Monday, October 31, 2005
Where do tourists to Bali come from?
With thanks to Ncoutts from Flickr from whom I stole this beautiful photo, and with apologies to the Japanese for this unfortunate bit of unthinking stereotyping, but guess which country sends the most folks to Bali? Yep, Nippon, almost one in four. Home of my ancestral salarymen.
That's really unfortunate because if there's a nation whose people are going to drive prices upwards in a tourist economy it's the Japanese, particularly in those economies where there is not at least some balance from Israeli backpackers on their year after military service grand tour. But Japan has provided some entertaining travelling companions, like the chick I travelled with in Thailand who ironed her t-shirt with her portable travel iron in the morning before going off with me and a German (I didn't mention the war) hitch hiking, throwing herself and her ironed t-shirt into the back of rusty utes which are marvellous fun to hitch in the back of. When we came to a very small town in the countryside the Japanese girl would be speaking of a virrage, while the Teutonic lad would be calling it a willage. Then there was the fellow I met in Kathmandu who had just finished riding a pony from Lhasa (every one of his photographs had Princess's two ears sticking up from the bottom), and the girl I heard several reports of whilst in West Africa who had successfully made her way south from Morocco through Mauritania and Western Sahara, without a word of French or Arabic. Both of those trips are inestimably difficult for different reasons which I will not bore you with except to say altitude and freezing cold, and closed borders and civil wars. The most far-flung and unorthodox stars in the Japanese traveller galleries make the Germans look like traveller namby-pambies.
But I digress. Nippon is followed by Australia at no. 2 (less than one in five), and then, to my surprise, Taiwan at less than one in ten, and then South Korea. Then "the Americas", the UK, Germany, Malaysia, France, and Holland, who pop back to check out their former colony. Bali
Helen Flavel, an Australian philanthropist
Helen Flavel is an Adelaide woman whom I had never heard of until this week's Bali Update arrived in my inbox. I did read in Bali about the terrible conditions in an old folks' home which someone else had done up in a fit of kindness. Old folk are of course generally looked after by their families, but if you don't have a family you can run into trouble; the government's largesse is not all that large.
Here is an extract from the Bali Update article:
"Last year Nyoman Sukadana asked Ron and I to visit a very elderly woman who lived with her widowed daughter and her 10 year old grandson in a tiny one roomed house. The aim of the visit was to see if we could have electricity installed. The house was in a very poor condition and the room where they slept, was so dark it was difficult to see inside. Ron managed to have a look at the roofing timbers and it was obvious to him that there was no way electricity could be installed, until the badly leaking roof was repaired. Nyoman organized a builder to see what could be done and on further inspection, large cracks where found. It was decided that repairing the roof was useless, as the walls were near to collapsing. Like many of the houses in this area, there was no kitchen; all food was cooked outside under a tree. The toilet was a hole in the ground in the back yard.I tend to have a somewhat supercilious attitude to such hokey home grown aid schemes named after their leading light, in this case concentrated on one relatively wealthy island amidst thousands of infinitely poorer islands, but if one woman feels sufficiently impassioned about the undoubted poverty in Bali to spend A$9,000 a year from her own pocket convincing others to donate money 100% of which goes to the poor then all hail to her, I say. Her website is here.
After a discussion with the family, we offered to knock the house down and rebuild. Fortunately, the neighbourhoods next door offered a room to the family while we proceeded with the rebuilding.
This was July 2004 and we needed the house ready before the wet season. We ask that the male relations help where possible. We also brought in workers from the village. The house was finished by the 23rd of November. When the house was finished it still only had one room for sleeping, but we had added a small room for cooking and a small bathroom and toilet.
The daughter supported the family from her little stall, where she made and sold flower offerings to the village people. She had to buy the flowers which allowed very little in profit. Nyoman talked to the daughter about making her little stall more viable. He told her she needed to plant seeds and grow her own flowers in a garden on the house site. This was done straight away and now they family have a little more money and their self esteem has risen dramatically."
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Two Great English Language Cultural Magazines About Indonesia and Bali: Latitudes and Bali Echo
I mentioned Bali Echo in my last post. Very late in my surfings of the net, I have found the back issues of Latitudes, and Bali Echo, and learnt that they both seem to come from the same publisher. I read many a back issue of Latitutdes in Bali, and Cilik's Beach Garden's octagon room had a goodly number of Bali Echo back issues. They are absolutely worth reading. Latitudes is a kind of arts and culture magazine for the whole of Indonesia, and is one of the few repositories of detailed information about the more than 10,000 smaller islands of Indonesia about which one typicallly hears nothing. Bali Echo dubs itself "Tourism, Art and Culture Magazine". Both appear now to be defunct. What is old and not updated falls away from prominence on the net. It would be a shame if these great internet resources were forgotten. Bali
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Mediums in Bali
"The trance state of mind is in fact a regular part of many traditional Balinese dances. Kris dancers utilise this state of being to stab themselves with razor sharp knives, which then refuse to enter the body. In some instances dancers actually pierce the body with the kris, while singing and dancing for hours on end. When the sharp blade is removed there is no blood and the dancers apparently feel no pain."That sounds like nonsense, but it is interesting that mediums are used in Bali as they have long been in Tibet. Tibbs said:
"The Balinese believe that God selects [a woman to be a special priest, or sedan]. Often the first thing that happens is that she becomes very sick and cannot eat or drink. No medicine is effective. The family asks God what has happened to their loved one. This is all done in a special ceremony with a priest who goes into a trance. If the sick person is a sedan, God sends a message through the entranced priest and tells her what kind of natural medicine should be given."She recounted what she witnessed in Tianyar, near Tulamben, on the north east coast. A sedan meditated amongst the clamour of 500 people at a ceremony until:
"after about fifty minutes or more, her entire countenance changed. Her facial features took on the look of a very sick person, her mouth become distorted, lips slack, saliva running down the right side of her mouth as if she were paralysed. She looked as though she had no control over this bodily function, and her right hand became twisted like that of a stroke victim."The relatives of a man who had met a premature death were able to talk to him in the spirit world for more than an hour through the sedan. S/he told them that he was happy to find his final place of rest and to say his final goodbyes. There was much relief. It is a nice story, and whatever its foundation it is no doubt comforting for the family of the deceased to have this last contact with a soul in the knowledge that it will soon come to rest. Dr Jean Couteau, a French anthropologist who had lived in Bali for more than 20 years when Christian Racki wrote The Sacred Dances of Bali, wrote in the preface to that book:
"[One of the functions of Balinese dance] might be a way to channel or make visible the invisible world. Most religious events consist of the calling 'down' and sending 'up' of ancestors, gods and gods' companions. They sometimes come down through the intercession of a dancer. As the Balinese say, they perch on the dancer, who functions as a repository for the visiting deity. The dancer is visited; in other words he is in a state of trance. As such he may perform feats such as trampling fire or stabbing himself."There is more here about balians, the traditional healers of Bali.
