Hidup Manis…the sweet life

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Picture this – heavenly bodies marinating in the sun on the vibrating beaches of Bali…now read on to find out why life’s a beach in Bali!

Bali is a small island eight degrees south of the equator. With a population of around 3.5 million and an equal number of visitors, it survives on a staple diet of tourism. Its beaches are numerous; the stretch from The Oberoi to Kuta and up to the Discovery Mall is famed for its surfing conditions and bungee jumping tower from where brave hearts hurtle down on motorcycles. But before we lay out the menu be warned that hawkers will descend in droves the moment your presence is felt…literally, because as you lay your jetlagged torso on the warm sand masseurs will emerge from the madding crowd to gently circumnavigate your shoulders and legs with deft hands backed by smiles that would melt butter in a jiffy. Now let us move onto the Meenu as it is called here. These are the recommended delicacies if you happen to be stranded on Kuta beach and are hungry. Prices range from US$ 0.20cents to US$ 1.50 –

Manas - Pineapple

Manas (Pineapple) Skinned sweet pineapple on a stick or fork. Refreshing, clean but very sticky so a quick wash up in the sea will definitely follow.

Sele (Sweet Potato) – Slices of sweet potato with a sprinkling of crushed peanuts and topped with chopped chilli. It would be advisable to nibble a bit of the chilli as the Balinese chilli is notorious for reminding the diner of its presence the following morning.

Buah aka Rujak Manis (Mixed fruit salad)– Mango, Banana, Watermelon, Tomato, Papaya and Melon sliced and liberally sprinkled with prawn paste, garam (salt), gula mera (palm sugar). Very popular with tourists and locals.

Jagung Bakar (Grilled corn), nothing really to write home about.

Bantal – Sticky coconut rice wrapped in palm leaf. Children love it. It goes well with Buah aka Rujak Manis (sweet salad).

Sele - Sweet Potato

Ice cream vendors overrun the area so if one bites on a chilli mistaking it for a green bean there is always first aid at hand in the form of an ice candy.

Bali Kopi – The local brew that invigorates the extremities instantly. Order a cuppa at sunset before retiring for the night to the dens of iniquities dotting the throbbing by lanes of Kuta.

Drinks – Established brands of beer, soft drinks, juices and mineral water. Served chilled.

Mei Ayam Tak Tak

Mei Ayam Tak Tak – Noodle soup with ayam (chicken), water spinach, egg, whole peanuts. Tak tak because the ‘chef’ at the warung ( dhaba) knocks the spoons/chopsticks on the rim of the bowl when he/she serves the dish piping hot.

Nasi Campur Ayam – Steamed rice, fried ayam (chicken), vegetables, fried tempe, whole fried boiled egg with sambal (chilli paste) on the side. The staple meal for all self respecting inhabitants of the isle. Served at beach temperature.

Nasi Campur Ikan – Steamed rice, fried mackerel, fried ayam (chicken) optional, vegetables, fried tempe, whole fried

Nasi Campur Ikan and Ayam

boiled egg with sambal (chilli paste) on the side. Served at beach temperature.

Bantal – Sticky coconut rice wrapped in palm leaf. Children love it. It goes well with Buah aka Rujak Manis (sweet salad).
A word of advice: Don’t panic if you can’t eat the beach food, there are other options. All along the promenade that lines the beach are a host of fast food outlets and restaurants to cater to all budgets. Also, every outlet has clean rest rooms!

Nasi Campur Ayam

Essential words for the philistine –  Garam (salt), Susu (milk), Manis (sweet), Pedas (hot), Nasi (rice), Masalah (problem), Cinta (love), Ya (yes), Tidak (no), Tamu (guest), Aku cinta kamu (I love you) – and for the intrepid traveller more to follow in the next issue.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

Bantal - sticky coconut rice wrapped in palm leaf

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Poem – Three Love Songs

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web3-copy.jpgThe following love poems are dedicated to three special women who knew and loved me. Thank you for coming into my life.

