Saturday, July 17, 2010


We went from the ridiculous to the sublime in our first 24 hours in Lombok. Our own garden villa facing on to the swimming pool at the Puri Saron hotel seemed just wonderful (including our own private outdoor shower).

However we quickly realised the hotel was booked out by hundreds of Indonesian elementary school teachers for a quality teaching improvement conference. And for some inexplicable reason the professional development was being conducted under a large marquee by the beautiful Puri Saron pool! At 8.30am the PD program around the pool started - using microphones at very high volume. The PD involved singing lots of elementary school songs and very animated and humorous(?) presentations using ear splitting sound effects.

We had no where to go, the noise was deafening. I did think of getting me and my cellulite into the pool for a few laps to try to make them all speechless (all those Muslim men and the women in their decorous batiks and headscarves!) but chickened out when the crunch came.

Fortunately for us this was the 6th day of their program and the FINAL session. It finished around 10.30am and as the teachers gradually dispersed over the remainder of the morning the Puri Saron reverted to its usual paradise like state.

Rob is still suffering the after effects of his Bali belly so I had to enjoy much of what Senggigi Beach offers on my own on our first full day in Lombok.

A beach walk, a swim and laze around the recently vacated pool and then a beautiful seafood lunch at the Taman Restaurant in Senggigi village started the day. There, by sheer chance, I happened to meet up with Gede, the lovely young Balinese man we met (when he was John's gardener at his Mas house) about 8 years ago on our first visit to Bali. Over the years he has taken on more responsible work in John's business in Lombok, completed a teaching degree in Hindu religion (a Canberra teacher sponsored his studies) and got married (2 years ago). He does stock control at the Taman Restaurant now and teaches one day a week at a Mataran High School.

Life is never easy in Indonesia but Gede still looks like the smiling happy young man we met 8 years ago. We gave him a digital camera when he started uni and the first thing he said to me yesterday was that the camera was 99.5% of what made his life!!!! I enjoyed talking over old times and recent history with Gede. We agreed to meet up with him and his wife this evening so Rob can catch up too.

In the afternoon (Mr) Gregg took me for a conducted tour of his Sekolah (school) Nusa Alam almost on the beach, among the rice paddies at the southern end of Senggigi. I was astounded at how much development he had led in the 11 months since our last visit (physical as well as educational).

His new senior school building is wonderful. The classrooms are bright airy and well designed and all incorporate data projectors and wireless hot spots for the kids' laptops. This is unheard of the island states of Indonesia!

We were amazed to hear he had been able to get this building constructed and fitted out for the same amount of money as our recent bathroom laundry reno. had cost!

He proudly showed me the celebratory mural that the kids had painted for the recent 10th anniversary of the school. This was an idea that was inspired by what we used to do (each year) at Wanniassa School in Canberra.

I ended the day sharing a precious bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with Gregg and Leigh at their house while poor Rob endured watching some fairly lame old movies on the HBO channel in our room.

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