Hoping that Smoking isn't Compulsory


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Asia » Indonesia » Bali » Nusa Dua
December 15th 2018
Published: December 17th 2018
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We decide to spend our last few hours here relaxing by the pool. Unlike all the other days we’ve been here there aren’t too many people around today and we have an almost unlimited range of sunlounges to chose from. Just as we get comfortable a middle aged Russian couple takes up residence on the two lounges right next to ours, and both of them immediately start puffing away on their cigarettes. They could have sat just about anywhere else, but no, it had to be right next to us. We move to the other end of the pool. Issy craves one final massage in one of the small huts on the beach front. She is disappointed. She is told that all twelve huts are being held in reserve for a delegation from a tobacco company who are here for a convention. We are starting to feel like the odd ones out, and start to wonder whether smoking might be compulsory here today. I hope we don’t get evicted if they catch us without any cigarettes.

Issy settles for a massage in a hut by the pool. She says that this is not nearly as good a location as the huts by the beach. I’m not quite sure why the location of a massage is considered to be so important when most of the duration is spent staring at a tiny piece of floor through a hole in the table.

Since we've been here we've both had a bit of trouble ignoring a massive statue that dominates the Nusa Dua skyline, and we find it a bit hard not to notice it again today as we are driven to the airport. Both of us are fairly sure that it wasn't there the last time either of us were in Bali. We read that it is known as the Gardua Wisnu Kencana Statue, and it was only inaugurated in September of this year. This is good to know, because if we'd failed to see it when we were here before, then I would hold some serious concerns for our collective eyesights. It was apparently first conceived way back in 1997, but was shelved during the Global Financial Crisis. It is the tallest and heaviest statue in Indonesia, and is significantly taller and wider than the Statue of Liberty. It seems to be universally known as the Garuda, which is a legendary bird like creature of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain (ancient Indian religion) mythology. It is faced in copper and brass. It was originally constructed in Java as 754 discrete pieces, and these were then further subdivided after being brought to Bali so that they would light enough for cranes to lift them into position. It has attracted some controversy at various stages as some religious leaders felt it might "disrupt the island's spiritual balance"; others have however supported it as yet another tourist attraction on the island. It certainly looks very big and impressive from a distance.

Just outside the airport terminal is a very large statue which our taxi driver tells us is of a great Indonesian hero. Further research tells us that this is Lieutenant Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai who was a hero of the war of independence against the Dutch. He died along with all his troops in a battle against the Dutch on Bali in 1946. As I read about this I realise that I know virtually nothing about Indonesian history. The Dutch first came to what later became known as the Dutch East Indies in search of spices back in the 16th century and established the Dutch East India Company in 1602. The Company went bankrupt in 1800 and the Dutch then established the Dutch East Indies as a colony. They became unpopular rulers, and when the Japanese invaded Indonesia early in World War II the locals initially welcomed them. It seems however that the novelty soon wore off and four million Indonesians are estimated to have died at the hands of the Japanese as a result of forced labour, famine, and war crimes, all ostensibly in support of the war effort. The Indonesians declared independence as soon as Japan surrendered, but the Dutch clung on. Four years of armed conflict followed, and the Dutch only gave in and recognised the country's independence under pressure from much of the rest of the world in December 1949.

Again we need to fly home via Brisbane. I would have hoped that Brisbanites would have better things to do at five to eight on a Sunday morning than jet themselves off to a city with notoriously unreliable weather, but the flight from Brisbane to Melbourne is packed. Our excuse is that we live here. We are home.

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