Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Must have done something right!

This morning started like most. Got up, had a coffee went to the loo and took the kids to school. After dropping them off at 7:50 I kept driving out of town towards Cangu and my favorite surf spot. I hadn't been there in about 3 weeks so it would be good to catch up with the guys whether there was surf or not.
As luck would have it there was a 5-6 set coming through and I had a great surf and catchup. Left the beach, knowing I had a lot of work ahead today. I was burning the candle at both ends. Stopped off for croissants came home made another soya latte and with breakfast in hand headed to the guest house, the shed, to start work.
Went through all my emails and was just about to get into it when I noticed one in the Junk mail folder.
An advert for longer penises, bigger breasts or more money was sure to be there. But to 'unhighlight' the whole inbox I would have to delete it.
The subject was "congratulations" I thought I had won yet another one of the European lotteries and would only have to send them my bank details to get it. I clicked on it and in the second I had before my finger hit the delete key I noticed it was from Global Surf Industries.
I had entered their competition the other day. I wrote 500 words about how surfing changed my life in an effort to win a surfboard a year for the next ten years. Not a bad first prize eh?
Well I wasn't quite that lucky but I was one of the 25 runners up who has gone and won themselves a new surfboard.
Now I just have to figure out which one! And I have so much other stuff to do today!
Check out my submission here!
Click on the Yellow box on the bottom and scroll until you see my name. Oh, I am the only winner living in Bali which is kind of cool!

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Carpe diem

Why is it that all of my little discourses come with some sort of pre curser?

Well this one should be no different. With that sorted I would like to move on to go over the little business trip that I made to Thailand a couple of weeks ago.

I do this for a couple of reasons. Firstly I want to silence my critics who think that it was nothing more than a junket and that no actual work was preformed. Well you know who you are people. Yes you, the one who thinks I just get my holidays paid for. The second and probably better reason is to show the lengths that we go to make sure that our customers are well serviced. I am a pro! That’s it. I know you do not get to see it very often but I am living and breathing. A walking talking Pro! Bask in my glow. Or not, your call. We did a lot, so I am not going to get out of this with a few words. Best get comfortable and read on…

So after the little episode of the disappearing camera, see below, I left home in the back of a taxi. I do not think I said a word to the driver. My thoughts were chaotic. Seemingly in the blink of an eye we were at the airport. I bundled out, checked in, checked out of the country and sat down at the café/bar where one can enjoy a beer and a ciggie in quiet comfort. It took two of each before they called our flight. I waited for the crowd to disappear and be lined through and onto the plane. The trip was uneventful. I sulked and dozed. On getting to Singapore I made my way to the Skytrain that joins terminal 1 with 2 and went to terminal two. I checked in at the transit hotel and bid a pretty average day goodnight.
Woke at 6 and showered, made my way downstairs, collected a coffee and headed for the camera shop. Good thing about airports, they are wide-awake at 7am. So it was at an hour where most of Singapore still slept that I purchased a new Nikon Digital SLR. The D80.

Met up with the Techmexicans, Scott, Domino and Shirley then the 4 of us flew to Bangkok to start our MS OEM tour.

We arrived and headed to the Bangkok Hilton, I think there is a song about that. Though this Hilton is a brand new glassy structure with the full groovy interior. Was awarded an executive suite for my troubles and after I checked the toilet, bath and view, not in that order I don’t think. I scooted downstairs to have lunch with the others. We buffeted for an hour or so catching up with John then site inspected the Hilton. We looked at a couple of their restaurants, their meeting facilities and a couple of their rooms. We looked at their executive level, their pool area (worked out how to have a great cocktail reception their) and then their spa. We finished around 3.20pm and the hotel arranged a boat for us across the river to look at the Shangri-La. Actually we were to look at a mock-up room for the Shangri_la in Chiang Mai. In all my years of inspecting hotels I have never been taken to the carpark, walked down a level taken over to some timber walls and then asked to remove me shoes before proceeding into this complete hall mock-up of the hotel they are building in Chiang Mai. It was weird and interesting all at the same time. Very Shang! The style of the room, not being led through a car park.

