This was our first break of the year 2015. Jetstar was having an offer not to be missed in January. So wife and I decided to take a break and booked return tickets to Bali at S$91 per person plus airport tax in Indonesia at IDR 200,000, about S$21, for a short 2 nights stay in March over a weekend. Departure flight was 2.30 am and arrival at Bali was 5.20 am. Return flight was 10.45 pm on a Saturday night and arriving Changi airport at 1.20 am Sunday. This allowed us to take advantage of 3 full days in Bali.
As Accor AdvantagePlus members, we usually book hotels from the Accor group of hotels during special offer. For the first night, we booked Novotel Hotel at Benoa, which is a beach front resort. The hotel for second night was Kuta Heritage Hotel strategically located at Kuta beach area convenient for shopping before returning home. Cost for a night stay at each of these 4 and 5 stars hotel was around S$75 each during a 50% sale.
Since this was just another short trip, we travelled light and took it easy with no check-in luggage. Had supper at Terminal 3 food court before heading to board our flight for Bali shortly after midnight. Early morning flight to Bali was uneventful and managed to catch some sleep. Arriving in Bali after 5 am was not too crowded with passengers during such early morning. We didn’t take long to clear immigration and soon exited departure gate. Turning left just before entering the small duty free shop, there is a taxi counter on the right of the entrance. There should be a sign board indicating the cost for taxi fare to different locations. Unfortunately, it was not there when we arrived. So tired visitors approached the counter and took whatever prices they offered. By the time we asked about the cost for Tanjung Benoa, we were quoted US$30 which was ridiculous. They then offered IDR 300,000 after we rejected the offer. We likewise turned down the offer and left. We had visited Bali a few times and remembered the cost for a cab to our hotel in Benoa was only around IDR 150,000. We reckoned they were trying to take advantage of tired tourists arriving early morning. So we went into the duty free shop but didn’t find anything worth buying. After exiting the shop, there were touts offering to take us to our destination which we turned down. After buying a big bottle of mineral water at one of the convenience stores, we sat on a bench to rest and wait for daylight. Another tout came along and asked about our plans and we told him we did not require his service. Instead of leaving us, he sat beside to us to wait for us to proceed to out next destination. We gave up and entered a café to have breakfast and he still sat outside waiting for us which was really annoying. Anyway, we took our time for breakfast and enjoyed using our phones with free wifi to check up on news and other stuff. It was too early to check into our hotel and so we were in no hurry to take up any offer from those touts hanging around the airport. When it was about 7.30 am, we left the café and went through the duty free shop and approach the taxi counter again. This time, a board was put up to show the taxi fares for different destinations. We got our taxi driver and the taxi fare was IDR 175,000. On the way, the taxi driver asked whether we preferred to take the toll road which cost another, I believed, IDR 10,000 which might cut travelling time by perhaps 10 minutes. I declined as the morning traffic was light and furthermore we were too early to check into our hotel anyway, so we would rather take our time for the journey. Finally after about 45 minutes, we arrived at our familiar resort which we had stayed previously.
The staff were still as friendly and helpful. Refreshing drinks and cold towels were given while we sat and waited for check in procedures to take its course. Pleasantly surprised, our room was ready and we were allowed to check in barely 9 am. Initially we thought we might have to hang around somewhere in the resort or head to the beach to chill out while waiting for our room. We went to our room across the road at the garden’s wing which was quieter and also cheaper.
It was great indeed and after checking everything was in order, we head straight to bed to catch a few more hours of sleep.
After the short nap, we went to our favorite beachfront restaurant across the street for lunch. It was sunny but windy and indeed a refreshing site for a relaxing meal. Wait staff were all friendly and helpful and soon our food arrived.
We took our time to soak in the atmosphere and inhaled the fresh air carried by the gentle sea breeze as we enjoyed our lunch watching the activities on the beach. Though the condition of the beach was no longer as good as it used to be, it was nevertheless still a peaceful and relaxing place to spend time watching the world go by.
