Pringga’s Grill Restaurant, Ubud: Terrible Service and Inverted Racism

The night was still young. Although my sis, my brother-in-law and I were not about to party all night long till the morning light, we were not ready to sleep like a baby at 8 pm either. After all, night life in Bali is something everyone should experience, at least once.

The intensity of crowds at night in Ubud is much less than that in Legian, including the main street of Monkey Forest. Ubud is more famous for art galleries, artsy stores, yoga centers, and the Monkey Forest itself, than pubs and discotheques. As these places are closed at night, the whole street looks partially dark.

pringga's ubud bali
dining rooms

Nonetheless, no worries. Walk further, passing all the (closed) stores, and the more vivid part of the street appears, thanks to the lighting from hotels, hostels, restaurants, pubs and mini markets, including Pondok Pundi Village Inn where we stayed.

pringga's ubud bali
the bar

Within 5 minutes walking distance from the inn, we finally found a very cozy place and not too crowded to hang out: Pringga’s Grill Ubud.

The open air space, homey feeling and traditional atmosphere, enhanced by barong statues, engravings and Balinese gamelan music background, managed to drag us to sit on one of their big sofas to get lazy and have some booze despite the emphasis of “grill” in the name of this cafe restaurant.

fibra ubud bali
to the bungalow entrance

My brother in-law ordered a glass of cocktail for himself (I forget what he had), while my sis and I got a grenadine-based cocktail for sharing. My sis is not a huge fan of cocktails, after all, but wanted to have some zips of sweetness.

fibra garden hotel ubud

At a glance, I noticed something pretty behind Pringga’s Grill, especially the building is adjacent with Wibawa Spa and Fibra Inn Bungalow, a Balinese Garden Hotel. While waiting for the drinks, I took a self-walking tour to the hotel and spa area.

hindu shrine ubud
shrines

ubud bali

Balinese traditional house is clearly the main inspiration of the property, something that I found beautiful and serene. The use of secluded building to separate one room to another is one of the signature styles of Balinese houses because of the application of Hindu dharma principle, where objects must be properly located, aligned with the universe to create harmony.

fibra ubud bali

 

Probably, it is formerly a family residence transformed into a business area. I noticed several additional rooms in modern architecture. Besides, I believe that Pringga’s Grill was built later to cater the needs of guests and maximize the potential to earn more.

fibra ubud bali
the pond

Anyways, this was a great place to kill the time before my drink arrived.

Returning to our seat 15 minutes later, the cocktails had not arrived yet. I was expecting they would be on the table by the time I got back.

fibra hotel ubud bali

I looked at our surroundings. It wasn’t a very busy day. The occupation of seats were less than half of the room. If our orders were grilled food, I could understand that it may take longer. But for heaven’s sake, ours were just 2 glasses of cocktails!

We all agreed that something was not right and called the staff to remind that our orders were still pending after a while. She nodded and walked to the bar area.

ubud bali

Another 10 minutes went by. My sister noticed that those who were served first were foreigners, that happened to have Caucasian look. The only local guests in the room was my sister and I. My brother-in-law is not even an Indonesian, but a Chinese-Fijian nationality. However, as he joined us, he looked just like any Chinese-Indonesian people.

I felt the same. I observed approximately 4 small groups of (Caucasian-look) guests arriving later than us and they all got their drinks first.

We could have scolded the staffs or left our spot without their knowledge. But we came to this place to relax, not to argue and lecture them about service excellence. We called the staff once again, asking for our drinks.

They finally arrived, nearly 40 minutes the orders were made. Great. First come, last served!

There was no problem about the taste of the cocktails. The grenadine cocktail was a bit too sweet, but it was still okay and enjoyable.

ubud bali

Well, I believe that the real issue behind the terribly slow service was not about operational mismanagement. Blame it on inverted racism attitude or valuing other races more than your own (www.urbandictionary.com).

Unfortunately, there are some Indonesian people who still consider that foreigners (Caucasian-look people so-called bule, to be exact) have higher social status than locals (Indonesians). Literally means “pale”, bule, is an Indonesian slang for fair-skinned people.

Since the bules tend to spend more freely when they come to Indonesia, they look rich. So, these inverted racists have a stereotype that “all” bules are rich. And spendy.

I mean no offense about this. But in fact, not all bules are rich for real in their hometown, although some of them are. They generally become rich by conversion rate. Say, they can get more stuffs in Indonesia for $50 (about Rp. 400.000) than in their own country. So, they take a chance to be splendor travellers while visiting cheaper countries (by currency), which is something normal to do.

On the other hand, not all locals are poor. And not all of then are rich either. These inverted racists, who undoubtedly are narrow-minded, are not able or refuse to see this.