A beautiful photo of Bali
Kecak dance, Ubud, Bali
After eating at Indus, we just made it to the kecak dance down Jl Hanoman. The whole thing was a mystery I am yet to unravel, particularly the bit where a hessian sack full of coconut husks was dumped on the stage, set alight with some kind of spirits, reduced to embers, and then kicked by a barefooted old man who then walked across the coals, all the while riding a broomstick with a carved wooden horse's head, and coconut leaf mane and tail.
That part, I think, was the so-called "fire dance", an even greater mystery, and one which left the crowd gawping and gasping loudly with shock. When it was over, a younger man came and announced the fact. The stunned crowd sat starting at the old man, sitting on the ground, his legs straight out in front of him, his charred soles facing the crowd, the crowd facing them. He sat there as if in a trance. I had to go and I do not know how the crowd and the man resolved their situation.
I do know that the kecak dance, the monkey dance, is a secular dance, choreographed by Walter Spies and Katherine Mershon in 1930 for a German movie, "Island of the Demons". Mind you, that is an exaggeration, for according to Christian Racki's The Sacred Dances of Bali:
"The Kecak comes from the Sanghyan in which a chorus of men alternates with a group of women to help dancers enter in trance. In the 1930s Walter Spies, a German painter and anthropologist, made a proposal to dancers of the village of Bedalu to enlarge this chorus which in the beginning comprised only a dozen men, and to give it its own life. Spies collaborated with a Balinese, Bak Limbak (who had created the first version of the Kecak), to have the chorus accompany one episode of the Ramayana. As time went on, the spectacle incorporated other episodes of this story as well as other mythical stories."It is entertaining; anyone who has seen "Baraka", a Koyanisqaatsi / Powaqqatsi style movie without words, will be amazed to learn that the extraordinary sequence of black and white checked saronged men chanting and moving in unison is a near-nightly tourist ritual. It is not easy to describe. I will not try to better Racki's description:
"The chorus of young men flood the stage, shouting the syllable 'cak', all the while walking with legs and elbows bent, and fingers extending into a trembling fan of energy. They sit in one concentric circle around the fire and after repeated chants and synchronised gestures, they bow to the priest who blesses them with holy water. Once the priest has left, the chorus once more bounds in to the 'cak], varying in fast and slow rhythmic sequences -- punctuated by the ]cak cak pour chir'. This chorus is divided in several sub-groups which 'layer' various 'cak', one upon another. A tumultuous global resonance is created by these patterns. All changes in movement and singing are led by a chorus member. Even though rhythmical structures of 'cak' are different, the gestures are uniform until the dramatic action begins. When the voice of the juru tendak emerges from the group to narrate the unfolding story, the dancers arrive to perform the Ramayana (or another legend). Afterwords, the chorus surrounds them, dividing into several smaller groups with distinctive gestures that docorate the dance. After the drama has ended, the kecak chorus disappears just as it came."Something about the whole thing was wrong. There was no explanation other than a piece of paper. The considerable audience sat there, each having paid A$7, a substantial sum comparatively, and I can only imagine they were as perplexed as I. Murni of Ubud warns:
"It is almost impossible for the new spectator to follow the plot. Boys dance girls' parts, girls dance boys' parts. You cannot tell which are which; both wear heavy make-up. the same person may dance several roles, and scenes change with the barest of announcements. It's best just to sit back and enjoy the extreme beauty of the movements, the expressions, and the dazzling costumes."Racki says, with a frankness more anthropologists might employ:
"As they are indifferent to content, Balinese are much more casual spectators than Westerners, who go to a dance with the intention of learning something [do we?]. The Balinese talk and sleep, paying attention only when it best suits them -- when the clowns come out, if they are children, or when the dancers step on stage, if they are the dancers' mothers."Earlier, he had said:
"the youth ... attend the show as much to look for a girl or a boy friend as to attend the performance itself. Dance is thus part of the mating game. Girls are the best spectators; they stand in groups of two or three, holding each other by the hand or waist, attentive to the minutest details of the dancer's hands. Boys pretend to come for the show, but they are restively on the chase, prowling at a short distance in tehir own groups of two or three. Every few minutes, they approach, supposedly to get closer to the stage, but actually to get nearer to the girls; a quick pinch, a few words and the message gets across. Dates are thus made and love stories begin."
Banana trunk skin (?) candle shade, Indus Restaurant, Ubud, Bali
Banana trunk skin (?) candle shade, Indus Restaurant, Ubud, Bali
Originally uploaded by Trapped In A Suit.
Now, while we're thinking about bananas, I think you should look at the most beautiful collection of banana leaves known to man, taken by the late Joaquim da Cunha Bueno Marques.
Tjampuhan Ridge, from Indus Restaurant, Ubud, Bali
Tjampuhan Ridge, from Indus Restaurant, Ubud, Bali
Originally uploaded by Trapped In A Suit.
Tenggiri: Spanish Mackeral (?) (Fish and bicycles)
The things you can find on the net! The little fish, unaffordable to many Balinese, but served ubiquitously in tourist restaurants, is described in great detail here, at a site apparently devoted to the disambiguation of fish, a roadmap through the maze of vernacular names for fish, a taxonomist's nightmare, but a delight to those dark creatures who generate the encyclopaedic lists and databases of cyberspace.
It was from the comfort of our airconditioned Toyota Kijangs that I often wished I were out on my bike able to stop for something as trivial as to get a good look at a fresh tenggiri in a bucket for sale by the side of the road, or something as important as going down a side road which a driver could not imagine me to be interested in.
Had I been out in the dusty and yet oppressively humid heat cycling along the grass may have been greener inside the imagined interior of the Toyota Kijangs whizzing by, but maybe not. I am a meanderer and a frequent stopper as Miss K attests frustratedly.
