Friday, 30 January 2009

Bali, first impressions

An old statue by the side of the road

Finally, adjusted to Bali time and the humidity. Yesterday I gave some data to a survey conducted by students in the street. In the evening I got a call from a lady, saying I had won a prize to stay at a hotel and we would be picked up from our hotel this morning so we could receive that prize. Jo and I both think this is simply a novel way to recruit time-share customers, but since they are offering free transport to Nusa Dua and return to our hotel and also include a free breakfast, we feel we have nothing to lose.

Jo at the local Market

Right on time we are picked up by a driver with a young lady who asks lots of questions on the half hour trip to Nusa Dua, the driver depositing us on the doorstep of the hotel where we are greeted by yet another young lady. She asks me to fill in yet another form but seems to not like that my nationality is German and not Australian, a few minutes later informs us that we are not eligible to take part in a guided tour through the hotel but we should proceed to another desk where I will receive my supposed prize. I thank her and point out that we were given to understand, a breakfast would be given and therefore we had not had any back at our hotel. A little grudgingly she writes out a voucher and directs us to the hotel bar where we indeed receive a free breakfast, then collect our "prize", the fine print informing us that we are actually outside the age group targeted and not entitled. The driver is called and together with another young woman, called Susie we are driven back and I ask if we may be dropped off at the Matahari in Kuta instead, to which she happily agrees.

Street displays at Legian, Bali

Susie tells us she is from Java. She is quite funny and we get to laugh all the way to Kuta. The driver also tells us he lives in Ubud, only coming to Kuta to fulfill his job as driver. Jo and I say good bye and walk into the Matahari, a local Department Store looking at various items on display, comparing prices etc. After about half an hour I realise that I have left my camera in the car that brought us back to Kuta. What now?

What are my chances of ever seeing that camera again, given that

- I have no telephone number of the hotel we just visited
- I do not know the name of the driver
- I do not know the registration of the car we were brought back in
- I do not know the full name of Susie
- I do not even know the name of the organisation involved apart from the name of the hotel

I call my Hotel and ask for them to obtain the phone number of the hotel in question. When I call that number repeatedly I cannot get through and decide to leave the matter untlil we return to our hotel. As we walk out from Matahari, a young woman and a young man are trying to get our attention for yet another sceme.

Exploring some of the posh places at Sayan

Jo apologises saying we just left a camera in a car and relates the story to them both. Now this is where it gets very interesting. The young man tells us that the hotel we have just returned from, have an office just around the corner and takes us to their front door. Yes, there is an office inside but not a single letter or inscription identifying the organisation.

We walk in and talk to a young woman at the desk, explaining our situation. Yes, she says, Susie was just here and she will try to track the driver, walks out the front door talking on her Mobile and crossing the road where she disappears. Jo and I sit down in the foyer and wait. A few minutes later she returns, pointing across the road to about five young men, asking us to identify our driver, cross the road and there he is holding out my camera.

The lesson? Well, firstly, never leave your belongings in strange cars, but also, never underestimate the balinese network, everybody seemingly knowing everyone else and last, but not least, that extra lot of good fortune. Thank you!

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