No one should judge the book by its cover. All guests deserve an equally good service regardless social status, outlook, skin colour, religion etc. As you have heard before: customers are kings. Customers are the real boss of your business.

First come, first served!

I actually don’t care what the staffs thought about us, but service discrimination is totally unacceptable. I was am totally pissed off about it until now. And there’s no way I will return to that place again, ever!

Nonetheless, deep inside my heart, I feel sorry for them. They don’t only look down their own people, but also themselves. It gradually crushes their self-esteem and that’s pathetic.

It’s been 2 years and I hope that this inverted racism is no longer part of the company culture. Especially a new chapter of life has begun, marked by the arrival of year 2017.

I wish you all brighter days this year. Happy new year 2017!

 

 

 

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Yellow.”sunflower in bali

Can’t believe I found a sunflower in Bali. Bali it’s not just about beaches and palm trees, after all. Got that?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

Who’s the Real Object?

no pictures, please!

Is he posing for Aqua, the famous Indonesian mineral water brand, or he’s protecting himself from “paparazzi?” No matter what he’s doing, I ask him once more to face the camera and smile. Let’s try this in a different location. May be he’s more comfortable and finally will make up his mind.

And here’s the result……

again, no pictures, please!

He insists on hiding his face with the Aqua bottle. I give up. He’s too shy for the camera.

The Aqua bottle wins. It’s the real object. Full stop.

Gods Bless Us Everyday and Everywhere

No matter where you go in Bali, I believe you notice the presence of woven trays filled with shredded leaves, colourful flowers, a pinch of rice and some man-made delicacies, such as a Mentos candy and mini Ritz biscuits, or even a cigarette stick and coins.

The artistic home decoration look-alike demonstrates the simplest and the most staple way of Balinese Hindu people to thank God, or Sang Hyang Widhi, by creating a daily offering called canang sari. The word canang sari derives from ca means beautiful, nang means aim, and sari means essence. In other words, an offering should be created aesthetically with full of sincerity and attention to details.

I am particularly interested in chronological aspects of canang sari, from weaving the trays, placing the offering until what happens next after being abandoned in public. Its contents and locations presented indicate the recent adaptation of an ancient faith practice.

After several visits, I finally succeeded gathering series of canang sari images in several places all over the island.

WEAVING TRAYS

Weaving, Ubud

Square trays symbolize the power of moon, made of woven young coconut leaf called janur. Due to the extremely wide use of coconut leaf in the offerings, Bali needs more supply from Java island to keep the tradition alive. Some local women are dedicated to create the trays. Unless you have time for this, fear not. There are suppliers providing ready-made ones, whose clients include major hotels and resorts.

PLACING OFFERINGS

Daily Dose, Ubud

Although it’s called a daily offering, you may hear different opinions about how often it is presented. An official from Pertiwi Resort, with whom I spoke, said that placing an offering once a day is enough. However, some intense devotees place it three times a day, while on the other hand some non-intense ones only do it once to three times a week. Is it a matter of a different interpretation of the word “daily”?

Say It with a Prayer, Ubud

The main contents of the tray are pink, yellow, red, purple, blue flowers, shredded pandan leaves, coins and some home cooking food purposely set aside for the offering. Pink flower is heading to the east, blue or purple to the north, yellow to the west, and red to the south.

Unless you have time for this? Make time! Filling the tray themselves is a symbol of sacrifice. No catering service to replace the activity, unfortunately!

Bless Our Home, Tenganan Village

Balinese Hindu people place the offerings in temples, shrines, in front of the entrance door, stairs, on top of store merchandise, cash desk and everywhere else where they need protection, safety, prosperity and blessings.

Have A Smoke, Legian

“What’s the cigarette for? Is it part of the offering?” I asked.

The lady from a store in Legian replied, “Well, most of the spirits here are old people who like smoking. So yeah, we give them cigarettes.”

Safe Ride, Ubud

For More Fortune and Prosperity, Tegallalang Village

Tegallalang Village is famous for the rice terrace field blessed with splendid beauty and fertility, attracting millions of tourists every year. Local government reinforces business owners to cover metal-roofed restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops with hay to retain traditional atmosphere. Nonetheless, the hay seem to have a bit too short supply to obey the rule….

To Bless a Man at Work, Tenganan Village

“Which one do you praise?”, A Restaurant across Krisna Souvenir Shop

I’m not sure what’s going on with this one. Is the owner a Buddhist doing a Hindu ritual?

