Wednesday, June 30, 2021

June 30, 2021

 This week's news from Sanur is about the same as last week's news, only generally worse. Since the beginning of last week, Indonesia has recorded the highest number of new COVID-19 infections since the beginning of the pandemic, with 21,342 infections recorded on Sunday, June 27th. Hospitals in several regions of Java have erected tents out front for patient care, as they have run out of beds and are generally out of space to accommodate the growing number of patients. COVID-19 deaths have also reached the same record level as earlier this year. 

In the midst of all this, authorities nationwide have detected a growing number of falsified COVID-19 test certificates. These fake certificates are being sold at airports across the country, because, you know, people don't really wanna bother with all this COVID requirement shit when they could just pay to get around it. Now how irresponsible is that? 

Moreover, also in the midst of all this, the long hoped for reopening of Bali, slated for July, appears very unlikely to occur. The Bali Tourism Association has expressed their disappointment, saying that many tourism players on the island have invested time and money to prepare for the proposed July opening. In other words, they counted their chickens before they were hatched. It is worth noting, the Sanur Weekly reports, that "despite the repeated proposals by the Ministry of Tourism and the Balinese government, this plan has never been approved by the Home Ministry or by Indonesian President Joko Widodo." A case of wishful thinking, which is another common sort of pandemic in Indonesia.  

In an incident similar to one covered in a previous blog entry, yet another Kuta resident has been caught red handed in an act of thievery, this time involving a bottle of shampoo at a minimarket. The man received a heavy beating by a mob of local residents before the police came to his rescue. The man is now facing up to five years in jail for a bottle of shampoo. It's not even the man's hair was terribly dirty, apparently. Rather, he meant to later sell the shampoo on the street for a lower price.

Back in old Portland town Oregon, late June temperatures have hit 116 degrees. Say what?! That's right, 116, and expected to rise. This is just unreal. The highest temperature I ever experienced in 55 years in Oregon was 108, and that was in August and in Central Oregon, not Portland. Good Lord. What's going on? Is this the end? Or maybe the beginning of the end? Stay tuned. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021


 There's a little girl in my neighborhood, perhaps 10 years old, who kind of watches over the six neighborhood puppies. She has a name for each puppy, and, knowing that, I asked her the name of the puppy who is most often hanging out at my house. 

"Oh, that's Jaeger," she said. 



What is she actually saying, I wondered. The first part sounds like "jay", as in Blue Jay, and the second part has that long rolling "rrrrr". Jay-gerrrrr. 

When Louis came by the house later that day, I asked her about it.

"Jaygerrrrr," I said. "Is it a word? Does it mean something in Indonesian."

"Jaygerrr? Oh, Jagger! She's saying Jagger, as in 'Mick Jagger'." 

Turns out that this is indeed the case, as Louis confirmed with the little girl. 


This 'Mick Jagger' fellow seems to believe that he lives at my house, despite being continually told otherwise. He is the first dog to show up in the morning, and expects a bowl of dog food, because I had the bad sense to give him a bowl a couple days in a row. (I felt sorry for him, you see, because he doesn't seem to be growing as large or vigorous as the other pups). He sleeps in the house for as long as he can get away with it and feels offended when I put him outside. I close the gate, but at this time he is still small enough to wiggle beneath the bottom of the gate, which he straightaway does. 


Yesterday, I was caught by "big water" while otherwise enjoying my coffee and muffin at the beachside cafe. Twice, actually. 'Big water' is what Indonesians call 'high seas.' I could see that the water was higher than usual, but I did not expect it to come splashing beyond the sand and over the tabletops. Lol. After the second drenching, the waitress came to my table and said, "Um, Uncle, maybe you want to move?" Ah well, it had been a long time since I'd had a swim anyway. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

June 23, 2021

 We read today that Indonesia is energetically marching in the wrong direction, COVID-wise, having on June 21st surpassed the two million infections mark and recorded a new all time high for daily new COVID-19 infections at 14,536 cases. 

The new wave of infections, as I've mentioned before, comes in the wake of the Eid al-Fitr holiday season during which millions of Indonesians blatantly ignored the nationwide Mudik travel ban, bringing COVID to their home towns or bringing it back with them, many carrying the new Delta variant which is now on the advance worldwide. 

Large scale restrictions remain ruled out by the government due to fear of economic collapse.

In the meantime, in Denpasar, which is experiencing its own uptake in number of infections, rapid antigen tests are being administered on "random" people, which may someday include me, as I'm pretty random, I'm a person, and I'm fairly often in Denpasar. 

