The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Costa Del Bali & Bikini Etiquette!
October 12, 2006, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Comment

As you know, I am in Bali for a few days working on a project to help increase tourism to the place.

Now while there’s some obvious ‘quick fixes’ that can help with their goal … like targeting corporate conferences etc … long term, they don’t want to turn Bali into another Singapore – and to be honest, I don’t blame them, it deserves better.

So today I went out searching for tourists … and despite hotel occupancy rates currently at less than 14% … I did find a few and whilst there was the odd Brit, Chinese, Singaporean, Yank and Aussie walking around – the overwhelming nationality of people holidaying here was Russian.

Now asking people questions when they are on holiday is always difficult because lets be honest, they just want to be left alone – however nearly everyone I talked to was really happy to ‘put up with me’ for a while – even if it meant we communicated via sign language and/or translation books.

So what were the things I found really interesting?

1. It is really difficult to ask questions when the person suddenly decides to take their top off and model a bikini that would put most of the girls in Rio to shame.

2. It’s even more difficult when ‘said ladies’ Neanderthal husband/boyfriend turns up and demands to know ‘what is going on’!

3. While concerned about terrorism, most people generally felt it was pretty safe – even though they tended to stay within the confines of their resort rather than venture out into the typical tourist areas.

4. Many of the Russians staying here are of ‘new money’ [read into that what you will] and see Bali as a place that represents ‘status and achievement’ – both to themselves and the people around them.

5. Almost all the Russians [well, the men] mentioned ‘they know people or have been in situations far scarier than an attack from terrorists’!!!

[Yes, points 4 and 5 may be inherently linked]

So what am I suggesting …

Well nothing really – except that in my few conversations with people today [about 20 individuals] Bali seemed disproportionately attractive to those who have experienced – how shall I say it – a more ‘colourful life’ than that of Mr and Mrs Average … probably because to them, terrorism/violence/crime are all elements they [may have] experienced in their everyday home life – so it’s just not something that causes them adverse concern.

OK … so lets get a sense of proportion here …  there is no proof the ‘Russians’ I spoke to today, are in any way connected to crime [and in no way am I generalising that ALL Russians are crooks] … nor am I really suggesting Bali is going to become the new ‘desired home’ for Soviet Crime Lords  … it’s just that I was pretty shocked how Russians have become [at least today] the primary tourist in Bali, given they live much further away than the traditional visitor of S.E. Asia, Australia and NZ.

Hahahaha … reading this back, it could qualify as the most ridiculous post I’ve done yet!

23 Comments so far
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I think it says a lot. Its an affordable status holiday!

Isnt today the anniversary of the first bomb? It was on the news about it earlier.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Hahaha… Despite of those “What is going on?”, you have completed your field work in one piece huh.

I shall be thick- skinned and pretend that you asked if I will visit Bali someday in your previous post. I will. Simply because I would love to escape from the human traffic that I have been ‘putting up’ with. ;p

Comment by Celeste

Isn’t it funny … I’ve been inundated with emails / phonecalls / SMS’s from mates and colleagues all gleefully telling me today is the 5 year anniversary of the Bali bombing. I didn’t realise I was that unpopular, hahaha.

Comment by Rob

Celeste … how are you? Done your homework?

Comment by Rob

4 isnt it? 2002?

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Rob, didn’t your FBI mate warn that the Russian Mafia were becoming S E Asia’s biggest investors in property because it allowed them to get rid of their cash without the authorities being able to keep track of them? If that’s the case, could Bali not become Asia’s Switzerland and provide an ‘offshore’ haven for people of questionable background and finance?

Comment by Pete

The Chinese thing could be big. The new money there is creating record numbers of external tourists. If Bali became their place of choice…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Is it 4 years? I keep getting told 5 – but then most of my mates [and all of my colleagues] are a bunch of illiterate buggers.

And Pete … are you really suggesting that I put forward a pro-criminal stance to a deeply religious, Muslim government.

Are you trying to get me killed – even though it sort of would work, just look what happened in Thailand when they loosened their grip on Visas

Comment by Rob

Stop nitpicking, I’m helping aren’t I? And you said the idea would work so that’s $5m you owe me.

