Miscellaneous Ramblings by Tony Clegg Butt of Travel News – June 2013

Posted on June 4th, 2013
Categories: News

TCB

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 finalists, 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 flight 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 difficulty 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 officer and I’m up the escalator to the departure area.

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 flight 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 finally disembark, heading quickly to immigration – I know all the short cuts and get there first. The flight 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 first? Even before the hallowed Premium class passengers. It’s the crew’s baggage, which is then heaped in a pile on the floor, making room for the baggage of all of us mere mortals.

The crew are nowhere in sight as I exit – well, I try to exit. So, why does their baggage come off first? 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 Officer 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.”

I did. 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 finalists, 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 flight 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 difficulty 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 officer and I’m up the escalator to the departure area.

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 flight 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 finally disembark, heading quickly to immigration – I know all the short cuts and get there first. The flight 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 first? Even before the hallowed Premium class passengers. It’s the crew’s baggage, which is then heaped in a pile on the floor, making room for the baggage of all of us mere mortals.

The crew are nowhere in sight as I exit – well, I try to exit. So, why does their baggage come off first? 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 Officer 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.”

I did. 

To read this months Travel News online click on the magazine cover.  TN June