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"Our water is very rich in bacteria."
The speaker sounded well satisfied, as though this was something to be greatly envied. Let other countries look to their oilfields or their goldmines - Bali treasured its bountiful bacteria.

In point of fact, it was a warning from a Balinese doctor against washing an open wound in unboiled water
Only the Balinese can make a health hazard sound like a national asset.
It is this ability to gloss-over harsh reality which makes them such marvellous hosts for tourists - many of whom, like myself, must severely try their patience.

Take the case of the petulent matron who, as a kind of status symbol, disapproved of everything - the climate, the food, the roads, the accommodation. Finally, having exhausted all else, in a mosquito-free district, she complained of being "eaten alive every night by the mosquitos".


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Her roomboy fielded that one with a smile, and just the right trace of envy in his voice:
"Ah, then Nyonya must have very sweet blood."
Or, consider the tourist from one of the Latin American countries who gate-crashed a Royal cremation, minced across the courtyard, and posed simperingly beside the sarcophagus, urging his young male companion to be sure to catch his best profile in the photo.

The retired couple from Mexico, were something else again. True, I didn't believe my eyes at first encounter. There was 1, strolling casually down one of the hibiscus -fringed hotel paths, when, wham coming towards me on collision course, teetering

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