Sunday, 30 July 2017

Paris Can Wait


Anne (Diane Lane) is prevented by an earache from accompanying her husband on his flight to Budapest. Instead arrangements are made for her to be driven by his associate Jaques (Arnaud Viard) to Paris, their following destination. It is Anne's expectation they will drive directly to the French capital but Jaques finds every excuse to meander via interesting villages, townships and restaurant stops. 'Paris Can Wait' is Jaques' mantra.

This is a very slight film verging on dullness. Highlights are occasional bursts of scenery and glimpses of interesting meals but there is not really enough of either to keep this movie afloat. Lane is always watchable in my opinion but even she struggles to make an impact and it doesn't help that the Jaques character presents as irritating, even a little sleazy at times.

✮✮

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Dunkirk


Christopher Nolan's 'Dunkirk' is an imaginative telling of the World War 2 evacuation of hundreds of thousands of trapped allied forces from the Belgian port.

Comparatively short for a war movie and mostly without dialogue 'Dunkirk' comprises three separate but linked stories. The main story is of the week long efforts to evacuate forces from the beach. A second story focuses on a single day when one family owned leisure craft sets out to participate in the rescue efforts. A third story represents just one hour of activity by three British Spitfire pilots to knock enemy aircraft out of the action. What is particularly clever is how these stories are not told sequentially but are presented simultaneously even though they are of different lengths.

Nolan's film portrays war action so realistically I flinched and jumped in my seat numerous times as though I was there with the characters. And these characters are not all heroes either. Arguably some behave disgracefully, even cowardly, at times.

The musical soundtrack is quite unusual. Some might not regard it as musical at all, rather hearing annoying noise but I thought it supported action and impending action splendidly.

It is very telling that a movie has had an effect when the audience does not immediately rush to the exits the second the end credits appear.

A brilliant film.

✮✮✮✮1/2

Friday, 28 July 2017

Reflections on the holiday

I enjoyed our ten days in Bali more than I would have expected. It was a very leisurely holiday. Apart from two sightseeing excursions the rest of the holiday was centred on our resort area lazing by the pool and the beach, doing crosswords, gossiping, people watching and, of course eating. All our evening meals were taken in the vicinity of our resort on the beachfront at Sanur. All the meals were three courses. A starter, mostly soup, a main course and a dessert. All the meals were delicious or at the least entirely satisfactory. Not one of these meals cost more than $A20 each.

Breakfast was taken at a covered but wall-less area under a nearby Banyan tree which was a two minute stroll from our rooms. The grounds of the resort were vast and beautifully maintained and the pool refreshing. The rooms are rather tired and need considerable refreshing but they were spacious, and the beds were comfortable. Even with families present, the noise level was low and sleep was easy. The daily temperatures were 26º to 28º with low humidity and we did not experience a drop of rain. It was a little breezy eating meals at night on the beachfront but we remained in shorts and t-shirts throughout. We took long walks daily and averaged more than 10 kms of walking every day; although not in one burst. I came home two kilos lighter but it is not reflected when I look at myself in the mirror 😞.

I was less impressed with the high profile tourist areas at Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Ubud but no doubt their resorts are also havens from the outside world and in some cases are undoubtedly more luxurious than where we stayed. That is the case with the W resort at Seminyak which we visited briefly. It looks stunning to the eye but would be even more stunning to the wallet.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Perhaps W stands for WTF luxury

Whilst we spent the vast majority of our stay in Bali at Sanur and were happy to do so we also paid brief visits to other tourist spots, namely Ubud, Kintamani, Kuta, Legian and Seminyak.


These visits only reinforced my preference for Sanur which provided the leisurely, sedate holiday experience I was seeking.

Whilst in Seminyak we spent twenty minutes or so wandering around public areas in the W Bali Resort. This exclusive resort is quite an eye opener. Stunning in parts, the biggest stun (or sting) would probably be to your wallet.

Some photos from our 'hit and run' visit.

Car entry is via a long Bamboo archway. Cars are security checked including for bombs.
Poolside
Poolside and Seminyak Beachside
Lazy cushions
Indoor/Outdoor lounge; one of numerous eating places.
Seminyak Beach
Another dining location

We didn't open our wallets.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Along Sanur Beach

Some sights from Sanur Beach front.

Receding tide.
Sunrise
A 7am wedding or a photo shoot?
A different sunrise.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Kintamani

We visited Kintamani in the highlands of Eastern Bali where we saw a volcano (Mount Batur), the nearby lake (Caldera) and a terrace of rice paddies.

Mount Batur
Caldera Lake
Rice terraces. The depth of the terraces can be judged by spotting how small the people on the other side appear.

Friday, 21 July 2017

More from the Inna Grand

Some more images from the Inna Grand Bali Beach Hotel.

Lovely grounds and water features.
Our reception desk.
Religious features.
Our accommodation.
Lovely grounds but notice the awning, example of the maintenance needs.
'Our' pool.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Inna Grand

Our resort in Bali is the Inna Grand Bali Beach Hotel. Well that is the name by which everyone here seems to know it but I notice the website refers to it as Grand Inna Bali Beach Hotel. The grounds of the resort are vast and mostly well maintained. The accommodation itself is less grand. Once upon a time those buildings were grand and the website's photos, which may date from those times, reflects that. Nowadays the rooms we stayed at need considerable refreshing. None the less our stay was to prove very comfortable and there is much to admire about the resort, especially if you are looking for a leisurely sedate holiday rather than one that is hectic, noisy and on the go. As it turns out, the resort proved to be perfect for our expectations.

