A Travellerspoint blog

October 15 2010

Off to Europe

A joyous occasion

We are also leaving Bali. We fly back to Singapore at 2:15pm and then pick up the midnight Singapore Airlines A380 to Heathrow

Because we had a 6 hour wait at Singapore airport, we decided to check in to the Ambassador Transit Hotel; you book in 6-hour segments for about A$60 per segment. Perfect for us and it meant we could just lie around and relax without having to mingle with thousands of people

The flight was excellent especially as we were in the Upper Deck where the seats are arranged as 2-4-2; the left and right side of the plane is very cosy for couples

Posted by kforge 09:49 Archived in Indonesia

October 14 2010

Rob leaves us

overcast 32 °C

A sad occasion

Rob left today to head off to Malacca, the Jungle Railway and then Penang. We marked his departure with Mango Tart and Black Rice Pudding at the Tekor Bali restaurant (see smiles below)

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Good travelling Rob, and just to prove we're finally getting rid of him

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Posted by kforge 09:47 Archived in Indonesia

October 13 2010

Still in Seminyak

sunny 30 °C

In the evening we strolled down to the small collection of beach shacks and sampled Lumpia and Bintang at the Taris Beach Hut while watching pretty much the only sunset there has been during our days in Seminyak

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So what did I think about The Mansion Resort Hotel and Spa and the linked Baliwood Resort?

Let me start by saying I had been travelling around Bali and Lombok for 3 weeks before I came to the Mansion and I had been staying at cheap losmen as well as 2, 3 and 4-star hotels

The Mansion
Possibly the most ridiculous and inappropriate hotel I have ever stayed in. If you know the Versace Palace on the Gold Coast, then you have some sort of idea of the style of this place. The Mansion is allegedly a 5-star resort. One of the rooms in the Ambassador Suite area is listed at US$265-285 and it doesn’t even have doors that open onto a deck – it could be any hotel in any big city but here we are in Sayan, 5 km from Ubud. By the way, the suite is just a room with a common lounge area shared by 3 rooms. The staff are very friendly but do not seem to have been given much training; it took them 20 minutes to check us in and in the evening took 30 minutes to find 2 tea-bags. This may seem picky but if you advertise yourself as 5-star, then you have to provide 5-star service even if you’re in Bali. A few minutes after arrival we requested a transfer to the Baliwood Resort (on the same site) and it was done the next day

Baliwood
Their web-site states “BaliWood Resort is a green oasis in between the earth and the sky, surrounded with genuine warmth and modern facilities, where Arts and culture soothe the senses”. If by “green oasis” they mean a deserted wasteland and unfinished buildings, then they are correct. The web-site also quotes a “One Bedroom Villa with plunge pool” for US$650 per night; now I know that hotel web-sites often inflate their room rates but really this room (actually within its own walled compound ) was only slightly better than the US$70 rooms at the Puri Saraswati Hotel in the centre of Ubud and every time you want to go into Ubud, you either catch the hourly hotel shuttle (last one back is 9:20pm) or grab a taxi (not expensive but can involve a lot of hanging around). One of the pools is very nice but the gardens are poorly maintained and surprisingly lacking in the intense tropical vegetation that you expect in the Ubud area

Posted by kforge 18:05 Archived in Indonesia

October 12 2010

Jeni's Birthday

storm 28 °C

Happy Birthday Jeni!

Rob, Jeni and I walked about 4km up the beach towards Canggu - the beach was very dirty and the building is completely out of control in this area which includes the Oberoi and Sofitel

Grabbed a photo of this beach shack which we've eaten at a couple of times

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In the evening we had dinner with Chris and Dawn at a restaurant just close to the Kumala Pantai Hotel

Posted by kforge 17:53 Archived in Indonesia

October 11 2010

Back to Seminyak for the sea breeze

rain 30 °C

We took a taxi back down to Seminyak and after a bit of hunting around for hotel rooms, ended up back at the Kumala Pantai Hotel! The traffic for the last 45 minutes was extremely busy (it goes without saying in this area, but I'll say it anyway). Tomorrow is Jeni's birthday so Rob, Jeni and I will meet up with Chris and Dawn for an evening meal to celebrate the occasion with Hatton's Rose

