Tuesday, 30 December 2014

New Year 2015

My message to my Facebook Friends for New Year 2015:

Hello my friends! I'll take you all into 2015 if you want to come with me? We'll have fun and I'll carry on (silently) correcting your grammar - but you can pick me out (overtly) on my errors, no problem!

We will have fun and, possibly, address some issues. I guess we'll disagree on many things - that's healthy. One of my Resolutions for 2015 is to keep my mind and heart open so I can listen and work around differences. However, I will *always* delete any comments I find obnoxious, hurtful or objectionable.

With love and joy for 2015

New Year Resolutions to follow soon ... (that's one of them - to blog more regularly)

Saturday, 8 November 2014

The Ten Commandments of Logic

I have been remiss in writing up the Lombok sojourn; however, here is something completely different. I hope you enjoy it. It is also on my Facebook page for those of you who don't do Facebook.

The Ten Commandments of Logic

1.     Thou shalt not attack the person’s character, but the argument. (Ad hominem)

2.     Thou shalt not misrepresent or exaggerate a person’s argument in order to make them easier to attack. (Straw man fallacy)

3.     Thou shalt not use small numbers to represent the whole. (Hasty generalisation)

4.     Thou shalt not argue thy position by assuming one of its premises are true. (Begging the question)

5.     Thou shalt not claim that because something happened before, it must be the cause. (Post Hoc/False cause)

6.     Thou shalt not reduce the argument down to two possibilities. (False dichotomy)

7.     Thou shalt not argue that because of our ignorance, claim must be true or false. (Ad ignoratum)

8.     Thou shalt not lay the burden of proof onto him that is questioning the claim. (Burden of proof reversal)

9.     Thou shalt not assume “this” follows “that” when it has no logical connection. (Non sequitur)

10. Thou shalt not claim that because a premise is popular, therefore it must be true. (Bandwagon fallacy)

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Traditional Sasak Weaver's Craft Village

Traditional Sasak Weaving
On our way back to Kuta from Senggigi, Abdul decided we would take a different route. This consisted of driving through the warren of streets that comprises Mataram, the capital of Lombok. Abdul explained that Mataram had only grown up fairly recently, probably since 2007. As always in Lombok there are many motorbikes and scooters on the road. Most have at least two people - the driver and the pillion - but many have three or even four passengers. Children and babies are squashed in between rider and pillion or stand in front of the driver so as to lean on the handlebars. I saw one little fellow fast asleep. What was unusual was that he had on a crash helmet. The pillion passengers are often women and some of them sit side-saddle. Being predominantly Muslim, the women often wear a veil, similar to that which the Roman Catholic nuns wear, or used to wear. Their posture (both women and men) is uniformly excellent. Just in passing, I was entranced at how many men had small feet. Abdul easily fitted into my Reeboks; Roland’s thongs (flip-flops for non-Aussie readers) were miles too big!

Having negotiated Mataram, we were once again on the Praya – Senggigi bypass but not for long. Abdul turned off in one of the many small villages along the way and took us down the back roads to a craft village. In this case it was a weaving village; an eye-opener for both of us.

We were able to watch the Sasak women weavers at their looms. Each one sitting more-or-less in isolation on the concrete platform. Each woman weaves a pattern traditional to her own family. Our Guide, Angie, explained that girls start learning to weave at about 9 years old. By the time they are 13 they are usually quite proficient. A girl does not marry until she is an accomplished weaver. The reason for this is practical economics. The primary source of income in Lombok is agriculture - but, due to the aridity of this area, crops are not a dependable source of income; hence, the women's weaving brings in much needed cash. The community has set up a cooperative where the women sell their beautiful woven goods to the public (tourists). To set up, the cooperative loans a woman enough money to purchase the thread and whatever else may be needed. Angie told us that each length of fabric takes up to three months to prepare and weave so the initial loan is vital. When the woven cloth is sold, the profits are shared among the women and further loans are negotiated. Angie said, "No men are involved!" (and then promptly gave the cash I paid for my purchases over to a man!)