I had a bit of time so I made a Be line for the Apple Store where I needed an Apple power point, I had put mine in the front of my camera bag and now someone else owned it! A$25 later I owned one that I can only ever use in Thailand, handy! I was a little depressed; I had some time so I thought I would window shop some. Ambling along gazing around this glass edifice I wandered past a Ripcurl shop to find that they had a sale on. There was obviously something in there I needed, though I just didn’t know what. I am thinking Retail Therapy here. I mumbled hi as I passed the threshold. I thought the girl behind the counter was sitting down then she came round my side and I saw she was only 4’ something. Amazing, she was perfectly proportioned.
I was standing by the watch cabinet when she came up beside me and told me they were all reduced 30%. Really! I replied looking down at her. I oogled the tide predicting watches that could tell you when were and how big the tide was at 1000 pre-programmed beaches for the next 99 years, handy! Hmm handn’t I just had a similar thought?
I then asked for a look and this petite Thai lady again amazed me as she dragged the solid Titanium watch from the case. She used both hands to carry it. The therapy was going well until I caught view of the price tag, Geez! I could get someone to text me the tide everyday for the rest of my life for less than that!
I gave it back telling her how fab it would look on her arm, better yet, she could wear it on her upper arm. She wasn’t amused. To dodge the dagger eyes she was sending I shifted my gaze back to the cabinet and it shifted down a shelf and then another. There on the 3rd shelf was a similar, though this time a stainless behemoth. The real difference, not only the steel, was the workings. This one just told you when high and low tide were. The price was a lot easier to swallow and I told her that she was an amazing salesperson and if it weren’t for her incredible personality I wouldn’t have brought it. Penny dropped around then and she smiled. She realised that I needed to purchase this as part of my therapy. We parted, we had to. It would never have worked out. I was married she was very tiny.
I joined the parades of people and made my way towards the taxi stand. The therapy had worked a treat and I was heading back to the hotel. It was getting late and we were looking at a offsite dinner venue called Dome.
Back in the hotel I showered, shaved and put on glad rags. I tried to wear shoes but my left foot was still a mass of scratches from the surf trip. This would prove a problem later on…
We went to Dome. It is on top of the State tower, about 55 floors I think. You get out of the lift in a Bar called Distil. You can go upstairs to their ‘fine dining’ experience, catch the lift to the Dome their function room or out onto the balcony to Sirocco, the highest outdoor restaurant in the world. If you get a chance to eat there do! It is a lovely experience and though not everyone raved about their meals, the scallops were lovely! Day 2 and breakfast in the executive lounge, The view out the window was amazing. About 270 degrees of the skyline is visible up here. It is a city that stretches from horizon to horizon, even this high in the sky. We viewed a couple more of the rooms that were not available to us the day before, checked out and headed to the airport. Flight TG 1213 arrived in Phuket at 15:25 we were met with a van and we checked into the JW Marriot. We had the obligatory cool towel and juice (one of the better juices on the whole trip). We dropped our bags grabbed our bits and commenced the site visit. We looked at a number of room types, conference facilities and their spa. We also wandered the extensive grounds looking at areas suitable to have dinners for the 150 people that will attend our event. John had a massage booked for him at 5pm and the rest of us met in the coffee shop. Scott and I had a beer while the ladies had softies. It was Domino’s birthday and I ordered a chocolate tart with a candle in it for her. Ulterior motives, I wanted to try the tart! We retired to our rooms, showered cleaned up and met transport in the lobby to take us the nearly hour drive into Phuket town. We were booked for dinner in at Baan Rim Pa. Our table was a cantilevered section of the veranda hanging out of the rocks. Waves crashed on them below us and a constant 10 knot breeze that made both brushing your hair and mozzie spray redundant.
