Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Notes from a Gorgeous Island

Well at risk of having all my readers melt away in jealousy and/or accuse me of taking neo-colonial holidays totally lacking in respect for local culture - I have been away. I had a one-day acting job in a resort in Bali and it seemed rude not to extend my stay for a few nights and soak up the tropical sun, amazing local seafood and opportunities for snorkeling, para-sailing, surfing, etc. Yeah! We stayed at the Grand Hyatt Bali which is definitely one to keep in mind in the when-I-win-the-lottery folder.

And here are some things I noticed or thought about on the way round:

1) Didn't The Body Shop used to be an ethical shop? Now I know they were bought out but surely the new owners realise that the reason people shop there is for a DIFFERENT toiletry and cosmetic shopping experience. But no, the branch in Kuala Lumpur International Airport is selling, wait for it, skin lightening creams. "With liquorice, to suppress melanin production..."

2) Took a seven-hour layover in KL on the way to Bali and ended up waiting around with the passengers for a delayed flight to Riyadh. The guys were dressed in anything from jeans and tie-dyed T-shirts to business suits, the women all, without exception, head to toe in darkest black, eyes only just visible. Really unsettling. I think in the UK while some women do dress this way, at least there are plenty walking around in a range of other options. You can at least hope in the UK that those that do dress that way do so to some extent from choice. Not the case the Riyadh passengers. Something very powerfully awful about it. I nearly cried. I couldn't help but imagine myself compelled to dress like that, to effectively disappear from public view forever. It's so wrong.

3) If you're trying to cut back on your alcohol intake try this great "virgin" cocktail: pineapple juice, coconut milk and lime juice, blended with ice. Really tasty and meant I hardly drank the whole trip so along with lots of exercise and massage on the beach most days, I should be at my peak physical condition by now. Except...

4) Some kind of heat rash. Like goosebumps, but red and itchy. All over my tummy, back, shoulders and legs. Now I am really careful about sun protection - cover myself from head to toe in cream every hour or two and after every dip or towel-off. So could be: reaction to sun/sun cream/as-yet unidentified tropical bug/jelly-fish stings (see below)/something in the diet (pineapple? coconut?)/my own sweat/humidity/something else? Seems to be calming down at last now but still a bit worrying...?

5) Snorkeling as usual brilliant fun, amazing variety of fish on the reefs. However as so often in recent years - millions of jellyfish. Tiny little string ones almost invisible to the human eye and causing only a small amount of irritation. Still annoying and I suspect symptomatic of the problems of over-fishing the seas. The jelly-fish are taking over...


Legible Susan said...

Body shop: bloody hell!

Black clothes: totally agree. Also, how horribly hot must that be?

Rash: suspect jellyfish. Suggest telling a doctor where you've been. I'd rather waste time on something that turns out to be trivial than find out it's serious only when it comes back to clobber you properly.

Theresa said...

Body Shop - Didn't it get sold when the founder died, or something along those lines?

My local one changed stores in the mall about 2 years ago, and at least the biggest feng shui cure of mirrors behind the products is gone. That was one of the main reasons why I shopped there in the first place; now I don't bother going in for a look.

butterflywings said...

Bali is pretty cool.

1. So sad. I remember from my backpacking days in SE Asia that many international brands, including Boots *grrrr* sell skin lightening creams, but the Body Shop? Yeah quite, so much for being ethical!
2. Absolutely. I have to say full hijab freaks me out. I have nothing against culture but it must be so restrictive. And you are so right, it is entirely about making women invisible in public space. There was a piece on the Guardian Comment Is Free on hijab the other day, if you're interested. And very telling that men can wear what they want, and are not pressured to wear traditional Arab dress. From my knowledge of the Middle East they are free to wear Arab or Western clothes as they wish, and most have both.
3. Sounds yum. I may try making it at home (which will make me wish my holiday in Thailand in Nov would come quickly even more). I so have to stop drinking too.
4. I know sun protection is important, but maybe too much suncream? Mind you I had a random rash on my leg after swimming in the sea from Kenya, no idea why. It faded eventually.
5. Love snorkeling! But yes, overfishing is sad too.


UneFemmePlusCourageuse said...

I had a heat rash like that a couple of summers ago, it went away after a few days. Also, about four years ago my sister used a brand of sunscreen (Banana Boat I believe) which caused her to break out in a horrible rash all over her face. So I also agree with butterflywings here--could very well be the sunscreen, depending on the brand/your familiarity with it. (I believe that up until that year my sister had only used Coppertone Kids and Neutrogena products.)