Bali 2017: Day 3 – Denpasar (Bali), Indonesia 

Highlights: Street Shopping, Erin & Darby’s Hair Braiding, Uluwatu Pura (Temple)

Saturday 10 June 2017
Photos & Videos

After another lovely buffet breakfast at the H2O resturant at Bali Dynasty Resort Erin joined the Kids Club and the rest of us headed down to central Kuta and the Discovery Shopping Centre.  The walk along the beach once again provided stunning views.  The shopping centre didn’t turn out to be two impressive so it was decided to head out for some street shopping.

Street Shopping in Kuta

It turns out that most tourist aren’t out in the streets at 10 am so the vendors who were open really wanted our business.  Eventually Kara and Lana selected a street shop, Lana found Harry some very cool sunglasses and Kara found some clothes for Erin and Jason after some limited bargaining.  It was very hot and humid out there so a stop off at the convenience store found very cheap soft drinks (around 0.70 cents Australian for Spirite 330 ml bottles).  Just the think to replace everything lost to sweating in the heat.

Erin’s hair braiding

The early afternoon was about the pool for the Lana, Kara and the kids.  Lana even went on the giant water slide but had to prove this with photos to Darby!  Meanwhile Darby and Erin got their much wanted hair braiding although they didn’t have much fun getting it done 🙂

Around 3 pm our booked tour to visit the Uluwatu Pura (Temple) at sunset with a kecak and fire dancing performance followed by dinner on the beach at Jimbaran Bay.  Pickup was on time but Harry and Lana took some extra time preparing.  We where booked with a company called Tour East, the tour was only supposed to be the six of us (maximum booking) but they added another person.  This caused considerable issues as that person wasn’t at their hotel and about 15 minutes after leaving we were called back which obviously cut into our time at Uluwatu and spoiled to some degree the all family affair.

The drive to Uluwatu was enlightening as it gave us a first chance to see what Bali is actually like and see people just going about their day to day lives.  Motorbikes are the main transportation option and they can be loaded down with a lot of items.  Apparently there is also no speed limits in Bali so best to let the locals drive!

Uluwatu Cliff Temple

The Uluwatu Temple is a Balinese sea temple established by a Javanese sage, Empu Kuturan in the 11th Century.  The cliff setting is stunning with a very big drop.  The temple is inhabited by monkeys, who are notorious for snatching visitors’ belongings and we saw an attempt while we were there with one of the monkeys showing it’s teeth when missing out.  We then hiked up to the Uluwatu Temple along the cliff, mobility impaired people won’t be able to visit.

Uluwatu Cliffs

We then hiked to an outdoor stadium and with the sunsetting, we enjoyed stunning ocean views while watching a performance of kecak, which is a traditional Balinese dance, the performers chant around a fire while telling the story of Rama (the hero) and Ravana (the evil demon).  The performers occasionally and hilariously interacted with the audience.  Erin started falling asleep on my shoulder during the show until the end when she found the performers dressed as monkeys very funny.

​After the show we left to go to Jimbaran Bay for a dinner under the stars on the Kedonganan Beach.  Our extra passenger went off to a separate table and we enjoyed the seafood dinner.  

Jimbaran Bay

Although Harry ended up ‘choking’ on a very small bone so wasn’t very happy for a while.  Erin thought a landing plane was a falling star for a long time.  Returning to our Resort both Erin and Harry fell asleep.

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Bali 2017: Day 2 – Denpasar (Bali), Indonesia 

Highlights: Waterbom Park – Twin Racer and Lazy River Rides, Fish Spa Therapy, The Kids having Fun

Friday 09 June 2017
Photos & Videos

The family holiday really begins today starting with a family breakfast buffet at Bali Dynasty Resort H2O Resturant which was included with the package.  Even getting from our room to the buffet you could smell the holiday air as the ducks walked across our path and children were running around excited.

Kara had arrived a few days earlier due to high loads on Jetstar and Qantas flights to Bali so she had worked out the resorts best features and how to access the Kuta Beach.  Plus tips on best food stations at the breakfast buffet.  Everyone was excited.

