Wednesday, August 24, 2016


This morning I popped down to the pool to get a swim in before breakfast, and encountered comedy gold from the opposite end of the age spectrum.

A couple of elderly Germans were at the swimming pool, putting their towels on “their” lounges at the stroke of 8 o’clock when the pool opens… then heading out for the day.

Never mind that the pool has more lounges than the hotel has guests. Never mind that there are normally only perhaps a dozen people lounging around the pool even during peak hours. They’re Germans. They have towels. Those are lounges. It’s like some bizarre biological imperative.

After breakfasting, walking around town, napping, some lazing about and reading a detective novel, I went in for a massage. Cue the tinkling windchime music, cups of herbal tea, scented oils, large bowls with flower petals floating in them, and petite Indonesian ladies who could probably tear a phone book in half, at least in a world where phone books still existed.

Following an hour of being ground down into a vaguely human-shaped slurry, I poured myself off for a shower and change of clothes, then walked over to Potatohead.

Potatohead is probably the most iconic of the Seminyak beach clubs, with its vast, curving, flaring wall of recycled wooden shutters three or four stories high, behind which sprawls an acre of terraces, lawns and swimming pools. My travel buddy and I popped in for a drink and to watch the sunset, not realising that every person in Bali goes to Potatohead to have a drink and watch the sunset. Despite the fact that there are hundreds of seats, we couldn’t find one. And Potatohead doesn’t allow you to just buy a drink at the bar and then lurk – you must have a table. Fortunately, after a couple of increasingly frustrated circuits of the grounds, we stumbled across a table just as it was being vacated and managed to snag it.

It’s a good thing we did, as I then had possibly the best cocktail I’ve had in Bali – a concoction of lemongrass vodka and mint topped with a thick passionfruit foam.

Another great aspect was the music, a blend of late 80s/early 90s pop funk from artists who never made it quite as far as Prince or Janet Jackson. The funniest thing was that when I glanced over at the DJ booth, the decks were being manned by a little white girl, all of eight years old, smiling with delight as she bobbed her head in time with the music coming through her headphones. I was disappointed when the actual DJ, a scruffy 30-something dude, returned from the bar.

After the sun had gone down we walked over to Sarong for dinner. Sarong is a bit of an institution in Seminyak; a swanky establishment for special occasions. The barmen wear fitted retro white shirts and heavily oiled hair, while the hostesses are dressed in gorgeous, slinky black gowns with matching stilettos. The walls are decorated with mirrors, Balinese art and swags of sheer bronze fabric, and the ceilings are festooned with massive black chandeliers. This is the sort of place where the bathrooms have rolled white hand towels rather than a hot air blower.

We had one entrée of little chunks of crispy pork belly with poached tamarind, and another of fabulously spiced san choi bao. For main course, we shared a smoked chicken red curry with pineapple and pea shoots, a braised beef cheek crusted in crushed peanuts with cucumber and green chillis, naan bread and some black lentil dahl. We were too bloated for dessert there, so we elected to have some gelati on the long walk back to the hotel.

As usual, Sarong couldn’t happen in Perth. Very few restaurants in Perth can afford to pay $20 an hour to have someone standing around welcoming guests – they simply have the waiters greet people as they enter and seat them. In Bali, where a staff member would be lucky to earn $20 a day, there are usually two hostesses, a senior one to oversee the bookings, and a junior one to ferry guests to their tables. At Sarong, both hostesses are impossibly glamorous in their sleek and diaphanous gowns, and pose at the entrance with one leg slightly extended like models doing a high-end photo shoot.

I’m also pretty sure Perth wouldn’t allow people who stand for living to do it in stilettos, and without a little rubber mat to stand on. OH&S is so unsexy.


Post a Comment

<< Home