Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Weekends

The last few weeks we experienced a bit what our ‘normal’ Balinese weeks are looking like. Iris going to Ubud for 3 days a week and I’m working at the hotel from Monday till Friday. So the weekends are the most existing times and they are great ☺

1t/m4 October, Lovina
Because I arranged an early shift for Friday and a late shift for Monday, we could go away for a long weekend and had planned a trip to Lovina. Together on 1 scooter with a big bag we set of for Lovina around 4.30pm and expected the drive to be around 2-2½hours. Only after a half an hour we got a flat tire, luckily we were at a spot where immediately a Balinese could help us directly and after 20-30min. we where back on the road (cost only Rp10.000, less than €1). Another half hour later it started raining like crazy, so it was raincoats on and driving slowly. When the rain finally stopped it started to get dark and we did not inspect the route properly because we where heading towards the mountains. With half wet clothes it was very cold and it was very dark in the mountains. From what we had heard later it was not so smart of us to drive in the mountains while it is dark as a tourist and not knowing the road, because if you have a flat tire up there there’s nobody to help and there can be a unsafe area in the dark with animals and sometimes aggressive citizens against tourist.

After more than 3 hours we finally arrived in Lovina and had a nice beer in the small town. We booked hotel Angsoka ( see here our review on TripAdvisor) for only Rp125.000 a night (around €10). It was a basic hotel with a lovely pool. The weekend was supposed to be a super relaxed one and it was. We got to know some nice people and went out to diner with them twice. Furthermore we chilled and we chilled some more. On the way back we visited the temple Danau Bratan, which is one of the most photographed temples of Bali.

8-10 October
This weekend we stayed in Seminyak, tried our surfboard witch we just had bought and chilled a lot at the beach. We had some nice lunches and diners in the area and we had our first evening walk at the beach (Iris feet is finally on the better hand). I relist my head from my already too long hair and that felt great.

15-17 October (Sanur)
This weekend, on Sunday, we had to move to the villa and say goodbye to, what we already feel is our house. We could not go away for the whole weekend, so we went to Sanur witch is only a half an hour drive. The beaches in Sanur are great and the water is slow and clear compared to the big breaks in Seminyak. We had a very relaxing day and rented sunbeds at the beach from a hotel so we could also use their swimming pool ☺. In the morning we had booked a restaurant, because of their good reviews on TripAdvisor. We wanted to try a somewhat ‘chique’ restaurant for reasonable prices and this was the first ranked for Sanur. The restaurant was totally worth is, we both loved the food, the setting, the staff and the atmosphere ( our review on TripAdvisor). For less than €15 p.p. we eat at what we think was a almost star levelled restaurant.

22-24 October
This weekend we stayed at home as well. We wanted to see more of the area around the villa were we now live and we where also invited to go to a wedding of a colleague of mine. The Saturday started not good with bad weather, but in the afternoon we went to the beach anyway and stayed at a lovely Warung, with sunbeds and cheap food and drinks. In the late afternoon we headed back home to make ourselves ready for the wedding. We where doubting to go to the wedding, because I hardly knew this colleague but my other colleagues luckily convinced us. Unfortunately the weather was very bad at the wedding and it was raining a lot and hard. It was a Christian wedding with typical Balinese traditions and goood food, we had a nice time, especially with my colleagues. The wedding couple was dressed up very beautifully and so where their parents and a lot of other guests (mostly family). This wedding was nothing like we know in Norway/The Netherlands, but also for my colleagues this was an uncommon wedding, because there are hardly any Christians on Bali. The wedding couple was sitting on a kind of podium together with their parents and there where performances of family members. The rest was sitting in front of the podium and could enjoy the food and entertainment. We soon of course hope to experience a ‘real’ Balinese Hindu wedding.

Monday, October 11, 2010


To tell you a little about my volunteership.

At Sjaki-tari-us I am getting to know everybody better and it’s especially really fun to get to know the children and teenagers better. I’ve been asked to help out with a new project for the teenagers, were they are learning more about personal hygiene. They will learn to dress properly and clean, wash hands and face, brush teeth and knowing when they are presentable and why this is important. Some of them are going to work in the Warung of the foundation, helping in the kitchen or serving guests. They will learn why it’s important to be clean and look nice in a job like that or other jobs they may be able to do. Further I will be talking to tourists and other people who are coming by the foundation to look or eat in the Warung, to give them information and make people interested in the foundation. I am also looking in the first aid kit there and I will try to make it better and maybe prepare a sort of workshop so they are more prepared if something happens with the children or somebody else. I’m now going to Ubud Monday-Wednesday to guide and help with the personal hygiene project. For the rest help were it’s needed.

