Friday, May 30, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
But on top of that, we found an exquisitely friendly island. It has to be said that Bali is one of the most charming places on Earth, absolutely amazing (do I use this word too much?); but in its South, where the tourism industry is most thriving, one can get tired of the touts. "Hello Mister! Transport? No? Tomorrow maybe?". Grrrrr. Well, you have to understand them: there are a lot of locals fighting for limited resources, but it does get tiring to be targetted as a walking wallet.
None of that in Nusa Lembongan. Made, a Balinese guy from the dive center where we were staying, put it this way: "In Bali, we depend exclusively on tourism, so you have to fight your friend in order to find a job. But you might lose it after few months because the competition is so tough. We know that tourists also get tired of this fierce battle between us. When I grew up in the village and I saw Bule (white people), I was always waving and saying "hello" to them, because I was curious and just wanted to be friendly. It's only when I moved to the biggest tourist regions that I understood why they rarely replied: they just thought I wanted to sell them stuff. It's very disappointing".
That's the reason why this young guy moved to Lembongan: here, there is still a village-life atmosphere, where people are friendly because that's what they are. One of the reasons is that their entire livelihood does not rely on tourism; the island produces seaweed that provides a decent income for the locals.
At certain times of the day, depending on the tide, you see the farmers doning their snorkeling gear and wading in the water to harvest the seaweed. It appears to be a family thing, with kids helping with the task - when they are not just playing around on the big buoys that hold the basket full of seaweed.
Maybe it was just the fact of being a lazy Bule on a week end, but it was very nice to see that life seemed to be so peaceful there. I swear, when we were walking on the beach at the time where people were working in the sea, we could hear laughter all the time. Granted, maybe they were just making fun of my crazy hair or not-smoothed-by-seaweed skin, whatever. That was a very nice moment.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
If you're interested in Malaysian blogger community, this site is one of the tool they have created to organize themselves.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
"National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) chief Paskah Suzetta learned a lot from the embarrassing incident at the National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas) last month, when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono paused during his speech to rouse a regional official who had apparently dozed off.
Yudhoyono himself reminded the participating governors, regents and mayors from across the country to focus on the four-day event. "I know you may be physically tired, but please don't fall asleep. Even if you start to nod off, you have to wake yourself quickly because the people you lead want you to return home with a special gift, which is a better development program," the President said, to general applause from the floor.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Cute, you think? Not that much, because apparently over years its pee could have seeped through our roof (i.e. his home) and delicately perfume our bedroom just below.
We could have chosen not to get rid of him though, and instead feed him ripe coffee beans, then brew the most expensive drink in the world. Forget about gold and bauxite, oil and nickel, coal and tin, and get acquainted with the newest high valued Indonesian commodity: cat poo. More precisely, the dejection of this little wild cat, the civet (called « luwak » here) after he went on the rampage on the coffee fields of the archipelago’s highlands.
The « kopi luwak », fragrant black drink obtained by roasting the coffee grains collected from the animal's poo, is the best coffee in the world – it is not I saying it, it is Science: a Canadian scientist has already done the required lab tests that prove it – therefore its price reaches the heights of its perfection: up to 3000 USD a kilo if purchased in a hip Balinese café. « It is good and it is rare, hence its price », says Wirawan, the owner of the café whom I've met few months ago. « But what we sell, it’s mostly a story ». The story of an inner voyage that produces a less bitter, quite chocolaty drink – and a nice slab of cash for whom knows how to market it.
I've had the chance of tasting the coffee - for free, one the perks of my job. It is indeed deliciously velvety and strong. I wouldn't pay the 20 dollars for an espresso cup though; and considering that our late guest would not have been able to produce that much poo to allow us delicious kopi luwak every breakfast, I won't regret him. Not one bit.