Like a lucky Dream
by
Jochen Kern


Bali 1973-1975

 

THE BALI CHAPTER

Arriving at the Denpasar Airport in Bali was something magical.

When you look out of the window of the aircraft, from 20,000 feets high, you could see the tranquil blue waters surrounding the island, artistic and aesthetically placed rice terraces and paddy fields which were familiar looking... like the corn fields in Germany, clean, conservative, ethnically...nice.

The drive from the airport to the hyatt hotel in Sanur brought me through villages where topless women were sitting in the rivers taking their evening baths, cows and water-buffaloes grazing in the paddy fields, narrow roads lined with avenues of coconut palms and hindu temples everywhere. people in fine dresses were carrying huge offerings on their heads while walking along the side of the street. A man with a large stick, dressed as a flag with a small towel was trying to guide hundreds of ducks. All of these and the brilliant sunset at the far horizon made it look like a painting.



 

it was simply breath-taking - Island of the Gods - and so peaceful was it that the noise of a car failed to unnerve anybody.

The sound of Bali in the evenings is that of the gamelans, a musical instrument of raduated wooden or metal bars strucked with small hammers to produce various tones of sounds from the villages and the high-pitched calls of the birds before nightfall. Likewise people chatted with their communities when they got together. These were no street lights in Bali and so when it became dark, it seemed as though the light switch was turned off.

The Bali Hyatt Hotel was also quiet as it had just opened shortly with its first three rooms occupied. Its business derived mainly from local expatriates and the management staff. Fredy Gull, the newly appointed Executive Chef and Manfred Schmidt, the Pastry Chef gave me a warm welcome with the best beer that I ever tasted outside of Germany. The Bintang (Star) beer is made from rice under the supervision of the Heineken Brewery from Holland. Our nightly gatherings at the Miing Coffee House lasted till the next morning because nobody dared to go up to their rooms alone after the spine-chilling and spooky ghost story session.

Night life stopped at midnight in Kuta, which was a hippie centre at that time and also a place to look for girls. But, it was a 30 minute drive by motor-bike and too far to go after work. There was another entertainment place in Sanur, closer to the hotel. it was called "The Bamboo House" and Schmidt was a regular there. I went there only once and had to leave after being bitten endlessly by the mosquitoes and other insects. The kitchen crew at Bali Hyatt was however somewhere different.

None of the cooks knew how to cook and neither had any experience in a kitchen before. So, most of the work had to be done by the three of us starting with breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Christmas was more than special. There was a power cut in the whole hotel and the lights and air-conditioning had stopped working. Our local cooks were not used to the heat from the gas stoves. Arthur Holliger held a torch-light while I cooked an Fredy announced the orders of the food. I was cooking half nakedly and drank a lot of cold beer with Fredy to refresh ourselves. It was a successful gala dinner and we managed to serve 70 pax in the beautifully structured "Spice Islander" restaurant. We were slightly pissed, of course, but everybody was very happy. We received a lot of compliments from our customers.

This included ones generated by General Manager Marc Hammel, Resident Manager Andre Purie, Front Office Manager Moris Holland, Financial Controller Edmund Yip, Food and Beverage Manager Arthur Holiger and also not forgetting Housekeeper Mami Jeffry.

She ("Jeff") was the absolute ethnic controller of this 400 rooms paradise. Everybody had to follows Mami’s rules or they have to brave themselves for a physical knock-out, the next day. It did not matter which position you held. Even the General Manager gave due respect to this elderly lady who was a Colonel in the British Army during the second World War.

Fredy (my chef) was the perfect friend for me; he was a quiet person while I loved to talk. When he talked, I would listen and when I talked, he would listen. We never had any misunderstandings. Fredy needed somebody like me to get him talking. Since I loved talking, I needed some body like Fredy to listen to me. We were meant for each other and till today, we are still good friends.

1974, I got married to Dolly in the Bali Hyatt Hotel.

It was the first wedding function ever held in this new hotel. Fredy was unhappy and maybe a little jealous about the happening. Friendship can cost because you are afraid of losing a friend to another person. Mind you, we are not gays, just good friends.

One day, a guest, very nice stewardess, contacted me and later brought me some grass from Afghan. She then requested me to make some pastries with it so that very evening, I made rumballs and had to protect them from pilferage because all the enthusiastic pastry staff wanted to try this new recipe on pastry. I could not tell them what was in the pastries because in Bali, the law decree a death sentence for possession and eating this kind of grass. The stewardess, probably got stoned from the Bali Mushroom and did not turn up to collect the ‘magic sweets.’

So, Fredy and me sat staring at the plate of rumballs on the office desk. One look - No! One more look - No! Ten minutes later, we decided to savour it for the sake of professional knowledge and training for our tastebuds.

