Bali 2017 Post Trip Summary

So I had an amazing one week trip to Bali which was a very different trip to what I normally do. My normal trip is more adventure style tour, get out and visit the historic sights, do a homestay with locals, explore wildlife and the landscape.  This style of travel was something embedded in me since my backpacking days way back in 1999-2000.

This trip originally started as a great business class deal which I could use to get Qantas Double Status Credits and finally reach Qantas Life Time Gold Status (free lounge access, better ward seats, free seat selection etc) and visit the stunning Qantas Sydney First Class Lounge for the first time.

It then evolved into a family event when first my sister Kara and niece Erin joined as a ‘celebration’ of Kara’s next career stage following the difficult position of her job of 14 years being outsourced. And it evolved again when I invited my sister Lana to celebrate her recovery from breast cancer and her two children Harry and Darby getting to experience international travel for the first time.

This turned into mostly a trip for people to be spoilt with relaxation.  Both my sisters ended up loving this trip, and the children couldn’t wait to get to the pool, the water slides, the shops, the buffet breakfast and their own massages!

While I did end up exploring the island a little on the last two days this was a different type of trip. I felt amazing levels of contentment and happiness watching Harry, Darby and Erin playing, dancing and even singing.  I felt joyed seeing my two sisters smile and laugh and gossip.  I just felt great and spiritually renewed during this trip. 

 I feel incredibly lucky to have this life and to have the people I care about be safe and happy.

Next trip now is Africa and flying first class on Emirates in late November 2017.  How incredibly blessed am I?

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Bali 2017: Day 7 – Denpasar (Bali), Indonesia

Highlights:  Qantas Sydney Business Class Lounge, Returning Home

Wednesday 14 June 2017
Photos & Videos

The return home after each trip out of the country is always full of mixed feelings, sadness that your trip is over but excitement to see your home country again.  On this trip it was mostly just the sadness part as I’ve only been away for one week, Bali was full of Australians, and I was travelling with family members.

The flight home was on Qantas (see review here) in business class which makes the trip a little easier.  Still the seats barely recline and at just under 6 hours it’s not quite enough to fall fully asleep but too long to just watch movies.  I did visit my sister Lana and my niece and nephew in economy.  Harry was already fast asleep at the window seat so not problems for him with overnight flights 🙂

On landing we were delayed for a while waiting for a special health check on a baby and her mum who have been sick during the flight.  I guess they wanted to make sure the entire plane wasn’t bringing some kinda of virus back into Australia.  The moment I was back in the terminal I put on my jeans and fleece jacket while waiting for Lana, Harry and Darby.  It was after all winter in Australia and even in the terminal with no humidity it felt cold.

We got passed border control fairly quickly, Lana, Harry and Darby went in the line with a human Border Control person while I used the ePassport Gate and was quickly though and waiting maybe 2 minutes for them to clear.  At Sydney International Terminal if you are flying Qantas on a connecting flight you can checkin for your domestic flight and catch a complimentary bus across the tarmac which is always a small highlight.

Once in the Qantas Sydney Domestic at Transfer Gate 15, were I had been approximately 7 days earlier, we quickly moved to the Qantas Sydney Business Lounge.  This served as a good place to get a quick breakfast and for the kids a chance to get back onto the Internet (how they lasted the night I have no idea!).  Both Harry and myself made good use of the shower facilities which made me feel a little human again.  At this point I realised I’d somehow hurt my right leg, maybe the pressure of the aircraft cabin or sleeping incorrectly.

Harry in the Qantas Sydney Business Lounge

We boarded on time for the 9.30 am Qantas 421 to Melbourne.  This time I had selected a window seat and the aisle seat was empty which would have been amazing for the overnight flight but isn’t really needed in business class for an hour flight.  In Melbourne we found our bags had arrived without incident and my mother picks us all up and took us back to her place near the airport.  This allowed for an exchange of gifts, I think my mum liked her silver necklace and scarf.