We went into Pantang after dinner. Again I oogled and after one beer we were on the road heading back to the hotel. I was in bed before midnight.
Woke, went back to sleep and didn’t wake again. I then woke at 9am right when we were suppose to be checked out and heading to site recce the Sheraton. I dove through the shower, threw everything in my bag and off we headed to the Sheraton over at Lagoona Bay. Oops!
We wandered around there with the event Manager Gordon. He knew his stuff and even though the place is massive by 11am we were back in the mini bus for the short hop to the Banyan Tree. This place is lovely. The group that is renown for their spas has some lovely accommodation as well./ All of it is villa style. It ranges from very expensive to astronomical. We were driven, golf cart is de rigueur, from villa to villa being more and more amazed. There are a couple though that have a view across some water at a building site (They are building new villas) you would be unhappy if you paid your US$2.5k a night and got those ones! The villas either look over the lagoons or the golf course. We were then taken into the spa, which is where it all began for Banyan tree, we viewed a couple of consultation rooms and lunched around the pool. Yummy! We had to eat quickly as our van departed for the airport at 2.40pm. We scoffed it and ran. The plane was late. We sat bellies bulging back to Bangkok airport. Now this is weird. You pull up at an umbilical come out of the plane, are led down the stairs to a bus, driven over to domestic arrivals, go up transfer to Chiang Mai, go to a gate down to a bus, driven to another umbilical walk up the stairs through the tunnel and onto the aircraft! What the &^%#!
So we flew off to Chiang Mai. We arrived and were driven to the Mandarin Oriental (MO) Dhara Devi. This was the bit of the trip I had been looking forward to., I had done a gig at this place in April, but had not stayed there. This was 6 star. I wanted to see what gave it that one star difference.
The place is beautiful. The rooms, we were in Colonial Suites, John had a villa. They are finished to a level of detail rarely found at peoples homes, let alone a hotel. I logged on and did some mail, washed and made my way to the Akaligo, which is the Italian restaurant they have inhouse. We had to go to the horn bar afterwards for Mojitos and some banter. We breakfasted and started the site inspection at 9. This place sits on 68 acres and it was raining at different points during the day. It took awhile. We finished off the site inspection with Lunch at the Chinese Restaurant there, the Fujian. Impeccable, Peking Duck is not to missed. A highlight for any trip for me! From there we were going to the Shangri-La, remember the car park in Bangkok? To do a Hard Hat inspection. Weird going into a hotel when it is 5 months away from being finished. But looking at even the unfinished shell one is immediately impressed with it’s conference facilities, it’s number of room styles and the sheer size of the place. It’s big!
We returned to the MO and for the first time in a coupe of days actually had an hour to myself. I made he most of it and went for a swim. As I dove in and did a slow breaststroke along the bottom of the pool towards the distant end I suddenly realised that the pool had speakers in it. Aqua speakers, man it is cool to swim under water and listen to vibes. Pity they do not do diving courses in there.
That night we ate Thai at their Thai restaurant, Le Grand Lhanna and afterwards let off a number of hot air balloons. This is great fun and can be done by anyone at the tourist destinations in Chiang Mai. We want John to experience it as it is very different. These things are big! After that we retired to the Horn Bar and stepped up the pace from the night before. I remember wrestling Scott to throw him the pool but I do not know the time. It was early!
We left the hotel at 9, I was not at all well. We headed up into the mountains for Elephant Trekking. It is pretty cool, but when you are dehydrated and nursing a head ache well lets just say I wanted to click my heels together, say there is no place like home and Puff, be gone.