After Manon

Tonight shall remain

A part of the day

When thoughts are scrambled

Like brain fry at an Indian café

The band vomits a version of Get Back

Stragglers gaze into overflowing ashtrays

And leftovers on plates

While a couple dance in death throes

It begins to rain

Everything is washed

The dirt, the lies and the hopes

All mingling in the slush

The feeling, touch and belonging

Lost in a haze of cheap perfume and sweat

Manon has left a day before

To frolic in the sun

It is the night of the dark moon

When I am left alone

For the demons to come

To possess my soul

To Mary

This is not the time to cry

It is the time to die

To burn in passion

And fly away into the night

Love is but an orgasmic trance

From which we emerge

Blinding ourselves with illusions of trust

When all along it’s simply lust

There will never be a hello or goodbye

Just suppressed subtle nuances

That surface time and again

To moments of momentary lust

 

For the mother of my son

Was it love or was it trust?

Was it passion or was it ‘mast’?

How can one say after all those years

Of sharing and hoping and caring for us?

The warm summer nights

The long silences of tenderness

The sweet breath of an embrace

All erased with just a wave

Who was right or who was wrong

Where was love when we needed it most?

Questions remain of what was true

When all we should have done

Was to be together through and through

Poem – Eight Degrees – Love Poems

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fishfish1

This is a fragmentation of thoughts poorly disguised as poems. Humor me and read them. Then if you so desire consign them to the recycle bin.

Oh Radha!

Visions of love and passion

Drifting ashore at dusk

Announcing the night to lust

On crumpled sheets of lost thoughts

She sat on the beach

As darkness crept up her feet

And covered her in a cloak

Of twilight madness, eating her soul

Krishna had left with the tide

Leaving her forlorn on the shore

Holding her spent dreams

Afraid of them being washed to sea

The moonlit charcoal waters

Raced between her toes

Flowing up her legs

And drowning her sorrows

She waited long through the night

For Krishna to dance into sight

But there was only music to behold

Mermaids serenading him in the depths below

Wayfarers

I came in sheltering from the storm

Cloaked in loneliness

Carrying the pain and sorrow of a lifetime

Soulless, loveless and barren of thought

I called out to the wilderness surrounding me

You heard my wailing in the hills

And came to my door holding out your lips

For me to caress and your arms to rest

You left behind a warm home of love and children

Opening your self for me to enter

To hide my aching heart and dry my tears on your lips

You too cried in joy as we became one

Days have passed and with it many joys

Lying in each other’s arms resting our souls

Hiding from realities of living

Clutching desperately to the belief that things will work out

Sadly nothing remains the same

Time changes and so do people

Are we just wayfarers meeting between lives?

Or lovers destined to be apart?

Kuta Blues

Watching Kuta sunset, hues across the sky

Cascading like his thoughts fading into twilight

He had come to know the wonders of paradise

That could destroy his soul instead of giving it life.

Sunrises and sunsets, blessings in the cosmic trance

Of memories and joys dissolving into the dark

He frantically reached out to grasp the love

Waiting in the clouds above and wonders of a childhood’s end.

But he found to his dismay spirits riding the waves

Sending messages of farewell of goodbye kisses and reminiscences

He strode the shore through the night gasping for breath, a hint of life

Hiding beneath the foreboding waves

Beckoning him to another hell.

She saw him walking by the sea entranced by the lonely scene

She held him by the hand and asked, stranger what make thee

He looked at her and saw himself through the darkness and torment.

She placed her palms on his face

To calm the rising anguish

Whispering thoughts of belonging

Of love and longing, and yes pain again.

The night began to day bringing with it all the joys of yesterdays

But for them there was no sign

Except for the bloody knife.

Farewell

She said good bye today

Wiping away his joys and hope

A small message by her phone

Passing through the ether waves.

He looked to the sky and wondered why

The love she brought and took away

Made him feel so sad once more

Of being deserted again and again.

Mother, he cried, carry me away

From all this sorrow and pain

To a quiet haven faraway

Where joy and love were alive again.

The night descended across the sea

Darkening the land and he

To the sound of temple bells

On the shores of Gethsemane.

He quietly left to search the land

For love and lust and hope again

He found it in a gutter by

Whimpering, hurt and a terrible fright.

Now she has become a part of him

A little creature called sin

Licking pawing and whining for joy

Bringing him back to life again.

