Helping Others

18 months into a global pandemic that has ravaged the planet, there is hope on the horizon. Vaccines will protect people from sickness, allow borders to open, and economies and communities to rebuild. Nobody has worked harder than the Bali government to vaccinate its people and the most vulnerable populations.

And yet still, there are many who need help to hang on.

In Bali, desperate families, children, pregnant women and the elderly are living in lean-to, tin sheds, with nothing but the basics. There’s never enough to eat, no vital services or comforts, or access to medicine or health care.

Before the pandemic these people from all over Indonesia serviced the tourism industry, working as drivers, hotel staff, or growing food crops to supply hotels and restaurants. When COVID-19 hit and the world closed its doors, their jobs disappeared over-night and they were left without any means to travel ‘home’.

Now, without work or any way to make an income, they spend their days looking for ‘daily work’ or trying to fish or grow enough vegetables to feed their families.

It’s basic survival, and utterly soul destroying for the families suffering through it.

There are people trying to help, and you can too. Healing Hands Across the Sands provided the locations of these shanty towns to a group of local expats who deliver food packages to these communities each week. Alternating between fresh fruit, vegetables and eggs, and non-perishable items like rice, oil, noodles and soap, these care packages are a lifeline for so many families, and gratefully received.

The whole village greets the delivery car, and the matriarch of the group gets to work on fairly dividing up the goods. In other villages, the banjar help out with food distribution, making sure those who are most in need are looked after.

It’s less than ideal, but it’s keeping people alive until the world opens up again. These are beautiful people, who deserve our help. Please get in touch to learn how you can help these dedicated people continue their life-saving work, looking after the most vulnerable communities in Bali.

The People You Meet

Let’s be honest, it hasn’t been easy to find the silver lining in every day during this pandemical circus. There are days when I despair as I look around Bali and see the changes; businesses closed, houses abandoned, families struggling to make ends meet. But the thing that gets me is the resilience of people here. They still smile and find time for laughs with friends and neighbours (socially distanced and masked of course). They still find ways to carry on and make the best of the situation. And one of these people is my friend Wayan.

I met Wayan while walking the streets feeding dogs. Wayan greets me every morning with a smile or a story and even better, sends me beautiful photos of her daughter with their rescue animals. Wayan’s English is perfect and chatting with her every morning has become a beautiful part of my daily life.

Wayan cleans the streets in Sanur. She is one of those amazing people in the green uniform who sweeps up the debris from storms and rubbish carelessly dumped. She works from 5.30am to 8.00am and occasionally longer if she needs to fill in for someone else. Then she goes home to make sure her kids are doing their online schooling, which is not always easy as her daughter Komang (9) is a passionate animal lover who enjoys being with her animals and her son Adit (16) is a talented fisherman and surfer….But Wayan is determined that they continue learning even though schools have been largely closed since the pandemic started.

Wayan’s husband Ketut works night security but his salary has been reduced like so many. He finishes work around the time Wayan starts work and goes home to sleep. He then wakes at midday and goes fishing to catch their daily food, which they share with their rescue animals and friends.

They live in one room in an otherwise empty kos but they do have a garden in which they grow as much as they can to supplement the fish, including cassava, papaya, chilli and other herbs. This also means that their dog Bobo, two cats Cilli and Billi, the duck Duduk, and rescue squirrels Mercure and Moka, have space. I first encountered the squirrels snuggled in Komang’s pockets while she kept Wayan company as she cleaned the streets – the squirrels fell out of trees as babies as needed a new mama, Komang.

I asked Wayan how the pandemic has changed their lives. Wayan used to work at a large villa company and had a good salary and benefits, while Ketut was security and a boat driver. They lived in a different house, enjoyed going to ceremonies with family and friends, and felt positive about the future. All of that has changed.

The family now live on about $270 AUD per month, and considering their rent is $65 per month, that doesn’t leave a lot to spare.

When someone asks me what would make things better for me personally, I always say “I need to win lotto.” Fairly standard answer for many people I would think! I asked Wayan what would make life better for her and she replied that all she wants is to be able to pay Adit’s school fees because he is nearly finished high school and if she can’t pay the school fees, he doesn’t get the certificate to say he graduated. School fees including books and supplies are $17 per month, but add this to rent and food and living expenses…you can imagine their income doesn’t go far and school fees sometimes get left out.

The amazing thing for me about Wayan and her whole family, they laugh. Big smiles and laughter. Wayan always asks about the dogs I feed as she knows them also. Komang likes having her photo taken with her precious animal rescues, and Adit has the cheekiest smile I’ve ever seen! Despite how hard life must be, they find joy in something every day; and that perfectly sums up the resilience of this island.

Written by The Travellist Team

Solemen

Recently I wrote a personal post on FB about a friend being treated for cervical cancer; double chemo, blood transfusions, unstable kidney and liver function tests, and now 37 days of radiotherapy treatment. Add unemployment, a pandemic, and limited resources to the mix, you can understand why I wrote a post asking for just a little help for her and her family.

