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Kuta – then & now

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

◄ Poppies Gang – a ‘gang’ is a narrow pathway or alleyway – and this popular gang at Kuta Beach in Bali, Indonesia, runs by Poppies Restaurant and Poppies Hotel. Despite Kuta’s massive growth Poppies Gang looks just the same as it did in the ‘70s, right down to the trader riding his bicycle laden with brooms, brushes and plastic household items.

I spent a couple of nights in Kuta Beach, Bali recently. With a bunch of friends we were on our way to the Komodo Island by boat – a blog coming up on that in the next couple of days. I did a similar – but much shorter – trip three years ago.



Our stay in Bali started somewhat dramatically. We’d just sat down for dinner – in Poppies Restaurant – on Sunday 5 August when suddenly the table started swaying back and forth and our (yet to be filled) wineglasses jiggled around. It was an earthquake and clearly a big one, the devastating quake that hit the neighbouring island of Lombok at 746pm that evening.

▲ ‘Wow’ we all said. And then looked up at the enormously heavy cast iron chandelier swinging ominously back and forth like a threatening pendulum over our table. Balinese bamboo construction held strong, we weren’t in danger.

▲ Fortunately the offerings to the gods are still laid out in the gang at the entrance to Poppies every morning.

◄ I first stayed in Poppies over 30 years ago – check my 2015 review complete with a photo of my son jumping into the Poppies swimming pool in 1988. It was still perfect then, but on that occasion I was on my own. Would it still work now I was bringing Maureen and eight friends along?

Yes, it’s as good as ever, still the same beautiful gardens, the same pretty little swimming pool, the same charming service, the same comfortable rooms and most important that same Alice through the looking glass feeling every time you step through the entranceway and leave noisy, chaotic Kuta behind as if it never existed.

Kuta – then & now

19 September 2018 | Living

◄ Poppies Gang – a ‘gang’ is a narrow pathway or alleyway – and this popular gang at Kuta Beach in Bali, Indonesia, runs by Poppies Restaurant and Poppies Hotel. Despite Kuta’s massive growth Poppies Gang looks just the same as it did in the ‘70s, right down to the tr...

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Looking for Transwonderland

3 August 2018 | Media

Although she grew up in England and lives there today Noo Saro-Wiwa definitely has a strong connection to Nigeria. In 1995 her father Ken Saro-Wiwa, an environmental activist (and a peaceful one) was hanged along with 10 others who had the temerity to complain about t...

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The Painted Monasteries of Bucovina in Romania

2 August 2018 | Places

I’ve been a regular visitor to Romania in recent years. Mauren and I were in Bucharest and Transylvania in 2014 and enjoyed it so much, particularly the beautiful Saxon villages of Transylvania, that we returned with a bunch of London friends for a second look in 2015...

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Ryszard Kapuściński’s Imperium

1 August 2018 | Media

Back in 2008 I read Ryszard Kapuściński’s Travels with Herodotus, the travelling tales of the Polish journalist whose adventures proved, once again, that less is often more. His expense account was as threadbare as the Soviet-era Polish economy and he made up for it b...

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Minsk in Belarus

29 July 2018 | Places

After Moldova, Transnistria and Ukraine (I haven’t reported on my starting point, the Bucovina district of Romania yet) my final Eastern European stop was in Belarus – ‘Europe’s last dictatorship,’ thanks to Aleksandr Grigoryevich Lukashenko who has been President for...

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British Airways Baggage Refund & a Trip to Svalbard

27 July 2018 | Living

I’m a firm believer on travelling only with carry ons, avoiding the hassles of checked baggage. A recent experience with British Airways underlines why that’s a good idea. No, they didn’t lose my baggage, but extracting a baggage money refund from them after a flight ...

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Odessa – on the Black Sea in Ukraine

24 July 2018 | Places

It’s not my first trip to Ukraine – I was there in 2016 visiting the capital Kiev and that 20th century disaster site Chernobyl – but this trip I certainly wasn’t very happy when I arrived in Odessa. Although it may be the ‘Pearl of the Black Sea’ or the ‘Southern St ...

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Chişinău in Moldova

19 July 2018 | Places

My recent eastern Europe circuit paused at Chişinău, the capital of Moldova, before progressing to that leftover sliver of forgotten Soviet Russia: Tiraspol the capital of the unrecognized state of Transnistria. ▲ Chişinău certainly had some Soviet style as well, p...

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Transnistria – aka Transdniester

18 July 2018 | Places

Back in April I made a short trek around countries in Europe which, for some reason, I’d never visited. OK some of them I had visited, but that was way back in the 1970s, before they even existed, back when two of them were constituent parts of Yugoslavia. That trip t...

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Danube Travel – BP Portrait Awards

5 July 2018 | Culture

The National Portrait Gallery in London (half way between Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square, right behind the National Gallery) is one of my favourite London museums or galleries and each year the BP Portrait Award – ‘the most prestigious portrait painting competi...

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