Sisters of Mercy

(A dedication to Gwen and Nia)

I came into your life like an abscess on your gums.
Bringing a host of uncertainties
of love, life and whatchamaycallit
the cigar smoke, the whisky and
complaints of a lifetime.

I stayed in your home
bitching and crying

weeping and laughing
to the tune of my own voice.

The change of seasons, the rain
and the wind howling outside
brought with it a joy of belonging
of being accepted with all the iniquities
carried from Bardez to Wales.

The food smelt of love,
the writing of hope
and the wine of forbidden
sex to the sound of Cohen.

Nothing, nothing was more pure
than the sisters who showed their mercy,
placing their soothing palms on my troubled soul.

I shall carry this wherever I go,
remembrance of the joy of having
been loved and cared for and
never being forsaken by true friends.

Wherever you are today
nestling between someone’s thighs
yearning for the ultimate joy
keep this blessing close to your heart
for your karma can do you no wrong.

Life Sentence

She was marooned

Eight degrees south of the Equator

In a life devoid of love

Scampering between beds

And men and hell

Furiously searching for herself.

She had come to this isle

Thinking it was paradise

To absolve her from the past

And start a life anew.

In days she found a man to hold

In innocence to make a whole

And children did she tried to beget

To the silence of dying hopes.

Years have gone by with the tides

Now she sits by the riverside

Crying for her lost soul

Floating down to sea.

She wants to begin her life once more

To the sound of what she knows

For though she was born free

Still she imprisons herself.

Strangers on the Shore

He held her close so she could feel

The fears and tears on the stranger’s cheeks

He swallowed hard and spoke aloud

To the quiet rippling waters

and the moonlit dhows.

She looked at him for she could feel

The fading beats in his breast

She kissed his lips and tasted life

Ebbing from his side.

Stranger, she said, I will love you forever

While gently stroking his thighs

Forever, he said in a dying breath

No, there is no forever.

He kissed her forehead and bade farewell

Turned his back and went.

Alone she stood on the moonlit shore

Gazing at the stars afloat

And with a heavy sigh

Walked into the waters by.

Full Moon

She called him to say goodbye

Nonchalantly uttering the words

The passing traffic drowning out her voice

Trembling he put down the phone

In the distance drums are beating

Cries and shouts in the air

Of ceremonies of the lunatics

Maidens dancing to rhythm of the night

The full moon is up readying itself

Casting shadows in darkened doorways

Waking up the slumbering souls

To another twist of fate

She was the big little woman

The goodbye girl lost within herself

Tasting the moonbeams on his lips

Then moving on to another life

The ethereal light wrapped him in joy

Returning the wayward spirits of the past

Igniting the night with fireflies

That carried his soul away

With you, for you, always – Bali Tourist Police

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The author  wishes to thank the police personnel of the Bali Tourist Police, Kuta and in particular: AIPTU I Wayan Wira, BRIPKA Yuni Rahayu, AIPDA I Nyoman Sudata and AIPTU Ayu Mulyati for their kind assistance.

We’re all going on a summer holiday
No more working for a week or two
Fun and laughter on a summer holiday
No more worries for me and you
For a week or two

We’re going where the sun shines brightly
We’re going where the sea is blue
We’ve seen it in the movies
Now let’s see if it’s true

Everybody has a summer holiday
Doing things they always wanted to
So we’re going on a summer holiday
To make our dreams come true
For me and you

-Cliff Richard, Summer Holiday

Holidays can be a life changing experience especially if one is either raped or had money/belongings stolen. The Bali Times has often carried reports of tourists losing their belongings to tricksters prowling the streets of Kuta.

Tourists are flocking to Bali like never before. The good times are rolling once again. And with these good times come a number of undesirables who prey on the unsuspecting holidaymakers.

Just the other day while lounging with a few Kuta Cowboys on Kuta beach discussing the pros and cons of whether marriage is an acceptable option if a single woman became  pregnant we were interrupted by a uniformed policeman who sat down next to us. He was an officer of the Bali Tourist Police. I struck up a conversation with him and before I knew it we were on our way to the Post to meet the officer in charge.

