1. Be alert.
The moment I was at the airport, my radars were up.
I kept thinking about people taking advantage of other people at the airport.
People putting prohibited stuff at other passenger’s bags.
2. Don’t trust anybody.
When a person sat beside me, I was on red alert already.
Especially when that person tried to engage me in a conversation.
At the airplane, I was more relaxed.
3. Know where you are going.
I memorized the address of the hotel I booked.
I didn’t write it. I thought that I might appear vulnerable if I had a piece of paper with the address on it.
4. Ask prices and compare.
Upon reaching the Denpasar airport in Bali, Indonesia, the first thing I did was to exchange currency.
I compared the rates of two money changers then selected the one which offered higher rate.
There were people asking if I needed a taxi. I asked first the staff on two different tables then I compared the price.
5. Don’t lose your cool if you are not understood.
At the hotel, I showed the receptionist my proof of payment.
The room was not ready yet.
I wanted though to just leave my bags because I was late for the conference.
The lady did not understand me.
I tried again with matching hand gestures. She got what I was trying to say.
6. Don’t lose hope.
I booked that room because it was supposed to be 5 minutes away from the venue of the conference.
I asked the receptionist which way I needed to go to reach the place.
She tried to explain. I didn’t understand. She summoned another staff. The guy explained, pointed directions and gave me a map.
7. Take pictures to familiarize yourself with the place.
I took pictures of the landmarks of the place I stayed.
Even buildings I passed by. And the stalls of the vendors on the street.
The pictures helped me found my way back to the hotel.
I didn’t want to take a taxi. I wanted to look around the place.
8. Do not just go touring the place with strangers.
There were more than 10 participants in the conference. We were from different countries.
After the session on the first day, I overheard one participant joked with the others saying “what happens in Bali, stays in Bali.”
9. If you are picky with food, ask what is being served before you eat.
On our second day lunch time, we were served a delicious meal. One participant said “this chicken is delicious, it’s crispy I love it.”
The organizer of the conference and a lady participant looked at each other then they told the guy, “it’s a duck meat, not a chicken.”
10. Respect their culture.
I have noticed that in the market and also along the streets, they have a small basin with different stuff in it.
The vendors burned them and directed the smoke at the entrance of their businesses.
I asked the locals about it, they said it’s for good luck.
They hang dried leaves on their vehicles.
They believe it’s for a safe journey.
11. Before shopping ask advise from the hotel about prices and the best place to buy souvenir.
There were places more expensive than others.
If you have a list of items to buy and you do not have much time to go around, ask where you can find them.
11. Be patient but respectful in haggling at the marketplace.
I wanted to buy something for my girls and my friends.
I already knew that the vendors give the buyers a price which is times two of the real price.
I bargained for lower prices.
12. Appreciate the beauty of the country and enjoy.
After the conference the organizers asked the participants if we wanted to go around Bali.
They rented a van which took us to the scenic places.
We watched a play.
We visited a coffee plantation.
It was even raining in that afternoon.
We tasted different kinds of coffee.
We went to a wood carving shop.
The Balinese wood carvers are artistic.
We had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the volcano.
We passed by their rice terraces.
Bali has many attractions. The people were respectful and helpful.
I survived my first three days alone in a foreign country.