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Published: December 12th 2018
There seems to be a huge focus on celebrating Christmas here in predominantly Hindu Bali. There are Santa Clauses, Christmas trees and every other imaginable type of Christmas decoration everywhere we look, and it feels like Christmas carols are playing constantly from every available speaker on the island. Today we saw a Christmas tree made entirely from full wine bottles. Admittedly a lot of this is probably for the benefit of the tourists, and we haven’t spent enough time away from the tourist centres here yet to know whether it’s more widespread, but even so religious tolerance seems to be well ingrained here in Bali and celebrating each other’s festivals is something that most seem more than happy to do. This is a far cry from the ridiculous lengths to which political correctness has been taken back home in Australia to the extent that many state run schools have now banned any sort of celebration or even recognition of Christmas for fear of offending those from non-Christian backgrounds.
We spend the morning relaxing, and then head off to Bali Collection which is a large shopping and restaurant complex in the midst of Nusa Dua’s tourist hotels.
Our lunch menu
includes “fried cock fighting chicken”. I’m sure they remove the spurs from the unfortunate animals’ legs before they serve it, but even so we decide that we might be best advised to chose something else. That aside I’m not entirely sure that we want to be doing anything to support what I understand to be a particularly cruel sport. In any event the loser of a cock fight has probably been torn to shreds so there mightn’t be too much left to eat, and the winner was probably the bird with the most muscle so presumably wouldn’t make for particularly tender eating.
There seem to be a lot of massage establishments here amongst the shops and restaurants of Bali Collection, and Issy is as usual keen to give them an hour of our patronage. She certainly won’t believe that I’d rather go shopping so it seems that there is no escape from massage agony yet again. We are again given forms to fill in, and again I tick “medium” pressure against Issy’s “firm“ selection. Unfortunately this time however Issy can see what I’ve written, so I think I may have already lost some points from my man licence before
the ordeal has even begun. My tormentor is again a petite young Balinese lady who looks like she should be incapable of inflicting savage pain, but looks are again completely deceptive. She takes deep massage to a whole new level; if she went any deeper into my back her hands would surely come out through my chest. How can it be that such tiny fingers driven into selected points on the soles of my feet can generate such extreme agony. Just when I think it might all be over I am blindfolded and ordered to roll over onto my back. I think I’ve now got some insights into the thoughts of the condemned man in the final moments before his execution.
Just when all seems lost there's a ray of hope; I hear Issy on the rack next to me ask her torturer whether she could perhaps tread a bit more gently. I start to feel a certain sense of smugness. If I can just hold out for the rest of the ordeal without making a similar request, or groaning audibly, I might just be able to reclaim at least some of my lost man licence points. The end
comes and against all odds I’ve managed to hold firm. I do however sense the need to be cautious. If Issy senses any smugness on my part this could well be misinterpreted as me having enjoyed the ordeal, and further agony sessions would then surely follow.
I decide to go for a swim in the sea in front of the hotel for the first time. There are signs everywhere warning guests not to swim beyond a row of buoys about twenty metres off the beach. These presumably delineate the shipping channel, and swimming beyond them and having your legs sliced off by a set of propellors doesn’t sound like a particularly attractive proposition. It is low tide and the water is only about half a metre deep at the buoys, so I give up and wade back to shore. I’ve seen signs warning about the hazards of sea urchins, and take care to step around the many of these that are on the seabed here. They are all covered in long black spikes, and I suspect that treading on one would not be a particularly pleasurable experience. Swimming in the sea here is now seeming like a hazardous occupation
all round, so I retreat to the comfort of the pool.
Our package includes a voucher for free cocktails which Issy is keen to redeem. To do this we need to visit the hotel’s beach club. The duff duff music is loud, and I’m fairly sure we’re the oldest people here by a factor of about two and a half. The setting is however very pleasant and we enjoy our cocktails and food stretched out on a large day bed under the stars, overlooking the club’s beachfront pool.
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