Indus restaurant: tenggiri and pink torch ginger
Krupuk at Singaraja Market
Krupuk at Singaraja Market
A view from Indus Restaurant, Ubud
Friday, October 28, 2005
US Government documents chronicling deaths during torture
The press release is here.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
A man, or a woman, or a cooperative of former convent girls, as he she or they claim, purporting to come from Monaco, but I doubt it, who claim/s his her or their interests are "Alfred Russel Wallace, Jung, Bonobo chimps, John Buchan, J M Barrie, Teilhard de Chardin, 911, CIA, Operation Mockingbird, Operation Northwoods, Indonesia, Haiti, Taoism, politics, travel, cycling, art, spiritualism, reading" posted this interesting article from The Guardian about the conspiracy theories which are so popular in France on [their] blog.
And here's another Guardian article, with a former British minister's conspiratorial take on the London bombings.
Www.rotten.com has a comprehensive wrap of the state of conspiratorial play in relation to 911, well worth the read.
But what is really quite weird is that Abdurrahman Wahid, the former President of Indonesia nicknamed "Gus Dur" went on Australia's public television station SBS's flagship investigative journalism programme, and said the Indonesian police or military planted the second, Sari Club, bomb in Bali bombings Round 1:
"ABDURRAHMAN WAHID: Yeah, I know but you don’t have any kind of proof. The proof is that the bomb is similar to that belong to the police. It’s a problem for us then. Every bomb there until now it belongs to the government.
Today is the third anniversary of the first Bali attack that saw 202 people killed, including 88 Australians. Abdurrahman Wahid now has questions about that attack as well. While some regard him as an eccentric, he is the former president and is often described as the conscience of the nation, revered by tens of millions of moderate Muslims. As such, he’s one of only a few people publicly prepared to canvass the unthinkable - that Indonesian authorities may have had a hand in the Bali atrocity. He believes that the plan for the second, massive at the Sari Club, which caused the majority of casualties, was hatched way above the head of uneducated villagers like Amrozi.
ABDURRAHMAN WAHID: Amrozi was involved in the lighter bomb. That’s a problem always. Even though I agree that he should be given a stiff punishment, but it doesn’t mean that he is involved. No, no, no.
REPORTER: So you believe that the Bali bombers had no idea that there was a second bomb?
ABDURRAHMAN WAHID: Yeah, precisely.
REPORTER: And who would you suggest planted the second bomb?
ABDURRAHMAN WAHID: Well, it looks like the police.The full transcript is here, and is worth the read, but has apparently been removed from Dateline's archives. As Indcoup has pondered, why hasn't this extraordinary claim by a former head of state been given any coverage? It's enough to make you think conspiracy.
REPORTER: The police?
ABDURRAHMAN WAHID: Or the armed forces, I don’t know.
Wahid’s speculation is chilling and again there’s no evidence to support it. But there’s no doubt that he’s a barometer of how many Indonesians view the whole terror campaign."
Monday, October 24, 2005
More on how to get one of 5,000 free tickets to Bali for foreigners
Basically, start by registering online at Garuda's website from 10 November 2005 onwards.
Recycle your old specs in Bali
Balinese farmers need sunglasses to prevent cataracts. Many Balinese can't afford prescription glasses. A Bali-based charity is collecting prescription glasses, ascertaining their strength, and then sending them off to people who need that prescription. They can be posted to Bali Discovery Tours, or deposited at places in Bali, Yogyakarta, and Arizona.
Gold Mining in Indonesia
No Dirty Gold
Oxfam, the coolest and best aid agency in the world, is running a "No dirty gold" campaign. It seems to be at the right time, or getting good results, because Tiffany (the New York jeweller) recently wrote a "letter advertisement", published in the Washington Post signed by the Chairman of the Board which contained paragraphs like this:
"This huge mine would discharge millions of gallons of waste water per day conveying pollutants to the Clark Fork River and ultimately into Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho, a national treasure in its own right. Vast quantities of mine tailings -- a polite term for toxic sludge -- would be stored in a holding facility of questionalble durability."It led to this not particularly impressive response:
“I was stunned that a person of Mr. Kowalski’s stature and obvious business acumen would write a letter like that,” said Laura Skaer, head of the Northwest Mining Association in Spokane."and this much much more insidious one:
"Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey said the Tiffany letter was filled with errors and misconceptions. Rey contended the proposed mine would follow strict controls to protect wildlife and waterways.Now, the villagers of Buyat Bay in North Sulawesi are suing Newcrest Mining over its operations there, though it seems communication between the plaintiffs and their lawyers isn't too flash, and there's a hint of a slap writ in Newcrest's defamation proceedings against the lawyers. Oxfam says:
Critics also should consider that the alternative to mining for precious metals in the United States is mining in undeveloped countries that lack environmental protections, Rey said. He added: 'I don’t think that’s what Tiffany wants.'”
"NMR pipes its mining waste approximately ten kilometers from the open-pit and discharges it into Buyat Bay at a depth of 82 meters. Since it opened in 1996, the mine has dumped more than 4 million tons of mine waste into the bay."The photograph is of a kid from the village whose parents reckon her skin problems are caused by the mine effluent. The villagers are also reporting "skin rashes and sores on their bodies, severe headaches, tumors and reproductive health problems."
Saturday, October 22, 2005
A Bali diving blog
Another Bali blog
I have just discovered the blog Planet Mole, by an Englishman with itchy feet who has washed up in Australia, a friend of Nick O'Neill over at Bali Blog. He has been writing a blog about Bali, or perhaps which is currently about Bali, for about the same time as I have. I do like a nice photo of sawah, and here's one from his blog.
Friday, October 21, 2005
ZNet |Anti War | Entering The Land Of The Free
Here are three arguments against terror laws. This is not polemic. I assume, but do not really know, that these laws are overreactions, and are the very victory for the terrorists that those who continue to travel to Bali are so staunch in their refusal to countenance. But you just don't know, do you, because they don't tell us, except in reports of 300 at a time, of all the terrorist bombings they have prevented.