Wasn’t to be and I suffered silently through the 2 or so hours atop the wilderbeast.
I drifted off to sleep in the back seat of the mini bus as we drove to the MO. We lunched, collected our bags and made our way to the 4 Seasons. Funnily enough we had just driven past it coming in from the Elephant ride. Duh!
We checked in, quickly and begun our recce of the establishment.
Love a good buggy ride, round and round we went. The 4 Seasons is a lovely 5 star place and we all had our own separate villas. Again built on a sprawling block of land and catering for rich to richer it somehow still wasn’t enough to spark my interest after having stayed at the MO for the last two days. Funny how we become immunised to this stuff. But, reality check we were there to do this very job. We looked, sampled, and photographed all of them to be in a position to make an educated decision.
We finished the tour at about 5.30pm and John once again made his way to the spa and the massage. One of us had to try them all, hard job. Hey if I was the client I would have made it my task as well. The rest of us got freshened up, changed clothes and made our way to the Elephant Bar for sevensies. We were invited by the manager to the cooking school with some other guests to watch the chef make some tidbits while we sipped wines or cocktails. Once he finished we ate the canapé type offerings. I thought it was a wonderful idea and will use it for an event one day. We made our way to the restaurant overlooking the rice paddies for dinner. I had a lovely risotto with wild mushrooms. Yum! We retired back to the Elephant bar where I set up my laptop and we watched South Park on the deck there until we one by one drifted off to bed.
Morning saw me heading to the Spa at 8.30am for an hours massage, ahhhh, ooooo, eeeee. I had been waiting for my turn. Though the hour could have been better.
We met in the breakfast room and began the digging through of places. Dissecting one resort after the other. Fitting the 4 events John had to run n the space of a week into each city and then into each hotel.
Finally an order of events was confirmed and the hotels came after that. While I would love to tell you which ones we chose I think it prudent to keep the information confidential for the time being.
That afternoon we boarded our last mini bus for the airport. We flew to Bangkok. There the ladies left us and kept on heading to Singapore. John, Scott and I got off at Bangkok.
John was to fly out at 6am the following morning so Scott and I thought we should at least keep him company. The MO Bangkok, had kindly provided two rooms for us, I shared with Scott, they were completely full otherwise. We just had to do one more recce of the hotel. Sort of paying for it in kind. The Oriental is the O in MO. The Mandarin part was the Hotel in Hong Kong. They joined forces and the Mandarin Oriental group was born. The manger of the Oriental is this amazing 70-year-old bloke who had been there for the last 40 years! Imagine that. Working and living in the same hotel for so long! I had never heard of it.
We met some friends of Scott’s for dinner atop the Banyan Tree Hotel, which was the highest outdoor restaurant until Sirocco was opened up the road. Bugger eh?
The food is better and it isn’t so full on. Lovely meal, nice wine good night. We then took John to Patpong Road. Something one should always do once in their life. We went to a bar and funnily were not hassled too much. We drank a beer and then perused the markets. We went home and were off before midnight. Weird!
Next morning we checked out and rode in the back of a seven series to the airport. I read newspapers, Scott mail on his phone. We checked in and lo and behold were upgraded to business to Singapore.
Got on the plane and into the big seat only to have Scott hassle me to help him with some plans he needed for his house reno in Adelaide. Just as I finished said plans, oh and I fitted in a lunch of Beef Cheeks too, yeah I drank a couple of glasses of champagne and a glass of a lovely French Chardonnay, just before I was about to do something fun, then the seatbelt sign came on and we got ready for landing in Singapore. Drat, drat and double drat!