Many beautiful friends answered the call and were able to provide this woman with some much needed funding to help her provide for her family during these tough times; and a special friend to the woman helped in a different way – she contacted Yayasan Solemen Indonesia www.solemen.org

I went to visit Solemen at their headquarters in Kuta this week and within five minutes of being there, I felt incredibly privileged to have my health and to know that I had options. So many people get lost or are forgotten while suffering terrible health issues and right now, Bali is suffering even more as there is no tourism income that usually supports the majority of the island.

I met with Sarah and Robert and had a tour of the centre. In normal times, they have ten rooms occupied which provide a ‘home’ for up to 30 people. But right now, with social distancing rules, they are only able to utilize 5 rooms. Currently they have in-house patients ranging from babies and children with heart defects, to a boy who up until a year ago could walk and now is losing mobility and control, to an elderly woman being treated for breast cancer.

They have a tiny but very organized and impressive kitchen which during normal times produces 90 meals a day for all in-patients and clinic patients. The rooms are comfortable and offer privacy to families going through the most desperate times of their lives. There is also a lovely lounge area and TV, plus several playgrounds for the kids, as the majority of their patients (86%) are children.

Solemen is currently providing care to around 2500 people, from newborn babies to the elderly, with the recovery center for patients needing to come to Denpasar for hospital, clinic or therapy visits. Some patients stay 1- 2 nights, others stay for months depending on their circumstances.

The Outreach team at Solemen see all kinds of medical conditions ranging from cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, recessive genetic disorders, cancers, heart conditions, and mental health disorders. Every person stays with them long after they leave the village, the deep impact of their situation has a lasting effect and care is planned to meet their individual needs, and the circumstances of their living conditions.

Mental health patients who often chained, are locked in cages and hidden from the world, with no medication or understanding of how to handle their condition. These people need to be assessed by their volunteer psychiatrist Dr Gusti Rai, with medication prescribed by him and any injections are administered by their qualified nurse, Gede. The team offer support and medical assistance to the patient as well as ongoing support to their families while creating a better living condition that encourages rehabilitation. The team work with the patient to socialize and reintegrate them with the family and community involved, and teach them how to care for the individual.

The team care for babies with terrible heart defects requiring life-saving surgery; cancers of all kinds; genetic defects causing terrible skin problems – one child has delicate butterfly skin (Epidermolysis Bullosa) while another has tough snake skin (Harlequins Ichtyosis); amputations; neurological disorders…the list goes on.

With the onset of the pandemic, the team knew just how hard this was going to be – after all much of their funding came from tourism, whether from the businesses or tourists themselves. They have lost 90% of their normal funding as tourists are unable to get here and the businesses that are able to stay open are needing to support their own staff and their families. Things are getting grim and for Solemen to continue to carry out their amazing work, they need help.

There are food collection boxes at various locations ( https://solemen.org/drop-off-locations/ ), so anyone shopping in Bali is able to drop in a little extra food to be shared across families in need. Anyone can donate and help out via various methods https://solemen.org/donate/ and you would be surprised just how far a donation can go.

Here’s an example: if you donate approx. 800,000 IDR that provides a family of 4 with the basics they need for 1 whole month! That includes rice, oil, dried fish, dried beans, tinned fish, soap, toothpaste, washing powder, a huge tray of eggs, vegetables, fruit, noodles, tea, coffee, and sugar. They also have a program that gives the family an additional 20,000 IDR per day which helps them top up with fresh fruit and vegetables as they need it. For people going through medical treatments like chemo, 600,000 IDR gives them a special milk and nutrient formula which they desperately need for the vitamins and calories to heal.

Solemen are helping my friend now by providing her family with a food parcel every month, including the Ensure formula, and by organizing her transport to and from the hospital for treatment. Her husband can’t go with her as he stays with their three young children, and when you have no income, catching a taxi daily is expensive, not to mention risky during COVID times.

I left Solemen feeling even angrier and sadder than usual at the COVID situation; we are all suffering in some way but those enduring terrible health conditions on top of all the normal pandemic stresses, are hurting the most and they need our help to get through this.

A little money in Bali goes a long way. I’m sure everyone is helping other people already, but if you have any spare love and money to give, please get in touch with Solemen on FB @IndonesiaSoleMen or IG @solemen.indonesia and find out how you can help or donate to feed a family in serious need.

Written by The Travellist Team

What is Reality Right Now

After spending nine months living a “New Normal” life in Bali, I have to say returning to Australia has been a little of a culture shock, mentally and physically.

Back in March, when the pandemic took over the world, Indonesia was one of the few countries that made wearing a mask mandatory when outdoors. Along with strict protocols in whatever restaurants remained open, no big gatherings and our own decision to socialise with close friends only, it has meant we’ve led a pretty sheltered life for the majority of this year.