The first, whose link is above, is an experiment by Dr Sanjoy Mahajan (pictured), an English born lecturer in astrophysics at Cambridge University with dual US / UK citizenship. It commences:
"Since the United States began bombing Iraq, I have worn a sign wherever I go (cycling or walking around town, teaching, shopping, going on the subway, etc.). It is about 8.5"x11". One side says `Oiligarchy' in large red letters; the other has a 2"x4" sticker of George Bush labelled `International Terrorist' near a smaller sticker saying `Regime change starts at home.' I live much of the year in Cambridge, England, where I teach physics, and also in Manhattan."The second is an article from The Guardian newspaper in London:
"The officer explains what made them change their mind and arrest me. Apparently, on August 4, 2004, there was a firearms incident at the company where I work. The next day I find out that there had been a hoax call the previous year, apparently from a temp claiming there was an armed intruder. Some staff had also been seen photographing tube stations with a camera phone. On June 2, as part of a team-building exercise, new colleagues were supposed to photograph landmarks and try to get a picture of themselves with a policeman."The third is a blog post on lessons from Malaysia and Singapore where no one ever got round to getting rid of special purpose (anti-Communist) legislation for a police state. One of the articles it links to has the story of an 82 year old Briton and Labor Party long-time member:
"Walter Wolfgang, a veteran Labour activist from Richmond Park in south London, was dragged from the hall by stewards after shouting "nonsense" as Jack Straw spoke of Britain's success in bringing democracy Iraq.
Mr Wolfgang tried to re-enter the hall, but was refused permission under Section 44 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. His conference pass was also confiscated."
Then of course there is Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian kid gunned down on the London tube, a comprehensive account of which is at Wikipedia:
"The officers followed Menezes for 5 minutes as he walked to the Tulse Hill bus-stop for the Number 2 bus line. As he boarded the bus, several plain clothes police officers boarded, continuing the pursuit. At some point during the 10-25 minute ride to the Stockwell Tube station, Menezes briefly got off the bus, waited a few moments and boarded it again. The three surveillance officers later stated that they were satisfied that they had the correct man, as he "had mongolian eyes". Finally the bus arrived at Stockwell Tube station, 3.3km (2 miles) away.
At some point during this journey, the pursuing officers contacted Gold Command, and reported that Menezes potentially matched the description of two of the previous day's suspects, including Osman Hussain. Based on this information, Gold Command authorized "code red" tactics, and ordered the surveillance officers to prevent Menezes from boarding a train. According to a "senior police source at Scotland Yard", Police Commander Cressida Dick told the surveillance team that the man was to be "detained as soon as possible", before entering the station. "There's no doubt that Commander Dick did not instruct anyone to shoot de Menezes". Gold Command then transferred control of the operation to SO19, which dispatched firearms officers to Stockwell Tube Station."
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
The Counterterrorism Blog: Three years after Bali I, JI remains alive and well
The Counterterrorism Blog: Three years after Bali I, JI remains alive and well
This is an interesting little piece on the state of Jeemah Islamiah (which translates as Islamic Organisation) from the Counterterrorism Blog. I very much like small summaries of big things. Its author, Zachary Abuza, is associate professor of political science at Simmons College, Boston, and the author of Militant Islam in South-East Asia. Australia's ABC TV's flagship investigative reporting hour, Four Corners, has an interview transcript with him on their website, and a paper entitled, in the rich oratorical rhetoric rubbed off from terrorists, "Tentacles of Terror; Al Qaeda's Southeast Asian Network".
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
The question of aid: Radio National's Counterpoint
I kind of half listened to this programme too, while scrubbing the vegetable curry pot and the old faithful rice cooker. It seems you can listen to it across the internet but not download it.
Jeffrey Sachs, pictured, of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, discusses some of the big questions about aid with some guy called Wolfgang Kasper, of the Centre for Independent Studies in Canberra (which sounds suspiciously like a right wing think tank). If I remember correctly, he points out that America gives only 3 cents in every hundred dollars of its economy in aid to Africa, and one cent is on food aid, one American consultants' salaries, and one is spent on what might be termed true development assistance. Wolfie takes the sceptic's approach which is sometimes attractive, for example when it's put by Paul Theroux in Dark Star Safari, but always so difficult to evaluate from our armchairs in our little bubble. This is another blogger's summary of what Theroux says there:
'Labor-intensive projects are extremely rare in Africa because of self-serving foreign "aid" that require "purchases of machinery have to be made in the donor country, or that bids be restricted to firms in the donor country, or that a time limit be placed on the scheme which encourages the tendency towards large contracts and heavy spending on equipment." Paul also verifies what I had first read about in Jim Roger's Adventure Capitalist. All of the used clothing donated to churches to be distributed to "poor Africa" becomes merchandise the second the cargo ship leaves the port. When it reaches its destination it's purchased in large blocks by merchants who resell them. The author picks up some "new" clothes himself in order to avoid looking like a tourist. His T-shirt read "Top-Notch Plumbing". Of course, all this "good-well aid" does nothing but to hurt Africa's economy. There was a time, not too long ago, when some of the best tailors in the world were in Africa. But how can you be a tailor when the West sends clothes over for practically free? Why be a farmer when the West wants to feed you for free? What's the best industry in Kenya? Coffins. Coffin-making is a booming industry. In one area of Malawi the people are growing their own Maize crops but are using hybrid seeds resulting in big plants but sterile seeds. The farmers can't set aside plants as seed corn because they are all sterile! As Theroux says, "Without free seeds each year these people would starve."'Granted, this doesn't have a lot to do with Bali, though Australia does have quite a few projects in Bali within its $302 million aid package to Indonesia for 2005-2006, and Bali seems to be a very corrupt place indeed, so the "Is it worth it?" question is relevant on that front. Australia's Foreign Minister promised $1 million to help the Balinese hospitals about two weeks ago.
[If you didn't already click on "right wing think tank", do it now.]
[Thanks to Macam-Macam for the link to the Corruption Perception Index.]