Business class meal Sydney to Melbourne flight

We then boarded Lana’s car for the final leg back home.  The kids were mostly silent on the way back to my place in Southbank.  Harry was supposed to help keep his mother fully awake but I’m not sure he was even awake himself!  It was a fond farewell when I got to my place around 1 pm, great memories and a trip worthwhile.

At my place the recently adopted kitten Indie seemed to have forgotten who I was for a few hours while I was doing the washing and doing a little clean up but when I took a catnap I woke to find a purring kitten curled up on my crest.  Looks like she remembered me after all 🙂

Indie did remember who I was in the end!

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Flight Review – QF044 Denpasar to Sydney

Flight: QF044 Denpasar (Bali) to Sydney
Airline: QANTAS
Plane: Boeing 737-800
Gate: 9B
Seat: 2C (Business Class Aisle)
Boarded: 21.57 (Scheduled 21.35)
Departed: 22.20 (Scheduled 22.20)
Arrived: 06.07 (Scheduled 06.20)
Duration: 5 Hours 47 Minutes

This was the return flight of my international trip to Indonesia (Bali) with my two sisters and nieces Darby and Erin and nephew Harry (review QF043 here).  Before boarding this flight I had visited the average Premier Lounge (review here) as a result of traveling in business class.

Gate Security – Denpasar

The Gate was the furthest from the Retail and Lounge area of the terminal and you have to submit to another bag check to access the Gate area.  We commenced general boarding late at 21.57, there was no priority boarding calls but they did have separate lanes for business (including high status Qantas members) and Economy.

Qantas B737-800 Business Class Seat

As a Boeing 737-800 this is a single aisle plane.  I had selected seat 2C as I wanted direct aisle access for this 6 hour overnight flight with the hope 2A seatmate wouldn’t get up too often (he only did three times, twice at beginning and once at the end).  There are three rows of 4 seats in business class (2 x2).  The seats had a pillow and blanket on them I stored the blanket but kept the pillow for the overnight flight.

The seats are very basic leather seats with a 37″ seat pitch and about 20″ width between arms.  Rows 2 and 3 have seat back video screens for the entertainment system.  Row 1 has pull-out screens from the armrest in the seat (which must be stored during landing and departure).

Pre departure drinks

We were offered juice, water or wine straight after boarding but before push back.  All business class seats were occupied with one seat once again having a plus one – a small baby who we didn’t hear from during the flight. Economy looked like it was close to 100% full when I visited my sister, niece and nephew about 40 minutes into the flight.

Dinner – braised beef

The meal service commenced in business class at 23.27 of 51 minutes after the plane had levelled out.  There was no entree / small plate offered (I won’t have selected anyway) but we did get roasted cashews & pretzels.  I selected the braised beef in coconut with coriander, lemongrass and jasmine rice.  I decline the dessert options and selected lemonade to drink during and after the meal.

QF044 Business Class Meal Menu

QF044 Business Class – Drinks Menu

We were provided the amenity kits after the main meal compare to the flight over when provided immediately after the plane leveled off.  The kit included an Aurora Relax and Hydrate Travel Essentials kit (Hand Cream, Face Moisturiser, and Lip Balm), toothpaste and brush, travel socks, face mask and ear plugs.  The face mask was welcome for this overnight flight.

QF044 Business Class – Amenity Kit

The entertainment options were the same as coming over to Bali making for a limited selection since the only movies loaded after New Release instead of New Release and Classic.  I watched the engrossing ‘Hidden Figures’ based on real events of black women who worked at NASA during the 1960s.

At 04.42 (AEST) just before passing over Broken Hill the plane experience significant air turbulence, significant in that it went for approximately 7 minutes not that it was serve.  Still air turbulence in the dead of night always feels worse than during the day.

QF044 Business Class – Breakfast Blueberry Muffin

I selected the Bluberry muffin for breakfast which was service 50 minutes out from landing.

Along landing we had to stay in our seats while a special health inspection occurred for very sick passengers.  I found out later it was a sick baby and her mother.  This inspection took around 8 minutes but eventually everyone was allowed to leave their seat and exit the plane.