The set-up is the only time that nylon thread is used. Each segment is separated by bamboo canes - as you can see in the photo. The patterns are complex and the colours vary from natural greens and browns to quite vivid purple and yellow. Personally, I like a bit of bling so my purchases reflected that! For the equivalent of $100 Aussie, I bought three beautiful lengths of fabric. I don't even want to think how that equates to earnings per hours worked ...

Preparing the pattern
The weaving woman sits erect on the concrete with her legs straight out in front. Her back is supported by a shaped wooden rod that fits just above the hips, below the waist. This is connected to, and helps stabalise, the loom. You can see it quite clearly in the photo below. A weight is suspended above the loom for traction. The thread is dyed and can be silk or some other natural fibre.
At the loom
There was a little girl (less than 18 months old) with one of the weaving women. She was playing with an enormous pair of scissors and I had to ask Angie to please take them away from her! In my mind's eye could see her fingers being severed - grandmother instinct takes over ...

I hope this video clip works. I was enchanted by the graceful movements and cheerful demeanour of the weaving women, so beautiful.

The Weaver's village is a dusty place. There are hens wandering about and, in a very small pen, a goat making plaintive bleating noises. There was a whelping bitch who barked at us. I don't know why these dogs disturb me so much.

More to come so hang in there.

Monday, 22 September 2014


Slight diversion from Lombok trip ...
Fool's Assassin (The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy, #1)Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fool's Assassin (Book #1 of The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy) is the best Robin Hobb that I have read - this is a magical book, unputdownable. Bee, the newest Farseer, is a delight. No spoilers from me so best you read the book yourself! I did not want to finish it and I hope book 2 and book 3 are not far off.

View all my reviews

Friday, 12 September 2014

Roads, Rocks and Buffalo

Water Buffalo on the road
The road to Tanjung Aan Beach is not the best we've ever travelled. Roland immediately named it The Binga Highway after the road between Binga and Kamativi in Zimbabwe (the worst road we've ever travelled). Water buffalo on their way to the beach keep the pace slow. Their skin looks like it is made from thick grey canvas with bright pink underneath, especially the males' testicles. What do the buffalo do on the beach? I don't know - they just seem to roam around and then go back from whence they came. There are many children with buckets on the road. I thought they were begging - which they are but also filling in the potholes with dirt! So tourists are invited to give them money for fixing up the road! Abdul (our driver) took the road slowly, dodging water buffalo, children, tourists on motorbikes with surfboards on the side, and potholes. In fact, the road was more potholes than road. This southern end of Lombok has a similar climate to Northern Australia. At this time of year (August/September) the rains have not yet arrived and the landscape is dry. Hence, the crops on the side of the road are similar to Zimbabwe - tobacco, maize, fodder for the cattle.

Tanjung Aan Beach is a beautiful spot. The day we went, there were few people and not many hawkers. Abdul told us to ignore the hawkers - he really looked out out for us wherever we went. but even he had to pay to park the car in the shade!

Building a shelter for the tourists
Beach dogs scavenge along the water line. I heard that the bitches whelp up in the dunes behind Warung Turtle. Some beach dogs die because of eating blowies (toad-fish) which are deadly poisonous.

We climbed to the top of a huge rock. Going up was easy enough but coming down was a different story. I had to slide down on my bottom. There were a few other people on top of the rock including an old woman with a bale of sarongs. She was sitting right on the edge of the rock over the breaking surf. When she stood up she hefted the sarongs on to her head and gracefully made her way down the rock ... standing up!
The sand at this end of the beach is not crystals but round grains. I believe quick sand is similar and it is difficult to walk through - dry or wet. I can only compare it to tiny ball bearings.

View from the top of the rock
There were a few surfers; from where we were standing they looked to be children. The surf was enormous. Since returning to Australia we've heard of three surfers going missing off Bali and Lombok.

More to come. Watch this space

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

10 Days without newspapers

Coconut time on Kuta Beach, Lombok

One of the questions that Roland asked me after we decided to visit Lombok was, "Will I be able to get The Australian?"
After I stopped laughing I said, "You may get one somewhere but there's no guarantee that it will be today's or even this week's."
"Oh well, I'll be able to watch the news on TV." I said I doubted we would have TV where we were staying (we didn't).
At the end of our holiday I asked him, "Did you miss the newspaper and TV?" After a pause Roland agreed that he had not; well not really.

