Wow, the past 6 months has been an absolute whirlwind with most of my time spent travelling through Laos writing for Travelfish.org. Well, at least there was one constant through all of this whirlwind and that is that I took a photo of myself every day so that I could continue my project to see how I change physically as time goes by. It’s been two years now since I started taking a photo of myself every day and I have only forgotten to take pics of myself on odd days. So this is a pretty good representation of how I have changed over that time.
Now it’s a photo of myself every day for 2 years! TWO YEARS! Check it out anyway and would appreciate your comments on my beard phases, my illness phases and whether you think I’m getting sexier with age. Or if you want to sling some nasty remarks, I’m open to that too.
My Canon 24-105mm F4L was recently giving me problems where it would not focus properly when zoomed in and above f4. Now, the lens has been fixed and it is working properly again! I’m very happy about this situation and so relieved that I was almost considering forgiving Canon and just filing this one away as part and parcel of living in a consumer society. But actually, this situation really sucks and it is simply a money grab. I think it has something to do with Canon not wanting customers from expensive countries in the West shipping their gear to Indonesia to be fixed.
So, the lens was fixed and it took about 3 weeks all up from the time I gave it to the shop until the time they returned it along with the faulty part.
They told me it was the diaphragm that was broken which matches pretty closely to what everyone on the web already knows. These lenses break too easily for a professional quality lens. Why would you buy an L lens that breaks easily if you can get a lens at a fraction of the cost with image quality that is still pretty good? Well, the answer is simple. Do not buy an L lens. Buy a cheaper one, just so long as the image quality is good. Forget all this rubbish about better build quality etc. There is no guarantee about build quality and if the lens breaks, you are screwed. You have to pay to get it repaired. In the end mine came in at about US$220 which included about US$160 for labour and about $60 for the part. Those figures are rough because I was charged in Indonesian currency which is fluctuating against the dollar at the moment.
So… these people are telling me that the labour of the Indonesians involved in fixing the camera is more expensive than the imported part they had to replace? Give me a break. The only reason I can think of that they charge so much for the service is to try and standardise costs across the world so there is no leakage of repairs from a country like Australia to Indonesia. But why not!? It’s good for Indonesia and great for Australian consumers. I can understand that happens to some extent with imported products where production occurs offshore. But we are talking about service charges here and service charges are almost entirely made up of cost of labour. As I made the point in the previous posts, labour in Indonesia is dirt cheap and nothing costs as much as this repair costs. It’s the equivalent of a housekeeper for 3 months. A store worker for 1.5 months (ie the girl at the counter that I handed the lens to), a teacher for 3 weeks. I mean, come on. Someone is stealing money and it is simply a sham.
Companies celebrate the global economy because it allows them the shift production to lower paying countries so that consumers around the world can benefit from lower prices. Well, this is the line we are spun all the time. Actually, what these big companies tend to do time and time again is shift their production costs to countries where they can get things done more cheaply. Great. But they only pass those savings onto consumers when they are forced to by competitors. There is only one authorised Canon repairer in Indonesia and the lack of competition means the price is fixed. The price is FIXED.
Anyway, I’d had it with Canon. They are absolute robbers.
I went to a place called Ujung Genteng last month. It’s an awesome and remote place on the south coast of West Java where only very tourists make it. Among the great things to do there such as snorkelling, eating fresh fish and laying around is the possibility to see turtle hatchlings running down to the ocean. So I took a video as the sun set of those cute turtles. Check it out.
So I took my lens into the Indonesian authorised repairer of Canon products called Datascrip today in the city of Bandung and I had a very poor experience. Very poor.
As I expected, they need to take the lens away and conduct diagnostics on it to determine the exact nature of the fault. Also as expected, they wanted a flat fee for this diagnostic check. But what was unexpected was the size of the fee and a little quirk that I’ll get to in a moment. Firstly about the fee. The minimum wage in Indonesia is about $120 per month. As skilled workers, the technicians looking at my camera would be lucky to get anywhere near $500 per month. I’m already 95% certain of the fault in my camera and I am not a lens expert. Yet the repair centre wants to charge $75 or the equivalent of 1/3 of a month of labour at minimum wage or 3.5 days labour at the higher salary.
