shanlung (shanlung) wrote,

Bali Lombok and Komodo dragons Part 1 of 2



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On May 3rd 2014 evening, I was the first one into Bali airport. I waited for Cyrus, Rhordon and his wife who eventually came.
You recalled about 2 years ago, we were supposed to go to see some Komodo dragons. An assignment in Qatar hijacked me which landed Jackie into Cyrus care that time.

We caught a taxi from the airport. Found he was congenial Balinese and we agreed to use him and his taxi for the few days to see Bali. I could not remember how much it was. I recalled being embarrased at how inexpensive it was.

The first time I was in Bali I wrote about here
Some chess memories, hustler foil, Bali

That was in about 1978 which was a long time ago. When Rothschild mynahs flew overhead in flocks and nubile Balinese girls walked bare breasted to bath in temple pools and lights in evening came almost entirely from oil lamps and ONE USD was about what I paid a night.
I came again in about 1991 with Joy who was my gf then. Bali of 1991 still resembled Bali of 1978 to a large extent.

I lost it the moment the car left the airport. I was in a land utterly different from what I remembered as we made our way to Grand Mega Resort at USD 50/night.

For a land so steeped in trandition and natural beauty I was stunned to find Grand Mega Resort was designed for Russian Oligarchs in their style so as not to follow the local peasants. Do not take my word, go check out their URL. The rooms were nice though, and when you close your eyes, it would not matter what the decor was like. What was more important was that Cyrus Rhordon and me who knew each other as small boys came together again.

Our first day in Bali started with the Burong & kris dance .

Our driver Niak told us he was firstly a Balinese and secondarily an Indonesia, And that all Balinese knew the Burong & Kris dance by heart and part of their soul. The dance end with a group of Balinese going into a trance and stabbing themselves with krises but not ever cutting themselves





Myself at the gamelan after the play ended


We wandered about the temples.
Part of the entry fee will be compulsory rental of sarongs tied about the waist as sign of respect and is obligatory.



We were at the Sacred Monkey forest at Ubub

Needless to say, there were monkeys everywhere there.

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We were at at Mount Batur. An extinct volcano with a lake inside the caldera and another volcano in it.

I stayed here in one of the guest house on the rim. A place I no longer can recognise. And I watch cock fights to the death as a temple ritual. And got my arse whacked by the Dutch IM and hopefully my friends at kuta beach avoided him when he went down to search for money.


On the way down from Mount Batur, we were taken to a coffee plantation.

Above was a civet cat in cage. Coffee from the coffee seeds excreted in their droppings fetch very very high price as the coffee was supposed to taste good.
Even if that coffee tasted heavenly will be very poor reason to catch civet cats, force feed them with coffee. And when they die, catch more civet cats to stuff them with coffee for their shit until they die.


We were at the Uluwatu Temple. I did not recall coming here.

This was built in the 11th century, it is one of nine directional temples meant to protect Bali from evil spirits.



Monkeys were terror here. They do not bite. But they good at stealing your hats and your glasses. Both my hat was stolen from me that I got back after a chase and my glasses. I paid USD2 when a temple keeper gave my glasses back to me.



Uluwatu was also the place for the Kecak dance performed at sunset and into the night.

Also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant, the piece, performed by a circle of at least 150 or more performers wearing checked cloth around their waists, percussively chanting "cak" and moving their hands and arms, depicts a battle from the Ramayana. The monkey-like Vanara helped Prince Rama fight the evil King Ravana. Kecak has roots in sanghyang, a trance-inducing exorcism dance.