We decided against travelling home back then, against the better judgement of many people, we chose to stay in Bali at the time. We listened to the Australian government as they advised expats to stay put if they were safe, and also because there was no way we could have left within the 5-day window the government gave us.

It was April, when Australian media outlets projected 150,000 deaths in Indonesia by the end of the month. I woke searching the news every day, I knew what other countries faced and the thought of what Bali could and could not cope with, scared the crap out of me. I hardly left the house we lived in. We walked the dogs twice a day, if we needed anything then Rob would head to the supermarket, and then I’d make him change his clothes and scrub before he touched anything when back home. Not quite hermits, but sheltered none the less.

It was late August when we made the decision to close our Bali business and return to Australia. It’s gut-wrenching to think the past five years have been for nothing, and while the situation was out of our hands, it was the hardest decision we’ve ever made. Despite that decision being made, it would be 12 weeks before we could fly out. Gone are the days when you booked a flight and flew the next day or the next week. With Australian arrivals limited to ridiculously low amounts, airlines withdrew flights early on in the year. There were basically only two options for us to fly out of Indonesia to Australia, and at exorbitant prices to match. Once we booked, we received many questions as to why we weren’t coming home sooner, the short answer was — we couldn’t if we tried.

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There are many other ways in which travel has changed. Prior to leaving Bali we were required to have a PCR test within 72 hours of our departure with Singapore Airlines. In Sanur, we visited the hospital where I was sat before a nurse behind a screen. Her hands came through two holes to swab my nasal cavities while another nurse held my head still. And then it was a nervous 24 hour wait for the results. While I was sure we were negative, the sore throat and headaches from lack of sleep could have been anything.

Still, a few days later we headed to the airport with negative tests in hand. The queues at the domestic terminal were the first clues everything wasn’t routine. We shuffled in line while remaining a safe distance from the people before us, all policed officially by airport staff. In the terminal every second chair was not used, and on board the plane there were many empty seats as we headed to Jakarta. Once in Jakarta, it was found my negative test paperwork had my name spelt incorrectly. Let me tell you, that was a long 30 minutes while we waited for it all to be fixed from Bali, not easy at 5pm on a Sunday afternoon.

In Singapore we were given coloured armbands to identify us as being in transit, then we sat in a cordoned off area with others as we waited for our flight. Staff regularly walked through to ensure distance was kept. It was an eerie sight, Changi airport essentially empty of people, pre-COVID at least 60,000 people used this airport every day. Once boarded on our flight to Brisbane, the relief of knowing we had made it disappeared as we looked at all of the empty seats around us. A total of 38 people were on our flight, an Airbus A350 which would typically carry 306 passengers. To me this was devastating, as I had followed the plight of many other Australians who were attempting to get home from all over the world. The Prime Minister’s promise to get everyone home by Christmas was never going to come to fruition and as we head into the new year, there are thousands desperately awaiting flights that hopefully don’t get cancelled.

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Upon landing in Brisbane, we were met by police officers handing out paperwork to be completed before heading through immigration. Again, the airport was bare, no duty-free shopping on this trip, head directly to the customs officers instead. There is no one to help with your bags, we helped a young mum get her bags while she struggled with her young children. The Defence Force personnel and the police stand well back from the arriving passengers, it’s hard not to feel like you are completely diseased.

Once herded onto a bus, we were taken to our hotel quarantine on the Gold Coast, which we were quite pleased about. It meant we were a step closer to our family who all lived here. Again, the personnel checking us in were all distanced, but most were friendly. Once allocated a room, we took the lift with our bags and were met at the other end to be escorted to our room. It’s quite final when the door closes and locks into place, the reality of not having any social interaction with anyone for two weeks hits home.

We were extremely lucky, our room had a balcony and a gorgeous view, it meant we had fresh air when many other quarantinees don’t. But let’s face it, this was just a hotel room. A bed, a desk with a chair and one armchair. On the balcony was a small table and two chairs. We washed our dishes in the bathroom sink, our clothes in the bathtub and there was no exercise for the whole 14 days other than walking to and from the door. We were given linen to change the bed once, and told to bag up the dirty linen and leave it outside the door. Thank goodness for friends who delivered a vacuum, the carpets were a mess.

It was stupid how excited I’d get when I heard a food delivery, the peephole was used often. Looking over the balcony at Gold Coast life felt a little surreal, I was totally surprised by the normal existence I watched each day. Restaurants were busy, people were hugging when greeting each other, there didn’t seem to be any social distancing and there wasn’t a face mask in sight. The life we left behind in Bali was very different to this, elbow shakes, a nod of the head and masks worn by most everyone. As release day neared, anxiety again set in, I felt quite safe in my small hotel room.

On our last night when we were leaving, the policewoman warned me how different a world I would find, take it easy she said. And she was right.

