Poppies in Kuta Beach, Bali – really hit by the Covid-19 Pandemic – and how to help

Sunday, 21 June 2020

The Covid-19 Pandemic continues to rage with some countries – pretty much all of Europe – getting the numbers down while in others – like most of South America – the numbers are still climbing dramatically. Plus there are fears of ‘second waves’ showing up. The economic wave has yet to really hit us and in our comparatively comfortable developed world locations we’re simply not seeing what’s already happening to economic life in the developing world. Particularly in those countries where tourism plays a big part in the economy and tourists have disappeared. Like on the Indonesian island of Bali.

◄ In 1985, so 35 years ago, my wife Maureen walking down Poppies Gang in Kuta Beach, Bali with my daughter Tashi and son Kieran. A ‘gang’ is an alleyway or laneway in the Indonesian language.



I posted a blog on 18 April about my long term love affair with Poppies in Kuta Beach Bali. It’s one of the favourite hotels of my lifetime and it’s clearly a favourite for lots of other people around the world. With zero tourists in Bali the hotel and, right across Poppies Gang the Poppies Restaurant, have both been hit really hard. Zenik and John, who run Poppies, have been trying to continue to support the many Poppies employees, but with zero income that can’t go on forever. So Bob Althoff – we’ve never met, but he’s an American Poppies enthusiast whose contact goes back even longer than mine – has organized a gofundme page for Poppies. I’ve put something in, but I’m very aware it’s a drop in an awfully big ocean. There are many many other places, not just in Bali but all over the world, suffering in exactly the same way. Click here to find out about Bob’s campaign for Poppies.

▲ In 1991 my son Kieran leaping into the swimming pool at Poppies.

▲ I first ate in Poppies Restaurant in 1974, so 46 years ago, and a year after it opened. With an international group of friends I was back in Poppies having dinner on 5 August 2018 when a major earthquake hit the adjacent island of Lombok. Our table swayed around and we looked up to see this dangerously heavy chandelier swinging ominously above our heads. We all jumped back from the table, but Balinese bamboo is strong, the chandelier stayed where it belonged.

▲ Or perhaps it’s down to the canangsari, Balinese offerings, which are placed at the entranceway to every business (or hotel or restaurant) every day. They ensure bad spirits – and bad earthquakes – don’t intrude.

Back to Covid-19 and the pandemic. In Victoria, the Australian state where I live (in the city of Melbourne), we’re about to ramp up our lockdown because we seem to be experiencing a ‘second wave.’ Yesterday we had 25 new cases, the most for two months. For comparison the US state of Oklahoma had 331 cases yesterday – down from 450 two days earlier. The population of Victoria is 1.6 times larger than Oklahoma so you’d have to multiply 331 up to 529 to compare Oklahoma with our 25 cases in Victoria, ie over 20 times worse. Oklahoma is, however, doing rather better than the USA overall. I chose Oklahoma for that comparison because Donald Trump is holding his not-quite-as-big-as-he-hoped rally there, pretty much as I write this and Oklahoma is cutting back on their lockdown, just as we go in the other direction.