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The next day was one of the best day of Bali trip and in which no photos were taken.
It was a white water rafting and a real wild time. This should be on your hit list when you do Bali


On another day, we were taken to what was told to us as the Basket ceremony. Being in holiday mode, I was game to go anywhere even if the name did not ring any bells. Found ourselves to be in a temple set against a deep cave full of bats (and snakes that eat the bats).
This temple that I could not recall the name now was the ultimate temple in Bali for souls of the dead to be put to rest or Mukur, also known as Nyekah or Mesiwa, is the ceremony held for the final purification of the soul. There is normally one family who hosts the ceremony (usually high caste); nonetheless many souls (perhaps more than one hundred) of any caste may be purified together on this occasion, as such a ceremony is very expensive. The ceremonial area for Mukur is called Piadnyan, derived from the word “yadnya” meaning holy sacrifice.

The ashes are taken to the sea, and prayers said at this temple.

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At that temple was this swastika, a very holy and deeply spiritual symbol of ancient times.


We came back to this temple later in that evening to see the bats coming out of the caves behind the temple. And the pythons catching and eating the bats.





Life and death are but different sides of the same coin.

Ubub that I recalled as a collection of houses and some shops became a city.





and who must talk and use her iPhone


And the smoked duck tasted so heavenly.

Followed by views of the rice terraces of Ubub. Actually rice terraces about everywhere in Bali and not just in Ubub.
But it was unthinkable to be in Ubub and not see the rice terraces



I did not recall such nice places to sit and order cold drinks or hot drinks in the past. You got to drink from your very
own bottle that you carry in your backpack.


We were at the Water Palace, Tirta Gangga

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In the wonderful golden days of the long ago, those maids and damsels will be frolicking with their perky breasts thrusting proudly out.
If there is a time machine, I know exactly where to go.

Pura Besakih was a place so nearly missed by all of us. I had vague memories of a totally out of the world place without clear memories as that was in 1978. We have had enough of temples too, but I was happy, and so were the rest of them when I forced the issue to be at this place.

The holiest of all temples in Bali, the "Mother Temple" of Pura Besakih is located some 3,000 feet up Gunung Agung in East Bali. This sprawling complex consolidates 23 separate temples, some dating back to the 10th century. The temple's main axis aligns with the peak of Gunung Agung, the tallest mountain and holiest site in all of Bali. I read that later only on writing of this journal.

We went there late in the day. And which added to the wonder as evening was setting and low clouds came in hiding part of the complex at times.

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This person was meditating there on the same spot for the prior 4 weeks, rain or shine, day and night.


Then we were at another temple prepared for some major festive celebrations.




The cockfighting arena always part and parcel of any temple complex such as this temple or any other temple. I was sitting
in an arena like this in that temple overlooking Mount Batur where I saw my first cock fight to the death as part of the temple ritual for a major prayer that I wrote about earlier.


Cockfighting a very major part of the temple ceremonies as blood is currency to invoke the gods.
I am told no more cockfighting. I am sad about that as I do not view that as cruelty.
I saw thousands of fighting cocks. I saw in the evenings , Balinese all holding their fighting cocks in their arms and gently and tenderly and lovingly massaging them. They love their fighting cocks.


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We were at Tanah Lot temple.

Tanah Lot is claimed to be the work of the 16th-century Dang Hyang Nirartha. During his travels along the south coast he saw the rock-island's beautiful setting and rested there. Some fishermen saw him, and bought him gifts. Nirartha then spent the night on the little island. Later he spoke to the fishermen and told them to build a shrine on the rock, for he felt it to be a holy place to worship the Balinese sea gods.[3]

The Tanah Lot temple was built and has been a part of Balinese mythology for centuries. The temple is one of seven sea temples around the Balinese coast. Each of the sea temples was established within eyesight of the next to form a chain along the south-western coast. In addition to Balinese mythology, the temple was significantly influenced by Hinduism.

At the base of the rocky island, poisonous sea snakes are believed to guard the temple from evil spirits and intruders. The temple is purportedly protected by a giant snake, which was created from Nirartha's selendang (a type of sash) when he established the island.





That was the last of my time with my friends for this trip.
We checked out of Grand Mega Resort, that Russian Oligarch Nirvana in the morning. They were drop off to the airport and I to a little hotel at Kuta Beach.