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Please do not think I’m pointing fingers at any government, each have handled this in their own way. This is purely my view as a returning Aussie and everyone who goes through the process has their own experience. But I do feel that many don’t understand what it feels like to return to Australia after a long absence during this time. Some refuse to understand.

On our first day out of quarantine, we were both hit with fatigue and headaches. While it felt good to be going about things normally, the fact no one wore a mask or kept a safe distance baffled me a bit. I had just spent 14 days isolated after all, I did this to ensure the safety of my family and my community, and at a price of $3700 for us both. I know first-hand how COVID can get out of hand, one transmitted case soon becomes 20 and so on, in no time at all. So, to see everyone going about their daily life with perhaps what I can only call complacency, frightens me a little.

I believe mandatory quarantine is necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across our country, it has worked well and given all of us here in Australia a sense of normalcy. But I do think it can be done in a more humane way. Consider a family in our situation, they are also placed into the same sized hotel room, and at times with no balcony. That’s no fresh air for the children for the whole 14 days, and no exercise at all. The food which is provided is mostly full of sugar, salt and high carbs, hardly nutritious. Some of the so-called family and health hotels receive frozen meals where the list of ingredients features too many numbers to be called nourishing.

As I write this, new cases in Sydney and Melbourne are once again a common occurrence. At any stage we could see fresh border closures across Australia, leaving many with travel plans that will have to be abandoned. Today we visited a major shopping centre on the Gold Coast, it was crazy busy. While some stores followed protocols, others did not, and the food court overflowed with people. On New Year’s Eve, there were many venues packed to the rafters with revellers heralding in a new year, all hoping 2021 would bring fresh hope.

It’s the same currently with overseas arrivals, those with money can pay up to $150,000 to quarantine in their home and Australian diplomats or those who work for Foreign affairs were able to skip hotel quarantine, instead allowed to stay in their home as they returned for Christmas holidays. They were at home with their families who go about their daily lives… now let that sink in. Different rules for everyone. All while those who are diagnosed as positive in the local community are trusted to stay at home and do the right thing. And we know many don’t.

Today, as new cases are revealed across the country, its reality hitting hard again. Unless everyone is held responsible, not only those returning from overseas or those who work on the frontlines, but everyone in the community. Unless there is one set of rules and all safety protocols are followed, and when everyone comes to appreciate that this life is not the same for everyone, well…until this happens, this pandemic will never end.

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Written by Jo Brierley

Road trip around Bali

You may have noticed a distinct lack of blogs coming from our office lately. Partly that’s because we travel a lot in normal times to write our stories and we are not doing any travel right now. But partly it’s because it would appear our writing mojo went out the window when the pandemic shut down the island.

So, to fire up the writing and travelling mojo again, we’re going on a virtual tour around Bali – a written reminder of how amazing Bali actually is, even during these quiet times. Pack your bags, virtually, make yourself a cocktail (even put a little paper umbrella in an orange juice) and sit next to a palm tree, or whatever potted plant you have in the house or garden. Time to take a road-trip around Bali!!

Our first virtual road-trip is actually a boat-trip to Nusa Lembongan. I try to tell people that Lembongan is to Bali what Rottnest is to Fremantle…except really the only things they have in common are the 30 minute boat trip, the fact they are a similar size, and they are both gorgeous islands surrounded by an incredible marine life.

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Whether you come in at Jungut Batu or Mushroom Bay, the first thing you will notice is the colour and clarity of the water below you – you can see the stunning corals and marine life as your boat slows down and glides through the turquoise water to the shore. Every boat trip, without fail, you can hear everyone on-board audibly breathe out and sigh as the boat approaches the island.

Right now, Lembongan is quiet and if you are in Indonesia and can get to Lembongan, you might want to ring ahead to make sure your favourite spots are actually open. Many are only open on certain days or for limited hours. The other thing you could do is hire a buggy and create your own ‘crawl’ around the island – stopping at every place that is open for a coffee, snacks or beer. In normal times, this just wouldn’t be possible as the island is teeming with visitors so if you are here now, find some enjoyment in the quiet and help out as many local businesses as you can.

There is an awesome community market on Sundays at The Coconut Hut Lembongan and many of the local businesses have turned their former shops or warungs into markets. Lembongan was completely shut off from mainland Bali when the pandemic first started, and many tourists had to leave immediately. This was devastating to so many, if not all of the businesses on the island, so leave nice tips for staff and if you can, donate to the great community causes on the island.

I’ve seen so many news reports about the seaweed farming and it is back-breaking work for in reality, truly little money. The resilience of the island families to once again embrace the industry that was introduced to Lembongan in the 80’s, demonstrates their tenacity to find a way to keep going until the pandemic is over and the borders open.