So we pulled into Singapore. We went through customs and then I had to go back to Terminal One and go back through. Jetstar/ValueJet are low cost carriers and will not pay the money to have your bags forwarded by other airlines, hence I had to clear customs! No biggie, I had time to kill. Perused the shops for a while, grabbed the obligatory bottle and boarded what would be the last leg of this whirlwind trip.
I arrived home almost exactly 7 days after I left. I had stayed in 5 hotels and seen another 6. Caught 8 planes had 14 meals in restaurants and probably drank about 40 mojitos.
Not for the faint hearted this is hard work people!


Friday, 24 August 2007

Another Lost Soul!

Here are the Photos of that Premier I knew I had on the computer somewhere. Maxi skillfully snapped this baby as I drove past. I looked across as we past them and saw that there was no dash at all! Looks like a work in progress or perhaps something they deemed not particularly necessary???

Old Holderns do not die, they sea change to Bali

Spotted this the other day while we were over at Ace Hardware. So far I have seen another EK red one down at the airport end of Jl. Raya Kuta, a HR Ute which someone has monster trucked, must get a photo of that one, an EH convertible which is in the Surf shop on your right as you head down towards Nusa Dua. The place with the statue of the god on a surfboard! Ok, ok I will photograph that one as well. And the other week we spotted a premier that I have a photo of somewhere, Max took it.

Enough Holdern talk, I have to get back to work.


Monday, 13 August 2007

Sporadic Scribbles. The Surf-ari!

This is going to read quite strange for I wrote this about 10 days ago while still on the boat. Unfortunately I never finished it then we had the little problem with the Mr Stealth, read below after that it was off to Thailand, where I had originally thought I would find those few minutes I needed to finish crafting this story for you only to find those in-between time taken up with flat laptop batteries, meetings about run orders, doing a friends bathroom floorplan adjustments and simply relaxing.

But I am going through my laptop and rather than let the words go to waste and another day slip by without filling the ether that is my Blog I thought I would whack this into shape and get it up there.

It will also give me an opportunity to put some surf photos up there. Hehe! So here is the story of my first SURFari…

Here is a shot of me slotted at the place I am not allowed to talk about.

Again sporadic scribbles from yours truly. I know, I know there is no need to chastise me for I am a slack bugger. I seem to only write in the off times. The down times between sets one could say. Did I? Here is something that I wrote the other day while I had some downtime but alas no Internet connection…

I am on deck, it’s warm, a breeze is blowing in onto my back and the music from my laptop breaks the otherwise stillness of the lagoon in which we are moored. the other guys are either on the left out at the point, the inside left or in their cabins. The right-hander in this aptly named Bay of Plenty is alas too shallow but I will grace its shoulders for one last surf this afternoon. For I am writing this in-between the morning surf session and the afternoon one. The off time.

We are on a surf safari, a 110’ boat called the Indo Jiwa. Unfortunately our time here is nearly at an end and the six of us will drift back to our own little worlds. The list is Simon Leary, Paul Anderson, Greg, These guys are all from Sydney then there is Channas mate Mill-Dog he is a 55 Californian that was living in Hawai and now seems to call Uluwatu home, and Channa, the owner of the boat oh and finally yours trully. There are 7 crew, Indonesians, who are the men in the background. They make this whole ship work and cook the amazing meals which are placed in front of us at least 4 times a day.

Ten days ago we set out from Gunung Sitoli, which is the airport on Nias. A little island off the coast of Sumartra. Overland for 2 hours in a bump ride that left Soimon high and dry for the next two days down to a spot called Teluk Delam which is a little harbour in the south of the Island. It was here we boarded the boat and overnight sailed around the southern tip past the famous Lagundri Beach (which had a reported 50-70 guys in the water!) up to another even smaller group of islands off the West Coast .
We moored at about 2am near a break called Bawa that is intimidating at the best of times let alone the first day of our surf tour. It rumbled through in the morning and I wondered what I had let myself into.

Good thing was I was not the only one who had second thoughts about this huge bone-snapping wave and we sailed on to the tiny island of Asu. It is here that Channa, our skipper, his wife Ruby and their 3 kids live. It is early and we are on a surf safari so after the crew, has the boat moored out the front of Ruby and Channa’s place, we all bundle into the tender for an hour drive up the coast to this amazing right hander. It doesn’t have a name and we have all been threatened with black magic curses if we ever divulge it’s where about. Suffice to say that we spent the next 4 days going back to the same spot honing our skills and then dragging ourselves spent from the water after 3 hour sessions and eating second breakfasts prepared earlier by the amazing cook on board the Indo Jiwa, Yanko. Guys a genius! I must go sideways a tad here to say that I originally thought I might lose some weight in the 10 days aboard the boat, but I think I have put on about 2 kilos even though I am surfing a minimum of 3 hours a day! We ate so well. BBQ fish in banana leaves, Pasta’s even pizzas one night. Fantastic food and though I hadn’t thought so before, a very important aspect to any trip like this.