Since the beginning of the year, seventy-eight Bali tourists have been deported from Indonesia, with Russian nationals dominating the list. Deportations have been carried out for a variety of reasons. There are some who have repeatedly violated COVID restrictions, while some have been deported for violating their stay permits or working illegally in Bali. A few were deported for inappropriate social media posts or, as mentioned in a previous post, for taking part in and advertising illegal sexual activities. 

Tirta Ganga Water Palace, well known for its hundreds of colorful Koi fish and large water ponds, has recently lost about half those fish due to flooding triggered by intensive rains. The waterpark management is offering 5.000 rupiah per returned fish ((35 cents), however Koi fish go for many times this price on the free market. What would you do? Especially if you were living in a crumbling economy. 

A 37 year old man was beaten to within an inch of his life by an angry mob of Denpasar residents after being caught breaking into a local shop. The police arrived, according to the Sanur Weekly, "to arrest the perpetrator who was luckily still alive but definitely needed some medical attention." The man had reportedly been jailed for the same offense twice before. Rule of thumb: Don't be a thief in Bali. And most aren't, for obvious reasons. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021


 I was thinking of funerals the other day--I don't know why, maybe something I saw on a TV program--and I realized that I have no recollection whatsoever of my brother's funeral or of my father's. I remember indistinctly that at my mother's funeral, the pastor, apparently contracted through the funeral home, had no idea of who my mother was. Can't blame him, really. What did he have to go on? I don't remember talking to him, so he must have just been making some generally suitable comments. It seems strange that I can remember nothing at all about the other funerals. I do remember some gloomy events that directly followed my brother's funeral, and my father getting roaring drunk, and a campaign launched by my brother's wife and friends to sue to doctor who had been treating him (and which eventually went nowhere). And yet about the funerals themselves, nothing. Surely I was there. I cannot think of any reason I wouldn't have been. Nonetheless, it is a perfect blank. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The memories in general that I do retain tend to be hazy down through the years back to my very early years, where they sharpen significantly for some reason. The most recent decade of my life has pretty much disappeared, and so I am often surprised by some event recorded in a Facebook post or in this blog. Even so, they seem, eerily, to have happened to someone else

Saturday, June 19, 2021

June 19, 2021

 In Indonesia, nearly 10,000 new COVID-19 infection were recorded on a single day recently. The increased number is being attributed to the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of Ramada when millions of Indonesians ignored the nationwide travel ban and insisted on travelling to their home villages to spend time with family and friends. This returns the level of infections to a point not seen since February. One step forward, two steps back. 

At Kerobokan prison in Bali, twenty-one female prisoners drank a mix of disinfectant liquid and Nutrisari orange drink, with one among them dying from the cocktail. On first reading this story, I thought  that maybe they were trying Trump's prescription for COVID treatment, but no, it turns out that they thought the mixture would get them drunk. It didn't. 

The awesomely annoying practice of teens and young males in Bali of having the exhaust systems on their motorbikes engineered such that they become extremely loud may be coming to an end, as Bali police have begun to take strict measures against the practice. Motorbike workshops in particular problem areas have been instructed not to modify motorbikes, and motorists who insist on using these exhaust systems may have their motorbikes seized by police. Praise God, I say, and better late than never, for there is really nothing more irritating than these screaming motorbikes on the road.

In a certain village in Gianyar, residents have been complaining about a stench of waste coming from the sewers within their village. As it turns out, this was revealed to be 100 percent a homemade problem and the villagers are actually complaining about the stench of their own waste. The back up of sewers became a problem when villagers clogged the flow by discarding their own household rubbish therein.

In American news, a Cape Cod lobster diver was swallowed by a whale. "All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove and the next thing I knew it was completely black," he said. "I could sense I was moving, and I could feel the whale squeezing with the muscles in his mouth. I thought to myself, 'there's no way I'm getting out of here.'" The man  began struggling within the belly of the leviathan, and the leviathan began shaking his head, ultimately spitting the man out, having in a helpful sort of way risen to the surface first. So you see, everything in the world does eventually happen if you wait long enough. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

An Early Morning Incident

 Although there has been, since the incident of a few weeks ago, no further evidence of rats in my house, I do still become a bit paranoid about it from time to time and so will occasionally put out a sticky trap at night. These I place beneath the chair where the rats had been previously discovered. 

I did so last night, having suddenly imagined rats for some reason, and went to bed reminding myself to pick up the trap in the morning to ensure that the little puppies that regularly visit my house during the day wouldn't find it.