I’m not a diver, much to the disappointment of my friend Kim (Scuba Center Asia) but I’m hearing that now is an amazing time to dive; less boats and people in the water, means that you have even more of the spectacular underwater view to yourself. If you are like our team and don’t dive, grab a snorkel, and enjoy the clear water closer in to shore. Or grab a beer and just sit on the beach and watch the waves. Third option, definitely more our style.

Many of the accommodation spots are actually closed or have long term guests (those who chose to ride out the pandemic in island style), but many have amazing deals on right now – the team from The Lembongan Traveller are in the Lembongan office every day so get in touch and see what they can find for you if you don’t already have your own favourite spot to stay.

How do you describe Nusa Lembongan to those who have not been here yet? It’s a stunning but small tropical island, a diving and yoga mecca, with amazing food that rivals anywhere else in the world. With accommodation to suit literally any budget, from backpacker to 5 star; dine on fresh fish cooked on the beach, visit one of the many restaurants on the island or have a chef prepare meals at your villa; walk, motorbike, buggy or pushbike around – the options on Lembongan are endless and even though our borders are still closed at the time of writing this, you MUST put Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan on your travel-list of places to visit when you finally get back to Bali.

If you are in Indonesia now, and have the means to do day trips or travel, every bintang or nasi goreng you buy is helping to keep a local business in business, a family has an income. But please be safe and respectful of others by wearing a mask, and wash your hands, just like your parents taught you all those years ago. And if businesses stop you to take your temperature before you enter, be grateful because they are doing their job to try to reduce the spread of the virus that has crippled so many industries across the globe.

Our team has made so many new and wonderful friends through FB and IG since the pandemic began; people we may never normally have met, have now become people we can’t wait to ‘meet’ for a beer on the beach as soon as the borders open. Thanks to everyone for the lovely support and well-meaning messages during this time – we can’t wait for the day that we can actually talk in person.

Stay tuned for our road-trip series…. where will we be heading next??

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Written by The Travellist team

We are Afraid

More often than not, I feel hypocritical ‘calling out’ media when they talk about Bali. Pot calling kettle black and all that. But lately I’ve seen reports that make no sense.

Several online ‘news’ sites have been claiming that Bali has seen a ‘surge’ in visitors and tourism since we opened the borders to domestic travel. The definition of a surge is a sudden powerful forward or upward movement, especially by a crowd or by a natural force such as the waves or tide. Yes, there have been visitors but let’s not get carried away with poetic license.

The first day arrival of 4000 visitors does not really make any impact on the 4 million plus inhabitants on Bali, although any number of visitors currently is certainly welcome. Facts and figures are more helpful right now than dramatic wording; would you consider getting in an elevator if instead of saying up and down, it said surge and plummet? Probably not.

There are also reports saying that the Balinese have returned to the land to farm. Fascinating. So, do they own the land already? Or are they going into lifelong contracts to rent the land in the hope that one day they can pay it all? Or are they simply just starting up a farm on land that isn’t theirs and hoping the real owners don’t notice? And what about those who have never farmed a day in their life?

Yes, wherever possible people in Bali are becoming as self sufficient as they can, bartering with produce for items they can’t grow, but the last time I checked, electricity bills for example, cannot be paid with coconuts or bananas. And crops take time to grow so it’s not like they have instant income just because they start farming. I have learnt what true resilience is watching the local people in Bali as they have done their very best to support their families.

Then there are my all-time favourite reports – the speculative ‘we know when Australians can travel’ report. These reports actually ‘know’ diddly-squat and if they did, they would not all contradict one another. All these reports do is add to the fear and angst felt by those who are reliant upon tourism in Bali for their income; stresses those who haven’t been able to see families since the pandemic started; and demonstrates no empathy for those who missed Bali holidays, weddings, births, and so much more.

I spoke to a colleague in Japan a few weeks ago and he gave an interesting perspective to the facemask debate. He said whether you believe masks help or not, is totally irrelevant. Facemasks are a sign of compassion and that you are able to think about others. And I totally agree. It’s not about whether they are hot or uncomfortable, fairly sure the ventilators required by COVID patients are actually more uncomfortable. It’s about the entire world uniting to stop a virus that is crippling the global economies, causing an increase** in mental health issues, and taking the lives of loved ones.

** in this instance, I do believe the word surge would have been appropriate, but I don’t want to be seen as one of ‘those’ writers.

During the pandemic, there are friends that I have seen regularly, almost daily as we help each other, feed dogs together, and support each other’s businesses. Due to a tragedy recently, we hugged for the first time since March. And even though I am not a touchy feely person, I realised that I miss hugging. Because now, we are afraid. We are afraid to shake hands, we are afraid to help others, afraid to hug when someone is crying in case their tears carry contagions.

So I will wear a face-mask every single time I am with people, to show them that I care, that I want to wipe away their tears, and make up for all the hugs we have missed.