So where were we, ah yes the trip to the spot we ended up calling “The left hander” was great for all but Simon who was a goofy footer, a left hander. The fifth morning we set out for a place also north of Asu called Afulu. We rounded the headland and there were already 4 guys in the water. It was the left Simon had been holding out for.

Turned out Channa knew a couple of them. One is the ex-head of Surf-Aid for Nias. So we surfed this great left that left scars I am still smarting over. After a big hold down during which time I tried to surface using my arms only I kicked out and I kicked the reef.

Nias reefs were raised about a metre in the 2005 earthquake. So the breaks are now in different spots. Where we are surfing the waves wouldn’t have broken before and even at high tide dead coral sticks out of the water. It was some of this shallow inside reef that I kicked. The outer section, though it was fast and hollow, was deep enough so that one didn’t need booties. Gosh, that was a trap for young players!

The next day we revisited the same break and guess what. I didn’t wear booties again, I got caught inside again and I kicked the reef one more. Hhmmm. Thick as two short planks I am.

Suffice to say that although it now hurt when I put them, due to cuts on top of my left foot, I wore booties for the rest of the trip! You never know!

The day before we had finished our Holiday With Purpose. Finished what I hear you say? Let me explain. Ruby & Channa run this Holiday with Purpose out of Asu. In exchange for a few hours a day you get a cheaper trip. The work you do is for the local community. He runs fibreglass boat building, she does community gardens, and they also look at community buildings. A school I hear is in the offing!. So it was a great add on for us. At first I had thought we might build canoes or buildings. You know big butch stuff. Though in the end we put in about 4 vegie patchs for different folk. These were more than equally important. Read here what I wrote about it on their site.

So we had actually sailed to Afulu in the Indo Jiwa. After that second surf there and a spot of lunch we upped anchor saying goodbye to Nias and steaming north for 12 hours to the Banyaks. A couple of islands that sit off the coast of North Sumatra. Actually I am looking at a map in Mappoint and they are off the southern tip of Aceh.
Sometime after midnight we had pulled into a cove and awoke to an aptly named wind blown out Treasure Island. So it was in the light of dawn that we headed east to the larger of the two islands and another Aptly named harbour, the Bay of Plenty.

The Bay of Plenty consists of a Left Point Break, a Right Point Break and a Left that breaks in the bay itself. Add to that a fresh water spring Channa showed me while the boys were netting bait fish for the afternoons fishing expedition, the tribe of monkeys that were making a cacophony of noise as we sheltered waters from a storm and you have exactly that, A Bay of Plenty.

We spent the next 4 days here surfing lefts, rights, some more rights, snorkeling and fishing. I could come to this one place! What a fantastic spot. In the evenings fishermen would come into the bay. There boats are no wider than a canoe, though they are about 40’ long. Not even an outrigger! These guys are in the middle of the ocean! Respect!

We would sit on the deck of our behemoth enjoying BBQ wrapped fish, drinking ice cold Bintangs daily feats or surf-ploits filled the darkness of the night, the rock of the ship on the ocean set the beat, laughter at the incidents were the punctuation. The waves got big and scarier with each telling.

Then it was over. Like that. 6am one morning we are being shuttled off the boat to the mainland. 10 days had left us with sea legs so we swayed like drunks on the dock. It would continue all day and into the next. A lovely reminder of the journey we had shared.

So that was the holiday of a lifetime, though I am seriously thinking about going back next year.

Wonder what my darling wife will have to say about that. “Honey? Can we talk?”

Here are some photos of the events



Here is one of me blasting along at the bay of plenty

Ando in the barrel, if you look closely at his face you will see it split with the biggest grin. Loving life, go son!

Grego Bouncing off the lip. What can I say that this image doesn't? Genius!

Simon looking relaxed in the barrel. Actually Simon's back had pinged as he stood up on this wave and he was in a lot of pain when this was taken. He makes it and the last photo in this sequence he is standing on his board holding his back. Ouch!