More on tourism arrivals
This is a garuda, a winged dragon, Vishnu's steed. Now Vishnu is one of the three deities who are Sanghyang Widhi Wasa when they get together. Someone called Micha Lindemans put this onto the internet, referring to S. Widhi Wasa:
"All-In-One God," a term invented by early Christian missionaries to describe, for conversion purposes, the biblical 'God the Father' to the polytheistic Balinese people. However, the concept of an 'All-In-One God' was already inferred by Hinduism but remained unnamed and ineffable since to name and thus identify the All-In-One (particularly by gender) was seen as 'limiting the unlimited.' In art, Sanghyang Widhi Wasa is based on the Hindu Trimurti of Brahma, Wisnu, and Siwa.Indonesia's national airline Garuda is offering 5,000 free tickets to Bali "mostly from Australia and Japan, to be distributed by travel agents or a lottery. Another 5000 tickets will be given to Malaysians and a further 5000 to domestic tourists." Why? Australia's Radio National's Asia Pacific has these statistics:
"Antara newsagency cites statistics from Bali's immigration office, which says 163,221 international visitors arrived in September - a daily average of 5,444.
However, between October 1 and October 16, only 45,000 foreign tourist arrivals were registered - a daily average of just 2,812."
Monday, October 17, 2005
Bali News: Arrivals Down, But for How Long?
This from the newsletter of Bali Discovery Tours:
- The downturn in average foreign arrivals to Bali suggest that overall arrivals are down between 35-40%, at least for the short term.
- Anecdotal evidence from Japanese and Australian operators and airlines indicates that business from these markets is currently down by as much as 50%.
- The Bali Hotel Association (BHA) reports substantial drops in average occupancies, falling from an average 90-95% on October 1st to 45-50% on October 13, 2005.
An article with a couple of interesting points on Australians and Bali
The Weekend Australian: New Bali bombings bring neighbours closer together
This article tells a bit about Tony Abbott's experience of the recent bombings (and that he was staying in a 3 star resort in Legian), makes the point that there were about 7,000 Australians in Bali on the day of the bombings, and that up to 1% of our population will probably visit Bali this year. It also asserts that the Indonesians have made 200 terrorism related arrests over the last 3 years.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
A proto-feminist illustrator of Surinamese bugs
This has nothing to do with Bali, but I want you to know about Maria Sibylla Merian, a seventeenth-centry German woman who lived in Holland, and travelled, especially to Dutch Guiana (now Surinam), drawing, and then etching, exquisite botanical illustrations, infested with bugs. There is a hardback book titled "Merian" floating around relatively cheaply. I am going to buy one, cut it up, frame the bits, and hang them on the wall.
Village Security: Pacalang
Banjar members control traffic at a ceremony in Seminyak Bali :: Bali Travel Guide
There's another kind of security man in Bali too, the pacalang, or banjar members who direct traffic during cremations and other ceremonies, which frequently create traffic havoc (illustrated in this image lifted straight out of Nick O'Neill's Baliblog).
The cows on the streets of New Delhi may have given way to the needs of industrial modernity but religious ceremonies can still get in the way of an island's traffic on Bali.
ABC Radio National: AM - Bali's economy struggling
AM - Bali's economy struggling
This is a radio interview transcript in which an Australian expatriate suggests that room occupancies are down 20% to 50%. I would be interested to know how accurate that is because other things I've read suggest that the tourism fallout from this second bombing has been less than might have been expected.
More interesting is the account of big gates going up round hotels. When I was in Bali in August, there were security men all over the place, but I remembered them there from last time. It is one of the curiosities of travel in the third world how there is this whole industry of para-police, all decked out in quite elaborate uniforms. Cilik, of Cilik's Beach Garden, told me that it was the law, founded in a policy of job creation, that there be a nightwatchman per specific number of bungalows (I forget how many, but it was a small number).
After the first bombing, there was a great reluctance to give up the relaxed attitude to security, and I do not think much changed. At ultra-hip bars packed with ugly "beautiful people" like Ku De Ta, there were security guys who would sweep mirrors on little trolleys underneath cars; so too at places like The Legian, and where we unfortunately stayed, Resor Seminyak, both in Seminyak, two suburbs down Kuta beach from Kuta. But not all cars got the treatment. The security was obviously imperfect, though not exactly relaxed.
These kinds of measures will themselves instill fear, and make Bali a less desirable place.
What is surprising perhaps is that there have been no call to banish Javanese from Bali. Most of the taxi drivers are Javanese. They live together in pockets of Denpasar which the suicide bombers are suspected of cruising in and out of unnoticed. There is already a lot of resentment towards Javanese in Bali. Many are poor and come to try to make money in this comparatively wealthy Indonesian island. The Balinese blame most of the hawker behaviour on Kuta Beach on Javanese visitors.
We don't tend to distinguish much between Indonesians, but a Javanese is truly foreign to a Balinese. They look different, have different religions, speak different languages, and eat different food.
My impression is that many more Javanese are only nominally religious (four in every five, they say), whereas Balinese religion is so built into the culture and structure of society as to be inescapable. Balinese Hinduism is intrinsically more fun, too, involving the creation of beautiful and elaborate offerings to the Gods, the essence of which is then eaten by the Gods, and the substance finished off by the worshippers. Happily, the Balinese gods like nothing more than that which the Balinese so enjoy: gamelan orchestras, traditional dance, and shadow puppetry all have their place in religious ceremonies at which the gods and their subjects are entertained. And it is probably a lot easier to worship one's ancestors than a rather severe God.
Thanks go to www.bali-info.de for the photo.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Another diversion: August Kleinzahler. Sorry
"We will see. You could get used, I suppose, to this getting taken notice of" said Hackensack-born August Kleinzahler on Australia's Radio National just now. A poet who has gone across to prose, he was marvelling at the attention being paid to his new book. Only a writer would say such a thing in such a way.
It made me think about blogging. It is somewhat incredible that 521 different people have at least glanced at this blog, including folk from (or whose internet servers are in) Mexico, Iraq, UAE, Hungary, Norway, and Slovakia, and I have kept a keen eye on who's looking from where, wondering who you all are. But that I know it's a a forlorn hope I would invite you to leave a comment to this post and let me know.
This is what Kleinzahler was reading on the radio, and I liked it:
You can probably hear the programme again on Thursday night, or listen to it in due course on your computer on the web.
"It was the dog who raised me. Oh, the others came and went with their nurturing gestures and concerns, but it was the dog on whose ear I teethed and who watched me through countless hours with the sagacity and hearing of a Ugandan tribal chief.