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Written by The Travellist team

Eny – Animal Lover

It’s no secret that The Travellist team are animal lovers, between us there are currently 9 cats and 4 dogs, although that is a revolving number depending on who we find in the streets that needs a little TLC. Together with our friend Jo, we have been feeding as many dogs and cats as we can since the pandemic started. Having said that, we have been feeding street animals since before the pandemic, but it became a bigger problem when tourism came to a grinding halt. Some expats left Bali to head to their home countries; locals had to return to their villages for family support; restaurants that were feeding dogs, closed for business; and many are struggling to feed their families, let alone their animals, so gates are left open in the hope that dogs and cats will find food elsewhere.

All of this meant that regular dog and cat feeders suddenly had more to look after and animal welfare groups were inundated with animals needing care and shelter. In an ideal world, every animal has a comfy bed and regular meals, but as that cannot always happen, we need to try to make their lives on the streets a little more bearable. And think about it, if a dog gets fed, is vaccinated and sterilized, plays with other dogs all day long, and chills on Bali’s best beaches, it is not a bad life really is it?

When lockdown started, a group chat was created comprising animal welfare groups and street/beach dog feeders. We have been keeping tabs on the dogs, updating each other on who is going where, who is having puppies (!!) and who needs a little extra medical care or food. And as I cannot speak on behalf of the other feeders, it has certainly given me a purpose during this weird time. Knowing their furry, sweet little faces are waiting with tails wagging as you come around the corner with buckets of food, makes it all worthwhile.

However, the unexpected joy has been meeting other animal lovers. One such person is Eny, a woman I met a few years ago when my area was having an issue with a foreigner and local person poisoning dogs. Sadly, 5 dogs died but we managed to save 4 at the vets and relocate others which is when Eny stepped in to help care for them all.

Since then I have bumped into Eny in the street on her motorbike with huge buckets of food for the dogs and we have started sharing stories. Eny had been extremely sick a few years ago but found her health and happiness again when showing great compassion and care for animals and so that has become her life’s mission.

When I went to see Eny, she was busy moving house and what was incredible was that while her possessions were still in boxes, she had all the cats and dogs set up, playgrounds being built, and pots of food cooking on the stove. Eny currently cares for 12 cats and 19 elderly dogs or puppies at her home, all of them are rescues needing extra TLC due to old age, neglect, or sickness.

She also has a husky who was in a shocking state when rescued, now in boarding and being treated with chemo, not to mention other rescues who are staying at the vets as they need more intensive treatment.

And she feeds 65 dogs every single day around Sanur. I’ve watched her, she comes around the corner on her motorbike and somehow the dogs know, and they come running out of wherever they are hiding, waiting for the biscuits, rice and chicken she feeds them.

Eny is a true animal angel and she manages this by making clothes for the markets or donations. As you can imagine, with no tourists her clothing income is not covering enough, and her costs are mounting. What she needs most is assistance with food and medical treatment for all the furry friends she loves and cares for. If you can help Eny, please message so we can put you in touch with Eny. She provides photos and receipts for everything she does and keeps a book of every item purchased.

While the pandemic will end and tourists will return to Bali, Eny will never stop taking care of the creatures that magically find her in their hour of need and it is such an honour to have been able to tell a little of her story. The world needs more people like Eny, the animal angel.

Beaches of Sanur

While Sanur is only a 30-minute drive away from the International airport, it can sometimes feel like it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of the western tourist hubs.

With the offshore reef around five kilometers out to sea, all of the lagoon like beaches in Sanur are idyllic and perfect for a lazy day on the sand or an ocean swim. Take a bike ride along the paved walkway or walk at a leisurely pace and stop off along the way. There are many restaurants and bars facing the shoreline, you’ll be spoiled for choice should you need to rehydrate or sit for a delicious meal.

Here’s a breakdown of the Sanur beaches.

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PANTAI MATAHARI TERBIT

Located on the northern end of Sanur, Matahari Terbit beach is where you’ll find the fast boats to take you across to the islands of Lembongan and further onto the Gilis. The white sandy stretch outside the Inna Grand Bali Beach hotel, in my opinion, is the most beautiful in Sanur. Scattered trees give dappled shade, and the soft sand is perfect to laze on. During low tide, the rock pools are revealed and can be explored with the right footwear. High tide makes it a great beach to swim on. There are a few restaurants within the hotel which make the most of the ocean views, and for a great coffee head to Kopi Kiosk.

PANTAI SEGARA AYU

This beach stretches north and south of Jalan Segara Ayu when you get to the beach. Again, the sand here is soft, white and wide, making it a good spot for swimming. Turn left for the local warungs, cooking freshly caught seafoods. A favourite is Warung Goshan, choose from the menu, sit under the tree with a cold Bintang and enjoy the view. Segara the Seaside is on the right, with sheltered areas on the sand for a cold drink or take up a comfortable chair and enjoy a foot massage while enjoying the view.