Half an hour later, half the tray was gone - The office lights turned blue and the evening was full of fun and laughter. We were stoned, happily stoned, and walked away through the hotel. The management staff looked so funny that we broke out in more laughter... till our stomach muscles began to hurt.

The following morning, everything returned to normal but the staff eyed us in a funny manner. They were probably wondering about our "cuckoo" behavior the night before.


1974 honeymoon in Singapore

The afternoons were normally occupied with sporting activities like football, tennis or water-sports which kept us fit for our work. During the weekends, we usually got on our motor-bikes and toured the island.

We saw a lot of temples and splendid venues. Budugul with its huge golf-course and Tampaksiring with its holy water and bathing girls.

In the volcano crater is a lake where you can rent a boat to go over to the non-smelling village. Here, the dead bodies are buried openly but there is no smell of roting flesh at all. The people believe that there is some kind of magic involved.

Sight-seeing is very interesting in such an organized place like Bali. It must be difficult to find another place like Bali anywhere on the globe. It is actually a communist system with everybody being part-owner of the village and the harvest.

Each owning a house and land beside are the people free to earn money outside the village and thus, need not share it.

Nobody suffered from poverty, everybody believed in the same gods, celebrated the same festivals, participate in cultural dances, did harvesting together and gathered together in the evenings by the river. This satisfaction kept the people happy and mentally pure... So easy! Maybe only at that time?

a bath in the tempel of tampaksiring's holy water

We were willing to see and try everything. For example, Manfred had a horror trip when he took Bali Mushrooms, pills and alcohol, altogether. He disappeared for two days and returned with yellowish looking eye-balls but newly motivated. My motivation came from Kuta Beach in the afternoons where nude girls showed every part of their body and I needed beer later to cool down in Mades Warung. Fredy’s entertainment came from the music - family, Cruz. He was in love with Speedy Gonzales’ sister. Speedy was OK but her other brother stopped Fredy from seeing her. Later, Fredy gave up.

In Bali, the black or white magic is very famous. Every village has their own magic man from the Ida Bagus caste who protected the villagers through his power. Manfred would be able to tell you more about this as he was put under a charm and acted so differently. He was transferred immediately to Singapore.

You don’t have to be scared about this kind of magic which normally never affects an outsider who behaves properly, as a guest in Bali.

A sample of magic which my wife and I witnessed: the whole of the Sanur rice paddy field was surrounded by reporters and television crew form many nations who had came to report ‘the soul fighting’ or better spoken as flying, crashing fireballs above the rice field area for documentation.

This magic was the result of two villages disputing over a poisoned caste. The magic men from each village transformed after one month of mental preparation from life to spiritual balls of fire which had such a great power to fight for over one week. At night, thousands of people including us gathered to watch these fire balls which were visible to the naked eye. These balls of fire suddenly appeared from thin air, circled around the field and tried to clash and clasp each other for the destruction of the other.

Cameras, eyes, scientists and etc got nothing documented besides their own trust. I am unable to explain this magnetic power... but it was there! So, if you visit Bali accept things which you normally do not see. Bali is and will always be the magic island of the Gods, never mind the tourist fee or other disturbances, Balinese have so much faith in the same gods and this power creates the daily new magnetic forces which gives power to the magic or even it is magic. Believing can create wonders.

A letter from my sick mother dragged me back to Germany.

 

 

The local Recipe

 

NATURAL PAPILOTTE, BANANA LEAF

PEPES IKAN

GRILLED FISH IN TUMERIC PASTE.

USE A CARP-TYPE FISH WITH NOT A FIRM FLESH. SEASON WITH A PASTE MADE FROM COOKED AND BLENDED TUMERIC, CANDLENUT, LEMON GRASS, RED CHILLI, ONIONS, GARLIC, CURRY LEAF, SALT AND PEPPER. FOLD IT IN A BANANA LEAF. GRILL AND SERVE WITH RICE AND SLICED CHILLI IN SOYA WITH KASTURI LIME.

 

THE UNFINISHED NATIONAL DISH

NASI GORENG

FRY CHOPPED CHILLI, ONIONS, GARLIC, CUBES OF LEAN CHICKEN, SHRIMP AND SPRING ONION IN HOT OIL. ADD IN CHILLI SAUCE AND RAW EGG. ADD COOKED RICE AND STIR HEAVILY WITH SPATULLA TILL ALL IS MIXED THOROUGHLY. TASTE AFTER ADDING SALT AND WHITE PEPPER POWDER. GARNISH WITH FRIED EGG, FRIED CHICKEN WING, ACHAR (PICKLED PINEAPPLE) AND SATAY (INDONESIAN SKEWERED MEAT WITH PEANUT SAUCE). USE SAMBAL, A CHILLI PASTE, AS A SIDE DISH.

 

 

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