We took an early walk around the complex - well, some of it anyway - did a little shopping for nibbles and evening drinks, you know the sort of thing, and got our initial bearings.

Some photos.

The reception desk to our section of the resort
Our rooms were located in this building, with stand alone villas and one of various pools located nearby
The nearby pool with the poolside dining and bar. Our accommodation can be seen in the distance
Beachside, little more than 30 metres from our rooms.
Tower accommodation and more pools located nearby on the resort.
A cultural reference adorning the nearby tower accommodation.
More photos to follow.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Arrival in Bali

The flight to Bali was uneventful with our national carrier touching down at Ngurah Rai International Airport a half hour ahead of schedule.

The terminal was much larger than I was expecting. I learned later that it had been largely upgraded for an international conference in recent years. It was warm as expected but not as oppressive as I feared. Crowds of visitors, passengers, workers and touts created a passage maze for the arriving tourists to negotiate.

In the haze of noise and masses I completely forgot my pre-departure instructions about taxi procedures and instead negotiated down one of the touts for my taxi ride to Sanur, the location of our resort. It turns out the fare I negotiated was exactly the same as the fare charged by the authorised company I had been recommended to use so I didn't feel especially ripped off.

However in a moment of confusion at the hotel reception with two reception staff and my driver all seeking information from me simultaneously I managed to lose my document security pack! I hadn't even checked into the resort yet. Reflecting later I don't believe it was some tandem team ploy to relieve me of my valuables. I think I simple left it on the seat of the taxi. However as I had no details about the taxi - type, name, driver's details or registration number - I had no way of tracking the taxi or driver down.

Initially I thought my passport was lost with the pack and I was really stressed by the thought of wasting my holiday making temporary passport arrangements for the return home; not to mention the loss of my travel history in the missing passport. However an hour later I was relieved to locate my passport in my backpack. In all the confusion I had forgotten placing it there at one point.

So, the only things I lost were a vaccination book - not a great loss because no-one ever seems to ask to see it - and one of two travel currency cards I had in my possession - also not a great loss as it contained no money on it! I don't even know why I took the card with me.

One way and another, my holiday was underway.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Selamat siang

Good day from Bali. Well, not quite yet. I should be taking off from Sydney at the moment this is published (assuming the flight is on time).


And in six hours time I will (should) be in Bali, Indonesia.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Baby Driver


'Baby Driver' has arrived with considerable fanfare for its extensive musical soundtrack and its hip, modern style.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young man who drives getaway cars for teams of bank robbers. 'Drives' is an understatement. He is an artist of the getaway craft zooming, weaving, twirling, burning and many others 'ings' a stunt driver - and CGI effects - can muster. He has a good heart; witness the care he takes of his deaf step-father but bank robbing can only end badly if you don't know when to stop.

I'm not certain what age group this film is targeting. The relationship between Baby and his girlfriend seems to target teens and twenty-somethings but then the assorted gangsters, all heavily tattooed, and their mild accountant style leader Doc (Kevin Spacey) seem aimed at other demographics altogether.

And then there is the continuous sound track which is a scattergun of styles. Speaking of guns, the violence comes fast and thick the longer the film runs.

Not a film for me.

✮✮

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Australian Graffiti

(Sydney Theatre Company)

'Australian Graffiti' is a current production at the Sydney Theatre Company. A Thai family is struggling to earn a living in Australia. They have operated a series of restaurants each of which has failed under pressure of competition. As a consequence the family has moved regularly to increasingly remote areas to the point they have landed in a tiny town where locals are treating them with suspicion.

An earnest effort at portraying the migrant experience in Australia.

✮✮✮

Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Glenmore

The Glenmore is located in the Sydney's historic district known as The Rocks; the site of the first European settlement by the British colonisers of the Australian continent in 1788.

The hotel dates from 1921 and so pre-dates the nearby iconic Harbour Bridge by more than a decade. Apart from its maze of various saloon rooms the main attraction of the Pub is its roof top dining/drinking area with glimpses of the harbour and the Opera House. On a personal note, the Pub is located next to a building where I was an employee for several years. I won't confirm or deny whether many lunch hours were spent on the rooftop but, if they were, I'm sure that time spent there did not detract from work performance.

Four of us spent a very pleasant five hours over lunch at The Glenmore today.





Highly recommended for locals and visitors.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

The Riverboat Postman

I was born and raised in Sydney and have lived something in the order of 52 of my 68 years in this city and yet I had never heard of the Riverboat Postman until last Sunday. Four friends and I took a trip on the Riverboat today.

It makes for a fine day of activity when you include the one hour each way journey between Sydney CBD and the Hawkesbury River at Brooklyn where the Riverboat is docked. We made those journeys by train.

The Riverboat experience itself lasts about three hours. We travelled on the Zarapito. A comfortable enough boat although it could do with some refreshing. At a guess it caters for about 70 passengers.


The hosts serve coffee/tea and Anzac Biscuits for a morning tea and later on a no frills Ploughman's Lunch accompanied by coffee/tea and a chocolate. You can purchase some other refreshments during the journey.

The journey covers a number of islands where the post is delivered to smiling, occasionally eccentric, locals. We were blessed by a lovely sunny winter's day and it was a lovely, peaceful, leisurely experience.






The journey is accompanied by commentary from the Captain who informed us that this is the only Riverboat postal service in Australia.

Highly recommended for locals and visitors.