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it would be in order to charge him amusement tax. Later i came to realise that the tourist is to the Balinese what the TV set is to the European - a perpetual source of. Entertainment - better still, the tourist comes gift-wrapped, and free!

But now, all I could think of was my waiting taxi - and, truth to tell, the more I saw of those heron birds, the less I liked them. Putting my empty glass firmly down on the table, I thanked the woodcarver and headed for the door, using another phrase highly


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Recommended by the guidebook... "Perhaps, later."

This fooled no-one, least of all the Balinese, who helped me courteously into the car, remarking earnestly as he closed the door .... .. Last price $42 - very good price. Nyonya should take the birds.... Nyonya have bad dreams if she doesn't."

"Not half as bad as the nightmares I'll have if I pay that price." I hastened to tell him, unsure now whether to be Scourge or M idas. After all, tourists were flocking to Bali. What if carvings became so trendy they were all bought up? Who knows what profit I could make on mine. Though, if past experience was any guide if prices rose my birds would undoubtedly be riddled with borer.

For ten minutes more I carried on like this - then I stopped the driver and drove back to the woodcarver. It was like turning back the clock. I was again seated at the low table, the carving taken down off the shelf and placed before me.

"Best price $42,- said the woodcarver, smiling happily. Half an hour later I left, the carving under my arm. In that time the Balinese had come down $4.

As I drove off he calle, After me "Now Nyonya will have good Dreams."

But would I?

I had wasted my morning and my taxi tour. True, the experience wouldn't be wasted. Never again would I buy anything in Bali.

Would you believe, I stuck with that resolve until three months later I returned to Bali. This time it was rain and not the shopping urge that sent me scampering into an art gallery.



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