I had received an invitation from Blaupunkt to attend a conference at Bali, Indonesia between 8-11 Dec'07. The participants with spouses departed from Chennai International Airport on the night of 7th December'07 by Malaysian Airlines. Scheduled departure was 10.30 pm but we were inexplicably delayed by over 3 hours & we finally took off around 2.15 am. We flew over the Bay of Bengal & Malacca Straits before reaching KL just in time to catch the connecting flight to Denpasar, the capital of Bali. Bali was at that time playing host to a large contingent of delegates attending an International Conference on Climate change. We reached Bali (an island situated in the Indian Ocean) around 1.30 pm local time. Bali is a province of Indonesia lying South of the equator, between Java on the West and Lombok to the East.
Denpasar airport is situated adjacent to the sea & offers a wonderful view from the air. The airport architecture is traditional but is provided with all modern facilities & infrastructure. Tourist visas were available on arrival at USD 10/- per person & a 7 day validity. As we exited the airport we were greeted & garlanded by young Balinese girls in traditional bright coloured attire . From the Airport we moved in a convoy of mini buses with local guides, to our hotel - Sanur Paradise Suites where we were received by Hotel staff with welcome drinks & cold towels, handed our keys & shown to our rooms.
After partaking of Indian lunch & brief rest we left around 4.30 pm on a tour to Uluwatu sea temple, about an hour's journey by bus from Sanur.This is indeed one of the most splendid temples in the island of Bali. All visitors are given a ceremonial sash to tie around the waist before entering the temple.The inner sanctum is perched majestically on the edge of a steep cliff that towers above the legendary surf breaks of Southern Bali. We indeed got to see the most captivating sight of waves crashing on to the tall rocky cliff walls. Ccameras kept continuously shooting & whirring capturing the spectacular scenery for posterity.
We were told that Uluwatu monkeys were very aggressive & a big menace and we were told to keep our cameras & sunglasses in our pockets for safe keeping. But there were no untoward monkey incidents that evening. The Kuta beach tour to follow was cancelled as it had already become dark and also because being Saturday evening, huge traffic jams were expected on the Kuta Route.Instead we headed back directly to Sanur and enroute stopped over at Gateway India's O-India restaurant - not a very fancy place but served good Indian food & plenty of beer & soft drinks.
Bali has a predominantly (over 90%) Hindu population though Indonesia is a Muslim dominated country. Languages spoken are Balinese, Indonesian & English. The guides dressed in traditional Balinese attire were Hindus and had had names like Subrata, Kartika, Neoman etc. The Hindus believe in Karma & Moksha. Hindu gods like Brahma,Vishnu & Siva are worshipped in temples. The Ramayana & Mahabharata are significant epics & dance dramas based on these are performed.
The currency is the Indonesian Rupiah and the exchange rate is 1 USD= In.Ru 9000. I changed USD 50 at the airport and received In.Ru 4,50,000/- In Bali a cup of tea cost In.Ru 3000/-, a soft drink around In.Ru 8000-10,000/-.
On day 2 after breakfast the participants & baggage transferred to Sanur Paradise Hotel for the business conference - a 4 hour affair lasting 9.30 am - 1.30 pm. During this period spouses went on a handicrafts tour - Our purchases included a matted handbag for In.Ru 70,000 & 2 bright batik shirts for 75,000/- apiece.
The conference was a lively affair with impressive & informative presentations by Blaupunkt team and some BMD's and finally concluded with an extremely interactive session lasting around 45 mts. Participants wore regulation light blue full sleeved denim shirts with Blaupunkt Logo.
After a leisurely lunch the group embarked on a Denpasar city tour - a visit to Monument Perjuangan Rakyat Bali Denpasar - a large monument and spacious park dedicated to the struggle and history of the people of Bali. The park is used a lot for jogging, soccer and relaxing. The monument contains a museum with the important parts of Balinese history pictured in Dioramas, displays with dolls and paintings.
Our next destination was Benoa Harbour where we were greeted by a young Balinese girl dressed like a character out of Ramayana - she placed a flower behind your ear. Then we entered into the harbour and were ushered aboard the Bounty Cruise. At the point of entry stood a professional photographer who clicked photos of each couple flanked by two Balinese girls. Every one received a voucher for free beer, orange juice, coffee or tea. After spending a while on the top deck we climbed down to the mid deck for refreshments & then to the lower deck. Dinner spread included both Indian & International cuisine & a range of juicy fruits eg. varieties of watermelons, papayas, pine apples. There was a pretty on board entertainer(DJ) & a nice dance floor. Live entertainment included the Crooner, Balinese dances, and a variety of cabarets by skimpily clad young Balinese girls. The dancers invited the diners to join them & shake a leg. After initial reservations the floor was packed with diners ( majority were Blaupunkt & Associates) dancing away the blues. Finally the program concluded around 8.00 pm and it was time to head back to the Hotel. As we were leaving the harbour the photographer approached us and sold the pictures, nicely mounted in cardboard frame with bounty cruise background, for USD 4/-each.
The next day we had early breakfast & left around 7.40 am once again for Benoa harbour. The group departed in the same Bounty Cruise on a day cruise to Nusa Lembongan island. We reach in around 50 minutes & dock onto a floating pontoon. While one group transferred to the island by a shuttle boat for a village tour the other group (which included I & Shobha) remained on the pontoon where a range of water activities was available - banana boat rides, canoeing, snorkelling, scuba diving, water sliding, surfing, skiing, semi submersible boat rides etc. We had to wear life jackets provided there before venturing on any of the activities. We tried our hand at water slide & canoeing (with help of a facilitator). We also joined a group that went on a glass bottomed shuttle boat & transferred to a smaller pontoon for snorkelling. ( We of course remained on board the pontoon & witnessed the snorkellers).
Back to Pontoon Nusa Lembogan and I decided to get a nice hour long full body massage by trained young Balinese girls - it was really relaxing and released all my weariness accumulated during the trip. Tariff = In.Ru 1,20,000/-. This also helped work up my appetite & I proceeded for lunch - a nicely laid out Bar-B-Que & cocktails.
Post lunch we joined another group for the village tour. In 10 minutes we reached the Nusa Lembogan Island & disembarked - nice coral sand beach & bright blue transparent water. The group boarded pickup vans & proceeded on the village tour. Nusa Lembogan which stretches 4 km long and 2 km wide, has a lot of sea weed farming. The sea weed is cultivated and harvested in various parts of the island and exported to many countries. Other industries done by the local people are growing peanuts or sweet potatoes, building wooden boat and fishing, selling traditional artefacts. The village life is interesting to see. People still live in their traditional house and leading a humble life style. People greet you with their smile and hospitality.
We returned around 4.00 pm and almost immediately thereafter tranferred from the pontoon to the Bounty Cruise. In an hour we returned to Benoa Harbour & once again headed back to Sanur Paradise.
At night Gala Dinner was arranged at the Hotel. White casual Blaupunkt shirts was provided to all participants. Cocktails & fruit juices flowed and a variety of snacks were served. BMD's with outstanding performances were awarded. A dance contest was held for couples. Winners received gifts. Santosh as the MC for the evening did a commendable job. The evening overflowed with spirit of comraderie & fellowship. The Bali visit ended on a grand note.
Next day - it was finally time to leave the island. Everyone had had a wonderful trip. But all good things have to conclude - there was ecstasy at being in Bali & melancholy at having to depart