A Night at the RSL (in Bali)

A couple of weeks ago I found myself transported from Beautiful Brisbane to a Balinese RSL. How did this happen?

There is only so much nasi goreng one can eat before one begins to crave the bland cuisine of the mother country (Australia via Ireland). I had been in Bali for a week and a half and was searching on Trip Advisor for somewhere to have dinner that served meat and three veg, when I discovered a restaurant that appeared to fit the bill. It describes itself as an Irish/Balinese restaurant serving nasi goring but also Steak and Guinness Pies, cabbage, and potato; in short the food of my ancestors the love of which still runs in my veins(sometimes). Said restaurant also promised Irish music. I though it would be great craic! So we directed our “taksi” driver to get us there post haste, “terimah kasih”.

And somewhere during that painfully slow drive must have been when a quantum leap occurred and we wound up in an alternative universe.

The music was Irish in as much as the three Balinese men were playing Van Morrison; so, to be clear, Van Morrison songs sung with a Balinese accent: Brown-Eyed Girl. (I’ll let you imagine that for a minute.) But this was followed by an Elvis number. I’ve checked, and one can draw a spider-web thin line from Ireland to Tennessee. So the Irish music consisted of Van Morrison alternating with Elvis.

As for the food, something possessed me to order rissoles, lured by the magic promise of a “special traditional recipe”. My Significant Other ordered sausages. Both dishes arrived with two ice-cream scoops of mashed potato and unrecognisable vegetable matter that turned out to be cabbage. And on the side? A little jug of Gravox. It made me a tiny bit nostalgic for boarding school.

“When will they draw the meat raffle?” My SO asked.

The waiters were “getting into it”, whooping and attempting to sing along. The old guy with the walking stick was definitely enjoying it; not so much his young female companion who obligingly sipped her dark liquid drink, and strenuously resisted the urge to look at her phone, but still eyed it longingly, clacking her acrylic nails on the table. She managed a wan smile whenever he looked at her encouragingly.

The rest of the crowd looked as though they had been teleported from Twin Towns on the Gold Coast without realising.

“Are you going to get up and do some Irish dancing?” Asked my SO. But truly, the only thing missing was a troop of girls in full Balinese costume sidling in in front of the Paddy Fields Fish Band—for ‘twas what they were called—but instead of fingers curling alluringly and wide eyes moving side to side, jigging up and down, legs whipping around like elastic bands, arms pinned to their sides.

We ate our food, politely declined the offer of dessert, and quietly left, but as we sauntered through the balmy evening and I resisted the urge to swear at every “taksi” that beeped hopefully at us, we happened upon a Massimo’s ice cream shop, the very same that we thought only existed in Noosa Heads, except this one was about four times the size and sold some weird flavours: charcoal yoghurt anyone?

And then I woke up in our lovely four-poster bed, opened the timber shutters, and stepped out onto the balcony overlooking the resort pool. Perhaps it was only a dream.

Then the building began to rattle and continued to rattle for about thirty seconds. When it finally stopped, everyone emerged onto their balconies and stared at each other. Shortly after a sheet of paper appeared under our door.

Time to come home.

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