Kuta Beach

We head to Waterbom Park via the Kuta Beach, a few hawkers and merchants keen to engage with us and sell their wares.  The kids still getting used to this more aggressive (but normally fun) selling style.  The Kuta beach is definitely not for swimming in, rocks and dark water at time but the views were still good.

We turned into the Discovery Shopping Centre in order to access the road and then Waterbom Park.  You notice there is security at most places, leaving the resort, entry the shopping centre and the security point at the Water Park even before purchasing you ticket.  Waterbom uses wristbands to pay for items inside the park.  You get wrist bands for everything, for your locker, and every time a photographer takes your photo as well (which works out well actually).  Waterbom will refund in cash any extra money you paid onto you payment wristband, a nice way to convert to cash without using cash advance.

The kids were super excited across the day and went on most of the riders / slides including; Twin Racer, Smash Down 2.0, Constructor, Green Vipers, Python, the Lazy River and the Boomerang.  I beat Harry on the Twin Racer and went around on the Lazy River many times.  Darby was fearless waving several times when on one of the very high slides.

The Lazy River

The last time Harry and myself were on the same tube on the Lazy River he wanted to avoid a small waterfall to avoid getting wet (I know weird) and he jumped to the back of the tube which had the effort of flipping the tube and putting us both underwater – nice job Harry 🙂

Kara and Erin, and Harry and Darby went on the Boomerang.  This really showed Kara was willing to try anything to ensure Erin got to enjoy herself.  

​The kids also went on the trapeze / trampoline getting very high in the process.  

Harry goes very high!

I guess everyone found the Fish Spa Therapy to be fun and a little silly.  The fish eating your dead skin off your legs always trickles a little bit.  Harry accidentally kicked a fish out of the pool but Kara quickly rescued it.

Time to feed the fish!

Late in the day both Erin and Darby got a treat getting their nails done up and painted in amazing colours.  Harry wasn’t too keen on the 90 minute wait but was happy to spent a little bit of time with me in the sun while we waited.

Girl time

On the way back to the resort my sisters couldn’t help themselves but do a little shopping at the Discovery Shopping Centre.  Sandals were on the shopping menu for today.  Back at the Resort it was dinner in the main resturant as the kids recalled how brave their were today.  I guess sometimes hearing the word awesome a few times doesn’t get old when it’s from excited kids mouths.

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Bali 2017: Day 1 – Melbourne to Denpasar (Bali), Indonesia (via Sydney) 

Thursday 08 June 2017

Highlights: Qantas Sydney International First Class Lounge, Seeing Lana at Denpasar Airport

Qantas Sydney First Class Lounge

I booked this trip with Qantas under a special promotion that would finally get me to lifetime gold membership with Qantas after 14.5 years (with free lounge access and seat selection for life) and allow me to visit the QF Sydney International First Class Lounge for the first time ever.   But far more importantly spend some time with my two sisters Kara and Lana and my nieces Erin and Darby and nephew Harry.  Both my sisters had faced setups in recent times and Lana in particular had a significant health issue that her recovery was the greatest gift I could ever receive.

Kara and Erin left for Bali on staff travel on Tuesday flying on Jetstar via Perth.  Lana, Harry and Darby were flying today on Qantas to Perth and than Jetstar to Bali.  As a result we were messaging each other during the day as our flights were supposed to arrive within 5 minutes of each other.  This would be Lana’s first international trip as an adult and the first international trip for her children so it was important we meet up at the same time.

I caught the train from Melbourne to Broadmeadows in the morning.  My mum who lives near the airport generously picked me up and took me the rest of the way for me domestic positioning flight to Sydney.  My bag was checked in all the way to Bali and I was in the Qantas Melbourne Domestic Business Class Lounge around an hour before my flight.  I caught up with some urgent work in the lounge and started worrying that I hadn’t packed something important (no problems this time but I always second guess).