Sjaki-Tari-Us is a foundation started in 2006. The purpose is to support, counsel and accompany children with a mental disability in their development and participation to society. Right now there are around 27 children divided in 4 different classes, each coming 2 or 3 times a week from 9.00 to 12.00. The children are aged from 5 to 10 years old. In the afternoon from Monday to Thursday the teenagers are coming and have classes and activities. There are now 8 teenagers at Sjaki, age 14 - 24. Furthermore there is a Warung were tourists and people coming by can have a drink or lunch/dinner. And there is a shop with different items witch mostly are made by the teenagers, the goal is that all the things sold in the shop is made/partly made by them.

All volunteers are having guiding and coaching positions, all the direct work with the children and teenagers is done by the Balinese guru’s (teachers) and their assistants. In the Warung also just Balinese people are working. The goal is also that Sjaki-Tari-Us in a couple of years is functioning independently on a Balinese team without the help from volunteers. For more info see

The children and teenagers are coming from all kinds of families and they have different levels of mental disabilities. Some have Down syndrome or autism but others have no clear diagnose and are just late in their development, have no language or have concentration problems. It’s such a different system here then back home and in other developed countries. First of all it is a shame to get a disabled child and a family is not offered any kind of help. There are schools for children with problems, but there they have to pass a test and still be above a certain IQ level, so these children have no offers at all. Many of them have also been neglected by their parents and family, just put in a room and not having any kind of stimulation and in isolation from the outside world. One girl in the teenage group had her first meeting with the world outside when she came to Sjaki… that's pretty heavy to see. When I started there was also a new 18 year old boy starting for the first time, he came with his parents. He is autistic and he will do very well in the group and it will be very good for him. He’s father was so touched and moved by the way his son was treated and approached by us. He wasn't used to this at all and clearly relieved to have found the Sjaki. He showed his arms, full of bite and scratch marks, from his son’s behaviour for many years. Now he doesn't do it anymore. We asked him why he thinks it doesn't happen anymore, he answered that for 15 years he struggled and didn't accept the situation and the disability of his son. Then he changed one day and started to accept him as he is and try to give him love, and now he’s not biting anymore… How beautiful is that??? If all the parent could learn this. Even though his family, his other son and all people around them still are afraid of his son and wont accept him, he and his wife finally are. A sunshine story to be inspired of. We hope he can be a recourse in the parent committee later and help or inspire other parents.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Honeymoonface ;-)

How easy or how fast does a person adapt and get used to a new culture, new habits and routines? Of course very individually I guess. Now after 3 weeks we are sleeping without AC (supposed to be better for you..), we drink room-tempered water and we drive on the left side of the road on our scooters like we never did anything else. We for sure still are tourists and we very much still are spoiled western kids, but settling down and getting used so far is easier and faster then I had expected. But according to the faces of the typical culture shock we are still in the “honeymoonface”…. So maybe the shock has still to come ;-) Finally our body’s are at least accepting the climate a bit, so that’s good, the mosquito’s are eating me alive and Rino almost not at all, but hey that was no surprise, so I am (almost) not complaining ;-)

This week we had our first taste of what our daily life probably is going to be like the next months. I was going to Sjaki-tari-us 3 days and Rino worked off course. It’s okay to go to Ubud with the scooter, but I got really tired of the roads I’m driving right now. It’s far too much traffic and old, stinky trucks with too much exhaust. I know from locals at the foundation that there are much nicer routes on smaller roads and less traffic and more rice fields, sounds nice J But the road signing here is not always there and roads often have different names, so you can not always trust what the map tells you. But I think I will give it a chance next week. Otherwise I will be totally poisoned by pollution before I leave Bali. The driving itself goes really good, I and we both are totally used to the way they drive here. Use the horn to tell people in front of you that you pass, stay left when you are not passing others, use every centimetre and pass cars on both sides when you can when cars standstill ;-) and be aware of those passing you! And don't ever think you blend in, even with a covering helmet and sunglasses, everybody stares when I stop for red light, they always think its funny with a white person on a scooter I guess.

