Mixing business and pleasure in Bali, Indonesia
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I had been curious about Bali and had wanted to go there ever since I learned about its existence, not because of its popularity for what is, but for what I thought it was. I had this wrong notion that Bali was the same island called Bali Hai in the movie musical South Pacific. I have been fascinated with it ever since I watched this movie when I was 11 years old. Anyhow, Bali Hai is fictional but Bali, Indonesia is real :) and thanks to my company, I finally had the opportunity to go to the real Bali for one weekend. I went there with my colleagues for our annual company jamboree/convention.
Before our flight to Bali from Singapore, we were warned by our Singaporean tour guide to be attentive at all times at the Immigration because he said it is known as being corrupt.
Outside the airport, each one of us was greeted with a lei of flowers before we boarded the bus that would bring us to our hotel. By 10:30pm, we were on our way. Our local group guide was so enthusiastic in giving information about Bali, especially Kuta, which, according to him, is "where the happenings are".
But what do you know, three hours after, I found myself in Kuta, dancing on a ledge in Bounty bar! Yeah baby! :P
Thanks to travbuddy Manuel (TB handle: manuel_s), I had a crazy, wonderful, fun first night in Bali. We went drinking vodka, gin and the killer native palm drink that finally got me drunk and puking (in the toilet and not all over the place, ok! :P ) Woohoo! ;-)
I spent the whole of Saturday for the company activities scheduled.
I made Sunday to be the time for me to explore Kuta in daylight. At half past 8 am, I was walking around the small alleys where you could see lots of shops selling souvenirs, surfing and beach stuffs, scooter rentals, tattoo shops, white water rafting and other activities booking agents. At 9am I met Manuel again and he was kind enough to accompany me for the day. It was nice to hang out at the famous Kuta beach and see surfers and people basking in the sun. Although as I've expected, there were a number of vendors who could be persistent in selling you different stuffs: from food, drinks, ice cream, accessories, to massage, tattoos and braiding your hair.
We had a yummy lunch of wrapped marlin and went to buy my usual souvenir collection: a shotglass that was overpriced at 50,000 Indonesian rupiah but we bargained at 10,000; and a Bali Starbucks city mug (yay!). By 5:45pm I needed to go to Hard Rock cafe to meet my colleagues for dinner before we head to the airport and take our flight to Singapore. I was surprised to see the traffic jam and I was sure that I'm not gonna make it at 6pm in Hard Rock Cafe' if I take the taxi even if it was just a good 2 to 3 kilometers away.
Dinner with my colleagues turned out to be not in Hard Rock Cafe' but in the restaurant in Hard Rock Hotel, and it took me a while to find my company's reservation because it turned out the reservation was under the event organizer's name. Good thing the hotel receptionist was very kind to assist me and extended all the help he could give (and so in the end I couldn't refuse him when he asked for my email address, gulp :S). This is one of the things I most liked about Bali, I find the people nice and friendly (except in the Immigration). I was always mistaken as Indonesian so they spoke to me in their language and when they learn that I was not Indonesian, the locals still treat me nicely and they are quite curious where I was from and would always smile back if you smile at them.
Today, I am happily writing this with a bit of sunburned shoulders. ;)
I really had a fun time in Bali, it was short but definitely memorable and I definitely would like to go back there again.
*Information from http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Bali/Spa/Menu.htm: "The Ritz-Carlton, Bali Thalasso & Spa's Aquatonic® seawater therapy pool is the crown jewel of the Spa. Effortlessly exercise your way through 14 hydromassage stations using the pool's therapeutic jet streams, micro-bubbles and geysers to rehabilitate injured muscles, to relieve stress and for relaxation.