About Me

An avid traveler I have had the good fortune to have spent my career in the travel and vacation industry. From Bali to Copenhagen and all points between is where I have been or intend to go. This blog however is specific to the Western half of the United States as I explore this part of the world.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Getting there: Bali, Indonesia

Now that we have completed our business in Bali it is finally time to write about what a fabulous place this is.  From my time at RCI developing new business to my current consulting business I have always been cautious about leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for the competition.  After the fact... no worries.  ;)
The bartenders at Harry Juku playing up for Mr. Ted as I was known

My first trip to Bali was really my first foray into Asia.  I've been to Europe, Caribbean, Central and South America but never Asia.  My first trip out was with business associates David Berg and Craig Harada, meeting my business partner Randy You and Marketing Director Marcus Ito in Bali.  Our client had a single resort called Bali Island Villas that primarily catered to Japanese tourists and we were hired to build a brand, a product and rules for use, setting up sales in marketing in Bali, Japan, etc.  For those RCI members out there it is affiliated so you have an opportunity to exchange.  Follow this link to see The Island Regency Club now.

We flew Cathay for our first trip out and had a layover in Hong Kong.  I was surprised by the airport.  It was like any other airport and that was the strange thing... like any other airport in the States.  From Burger King to Dunkin Donuts many western brands were represented.  It took me a bit to try to find the most authentic Chinese food I could... for an airport. 

Enjoying Airport Chinese in Hong Kong

Notice in the background in the photo, specifically the Dior poster.  Something else that surprised me, all the models in the ads were westerners.  To me that would be like going to Las Vegas Airport and finding only Asian models on all the posters.  The Western Culture really is permeating everything.  I realize that Hong Kong was a former British territory but I saw this same trend in Singapore, Seoul, Bali, etc.  Trying to keep big money westerners comfortable or something else?

Craig Harada joining me and David Berg
The flight was great.  After flying internationally, it was truly depressing to realize the state of our domestic airline services.  In the US you have to pay $5 for a crappy, stale cold cut sandwich.  Cathay, Singapore Airlines and Korean Airlines provide open bar, choice of multiple hot meals and snacks both western and eastern, hot towels and a complete entertainment console at each seat from games to over 150 movies from all over the world.  While flying for 24-32 hours depending on layovers, it made the flight very comfortable.  The flight attendants were top notch, better than first class in the US.

I plan on heading out to France in the next 12 months and it will be interesting to compare Atlantic, international carriers vs Pacific as it has been a long time since I flew to Europe.  I did have experience with South American carriers like Copa and they were still nicer than the US.

This was the only layover on our first trip to Bali and wasn't two horribly long for international flights.  Even if you have a long layover, of which I had a few, there are always excellent mini hotels and private shower areas where you can get cleaned up or sleep for a few hours between flights.  After sitting on a plane for 16-20 hours there is nothing like taking a hot shower and wearing clean clothes so pack a change in your carryon.

Hong Kong Airport towers

When we finally arrived in Denpasar, Bali were were greeted by a partially open air airport not too much different from Kauai for instance. Customs on the other hand was super congested with tourists from around the world crowded together in a hot and humid waiting area as perhaps 8 lines were open to check passports.  Entry visa was about $12.

Flight arrivals waiting in the stuffy customs area

I apologize for the blur of the pictures here but I was trying to snap them on the down low as you never really know each countries policy concerning photographs in the customs area.  I didn't want to find out but my urge to photograph the experience led to this compromise.  Then I was greeted with this sign. 
Spicoli beware!
Death Penalty for drug traffickers... what about unauthorized picture takers?  IPhone slides into pocket...

Funny thing about this.  I had to overlook a lot of good timeshare sales executives because I didn't want them to be put to death for their vices.

As for our arrival, our client had a particularly good arrangement for arriving business clients that we integrated into the club as a major benefit to ownership.  We were greeted upon arrival by an agent of the resort, and whisked through the VIP section of customs with all documentation, visa's etc. being handled by our guide.  While other tourists perspired in line for perhaps an hour waiting to get through customs, we got our bags and were through in 10 minutes, escorted to a waiting van where our driver greeted us with cold towels and bottled water that was icy cold. 
I'm not driving... right hand drive
We were driven to the best money changers in the area.  FYI if you don't know already, don't change your money at the airport.  While it may be convenient the conversion rate isn't the best.  I recall that Denpasar airport exchange was about 8,500 rupiah to the US Dollar... about a mile out it was 8,900 rupiah to the dollar.  And in case you are wondering, you can get a meal like this: Fresh sword fish or tuna, veggies, rice a few beers and desert for about 30,000 rupiah or $3 US.  In Vegas I would probably pay at least $50 for a meal like this.  This fish was right off the boat... literally.

Freshly caught and grilled swordfish and Bintang in Padangbai

More Bali to come in future posts... Seminyak, Kuta, Padangbai... people, culture, hotspots and adventure.

The Video above is of Padangbai at an IRC building site.

Out of curiosity I checked Dream Vacation Network for availability next month and found 191 resorts in the most demanded locations in Bali like Ubud and Kuta starting at $41 per night.  Cheap for some eat, pray and love in your life if you can get a good deal on a flight!

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