Just a few quick paras to assert that while on and off there has been bad press abt Bali (two bombing events), Bali remains good, if not better.
While it might be quite alarming for people in Singapore, used to our settled and certain ways of life, to hear of a bomb going off and masses of people killed, long-time residents of Bali, including those with Singaporean passports, are pretty cool abt it all.
I remember when the first bombs went off in 2002, and hearing about it on the radio, I immediately called someone I knew who lived in Seminyak, using Bali as a source for tourist memoribilia which she supplies to super-lux hotels around the region.
Yes, some bombs went off, she confirmed, calm and collected, adding that when she heard the far-off explosions, she asked her maid to go to the top of the road to find out what caused them.
Later, when she had more news she called me back to inform that an Italian restaurant to which she had taken me for dinner when I last visited was among those hit.
Later still, I heard that the mother of Hu Bar’s owner actually flew out from Singapore to Bali the very day after the bomb blast to lend her son a hand, in case Balinese staff upset by the tragedy were not reporting for work in full strength.
It is against the backdrop of such calmness that I faced the 2nd lot of bombing in 2005, coming as it did within a few weeks of my return from a holiday on that island.
Indeed, the bombs went off around Matahari supermarket and its immediate neighbourhood which invoked a sort of frisson in me, as no trip to Bali was ever complete for me without a recce thru the supermarket.
I buy my best Balinese coffee and snacks from the supermarket and also all the gift-souvenirs (which people at home expect holiday makers to bring back) in good condition and at great prices (without having to bargain till I’m breathless or lose my perspective of what’s value and what is a must-have because it’s so incredibly cheap!)
Immediately in front of Matahari are vendors of copy watches who sell the products with such panache that they insist every customer signs the receipt recording the purchase, even though all transactions are in cash. I like their temerity and am a regular sucker for the 30-50,000 rp copies.
And after a satisfying haul, my regular travel companions n I wld retire to the cafes just a few doors away to dine in style but at reasonable prices. It’s a grim reminder that one of those were hit by the 2nd bomb.
Yet, at no time did we feel “there but for the etc go I”.. Instead, our very next trip saw us back at Matahari again, because besides the shopping we wanted to see for ourselves what had happened.
It was not an attempt at desensitisaton but to see for ourselves there was nothing to be afraid of. Yes, bombs did go off in Bali. But there’s no reason to avoid it and so miss all the rich experiences it has to offer… and still replete with new discovery despite more than a dozen visits… but I don’t mean this
… this is what we go to Bali for…