The Police Post is a short walk from Macdonald’s towards the Legian beach hotel. Arriving at the office I was offered a Bali Kopi and introduced to AIPTU I Wayan Wira. The unassuming chap was most helpful when I enquired about the work that he and his staff are doing. He told me that their job covered the following:

01.    Giving information to tourists about legal, medical and other services.
02.    To guard tourist areas.
03.    To track down and arrest any criminals masquerading as tourists.
04.    To cooperate with tourists and help them in the event of an accident/theft/murder/problem with hotels etc.

Not convinced that this list covered everything I requested Wayan Wira to give me a more detailed dos and don’ts for all tourists and expats living on the island. This is what he had to say.

01.    There have been instances where persons hiring out scooters/motorcycles/cars to tourists have asked for their passport as security. This should not be done. Instead a photocopy of the same would suffice.
02.    Anyone hiring a vehicle must have an international driving license.
03.    When transacting business at a Money Changer one must check the amount received. There are cases where people have been cheated because the Rupiah 10,000 note and the Rupiah 100,000 look quite similar. Once the victim has left the premises there is little the police can do.
04.    When using a taxi please write down the taxi number and the driver’s name. This would help in the event any belongings have been left behind in the car or if the driver has overcharged you.
05.    When using an ATM ensure no one else is in the booth. Don’t forget to take your ATM card out of the machine. Tourists have been known to sometimes leave their card behind in the machine. The result being a forgone conclusion – theft.
06.    In the past pickpockets operated with impunity on the beach. Nowadays with the arrest of the ringleaders crime in this area has come down drastically. In spite of this Wayan suggests one should not leave one’s belongings unattended for even a minute.
07.     Drunkenness is a common feature with over indulgent tourists. Prostitutes operating in various places single out these people and befriend them. It is only the following morning that the person realizes that his wallet/passport and other precious belongings have been pilfered.
08.    Any persons trying to sell drugs to you should be reported to the police immediately. Please don’t be afraid of reporting such instances.  The police have special squads to quickly act on such information and to apprehend the dealers. You will be protected by the police.
09.    Do not accept cigarettes, food or drink from strangers. In a restaurant don’t leave an unattended drink on the table while going to the toilet. Unscrupulous people are known to put substances in your drink to drug you and then rob you.
10.    Get a local cell phone number so that it is easier and cheaper to communicate with the police.
11.    Please keep the following telephone numbers of the Bali Tourist Police with you while traveling in Bali:

Kuta Tourist Police Post
Jalan Pantai Kuta
(0361) 7845988

Sanur Tourist Police Post
BK3S Post, Jalan Danau Tamblingan
(next to Bali Hyatt Hotel, Sanur)
(0361) 8531960

Nusa Dua Tourist Police Post
Bundaran Tugu Mandala Kawasan BTDC Nusa Dua
(0361) 7442622

Ngurah Rai Airport Tourist Police
Airport Police Sector Ngurah Rai
(0361) 751 023

Tourist Assistance Centre
Bali Regional Police
(0361) 224111

The tourist police who speak English have been known to help tourists who have had problems with hotels, tour operators and transport agents.

Jason (name changed), a first time tourist, spoke to me on Kuta Beach about how he was grossly overcharged by a nearby hotel despite the fact that the room rate was confirmed via email to him prior to his arrival in Bali. The hotel went so far as to seize his luggage. Jason reported the matter to the Tourist Police who acted promptly in releasing his luggage and ensuring that the hotel abided by the rate agreed by email.

So whether you are on Kuta beach, at the airport or sunbathing anywhere in Bali you’re rights as a tourist are protected. All you have to do in the event of an unforeseen problem arising is to call The Bali Tourist Police and they will sort things out for you.

In the words of Wayan Wira, “People are known to take short cuts by attempting to bribe officials or police personnel. This is very dangerous. It could lead to more complications. If anyone has a problem while traveling in Bali please call us we will help and guide you. We are with you, for you, always – as our motto is Safety First for All Tourists – domestic or foreign”.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

Bali – death on the roads

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img_7543Road kill is an animal run over and killed by a motor vehicle.

