Letter from Bali: 3 presidents, 2 CEOs and a soggy dress

It looks like paradise, but it's not quite a day at the beach when covering the Apec Summit in Bali, Indonesia.

Here's a look behind the scenes as to what a correspondent gets up to.

I meet my producer, Melanie Marshall, and my cameraman, Dean Squire, for breakfast at 8am to map out the day.

I soon find myself standing on a beach (tough life, I know) explaining what would be the big economic prize to could come out of Apec. It's potentially the biggest free trade area in the world, and is known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. (Welcome to the world of trade acronyms).

It's going pretty well until a massive wave drenches the bottom half of my dress. This is an hour before I am due on stage to moderate a panel with the presidents of Peru and the Philippines.

Nevertheless, we have to carry on. So, I walk around in my soggy dress and interview a Bali shopkeeper about her business. She's disappointed that President Obama has cancelled his Apec trip.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Linda Yueh with Peru's President Humala (left) and Philippine President Aquino

Then, it's a quick dash back to the hotel. With 15 minutes to go, the hotel laundry manager vacuums (literally) the sand off of me. It works, sort of.


In any case, I'm off to meet the presidents. There's a three page document just on protocol, and even a butler in the receiving room.

After a quick chat with President Ollanta Humala of Peru, and President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines, we are escorted to the plenary hall. The melee of security guards and media was a bit overwhelming.

Once we make it onto the stage (yes, my dress is still soggy), what was striking from the discussion on inclusive growth was the focus on increasing the redistribution of income as these countries become more prosperous.

After the panel, I do slightly better in the melee. Actually, I bolted and was glad that I wasn't wearing stiletto heels.

Then, I meet up with my team and interview Dennis Nally, chairman of global accountancy group PriceWaterhouseCoopers, an Indonesian cosmetics mogul, Mustika Ratu, and economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs.

This is followed by my filing a despatch - a short radio piece - on US Secretary of State John Kerry's comments from the summit about two US special forces raids in Africa on Saturday.

Then, I film a piece to camera, which is when I explain why Obama's absence is so damaging to his Asia "pivot" - his attempt at closer engagement with the region.

Next, I record a teaser piece for when I co-present the early business programmes on Monday morning.

Eat a good breakfast

We head to the media centre where my hard-working producer and cameraman test the international links for our live broadcasts on Monday.

A surprise visit by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono interrupts my writing of this letter and offers an opportunity. I ask him whether Obama will be missed. He says that it's understandable.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The melee of security guards and media at Apec can be a bit overwhelming

Now, it's 8:30pm and we head back to the hotel with several hours of editing ahead of us.

If you noticed that there have been no meals since breakfast, then you will have chanced upon the most important advice that I have received. It's to eat a good breakfast as it's hard to know when there will be time to eat again.

Okay, the second best piece of advice. The best tip was to wear comfortable shoes because no one will see them and I'll be standing for a long time.

This was my Sunday at the Apec summit in Bali. I did make it to the beach, sort of.