Bali Adventure: A Hell of a Ride

Bali Adventure: A Hell of a Ride


A feeling of pride overwhelms me.

As I'm writing this blog I have a soar bump, slight sunburn and shoulders covered in massage oil. I’m on the plane flying back to Sydney on my way home. I suddenly start laughing when I think back about my last 48 hours in Bali. The stewardess walking passed gives me a questionable look. I quickly look the other way and try to make sense of everything that had happened. I take a deep sigh and a feeling of pride overwhelms me. Mission accomplished.

Big jump into the ocean

Bali is known for its colorful gems, charms and beads. From the start, José and I wanted Sunny Cords to be inspired by special places, such as Indonesia. It therefore seemed like a no-brainer to fly up to Bali and get our product materials and supplies from there. However without any network of contacts or any idea what this island has to offer in terms of jewelry, it suddenly did feel like a big jump into the ocean.

A worry for later

From day 1 onwards I started browsing through different jewelry shops. Even though many of these shops had big signs stating "WHOLESALE", I had my doubts. Days were passing by and luck didn't seem to be on my side. I had bought some nice stones and gems in a shop in Ubud, but I was afraid I had paid way too much money. How am I going to explain this to José, when I get back? I told myself that's a worry for later. The only reason why I had bought a couple of strings was because I desperately wanted to come back with some kind of Balinese treasury. I'm sure she would understand. 

My lucky day

Before I knew it was the last day of my trip. Up to now I was only left with a handful of beads and gems. Nevertheless I was still hopeful that today would be my lucky day. I had set the alarm early in the morning and watched the sunrise while having a Balinese brekky. As soon as I had put on my comfortable sneakers, I was ready to hit the road for one more time in search for the right retailers. As I was entering one of the shops, I asked the lady if I could order their leather cords and charms in bulk quantity. She responded that this was not possible. When she saw my disappointment, she scrabbled down an address where the store buys their supplies. Up to now, nobody had shared this kind of information before. It seemed they didn’t want to give away their sources.

Just do it

It turned out the shop would be twenty minutes away. Time was ticking so I quickly searched for a scooter taxi. I approached an old Indonesian man with a long mustache and a few grey hairs sticking out. When I showed him the address, he said he was willing to bring me for 30,000 rupiah. I paused for a moment and then decided to follow Nike’s advice: “Just do it” and off we were.

There is no tomorrow

Once we arrived at the shop, I immediately noticed that the lights were off and the steel blinds were down. The shop was closed. I gazed through the windows and to my amazement I saw all kinds of bags with gems and charms. This was exactly what I had been looking for all week…! I could not believe it. My old taxi man started chatting to two of the boys sitting in front of the shop. They said I should come back tomorrow, because then the shop would be open again. I desperately shook my head and responded: “There is no tomorrow. I fly out tonight!”. My taxi driver continued talking to the boys and after a short conversation that I could not understand, he said: “I know where to go”.

What a different world

We hopped on his scooter bike and started driving again. I welcomed the light breeze as it had become the warmest part of the day. I took a quick sip of my water bottle and looked over the many rice fields passing by. After driving for more than an hour, my bump was becoming stiff and I felt the sun burning on my bare legs. I had no idea where we were heading, but decided to trust the old man. Suddenly the old man raised his voice and told me to quickly put on the helmet. He pointed to some police control that was happening a few miles in front of us. Sure. What a different world.

It is not about the end destination

As another hour was passing by, I started to get worried. Where was this man taking me? Could I actually trust him? How much rupiah was this ride going to cost me? My hope started to decline with every additional mile we were driving. I asked the old man if we were almost there. He nodded, but I wasn’t convinced. The philosophical side of me tried to remind myself that life is not about the end destination (‘the shop’) but enjoying the journey itself (‘this scooter ride’). I ignored the pain I started to feel in my back and told myself to be grateful because I would have never seen these parts of Bali otherwise…

I almost wanted to burst into tears

After two and half hours driving, we were finally there. As we were standing in front of the building, I looked up and thought: This cannot be right. We entered this traditional building and all hope sunk into my shoes. The excitement I had felt for the other shop was quickly replaced by great disappointment. The shop that my old man had taken me turned out to be a Jewelry museum! He nodded cheerfully and said: “You buy silver earrings?” I almost wanted to burst into tears. Having sat for almost 3 hours on the back of a scooter, it turned out to be for nothing! 

We had come this far

Old man immediately realized that there was no ‘happy customer’ standing in front of him. He quickly proposed to go to the markets located closely. I looked at him and thought of all many markets that I had already been to without any success. But what did I have to lose? We had come this far now anyway. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who was hot, I could see the sweat coming down from under his helmet. After a short drive, it was exactly what I thought to be: people selling all kinds of stuff, except for what I wanted. I told him we probably should head back as we still had a long way to go to get back.

Failure and entrepreneurship

As we were driving again, old man and I were both quiet and lost in our own thoughts. I thought about all the inspirational quotes I had read about failure and entrepreneurship. “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently” or “I haven’t failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. I took a big sigh and told myself I would not give up. These quotes helped me to feel confident and relaxed again. Upon arrival, old man asked me how much I wanted to pay him. I felt so bad for him as he had been driving all day for nothing as well. We agreed 200,000 rupiah. A fair deal for both of us.

Reaching an oasis in a hot dessert

On my list there were still a few places that I could give a try. I had only two hours before I had to head to the airport. My gut feeling told me that luck was changing to my side again. As I hopped in the final shop, I felt like reaching an oasis in a hot dessert. Because of the limited amount of time, I forced myself to focus and concentrate. Quickly I worked through the questions: What did I need? What quantity? What color? What design? What size? For what price? I had to be careful because I knew negotiating wasn’t one of my capabilities. I quickly made a mental note that next time I should come with José as she is an expert in this field. After 45 minutes I was standing outside of the shop holding my treasury in a big paper bag for a bargained price. Business done – mission accomplished.