Kuta Beach was about 3/4 green fields when I first was there. It was still about 1/2 green fields when I went with my gf Joy in 1991.
Since then, Kuta became another city.

To get to the Kuta Beach, I first got to go through this Balinese gate


The beach appeared to be unchanged. But then, all beaches will appear as beaches.



Except there was now this wall , and that gate separating Kuta Beach from Kuta. Which was no longer 3/4 green fields but cheek to jowl full of buildings.
I went to Ground Zero Bali to pay my respects.



In my wandering, I stumbled on Poppies. A place I knew in 1991 when I was there with Joy. Poppies not only did not change, she gave her name to one of the major street there. Of course, I had to have dinner there.



I went back the next day to find Poppies as I knew her. I would have stayed here if I known Poppies still existed.



I headed back to my place. And a dip in my swimming pool before heading to Lombok the next day.
While my 2 friends did not have the time, I did have the time. To check out Lombok and Komodo Island.




More photos in Flickr folder BLK 02 Lombok
12th May 2014

I was taking the slow ferry to Lombok from Padang Pai


Sometime after leaving Bali, we crossed the Wallace Line, that line dividing Asia from Australia.


The Wallace Line or Wallace's Line is a faunal boundary line drawn in 1859 by the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace that separates the ecozones of Asia and Wallacea, a transitional zone between Asia and Australia. West of the line are found organisms related to Asiatic species; to the east, a mixture of species of Asian and Australian origin is present. The line is named after Alfred Russel Wallace, who noticed this clear division during his travels through the East Indies in the 19th century. The line runs through Indonesia, between Borneo and Sulawesi (Celebes), and through the Lombok Strait between Bali and Lombok. The distance between Bali and Lombok is small, about 35 kilometres (22 mi). The distributions of many bird species observe the line, since many birds do not cross even the smallest stretches of open ocean water. Some bats have distributions that cross the line, but other mammals are generally limited to one side or the other; an exception is the crab-eating macaque. Other groups of plants and animals show differing patterns, but the overall pattern is striking and reasonably consistent.

Of even greater importance to me was that I met Jim on the ferry as he was driving over from Java with some plants. Which sadly precluded me from getting a ride with him. He kind of retired and since I was in search of places to retire, he told me much of life in Lombok inviting me to look at where he stayed.

I was in Lombok as part of my planned trip to see Komodo dragons, which seemed to involve Lombok as part of that journey.
I got off the ferry, and shared a cab with some other travellers going to my part of Lombok at Senggigi. Passed by a merry wedding procession on way there. An interesting aspect of life I yearned for. The society is part of you and you part of them as it seemed all including the bride and bridegroom involved in celebrating that marriage


I got to Ressa Homestay late in evening. Given a welcome sit by the house kitty.

And just about to take a simple meal at simple canteen five minutes walk away.



I noticed tissue paper provided on all tables. Even if dinner was about USD one, you get tissue paper. You never get tissue paper in coffee shop or restaurants of Singapore. People will have to work until 85 or 95 years old even at selling tissue paper. More of begging you to buy their tissue paper. Which is why no tissue paper will be provided so you have greater incentive to buy tissue paper from 75 to 85 year old folks of Singapore. A reason why folks there voted in Gallup Polls that Singapore is the most miserable country on Earth to be. A country where the top 50 highest paid politicians of the world reside in. Which is why I am looking for a country other than Singapore to retire in while looking for komodo dragons. Singapore is a ghastly nightmare against which Beijing will shine as beacon of democracy and human rights in comparison.

The Ressa Homestay where I lived in


and the little bike that send me around




A bit of the coast of Lombok as I rode around. Lombok was told to me to have a majority of Muslims against Bali which was largely Hindu.
Some fusion of Hindu/Muslim taken place and the folks here lived in good harmony. But I was told it might not be easy to get pork dishes here.