I should have known at the time that nothing I remind myself of before sleeping ever survives the night anymore. To the contrary, I spend the first half-hour or so of every morning in a dull-witted, partially conscious state devoted to a very few mechanical tasks such as opening the doors and window drapes, turning on my phone, making a cup of tea (which consists of holding the cup and teabag under the hot water dispenser), and then staggering to the chair on the front patio to have a smoke and drink the tea. 

So it happened that when the first puppy of the day came bounding into the driveway and then into the house, I thought not much of it (for I think not much of anything at this early hour). I did slowly become aware however of some various thumping and bumping noises from within the house, which led to my first cogent thought of the day outside of those involved in the morning routine. "Oh! I forgot to check the trap. Had I caught a rat after all?"

Hurrying in to investigate, I found that I had not caught a rat. I had, however, caught a puppy. 

I find the little dog rolling around on the floor, half under the chair and half out, in a desperate struggle with this sticky trap. The task of freeing the puppy from the trap was a fairly traumatic one. The more I tried to calm him down and pry him free, the more he panicked and the louder he howled. Ultimately, we both came out of the thing pretty sticky and breathless. It's not easy to help a puppy who believes you are trying to kill him. 

I do know now, in any case, that these traps work on puppies as well as rats, should that information ever become useful. 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

June 10, 2021

Regarding the continuing saga of Bali's iffy plans to reopen for foreign tourists, we read that Bali's lieutenant governor state has declared that the island will open in July, whereas there has been no word one way or the other from the central government in Jakarta. Bali's governor was quoted as saying "Astungkara", which basically means 'God willing'. The head of the Bali Hotel and Restaurant Association, who is also the lieutenant governor, states that many tourism players in Bali have "reached their limits and are now facing complete bankruptcy". Sounds like a sink or swim scenario to me. 

Another "viral porn scandal" has hit the island, and the cyberspace, this one involving a Russian porn starlet. The latest series of clips were filmed in various villas around Kuta. The clips start with the caption "Welcome to our new porn villa". Five people then enter said "pad of debauchery" and proceed to do whatever it was that they did (I don't know, I've not seen the clips). Authorities are currently tracking down the pornsters, as this is a no-no in Bali. 

Due to these recent porn video scandals, as well as other issues involving foreigners, the Bali police will increase the supervision of foreigners staying or vacationing in Bali. "Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting border closure", according to the Sanur Weekly, "a number of the remaining foreigners have made it to the headlines by constantly violating the health protocols, shooting porn videos, and by committing other crimes." The reputation of foreigners has been 'heavily tarnished', the journalist adds. Bummer for those of us who follow the laws. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021


 Some weeks ago, one of the female dogs on my street gave birth to six puppies, and now the puppies are grown to the point where they're independently roaming the neighborhood, going house to house like a band of unruly trick-or-treaters, wrecking various forms of havoc from corner to corner. Lone shoes can sometimes be seen sitting at the roadside, muddy pawprints mar the efforts of the day maids, bits of garbage, treasured and fought over, lay deposited at one house front or another. Most terrorized of all is the mother of these pups, who is clearly done with feeding them and runs in fear at the sight of them, and their sharp little teeth!

Of course these dogs have found my house. They have found everyone's house. They live nowhere and everywhere, and are often pursued by ten year old girl who has assigned herself as matron, and whose vicinity they escape just as their mother escapes theirs.

Several times a day, the pack bursts into my house, spilling across the floor, under the bed, into the bookcase, out the backdoor like marbles. They chew on the area rug, they chew on the chair legs, they chew on each other, and have all-in-all a wonderful time doing so. And they get stepped on, because they are everywhere at once. Wherever one's foot falls, it falls half the time on a puppy. 

One in particular of these little puppies has taken to staying behind when the rest of the mob bubbles out the door, possibly in search of their mother's teats. This little dog, however, becomes quiet, sits by my feet, follows me when I got outside for a smoke, follows me when I go to the bathroom, and sits just behind me when I cook so that I will be sure to trip over him when I take a step backwards. 

This little dog, I suspect, is thinking that he might live with me--just as so many others have done during my ten years here in Bali. But he is mistaken. I don't want a dog. I love dogs, I do, but I don't want a dog of my own. Because I know what happens to these happy little fellows. One day they step into the road at the wrong moment. Or one day they eat a poisonous frog. Or indeed, a poisoned bit or meat left by someone they have annoyed. Or one day they just disappear, possibly eaten themselves. My old heart just can't take it. 

