A family abroad

December 18th, 2010 December 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mcchez @ 9:08 am

Letter from Bali – XI

The conclusion of a Gregorian year is often a time for reflection.  For the icebound pensioners trapped in their houses or those unfortunates stranded at airports under thick falling snow this is an imposed ennui, the waiting and wondering born of suffering.  For a great many others the stock taking is coloured with spiritual meaning as the kaleidoscope of religious ceremony conjugates around the solstice.  Hindu Bali is no exception to this trend of spiritual climax, with its accompanying soul searching.

Two weeks ago it was Happy Galungan Day, now try to say that after three Bintang beers.  Last week it was Jambalaya and all the staff were gone again.  It is Myxomatosis ceremony this week that has dispersed the home help, they only materialize, fleeting rainbows after a monsoon shower, to glad hand an envelope of bonus salary – this is the time honoured recipe to stave off bad demons and retain harmony on our little island.    I’m being unkind of course, they are swell, I love ’em, and even I’d get myself to a church if the alternative was a day of drudgery wiping the white man’s ass, but I digress.  I suspect they are off next week too, I can’t remember why and I don’t give a fig either because my freckled bottom is on a plane to the Socialist People’s Republic of Vietnam!  Woo hoo!  I have been warned by a cynical fellow that that heathen culture only worships the dollar.  If so then it will at least feel more Christmassy than Bali, and Christmas always makes me think of home…



December 13th, 2010 December 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mcchez @ 12:54 am

Letter from Bali – X

Before we get started I just wanted to say… who knew?!  They look different but who would have thought they taste different too?!  Calico and tabby?  Sweet and sour!  Mmmmm and chewy too, pass the peanut sauce!  And those little black ones with the white paws, so cute and crunchy!  No but really everyone, take a breath and give a thought to the hard working folks in the fur trade, lets give them a big hand right now, good on you… do you know how difficult it is to match up those patterns?

This is in reference, of course, to the poll in Letter VIII about what to do with our surplus kittens and let me tell you – you people are just sick!  Sick I say!  Shame on you and your western bourgeois sentiments!  No, we disregarded your heartless taunts for clemency and we fired up the barbecue just fine.  This is the jungle, baby, and the food chain will be observed!

In Bali there is another food chain and when we saddled up on our first family scooter ride together we found ourselves very near the bottom of it, just above those tourists on their self righteous mountain bikes and a bit below the guy pushing the food cart down the middle of the road.  So far we’ve only managed four of us on a bike together once, a step behind the guy in this picture.  We went out riding in the rain though which has to be worth more madness points, although we lost some again by all wearing helmets (sorry).  I’m planning on carrying a few 20 foot bamboo poles with me the next time and then I’ll be a real road Indonesian!  It’s all about respect.


“One day this helmet will be all yours, son!”



December 1st, 2010 December 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mcchez @ 2:16 pm

Letter from Bali – IX – The toilet edition

OK, it’s time to slip on a pair, and step inside my world:

You'll be glad you did!

You don’t really get to escape this topic.  Even if you are only at Denpasar airport for a couple of hours on an Indonesian layover I suspect you are going to encounter this issue, and if you plan on staying a year?…. well well well, this sort of thing is something you can really start to obsess over.

Why…. did they do it?

What… can it mean?

The Bali version of a western toilet is what I’m on about, in latin the traba atroxica, or if you prefer the colloquial… ‘The Dutch Sled’.  “It’s flat; It’s long; It’s surely full of pong!”, oh dear yes, oh dear it is, but it’s even worse than that.  It is a recent arrival to the island and although it is the convenience of choice for the expat community and the mode de jour for the tourist service industry it remains, on this island, in the porcelain minority.  But wait a minute, we are getting ahead of ourselves, first we must step back a bit and get the lay of the land – what are all our options on our Bali toilet quest?  What choices did we make that led us to our current state of misery and torment: wet, humiliated, with a roll of thread bare toilet paper coiled in our tight little hands?   So are you ready to open the lid on this topic?  Are you wearing your rubber gloves? Then jump right in and let’s clean it all up!