Home' Travel News : June 2013 Contents 32 travel news June 2013
Bali was a revelation, even though my
sightseeing was somewhat limited. Bidding
for a World Congress here in Kenya for a
global tourism giant in 2015 meant a lot of
schmoozing and long hours perfecting the
pitch. I'm optimistic we will be one of two
fnalists, the result to be determined in late
September in New York.
So, as you can see, work got in the way
of any sightseeing Well, that's not entirely
true. I'm fed up of arriving at sundry exotic
ports-of-call late at night, then leaving again
at night and only seeing the inside of some
swank 5-star hotel's conference facility. So a
group of us hired a minibus on the only free
half-day to take us to 'them thar hills' in the
central part of the island.
Bali is predominantly Hindu, and peacefully
co-exists within a Muslim Indonesia.
We headed for the small village of Ubud
(pronounced oo'burd - roll the tongue, nod
the head), which is a funky laid-back place
that seems to be wholly given over to art
galleries and antique shops.
But that's not what caught my eye; incredible
small restaurants and what looked like
interesting bars separated the art galleries
from the antique shops.
I thought, nice. It is so laid back it's almost
asleep - a grown-up haven for hippies, if
ever I saw one. Old hippies dressed as
fashionistas were pretty pathetic, but that
aside, I liked Ubud.
Bali is all about huge 5-star hotels; every
major global hotel chain has a property here,
these days mostly frequented by wealthy
Russians. You never see them. They seem
to party all night and sleep all day. The
hotel GM told me I should be in the lobby at
midnight. "It's like Grand Central Station", he
said. It's mental - literally hundreds of buses
and taxis all heading out to Kuda, which
is evidently the party place to be in Bali.
Nightlife they like.
The beaches look great, but the sand is
coarse and the currents worrying. You have
to work to stand still and not get knocked
off your feet. When you come from a land
of incredible beaches (Kenya), you are very
spoilt in this department.
Getting there on Qatar Airways from Nairobi
was eezy-peezy, changing only once at
Doha in both directions. A good product and
priced right, I'd recommend them to you.
Even though the opening of the new state-
of-the-art terminal building at Doha has been
delayed, the old one is more than adequate.
I’ve always fancied doing a fight review
starting off with the airport experience. It
might go something like this:
Checked in online and arrived two hours
before departure -- after lining up outside
the terminal, eventually with a little argy-
bargy (pushing in because you think you are
important is always an issue here), arrive at
the x-ray machine, all bags, watches, belts,
shoes and mobile deposited. Great diffculty
in holding pants up while retrieving bags,
watch, belt, mobile and shoes -- waddle
away looking like a spruced goose. Arrive at
airline passport control trying desperately to
look cool, calm and collected. Fail miserably.
Once belt looped, shoes on, watch stowed
and phone restored to working order -- 'Can I
see your passport please, Sir?' 'No worries,
which one do you want?' asks me of boastful
dual nationality. The bait is not taken, more
the shame, and after a cursory look I'm off to
the baggage drop.
Immigration form completed, pleasantries
exchanged with a smiling immigration offcer
and I'm up the escalator to the departure
The duty free shops are all much of a
muchness, and lead me to the Java Coffee
Shop and its somewhat salubrious bar. Note
no fancy airport lounges on this trip, I'm
travelling people class and I have to say it's
not as bad as feared -- here people actually
talk to one another...
We'll dispense with the trip for another
ramble, and get back into fight review mode
for arrival back home.
Why do some people take ages to get out
of their seats and retrieve their bags from
the overhead bins? Good grief, get a move
on. 25 minutes after arriving at the terminal
building, I fnally disembark, heading quickly
to immigration -- I know all the short cuts and
get there frst. The fight had no arrival cards,
so I hastily complete one on the run, then join
a very short line in front of the immigration
counter signposted 'Kenya Citizens Only'.
But I’m the only one in the queue, a Kenyan,
that is. I did my bit for our tourism industry
and gave a welcoming smile to the folk in
the wrong line.
Downstairs to the baggage hall, no baggage
in sight, but wait a minute, what are all those
identical black Samsonite bags coming off
frst? Even before the hallowed Premium
class passengers. It's the crew's baggage,
which is then heaped in a pile on the foor,
making room for the baggage of all of us
The crew are nowhere in sight as I exit --
well, I try to exit. So, why does their baggage
come off frst? Annoying.
We used to have for a very short time ago a
customs declaration form, which set out your
duty-free limits and allowed you to declare
anything over that amount -- sign, hand it in
and you were away.
The form seems to have gone the way of the
Dodo. Why inform people that they do have
a duty-free limit seems to me to be the story.
Mama Customs Offcer wants to take a look
inside my dolly trolley. "Nothing to declare", I
say. "Open, please", she says. I do. Without
looking at the contents, she looks away and
mumbles, "You can go."
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