Elephant Stamps and "Pannadol"

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May 27th 2018
Published: May 28th 2018
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Today we celebrate twenty-nine years of wedded bliss, and we start the day’s celebrations by sleeping in. Our resort is just north of Senggigi Beach on Lombok’s north-west coast, and we get up to see it in daylight for the first time. Our room is right next to the beach, and the waves are rolling in hard. We sit at breakfast and watch on as one of the staff members works hard at trying to clean a giant ornamental stone pot with a toothbrush. There are lots of these pots scattered around the grounds, so we think he’s probably got a long few months in front of him. We wonder why someone hasn’t thought to give him a slightly larger brush, but we can’t come up with anything plausible.

We walk around the resort and down onto the beach. As soon as we set foot on the sand we are pounced upon by people trying to sell us massages, hair braiding, and tours to see the local sights. There are security guards in place to make sure that none of them put a toenail onto the steps up from the beach into the resort, but it seems that as long as we're on the sand we're fair game. One of the men trying to sell us snorkelling and diving excursions asks me my name. I tell him that my name is Dave, but, as seems to happen a lot in places we’ve been to outside Australia, he hears this as Dive. He is clearly an adept marketer, and is quick to tell me that if my name is Dive then I should definitely come with him on one of his diving excursions. We are reminded of how completely different it is here to Japan. We don’t remember ever being approached anywhere in Japan by anyone trying to sell us anything.

We have arranged to meet up here with an old friend Brian, and his daughter Taylah. Brian’s wife Joanne was one of Issy’s best friends, and she sadly passed away from cancer last year.

The four of us wander along the beach. The owner of one of the bars we pass gives us a brochure for the opening of his new restaurant, which he has decided to call "The White Elephant". I hope for his sake that this phrase has a different meaning here to that back home. The brochure says that if you spend more than 100,000 Rupiah, which is about ten dollars, you get a "10% discount plus an elephant stamp". I am sad that the value of the elephant stamp has been devalued over the years. I remember some of my primary school classmates very occasionally getting elephant stamps for doing good finger paintings. They had to work a lot harder for their elephant stamps than you would eating nine dollars worth of nasi goring at a restaurant here in Lombok.

We’ve read that Lombok is overwhelmingly Muslim, whereas Bali is Hindu, but the gardens of most of the resorts here seem to be mostly done in Balinese style with lots of Hindu statues. They are very attractive. It is much quieter here than in Bali which we think is a very good thing.

It is Ramadan at the moment, and the locals aren’t allowed to eat or drink anything during daylight hours. Our taxi driver last night said that there were twenty days of Ramadan to go, and he sounded like he was monitoring the countdown very closely. We suspect that the local economy is highly dependent on tourism, and most local restaurants we see along the road still seem to be open for lunch. I think that it would suck to be a Muslim chef at a restaurant that serves lunch during Ramadan.

We stop for lunch at a place along the road called Molly’s. The owner is a very friendly local, and we suspect that his name is probably not Molly. Brian and Taylah tell us that they had dinner here last night. Brian said that he tried to order a cocktail, but was told that they didn’t sell "alcohol, only beer and whiskey". The owner said that he could make up any cocktail they wanted as long as they didn’t mind him substituting whiskey for whatever spirits or liqueurs were supposed to be in it. Today he tells us that he is about to order supplies for the week, so if we want to have a cocktail tomorrow we should order it today so that he can make sure he gets in the right ingredients. Taylah plays pool with his son while we wait for our meals to arrive.

We spend the afternoon lazing by the pool. Issy must be really tired. She lies on a concrete sun lounge in the pool with half of her body in the water, but still manages to fall asleep. We watch as the sun sets spectacularly behind Bali’s troublesome Mount Agung volcano. We wonder if it will erupt again while we’re here and we won’t then be able to get home because all the flights will be cancelled. At least we’ll get a good view of the eruption, and I suspect there might be a lot worse places in the world to be stranded for a couple of months. I hope we’re far enough away so that it doesn’t drop rocks on our heads if it does decide to blow its top.

We decide that the four of us should have dinner at a restaurant called "The Kliff". This is attached to the resort, and, as the name suggests, is at the top of a cliff overlooking the rest of the resort. The restaurant is all open sided, and it is very windy. The wind is blowing the ceiling fans around in front of the lights to give a strobe effect which is making it a bit hard to read the menu. Issy orders a dessert called "Pannadol". I hope she ordered it because she liked the sound of the ingredients. I wouldn’t want a headache to interfere with our wedding anniversary celebrations.

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