Bonita's Bali - Interesting Place!
Waroeng Bonita is just 200m down the road from E@L's hotel in the Middle of Nowhere, aka Seminyak, Bali. Not really, as the Oberoi is just a few km around the bend, but you almost get the feeling walking the dark streets looking for a place to drink and eat, dodging the street dogs and crazy motorcyclists, that this area is Yet To Be Discovered.
At first E@L ventured into a place with a neon sign reading "V @ the Mo" (but which is actually "Venue @ The Moon"). He went in there because Philip K Dick's last girlfriend came from Sonoma in the Valley Of The Moon, California, and this sounds close enough. Some Arak Attacks and an entree (appetiser) of fried calimari, covered in a thick crust of Boston style batter, with lime aioli. Yumm. It would have been yummier with a lighter batter however.
Then back across the road to a place hidden behind frangipani trees, a garden restaurant with subdued faery-lighting.
Bonita is the restaurant owner. Flambouyantly dressed tonight in a wide-brimmed, lime-green striped floral straw hat with matching lime-green straw handbag and matching lime-green wrap around her/his waist, tight over his white trousers, a black tee and 4 inch glittered heels, he greets all the customers with outrageously gay gestures, double air-kisses and limp-wristed handshakes.
Most different from your average restaurant in Asia.
And the food is good too! A fish soup, Ikan Rica-Rica, Sumatran style. Delicious. Dessert, again. A lemon tart with a toffee crest (photo to come when I get home), phew! The calories consumed on this trip!
E@L didn't have his microphone with him, so the following is an abridged and ill-remembered precis of their conversation/interview. Bonita has been talking to Harry from Java, his boyfriend? He has his hand resting on the knob of a tree which has four of its large branches carved into phallic symbols. Subtle? Not.
E@L asks Bonita (photos to come) how the place had been surviving with the downturn in Bali tourism. (Every taxi driver has complained to E@L about how quiet it is since the 2nd bombing in 2005, confirming that Indonesia is a dangerous place for [Australian] tourists - imagine the effect of a second airplane attack on a tall building in New York.) He said that he has been open for two years and always has had lots of friends amongst the locals and amongst the arts and fashion community in Bali. They are regular customers who have helped him survive through the recent hard times. But he also has many tourists customers, from the straight and gay communities. Word of mouth, that and a recent good review in "The Beat". He has just renovated and expanded in the last few weeks and only re-opened two days ago, which explains why E@L only found the place tonight.
He has an adjoining spa. A heavily gay ambience in the advertisements... Big deal. Gay or not, who cares?
The restaurant tables are pretty much occupied - both tourists and locals - which is unusual for a Monday night. ( E@L was the only person in V @ The Mo - and about seven staff.)
The bar-tender, a straight Balinese guy is mixing more Arak (a Balinese spirit) Attacks for E@L who is knocking them back at a furious pace (it is E@L's last night in Bali). He has explained about the Melaste Ceremony today which held E@L up in the traffic for 45 mins this morning (photos to come), and about Nyepi, the Balinese quiet day on Balinese New Year when everyone stays at home... and does what? asks E@L, What do YOU do? He smiles, shrugs. Watch TV. Sleep off the hangover from the party the night before.
Turning back to Bonita E@L finds out he is a fashion designer (surprise surprise) from Jakarta and so is a bit of a celebrity. Has this helped keep the place going, being well known? Oh yes darling, that is what it is all about. Being known and recognisable.
Yes, he is involved in the gay community in Bali, which is much more open and more relaxed than in Jakarta. Jakartan society is so stratified, so many classes - the rich and the poor, as far apart as the ground and the sky, he gestures Up and Down. They have a Gay Mardi Gras coming up (or did they just have it? E@L isn't sure). It was (will be?) fantastic.
Where is E@L from? Oh, Melbourne! Bonita loves Melbourne, so cultured, sophisticated. He lived in Port Melbourne back in 1989.
Here come some gay guys from New York up to the bar. They want to chat, so Bonita shakes E@L's hand and moves off to play the quintessence of mine hostess, delirously decorous and warmly welcoming, to a tee.
A last (6th) Arak Attack and E@L stumbles home to Villa Lumbung's
free Internet room, to post this post as he watches ManU down Birmingham. Apologies if it is incoherent or full of typos. Sneezing as well.
BTW - turns out the golf course E@L played at yesterday, Nirwana, is one of the Best in Asia (photos to come). Hey, if it wasn't for that 11 and those six holes with 3-putts, E@L would have come through with a respectable score. The narrow approach to just about every green was protected by a stream or an ocean or something. You had to lay up on the longer par 4s. Very challenging, but E@L handled that part very well. It was his tee-shots and putting that let him down. 102 wasn't too bad, considering.
OTHER MONKEYS SAID
Funny stuff. Did you get over to that beachside restaurant for sunset? Nirwana is that place up in the hills? And you almost broke 100; that's my goal whenever I go out to flog in SF.
Didn't go to the beach after the Ear-Poking Lady Incident on Day 1.
Nirwana is right on the beach up a little bit north from Kuta. Absolutely gorgeous course. I just need to break 90 on a good course and my work here is done.