PANTAI SINDHU

Possibly one of the better-known areas in Sanur, where the market ladies are always happy to greet you and entice you into their stores. Be prepared to barter, they love you to play along or head to one of the fixed price stores to gauge your prices first. There are some great dining choices along this stretch, Luthus, Tootises and Soul on the Beach to name a few. There’s also the Sindhu Dwarawati Turtle Conversation center where recently hatched baby turtles are kept before they’re released into the ocean. Pura Patal (temple) is one of the larger temples on the beach in Sanur, and you’ll often see processions as they pass on their way for ceremonies.

PANTAI KARANG

Karang means coral in Indonesian, the sand here is courser but it’s still a great spot for swimming. One of the most famous landmarks in Sanur can be seen from this beach. An island a few meters off shore with a bale hut at either end is featured in many sunrise photos. Between 6am and 6.30am each morning, budding photographers flock here to capture the ultimate sunrise photo. If you’re lucky you may even have a local fisherman using his nets to enhance your shots. This area of the beach is also sacred to the local community as it’s the site used for cremation ceremonies. If you happen to come across a cremation ceremony, remember to be respectful and stand back, particularly if you’re in swimwear. Head south for local warungs and Sands restaurant.

PANTAI DUYUNG

This beachside location is familiar to many, with a great selection of dining options right beside the ocean. La Playa, Seagrass, Bamboo and Lilla Pantai can be found along this stretch and most offer feet in the sand dining. If you’re after something special, Pier Eight, part of the Fairmont Hotel is located along this beach also. For the adventurous, this is the spot to hire jet-skis, ride the banana boat or even give parasailing a try. Or for the surfer, the renowned Hyatt Reef can be reached from here.

PANTAI SEMAWANG

Round the corner after the Fairmont hotel and you’ve reached Semawang Beach. Colorful Jukung, the Balinese fishing boats, line the shore where early morning and late afternoons the fishermen will head out to the reef. Here is where many of the dive companies will leave from early in the morning, heading out for drift dives or over to the Nusa islands for Manta Ray sightings. Directly on this beach is where Beach House Sanur is located. Grab a beanbag beachside and enjoy the view, or enjoy a favourite meal inside the restaurant. Head further south along the beach, for many beachside local warungs and sun loungers available for hire.

PANTAI MERTASARI

The brightly painted Jukung are lined all along this stretch. This beach is a favourite for the local people and families will pack the beach every Sunday. The beach is wide, be sure to look up from June through to August as many kites fly high. August is when the Bali kite Festival is held, with traditional giant kites flown competitively by teams from the local villages. For the surfing enthusiast, there’s a surf break off shore but you’ll need to be dropped off and picked up by boat. Water activities can also be done here, and during windy season there are many kite surfers making the most of the conditions. The dining scene here ranges from local warungs to resort owned restaurants, and if you look south you can even catch the sunset from here.

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Written by Jo Brierley

Covid19 in Bali

I’ve held off writing anything about COVID19 for so many reasons, largely due to the fact that there are just SO many ‘experts’ right now and I have been truly appalled at how self-righteous they are. Also, as someone who has a marketing and social media business, I feel a tad hypocritical pointing fingers at the fake news sharers or panic merchants that seem to dominate our newsfeeds. So before you read this, please understand I am NOT an expert, I have absolutely no medical experience at all, and everything in this blog is just a theory or a thought with no scientific basis at all, and a cup of gin thrown in for good measure.

There is no doubt we are in a pandemic; start, middle or end, I’m not sure. But fair to say the pandemic is equal parts health related as it is media related. Who knew the media controlled so much of what we believe and what we base our day to day lives on? I’ve actually removed myself from every community group or page that people suggested I join. And isolation actually seems a lot better now for it, I figure when the world ends or starts again, someone will let me know.

I’ve unfollowed or unfriended many supposed friends who I haven’t heard from in years who suddenly were incredibly interested in my well-being and news from Bali. Sorry but I call bullshit. You were interested in fodder to share with your friends, hyped up codswallop that serves no purpose other than to add to the boredom-infused frenzy. To tell me the ‘virus is coming my way’ is firstly fear mongering and secondly ludicrous because as far as I know, the virus is not doing home deliveries to those in isolation.

I feel sad and sorry for those who lives have irrevocably changed due to COVID19 taking the life of a loved one. But I also feel sadness for those who are affected by the virus in a financial way because the long-term ramifications of this impact will be felt for years to come. On a daily basis I feel overwhelmed just thinking about how the world will repair itself economically and naturally I think of Indonesia mostly, more specifically Bali. Bali is a country that essentially relies on tourism and when that stops, everything stops. Even support businesses that don’t directly work with tourists, have stopped. Jobs are lost, day to day living changes in a way that you just can’t imagine until you see it.