I rode and rode the bike, and found I covered only a tiny fraction of the coastal road of Lombok. But I stopped often to take photos and there were roses and other flowers begging to be smelled.



I was in Matarram and could not find the Chinese Restaurant that I was told had good pork dish. So I stop instead at a typical
Lombok Al Fresco canteen.




The boss lady, or lauban niang in chinese


My bag and my table




Tissue paper provided here gratis unlike Singapore.

I ate good delicious food to my eyeballs. And the bill came to 40,000 rupiahs, or about USD4. In Singapore, if they cannot tax you, they will set a levy on you. Or they make you buy a license or certificate. You must have a Certificate of Entitlement in Singapore that will cost you about USD 100,000 before you can buy and have a car for ten years. And at end of that ten years, you must buy yet another COE. No wonder the top 50 highest paid politicans are in Singapore. The entire G8 countries politicians cost less to maintain than the politicians of Singapore. Denizons of George Orwell Animal Farm will fare better on the Gallup Poll than those living in Singapore.

Jim got in touch with me and I had dinner with him and Joyce. Joyce was yet another who wanted to spend rest of her life in Lombok.
She invited me over to her place the next day.


The next morning I had my breakfast of fried beehoon and tempe, a kind of Indonesian fermented tofu. Damn delicious!
Pity I could not recall what I paid. Something like USD1.50 or less


At Joyce house, and where I met Robert. He was with UN working with refugees and decide Lombok would be his little niche of paradise. When they knew I was looking for a place to be with animals, they welcomed me especially. I think my photos of Tinkerbell, Riamfada and kitties walking in ocean help a lot to break ice. Robert invited me to see his place the next day

More photos in Flickr folder BLK 02 Lombok





I was told Joyce place might be worth USD200k. I knew I would have to pay more than USD2,000,000 for something like hers in Singapore.
Apparently if the apartments and houses of Singapore are sold, that will be enough money to buy over the entire US of A.
How much that raised the cost of living in Singapore is something that can only be guessed.
That was in 2009. What they get will be a lot more now

Jim gave me kind advice how to find Robert place. That I look for giant geckos on the gate. That was so enigmatic that it went
in one ear and out the other ear. Until I rode on this path and saw that gate.


Which then opened to






Big as I thought Joyce place was, Robert place was so much more bigger. He laughed when he told me of the tokay gecko which chased him when he disturbed his nest accidentally up the coconut tree.

He was no stranger to beasties. He kept a pair of very beautiful wild cats.

More photos in Flickr folder BLK 02 Lombok





The female on the right was more laid back and kind of accepted me. The male was less willing and paced up and down. I knew with time he would accept me and it was not fair for me to stay there to make him nervous. Regretfully, I told Robert we leave them alone.

Robert then took me to see his otter








That otter was kept in the last room next to the rooms where the stray cats that he and his wife rescued when they were living in Jakarta. They brought the cats to Lombok. The otter wanted the company of the cats and broke through his fence to be with the cats.
The otter was his brother-in-law and when his brother in law came, the otter will follow him all over the garden.

Keeping of wild animals was one of the main reason why I felt I could not live in Singapore. Some folks cannot and should not even be allowed to keep dogs or cats or birds. But if one can keep any animals well, and if they are not endangered and needed for breeding, I cannot see reason to disallow keeping of animals other than dogs and cats.

If you keep a tarantula, or a snake or sugar glider you are facing jail time in Singapore.

They do not need to give peasants any reason. Hit them hard enough and often enough and peasants in Singapore will shut up and live in
the gulag of country. As said by Lee Kuan Yew in his memoirs, who volunteered to work for Japanese Kempei Tai in WW2 so he can eat and live better. LKY said he will put on his knuckle duster and meet you in a cul de sac.

Robert brought me around to show me the extent of his property and a building that he fit out as library for the neighbour kids. That was on a separate plot of land that he could sell to me at a price well within what I was prepared to pay.


