Aquaria Bali Resort, CandidasaJl Puri Bagus, Samuh, Candi Dasa, East Bali  Aquaria Bali Resort, Candidasa +62 363 41127

Aquaria's monthly blog

UPDATES, STORIES, REVIEWS AND MORE...

W E L C O M E   B A C K!

158987314779645076-2.pngWelcome to our April/May 2020 Update with Jeni

First of all, may I share with you some inspirational quotes sent to me during Covid 19
isolation, from Ketut, Aquaria’s very special Manager.


* “MAY WE BE GIVEN STRENGTH AND FORTITUDE IN LIVING THIS LIFE” *

*  “MAY WE ALWAYS BE GIVEN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND ENLIGHTENMENT BY THE ALMIGHTY .” *

* MAY WE ALWAYS BE IN THE PROTECTION OF THE ALMIGHTY AND KEEP AWAY 

FROM DANGER” *

* “EVERYTHING HAS BEEN ARRANGED BY THE CREATOR” *

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 I came back to New Zealand (NZ), at the end of February, intending to return to Bali in April, however, the Covid-19 international pandemic got in the way! NZ closed its borders mid March, and I have spent the last 9 weeks in isolation during lockdown: with many thoughts of Glyn** going around in my head, and greatly worrying about my staff in Bali. My staff are like family to me – the children I never had. There is mutual love and respect. I have lost Glyn, I don’t want to lose any of my team. It has been extremely hard living back here in NZ again, without Glyn by my side. I felt helpless in isolation – but then I woke up brighter one Saturday and decided I had to take action. Now, I am moving towards being more pro-active, instead of feeling negative and despondent.

 

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    A blissful evening at Aquaria Eco Resort, Bali 

How Did I React to Covid-19?

Fearing for the safety of my staff, I closed Aquaria in mid- end-March, as there was no closure of the border, Government information or intervention at that time. As news starting pouring in from across the globe, the extent of this pandemic became increasingly alarming. Tourists were still arriving and dispersing across the island of Bali.  Aiming to keep my staff safe and Aquaria secure I had sent my staff home, particularly those who lived more than 15 minutes away, advising them to stay home and stay safe inside. This action was intended to stop unnecessary domestic travel and to also keep the local staff safe.  A few staff continued to maintain Aquaria during this time.  The staff adhered to various protocol such as - keeping safe distances, wearing masks, washing hands and sanitizing, as per my instructions. The majority of the staff, especially those sent away back home, did not understand my actions, as they weren’t getting any news or updates and thought (like most of the world in the beginning), that it was just the mild flu. They felt sure I had overreacted - I asked them to take their holidays until we had further info.  So, all staff were paid normal pay on April 10, and also half pay for half time work in April, on May 10th.

 

Unfortunately, in Bali, there is no Government support - no assistance, no social welfare payments for the people and no free health system - although health insurance paid by the employer is now compulsory. Essentially, it is up to the employer to look after their staff, let them go hungry, or payout redundancy, (unless bankruptcy is declared, many declare bankruptcy so they don't have to pay redundancy).

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What did our staff do in response?

Ketut (Aquaria's manager) and I put some of our staff (the local ones who live close by to Aquaria) on a routine maintenance programme with plans to change based on Covid-19 updates. Following protocol as mentioned before and isolating them as much as I could. I created 2 teams; working one week on and one week off. As of now, they are working one day on and one day off, only 5 hours, to make room for the further away located staff, who just started back at work in May. I don't know if it’s the right thing to do, as I watch the news, but only have my own instincts to follow: I have had to keep changing perspective as I get updated about staff. Understandably, some were bored, felt like they were missing out and perhaps jealous of the ones that were working. My biggest intention has always been to keep all of my staff safe, and away from each other, but my solution is sometimes not always the best solution for them.  Phew! It’s been a hard slog, dealing with all of this from a distance, especially when I am so computer illiterate! For example, I am still no expert so to speak especially when it comes to Skype and Zoom, Social Media in general - Facebook, or Instagram etc (as you may know from my lack of social media activity). 

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The Garden Maintence Team - pictured: Toris & Budiasa 

What are we planning?

There is great uncertainty for the future. 2019 was a difficult year for us with Glyn's illness and unexpected passing. In an attempt to keep all staff positive and to try and reduce the fear of the whole situation, I have got them all seperated into teams and working on different projects. Some are painting, cleaning, repairing equipment – all these little projects will contribute to keeping Aquaria as fresh as possible now and into the future.  Yuni and Krisna are working with me on recipes and menus for our first cookbook. Gusti, our Head Chef and I will work on a new menu ready for our eventual re-opening. Toris is still in email contact for reservations and cancellations, and he is also continually updating the database and Ketut, of course, is overseeing everything as usual. We are also currently looking at different training programmes or online learning that staff can do to upskill them for the future. I am thinking about employing a Yoga teacher as part of our staff program to help alleviate as much stress as possible and bring clarity and balance to deal with this current situation. I have been attending Social Media webinars, (but they are over my head!), planning the cookbook, writing poetry, sketching portraits of my staff, transposing my stories to the laptop, creating a brand new newsletter (with Mirani's help), creating more regular blogs and I am also reaching out for help. 

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In New Zealand, there has been so much support for the people and for businesses which is very admirable of the Government. Unfortunately, in Indonesia support is sadly lacking. The president of Indonesia promised a 3-month tax holiday from March; however, the local government has reneged on that and demanded the April tax payment. Ultimately, if there is no tourism, then there’s no income, so we can’t pay tax without an income! The Government-owned electricity company will not consider a reduction in payment, and requires the full quota allocation payment, regardless of whether the power has been used or not.

