Monday, June 30, 2014

Place and space

As we exited the arrival terminal, the calls of "taxi" intensified as did the steeliness in our eyes. We marched towards the clearly designated taxi area, just as we would in. At that area we were approached by a man with seemingly official taxi driver attire who asked which hotel we were off to; we told him and showed him the address; he told us 200; we told him that wasn't the price the hotel said; he asked and we agreed a price; to save face and relations he said how "airport taxis" charge less.

Sometimes, it isn't important where you find yourself but whether you know the local "rules" and the local "play book". The above could have been in Guangzhou but in this case it was Dempesar, Bali.

Bali is renown for its friendliness. And it is a friendly place not just for your custom. We've had great instinctive hospitality from almost everyone. The first glum uninterested Chinese-like service came at a superette... owned by a Chinese proprietor. Since the traffic is a little crazy, locals will help tourists cross the road. Vendors do actively approach you to sell things or offer services, but they do it politely and accept no for an answer.

It would seem that commercialism and integrity can live side by side. We did have a moment that could have proved this further:

As we returned from a meal, we were approached by a friendly guy on a motorcycle, Solomon. He explained about a resort, Royal Karma Bali, who had a special promotion at a hotel around the coast. We were given two prize envelopes that we ripped open to see what we'd won: first envelope was just two t-shirts and a choice of ou extra (we chose a 300,000 rupiah meal voucher, about NZD30); the second envelope however was the top prize, one prize that would be revealed after a gold sticker was removed. It had to be one of the following: 7 nights free in their hotel, or USD1000, or a camera or a shopping voucher for 2,000,000 rupiah (NZD190). We just had to take a ride to the hotel to collect the prizes.

Sounds dodgy doesn't it? I delayed a day saying that day wasn't convenient but commenced a little research: it appears to be a rather well-known timeshare scheme. They take you over, give you prizes but also a hard-sell that might take an hour or two. On the internet you can find a lot of different feelings about it; humorously, one post had almost the exact same story as I had above including the exact order of prizes. We weren't into this. So I met Solomon alone at the agreed meeting place. He was full of energy and happiness but I got to the point quickly. My wife was "sick" so we wouldn't go that day nor any other day. He was clearly disappointed but to his credit took our decision without argument and headed away.

Bali is pretty good for what we want of it, namely relaxation, good and exercise. It almost didn't happen for various reasons but I'm glad to be here!

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