Mixing business and pleasure in Bali, Indonesia

Bali Travel Blog

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at Changi airport with Donnah

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.

the plane taking us to Bali (Jetstar)
I thought this remark was very derogatory to the Indonesian government. However, I didn't expect that I would have to agree with him based on experience. We arrived at Denpansar airport at 9:35pm, me and my Southeast Asian colleagues queued up to the Immigration line for foreigners not needing any visa on arrival. I think the officer we queued at for was not in a good mood that night as he just suddenly refused entry of my Vietnamese colleague in the line ahead of me, telling him that he needs a visa and that he needed a return ticket. Then I went next, I presented my passport, my embarkation card and return ticket. The Immigration officer rudely asked which company I am travelling for, I replied with my company's name twice as he could not understand it. Since my planeticket was booked for the whole group (all our names were on the same e-ticket), after he let me in, he knew that he had no more excuse not to let my Vietnamese colleague in as well.
welcome to Bali
My colleague was pissed off, of course ,and I was a little too,  because I didn't expect something like that to happen since I've been to other parts of Indonesia (Bintan and Batam) before and did not encounter such a scene. Then at the customs, they were really opening and rummaging through the bags! But since we were there as a large group and I think the tour guides did some talking to the customs officers, they didn't check for ours. Anyways, the not so nice experience ends at the airport, thankfully.

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".

selamat datang
He gave some details, like how much the taxi from our hotel to Kuta would approximately cost, to go to Bounty bar/club to party, etc., etc. While he was saying this, I didn't really much care, because I knew I wouldn't have the time to go there since it was already quite late that night and our hotel was located in a secluded area in Jimbaran, a good 20 minutes away by taxi from Kuta. Besides, I was meeting a fellow travbuddy for a late night drink in my hotel.

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.

welcome drink (with my colleague and friend, Donnah)
In the morning I went for my Aquatonic seawater therapy pool session* and the afternoon I spent in the hotel ballroom with my colleagues for the 4 hour speech by the big bosses. By the end of their speech, they mentioned that next year's jamboree would be held in a boring place since they were made aware of the torture we were going into, being in Bali but not being able to explore the place, hehehe. In the evening, we had our company gala dinner where we wore the traditional Indonesian sarong and headpiece. While dinner was served, we were mesmerized by the Balinese dance performances because of how good the dancers were in using distinct and snappy movements of their arms, legs, neck and most especially, their eyes. We were served some native dishes for the dinner, which were ok although I didn't quite fancy because I am not really into curry and spices.
Infinity pool of Ritz-Carlton overlooking the Indian ocean (photo courtesy of Donnah)
After dinner, as like last year, there was the usual free flow of champagne and lots of drunken dancing. But me and my roommate/friend/colleague, Donnah, retired early and by 10pm, called it a night.

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.

view from Ritz-Carlton resort(photo courtesy of Donnah)
The key to avoiding them? Do not talk to them even just to say No nor make eye contact (although I found it hard at first due to my usual courtesy) and if this doesn't work out, you can always try to pretend to be a hooker and tell them you were also just there in the beach for money like them ;-P (hehehe, just kidding on this one).

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.

view from Ritz-Carlton resort(photo courtesy of Donnah)
Good thing that there was an ingenious alternative: off I went with a local who took me to Hard Rock Cafe' via his scooter (look ma, no helmet on! :P)

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.

our room in Ritz-Carlton resort(photo courtesy of Donnah)
Anyways, by 9pm, I was in the airport doing some last minute souvenir shopping while waiting for our flight back to Singapore.

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.

the memorial in Kuta which was built in memory of the victims of the Bali bombing in 2002

 

kickasstunner says:
ang sosy naman ng room nyo! hahaha :D
Posted on: Jun 01, 2008
aysrandrup says:
loved your balinese skirt! at ok, nakita ko na sya. hehehe
Posted on: May 30, 2008
ice9van says:
Wow Bali!!! Nainggit naman ako! Waaaaah!
Posted on: May 29, 2008
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at Changi airport with Donnah
at Changi airport with Donnah
the plane taking us to Bali (Jetst…
the plane taking us to Bali (Jets…
welcome to Bali
welcome to Bali
selamat datang
selamat datang
welcome drink (with my colleague a…
welcome drink (with my colleague …
Infinity pool of Ritz-Carlton over…
Infinity pool of Ritz-Carlton ove…
view from Ritz-Carlton resort(phot…
view from Ritz-Carlton resort(pho…
view from Ritz-Carlton resort(phot…
view from Ritz-Carlton resort(pho…
our room in Ritz-Carlton resort(ph…
our room in Ritz-Carlton resort(p…
the memorial in Kuta which was bui…
the memorial in Kuta which was bu…
with fellow travbuddy Manuel (manu…
with fellow travbuddy Manuel (man…
the remains of Sari club
the remains of Sari club
first drink: vodka+cranberry juice…
first drink: vodka+cranberry juic…
drinks in Bounty club come in a cu…
drinks in Bounty club come in a c…
Manuel is still shy
Manuel is still shy
still with our first drink
still with our first drink
i think Manuel would like to dance…
i think Manuel would like to danc…
now with the second fishbowl drink…
now with the second fishbowl drin…
a lady was kind enough to offer to…
a lady was kind enough to offer t…
ok, thats still our second fishbo…
ok, that's still our second fishb…
was this after we went dancing on …
was this after we went dancing on…
Manuel pretending to be an Ozzie g…
Manuel pretending to be an Ozzie …
do i look drunk already?
do i look drunk already?
ok, yup im drunk now :P
ok, yup im drunk now :P
view from Ritz-Carlton resort(phot…
view from Ritz-Carlton resort(pho…
view from Ritz-Carlton resort(phot…
view from Ritz-Carlton resort(pho…
window from our hotel room
window from our hotel room
breakfast area in the hotel overlo…
breakfast area in the hotel overl…
Infinity pool in the hotel
Infinity pool in the hotel
one of the spa areas in the hotel
one of the spa areas in the hotel
view from our hotel room
view from our hotel room
wearing the traditional Indonesian…
wearing the traditional Indonesia…
company gala dinner
company gala dinner
with colleague and friend, Donnah
with colleague and friend, Donnah
Balinese dancers
Balinese dancers
appetizer: satay
appetizer: satay
Balinese dancer
Balinese dancer
pretty coffee at ESC cafe in Kuta
pretty coffee at ESC cafe' in Kuta
ESC cafe is just beside the remain…
ESC cafe is just beside the remai…
Manuel at 10am
Manuel at 10am
Kuta beach
Kuta beach
Manuel at around noon
Manuel at around noon
his henna tattoo
his henna tattoo
sun bathing
sun bathing
Manuel taking a dip in the sea
Manuel taking a dip in the sea
imagine the baywatch theme song pl…
imagine the baywatch theme song p…
Mr. Bali Hunk  2008
Mr. Bali Hunk 2008
looking at our skin color, whos A…
looking at our skin color, who's …
Hard Rock hotel is cool!
Hard Rock hotel is cool!
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photo by: mr_shanet