The flight to Sydney was in business class on a Qantas Airbus 330 which have amazing business class seats / pods (see review here).  Once at the Sydney terminal I found Gate 15 (International Transfers) and did the bus ride across the Tarmac to the International terminal.  Seeing these huge planes from the ground is always an amazing sight.

I was given an Express Pass so clearing Immgration didn’t take to long and I was once again airside in the Sydney International terminal.  This time however I had access to the Qantas First Class Lounge.  It was amazing, I enjoy a Spa Treatment, stunning views of the airport, a great sit down meal service and just chilled out (see the review here).  It was as good as it gets from an Airport Lounge and unfortunately it spoiled my for the come down of my business class flight to Bali 🙂

The Qantas Boeing 737-800 is a single aisle plane with 12 business class seats (all full) and about 140 economy passengers (also all full).  The seats recline a little and definitely have good leg room and the entertainment system was fine.  However having experience the best Qantas domestic business class seat up to Sydney (way better than this seat) and one of the best 5 lounges in the world it was a little bit of a come down (see review here).

QF043 Sydney to Denpasar Flight

We landed a little early and the first thing I saw on arrival was my sister Lana’s flight was delayed for an hour.  That caused my concerns as I promised to meet her at the airport.  Luckily it downed out the display was wrong as I spotted Darby, Harry and Lana in the Immigration line 🙂

After immgration and customs it took us a while to find our driver to the Bali Dynasty Resort and even then we had to wait for another family.  The heat and humidity even at 10 pm at night was almost overwhelming, I guess I had experience 0 degrees in Canberra morning around 30 hours earlier!

Immigration at Denpasar Airport

A very short drive saw us at the Resort and my other sister Kara and a happy niece Erin greeting us.  So now we are all together for this six day adventure, bring it on!

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Flight Review – QF043 Sydney to Denpasar (Bali)

Flight: QF043 Sydney to Denpasar (Bali)
Airline: QANTAS
Plane: Boeing 737-800
Gate: 37
Seat: 2C (Business Class Aisle)
Departed: 16.39 (Scheduled 16.40)
Arrived: 21.10 (Scheduled 21.20)
Duration: 6 Hours 31 Minutes

QF043 Sydney to Denpasar Plane

This was the second flight of my international trip to Indonesia (Bali) with my two sisters and their children (excluding Andrew). Kara and Lana were traveling separate to myself. I booked this flight as part of a business class sale and double status credit deal Qantas were running. At the end of this trip I’d be a Lifetime Gold member of Qantas meaning lifetime lounge access, priority award seat booking, free seat selection and extra baggage allowance whenever flying Qantas, Oneworld alliance or a Qantas partner.

Before boarding this flight I had visited the amazing Qantas Sydney First Lounge (review here) and earlier in the day I had traveled on the A330 to Sydney in business class (review here) which meant I was totally spoiled before this trip.

We commenced general boarding at 4.12 pm after first boarding families with small children.  One gentleman pushed past everyone waiting in line for general boarding to only be sent back with this is boarding for families with small children.  No awareness at all other than pushing past people waiting.

Qantas B737-800 Business Class Seats

I had selected seat 2C as I wanted direct aisle access for this 6+ hours flight.  There are three rows of 4 seats in business class (2 x2).  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 seat (which must be stored during landing and departure).

Qantas B737-800 Business Seat Entertainment System

We were offered water, juice or wine straight after boarding but before push back (which occurred at 16.39).  All business class seats were occupied with one seat also have a plus one – a small baby who was great during the flight and liked to entertain other passengers around her.  Economy looked like it was 100% full as well so Qantas is doing very well by this flight especially given a Jetstar flight that left at the same time appeared to be near 100% full as well.

The amenity kit

The seats had a pillow and blanket one them which I quickly stored but other passengers in business used. After a smooth take off business passengers were provided with an amenities kit. Included was 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.