Well, if that was the end of it, I’d probably complain anyway, but it isn’t. The quirk is that because I bought the lens outside of Indonesia, Canon’s authorised repairer Datascrip doubles the labour charge. Essentially an extra fee for being a white guy as no Indonesians are going to buy their gear overseas as it’s already cheap here. So the price becomes $150 and we don’t even know what the fault is yet. That is how much my housekeeper gets paid for 3 months of work. That’s more than what a department store worker gets in a month. Hell, it’s more than what the person serving me at the counter gets in one month. It borders on stealing. And people don’t forget when they are treated poorly. Canon is treating its customers in Indonesia poorly.
The other thing is that it will take 2 weeks for them to figure out what the problem is. So I buy a professional lens and it breaks in a manner that it shouldn’t. That sucks hard. Secondly, Canon wants to charge me exhorbitant prices for diagnostics and possible repair, far above going rates in Indonesia. Angry. Thirdly, they don’t want to provide a speedy service — instead they are going to take all that money of mine and then take their sweet old time. Well I have this to say to you Canon. Fuck you.
More to come if and when they decide to tell me what the problem is.
19 June 2014 – The other day I found a guy who can repair this error for $18 plus parts! He’s located in the Indonesian city of Bandung and the name of the shop is Toto Camera and Lens Serivce. Address is Jl. Laswi (between Jalan Gatot Subroto and the railway line – enter the alleyway next to the photo shop which is on the west side of the road. This photo shop is not Toto. Follow the river until the bridge and turn right. Continue ahead down that alley until you see the camera repair sign) Telp. 022. 7330 738 0812 2030 202
<nerd> This has mainly been a travel blog over the past couple of years, but I’m now feeling like complaining about stuff… Especially stuff that warrants a good old whinge, just like this one.
In 2009 I bought a brand new Canon lens, the 24-105mm F4 L professional lens for about $1400. $1400 for a lens… I can’t even believe it myself. Anyway, the reason to buy these professional L lenses is that they are quality items. Great picture quality and great build quality. Except mine just broke through no fault of my own.
I’ve done some diagnosis myself on the issue and the following are the symptoms:
– Err 01 code
– Code appears above 24mm
– Code appears above f4
– Makes a weird hunting sound as the diaphragm moves around
– Occasionally lens gets stuck when stopped down and won’t open again
There’s a number of ways to test the problem, but the best one is to do this. Set the camera to M mode, 24mm, f4. Half press the shutter and hold. While holding the shutter, hold down the depth of field button. It should stop down normally and you can look down the barrel of the lens and see it doing its thing. Next, move the aperture to f22 or whatever you feel like and try stopping down again. What should happen is that the lens chucks a fit and the problem is diagnosed. Your lens is broken. A sickening feeling. (drop a comment to tell me how sick you feel)
The most likely cause is a broken ribbon cable inside the lens. The problem is that this ribbon cable is soldered to the aperture controller or diaphragm and that means that when the lens is repaired, the repairer has to replace the ribbon cable and control unit! Madness! But that’s nothing compared to what comes next. That unit and cable is housed in a plastic molded assembly… which contains a lens element. And when you start playing with lens elements, they need to be realigned so the lens becomes sharp again. But that’s too hard to do so they have to replace the lens element as well. So a good portion of the lens is actually replaced because of a stupid crappy cable that is faulty.
This problem is common with the 24-105mm. Canon do not acknowledge that there is a problem, but if you search enough on the internet, there are hundreds of cases and mine is just another one.
I’m living in Indonesia at the moment and need the camera for work, my honeymoon in June and July and a wedding in July. It’s important. I’ll see if I can get the lens repaired locally and report back on price and success of repair!