Sunday, June 6, 2021

On the Question of Heathcliff's Ethnicity

Of the many things, amounting to nearly everything, I do not remember about Wuthering Heights is the  issue of Heathcliff's ethnicity. Bronte herself is nonspecific regarding both his color and his parentage. As the story goes, the elder Earnshaw goes to Liverpool on business and returns with a dark little boy of whom he says only that he had rescued the boy from the streets and brought him home. It is suggested, though again not directly stated, that the boy may be an illegitimate son of Earnshaw, and indeed Earnshaw's wife berates him on this occasion for sleeping with a black woman. 

Looking into the history of the period in England, it is clear that Liverpool was the center of Britain's transatlantic trade in enslaved people as well as the point of arrival of many brown-skinned people such as East Indians, gypsies, Chinese, and so on. Heathcliff himself is sometimes called a gypsy, and otherwise merely referred to vaguely as 'dark skinned'. He could be anything, really, from a Slav to a mixed race negro. 

Bronte's point, in my mind anyway, is the impartation of a wildness, an uncivilized nature. Heathcliff is depicted as the quintessential "savage", whose foreignness establishes his position at civilization's periphery. He is the counterpoint to the stodgy, genteel society in which he has been placed and must function. Race itself is not the subject of Bronte's novel. Rather, it is the wildness of love which trespasses all 'civilized' boundaries, cultural, racial, religious, and is in this sense savage.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

June 5, 2021

 In recent weeks, the Bali police and Indonesian customs officials have arrested a number of foreigners and locals, including one police officer, for drug violations. A large amount of crystal meth was found in the policeman's house, ready to sell in individual baggies. 

An Italian national was arrested in North Kuta, in possession of 100 grams of cocaine. A British national, and the owner of a hotel in Lombok, was arrested along with his girlfriend for possession of 200 grams of cannabis. A Russian man was arrested at his residence in Jimbaran after receiving almost 200 grams of DMT by mail. 

Not to be outdone by foreigners, two Indonesian men, arriving in Bali from the province of Aceh, were arrested after airport customs found a kilogram of crystal meth hidden in their 'modified sandals', which 'made them look a bit weird as they were walking', arresting authorities reported.  

Indonesia, it must be said, is on the short list of where not to bring drugs, for the drug laws here are very strict indeed, requiring years of jail time and even the death penalty. Why people continue to bring them in, I cannot sort out in my own mind. 

In other news, a British couple has been deported and blacklisted after escaping their mandatory five day quarantine hotel stay upon arrival in Jakarta. The couple explained to immigration officials that they consider the quarantine system "silly" and that every human being has the right to go wherever he wants, based on "nature's law". News footage shows the couple mask-less, smiling and giving thumbs up to the camera. 

A 41 year old American woman was found dead in her Seminyak villa last week. Reportedly, she had gone out drinking with a friend, and then had continued to drink upon arriving home, ultimately, apparently, drinking herself to death. 

A 50 year old woman and her 23 year old daughter drowned on Padanggalak beach in Sanur on Wednesday during a "super moon purification ceremony" (called Melukat).

The 'super moon', or 'blood moon', occurs with the eclipse of the moon by the earth's shadow, which I also observed that night, though from the safety of the roadside outside my house. I had earlier observed as well those unusually high seas when I was down in Sanur. This is very unusual for this part of the coast, where the sea is generally flat. On that day, I was sitting in a beachside cafe when the water flowed all the way into the seating area, though no more than ankle deep here. Padanggalak, on the other hand, is known to be a dangerous part of the coast line, with strong currents and sometimes high seas. Galak, as a matter of fact, means 'fierce'.  

Thursday, June 3, 2021


 In search again for a new book to read (seems like I finished the last one I bought rather quickly), I've ended up with Wuthering Heights, in Indonesian. Occasionally, one will find old classics in the language, and one may at least be confident upon purchasing one of these that it will be engaging, whereas one never knows with new novels by unfamiliar authors. I read one recently, for instance, called Vicious, part of a series, believe it or not, that was nearly unreadable, 400 pages of tripe, and poorly written tripe at that. 

Anyway, I've read Wuthering Heights before, but of course I don't remember it. I think I was either in high school or in college when I read it. What is surprising upon beginning the novel, however, is how completely and totally new it is to me. I have no recollection at all of these pages. As is often the case, I had the impression that I had liked the book when I first read it, but had no fast memory of what the book was about or in what manner the story had been told. It strikes me, therefore, as jarringly though pleasantly odd--these strange characters, Heathcliff, Mr. Lockwood, Catherine, and so on. I remember Mr. Lockwood not at all, not even the name, even though he is the narrator of the story! 

And the book may occupy me for some considerable time as well, given the Indonesian translation from the mid 19th century English.