Posted by kforge 19:17 Archived in Indonesia

October 5 2010

Move 5 km from Ubud to Sayan

storm 30 °C

On the 5th we moved from the Puri Saraswati Hotel to the Mansion Hotel where Jeni has been allocated a room for the duration of the Writers Festival (the Puri Saraswati is not good value at US$70 for a double, the rooms are tired and their housekeeping is pretty slack). At the Mansion we were given what can only be described as a bizarre room in the bizarre main building - no verandah, no view just a large marbled room in the style of the entrance lobby. So after much discussion with the management we were moved to Palm Wood Cottage in their adjacent Baliwood development; it's still a bizarre place outside the cottage's compound but at least we can sit on a deck now and read

Last night (the 6th) was the offical festival opening ceremony in the Royal Palace in Ubud. Speeches, gamelan and dancing and then finally an awful "Eurovision"-style routine from which we beat a hasty retreat

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Jeni is chairing the first of her 3 sessions on Friday the 8th

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October 8 - doing it tough at the Writers festival

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October 10 - Jeni's last session at the Festival

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Posted by kforge 23:51 Archived in Indonesia

October 1 2010

In the centre of Ubud

rain 30 °C

On Friday, Rob and Anne swapped to the Nirvana Hotel (good value at US$25 for each of the rooms) and Jeni duly arrived at 10:45pm at the Suraswati

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The following morning we all wandered around Ubud and found a great cafe overlooking rice-paddies (yes, there are still some around here) before Annemarleen’s Taksu Resort picked her up (no more driving for us!) to take her to Soka Beach in west Bali (which incidently we thought of staying at during the long drive but despite being in the area could not find it at night). The afternoon was then spent watching the AFL Grand Final replay – just what happened to St Kilda?

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Jeni is continuing her preparation for the 3 sessions she is chairing at the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival which starts on October 6

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Posted by kforge 03:01 Archived in Indonesia

September 28 2010

Off for bit of a tour by car

semi-overcast 29 °C

After meeting up with Annemarleen in Seminyak the previous evening, we took a taxi up to Ubud ($30) and picked up a hire car for 4 days ($22 per day from the very good BaliCarFinders in Ubud ). The first night we stayed at the really lovely Alam Sari hotel at Keliki ($80 for a family suite) and the second night at the lovely beach-side Adirama beach Hotel at Lovina Beach (good value at $70 for a family suite). We had a great time (except for a few hours) – the north west coast is traffic-free with lovely bays and around Pemuteran there are some really nice resorts with what looked like excellent diving and snorkelling. And, the food along the way was very good especially at the Tamin Sari Resort http://www.balitamansari.com

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Driving in Bali: Just where to begin? Don’t do it; no-one seems capable of producing a map that is even vaguely accurate, you’ll never know where you actually are (especially at night) and the entire road system from Gilimanuk to Amlapura is choked with traffic. Even when you know you are in the right area for a supposedly “must see” site, you’ll be very lucky to find it. The actual driving is fine as the Balinese are almost always polite and alert but really you should find better things to do with your time. And, there are very few places worth visiting anyway; a couple of days around Amlapura, a couple of days at Lovina Beach and maybe a couple of days near Pemuteran.

Empty hotels: Now here’s something that has puzzled me not just on this trip but on previous visits. We drove westwards and then eastwards from Pemuteran on the north-west coast attempting to find a beach-side hotel, and then any hotel ; after 100km with gave up and headed back to Ubud. We stopped at 4 of these hotels which, to be honest, were on pretty grubby beaches. They were all completely empty of guests, in quite hard to reach areas and still wanted to charge US$80 for very average rooms (one even had their prices in Euros – 120 per room). All were staffed by very young locals who obviously had no authority to negotiate a price.

So on Thursday, we arrived a day early back in Ubud at 9:30pm and the 3 of us had share a room at the Suraswati Hotel where Jeni had booked to arrive the following day (not good value at US$80 per night)

Posted by kforge 02:58 Archived in Indonesia

September 24 2010

Back to Bali and Seminyak

semi-overcast 29 °C

Friday midday we jumped on the “fastboat” back to Seminyak ($60) and yes it’s fast and yes it’s pretty rough in the Lombok Strait. Back into the Hotel Kumala Pantai but a bit disappointed with them as they tried the old “we only have a junior suite left” before miraculously finding a twin room. Saturday was a BIG sport day – AFL Grand Final, Tottenham vs West Ham and Man City vs Chelsea. We joined up with Rob’s son Jack and his unsuspecting girlfriend Jodie for the evening's Premier League games

The rest of the time we just swam and read waiting for Anne to arrive on Monday from Sydney and for Jack and Jodie to fly off to Perth on Tuesday

Monday evening we found a great beach-shack just north from us (yes, there are still a few along the beach) and enjoyed sunset, beer and nasi goreng just metres from the sea

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Posted by kforge 02:33 Archived in Indonesia

September 20 2010

The Gili Islands off Lombok

sunny 30 °C

Today we continued with a taxi-bus up to Bangsal and got a public ferry across to Gili Air - if you haven’t got accommodation never turn left out of the landing place unles you like walking through piles of rubbish next to the beach.