You can see him straining at the collar as my mother, dressed to the nines, first introduced him to me, freshly home from the hospital, lying across the nurse's lap, almost afloat, like an early Renaissance Christ child. You can see the muscles in his shoulders and neck. Perhaps he would have eaten me right then had I not been smelling of Mother, who I must say looks very pretty there in profile, probably about to head off to her Shakespeare club or into the city to see Paul Scofield in Lear, or something along those lines. Mother was very keen on Shakespeare, you see.
Going through the old photo albums you will find pictures of me in various stages of growing up, surrounded by the family: father, mother, sister, brother. But please notice, it is the dog at my side, seated upright, proudly displaying the musculature of his thick chest and the flame of white fur that ornamented it. I am his charge, the rest of them bit players. Not so much a Romulus-and-Remus situation as my having a guardian, a sort of dog uncle, rearing me in lieu of parents."
Unusual still life at Museum Le Mayeur
Interior, Museum Le Mayeur
I think the paintings you can see are watercolours which have faded away to reveal only the outlines and some faded remnants of pigment. The place is in extraordinarily bad repair. Apparently some Belgians are getting some money together for restorations. Too late, I think.
A neat dining table
Carving detail, Museum Le Mayeur
Grand Bali Beach Hotel, Sanur
Built in 1965, it reportedly resulted in a ban on buildings higher than a coconut palm. It is undoubtedly one of the great things about Bali that it is low rise. Rich people who work in high rises love low rise places.
Turkey takes action after first bird flu case. 09/10/2005. ABC News Online
Turkey takes action after first bird flu case. 09/10/2005. ABC News Online
I suppose if the bird flu was going to strike anywhere, it was turkey. Very sad.
I checked the web to see if this was an irony my punning brain had picked up on in advance of the rest of the world, but no. That was a bit hard to swallow.
Typically, Mehdi Eker, the Agriculture Minister, is ducking for cover. What a goose.
[With thanks to Peter Leonard from whose blog I stole the photo.]
Friday, October 14, 2005
Terror police tighten bomb dragnet - The Age
Terror police tighten bomb dragnet - World - theage.com.au
The last paragraph of this story reports that:
"Indonesia's Tourism Minister, Jero Wacik, said the response to the bombings was positive. Three years ago there was a mass exodus of 10,000 from Bali, while this time 2611 people left the day after the attack. But some who planned Christmas holidays in Bali are cancelling. About 250 package bookings for January have been cancelled."
It is worth remembering amidst all the articles which say that tourism in Bali was just getting back to normal before the latest bombings, that the highest number of visitor arrivals for six months, ever, had been recorded. There were certainly no accommodation discounts to be had because of too few "guests" (as Balinese tend to call tourists) when I was there in August.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
More terror elsewhere: Thailand's southern Islamic provinces bordering Malaysia
This is a useful overview about a no-doubt-deliberately-under-reported Muslim insurgency in Thailand's southern provinces, snaking down the peninsula which is half Thailand, half Burma, and ends with Malaysia. Phuket is down there, and Muslims outnumber Buddhists in places 4 to 1. There are an estimated 10,000 rebels in a population of 4 million, and there have been 1,000 killings since January 2004.
"Beheadings, bombs and drive-by shootings now are everyday atrocities in Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat provinces. The very persistence of violence has meant that grim statistics have lost much of their shock value. The victims have come from all ranks of society: Buddhist monks, Muslim clerics, judges, schoolteachers, footballers, shopkeepers, postmen.
After a sniper killed an ice-cream vendor on the street, popsicle-sellers ditched their uniforms to prevent being mistaken for paramilitaries. Army helicopters swoop over the rubber plantations nightly and humvees lumber past sodden groves where unpicked fruit rots on the trees. Bazaars shutter early and nightlife is only a memory. Teachers at vulnerable government schools feel particularly under threat; many have demanded pistol permits (and time for target-practice) or else a transfer to safer areas in the north."
"[A] poster recently warned catfish vendors who neglect to close shop on Fridays (the Islamic day of worship) that they can expect their ears to be sliced off."It sounds like a pretty scary place to begin with, and nothing seems clear cut (I'm sure it's no less terrifying to fear criminals than it is to fear terrorists):
"The torrid provinces near the Malaysian frontier, far from Bangkok, have long been a dumping-ground for corrupt officials caught with their hands in the till elsewhere. Smugglers of narcotics, underage prostitutes, undocumented workers, firearms, or endangered exotic wildlife and timber take advantage of the porous border and circuitous sea routes that thread through small islands.The Prime Minister had a lovely idea:
The black market enriches even minor players, and turf wars erupt over payoffs and supplies. Newly arrived security troops, which now number 30,000, are forced to sort out the militant action from ongoing criminal feuds or minor diversionary blasts which enable illicit trade to carry on."
"In December 2004, Thaksin demanded that Thai schoolchildren and civil servants fold up 100 million origami cranes in a bizarre scheme to 'peace bomb' the south with flocks of Buddhist good wishes."
Saturday, October 08, 2005
Australian papers' weekend wrap up on Bali Bombings Round Two
First, some breaking news. SBS reports that Nooradin Top, one of the two Malaysian suspected bombmakers who stand accused in the media of being behind both Round One and Round Two, fled a house in Purwanto, central Java, hours before it was raided. It seems that but for worries about taking precautions against getting blown up themselves, the police might have got him. One wonders what would happen then: there have been calls by the supposedly placid Balinese for the terrorists to be tortured before being executed.
The Australian's wrap is here. It mentions some interesting modes of investigations: examining the remains of computers at the scene, presumably to ascertain when their clocks stopped, is hoped to pinpoint the time of the attacks. And it's hoped that seismological equipment might do likewise. It also makes the interesting point that the Raja Restaurant (which I had never heard of, or seen) was popular with Japanese, and that it was next to a Japanese tourist office. And there were many Javanese dining at the two beachside seafood restaurants on Jimbaran Bay, but few foreigners.
The Age has a Saturday feature too, dealing in detail with some of the stories of those directly affected. Here is just one:
"'We got a call, there's been a bomb,' his wife Michelle Allen-Childs says. Childs grabbed his cameras while she pulled out clean towels. 'By the time I got down there . . . the scene was surreal,' he says. 'Like watching a movie knowing it's real, but thinking, "This is not right." This shouldn't be how Jimbaran looks because we walk past there every day with the dogs. I looked up and there's a man, I think it's a man, slouched over a table, not moving, and I went, "well there's no point to go and help him".' Elsewhere was a severed leg.
