Visiting the Pangan Nusa 2011 exhibition in Bali

Last weekend we went to visit the food exhibition "Pangan Nusa 2011", which was the part of "Hello Asean" event that held in Bali from 24 October to 23 November 2011. It's a pity that we found about it a bit too late, which was on the 3rd day, and can only managed to visit the event on its 5th day, which is on Friday.

The greater event was opened by our very president Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and there is a stand on the area dedicated to him, and the event itself was also attended by famous foodies like William Wongso and Bondan Winarno who are among the juries for the cooking contest competing for Piala Prima Boga Nusantara.

Seeing that it's a regional event and held a week long with contingents from provinces nation-wide, we're pretty confident that we'll have a good show going on that Friday, as events usually have their climax on the last days, where it's weekend thus more people can attend the show.

So we went there on this very hot Friday morning, ready to have a blast at sampling the latest culinary geniuses from around Indonesia. However we didn't have the exact address of this event; our search on Google, Facebook, and Twitter only scores vague information that the event was held in "Peninsula Island", Nusa Dua, Bali -- a location that doesn't even show up on Google Map.

Highly spirited, we're just curious and all excited so we went there anyway.

Passing the airport intersection of Jl. By Pass Ngurah Rai, we noticed that there are banners created for "Hello Asean", and since Pangan Nusa is a part of it, then we're confidently just following the banners down south.


We then arrived at this security gate at the end of the By Pass street, and after mentioning our destination the security guard pointed us to head right at the roundabout ahead, and we followed his direction. Too bad there's no further map or sort that informs about the exact location, and unlike other parts of Bali there are less people wandering around on the street to ask for information, so we just let ourself got lost and believe that we will find the place in the end.


After passed what looks like a theatre and the Trans Sarbagita bus station, we finally found the entrance gate to the event. After parked our rented car near the entrance, we then walked inside the event area, and found this beautiful sign of the event that reminded me of the good old disco era.


After some more walking under the scorching sun, we finally found this mysterious place called "Peninsula island", which is a very small island separated only during high tide, much like the rocks where the Tanah Lot temple stands upon, only about 10 times bigger.


Not far from it, was the event's entrance gate, and another security checks.

There were this three huge wooden building, some performance stages, and several white domes along with many small huts on the area. The event was huge. 

At the entrance we found this cool sign board made from food ingredients and couldn't resist the temptation to have another shoot.


Walking into the exhibition building however, was not really pleasing since we found that most of the stands are still closed -- or have been closed? A word with one of the stand host reveal the disappointing truth:
"Many of them have been closed; some have their products sold during the first day of the event, while some decided to open only until the second day since they want to have a vacation, 'when else would we have the opportunity to visit Bali?' they said".
And so we found out that Pangan Nusa 2011 was practically abandoned by most of their participating stands by the third day. While there are still some interesting stands and food samples to try out, like this Smoked Ayam Betutu, there are not much fancy food products to try out anymore. 


I just have a pity for those after us who can only set aside their time on weekends, and have to endure the scorching sun and the long ride just to find that there is no event. However we didn't really know if on the next day the participants are returning for some grande closing, and the big "Hello Asean" event itself would still continued.


After walking through all the three semi-permanent exhibition buildings, we shift our direction to the air conditioned domes next door, hoping to encounter food from the regions of Asean.


But it wasn't hosting any food, as it was intended for art exhibition.

After spent some time enjoying the cool air inside the domes, we went back to the scorching sun and did some scouting around the area but avoiding those that located on the far side as the heat was already becoming unbearable.


But first stopped by the mobile loo located near by, and it has cool design:


Outside the exhibition area there are some stands near the beach, and one of them "Warung Hade" sold our favourite Malaysian drink "Teh Tarik", so we paid them a visit. It was good, as good as the one sold in Warung Bunana and trully refreshes our sundried throats.


It also comes in a very practical and functional plastic bag!


Returning back to our car, we noticed that it was only about one and a half hour after we arrived; quite short visit for a food exhibition. Luckily we had our lunch at Nasi Ayam Bu Oki before visiting the exhibition else we'll be starved.

So far this Pangan Nusa 2011 has been confusing for us; a big regional event opened on weekdays and reached its peak on the second day -- where most of locals are working -- and then abandoned on the next days. A tweet we found even went further to question the motive of this event itself:

"Bikin acara #PanganNusa di Peninsula, di peta Nusa Dua aja gak ada. Orang Bali gak ngeh. targetnya siapa tuh? Miliaran bouw" (source)
Which translated freely as "Who's the target of this event really, when the place itself is not listed on the map, and only few Bali citizen aware of the location? And it costs billions".

Nodding on the critic, from our two years of staying in Bali we recognize several facts about Nusa Dua:
  1. It's an exclusive location full with hotels with very high rates
  2. It's a preferred staying place for international celebrities, diplomats, honeymooners
  3. It's a favourite location for national expo, exhibition, summits, and other high-profile events 
  4. It's far from Denpasar; 40 Km away or about one hour drive; about 40 minutes from Kuta
  5. Until the launch of Trans Sarbagita few months back, there are no decent public transportation heads there
So concluding on the facts above, I can't help but thinking about the validity of that tweet; was this event targeted for public consumption?

But then it strikes my mind that perhaps the event itself was indeed mainly targeted for tourists, hence it is held in a touristy area, and doesn't really matter that it's located quite far from the main population area in Denpasar, in a location less familiar to the locals, and was opened on workdays where most of the locals are working. I forgot that unlike Jakarta, Bali is a holiday destination, not business destination; hence targeting tourists might works here while in Jakarta that's a dead meat.  

All confusion aside, should you are in Bali this November, and interested to attend the other agenda held under the event of "Hello Asean 2011", you can find further information in their official webpage at: http://www.helloasean2011.com/. (byms)

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