Bali: A Paradise Wedding Destination - United Hub

Bali: A paradise wedding destination

By The Hub team

Each week we will profile one of our employee's adventures across the globe, featuring a new location for every employee's story. Follow along every week to learn more about their travel experiences.

By San Francisco-based Flight Attendant Dianne Escalona

Is Bali really like the movie "Eat Pray Love?" This is the first question that ran through my head when my fiancé and I decided on Bali as the top destination option for our wedding. At the time, I had never really known anyone who had been to Bali, so all I had to go off of was the 2010 movie based on Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir. When I thought of Bali, I thought of a tropical, exotic, middle-of-nowhere island that mainly consisted of beaches and palm trees. Boy, was I wrong.

When choosing a destination for our wedding, we both had a few conditions — we wanted somewhere exotic, far away from California, tropical with the ocean and palm trees, and an added bonus would be exotic drinks. We did a lot of research – I read blogs online and he researched possible wedding venues – but we still needed to see and experience the island for ourselves. When it came time for our trip to Bali, last September, we were more than prepared and had a tentative itinerary planned. Through our research we agreed that having our own villa would be more private than a hotel and give us a taste of the local culture, especially since the place we had chosen to rent had a main house with a host who had also offered to show us around. Thanks to her recommendation we hired a private driver to pick us up from the airport and take us around the island - a great decision.

We began our journey by flying into Singapore from San Francisco. Once in Singapore we decided to spend a night in the city before flying over to Bali. We stayed at the JW Marriott, a must-stay hotel with an infinity pool on the roof, offering the grandest view of the city! It definitely rivals the view at Marina Bay Sands, and is much more affordable. The next day, we hopped on a quick flight to Bali and upon landing, our private driver was already outside waiting for us. I've always wanted someone holding up a sign with my name and greeting me outside arrivals —maybe this is a flight attendant thing. Our driver's name was Komang, and he was very gracious and provided us with helpful tips on various places to go each day that would coincide with our wedding venue visits.

Our host at our villa, Soviana, was eagerly waiting to greet us both upon our arrival and gave us a tour of her exquisite, Buddhist temple-looking villa. Before heading to dinner, we enjoyed homemade watermelon smoothies on the rooftop with a nice view of the ocean. After a long day of traveling, we headed to bed early to prepare for the next few days of sightseeing and wedding venue visits.

The next few days consisted of hotel appointments and making sure to squeeze in some sightseeing all over the island. Between wedding planning and exploring the island, we never had a dull moment that week. Our favorite activities included the Monkey Forest, water temples and waterfall hunting.

The sacred Ubud Monkey Forest lies within the village of Padangtegal and is home to more than 700 monkeys. This experience was near the top of our bucket list. This monkey forest was built around the 14th century, and while here you can watch the monkeys being fed by the locals. Though it is advised for you to refrain from feeding them, as well as to avoid wearing any jewelry, hats or shiny accessories that may attract their attention. Also, it is recommended to avoid looking them in the eye, which I unfortunately learned the hard way – I looked at a young monkey in the eye and it suddenly jumped on my back, trying to open my backpack. For the most part, they're friendly and won't bother you as long as you follow the advice of the village's residents. After this visit we were ready to cool down from all the walking and see some waterfalls.

Amidst wedding planning, we hiked the Banyumala waterfall with the company of our driver – turned great tour guide. The difficulty of this hike is up to interpretation, as the beginning of the hike was on dry dirt and a steady downhill climb until the dirt turned mushy and the climb became more like a slip and slide with the help of a flimsy rope. It's definitely not a hike you'd want to bring a lot of things on and make sure you wear solid shoes. Although I wasn't prepared for a slippery, downhill, muddy hike, it was worth it. When we finally saw the waterfall, I immediately wanted to jump in. It was the most refreshing water and the most fun we had on the trip. I remember floating on my back and staring at the sun peeking through the clouds and seeing the mist from the falls surround me. It was as if I were in a dream.

I also wanted to experience a local ritual. I got my chance at the Tirta Empul water temple. This temple is a Hindu Balinese water temple where the locals go for ritual purification. You must wear a sarong to enter and it's famous for its holy spring water. Komang told us the story behind the temple and said that it dates back to 960 AD, when the Balinese ruler, Mayadenawa created a poisoned spring that killed the god Indra's troops; Indra, in his anger, threw his staff into the ground, which caused the a holy purifying spring to form. The story goes on to say that the troops were brought back to life from this holy water. The ritual is performed by starting at the first water spout and bowing toward it, then splashing the water onto your face three times. Then you submerge your head and body underneath the spout while praying to the Hindu gods. You then continue to each of the 13 spouts. However, the 11th and 12th spouts are skipped since they are only used for funerals. The holy water is meant to rid you of evil spirits and cleanse your soul. After experiencing just a few of these cultural and unique places Bali has to offer, my fiancé and I had no doubt in our minds that we were going to get married on this island.

I went to Bali not knowing anything about the country except what I saw in a movie and read online. I left learning that, not only are there an abundance of unique and interesting things to see and do, but I also learned how friendly and spiritual the locals are. Our Airbnb host, our private drivers Komang and Arsa, and the locals we met that week taught us the importance of cleansing your mind and spirit, meditation, massage and a healthy diet. I have no doubt that this is where our dream destination wedding is meant to be in 2020.