Our first night in Kuta we spent at Heavenly Homestay, which is right next door to Yuli's Homestay - where we stayed for the rest of the time. There is a Mosque very close by. The first morning the Muezzin sounded as though he was standing right in the room. The loudspeakers on top of the Mosque are pointed directly at Heavenly Homestay. There is more to this story. Sometimes they use a recording and sometimes the Muezzin is 'live'. The current Imam just happens to be a bit deaf so he turns up the sound. By the time we left, we were more-or-less used to the early morning Call to Prayer and on the final morning, Roland even slept through it.

One night we were awoken by a strange call. I thought it may be a monkey. Roland thought it was an owl. In the event it turned out to be a gecko - this is the best sound recording I could find. The call is loud, much louder than you'd think a small reptile could make. Other night noises were mainly dogs squealing, barking and fighting. Lombok dogs are legion, many more in Kuta (South coast) than in Senggigi (more tourists - less dogs). Some of the dogs look much like dingoes but the big difference is that dingoes don't bark. I found them to be aggressive. They are covered in sarcoptic and/or demodectic mange and riddled with parasites. As far as I could see, very few are looked after or owned by anyone. Many of these dogs live on the beach and shelter from the sun under the fishing boats. I understand that they eat almost anything - including coconuts. I believe rabies is not common in Lombok.

We only see two cats, both small, multi-coloured (torties) with the funny little curly tail similar to Bali cats. The cats are timid and only visit in the early morning. I watch them as I do my asana practice on the verandah of our room.

Each morning, I greet the staff as they pass by to start work for the day, "Salamat pagi!" and their response, "Pagi!" The exchange of greetings lifts my spirits even as I think about it.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Planning Lombok R&R

It seems the only time I can bring myself to blog is when I am going away or blogging about where I've been. This is nothing to do with procrastination - or maybe it has a lot to do with procrastination? Is it worth having a theme to follow? Probably. What happens is this, something of interest in my life seems to end up on Facebook and never makes it here.

In the event, we are going to Lombok next week; we being Roland and I. When I was there in May with Kath, Dean and Lily, I liked it so much that I managed to persuade Roland he might like it too. Recently, we were sitting chatting and he mentioned that maybe he was being a bit (a bit!) of a stick-in-the-mud so he'd like to go and have a look at Lombok. Before he could change his mind I had my laptop fired up and had booked and paid the airfares and the hotel accommodation! I made the booking for 'earlier' rather than 'later' and now 'earlier' is right upon us! Only 3 more sleeps.

We will be staying in a homestay in Kuta (Bali also has a Kuta). The prices are reasonable and include breakfast. Have a look here Yuli's Homestay What do you think? I'd love for my sister Win to come with us as she told me she'd like to do a trip like this.

We are going to do a lot of exploring - I hope going to Mount Rinjani - the volcano which is still active. I think all the volcanoes in Indonesia are active. I don't think we will climb all the way up but will certainly do what we can. The trek to the top takes 4 or 5 days ... so I don't think we'll get anywhere near the Segara Anak Crater Lake. The mountain and the lake are sacred places. Mt Rinjani rises to 3,726 metres (12,224 ft), making it the second highest volcano in Indonesia. According to Wiki, "The Rinjani caldera forming eruption is thought to have occurred in the 13th century. Dated to "late spring or summer of 1257," this eruption is now considered the likely source of high concentrations of sulfur found in widely dispersed ice core samples and may have been "the most powerful volcanic blast since humans learned to write." I just hope it doesn't choose when we are there to erupt again!

Roland will be doing some fishing - it looks like there are some excellent fishing charters and pretty reasonably priced too. The current exchange rate is in our favour.

Watch this space for more news.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Finally ... the tree-lopper

This is the last Lombok post.

On our last day in Senggigi, tree-loppers arrived to remove some branches that were overhanging the Spa. Their vehicle was an extremely ancient VW ute (pick-up) that parked right near my room. There was much crashing and banging as the team off-loaded ladders and so on before tracking across the gardens.

After breakfast, I went to have a look at the proceedings ... no hard-hats (not that they would have been much use), perky straw hats were the order of the day. No safety equipment, the only safety harness was attached to the chainsaw.