'We wandered around and found Bruce and Jennifer Williamson from Newcastle, found them in the sand, lying there,' he says. 'You couldn't see anything. You've got to imagine this is a fish cafe with candles on the beach, it was really, really dark.'
Michelle and a friend, Steve Jeisman, helped get the Williamsons - who had been with the Newcastle group at the Menega Cafe - off the beach while Jason shot photos 'and did what I could'. His pictures show the couple covered in blood. Mr Williamson appeared to have been blinded, he says. 'He couldn't see. All he could see was the flashes of the camera.'
Mrs Williamson was writhing in pain, Michelle recalls. 'Her leg had been pretty much severed with shrapnel wounds like you would see in a Vietnam War movie.' She tied a towel as a tourniquet 'and we kept her talking, saying 'stay with us, don't go' and we tried to be positive.'
Her husband was remarkably calm. 'He was amazing. He sat me down and he said "Michelle, I am Bruce Williamson. This is Jennifer". He said, "Michelle my son is not here. He is in the hotel in Kuta, Bali Gardens Hotel. We had two rooms". He gave me both room numbers but he couldn't remember which one they were staying in.
'And he goes: You have to call him and tell him what's happened.'
So Allen-Childs found the courage to ring 16-year-old Duncan to tell him that his parents had been caught in a bomb blast.
They had lifted his mother on to a table out of the sand and debris and waited until she could be taken to hospital. She was wearing some good jewellery, which they removed in case it 'disappeared' at the hospital.
'We took it to the hospital (the next day) hoping to see her and hand it back to her,' Jason Childs says and his voice begins to break. '. . . and she'd died.'
I would be grateful for links to any similar treatments of the stories of the Indonesian victims in the Indonesian press. If you can translate from Indonesian to English, a translation of just one story, like that above, would be good.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Christopher Hitchens on the Bali Bombings 2005
Seeking rationality is futile - The Age
Christopher Hitchens is nothing if not entertaining:
"The fanatics look at the population of Bali and its foreign visitors and they see a load of Hindus selling drinks, often involving the presence of unchaperoned girls, to a load of Christians. That in itself is excuse enough for mayhem."I like people who swap sides; it shows at least a degree of freedom of thought. Hitchens is kind of the reverse of Robert Manne (former Quadrant editor turned refugee enthusiast), though a rightie turning left is much more interesting for going against the traffic. My dad told me once that if you're not a communist by 21 you haven't lived, but if you're still one at 40, you haven't made it. Rupert Murdoch had a bust of Lenin on his mantlepiece at Oxford for God's sake.
I posted a link to an article about Indonesian perspectives on terrorism in Indonesia just before. Hitchens, former enfant terrible of the left, looks in a relatively novel way at the motivations of the terrorists.
The left is probably a bit in denial about East Timor being a prompt for terrorism. Hitchens quotes what Al-Qaeda said about blowing up Sergio Vieira de Mello though:
"A communique from al-Qaeda gloated over the end of 'the personal representative of America's criminal slave, Kofi Annan, the diseased Sergio de Mello, criminal Bush's friend'. It went on to ask: 'Why cry over a heretic? Sergio Vieira de Mello is the one who tried to embellish the image of America, the crusaders and the Jews in Lebanon and Kosovo, and now in Iraq. He is America's first man where he was nominated by Bush to be in charge of the UN after Kofi Annan, the criminal and slave of America, and he is the crusader that extracted a part of the Islamic land (East Timor).'"(One thing you can say about the rise of militant Islam is that it has revived the tradition of florid rhetoric. It rubs off on us too: George Bush likes "evildoers" and Australian Foreign Minister Alexander we-will-not-back-Downer today also wrote an article in The Age optimistically predicting Australia's victory over terrorism (co-operation with the Indonesian police will do the trick) which used the words "tragic", "despicable", "brutal", "tyrannical", "intolerant", "evil", and "warriors".)
And the other interesting thing in the article is the proposition that extremist Muslims despise Hindus above the adherents all other religions. Hitchens draws a link between two Muslim-Hindu battlefields, Kashmir, and Bali:
"Hinduism is considered by bin Ladenists to be a worse heresy even than Christianity or Judaism or Shiism, and its adherents, whether in Bali or Kashmir, are fit only for the edge of the sword. So, it is absurd to think of jihadism that murders the poor and the brown without compunction as a movement against the rich and the 'white'."We are no doubt guilty of thinking with the "It's all about us" blinkers on a lot of the time, and tend to think that racism is something we inflict on the brown and black.
Is anyone aware of anything which corroborates the proposition of Bin Ladinists despising Hindus?
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Conspiracy theories air a new wave of views
This is an interesting article in which Indonesian perceptions on the war on terror are explored. Conspiracy theories abound, and:
"A senior Indonesian politician yesterday joined the call to stop blaming JI for the latest Bali bombings. Hidayat Nurwahid, chairman of Indonesia's Parliament and leader of the major Muslim political force, the Prosperous Peace and Justice Party, blamed the bombings on tourism industry rivalry."He is the leader of "the world's largest Muslim organisation of its type (it has 35 to 40 million members)".
The article makes the point that most Indonesians are only nominally Muslim. Pious Muslims number only about 1 in 5, and piousness is by no means the same as fanaticism. Indeed, it is well worth remembering that the two are properly antithetical.
The Australian: Embrace nuclear weapons: Bashir [October 04, 2005]
The Australian: Embrace nuclear weapons: Bashir
Weird. How does this article where Bashir is quoted as endorsing nuclear jihad against America correlate with this one where he condemns bombing because of the effect on innocent civilians? Crazy stuff for a man in jail on terrorism charges.
In case anyone's wondering after my earlier post about him, I'm not a fan.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Some Darfur photos on Flickr
This blog is suffering major wanderings. I will bring it back soon to how pleasant various Balinese hotel rooms were. Bloody terrorists: they've even upset the equilibrium of my blog.
Really bad terror: Darfur
Really bad terror is to be found in Darfur, a place which also suffers from Muslim on Muslim violence which is the theme of Adams's article, though I think that's coincidental to what Adams was saying. Just a couple of days before the 1 October 2005 Bali bombings, at least 32 people died in a Janjaweed terrorist strike on a refugee camp in Sudan.