Cinnamon and walnut braised chicken with saffron carrots and couscous

About 40 minutes into the flight the meal service commenced.  I skipped entree / small plate having eaten in the lounge.  For my main I selected the cinnamon and walnut braised chicken with saffron carrots and couscous.  I selected Coke Zeros during and after the meal.

QF043 Food Menu


QF043 Drink Menu

For dessert I selected Pat and Stick’s ice cream sandwich.  The chicken was fine without being great, but the overall options were more than enough for this 6+ hour flight.

The darkened full economy cabin

The entertainment options were fine although a few more movie options would be good.  I watched ‘Passengers’ staring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, followed by the ‘Lego Batman Movie’.  After these movies I tried to get a few hours sleep.  Unfortunately the seats (both 2A and 2C) had significant issues reclining that need staff assistance and given when reclined had barely moved.  Still they were fine for a flight that started in day time, not sure how good for actual real sleep however.

About 45 minutes out from our destination the flight attendants came around and offered either Parmesan beignets or Chicken Siu Mai with soy dressing (basically dim sims) I went with the chicken dim sims.  Unfortunately my seat mate in 2A progressively got worst during the flight and had to keep going to the bathroom including just before landing and again while taxing to the gate, the first time I’ve gotten out of my seat with the seat belt sign on but I wasn’t going to get in anyone’s way who is about to vomit!

Long lines at Denpasar Airport Immigration

We landed early at 9.10 pm at Denpasar International Airport.  The flight attendants farewelled us all by name as we left which was a nice touch.  It was a long walk to immigration control and with some many planes from Australian landing within 20 minutes of each other the lines were huge.  Still it was easy at border control with friendly staff and my bag was waiting for me to pick up and clear customs without further questions.

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Lounge Review – Qantas Sydney International First Class Lounge

When visited: June 2017
Time of day: Midday (12.40 pm to 15.45 pm)
Rating: 5 / 5

ACCESS RULES
– Flying First class on a Qantas or Oneworld flight later that day.
– Qantas Platinum member or Oneworld Alliance Emerald flying Business or Economy international flight later that day
– Emirates Skywards Platinum member whose next onward flight that day carries a QF or EK flight number and is operated by Qantas.
– Individuals under 18 must be accompanied by an adult given this is a licensed area.

I accessed the International First Class Lounge as a QANTAS Platinum member, while I was travelling in Business Class later that day this would not have gotten me into the lounge.

Escalator to traveller heaven

LOUNGE LOCATION
The Qantas Sydney International First Class Lounge is in international terminal on level four, just follow the many signs after clearing passport control and the duty free shops. The escalators are located near gates 9 and 10.

The frosted gates to the First Class Lounge

Take the escalators up to the third level and you will see the frosted first class doors from which many passengers will be rejected and sent to the Qantas Sydney International First Class Lounge.

A short walk past plant life somehow maintained in this inside setting and you will find another escalator to the fourth floor and you will find the lounge entry next to old style flight notification board.

Tip: Make sure you enquiry about the free Spa Treatment booking at the lounge entry desk as spots fill very fast (mostly taken by actual First Class passengers who can book 24 hours before they travel.

LOUNGE AREA
The Qantas Sydney International First Class Lounge area is large, you enter roughly in the middle, turning left will take you towards the library area with two booked quiet rooms, turning left will eventually see you at the Spa Treatment facility.

The General Lounge Area

The seating areas can seem both intimate but at the same time spacious, the chairs vary in style (all good) and are very comfortable and cozy, especially the reclining chairs near the windows so you can watch the planes.

Comfortable Chairs in the First Class Lounge

The lounge has an entire glass viewing area with a view of the tarmac and the coming and going planes.  The natural light is very refreshing, and even more speculator when a storm passes (which occurred when I visited).

Library Area First Class Lounge

FOOD AND DRINKS

The Small All Day Dinning Station

There are several small service stations with some very minor snacks but the main game is the restaurant areas spread across the lounge.

Salt & Pepper Squid

You take a seat and a waiter will quickly bring a menu and offer water (still or sparkling). You can order beers and wines immediately or when the waiter comes back for your meal order. On my first sitting (yes I came back 2 hours later) I had the Salt and Pepper Squid which was amazing with a James Boag premium light.

