The fauna that lives around my villa …

July 5, 2009

Life is prolific in Bali. Especially in and around my villa.

There is a dog two doors up – half doberman, half Bali dog, who seems to think that it his divine mission to protect a two square metre patch adjoining the road from all passers-by. He barks fiercely, postures and bristles, but I know he is just kidding. If I have to move towards him to avoid a motorbike, he retreats. I speak fluent dog, so we sort of get along. It’s just that he doesn’t understand English, so it’s basically a conversation based on body language. Not dissimilar to typical tout-bule interactions in Kuta Square, really …

Then there is the pair of dogs across the road. One is a basso profundo, the other a sort of mezzo-soprano, but with the melodic range of an ‘Australia’s Got Talent’ competitor. They bark in counterpoint, with alternating triple and quadruple beats with two beat pauses. It’s both piercing and soporific at the same time. Canine gamelan?

Today I thought I would step out of my comfort zone and wear a brightly coloured shirt. Very daring. Within seconds, as if to prove that it is not advisable to mess with the universe, a huge Bali wasp the size of an attack helicopter fell in love with my choice of apparel. I switched back to dark colours. Do these things sting? I don’t know, but they sure look intimidating. Time to retreat to the pool, but look! – two gigantic bees (either fighting or being deeply erotic) were so engrossed in their activities that they were literally drowning. I fished them out to go about their business, hoping they would not sting me out of some misplaced sense of violation.

The villa has geckoes, ants and squirrels. There is even a large mouse, or perhaps a small rat, black as a charcoal tablet, that scurries in most evenings desperately trying to gain traction on the polished marble floors. Claws don’t help, and the little pads it has have grip worse than the tyres on the motorbike I hired last month. That little rodent does some of the best wheelies I have seen outside of NASCAR racing. It doesn’t do any harm. It even refrains from pooping on the floor, which is really considerate.

The thing is, here, all of this somehow feels right. These denizens are guests in my home. It’s OK. Sing ken ken. Back home, one thinks of sprays, exterminators, poison and all sorts of manifestations of territorial behaviour. Kill, establish dominance, prove that the top of the food chain is not to be trifled with. Here, I wouldn’t dream of squashing an insect, getting aggro about dogs being dogs, or chasing off domestic wildlife. I am beginning to suspect that it is the presence of the temple in my rented house, because I sure wasn’t like that back home.

I am told things will change as the magic of the place wears off and the scales fall from my eyes. I hope not, I really hope not.



  1. I forgot the cat. As soon as I hit ‘publish’ on this post, in walks the local cat, staring at me reproachfully and yowling like a peacock. Obviously an avid reader of mine who felt insulted that it had been left out …

  2. Ha! That’s where you are – you left already. Glad you posted this on Facebook – so I could find you. Glad to see you have a healthy respect for the locals, and don’t knock Australia’s Got Talent – Frank was a (paid) audience member for one of them (on second thoughts, knock away). How come you know what charcoal tablets look like?
    Cheers – Robin

    • Ahh … charcoal tablets are my best friends in my occasional hours of need in Bali. Too much pedas food, or maybe local produce containing tiny livestock!

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