Imagine the terror of living in Sudan, governed by an Islamic military dictatorship keen on Sharia law, with Central African Republic, Chad, and Libya as your neighbours. If there is an end of the earth, this is probably it, (though I have my suspicions about backwaters of Mongolia and of the former Soviet republics). There, genocide is proceeding, and that's according to Colin Powell. According to the BBC, "About 180,000 people have been killed and two million have fled their homes since the conflict began in early 2003."
Imagine living in a desert where life is cheap to start with, brutal thugs appear in jeeps and on horseback, the government bombs you from the air, groups of women and girls are gang raped in public, and pregnant women's bellies are slit open.
Be warned, what follows is truly horrifying, Amnesty testimony of the Janjawid's terror on the black(er) co-Muslims whom they are terrorising while the world takes a nap:
"After six days some of the girls were released. But the others, as young as eight years old were kept there. Five to six men would rape us in rounds, one after the other for hours during six days, every night. My husband could not forgive me after this, he disowned me."
"When we tried to escape they shot more children. They raped women; I saw many cases of Janjawid raping women and girls. They are happy when they rape. They sing when they rape and they tell that we are just slaves and that they can do with us how they wish."
"UNICEF has completed a child protection survey in Tawila. The report confirms a host of disturbing findings from the recent inter-agency mission, including a very large number of rape cases, in one case targeting 41 school girls and teachers, gang rape of minors by up to 14 men, abduction of children and women as well as killings of many civilians."Nothing could be more horrendous, or could it? Far from doctors, police, and counsellors after the ordeal, this:
"Given the cultural taboo associated with rape, women are reluctant to report it to the few medical workers present in refugee camps, which can lead to further medical complications of injuries they may have sustained during the rape. Women who have become pregnant as a result of rape often suffer complications before, during and after giving birth, because of the physical injuries resulting from assault. When giving birth, women who have been raped are prone to the problem of fistula. A fistula occurs when the wall between the vagina and the bladder or bowel is ruptured and women lose control of the bladder or bowel functions. They become isolated as a result of their incontinence. The problem can be resolved by surgery.
Even if women raped have not sustained consequent grave physical injuries, the apparent lack of hygiene and sanitary products in the context of material relief shortages in Darfur and Chad contribute to the risk of infections.
In western Sudan, female genital mutilation (FGM) is practiced: the majority of women are circumcised and many women are infibulated. This increases the risk of injuries during rape and consequently increases the risk of contracting HIV/Aids or other sexually transmitted diseases. At present there are no adequate medical facilities to provide comprehensive medical care on HIV/Aids amongst the refugee population in Chad or in IDP camps in Darfur, as a consequence of the fact that humanitarian organizations are overwhelmed by the nutritional emergency and difficulties in access, logistics and capacity. The consequences of this lack of medical support for rape survivors living with HIV/Aids are severe."
Phillip Adams on the 2005 Bali bombings
It is a brave man who tries to put the Bali bombings into perspective against other realms of terror such as Iraq. Terror there is in Iraq even if it be accepted that it is not caused by terrrorists. Terror there was in Iraq before, too. When civilian casualties start getting counted in the hundreds of thousands by respected commentators like Robert Fisk, I think any Iraqi near a centre of conflict would be nervous, nay terrified. As Adams points out, the conflict in Iraq takes scores, sometimes hundreds of lives a day.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Bali bombings 2005: Bashir and the Schapelle Corby comparison
It is at least half an hour's drive from Kuta; it is by no means just an extension of the tourism zone like Legian and Seminyak are. Some Flickr photos tagged "Jimbaran" are here. It's all plastic chairs, sunsets, and overcooked seafood stuffed with lead weight before being sold by weight.
How sad the deaths are. The injuries too will cause terrible consequences for a long time. It is appropriate to acknowledge that. I do not like the party set in Bali, but to be torn to pieces with ball bearings is and ought to be repulsive to everyone. Anyway, it was tourists from Newcastle who were injured, and, likely, killed, not the Ku De Ta set. The latter are worrying about warnings of attacks in Seminyak.
It's probably not the right time to raise it, but in "these difficult times" an attachment to the facts and some respect for the rule of law is a healthy discipline. It's Bashir. Now, he doesn't really share my politics: he wants to turn Indonesia into an Islamic state, openly supports Osama Bin Laden, and said that the Americans carried out the 2002 bombing. But I am sick of hearing Bashir described as someone who masterminded the 2002 Bali bombings. Actually I don't even mind that, it's when people start comparing Schappelle Corby's sentence with Bashir's as if Schappelle's crime was to have a bit of pot in her pipe and Bashir's the Bali Bombings round one.
The truth of the matter is recorded in The Age -- that the man was jailed for 30 months for saying to two kids who later went on to commit the Bali Bombings, Round One "It's up to you, you are the ones who know the situation on the ground." What's more, the conviction was based on the affidavit testimony of two jailbirds whom Bashir's lawyers were unable to cross-examine and who in fact denied the conversations. Those who bleat too loudly about the unfairness of Corby's conviction ought to bear this in mind:
"The Indonesian court convicted Bashir after a five-month trial on the supposed evidence of two of the Bali bombers, Amrozi and Mubarok, both of whom are in prison in Bali.He was acquitted of 6 of the 7 charges, including treason, in the same trial in which he was convicted of conspiracy in relation to the Bali bombings. He is currently charged with further offences in relation to the 2002 bombings, but they are, at present, charges. He today condemned the 2005 bombings relatively unreservedly. Bali
According to the prosecution, Bashir met with Amrozi and Mubarok in Bashir's house in Solo, Central Java, in August 2002 - two months before the October attack.
At that meeting, the pair are alleged to have said to Bashir: "What if we do something in Bali?" Bashir is alleged to have replied: "It's up to you, you are the ones who know the situation on the ground."
Chief Judge Sudarto said this exchange proved Bashir was involved in the conspiracy to carry out the Bali bombings.
According to Bashir's lawyers, this evidence proved nothing and should never have been accepted by the judges as it was never tested in the court.
Mr Adnan said these allegations about Bashir's involvement were part of a statement given to police by Mubarok after he was arrested. But when Mubarok was brought to give evidence in Bashir's trial, he refused to speak about this conversation or anything else.
Bashir's lawyers had wanted to bring to court Amrozi, who has denied this exchange ever took place, but their request was refused."