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Jessica Kimbrough named Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

By The Hub team, July 10, 2020

Jessica Kimbrough, currently Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, will take on the new role of Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Managing Director.

Jessica assumes this new and expanded position to focus on global inclusion and equity as part of our enhanced commitment to ensure best practices across the business to strengthen our culture.

In this role, Jessica will be responsible for helping United redefine our efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion – ensuring that our programs and approach are strategic, integrated and outcome-oriented, while we continue to build a culture that reflects our core values. She will report to Human Resources and Labor Relations EVP Kate Gebo.

"Jessica's appointment to this role is another critical step our executive team is taking to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion remains a top priority at United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "Given her drive, experience and commitment to champion collaboration and allyship among our employee business resource groups, she is uniquely qualified to take on this position and I look forward to working closely with her."

As Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, Jessica worked closely with senior management to create and maintain positive labor relations among our unionized workforce, providing counsel on labor litigation, negotiations, contract administration, organizing issues and managing attorneys who represent United in labor relations. Previously, she served as Labor and Employment Counsel in our legal department.

Jessica has a passion for creating a pipeline of diverse lawyers and leaders, and was honored as one of Chicago Defender's "Women of Excellence" for excellence in her career and civic engagement in 2017. She currently serves as President of uIMPACT, our women's employee business resource group.

Jessica's new role is effective immediately.

United Cargo and logistics partners keep critical medical shipments moving

By The Hub team, July 02, 2020

By working together and strengthening partnerships during these unprecedented times, our global community has overcome challenges and created solutions to keep the global supply chain moving. As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the shipping landscape, United and our industry partners have increasingly demonstrated our commitment to the mission of delivering critical medical supplies across the world.

United Cargo has partnered with DSV Air and Sea, a leading global logistics company, to transport important pharmaceutical materials to places all over the world. One of the items most critical during the current crisis is blood plasma.

Plasma is a fragile product that requires very careful handling. Frozen blood plasma must be kept at a very low, stable temperature of negative 20 degrees Celsius or less – no easy task considering it must be transported between trucks, warehouses and airplanes, all while moving through the climates of different countries. Fortunately, along with our well-developed operational procedures and oversight, temperature-controlled shipping containers from partners like va-Q-tec can help protect these sensitive blood plasma shipments from temperature changes.

A single TWINx shipping container from va-Q-tec can accommodate over 1,750 pounds of temperature-sensitive cargo. Every week, DSV delivers 20 TWINx containers, each one filled to capacity with human blood plasma, for loading onto a Boeing 787-9 for transport. The joint effort to move thousands of pounds of blood plasma demonstrates that despite the distance, challenges in moving temperature-sensitive cargo and COVID-19 obstacles, we continue to find creative solutions with the help of our strong partnerships.

United Cargo is proud to keep the commercial air bridges open between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Since March 19, we have operated over 3,200 cargo-only flights between six U.S. hubs and over 20 cities in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, India, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Celebrating Juneteenth

By United Airlines, June 18, 2020

A message from UNITE, United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group

Fellow United team members –

Hello from the UNITE leadership team. While we communicate frequently with our 3,500 UNITE members, our platform doesn't typically extend to the entire United family, and we are grateful for the opportunity to share some of our thoughts with all of you.

Tomorrow is June 19. On this day in 1865, shortened long ago to "Juneteenth," Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended and all enslaved individuals were free. For many in the African-American community, particularly in the South, it is recognized as the official date slavery ended in the United States.

Still, despite the end of slavery, the Constitutional promise that "All men are created equal" would overlook the nation's Black citizens for decades to come. It wasn't until nearly a century later that the Civil Rights Act (1964) ended legal segregation and the Voting Rights Act (1965) protected voting rights for Black Americans. But while the nation has made progress, the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have made it undeniably clear that we still have a lot of work to do to achieve racial parity and inclusion.

Two weeks ago, Scott and Brett hosted a virtual town hall and set an important example by taking a minute, as Brett said, "to lower my guard, take off my armor, and just talk to you. And talk to you straight from the heart."

Difficult conversations about race and equity are easy to avoid. But everyone needs to have these conversations – speaking honestly, listening patiently and understanding that others' experiences may be different from your own while still a valid reflection of some part of the American experience.

To support you as you consider these conversations, we wanted to share some resources from one of United's partners, The National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum will host an all-day Virtual Juneteenth Celebration to recognize Juneteenth through presentations, stories, photographs and recipes. The museum also has a portal that United employees can access called Talking About Race, which provides tools and guidance for everyone to navigate conversations about race.

Our mission at UNITE is to foster an inclusive working environment for all of our employees. While we are hopeful and even encouraged by the widespread and diverse show of support for African Americans around the country – and at United - we encourage everyone to spend some time on Juneteenth reflecting on racial disparities that remain in our society and dedicating ourselves to the work that still must be done to fight systemic racism. By honoring how far we've come and honestly acknowledging how far we still must go, we believe United – and the incredible people who are the heart and soul of this airline - can play an important role in building a more fair and just world.

Thank you,

UNITE (United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group)

Leadership Team

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