Starbucks Goes Traditional, Ngurah Rai Airport

“It is a matter of time for KFC’s fried chicken, McDonald’s burger, and Coca-Cola to be part of the offering to Gods.”(Kompas, April 28, 2013)

Sounds so true to me. Starbucks presents a cup of espresso and a piece of espresso brownie to replace rice. It doesn’t serve rice anyway, does it?

Rice Colouring, Menega Seafood Restaurant, Jimbaran

Besides canang sari, there are colourful rice offerings called segehan, as a symbol of strength and unity. White rice to the east, red rice to the south, yellow to the west, and black rice to the north. Only natural food colouring is allowed, while artificial colouring signifies deception.

AFTER A WHILE….

Scattered, Sanur Beach

No one can guarantee that the offerings remain intact after being left unattended. Kicking or stepping on the trays is a sign of disrespect. However, I admit that it’s pretty hard to remind them not to do so as they are often in the middle of pedestrian areas. Offering destruction is acceptable when natural causes occur, such as wind, animal occupations, and many more.

Great Spot for Nesting, Segarra Resort, Sanur

Yummy, Tenganan Village

The Treat, Tenganan Village

Would End Up This Way Eventually, Tegallalang Village

I hope Bali will remain home for the Gods and their worshipers will never stop praising their Gods, regardless modern exposure from floods of tourists and investors from time to time. But some say modernity and foreign influence actually unite Balinese people to maintain their rituals to lure their visitors worldwide.

I certainly hope so…..

Weekly Photo Challenge: In The Background

fishing in Kutuh Village offshore, Bali

Taken from Timbis Hill, Bali, about 800 metres above sea level, deep blue sea withdraws the attention from the initial subject: Kutuh Village people fishing in a seaweed plantation site. The offshore holds one of the biggest seaweed exporters in Bali to China, giving more prosperity of its inhabitants. It’s up to the eyes of the beholders how to interpret the message or from which angle they view the  image: the sea, the “dots” (people) in the coastline, the green-brown thing (seaweed) situated before the sea, or the calm wave.

Bali Less Visited

Bali, nicknamed the island of Gods, is one of the islands in the world that could beat the fame of the country where it is located. Flood of foreigners all year long is no strange for a very popular destination like Bali.

Last year, my parents, their old friends and I headed to north Bali that took 3 hours starting from Ngurah Rai International Airport. We visited Bedugul, Lovina, Pemuteran until West Bali National Park, including small villages along the way. Our trip was only 2 nights, the time was tight and it wasn’t really a weekend break. The purpose of the trip: 80% villas and inhabited land observation, 20% leisure.

QUIETLY FAMOUS

Since the only international airport (Ngurah Rai) and more well-known areas namely Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, Ubud and Uluwatu are in south Bali, the north seems less exposed. But don’t get me wrong. This is not the story about terra incognita or the discovery of a new land like Columbus discovered America.

                                                                    The first stop: Lake Buyan, Bedugul

There were not many people on street regardless high season. Are these places dead for business? On the contrary. Unless one of us made a reservation, we wouldn’t get any room to stay. In fact, the north has been the top destination for snorkeling, diving and watching dolphins at dawn. Beaches are more quiet despite tourist occupancy, a perfect place for total retreat from daily stress at work, since they do anything but getting drunk and make loud noises. Unlike the south, the sea is more crowded than the street during the day in the north. Most visitors are families, young and retired couples. I believe groups of adolescents prefer going to the south for more places to hang out.

DINING EXPERIENCE

Forget about Hard Rock Café, high-end shopping street like Seminyak, night clubs, rows of souvenir shops, world-class rock concerts and so on. I didn’t see any, not even McDonald’s and KFC. Eating out is only possible either inside the hotels, resorts or at warungs (traditional small shops selling food, drinks and daily necessities) along the street. No wonder why tourists prefer being under the sea and on the beach unless they search for food or groceries.

The best dining experience was at May Mena warung, a small eatery having 3 dining tables that could not accommodate more than 20 guests. My father’s friend has been a regular customer of the warung and knows the owner pretty well. The menu listed on its poster was very limited. He ordered all dishes not listed on the menu, from pork saté, pork with sweet soy sauce, sautéed morning-glory, roasted peanuts until grilled fish. It felt as if we had a personal chef coming to our house, cooking for us. Last but not least, the watermelon was the best dessert ever! Very juicy and sweet!

She had bought the fish the day before to cook for the next afternoon. The biggest fish I’ve ever ate!

PICTURESQUE ACCOMMODATIONS

Breathtaking view of mountains, mangrove forest, beaches, clear blue sky and water are the some of the most crucial selling points of these magnificent world-class villas and resorts apart from luxurious rooms, excellent facilities and hospitality to spoil their guests to the max. These are some resorts and villas we managed to visit in the neighbourhood of Pemuteran Village and West Bali National Park.

