Thank. You. Jesus. Our flight from Bali back to Singapore has not been delayed or cancelled due to volcanic ash rising from Mt Rinjani. It's been threatening to blow for the last week, and although other carriers have called off their jets (so glad we didn't book a low cost carrier), our Garuda Indonesia flight is up in the air, and so are we. Which is great. Super, in fact. Because I've just spent four full days with seven women and it's high time to go home. Workplace bullying, or to be more precise, being bullied on a work trip, is real.
I type this @musingmutley column 30,000 feet in the air surrounded by the said seven Buro 24/7 Singapore team members — culture editor, @adibah.isa; fashion editor @doraljoofri; lifestyle editor, @denise.kok; beauty editor, @renee_buro247; contributing editor, @tracyjoyphillips; photo editor, @vcluxe; and editorial assistant, @andreasimjz — a travelling band of nutters, not dissimilar to a Chinese tour group with all the noise and commotion, all crammed into a fully-packed 737. There are enough opinions here to confuse the United Nations.
With the W Retreat & Spa in Seminyak serving as our base (I know, tough gig huh?), our recent #BuroinBali 'office by the beach' concept had the team scouring the island for Bali's best cafes and restaurants, shopping at the trendiest boutiques on offer, and undergoing various massages and treatments all in the name of 'research' — that's right, Buro is bringing you an insider's guide to Bali. Stay tuned.
But, being outnumbered seven-to-one, lets just say that it's been... an education. Here's what I've learnt from travelling with seven ladies. I mean, girls. I mean, mature but fun-loving and smart women. Oh gawd. What do I say to avoid been lynched when they read this? Here goes nothing...
10. Filters are optional
Not Instagram filters but mental filters that stop you from speaking your mind. Wear bright yellow swim shorts? Lambasted. Singlet by the pool? Called a wife beater. And so on, and so forth.
9. Majority wins
Which is ever so convenient. "Menswear store? What are we going to buy there?" says one. "There are no good men's stores in Bali, Norman," responds another. A vote is held. Menswear is carded. Convenient.
8. Everything is scandalous
In the morning: "Norman, stop Snapchatting! Dora is married. She can't be seen sitting on the same bed as you!"
In the afternoon: "You asked Denise to take away an açai bowl for you? She had to rush back to make sure it didn't melt. Poor Denise. Practically a slave."
In the evening: "Get out of the pool! I'm swimming in my underwear!"
7. Mindreading is a foregone conclusion
Silly me, I should have known that fashion girls never drink coffee with sugar. Except when they're feeling extra drowsy. And there's no dark Valrhona chocolate in sight. Which is why I should always carry a snack. You know, to prevent a drop in energy levels. Not a sandwich, but nuts. Preferably almonds, and never macadamias. Macadamia nuts are way too fatty.
6. Never walk in the middle of the group
Because a 'true gentleman' either leads the pack or is the last in line to make sure no one gets left behind. I wish I could leave some of them behind.
5. Interrogative personal questions are the rule, not the exception
How else will they get to know who I am? Please leave all personal boundaries at the door.
Time is a flagrant wild beast. Tame it with the structured bridle of to-do lists and carefully planned travel routes.
4. Winging it is overrated
Daily schedules — with a detailed hourly breakdown of places to visit and things to eat, buy or test — are the only way to fully maximise one's day. Time is a flagrant wild beast. Tame it with the structured bridle of to-do lists and carefully planned travel routes.
3. Dancing is a form of social engineering
"Norman, stand here to stop that man from dancing too close to me." Shimmy in awkwardly to cock-block a gyrating hopeful. "Okay, he's gone. You can leave now. I don't want other guys to think I'm taken." Shimmy away awkwardly like a rejected suitor.
2. Why go alone, when you can go together
I thought this only applied to bathrooms. But no. It also applies to an hour and half car trips to Ubud, spa treatments with ridiculously gorgeous views of paddy fields, and tanning sessions by the pool: "You're reading by the pool? You don't want to go alone, it will be boring. I'll join you!"
1. Sharing is caring and vice-versa
When their maternal instincts kicked in after discovering I was sick...
Vanessa: "Norman, please go to sleep early. You need to rest."
Renée: "Oh dear. Drink plenty of fluids to cleanse your system."
Andrea: "Don't worry about unpacking the samples for the shoot. Leave it to me."
Dora: "I have anti-histamines. This will help with your sneezing and runny nose."
Tracy: "I have Echinacea. Take 10 drops right under tongue. It will burn, because of the alcohol, but let it absorb straight into your blood stream. I swear by it."
Denise: "Oh no. I cannot. I cannot. You have to look after yourself."
Adibah: "Do you want a hug?"
Bless their overbearing cotton socks.
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To view more insider tips from our #BuroInBali guide, click here.