Yes, some pictures are blurry! Life on the road is not easy … snap a picture while you can, careful not to fall down the pothole, careful not to get run over by a bike, watch out for stray dogs following you, don’t step into the rotting food on the pavements, don’t showcase your electronics too openly, don’t faint in the heat, don’t buy drinks from dodgy looking stalls & just use the dirty toilets because you are desperate. You get the picture? Now picture the scene, feel the heat, smell the incense & food and read a brief account of my adventure in Bali, Indonesia.
Arrived today 14th August and made our way to Sanur where we will be staying for next few days. Sanur is away from the tourists but close to import/export houses. Not the nicest place and certainly not what they show in travel magazines! Also, the statues of gods everywhere is, honestly, freaking me out.
15th August: In the taxi we went up and down Denpasar looking for handicrafts. Met a guy who has interesting vintage stuff, who then took us to a wholesaler. Problem is they can’t tell where the products are from. No way we can verify that fair trade principles have been followed. We had to extract ourselves from their company to carry on with our search.
I’ve noted that infrastructure here is bad. Where are the pavements? I guess no one’s suppose to be walking like we are.
Why have I not got mobile signal? Apparently I activated my Orange roaming but roaming doesn’t work here. Great.
Wifi? The hotel has wifi but you have to get to one corner of the room to get intermittent signal. I notice that my English friends are ever so efficient with emailing, texting, facebooking & tweeting me and wondering whether I have fallen off the face of the earth. My dear friends, I am still alive but this is the rhythm of life in a developing country. People aren’t so hooked on their phones. People don’t generally have smart phones.
16th August: One of the first organised visits today was to the production facility at the Natural Light Candle Company. We stock many of their luxury handcarved candles. It was a delight to meet Kelly Marciano, the creative mind behind the brand. Absolutely great to see such happy workers too. Below is a blurry picture of Ramona in their exhibition room. Kelly was reluctant to let us photograph the workers to protect their privacy.
18th August: We moved to Seminyak to be closer to producers in this area. Today we went up by taxi to locate a candle manufacturer we had found on the internet. So such luck. No such business existed! Here’s a warning to people ordering online from “factories” the other side of the world. This is why you have to do the legwork and meet your producers.
We met a lady entrepreneur with a huge collection of jewellery and bags. I was after bags but her bags were a bit old fashioned. She said she was moving into more jewellery anyway. We’re not doing jewellery. A good contact to have for the future.
19th August: We walked up and down Jalan Kerobokan looking for some exporters. Tired. Dirty. Fed up. Property numbers are not in any chronological order here. You just make up any number. No rhyme or reason. Found the exporters. No one spoke English or knew what was going on so we GAVE UP!
>21st August: We went up to Klungkung en route to Ubud to explore the region and find artisan producers. We found out from our hotel guy in Sanur about this wood production “factory” in Klungkung. We rolled up to a house to find a wood production facility inside run by Nyoman. We looked around his facility, verified his compliance to fair trade principles and thought his product range looked promising. It was a bizarre afternoon as Nyoman didn’t speak any English; only Indonesian and Japanese. Raphael resorted to speaking some Japanese (which he had learnt whilst living in Japan back in 1999) and Ramona resorted to using the Malay language which is similar to Indonesian. Between the two languages, they managed somehow to communicate. The taxi driver and Nyoman’s wife spoke English though … and so were our official translators. Phew!
Gianyar province: As promised we went to Gianyar to meet Made’s father who makes candles, bamboo candleholders and so on. Lovely family. Candles are our best-sellers but these are just not there in terms of quality. Will need product development. We worked with Made on some boxing ideas, colours, fragrances but I’m not sure he’ll be able to increase his standards. He can’t access good fragrances. We love essential oils and natural waxes but he’s been using paraffin and some cheap fragrance. Let’s see what we can do for the future.
22nd August: Ubud. Hmm…not so Eat Pray Love. The smell of incense is intoxicating. Lots of furniture factories en route. Note to self for the future.
23rd August: Down from Ubud and chanced upon the Fair Trade House in Sanur. It’s the official WFTO office in Bali. Why didn’t I think of this before!!! Got a list of WFTO producers from them. Only 2 in Bali…one up in Ubud. For now, my search for goods is over. I am exhausted and fed up of traffic. If I sit in another taxi on another bumpy ride with more horning left right and centre I am going to scream!
Just take me to Nusa Dua for our weekend holiday. The Westin here we come!
23rd – 26th August: Holiday at the Westin, Nusa Dua. Luxury. Luxury. Luxury. Spa treatments at a nearby town, lazing on the beautiful sun loungers, swimming in a gorgeous pool, eating fantastic food. We really needed this after 10 days of relentless product sourcing.
27th August: Back to the UK. Arrived at Heathrow, drove to Luton to wait for arrival of our children back from Switzerland. They’ve been there all Summer. That’s the only way we can get away to our overseas producers.
Bye to our Indonesian friends. Now the work begins to sift through what we found and work towards next year’s range.
1st April 2014: The official launch of the Eko range of wooden kitchenware from Nyoman’s facility in Klungkung.