Three ladders were opened out and tied to the tree, not very securely as it turned out as when one branch fell, it pulled one of the ladders away and the Lopper was stuck up there for quite a long time. No worries, he had a smoke!

 Here he is, climbing the tree, can you spot him in the yellow shirt about two ladders up. Quite a few guests from the hotel were spectators and we weren't kept away from the area.

 Here he is at the top of the ladder.

 He's left the ladder!

 Even further

Spot the Lopper!
Using a chainsaw and an axe at that height with no safety harness, just the thought of it makes my blood run cold. I guess you work with what you've got. None of the locals thought anything of it.

On the trip to the airport our driver was asking questions about Australia. He wanted to know about the Aussie use of swear words, were they meant to be insulting? Were they just a figure of speech? I can't remember which one he singled out, it could have been bloody. Interesting when you start to analyse these words in speech to people who are not used to the Australian manner. This particular driver was political; that does not happen often in my experience. He showed us the Chinese Cemetery. I was ignorant of the issues surrounding the Chinese population in Indonesia, let alone Lombok, so I found his comments interesting.

So, our holiday came to an end. It was an interesting week, I spent a lot of time with Lily and enjoyed her company. The journey home was uneventful. Roland, Rosie and Simon were at the airport to greet us. As always, good to be home.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Stormy Weather, Massage and more

Early one evening, stormy weather brings back memories of holidays at Kariba. The warm humidity, torrential rain, massive lightning strikes and crackling thunder bring the past into the present. The gecko and frog population are on the move. The frogs in the hotel lobby make a strange noise, not like any I've heard before and the geckos also squeak and grunt. The power stays on although the lights do flicker occasionally. On my way back to the room I hear monkeys in the forest above the hotel. I can't help the frisson of excitement. I wish I could share this time with Roland.

Kath and I have been trying out different massage spas. The one in the hotel is consistently better than the others although more expensive. The setting is glorious with the spa overlooking the beach. The masseuses here vary in ability but generally good to very good. I always settle for 'medium' pressure because I bruise easily. The spa we visit in Senggigi village is ok but the setting isn't much - facing on to the main street through town.

Big orange ants are everywhere in the gardens. One bit me on the foot - not in malice or hunger but because it was caught in the strap of my sandal. It stung like mad. Lily also got bitten a couple of times. I am slightly paranoid about insect stings and bites. The correct name is Oecophylla smaragdina, so how about that!

After dinner at a local restaurant, we walk back along the beach to find a Gamelan Orchestra and Bali dancers at the pool. We sit and watch for a while as the graceful dancers bend and sway on the island platform. The beat is hypnotic, the fiery chimneys all around set the scene as the mystical story unfolds. Lily is fascinated by the small boy in the Gamelan orchestra who is being bossed around by a slightly older boy - much more interesting than the dancing!

There is one more post for this Lombok holiday and I will write it, I really, really will.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Airport Stories

The alarms went off just before we were due to board the Lombok flight. Everyone was ordered to evacuate the building. This was not going to happen in a hurry as the emergency exits were all closed! Lily became distressed, the noise of the alarm sirens were deafening as well as the broadcast message being loud and unnerving. In the event, the emergency turned out to be a drill. What a strange way to start a holiday.

Getting through to the departure lounge was interesting. No sooner had I arrived at the first security gate, I had to throw away my toothpaste because the security officer said it was “too big”. I think it was her first day on the job because she didn’t know my 100ml bottle of handcream was actually in a registered container. I showed her where it was embossed on the bottle. Next, I was frisked by a security officer using an explosive detector wand. This is quite an interesting procedure whereby the wand is passed over clothing etc. and then placed in a machine – I guess a Geiger counter of sorts? I was in the clear but nevertheless, my cabin luggage was opened and rummaged through.

Next stop, the duty free shop. I purchased my allotted amount of alcohol to pick up on my way back from holiday plus a couple of small bottles to take with me. Unbeknownst to me, the check-out operator gave me an extremely large Toblerone chocolate. I found it when I sat down with the family to wait to board the aircraft, so I put it into my cabin luggage.