We eventually checked in to the Sunrise Hotel (after coming back from the trek to the left). Great views back across to Lombok. 2 nights there and some excellent snorkelling just 30 metres from the beach. Relaxed vibe and uncrowded unlike the next 2 days on Gili Trawangan - ok for 2 days but didn’t seem to be the party island it’s cracked up to be (of course, today’s youngsters have no ability to go hard for days on end!). We found a fantastic warung on the main square (see photo) that made excellent vegetarian food for $1.50 to $2.50 for a very generous plateful

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Posted by kforge 02:18 Archived in Indonesia

September 19 2010

Off to Lombok

overcast 29 °C

Today, Kadek (John’s Balinese brother-in-law ) drove us to Padangbai so we could catch the slow ferry (4 hours) to Lembar in Lombok and from there we had a taxi-bus up the coast to Sengiggi - a very average place except for Windy Beach if you ever go there. Our hotel the Pondok Damai was a losmen from the seventies and hadn’t been touched since

And talking of ferries: there is a conspiracy here to make sure that as little information as possible is given to travellers about ferries. There is always a public ferry office at the harbour; but you will never be taken there! You will always end up at some shady agent’s office where you will have to negotiate taxis, hotels and any add-ons they can think of. You can’t blame them for trying but it does get very frustrating. For example Kadek dropped us at Padangbai where we eventually paid 150,000 Rupiah each for the ferry to Lembar in Lombok, transport to Sengiggi for an overnight stay (at our expense and request), transport from Sengiggi to Bangsal and the ferry trip to Gili Air. We soon found out that the 1st ferry was 31,000 Rupiah and the 2nd was 8,000 Rupiah. So we paid 111,000 Rupiah each for a mini-bus rides. Now this may have been reasonable value but unfortunately with all these types of trips there is the feeling that you were scammed. And as far as I can make out the Lonely Planet guide doesn’t even mention that you will always find that public office at the harbour. Now you know

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Posted by kforge 02:07 Archived in Indonesia

September 17 2010

Off to Seraya Berat in eastern Bali

sunny 30 °C

We decided to get out of Seminyak for a few days so called my friend John Ayres who has a small guest house in Seraya Berat near Amplapura in eastern Bali and asked if he had room to put us up. By chance his brother-in-law Kadet was driving into Seminyak to drop something off so arranged that he would pick us up at 2pm - we arrived at John and Wayan's (his wife) a couple of hours later

Saturday, we took a driving tour for a few hours with John and Kadet. We hugged the coast road all the way Amed, had lunch there at the Divers Cafe and then came back on the inland road stopping at the Tirtagangga Water Palace on the way

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By the way if you fancy a few lovely, lazy days in a more authentic Bali click on the link below to see what John and Wayan offer

John's guest house...

Posted by kforge 22:56 Archived in Indonesia

September 16 2010

In Seminyak, Bali

sunny 30 °C

We met Rob’s son Jack and his girlfriend Jodie here today as they had returned to Kuta for a day or two after travelling around Bali.

Not overly impressed by Seminyak (expensive for no good reason)

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Posted by kforge 22:49 Archived in Indonesia

September 15 2010

Sydney to Singapore to Bali

sunny 30 °C

I met up with Rob Poleykett in Singapore and flew into Denpasar in Bali where we stayed at the Kumala Pantai Hotel (really good value at A$80 per night for a twin or double)

The Singapore Airlines A380 flight from Sydney to Singapore was very good – excellent cabin height, good legroom (I'm just under 6' or 182cm), good food and good entertainment system

The Jeststar flight from Singapore to Denpasar was not as good but then the cost was fairly cheap – just-adequate legroom for the 2-hour flight and no entertainment system

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Posted by kforge 07:50 Archived in Indonesia

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