to see this sort of thing happen, and here in Bali this sort of thing always happens--this or something else equally as deadly. How many dogs have I seen die while I've been here? I've completely lost count, and don't really want to think about it. 

And yet here I sit, missing little Jagger, missing his wild careening around the room, missing his sleepy eyes when he tires and settles down on his rug or fits himself in to the nest of his siblings. Such innocent things, such unsuspecting things. 

Friday, August 6, 2021

Sick Dogs

 Yesterday, all seven of the little neighborhood dogs became ill and remained ill throughout the day. One of them died. Tonight someone finally called a doctor and he came to the neighborhood to give them all injections. They were all gathered at one house, but then Jagger, who is supposedly my dog, escaped and showed up here. They came and retrieved him, as he had not yet gotten his injection, but he escaped again. This time, I took him back. Seeing the doctor, he panicked, struggled like a madman, and managed to bite me while he was getting his shot. So we shall hope that he doesn't have rabies too. All of the dogs had whatever virus dogs are bound to get, especially ones that are not taken care of. It's all about money here. Nobody has any. So they just figure Meh, they'll be okay. Louis actually had Jagger scheduled for a shot tomorrow, but the owner should have gotten all of these dogs taken care of a couple of months ago. Either that or given them out to other owners. So I don't know. Jagger actually has looked good, healthy all along. He just didn't want to eat at all today. Some of the other dogs are ... well, sick as dogs, including Jagger's lookalike, Otis. They're all good little dogs. I hope they'll be okay.