Again the place sorted out the players, Grego with a big cutback at the right hander, Bay of Plenty.

Ando looking like he has an afro. He borrowed Mill-dog's surf hat.

Doesn't show the nice re-entry that he pulled off but he's still having fun!

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Warnings from Paradise

So anyway it is last Sunday evening and we are all at home. I had packed my bags as I had a 10.15pm flight to Singapore where I would stay overnoght and then fly early the following morning up to Bangkok.I would have to leave the house just after 8pm to get to the airport.

I had packed everything and we were having a quiet beer with the "Vons" our South African neighbours Michele and Louie, and another couple Arienne & Toby who are marring in Jan next year, she is half American and French. He is Australian and about 10 years her junior. Perfect match! But I digress. We are sitting laughing and carrying on. At 7.50pm I went upstairs and said night to the boys, they were watching a DVD in my bedroom. I came down again and right on the left of the door, where the telephone table is I notice that my 3 bags were now 2. Of course I went straight into panic mode, where was my camera bag. I use the NikonD70 with a 25-80 and a 80-300. Couple of batteries, filters blah blah, so quite a little investment in one bag. I went to the office to see if I had left it in there as I had stuck the power cables for my laptop in the front of the camera bag. Nope not there either. I am really panicking now. I was about to fly overseas on a recce of 3 hotels in Bangkok, 3 in Phuket and 3 in Chiang Mai. I take on average 100 photos while in a hotel. Some of these resorts I take as many as 200 and then there is all the mood images I take which I then try to work into the event theme thereby saving on image purchase fees. It is an important tool for me, one that I can not go to work without.

I tell the 5 adults there what has transpired and ask them all to help with the search. Of course they all thought I was bullshitting and laugh nervously. When they see that I am earnest they reluctantly jump up to help. The very idea that it had been stolen was scoffed at. We were all sitting there, no one could have come in and out without someone seeing what had happened. Surely I had just left it somewhere. The 6 of us went through the house over the next 10 minutes and it didn’t turn up!
In the end I had to grab a taxi or miss the flight. That wasn't an option.

What I think transpired is a thief slunk in across the front lawn and up to the edge of the house. Besides the pile of shoes there on the step the first thing you come to is the telephone table on which I remember as the spot I left my camera bag. So this guiltless fiend must have slipped to within 5 metres of us lifted the bag and made away into the darkness of the night.

So the domino effect was unleashed, it went like this. I went and brought the D80 kit the very next morning. I brought it at Changi airport for S$2200. I had no options and in my heart of hearts know that if I was in Singapore over at Sim Lim square I could have knocked that price down to about S$1700-1900 or so. Bugger!

Back home another set of events was off and running. Gabi had to call the police, we are trying to see if I can claim something on the insurance. But in Bali the police are just a hassle one has to go through. You have to speak to the Bunga, or local council, of which there is a group who are the heavies. They are the protection one needs in this set of circumstances. They consoled her and offered one of their own, who needed some work, as a night watchman. Oh his name is Agus, Looks like a nice chap. I suppose I meet him next Sunday night when I get home!

Gabi told Stephano one of her gay friends who has a shop there and he took her to see his shaman. Bali is renown for it’s black magic So his paranormal priest to find out more about the thieves. He said after his praying that he saw three guys from Lombok, one in the house two outside watching. They used black magic so we wouldn’t notice the guy. He then told Gabi I had to pray, burn 11 of his incense sticks every day and use his holy water. Then they wouldn’t be able to use their magic anymore.

And the last tumbling tile in this story I want to tell you about is the new addition to our house. Chucky I believe his name is and while Gabi has been hassling to get a dog for the kids for some time it was the ideal time to relent and we are the proud owners of a little black, Labrador I think, puppy. I also get to meet him on Sunday night when I get home.

I very different way to head out of the house to the airport and a big wake up call. For although we may call Bali home we are still Strangers in a strange land. Caution has to be a catchcry if we are to endure and enjoy the island of the gods.