Comment by Pete

Hmmmmmn, how about a coffee in NY – will that suffice as payment for all your ‘efforts’?

Comment by Rob

“Find Your Forgiveness in Bali”

Maybe Bali is the place where you find the good inside you. Where you find the colour in a colourful background…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Well as I am about to let Andy and George buy me an expensive lunch, I’ll be generous and accept your offer of a coffee as payment. When?

Comment by Pete

You’re being generous accepting my offer of a coffee? I’m being generous offering it, ha!

I land in NY on Tuesday but have a meeting with Virgin that morning and ADIDAS that afternoon. Given I’m going to be knackered, what about Wednesday at 11am? Our office?

And why the hell are Andy and George in Miami? Actually, don’t tell me – I’ll call them and hear their pesky excuse for myself. Ha!

See you next week matey … can’t wait.

Comment by Rob

I actually quite like the ‘forgiveness’ idea Mr Mortimer … there’s something calm, peaceful and caring about it … which is very representative of the local people.

Don’t know if the [alleged] Mafia guys would feel that way though, hahaha!

Comment by Rob

It’s a date.

Comment by Pete

Thanks 🙂

Its not just a legal thing I was thinking of. The idea is you find forgiveness from lots of things, be that stress or boredom or a don etc etc.

The holiday is about you not about the place, possibly…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Hi Rob … yeah, getting the Chinese to travel to Bali would be a great solution – however there are some massive cultural issues that would need to be overcome if it was to achieve success.

I know that sounds like a crappy excuse, but it’s truly amazing how these issues really separate the hopeful from the successful. That’s not to say it can’t be done [and it has to be looked at as it’s such an obvious target] it’s just that I think Bali needs something more than just to attract a new consumer target group to its shores – even though I haven’t the faintest idea why, or what it is, haha!

Comment by Rob

BALI … The World’s Biggest Confessional. [No sin too big for us to remove!]

Comment by Rob

A place that forgives your sins and your misdemeanours.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I’ve been watching the Bali related posts over the last few days with interest.

Here are some things to consider:

Bali is an island nation of Hindus. Yet it belongs to Indonesia which is an Islamic nation.

I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Bali is a popular destination for the Japanese. Second only to the Aussies I think.

You mention the Russians sticking to their resorts. This won’t help the Balinese people.

Taking taxis into town, shopping in the markets, drinking Bintang in the bars, renting a surfboard. This helps local people make a living.

I’m not try to make any kind of point. Just thought you might find my observations of interest.

Comment by Stan Lee

Hi Stan … thanks so much for your comments – very useful.

The fact that Bali is Hindu is one of the reasons the Indonesian Government aren’t exactly proactive in helping the nation overcome its troubles. It’s sad – but politics and ego are playing a major role in this situation.

After the bombings, Japan and Australian tourism nosedived by 30 and 60% respectively. Sure, they have started returning [in Australia, it’s the surfers who’ve come back first] but this will take time and Bali’s economy doesn’t have too much of that at the moment.

You are spot on that people staying in their hotels helps no one except the Hotel chains – but they are now so well equipped [with their own Bali shops] that tourists feel they can come here, get a sense of Bali and have minimum risk of any trouble occuring. [that is still a major concern in their minds – except for the Russians I talked about in this post, ha!]

To be fair to the Hotels, they are pulling together to try and encourage greater tourism AND greater local community involvement – but it’s done on quite a small basis as [1] it’s still early days and [2] they still have to protect their ‘value’ first.

On the brightside, prior to the 2nd bomb, Bali was set for its best ever year from tourism so there’s still a great desirability inherent in travellers to come to the place – however with places like Phuket, Saba and even Singapore and Vietnam – stepping up their destination offering, it is probably going to be harder than it was before.

If you have any ideas Stan, that would be fantastic – I love this place, the people, the spirit and it needs more people like you to help it stand proud again – because as I said, it deserves it more than most.

Comment by Rob

Swamped with research for new pitches…yes, almost there- a bit of a problem with typography and brand essence. How about you? In NY already?

Comment by Celeste

Yep … back on Saturday before China. It never bloody stops. Hope you are good.


Comment by Rob

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