Aug 30, 2017

ASEAN 2017 Part One: Bali

This is part one of five. For the other sections, see Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Vietnam. As of August 30, I am adding the links as the posts go up. Thank you for your patience.

This summer, I took an internship in Bangkok through the MIT Action Learning program. Our team, one of three Action Learning teams in Bangkok, comprised three MIT students and three students from Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration at Chulalongkorn University. I had an amazing summer and I feel extremely #blessed that MIT offers this program. I am grateful to Sasin for hosting us, and to my Sasin teammates for being such welcoming and fun coworkers.
As per my standard travel operating procedure, I’ve written a blog post to collect my photos and restaurant and tourist site recommendations. Since there is just so much information, I broke it down into five (FIVE!) separate posts. You can find them here: Bali, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Vietnam. (I am adding the links as the posts go up. Thank you for your patience.)

Sasin’s mission is “to provide graduate management study and opportunities for lifelong learning of the highest order of academic excellence, business relevance, and social significance, emphasizing knowledge creation and the practice of management, with an ASEAN perspective.” ASEAN does not stand for "Awesome Southeast Asian Nations," despite my hopes and dreams. Instead, ASEAN refers to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Twelve countries are represented by ASEAN, and I visited four of them, plus Hong Kong.

For clarity, I grouped the sites I visited by country, rather than in chronological order. My actual itinerary was Bali > Bangkok > Cambodia > Bangkok > Phuket > Bangkok > Hong Kong > Koh Samui > Koh Tao > Koh Pha Ngan > Vietnam. While even the budget airlines in Asia serve food and provide a “refreshing towel” to each customer, I found the best service flying Bangkok Air, which had meals themed based on your destination, and also EVA. I feel a little weird about EVA because all their flight attendants are women, and I read online that they make them try out in a bikini in order to pick the most “attractive” women. Barf. Oh, I also stopped in the Taipei airport TWICE, which was excellent. They have themed lounges, like “Music of Taiwan,” “History of the Taiwanese Post,” and “Hello Kitty!” They have plenty of bubble tea, too – very refreshing for long layovers.

Bali
It took me an hour to get the bottom border on this slideshow to work. Bow down to the CSS queen!

President Obama was in Bali at the same time as I was! I didn't see him, unfortunately, but my chatty cab driver was very excited about it. President Obama's tour of southeast Asia overlapped with a lot of places I visited, and people were very proud to tell me what sights and restaurants he visited. To get to resorts from the airport, you can either take a cab or a bus. The cab situation is pretty overwhelming -- so much yelling! -- but I took my time exchanging money and researching cab companies online once I landed. I had to haggle a lot -- I think I got my taxi from 400,000 rupiah down to 250,000? I can't remember exactly.

I stopped in Bali as a way to get over my jet lag, but I slept so little that I don't think it really worked. My two friends and I stayed in Legian/Seminyak, at the Sing Ken Ken Lifestyle Boutique Hotel. Bali offers a huge resort area, so it was easy to find restaurants and tourist activities. I really liked La Favela, so much that we went there two nights, and La Laguna. We also tried Potato Head, which is a cool beach club (and clothing brand?) with an infinity pool looking out over the ocean. However, we went too late at night, and it was empty, save for a few honeymooners. We later learned that sunset is the most popular time to go.

At one point (okay, at two points), I got stuck at a villa that was inaccessible by cab late at night. Uber is illegal in Bali, and the local authorities and taxi drivers are putting up a good fight against it. While we used Uber, it tended to be slow and we got the same few drivers repeatedly. I didn't have a SIM card at the time, but it probably wouldn't have helped much. If someone asks you to go to a party at a villa in Bali, don't go! Stay in crowded areas where it is easy to find a taxi.