Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Chinese style beach holiday

We left Bali just before a surge: Chinese summer holidays were just beginning and Chinese tourists are one of the biggest sources of visitors to Bali second only to those ever present Australians. Bali generally hasn't adjusted to this situation. Nothing in our hotel had Chinese explanations or Chinese support. (I had to help a Chinese woman asking for one fried egg instead of two conjoined fried eggs at the breakfast buffet.) Neither does the airport have much support either for Chinese, even in lucrative places like duty-free shops. (Christy helped a Chinese man explain that he didn't just want a bottle of expensive cognac, but a crate of the same cognac.) There may be changes with time on the Balinese side but one does wonder why Chinese come to Bali at all.

Bali is a perfect beach resort country for western tourists. Western tourists generally love the sun, sand and surf. They drink cocktails at beach bars and they generally adapt well to trying local food. Chinese, especially women, generally don't like the sun. They don't like dirt (beaches and seawater often don't meet the images created through movies and media) and many can't swim. A portion of the population cannot drink alcohol without some ill-effect. On top of that, they're predominantly loyal to their local cuisine. And finally, English literacy as pointed out isn't high especially with many of the nouveau riche.

Generally this is not a problem, though. The ones that usually come for a beach holiday are the ones with some English at their disposal and they're coming to experience a beach holiday as if it were a different culture. Even Sanya, the most famous resort city in China uses the concept of a western beach holiday, which to me is a little puzzling. Could their not be a Chinese style beach holiday? If so, what would it look like?

Of course, it'd have all of the same facilities that Bali has currently. A good portion of tourists from any country, after all, are attracted to the things that are different. If I were designing one though, I'd make a covered promenade along the length of the beach. This would allow people to move along the beach in the shade to enjoy the sea view and air without fear of the sun. Pavilion areas, like in the photo, could be available at certain times for mahjong (that'd be picturesque!) or even chess for that matter at a small cost. Pool areas could have one half of the pool bar in the shade. Even though Chinese tourists took to water sports well, one particular water activity, popular with Chinese men, was never mentioned: fishing.

Anyway, that's my take and my idle thought. Of course you're welcome to say that no country has to change for tourists - I'm thankful in one breath that they all speak English in Bali to a very useful extent. In my heart of hearts I'd wish I had to master some of the phrases of bahasa Indonesia to get around...

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