Upon exiting the plane I added jeans to me shorts and a jacket given we were now back in winter.  Most passengers lined up for first ePassport machine but I knew from experience to get closer to Immigration and they would be empty.  We all passed immigration quickly although my sister read the signs as children under 16 can’t use the ePassport Security Gate but they can (I read the signs the same way).

My sister and her children’s bags came up before mine despite mine having the priority bag tag but I didn’t have to wait long.  The Customs control area was chaos with no lines in sight and everyone pushing in, a consequence of having some many planes land after curfew is lifted at this airport at 05.30.  From here we turned left and walked to the Qantas Domestic Transfer Check In which while having a significant line moved quickly and before we knew it we were enjoying a bus ride across the tarmac to Domestic terminal (this is a free service for Qantas customers, everyone else had to pay for the train ride instead).

Verdict
The Qantas B737-800 is the most basic service of the Qantas International Fleet but it still gets the job done especially in business.  Would I like lie flat (or near lie flat) seat in business – yes, however this is the best option from Denpasar (Bali), way better than Jetstar.  I would have thought the meal service would be better for breakfast at the end then dinner at the start given the late departure time as well.  I was satisfied with the business class service I paid for and received.

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Lounge Review – Denpasar Premier Lounge

Premier Lounge Denpasar

When visited: June 2017
Time of day: Night (21.10 to 21.35)
Rating: 3 / 5

ACCESS RULES
This is an independent Lounge which many airlines uses for their business class passengers.

I accessed the Lounge as both a QANTAS Platinum member and as Business Class passenger on Qantas flight.

Premier Lounge Entry

LOUNGE LOCATION
Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar). New International Terminal, Airside, 3rd Floor, near Gate 4.

LOUNGE AREA
The Lounge Area is fairly small or at least appeared that way when I visited due to the large number of visitors.  There are a few different areas including a small business.

Premier Lounge Food Station

FOOD AND DRINKS
There are two food stations located in the lounge area. One mostly for cold food (sandwiches, cold mini burgers and cakes), and the other one for a mix of cold and hot food (rice and chicken).  There is a station for juices, a self serve fridge with soft drinks and beers, plus a bar service.

Premier Lounge Food Station (Cold Food)

FACILITIES AND SERVICES
There are no showers or toilets that I could see in the lounge.  The business area with several computers (printing/photocopying facilities).  There are a few power outlets to plug in your laptop or other equipment.  I couldn’t logon to the free Wi-Fi but I found the general airport Wi-fi to be great.

Premier Lounge Business Centre

WHAT’S GOOD
The view of the airport.  Comfortable chairs.  Nice food options.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD
Wi-fi that doesn’t work.  No showers or toilets (at least that I found find).  Overcrowded.

Premier Lounge Juice Station

SUMMARY
A very basic lounge that due to the lack of facilities and non functioning Wi-fi you can easily give this lounge a miss and visit the nice airport general area including the lazy chairs.

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Bali 2017: Day 6 – Denpasar (Bali), Indonesia

Highlights: Tanah Lot Temple, Quad Bike Adventure

Tuesday 13 June 2017
Photos & Videos

The last full day in Bali and it felt like it had gone way to fast.  First up was the final breakfast as a whole group.  As I was going out across the province during the day and given Kara and Erin were on the 6pm flight home it was time to say our goodbyes.

Tanah Lot Temple

For today’s Bali drive around the island the adventurous Darby joined me while everyone else stayed back at the Resort.
Today it was raining or drizzling for most of the morning.  In some ways it added to the charm seeing different weather conditions but in other ways it turned out to be hair raising at the same time.   The main visit of the day was to Tanah Lot Temple which was about an hour from our Resort.

Tanah Lot Temple – Rough Weather

Tanah Lot Temple, or Pura Tanah Lot, was established during the 15th or 16th century on the North of the island.  It is a Hindu temple that the Japanese Government helped save from erosion due to the sea constantly smashing up against it.  The harsher weather made the waves hitting the shore must more spectacular than on a calm day.