ANEKA LOVINA VILLAS & SPA

We stayed at Aneka Lovina Villas & Spa. Compared to other luxurious villas and resorts available, it is relatively affordable with direct access to Lovina beach. The rooms supposed to be better, but we only got the leftovers since their best rooms were fully booked.

Aneka Bagus Lovina Garden

mangrove trees, the trees you won’t see on beaches in south Bali

Lovina beach behind the villas

MENJANGAN RESORT

Menjangan Resort is in the middle of West Bali National Park where it’s not supposed to be any properties allowed to build. Nonetheless, when money is power and the owner is rich, coming from a powerful family background like Tommy Soeharto, the youngest son of the former late President Soeharto, the story turns otherwise. It provides facilities that other resorts might not have, such as helipad and a double-decker minibus that can take you to the wildlife. Due to limited time, we only visited Bali Tower Restaurant to view the skyline of the national park and the ocean facing East Java by going up to the top floor of its wooden tower.

Facing East Java

Staircase to skyline

GAWANA NOVUS RESORT & SPA

Even drinking coconut water (the welcome drink) at Gawana Novus Resort and Spa could be an unforgettable experience while viewing the beauty of nature in front of you!

View of mountain and mangrove forest. The sea is calmer and no wave at all.

swimming pool with sea view

JEDA VILLA

Definitely, the owner of Jeda Villa is Dutch. It explains why Dutch language is in a language options on its website. I mean, French, German and Spanish are more common than Dutch, aren’t they?

THEY ARE AHEAD OF US!

As an Indonesian, It was surprising to find out that the only Indonesian people we met were those working in tourist attractions, hotels, local village people and our driver. Hotel officials greeted us in English as they didn’t expect to meet local tourists staying in their place. While having breakfast and dinner at the hotel, I only could hear ourselves speaking Indonesian. The rest spoke French, English, Spanish and other foreign languages. And who were on the beach? Local fishermen, local vendors and foreign visitors.

How both local and foreign landlords mark their inhabited lands

Foreigners seeking for tranquil and unspoiled nature have found their heaven on earth. Moreover, they have had property investments: several thousands of meter of land for capital gain and villas to rent for cash flow. Non business-oriented people build retirement homes for themselves. Either way, they have been ahead of locals to notice the future potential of the north.

It’s a common thing that locals, regardless of which country they come from, appreciate their homeland more after foreigners visit their place, embrace its beauty and finally make it “home”. Recently, locals outside Bali and a huge Indonesian corporation start to follow their footsteps, but still in the form of empty lands. The Balinese are happy enough to earn more money by selling their lands to outsiders. The expansion plan of the local airport, Letkol Wisnu Airfield, to ease the burden of overcrowded Ngurai Rai International Airport, have driven more investors to own lands in the north, even though the project remains uncertain.

Have these foreign investors earned anything yet? The answer may vary. The value of some most wanted lands have increased over 300% in less than a year. Some villas have gained popularity and had their guests via online, while others are unexpectedly quiet and less popular.

“I’m a friend, not food” – an implicit message from a local’s piglet

I’m amazed and proud that The Island of Gods I’ve visited more than 3 times still have more areas to explore, which is beyond my imagination. I only have one wish: the unspoiled nature remains unspoiled in the future after more tourists coming, more resorts and villas in these areas. In fact, as corruption has infiltrated in our government’s culture, it won’t be as easy as it sounds, although not impossible to achieve.

I found a sentence on the websites of villas and resorts that intrigues my mind, “We are located in the unspoiled nature of north Bali……”. Something like that. They are highly potential for spoiling the unspoiled nature, and implicitly confirm it. It is extremely necessary to control the amount of accommodations in touristic areas. I’m happy that so far, there are not so many of them yet in the north.

Perfect sunset in Gondol village. Some investors bought the land and built a villa facing the scenic beach.

LESS VISITED BY WHOM?

Until the day I wrote this, the north side we visited is still much less visited than the south, especially by local tourists (Indonesians outside Bali). I believe the old point of view remains in their mind: no shops, lavish buildings, restaurants and cafes to hang out equals to “nothing to see”. But at the same time, they complain that nowadays Bali is too crowded, the traffic is worse or too many annoying street vendors. I’ve heard it millions of times. I agree, partly, because these complaints are usually meant for south Bali. In a nutshell, they haven’t seen the whole Bali yet!

Sometimes, I don’t know whether my story is to tell my fellow readers about north Bali or to remind myself that I was left behind particularly about new facts and surprises I experienced in these less visited areas. But thank God, now I’m less retarded about my own country. Just a bit less. But, better late than never.