The hotel had a free activity to bring hotel guests for an excursion to a turtle farm in the afternoon. So after lunch, we went back to our room to get ready. Before we went out for the excursion, we took up the Jetlag treatment offered by the hotel at IDR 99,000 for a 30 minutes neck and shoulder massage to get us into shape for the 2 hours event. The massage was really good and it was a good way to release tensions built up in our muscles during the overnight flight to Bali. After the treatment, we were given ginger tea which fired us up. Still early, we then took a leisurely walk around the hotel ground and the beach to wait for the turtle farm tour.
At 3.30 pm, we gathered at the hotel lobby and waited for the staff to bring us to the turtle farm. It happened that there was just another family of four with 2 little children going for the excursion. So there were only 7 persons in the group including the hotel staff who was a great guy to lead us for the activity. Along the way, we encountered cats and dogs and even cows as we walked through the rural area to reach the turtle farm.
Unfortunately, the little girl was afraid of dogs and so the hotel staff carried her part of the journey as her dad was already carrying her little brother. It was an arduous 40 minutes walk under the hot afternoon sun and we finally arrived at the farm. There are three turtle farms in the area and this activity is actually called turtle island tour. A few years back when we stayed at this Novotel resort, we did not walk to the farm. We took a boat ride from the beach to reach there.
Nothing much had changed as we recalled our previous visit few years back. There are turtles and even other animals on the farm to keep visitors happy for a closer encounter with the animals. These farms are actually rescue centres to raise the turtles and release them back into the sea when they are ready. Besides turtles, there is also a huge python where visitors can handle and take pictures with. Another star attraction is an eagle for picture moments with visitors where this eagle will perch on one’s hands or shoulder.
After the visit, we took the same route back to the hotel. By then, we were quite exhausted and completely drenched. So that was a good time to go for a swim in one of the three pools at the resort. Just couldn’t describe the joy of floating and drifting on the sparkling water accompanied by the gentle caress of the ocean breeze.
There was one more thing we intended to do on the first day, which was to visit Bali Collection, a shopping and dinning complex in Nusa Dua nearby. So we went back to the beach front restaurant for a quick meal in order not to miss the shuttle bus.
The meal was still as enjoyable as our lunch though there was no sunset to catch this side of Bali. After dinner, we went to the lobby lounge to have our welcome drinks, which we could select from a range of drinks on a menu. Wife and I ordered different types of coffee and then got ready to head out for some evening shopping.
Novotel Hotel is located at the tail end of Tanjung Benoa. So when the mini bus arrived, it was empty and only 4 of us from Novotel boarded the bus. By the time the bus made its way to other hotels along the way, it was quickly filled. The journey to Bali Collection took about 20 minutes and soon we arrived and made our way into the complex.
Security was tight to ensure visitors had a safe and pleasant time dinning and shopping. Bali collection looks better at night when it is lit up. The ambience is much better and much cooler in the evening.
There are many restaurants fighting for tourists’ dollars and most have live entertainment to lure in diners. Some even offer free ride back to their hotels in the vicinity.
Shops sell mostly branded stuff so things are not cheap here. We had been here several times and we knew what we were looking for and so we went straight to Sogo to look at sports shoes and bags where they usually had special offer for sports products. While we were choosing different shoes, we took pictures of the various pairs of shoes and bags on offer and sent the pictures to my son back home using wifi from Starbucks located in the same building in Sogo for him to decide which to buy. We managed to buy a pair of Adidas X-trainer and a Converse bag for our youngest son for his school use at less than IDR 500,000 for both when there was a discount of over 50%. Happy with our shopping, we went to Gate C outside Sogo to wait for out shuttle bus before 10 pm, which was the last bus for the day. The bus was already there and it started to drizzle so we went up the bus to wait. Soon, the bus was packed. Fortunately, it was not pouring when we reached our hotel.
When we went back to our room, we were surprised to find some chocolates and flowers on the bed for us from the hotel. There were also 2 cakes on the table, one for me as Accor member and one for my wife’s birthday on that day. The hotel was indeed thoughtful and went out of the way to please repeat visitors, especially Accor members. We were also offered late check out the next day till 5 pm.
Anyway, we had already booked another hotel at Kuta area for the next day for more shopping and so we wouldn’t be staying till 5 pm the following day. After the activities packed day, it was time to switch off and conserve energy for the next two days of fun. The bed was so comfortable and in no time we were gone into the our snoozed world of bliss.
Continue to Day 2...