Dessert French Vanilla Ice Cream

I followed this up with a dessert of French vanilla ice cream.

At my second sitting (after walking around the International Terminal) I ordered the stunning risotto mushroom.

FACILITIES AND SERVICES
There are showers, toilets, several TVs which have either Pay TV Station Sky News or free to air Channel Nine, several iMac computers (which you can select PC mode on), printing/photocopying facilities, multiple tea / coffee stations.

There are a number of power outlets to plug in your laptop or other equipment.  Free Wi-Fi is offered which I used for about 30 minutes and it appeared to be very fast for a free.

SPA TREATMENT 

The Spa Treatment Facility Entry

One of the major extras of this lounge is the free spa treatment.  As mentioned earlier you must book on the day if not flaying First Class so do it early.  I arranged a booking for myself only 20 minutes after arriving at the lounge.  The Spa facility has indoor plants on the walls helping create a sense of wellness.

The Spa Treatment Centre Waiting Room

I selected the Men’s Purifying Facial.  Linda was an amazing attendant who engaged with me during the treatment with interesting stories from her life and health tips.  I enjoyed the treatment so much I decided to forgo my normal shower before an international shower.

The Private Treatment Room

WHAT’S GOOD

The View from the Lounge of the Tarmac

Everything.  The service is great, the menu for the sit down service is amazing, the views perfect.  Not sure what more you could ask for.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD

Nothing really.  Maybe a few chairs that reclined more to sleep easier but not sure why you would need that during the hours the lounge operates.

SUMMARY

If you have access to the Qantas Sydney International First Class Lounge take it up.  Book a Spa Treatment is you can, enjoy the sit down meal service and relax before your next international flight.  It will be hard to go back to lower status lounges or no lounges!

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Flight Review – QF424 Melbourne to Sydney

Flight: QF424 Melbourne to Sydney
Airline: QANTAS
Plane: Airbus 330-200
Gate: 21
Seat: 2A (Business Class)
Departed: 10:29 (Scheduled 10:30)
Arrived: 12:08 (Scheduled 11:55)
Duration: 1 Hours 39 Minutes

This flight is part of my international trip to Indonesia (Bali) with my two sisters and their children (excluding Andrew).  Kara and Lana were travelling separate to myself.  I booked this flight as part of a business class sale and double status credit deal Qantas were running.  At the end of this trip I’d be a Lifetime Gold member of Qantas meaning lifetime lounge access, priority award seat booking, free seat selection and extra baggage allowance whenever flying Qantas, Oneworld alliance or a Qantas partner.

Qantas A330 Business Class Seat 2A

Priority boarding offered with only a few economy non status passengers in business lane (they were allowed to board).  Business class passengers boarded at front door, economy at second mid plane door.  I had selected a window view seat at 2A. All Qantas Business Class seats on the A330-200 offer direct aisle access so no climbing over another passenger which is a great highlight an makes it easier to get up and walk around or to get items from you onboard baggage.

The business seat / pod had a pillow and blanket waiting for me upon boarding using the priority lane.   No need for either item on such a short flight.   The leg room is fantastic in these business seat / pods. I also found the cabin crew very attentive to all business passengers considering such a short flight.

I was offered either a water or apple juice as soon as seated.  We pushed backed one minute early at 10.29 am however we remained on the tarmac for a while as Melbourne Airport was reduced to one runway today.

Late Breakfast – Early Lunch Meal

Meal option was salmon salad or reuben sandwich. Selected sandwich which came with Sweet Greek strained classic yogurt. Beard or banana cake offered for desert (selected beard). Select orange juice. Declined tea or coffee.  I was offered top up of orange juice after meal.

The flight was very smooth considering the rain clouds in both Melbourne and Sydney and most of the journey.

Mid Way between Melbourne and Sydney

We landed late at 12.00 and I left the plane at 12.08 pm at Gate 11 which was a short walk to Gate 15 International Transfer gate.  