Six months ago I posted about a milestone of mine… At that stage I’d taken a photo of myself every day for 6 months. Now, it’s up to 12 months! That’s right, a photo of my mug every day for 1 year! You can see the new hairstyle I adopted for a few months which was basically just a short cut. Then I let it get long again. You can also notice I started shaving more regularly… because I got a new girlfriend! Anyway, check it out!
So I started taking a photo of my mug every day from the end of March when I was on a roadtrip around Oz. At that time, as can be seen in the vid, I didn’t shave, have a haircut… or really look after myself at all. You can see the transformation over the 6 months from one state of disrepair to another. It’s fascinating!
So once upon a time, I got all enthusiastic about showing people some awesome Bali sights… And I did that by posting a few photo essays about People and Animals, Food and Beaches. But then I started a new adventure and events overtook the Bali one and here I am, with a bunch of Bali photos that need to see the light of day some 9 months after I took them.
So today I show to you Bali’s culture. Before visiting this small island which is a speck in the vast Indonesian archipelago, most people have visions of an exotic culture of bare breasted women carry offerings to temples, men tilling verdant ricefields and kids playing joyfully with archaic toys. Well, of course that’s fallacy, but a similar feeling can be experienced if you try hard enough – albeit of the more modern kind (ie no boobies).
So this is one of the small rice offerings put out by Balinese people at the start of each day from the rice they have cooked. A thanks to the gods for the food.
These “temples” are placed all throughout rice fields for purposes that are too complex for me to understand. Probably something to do with the rice goddess, Dewi Sri. Needless to say, they are everywhere.
Pura Melanting is a large temple near the coastal town of Pemuteran in northwest Bali. When I was there, it was decorated coloufully and looked fabulous.
Penjors are used for a variety of reasons, but most tourists will see these around Galungan – a 10 day period of great importance to Balinese. Usually lots of pigs are slaughtered as well and made into lawar and sate. If you get a chance, eat the raw blood version of lawar – it is an experience.
Skulls are cool. Especially when they’re on a black flag and you ponce around with a peg leg and an eye patch. Better still, you can get up and personal in the village of Trunyan where local people don’t really bury their dead. Well not all of them anyway. Some of them just decompose above ground and the resultant skulls are placed on a wall for all to see. Cool!
Balinese have quite a few artistic specialities. They carve, they chisel, they weave and they paint. Sometimes all on the same piece. This temple box is similar to many you will see all around the island.
Finally, Balinese people pray. A lot. And it’s not uncommon to see scenes like this when you get out of the main tourist centres. The settings are usually unbelievably peaceful and the devotees completely focussed. Bliss.
So there you have it. Bali really does have culture in spades and many people fall in love with it. Wanna go to Bali?
I love food. It really makes travelling much more interesting for me. Of course, not all foods I encounter on the road suit my palate, but when it does, I usually like to take photos. So here is a bit Bali food porn to get you salivating.
A favourite meal of many Indonesia is Nasi Campur. It literally means mixed rice – a plate of rice with an assortment of vegetarian dishes and if you’re lucky, one or two pieces of meat. A meal such as the one above can be had for about a dollar. Maybe a little more when you start to pile on meat.
This is gorengan. The word “goreng” means “fried”. And gorengan is simply an extension of that with a very general meaning of “fried stuff”. Most of these bite-sized morsels contain potato-like substances and are served cold. I can almost feel the fat stick to the roof of my mouth.
Gado gado is popular in tourist restaurants around Bali, but it is also a genuine Indonesian dish. It’s simply a bunch of vegetables mixed in a peanut sauce with a bit of soy. Something like this costs around the 50c mark at a local food stall, but isn’t enough food to satisfy fat Western appetites — so buy two.
Babi guling is a favourite meal at ceremonies in Bali. A whole pig such as this one will set back a village about $150, but will be shared between as many as 20 families. The pig is roasted with a bumbu (mixed spice paste) and then served in a variety different ways. Sometimes foreigners refer to babi guling as roast suckling pig, but Balinese more often than not use bigger pigs than those that are still suckling — there’s more meat on a big pig.