Here in Bali road kill is the ever-growing number of youngsters on motorcycles mowed down by other vehicles. In a previous issue of The Bali Times Managing Editor, William Furney, wrote passionately about the rising death toll on the roads – the unfortunate victims being motorcyclists who were and are and will continue to be (albeit tragically) the primary cause of most fatal traffic accidents unless some drastic positive action is taken not only by government but more importantly by us, the people.

The question that immediately comes to mind on reading the disturbing statistics is – if all life is sacred on the isle how come we disregard the dangers of reckless and underage driving?

I suppose it is easy to comment on the prevailing situation mindless of the predicament the Balinese have to face:

There is no credible mass transport system (MTS).

The homes of many are scattered in the rural areas and access is usually narrow roads. Therefore, even a mass transport system may not be the answer.

Absence of a comprehensive transportation system (school buses) for children.

So the only alternative the Balinese have:

Hire/purchase of motorcycles with an average price tag of rph 13 million + bank charges/interest.

Invariably, more than one vehicle is acquired by each family thus putting a financial burden on them.

School children are forced to drive themselves to school.

Some months ago, Kadek a 27-year-old married woman living in Padangbai narrated the grisly incident of a teenager who had died in a road accident at the turn off to Padangbai on the coastal road. The young girl on a motorcycle drove across the turn off oblivious to an oncoming truck. Her head came under the wheels of the vehicle. Her mother who rushed to the spot on hearing the news had to remove her remains from the asphalt – remains being the operative word here.

Kadek told me that the crossing is very dangerous as there are no traffic lights or proper street lighting, added to this the speeding vehicles and reckless driving by motorcyclists makes it a death trap.

I met a traffic cop and asked him about the reason for frequent recurring road accidents. He spoke to me on condition of anonymity, which I have to honor. This is what he had to say.

“Bapak we polisi are under constant pressure to maintain discipline on the roads. But this is not easy. How can we stop a family of four riding on a vehicle and going to the temple for ceremony? You tell me? Most of the time even my 13-year-old son drives himself to school, as there is neither school bus nor a proper bus service. The sepeda motor is the only transport. I know as a polisi it’s my duty to penalise these offenders. Children as young as 11 are driving to school and to the market – How can we stop this? My answer to this would be to instil road sense into our youngsters to teach them in school and colleges about road signs, road safety, obeying traffic rules and more. We could have a policewoman visit schools and colleges to lecture on this matter. I believe that such education will surely prevent future accidents on the road. I have witnessed a few bloody accidents myself and as a parent it makes me very worried about my own family. Not all of us can afford cars. I have this message to give to the readers of The Bali Times – we must together work to vigorously teach our children about road safety. After all we polisi are also human beings with families and we should not be made to look bad just because of these accidents. The government is trying to solve the problem of transport but this takes time. So in the meantime at least let’s start teaching our children about road safety.”

There has been many a voice raised at the errant motorcyclist who weaves through the traffic without a helmet; carries materials in one hand while holding the handle with the other; carrying a baby in one hand; talking on a hand phone; lighting a cigarette:and other heart stopping actions. So what makes these docile and smiling folk drive around like headless chickens doing death-defying manoeuvres and/or like boxers without the Marquee of Queensbury’s Rules?

I asked a friend Wayan about this curious behaviour and this was his reply.

“Mark Useless, most of us live in large extended families together in ancestral compounds. We share our responsibilities, wealth etc. Our lives are not private. Everyone in the family knows everything about each other. Our young generation wants time away from prying eyes and some feel their lives are very confined. Therefore the sepeda motor for them represents unbridled freedom. When they are driving they feel free as the wind and are very happy the faster they drive.”

It has been observed and experienced by some visitors and long time residents on the isle that if one got involved in an accident the blame would always fall rightly or wrongly on them. This is so as some locals believe that if the foreigners were not on the isle the accident/s would not have happened.

We have heard many views on the subject of road safety. And the one that strikes a note of truth is that of the policeman’s whose candid opinion reflects reality: the blood on the roads of Bali caused by ignorance and a frightening apathy towards the fact that our children are being permitted to ride the road of death without first learning the basic rules of survival.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

Incarcerated in Paradise

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This week’s column is about a burning issue that is perpetually in the limelight of the local and Australian media – drugs and drug busts. Many less intelligible folk voice misplaced apprehensions that are usually fed by Chinese whispers doing the rounds of the island. Here in paradise such unfounded assumptions have a way becoming fact thereby obfuscating the truth and creating schisms between peoples and cultures.