The weekends are our sacred time together, and we are going to try to go away on trips every other weekend and stay home the other weekend, go to the beach here, surf and relax. Last weekend we went to Lovina in north Bali and this weekend we stayed home. At the moment we are really enjoying slow days at the beach, surf and read our books :-) Tomorrow we have to work again. Rino’s surfing skills are improving and he is getting better. I tried again today for the first time since the accident with my foot. It actually went really well, I am able to stand on the board and ride a small wave for some seconds…. Haha so we are getting there ;-)

My foot is now almost good again, I walk normal and I have no real pain, but still have one spot that hurts once in a while, so probably there is still something inside that needs patience…witch is hard, because I am tired of it now. Want to explore the neighbourhood, we already are. Walking sometimes instead of always taking the scooter.

Every night we still try to find a new Warung or restaurant to have our dinner. There are so many nice and cheap places so we probably still will try out new once for a while. Off course already found some favourites were we for sure will be frequent guests.

Pictures on this blog is a problem for us, we can upload about 5 pictures, but it is not easy and it seems like more then 5 is not possible… We appreciate tips from somebody of you who maybe knows more about and tips and tricks about it. Meanwhile we have pictures on our facebook accounts for those who have that.

I and we both will try to keep up the blog a little more frequently, now I want to write about 10 things in once ;-) Have a good Sunday everyone :-) And good night from Seminyak :-)

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Internship

Seminyak, October 4, 2010: 14.30

I have had my first 2 weeks at my internship at Puri Saron Hotel Seminyak. And it has been an interesting 2 weeks. The planning for my complete internship is that I will rotate between the departments. I’m now for 2 months in the Front Office (FO), then I will continue with Food & Beverage (F&B) service for 1½ month and 1½ month F&B kitchen, followed by 2 months housekeeping, two months accounting and lastly 1 month in Sales & Marketing (S&M). This is the planning now, but it might be adjusted along the road.

My first day was an introduction day with a tour through the hotel, introduction to colleagues and an introduction in the FO. The manager of the FO is very open about my stay and except to learn from me as I can learn from him. We agreed that it would be better if I first learn how the FO (and the hotel) is working, before I start with my management tasks. So we made a schedule for 3 weeks where I would work in each section of the FO: bellboy, operator, Guest Service Attended (GSA, meaning front desk employee) Guest Relations Officer (GRO, handles and is an extra services towards the guests) and reservations.

Now 2 of the 3 weeks are over and I know already a lot more about the hotel and the FO. I’ve learned how they work and how their systems work. On Bali every hotel works as well with a computer system as manually, this due to the instable electricity. This means a lot of extra work, but that is no problem because in every section is at least working 1 person too much, comparing it to western standards. With the result that there is a lot of times nothing to do and when there is nothing to do than I mean NOTHING to do and waiting. These times are good to get to know the colleagues, but I’m also very glad that 1 of the guests had left a Voetbal International (Dutch football magazine), which lies around in the back office☺.

The colleagues are nice, friendly and interested in me and why I’m staying so long. They know Stenden (my university), because Stenden has a campus on Bali as well, which offers International Hospitality Management (my education). Puri Saron is the learning company for the students of Stenden Bali. This means that students from Stenden Bali are doing practice at Puri Saron, like I have done in my first 3 years at Stenden University Hotel (the hotel connected to Stenden Leeuwarden). I often have to explain that I’m not coming from Stenden Bali, but from Stenden in The Netherlands and that there is a huge difference. Stenden Bali has just started and only has 4 students in the second year left (they started with 12 students) and around 8 in the first year.

The management of Puri Saron has not been very positive about the students of Stenden Bali until now. Most students where spoiled rich kids that never worked in their lives and where unwilling to work and to learn (luckily most of them have stopped now). Last Friday I had a meeting with the GM from Stenden Bali and she would like me to play a role between the 2 parties. The exact role has to be divined, but I will maybe start up procedures and manuals so that the students now what is expected from them and that they are graded accordingly. Soon I will visit Stenden Bali for an introduction over there and then there will come a meeting with the management and owner of Puri Saron, Stenden Bali and me.

The hotel itself
Puri Saron Hotel Seminyak is a self graded 4 star hotel with 100 rooms, divided over 59 deluxe rooms, 36 bungalows and 5 villa’s. Almost all the rooms are rented out through tour operators and their main market is Australia, on the second place comes The Netherlands. The hotel has a pool with pool bar, 2 restaurants, a spa, some meeting rooms (hardly used) and is connected to the beach. There are a lot of thinks that have to be improved before the hotel can really call itself a 4 star hotel. These aspects I hope to use for the business improvement plan that I have to write for my education.