Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We got to plead the fifth, we can investigate / don't need to wait, get the record straight

Things are all abuzz here in Bali. For many restaurateurs and bar owners these are increasingly happy times. There, is of course, the current tourist boom, there are tourists by the thousands everywhere, in record numbers, and have been for most of the year. And, unlike the swathes of Bintang swilling and T-shirt wearing, hair platted, pirate DVD buying (ok there is still that) ocker masses who plagued parts of central Kuta in those pre-bomb days these are a different demographic….lets be snobby about this…a little more sophisticated. So, the better restaurants and hotels are roaring whereas the low end is still staggering a little, and probably always will from here on in as they fail to recognise that the market has changed forever.

But try and get a restaurant seat in half the places in Jalan Laksmana…..

Yes, the formerly glum business men and women of Seminyak, Sanur, Ubud and the like are smiling. But what is really raising smiles is the expectation of 10,000 delegates to the UN sponsored Climate Change conference here in December. I say 10,000 delegates but what I really mean is 10,000 untethered expense accounts. The idea that 10,000 hungry souls on the state sponsored gravy train will be marauding around great Expatria looking to spend all of our money on wine, food and anything else they can hide from the accountants (which I’m sure many are quite good at doing) is almost too much for some to deal with.

I went to a restaurant in Jalan Seminyak, one that I’ve been to so much that I’ve got to know all the staff fairly well, who greet us one by one (seriously impressing the seated tourists who must thing I’m actually someone of importance here), and am the proud owner of a plastic VIP card, last night and noted that not only was this place seriously overstaffed but aside from two, we knew none of them.

Nervously, thinking that all my well trained (no capsicum in the lamb curry please) staff had been culled in a massive cleanout and it was back to square one, I asked one I knew what exactly was going on. Climate Change conference we were told…and a massive influx of new staff being urgently trained.

So, all well and good there, assuming of course that I can actually get in over the next few weeks. It is a worry. I need my Chilli Pakoras…

And that‘s not my only point of apprehension. There are cops everywhere, in brand new, teched up vehicles. That can only be a good thing. The early 90s Toyotas, full of rust with bald tyres, collapsed suspension and broken headlights were about due for replacement (although one wonders if they’ll be back in late Dec when the flash SUVs head back to Jabotek). The cops I understand, all those VIPs etc, but I get the feeling that this place is going to grind to even more of a standstill as the convoys (SBY usually has about 30 cars, bikes, SUVs, army vehicles etc most of which I assume serve no real purpose beyond the fact the he needs to feel important..George Bush doesn't have that many) trek up and down the island for two weeks, expense accounts at the ready.  Those convoys, full of Mercs and armoured cars, must be good for the environment, no? In these wired days, could much of this be done without 10,000 airline tickets and all those cars?

Be ready for some delays they say….oh shit…

New Zealanders love to tell you they have traffic problems (the only problem I could see were those stupid one light, one car traffic signals on on-ramps to usually rather empty motorways, causing back ups) but try Kuta or Denpasar on a normal Saturday afternoon or evening…and that’s before we are told to expect delays…

All that aside the other thing I’m having trouble getting my head around is the rubbish everywhere.


Surely someone though that since this is an environmental conference it may have been an excuse to clean up the trash that litters the rivers and roadsides.

But on visual evidence, I guess not….

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