The Bali Times carries regular reports of youngsters being arrested for buying banned substances in spite of the deadly warning – welcome to my paradise, we have the death penalty here for drug pushers and users.

Recently I had the opportunity to talk to an Australian couple from Perth holidaying in east Bali – Cheryl Smith a social worker and her husband John, an engineer.

Cheryl appeared distinctly agitated when I brought up the topic of young Australians incarcerated in jails in Bali for the mindless act of buying and or using drugs.

“We all stand accused of not forcefully inculcating a sense of proportion in our children, of not teaching them that with democracy – its freedom of speech and action – comes responsibility. Do you know when every Aussie is issued a passport we are given a booklet titled Hints for Australian Travelers produced by our Foreign Affairs and Trade Department. It is helpful as it contains all the dos and don’ts for Aussies traveling in foreign countries such as obeying the laws of the land, observing local customs, illegal drugs, child sex, wildlife etc.” she said.

“And are there any Indonesia specific guidelines?” I asked hesitantly.

“Yes, we have a website that clearly mentions the punishment of death for trafficking, buying and consuming drugs in Indonesia”.

She told me that Aussies are often lulled into a false sense of dolce vita when they encounter Bali with its captivating beaches and titillating lifestyle. The laid back atmosphere, low prices and non existent dress code in most areas except religious places make them feel they can dance with death as no one is watching them.

A visibly upset Aussie sitting at an adjacent table in the warung, who had obviously been eavesdropping walked up to our table and introduced himself as a regular visitor to the island. He informed us that on every occasion that he had visited Kuta he was offered drugs by people standing on the pavement. When he shouted at them he was abused and threatened. Cheryl confirmed this allegation saying that she and her husband had had similar experiences. Sadly, youngsters don’t always act the same way and get carried away with false bravado and the excitement of treading the hairline of deception.

Cheryl told me that in Australia, there is an ongoing program conducted by the State called ‘Constable Care’. Policemen regularly visit primary and secondary schools to educate pupils on the Law and in particular the perils of drugs and under age drinking.

Was she proposing a similar program in Bali? If so, the idea does have relevance for the impressionable islanders whose view of the world is probably through the media and tourists from around the globe flocking to the island. These are not always the best representations of other cultures.

Unfortunately every time an Aussie is busted for drugs in Bali the ‘Shock Jocks’ (as they are popularly known) on Sydney radio stations vitiate the atmosphere with their raucous verbosity that sullies relations between two great countries – Indonesia and Australia. Current affairs programs aired on television could be blamed for adding a curious blend of hysteria to these events. This doesn’t help the situation either for those busted for drugs or for the two governments trying hard to resolve this prickly problem.

It has been said in the past that Australian police have alerted their counterparts in this country on drugs being smuggled into Indonesia. If this is true then it is a heartening development and we hope this connection between the two law enforcement agencies continues to keep a check on illegal activities that are tragically destroying families and lives in paradise and in Oz.

As an experienced social worker counseling juvenile delinquents with drug and alcohol addictions, Cheryl feels that small time offenders incarcerated in Indonesian jails could be repatriated to serve their jail term back home under strict State supervision as this would – keep them away from hardcore criminal elements, rehabilitate them, save the Indonesian State a lot of money and foster closer people to people and government to government relations.

This suggestion of repatriation of small time drug offenders is a noble idea. However, one must take cognizance of the fact that Indonesia is a sovereign democratic republic and therefore this should not be construed in some circles as a capitulation of its sovereignty. It should be handled with great care and sensitivity away from the glare of the media that has invariably made a Hollywood drama of even the slightest hint of anything out of the ordinary that happens in Bali.

It is well known in diplomatic circles that the two countries are forging closer ties in many fields and so an irresponsible media response could jeopardize these positive developments.