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Daily offering procedures by Budiasa... Bagus repainting our entrace walkway....Dogler & Bagus washing the footpath together

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What’s the Prognosis for the Pandemic in Bali?  

The health system in Indonesia is limited for the locals and is often unavailable for all. Also, it may not have the resources necessary in hospitals, for testing or contact tracing. The Government has been slow in releasing information to its’ people or to close its borders. However, regular reports are now coming through from the local Government, and Indonesia is more transparent than before. 2000 Balinese have returned from cruise ships, and more are still arriving every day, making their way back to their villages (including some of our previous staff members). Previously new arrivals were sent home to self-isolate, but now it seems they are tested and quarantined regardless. When the big hotels close in the South part of Bali, due to lack of tourists, the workers will come back to their villages, putting all their families and community at a high risk of contracting the virus. The Balinese Hindu, (including my staff) can only put their faith and trust in the Almighty (God).

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Lots of cleaning even with smiles! 

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We are advised that international travel will not be possible, until there is eradication of the virus or a vaccine. Whilst Indonesia has large scale infection and death, Bali has been relatively untouched with only 374 infections, 60% recovered, and 4 deaths, as of 21st May 2020.

Bali is a part of Indonesia, and there are many workers from other islands of Indonesia who live and work in Bali particularly in the tourism industry. At Ramadan, especially during Idul Fitri, people usually move across Indonesia and this potentially spells disaster at this time.  When they all go back to their lodgings or workplace in Bali, they may bring back infection. Those of Hindu religion have been told not to attend ceremonies temples or family gatherings.   

The Future?

The Bali Government has recently released info that it will be ready and safe for tourism to come back in October but apparently July is now on their agenda! The hope of this is indeed very optimistic, but with the idea of staying positive, October is defiently something to plan towards! Goals are more important than ever at this time – it gives us something to aspire to and aim for. Bali has survived bombs, volcanos, earthquakes and pandemics before, and it will survive and blossom again - we all have absolute trust and have faith in that. In saying this, though, how long will it take? How many businesses will be lost in the meantime? Even 3 years after the first Bali bomb we still saw mass unemployment, depression, suicides, broken down and empty hotels (keep in mind – we bought one which is the Aquaria you know and love today!).

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Ketut celebrates his birthday on the 17th of May... Dogler gives the ceiling a fresh coat of paint... I purchased bags of rice to keep my staff fed as prices rise.

ca391db98d61deb008b40b703980ff6a.jpgMy staff are like family to me. I have watched many of them grow up, marry, and have children of their own, and I have become attached to them all. They live simple lives and I have learned a lot from them. My focus is to keep the Aquaria team together; but I do realize that it may not be possible, if this Covid-19 situation continues long-term, and this is deeply concerning for me to think about. I will continue to pay my staff and the fixed costs at Aquaria for as long as I possibly can. 

 

We would love it if you choose to be a part of our support network by joining 'Aquaria's VIP Club' and buying a membership. By doing so, you will help support our staff and may help to keep us all together as a team for the future of Aquaria. 

 

Thank goodness we have a huge following of return guests. Luckily, I have these wonderful guests, some of whom have even become friends. Sharon came to Bali to be with me in November and Wendy from Australia came 3 days after I arrived back to NZ in February to stay with me for 11 days so that I wouldn’t have to be alone! How amazing is that!– it touches my heart and I am so very grateful.

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Next month we plan to work on updating the database, and put in motion some of my promotional ideas – we consider these steps as beneficial in order to expand our future potential once business begins to resume as normal. Sadly, our social media and website activity has been put on hold over the past 18 months, but we are working out ways to get this operational again. I can offer a contra agreement for accomodation in return for support with business, Facebook, Instagram and SEO on our website would be very much appreciated. 

For more info: please check out our June/Blog Appeal available on our website www.aquariabali.com or contact via email info@aquariabali 

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Krisna holding a plate of 'Fish with a fusion of flavors at Aquaria' & a sneak peak of our delicious recipes

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 Yuni and Krisna working together on the cookbook. 

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Aquaria Eco Resort Bali is famous for its daily changing menu, fresh food philosophy, multiple vegan and vegetarian specialties/options and our kindness.

Many of our guests have suggested that I write an Aquaria cookbook, publish my poems and or write down My Life in Bali stories that I often share with guests.  We are working on all of these now and hope to have a refreshing taster of Aquaria to offer you from afar whilst you are waiting to return. Later on, down the track, we may look at offering these in return for a small donation.  

I hope all the news stays good with all of you too.  Thank you for taking the time to read today.

Stay safe, and take care.

Blessings with love from Jeni and the Aquaria Bali Team, Candidasa Bali 

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To note:

**Some of you may know that Glyn passed away in hospital on 27 September 2019, after winning the cancer war, we lost the battle. Owing to the lung drain he was unable to fly. I wouldn’t leave him, so Aquaria limped along without us in 2019. The staff did an amazing job, as they hosted several pre-booked family parties, which produced great reviews from our guests.  The 22 staff (some of whom had been with us for 14 years) were in shock of course, as Glyn was like a father figure to them. Glyn not only looked after the financial and business side but also the reservations, quotes and enquiries.  Our staff believed, as we did, that they would see Glyn again and that we would be back in Bali at Christmas 2019. It was not to be. I flew straight to Bali, to reassure them, support them, and try to grieve away from NZ.  I was alone in Bali, dealing with both my grief and theirs. I was in a state of denial, disbelief and shock most of the time - very up and down. I extended my stay 3 times, staying in Bali for 4 months. I was unable to contemplate returning for Christmas, to an empty house in isolated Rotoiti, without family or friends nearby. I returned to New Zealand mid-Feb just to organize some legal-matters.  

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