Sunday, 20 May 2007

When You Just Have To Go To Bali

On the phone today to my brother-in-law in Perth, Western Australia, I found myself once again being drawn into one of his hedonistic schemes.

It's my family's turn to make the trip across the planet so that we can all spend some quality time together. But Paul has a better idea. It seems that there's been a distinct shortfall in his family's experience of sumptuous luxury this year. They've been slumming it in their suburban house in Perth, where they don't even have a swimming pool, poor things, watching goanas try to find cover in what used to be a wild back yard, as builders put up the cheapest possible (I'm assured) extension known to Western Australia. My sister has had to do all the decorating, whilst Paul is kept busy by his nascent biotech firm.

There's been a serious lack of pampering, of decadence, of perfumed air, gentle gamelan music and serenading musicians as you eat lightly steamed fish with flavours like lemongrass, saffron and mango. There's been a shortage of surfing in conditions that Paul explained to me (in detail) were nigh on perfect between March and December.

"You want us to meet you in Bali," I guessed.

"The Hilton," he said, "wasn't quite luxurious enough last time."

Last time, I remember arriving at what looked like a modern-day temple of extravagance, being met from the airport limo by gorgeous young women in sarongs who placed frangipani flowers in our hands and gave us warm, lemon-scented towels to soothe our fevered brows as we endured the hotel's checking-in process, pressing chilled glasses with tropical fruit mocktails into our weary hands.

Paul continued, "Since then, it's been taken over by someone else and they've turned the decadence up a few notches."

"I don't think we can quite run to the Hilton," I said. "The Melia?"

Paul checked with my sister. The answer was no. They'd been to the Melia. It's not up to the job. But if we choose to slum it, they'll be down the beach at Nusa Dua, where we can visit them. In a proper hotel.