The local food in Bali is fantastic, but there is also a wonderful Western food scene. Grocer & Grind in Seminyak does the full range of Western food and good coffee as well. I like to go here for brunch…
Food defines many of my experiences in a country. Does it for you?
This is the second in a series of shameless posts with a lot of Bali photos. Click here for Bali Beaches & Food!
I think I’m getting the hang of this photo essay thing. Easy! Just chuck up a few photos with a bit of commentary and you have yourself a blog post! Might have to do more of it. Anyway, this one is about people and animals in Bali. Why are both people and animals in the same post? Some might say that I’m seeking to draw the viewer into recognising the commonalities between humans and other animals and begging for there to be a greater understanding of the plight of animals in Indonesia which are often deprived of even the most basic living conditions. Others might just say I didn’t have enough photos to do two separate posts. I have no comment.
I was inspecting a hotel near Lake Tamblingan when a man in the distance was motioning for me to come over. It was a little awkward, but he had the most glorious smile, warm spirit and wanted to shake my hand forever. We had a little chat in Indonesian and he then wanted me to take his photo. After snapping a few shots, I showed him the results and he thanked me profusely. Of course I felt humbled by the kindness of one of the most incredible spirits I’ve ever met.
Photography experts often talk about how people’s eyes are what make or break a portrait photo. Judging by this photo, the same can be said for all primates. This monkey was chained at an animal market in Denpasar and gave an incredible look of sorrow.
We can talk about warm spirits all we like, but it means nothing until you experience it. In Bali, there are many of these warm spirits – I met this man after he just hauled in a bunch of fish for his family from the local reef in Pemuteran. He was very humble, gracious and a little bit bemused as to why I would care to look at his fish!
Bali is overfished – to the point where protected reefs are now the target of fishermen in a bid to keep up with ever-increasing demand. To be fair to Bali, large portions of Indonesia are overfished and waters outside those of Indonesia’s own are now the target of fishermen. The array of fish on display at the fresh fish market in Jimbaran is bewildering and a great reminder that the fish you have for dinner may well have been a spectacular juvenile reef fish caught illegally.
These young boys were running amok as young boys normally do. Except in Bali, the world is your oyster with the freedom to roam around and get up to mischief without fear of speeding cars, the stranger next door or an overly critical community. These boys puffed out their chests when they saw my camera and galloped away to continue their reign of terror in no time at all.
Baby monkeys also have much freedom from an early age although their mothers keep a protective eye out for them at all times. It’s not unusual for a baby monkey to scratch around in the bushes while a dozen metres away its mother snacks on bananas stolen from panicked tourists. A great place to spot this sort of behaviour is the Ubud Monkey Forest, although it can be heavily touristed in the middle of the day. The Monkey Forest at Sangeh is also a spectacular setting for primate observation.
Man and beast work together to plough the fields near a guesthouse 7km from Amlapura. Many Balinese farmers still use old-fashioned techniques to plough their fields despite the explosion in motorised transport over the past two decades. Preparing a ricefield for planting is a multi-stage process that has not changed significantly over hundreds of years. Scenes like this are played out across the island and outside of the main tourist towns, it’s possible to have a room with views of glorious terraced ricefields such as this one.
An important aspect of preparing a ricefield for planting is allowing hundreds of ducks to forage in the muddy field for spilled rice and unwanted insects. During the process, ducks also add nutrients to the soil which is then mixed through during the ploughing process. I saw this duck chasing its friends across the sprawling fields immediately north of Ubud at the end of Jalan Kajeng – my favourite place to walk in Ubud.
These is no human counterpoint to this photo – this animal is pure evil. I think monkeys are cute, but they’re mischievous little critters that are entirely unpredictable. This particular cutie was fossicking in the shallows when I thought it’d be a splendid idea to take a few shots. Maybe I should have asked for permission first, but it took exception to the candid shots I was taking and charged me, teeth all over the place.
What a fantastic place Bali is. Ever been? Going soon? Want to go? Do you need more convincing?