But on my early morning ventures out, with a face mask, to feed the dogs left behind, I’ve seen some truly remarkable things. The Balinese have not wavered in their beliefs with daily offerings even more important now than ever. Prices of food at local warungs have actually dropped so more people can afford it, there are people setting up stalls with free rice for those who need it and yesterday I witnessed a carload of Balinese people handing out bags of rice, oil and basics to people who have nothing. The tenacity of the Balinese is truly remarkable and COVID19, like the Bali Bombings, will be another tragedy in their history that they fight back from and show incredible resilience.

I keep waking up waiting for the cure. The vaccine will be available in first world countries far quicker than it will anywhere else and that’s brilliant because then travel can start again. You just need to get your COVID19 vaccine on top of any other vaccines you should get when travelling overseas. But a readily available cure is more important in third world countries were the cost of a vaccine could prevent the majority from getting it.

I saw a news article the other day that said some clever boffins at Monash have discovered that Ivermectin can kill the virus within 48 hours in a petri dish lab environment. Now they need to test the dosage for humans. Ivermectin is something I know a little about. It’s readily available and easy to use and already approved with many uses in people and animals. In fact, I have a stash at homealready (known as Mectin) which I use to treat street dogs for worms. It’s an anti-parasitic and being that COVID19 started from parasites in animals in the wet market animal trade of Wuhan, it makes sense that this could be a solution. Please see caveat in first paragraph, I am NOT a clever boffin, just someone who happens to know about Ivermectin from pulling worms out of puppies bums.

Let’s talk about these wet markets or live animal markets. We all need a silver lining, although lately, just finding a brass or copper lining would do. So perhaps the silver lining in this is that these markets will be stamped out, although there will be reluctance from the traders as this is their only source of income. This barbaric practice of keeping all kinds of animals in filthy living conditions, then brutally torturing them before killing them and eating them, has been proven to be the starting point of COVID19 in Wuhan and the pandemic that has caused global destruction. To prevent this from ever happening again, this trade must come to an end. I can’t imagine any government in the world wants to have fingers pointed or wear the blame for the next pandemic, should it prove to come from these types of markets. Corona viruses are not new, and stopping this disgraceful trade won’t end future viruses however if humans no longer consume animals in a way that they shouldn’t be consumed (yes, there is an argument for vegetarianism), then you would expect that this kind of pandemic will hopefully not be seen again.

There is a groundswell of talk about why Bali doesn’t seem to be as affected as other parts of the world, or as much as people would expect it to be. Jakarta has obviously been hit hard however I’m inclined to think that’s because poor Jakartans have been dealing with tremendous floods for months and perhaps immune systems aren’t what they would normally be. We didn’t have much of a wet season in Bali this year, although it was certainly humid, but like many, I am wondering if COVID19 already came through Bali with the last wave of tourists and visitors to the island.

There seemed to be a cough or a flu that swept through many communities in Bali late last year. We either put it down to the wet season flu, or asthma from the rising damp, or simply the change in weather. Ask a local what masuk angin is, the symptoms can range anywhere from the common cold to a stomachache to dengue. And as the onset of wet season goes hand in hand with the onset of dengue season, we may not have realised what everyone had was the early stages of COVID19. Testing would not have been done as no one knew there was actually anything that needed testing for.

Now if this is the case, and Bali has already had its peak with perhaps a milder strain of the virus, does that mean more of us have the antibodies or are immune to it and that’s why the numbers in Bali are lower than the crisis that Australian media would have us believe? It would be wrong to believe that the media are paid by the Australian Tourism Board to Bali bash, but hey, make travel within Australia cheaper and they wouldn’t need to, right? I found it interesting that all Australian media could do was over-hype how bad Bali would be affected and warn everybody to leave and not return in the foreseeable future. I didn’t see any Australian media saying avoid your European holidays or give the US a wide berth. Just Bali.

Bali is my home. I’ve been here for nearly 6 years. My team are here, my zoo is here, I have created a life here for myself. And I don’t have a home set up anywhere else that I can go back to. I had people saying I should come back to Australia and get all the benefits the government are handing out. I haven’t been considered a tax-paying resident in Australia for at least 5 years, my vote in the election doesn’t even count anymore…so does it seem right that I suddenly turn tail and ask the government to support me? I think not.

I like to leave things on a positive note although lately I’ve struggled to stay positive. But there are some good things that have come out of isolation: I’ve watched every episode of Law & Order; I’m hoping that my ice-cream to housework ratio does in fact prove that they balance one another out; I’ve learnt how to make all kinds of cocktails with fruit and whatever booze is lying around; I’ve discovered my dogs and cats really do sleep all day and couldn’t give a rats arse whether I’m here or not; and I’ve had meaningful, funny, and more regular conversations with those I love via phone, video, messages or email. I think we have all learnt that we should have taken out shares in loo paper, brown onion farms, tinned food companies, and Wi Fi providers.

Stay healthy and I hope to see you all in COVID19-free world ASAP

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