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Nomads on the Road - Phil's Balinese Weekend

INDONESIA | Tuesday, 20 March 2012 | Views [2727]

Phil Sylvester is the Senior Producer of Travel Safety at World Nomads (aka, Travel Safety Guru) and recently returned from (un)adventures on the road.

Where did you go?

I went, unadventurously, to Bali. But it was the company I was keeping which was more important than the destination.

A group of 6 of us, all males, who’ve been friends since we met 20+ years ago. We’re now scattered across the globe from New York to London, Sydney and some still in Perth. We’ve done a reasonable job at re-populating the planet, with 14 children between us – however none of them were invited on this trip. This was a reasonably central, and likeable, place to meet.

Best cultural experience?

Is golf a cultural experience, probably not. Truly, the most rewarding aspect of the trip was that each of us was determined to eat good local food. No ‘tourist menu’ or bains marie allowed. 

Since my first visit to Bali in 1979 the local cuisine has come a long way. It’s still possible to find mis-spelt staples such as ‘pushed eggs’ and ‘japples’, but we eschewed them for traditional Indonesian dishes. There was a particularly delicious nasi campur (tasting plate) which, like my drive on the 7th tee, will get me coming back for more.

3 Tips for travellers?

There’s always some new challenge on every trip. I was in Bali for just 4 days, but at immigration on the way home I was informed there was a problem,  I’d overstayed my visa!

The immigration officer had stamped my visa-on-arrival 1 November instead of 1 December, so it appeared I’d been in Indonesia for 34 days. Fortunately I also had the receipt from the visa fee – with the correct entry date. 

Tip #1: keep all your receipts.

It used to be that a rented motorscooter would whiz you from your lodgings to the beach and back in a flash. Kuta/Legian is in permanent gridlock these days.

Tip #2: hire a taxi, at least it’s air conditioned.

Haggling over the price is mandatory in Bali, but don’t overdo it. I reached an impasse with one trader, we were a few thousand rupiah apart…. Until he said “It’s only a dollar, mate!” Quite right, here you go.

Tip #3: have a sense of proportion (and also of humour).

What was the highlight of your trip?

Two highlights.

Rediscovering the beauty of Bali away from the tourist traps. It’s good to be reminded why the island has its reputation as a serene retreat. 

Rediscovering old friends. It’s good to be reminded why we all became mates so many years ago. They’re still the funniest bunch of blokes I know.

What makes me a Nomad?

OK you’ve seen the Arnhemland video and you know I’m a mussels wimp, but at least I had a go! Wherever you travel, even to familiar territory such as Bali, if you’re willing to try something new, willing to engage and explore – you’re a nomad.

Related articles

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going to Indonesia

A Taste of Indonesia - Surbai

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Tags: bali, nomads on the road, travel safety

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