I Gede Sanat Kumara, 48, from Gianyar, is the founder of baliwww.com, a web-based travel agency that began life in 1997. A father of two, he’s also involved in northbali.org, which works to preserve the culture unique to northern parts of the island. He shared his day with Carla Albertí de la Rosa.
I wake up at 5 in the morning because I believe if you wake up early you’ll be lucky. I turn on my computer and read the news so I know what’s happening before anyone. There might be cultural activities going on and possible business opportunities there.
I have breakfast while navigating the web and check if there’s an urgent request from guests that might be arriving the next day. I either have Balinese nasi campur (mixed rice) or a Western breakfast like scrambled eggs. I don’t smoke or drink coffee; I drink some tea with lime.
At around 7 I take a shower and go to the office in Denpasar; it takes me five minutes to get there. I normally go by bike to avoid traffic.
I get there at 8 or 9 and we have a morning briefing. I then write on my blog about Balinese culture. I give tips to guests, and talk about peculiar things about Balinese culture. For example, how in Karangasem they have a war with fire the day before Nyepi. They burn the coconut skin and throw it at each other. They believe it will help to control their sins. They don’t take offence and there are no hard feelings after the war.
Throughout the day I visit new villas or those that are being renovated and meet my partners. We sometimes meet for golf since it’s a great way of doing business: talking and relaxing at the same time. I particularly like the Bali Handara golf course in Bedugul.
I have my lunch around 1pm, usually in the office with my wife. She deals with the finances and controls the personnel. We cook at home and take the food to work or go to a warung (foodstall). My favourite food is fish with hot chilli sauce with vegetables and rice.
Apart from the travel agency I take part in northbali.org, an organisation that helps preserve the culture in northern Bali. In the last meeting we agreed that every five years we’d have a seminar or workshop because people tend to forget their own culture and follow Western culture. I’m scared about tourism in Bali because it’s out of control and the government doesn’t have a master plan. Some foreigners just come here, set up their own business and don’t pay tax or they continue building on green belts. They just need to pay their way out. The government needs to toughen up rules immediately.
Northern Bali has singularities, like in Singaraja with their music Gong Kebyar. So northbali.org organises dance and music performances and other activities that help preserve culture in the north.
My role is to do a lot of documentation and photography. Photography is one of my hobbies. I like to take pictures of old men, young ladies, kids… people and what they’re doing and what they wear, for human interest.
On a normal day I work until 7pm and then go home and watch football. My favourite team is Chelsea. I also like to play the blues with my guitar; I’ve been playing since I was 10. I play the kendang in the gamalan. It’s like a drum.
My children study in Singapore. They’re 20 and 15, and every time they visit we like to go to Mount Batur; there’s a floating restaurant on the lake that we love.
I have a very light dinner at 8pm. I’ll drink some mango juice and have some bread with orange jam. It’s not a very Balinese thing to do but although I’m Balinese, the way I think is different. I lived in Germany for three years because my father also had a travel agency and his main clients were German. So I learned German. I was there after I finished my high school and it opened my mind a lot. I also learned time management – something people here cannot do.
I then lived in Sydney for over three years, where I did graphic design in college, and I did an internship at a printing company. In 1995, during the internet boom, I saw an opportunity to create an online business; so I started it in 1997. The internet service providers were very slow back then.
I go to sleep around 10pm watching a movie. I like science fiction, like Iron Man, which is my favourite movie at the moment. I forget about everything a few minutes before I fall fast asleep.