International Transfer Gate 15 Sydney

From here after a 5 minute wait and a bus ride across the Sydney tarmac and before I knew it I was onto the next stage of the trip – the Qantas First Class Sydney International Lounge!

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Lounge Review – Qantas Canberra Domestic Business Lounge

When visited: May 2017
Time of day: Evening (7.20 pm to 8.30 pm)
Rating: 4.5 / 5

ACCESS RULES
– Flying Business class on a Qantas or QantasLink flight later that day.
– Qantas Platinum member or Oneworld Alliance
– Emirates Skywards Platinum member whose next onward flight that day carries a QF or EK flight number and is operated by Qantas or QantasLink
– Individuals under 18 must be accompanied by an adult given this is a licensed area.

I accessed the Business Lounge as a QANTAS Platinum member and as Business Class passenger.

LOUNGE LOCATION
The QANTAS Canberra Domestic Business Lounge is in the main terminal located between Gates 10 and 11.  After passing security turn left and follow the signs to the Qantas Club.  Up the Escalators and you can either turn left for the super secret Chairman’s Lounge, straight ahead for the Business lounge or right for the Qantas Club Lounge.

LOUNGE AREA
The QANTAS Business Lounge area is a very large area, probably the second largest in the country only behind Sydney Business Lounge.  This is likely due to high number of senior public servants flying around the country so beware this is not a place to discuss Tax Avoidance Schemes or how to gaming the welfare system!

You need to pass a security desk at the front entrance.  Many passengers who only have access to the Qantas Club end up getting redirected to that lounge so Qantas staff are on the lookout for your boarding pass and / or boarding pass. The lounge does not really provide tarmac views but does have some natural light.

After entering you can turn left for the bathroom facilities and seats and tables or right for tables and seating areas and the all important bar and food stations.  This lounge area is more formal than most business lounges I’ve visited although you only need to wear neat casual (jeans yes, singlets no) you do stand out if not in business attire.  As this is a huge lounge I had not difficulty finding either a single seat area or multiple grouped seating areas.  I suspect it might be a bit harder just before 6 pm departures.

FOOD
There is a main food station which you can use to make up nice sandwiches and take various cakes and bread based products.  You will find some hot food, on this visit it was a curry and rice option.  The more formal tables also have apple selections on them.  You can get apples and oranges from the main food station as well.

DRINKS
There is a dedicated bar that serves up espresso coffee throughout the day and wine and other alcoholic drinks from noon.  Before noon you could get coffee service, juices, tea and water.  There is a self-serve soft drink station you can use whenever the lounge is open but they only use smaller glasses (staff will provide longer 330 ml glass at the main bar).

FACILITIES AND SERVICES
There are several showers (you don’t need to book), toilets, several TVs which have either Pay TV Station Sky News or free to air Channel Nine, many iMac computers (which you can select PC mode on), printing/photocopying facilities, multiple tea / coffee stations and charging stations for most cable connections.

There are a number of power outlets to plug in your laptop or other equipment but grab these spots quickly as they are in high demand. Free Wi-Fi is offered but I didn’t test the speed but I have heard it is really only good for basic internet browsing and e-mail.

WHAT’S GOOD
The Qantas Business Lounge in Canberra provides a huge area to relax in with multiple different seating options and a quite ‘non mobile phone’ area.  The lounge is right outside the main gates used for Melbourne and Sydney bound flights.  The lounge is very clean with lots of food and drink options which far exceed anything you will be offer in economy on short flights from Canberra (Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane).

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD
Having no real tarmac views and more power outlets would be great.

SUMMARY
When of the best domestic Qantas Business Lounges in the country, Qantas obviously want to keep the Senior Public Servants and any CEOs visiting the National Capital happy.   There is no charge for food or drinks nor is tipping expected (or anywhere in Australia).  A good way to spend 30 to 90 minutes (any less just go to the Gate, any more spend more time in Canberra).

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