I told him I felt sorry I am at the beginning of my search for retirement place.
And many more countries ahead of me to check out such as Nepal and Spain and Central America.

We went back to the wild cats again hoping the male would accept me.



His pacing about told me he was not accepting me yet.

I thanked Robert for showing me around and his wild animals especially. I probably will not get a place as big as his. He told me domestic help in Lombok was not expensive and cost of living in Lombok was low. I knew that first hand from the meals I had been buying not just in Lombok, but in Bali as well. The locals must thank their lucky stars they were not in thrall to Singapore politician who will live very well.

I went to Jim's place the next day.

Big as I thought Robert property was, that was dwarfed by the extent of Jim.





More photos in Flickr folder BLK 02 Lombok

His own tennis court


The hills behind all part of his property. He told me he was lucky and got it in late 90s. That was a long time ago and prices were cheap. Indonesia was in turmoil with great uncertainty.





He told me he was subdividing his land into plots and that I could buy a plot from him. At a price well within what I was prepared to pay.

I told him the same as what I told Robert.
That I felt sorry I am at the beginning of my search for retirement place.
And many more countries ahead of me to check out such as Nepal and Spain, Slovenia, and Central America.

I told him I may yet come back again after checking out those other places

I thanked him for his hospitality showing me his place. And introducing me to his friends giving me a glimpse into their life
in beautiful Lombok
Seeing how they lived and where they lived make me sure that Singapore is not the place for me at all.

I also found the continuation for Komodo dragons and booked myself onto their trip. I decided this was once a lifetime and I rather be on a bigger and more expensive boat.

You seen other photos of locals with birds and cats. They all saw photos of Tinkerbell and Riamfada and kitties in ocean. Nice icebreaker. And to show them an aspect of bird keeping and cat keeping that they can bear in mind.


Continued in
Bali Lombok and Komodo dragons Part 2 of 2

21 Sept 2014

I have kicked Old Nic for Two years, seven incredible months, three wonderful weeks, two luvly days, 17 bloody hours, 47 misc minutes and 18 odd seconds. of cold turkey after about 45++ years of smoking. 49303 cigarettes not smoked, saving $25,884.49. Life saved: 24 weeks, 3 days, 4 hours, 35 minutes.

LiBai mash making.
About 300 grams of beef mince, with 200 grams of chicken mince and 150 grams of dried anchovies(for the calcium). That was all done up to the kitty mash formula I wrote about in
Pakistan//Tinkerbell Kitty Mash//Dommie at the beach Ramadhan 2010 //Villa walkabout 2
Instead of the almond and brazil nuts, about 100 grams of human grade groundnuts(peanuts) were used.

Making of Tinkerbell Mash
Morning with Harry & the decision// Sultan of Oman Palace// Tinkerbell Mash Batch 7

suri - Read "Conditioning clicker day 3 - and some tips on suris"

milli - read "Found the perfect treat and Yingshiong first "step up""

if you forgotten about clicker training

Tinkerbell Legacy - VH parrot and Clicker Training Rant 06

Some thoughts on clicker - The initial experience with Tinkerbell

Clicker training and bonding with Tinkerbell

To Shanlung-Charlie and clicker training

Charlie and clicker training - beyond touch target //LiBai on finger and in slow motion videos —

Tinkerbell Legacy - - Rant 03 (a flighted parrot mentality) & Understanding the mind of your grey
Above is probably the most important of all I have written, and the foundation to all that I have done.


(edited on 4th November 2011 to include below)

To Shanlung - How to do Free Flight Outside

If what I wrote help you and you like to help, give a thought
for the wildlife sharing our planet.
Do write that cheque to Gerald Durrell wildlife trust

I am a life member of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. Do join us to do
whatever we can for the wildlife that shared our planet.

Durrell-life member
or to any wildlife conservation body of your choice

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