The flight was uneventful and we arrived at the Lombok airport in good time. I was sitting away from the others so made my way through to the Customs desk. Praya (Lombok) airport reminded me of the old airport in Salisbury but with wooden carvings and Indonesian artefacts here and there. I bought my Visa ($25 US) and walked straight past the baggage collection to put my hand luggage through the X-Ray machine. Once again I was frisked (by hand this time). Having passed through, I suddenly realised I had left my suitcase behind. I went back through to fetch it (no problems there) and passed through the security check. I was standing, waiting for the family when one of the Customs officers asked to check my cabin luggage. He showed me on his monitor a strange looking shape in the suitcase. I didn’t know what it was so we opened up my case and scratched around. He picked up the huge Toblerone chocolate bar – this was the culprit. I showed him where it was a gift from the duty free and we both laughed and parted as friends.

In retrospect, I wonder what made me a suspicious looking old woman and the only solution I can come up with was the brightly coloured cotton jacket I wore. I bought it at the op shop (thrift shop) especially for the trip and it does stand out.
The Jacket!
More to follow.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Senggigi, Lombok holiday

Waiting to fly!

A different kind of holiday (for me)!

Kath, Dean, Lily and I fly from Perth to Praya (Lombok) on Jetstar, an Airbus A320 - packed to the last seat. The flight takes just over 3 hours. I think Roland and Rosie may be regretting not coming with us. I am enjoying reading Robin Hobb's Assassin's Quest and have to limit myself to a couple of chapters at a time so as to savour the tale. This fits in well with the flight time to Lombok.

My first impression of Lombok is the similarity to Bali, but not nearly so busy. The weather is warm and humid - delightful after the cool weather in Perth. I took this screen shot to post on my Facebook and Instagram pages.

Our driver, Jamie, collects us at Praya and we travel to Senggigi in just over an hour. The countryside is lush and now I can see many differences to Bali. There are many Mosques and the sound of the call to prayer is everywhere. On the car radio we listen to the Rolling Stones (Angie) while the voice of the Muezzin rings from the minarets. I am immediately in love with Lombok! I notice there are not as many dogs on the roads as in Bali but Jamie assures me there are many dogs on the island.

There are many pony carts. Single, small ponies pull this traditional form of transport along the highways and byways. These are called cidomo. Most of the ponies I see during the week in Lombok seem well cared for but a couple look thin and wretched.

Lombok has not yet been discovered by the tourist hoards. I only spot one fast food outlet on the trip.

The Sheraton, Senggigi, is a lovely place to stay. The gardens are beautiful and the staff are friendly and courteous.  The power supply is a bit dicey. The lights flicker and go out fairly frequently! The air-conditioner is turned up to the max so I have to figure out how to turn it down. I am loving the warmth and humidity.

 The gardens abut the Senggigi beach. Colourful fishing boats often draw up on the sand. The sea is quite dirty and the incoming tide brings in a variety of rubbish - such as plastic bags.

There are some mosquitoes, we are well prepared with insect repellent. Early each morning I anoint myself with repellent before beginning Yoga practice on the balcony. The warm, humid climate allows me to bend and flex easily. Each day, after Yoga, I swim for a while and then breakfast at the buffet.

More to follow ... including airport stories; searching for the perfect massage and a tropical thunder storm.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Summer Holidays

Summer holidays are coming to an end.
Summer is warming up as thermal lag begins. January, February and March are the warmest months here in Western Australia.
Back to school happens at the beginning of February in the searing heat.

Christmas is a dim memory and New Year's Resolutions are fading (well, not really; I'm still turning upside down everyday and I am studiously avoiding the doctor - being healthy is so good). These are my resolutions:
1) turn upside down everyday
2) avoid the doctor

Long walks on the beach early in the morning will continue through the hot weather. I'm so looking forward to Yoga classes starting again in February. The gym just doesn't do it for me although I attend as often as I can drag my body along. In fact, it is the deafening music that most puts me off going to the gym. I've tried earplugs but they pop out with all the exertions. Strange how clumsy gym workouts make me. After a Yoga asana session I am balanced and centred, but after a gym workout I can barely balance on both feet.

I had so many good intentions of keeping a regular blog and it doesn't happen. Procrastination and lack of motivation are the main reasons plus my entries seem so banal. I started this blog in 2009 and still fight with 'blogger' every time I post something!