Category Archives: Hector’s Diary

June 21, 2017

Hit Parade It’s always good fun to read the local Bahasa language press, as well as informative. Some people like to criticise the media – well, no, everyone likes to do that – and that’s no less common in Indonesia than anywhere. One of the things about critics is that they always know how it could have been done better, or that you’ve missed the real story, possibly on purpose. In an earlier life, one of the Diary’s jobs was to write back to critical readers and gently massage their egos while telling them politely to go get a life. ... [ Read More ]

May 24, 2017

Talk to the Ants Jewel Topsfield, the Australian Fairfax newspaper group’s Indonesian correspondent, wrote a lovely piece recently after an extended interview she had with Prabowo Subianto, who probably likes to think of himself as president-in-waiting. We’ll have to wait until 2019 to find out, but in the meantime he’s an interesting subject. Some people seem to think that he’s the fifth horseman of the apocalypse. He’s not, of course. He’s a former army general with some unanswered questions on his record and an Indonesian politician, ditto. He’s far from being in a class of his own on those scores. ... [ Read More ]

April 26, 2017

Bali Daze They do things differently there. That used to be something people said of the past, as in its being a foreign country. In the tried and true practice of Bali, however, doing things differently is something those who rule the island prefer to do in the present. The past is historic and mythical. The future hasn’t yet arrived and is therefore notional and can take care of itself. Those among us with long memories (that is, more than the preceding 12 months) will recall earlier schemes where attachment to reality somehow failed to find its way into the ... [ Read More ]

March 29, 2017

PLN’s Best Day It was Nyepi yesterday (Mar. 28): Bali’s Silent Day. It is celebrated on the first new moon in March – at the same time as Indian Hindus mark their festival of Ugadi – and ushers in the Balinese New Year. It was then 1939 when we were again lawfully allowed to pop the kettle on to make a nice cuppa. On Nyepi day, as is now well known even by challenged Australian tourists and most Chinese whose package tour operators failed to remind them that they’d be confined to barracks, very little happens in Bali. The streets ... [ Read More ]

March 1, 2017

A Spicy Date UBUD is the centre of much heritage and tradition in Bali. This remains its principal charm, which is offset only by its other role as a testing ground for the skills – or lack of these – of drivers of huge buses that service the growing Chinese takeaway trade. The narrow streets of Aum Central are believed by package tour operators and entrepreneurial bus companies to be ideally suited to big vehicles. Fortunately such impediments are only spasmodic. It mightn’t seem that this is the case when you’re caught in one of the regular hour-long crawls around ... [ Read More ]

February 1, 2017

Seriously, Folks We had an interesting chat the other day (no names, no pack-drill) about Bali’s new tourism demographics and their effect on the five-star-plus hotel sector. Basically, it’s not good news. The emphasis on the low-cost domestic and Chinese markets is bringing in lots more people and is, from time to time, filling up the Rp35-Rp500K a night hotels, as well as clogging up the road system. And that’s fine as a policy setting (well except for the strain on the road infrastructure) if pursuit of raw numbers is the name of the game. But that’s a double-edged sword. ... [ Read More ]

January 4, 2017

Messing About in Boats We have a lovely friend, a former media colleague who goes by the pen name of Global Goddess. She has a tough life, poor thing. She’s forever flitting off from Brisbane, her home city, to go to distant places and write about them. Well, someone has to do it, we suppose. Her most recent gambol was a cruise to Komodo aboard the Al-Iikai, a 37-metre Bugis pinisi fitted out for maximum comfort and operated by Indonesia Yacht Sail from Benoa. It was, she tells us, a program that gave her plenty of stories about messing about in ... [ Read More ]

December 7, 2016

Good on You, Renae Lizzie Love, who we’ve always thought would have made a first-rate Flapper if she’d been around in the Roaring Twenties last century, is a very fine friend to many in Bali. In particular her interest in prisoners in Bali’s jails marks her as someone very special indeed. She’ll probably cringe when she reads this, because another of her attributes is discretion that often borders on invisibility. We saw a note from her the other day pointing us to the Australian magazine New Idea. It’s not our usual reading, except perhaps in back copy form in doctors’ ... [ Read More ]

November 23, 2016

Best in Bali Christina Iskandar, who is busy expanding the Diva Empire in Australia from her Sydney hometown base, tells us of a lovely little charity revenue stream she’s putting in place. It’s at the invitation of a major greetings card company. The idea is they’ll put a selection of Best in Bali images on cards and other gift products and 5 per cent of the proceeds of sales will go to nominated Bali charities. Iskandar has chosen as the first beneficiary of this scheme the Suryani Institute for Mental Health, a non-profit institute established in 2005. It and its ... [ Read More ]

November 9, 2016

Dystopian Delights There were no visibly ruffled kebayas at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival session featuring American author Lionel Shriver on Oct. 29. No one loudly rattled their worry beads or furiously flounced out. This was in stark contrast to the thought chasm at the Brisbane Writers Festival in September, where an angry ethnic headdress made a public point of walking out of Shriver’s presentation. Someone else then thumped out an anguished memoir that appeared somewhere or other and, in it, claimed that Shriver was stealing other people’s heritage. Shriver’s crime is to give voice in her novels to ... [ Read More ]