​Darby and me hiked around the area for a while and watched a cultural offering to the Gods.  Unfortunately for the ducks they didn’t survive the harsh waves for very long.  Apparently during low tide you can walk across the the Temple but in high tide that would be way to dangerous.

Darby and me on the Quad Bike

The adventurous Darby then selected our next activity, ATV or Quad Bike in the terrain around Pertiwi.  What we probably hadn’t considered was the rain during the day making the path a bit more dangerous, we almost tipped over at one early point as I was getting used to the bike.  We rode as tandem so Darby was my instructor, the most heard instruction was let’s go faster.  Having signed a waiver for Darby and myself I was most concerned that my sister Lana would kill me if Darby returned injured.

Darby the Adventurer

At some points the water almost went up to our knees, luckily they give you gum boots and plastic bags for you feet to keep a little dry.  About half way though the ride you stop at a local house which Darby took as a signal to find a local bat and pat a local dog :). Near the end I did get a little more adventurous taking one incline at speed (one of the rare ones that didn’t have a sharp turn immediately after it).  We also got on some flat ground at one stage which allowed for a little more speed.  I’m sure our guide was wondering early on how I even had a license but semi automatic quad bikes are not in my normal wheel house!

For the rest of the day Darby wanted to see some wood craving and jewellery makers.  Surprisingly Darby didn’t actually want to buy anything.  I’ll have to take Darby out on more trips 🙂

Local Carpenter

We got back to the Resort around 5.30 pm and I quickly found Lana and Harry who had been relaxing during the day.  Lana had booked us in at H2O restaurants Aussie BBQ night buffet which was a nice way to finish the trip.  We then walked outside and visited a local Mart to use up most of our remaining Indonesian Ruppees.  Harry ended up with bucket loads of candy, I mean really crazy amounts.

We had a booked transfer from the Resort so we retrieved our stored bags, I got changed and off to the airport it we went.  This only turned out to be a 10 minute trip which was very quick.  As it turned out this was a good thing as it takes a while to checkin and clear security.  They have security scans of your bags to get to the checkin area, at the checkin line they check your bags for explosives and drugs (I’m guessing).

Time to Leave

You then have to go through Immigration and at the Gate they again check you bags.  We were also allocated Gate 9B which is a long way from Immigration so it took a while to get there.  I barely had a chance to even visit the Premier Lounge (Review Here) before we had to leave and board our flight leaving at 10.20 pm.

Deck Chairs at the airport!

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Bali 2017: Day 5 – Denpasar (Bali), Indonesia

Highlights: Batuan Temple, Blangsinga Waterfall, Elephant Safari Park & Lodge, Ubud Rice Paddy Terraces, Shopping, Watching Nieces dance at Gracie Kelly’s Irish Pub

Monday 12 June 2017
Photos & Videos

This was the big day, the day to explore Bali outside of Kuta with the help of my local driver Made Dana.   A work colleague supplied my with Dana’s details and I found him to be very good at finding great places to visit.

We started with a visit to the Hindu Batuan Temple which Dana explained was built in the year of 944 Isaka or 1020 AD.  Being almost 1000 years old, this temple is categorized as Puseh temple according to the concept of “Tri Kahyangan or Tri Murti”. This is also makes this temple as the oldest temple in Bali island.  Dana explained how once a year the Balinese have a quiet day of reflection, no digital gadgets, no work, no driving, everything including the International airport is shutdown.  People use this time to reflect and mediate on the good and the bad they have done over the past year.  Sounded petty cool idea to me.

Batuan Temple

Next up was a visit to the Blangsinga Waterfall.  It’s a bit of a hike to get there (given the humidity) and you don’t want to fall off some of the walk ways but it’s definitely worth it.  Apparently some people used to dive off the cliff, very stupid people I’d say.