Sense and insensibility are the paradoxes in paradise where death lurks in the palm of a drug peddler and Life in the words – just say no to drugs.

As a parent I appeal to all other parents in Indonesia, Australia and elsewhere please let us stop this madness.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

Salute…Sanur! – There’s life after Kuta…come to Sanur to wet your whistles!

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My first foray in search of Sanur’s watering holes was with Jill my editor and Carlos the photographer. We rendezvous at Arena Pub on the Sanur Bypass road. It has a well stocked bar, excellent food with a soft interior that lends itself to being slightly up market though the price of drinks are surprisingly reasonable. Well-intended advice by a geriatric at the bar who gave us a “how to and where to go” on the bars in Sanur turned out to be truly disappointing.

However, there were a few that stood out – Double Dutch and Cat & Fiddle. DD is about a year old so the freshness of the ambience; the live band and the tables laid out in the open at the entrance presents a stylish picture. Henk, the manager, offers us the two popular cocktails but not before Carlos and I have had our shot of Jim Beam each. Double Dutch Illusions is made with vodka, coconut liqueur, melon liqueur (Bali moon), lime juice and pineapple juice. It was served in a special glass that looked like an out of shape body builder with a sagging bottom. I asked Jill her opinion as she sipped the cocktail. “Too green” she muttered. The DD Mojito concocted with Bacardi rum, limejuice, lime wedgies and brown sugar was tempting. Jill, the connoisseur, tasted the drink glanced away and uttered the words we were waiting for “Nice”.

The night dragged out sitting in Cat & Fiddle, the quiet evening broken only by the gentle strokes of the guitar by Carlos playing Hotel California and a tattooed man dressed in black wearing dark gogs with the air of a war vet from the sixties who was grooving it with a local. Jill bored after eating her Guiness Pie decided we needed to move on. So off we went to Wayan Bali and Jazz Bar & Grill. No joy just an over anxious singer screaming into a microphone. It was late so we all headed home to nest. Carlos on his scooter, Jill in her classic VW and me in my Feroza of ten thousand rust spots held together by a coat of paint.

Reaching Ubud and still in the mood to play I dropped by Flava Lounge which was swinging. It was Flava’s mid week high jinx. Here I met a few friends and the piss started rolling to the tune of Clapton, Steppenwolf and the thumping sound of gyrating hipsters on the dance floor. Oh Ubud ! The last refuge for the “movers and shakers” when all other venues were closed!

The following day I got a call from Jill who promptly instructed me to revisit Sanur. To walk the streets again in search of the elusive Bars for that drinking experience that went beyond the Pale Ale. Maybe I would find what we were looking for in the curious mix of Bars, Restaurants and places called Flashbacks (wonder who comes up with these names?).

So here I am traversing the streets and what do I chance upon? Lazer Sport Bar and close to it Zoo. These Bars are quintessential classic hang outs for those wanting to sip the nectar of the island, Arak, and the other drinks that satisfy the soul to the rhythm of live bands. The feel of the place is one of relaxed enjoyment with soft lighting, wooden tables and chairs. It is like a cross between a French café and a Bombay Iranian teahouse. The girls at Lazer quickly fix me a Lychee Sensation, a soothing blend of Bali Moon, pineapple liqueur, lychee juice, grapefruit juice and fresh lychees. Tiredness retreats and I feel alive again to someone singing, “You can’t always get what you want”.

A short walk down Jalan Danau Tamblingan I come across a quaint outlet, Ana’s Warung, with a few tables and a homely bar. The beer luggers hanging around greet me with “Hey you in the panama where the f…k are you going?” followed by “Give him a beer he needs a break”. I get a beer courtesy the barrel chest Neanderthal. Wayan who hands me the beer smiles coyly and asks to be photographed. I oblige her. A large TV screen at the end of the Bar is showing a live football match. I gulp down the beer, burp and leave the place. Further down the road is Gasoline Ally a place similar to Zoo and Lazer Sport Bar. It’s very entertaining with a good mix of customers, staff, drinks and music.