Blangsinga Waterfall

Next I visited the Elephant Safari Park & Lodge which is a sanctuary for elephants in Bali and which you can actually stay.  The elephants appeared to be well looked after and I didn’t see in cruel treatment, just rewards when the  elephants did activities there handlers (called mahouts) wanted.   I didn’t go for a ride (having done that previously) but I did watch a show were an elephant dunked a basketball and killed a soccer goal.  None of the elephants were interested in painting today and since they aren’t made do something they don’t want to do I missed seeing that live (but did see a video on site of some elephants painting).

​From here it was a visit to the Ubud Rice Paddy Terraces which are working rice fields that show how mother nature can create diverse and beautiful landscape that humans can use without causing to much harm.  There were a few children trying to hawk goods at this locations, while school was on a break I couldn’t help wonder if these children do this and miss school sometimes.

Ubud Rice Paddy Terraces

Between these locations I visited the following cooperatives and businesses, getting to watch locals craft their goods:

  • Dewa Putu Toris (Studio of Artists) – paintings;
  • Yanyan Gold & Silver Smith – jewelry;
  • Dewa Malen Wood Carving – sculptures, wood cravings;
  • Alas Harum Agro Tourism – Kopi Luwak Coofee;
  • Sari Amerta Batik Collection – scarfs, dresses etc

Dewa Malen Wood Carving

These artists and workers were so good I actually ended up buying something from every one of these businesses and collectives.   On reflection I was very happy with my purchases and I suspect my family will be as well.

Driving though central Kuta at 5.30 pm (we started at 8.00 am) when returning I noticed a very difficult Kuta then I experienced during the day, many Australians and a very different feel, perhaps a party feel.  I might have found this jarring after seeing some of the Bali countryside during the day and Balinese going about there daily lives.

Back at the Dynasty Bali Resort I found that Harry, Darby and Erin had enjoyed their massage during the day.  Hard to believe children getting massages, there are being spoilt during this trip!

Erin gets her singing voice going!

For dinner we went to Gracie Kelly’s Irish Pub.  The meals were fine but it was the entetainment that made the night.  First Darby and then Erin went up to dance to local muscians.  It was magical watching these children dance with such freedom.  I felt so blessed to be there to experience this.


 

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Bali 2017: Day 4 – Denpasar (Bali), Indonesia

Highlights: Shopping, Asoka Full Body Massage, Drinking under the Stars

Sunday 11 June 2017
Photos & Videos

Today was all about relaxation and being pampered.  A sleep in to 9 am followed by a leisurely breakfast than saw us wonder town to the Kuta Town Centre.  We arrived at the Discovery Shopping Centre has they were opening at 10 am and not longer after witnessed the staff of the centre engage in a morning dance.  Some staff looked very happy but a few definitely were just going though the motions.

Street shopping in Kuta

On our way back to the Resort Harry got to try out is ‘exceptional’ bargaining skills managing to get a trader on the beach to go from 2 sea shells for 150,000 rupees ($15 AUD) to 3 sea shells for the same price.  Harry was happy with this bargain.

Harry the master bargainer!

During the middle of the day I spent some time in the Dynasty Bali Resort relaxing with the kids.  Harry and Darby left at one point to break the world record on the Water slide leaving me and Erin to have a lazy floating contest.

Guess who won the Lazy Floating Contest?

In the afternoon I was scheduled for an Asoka Full Body Massage a specialty of the resort.  The massage went for 90 minutes costing 430,000 rupees (around $43 AUD) and used various relaxing aromatherapy oils and gentle music while the masseur  (who has been working there for 6 years) gently worked my entire body.  It was a little bit of heaven which no pain (unlike every previous massage I’ve received) other then a small crack when adjusting my upper back.  I could barely walk afterwards and just wanted to lay down in blissful reflection.

Luckily my sisters had a final plan for the day to get me going again, drink cocktails under the stars at the H2O bar at the Resort prior to dinner.   Any extremely pleasant experience drinking ‘Sex on the Beach’ cocktails and wishing that today was an everyday experience.

My sisters Kara and Lana enjoying a drink with me under the stars

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