Along this stretch are Gita’s, Trophy Bar, Randy’s Bar, Kafe Aladin, JJs, Fat Tuesday and many more. Am advised by a helpful cabbie that I should visit the beachfront bar called Bonsai Café. After a short walk past the Bali Seamen’s Club I enter the sprawling grounds of Bonsai Café. The entrance has hundreds of bonsai plants neatly arranged. It’s has a large odd shaped Bar and seating for more than a hundred people that spills out onto the beach. The cool sea breeze wafting through the place with a barbeque sizzling away makes for a perfect picture of what a bar should be. The check table covers and the bilious green plastic chairs are surreal: Like Dali, high on Arak, who has gone berserk with his paintbrush.

Made Suardana who is one of the owners accosts me. He gently takes my hand and leads me to the bar. Politely he instructs the bartender to make the two cocktails that the place is famous for and then launches into explaining his favourite hobby, Bonsai plants and how he is world famous blah, blah, blah. Thankfully the first of the two cocktails arrives! I photograph it before tasting it. Big mistake. Made sends the cocktail back because he wants it to be properly garnished. Minutes later (which seemed hours) its back looking like a tart dressed for the night out on the town. I hurriedly sip the Bonsai Sunrise. I suggest he change the name to Bonsai Sunset. No luck. The drink is a combination of Arak, Bacardi, orange juice and grenadine. The second cocktail, Pinacolada, is presented with a flourish. It is served in a whole scooped out pineapple. It’s a concoction of dark rum, light rum, pineapple juice, and vanilla ice cream. It is too sweet for my liking. I desperately need a real drink. So I order another called Body Heat made from Malibu, banana liqueur, Bacardi, pineapple juice, orange juice and lemon juice. No joy, its too sweet and too sour. Kadek at the bar suggests I visit the two naughty bars located on Jalan Danau Toba a short drive away. So off I am to TKs and Limpling. The night is playing out well.

Tks is a very small bar. The bar takes up one third of the floor space. The rest of the area is decorated with two small divans and a few chairs. The pink and mauve walls glow in the light of the red Chinese lanterns. A few hostesses lounge around smiling at the customers. I ask for their special. Julia brings me a drink that looks like water with a lot of ice. I sip it and gasp. It’s like drinking gasoline. “What’s this” I ask her. She grins and replies that it is Tks Special, which is made of large pegs of Arak, vodka, a twist of lime and a hint of tonic water. Just then Dire Straits starts playing Sultans of Swing, I relax and sink into oblivion only to be rudely disturbed by a slap on the back and a “Hiya Mate”. It is Peter a long time resident of Padang Bai who has come to meet his friends who own the bar. Soon Fuji, the owner, and his wife arrive and we sit down to drinking the firewater that is liberally served out.

According to Fuji the numerous “special” local bars are called “Café”. The famous ones are Hello Bali, Ramos, Jegeg and Merpati. Here the blend of expats, tourists and locals coupled with pulsating music, flashing lights and spirits flowing freely across the bar makes it a place not frequented by the faint hearted. “Café” is a euphemism for having a good time. The timings are nocturnal and prices reasonable.

On my drive back to Ubud I stop by Merpati Café on the Sanur Bypass road. The entrance is lit up with purple lighting. The rhythmic beat of music emanating from the place is seductive and inviting. However I am refused admittance as am carrying a camera.

Sanur has a fantastic range of Bars and restaurants with some of the best live music in town. The exciting range of drinks and cocktails served by energetic staff makes it an entertaining experience. For your reference I have included a list of Bars that both my friends and I have visited. Am sure you will help us add to the list when you have come to Sanur to sample the delights.

Lazer Sport Bar, Jazz Bar & Grill, Gita’s, Double Dutch, Gasoline Ally, JJs, Bonsai Café, Zoo, Cat & Fiddle, G Point, Beach Cafe, Arena, Spirit & Jazz, Tropy Pub, fat Tuesday, Randy’s Bar, Wayan Bali, Kafe Aladin, Manggo Beach Bar, Toot Sie, Seven Seas, La Barracca, Made’s Pub, Corriander, Kalpatharu: naughty bars like TKs and Limling: and of course the ubiquitous cafes like Hello Bali, Jegeg, Ramos and Merpati.

Best days to Bar hop: Fridays and Saturdays from 9 pm onwards.

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