I found this old post about Bali back in February. It was on my Tumbler page. Some interesting memories. I called it a summary. Well, that was a lie. And, yes I am not a huge fan of Bali. I do have to go and pick up my Nan after a wedding in March 2020 so I will, sadly, be back. Maybe this trip it will grow on me. I far prefer Jakarta.
So here we go.
My old post about Bali
Ok, so some of us have read about travel hacking, status running and flying for the love of flying.
That stuff is for fanatics.
I have severe anxiety when it comes to flying, or driving, and boats just make me sick.
As far as fanatics go, I must be the worst. I don’t like the planes, I don’t like the airports, for the most part I don’t like packing, unpacking, driving to or from, parking, or anything generally travel related. Food, I like food. I love food. I even enjoy economy meals inflight, that’s how much I enjoy food. Not all of it is good, not all of it is bad.
If I am going to fly, it has to be someone I trust. I trust Qantas, I am Australian, from a small country town originally, its in my blood to trust Qantas. In trusting Qantas I also trust Jetstar as its wholly owned subsidiary budget airline. Why not, its qantas just cheaper. I have heard it called the orange cancer of Qantas, which I think must be a term started and used by people who haven’t been affected directly by cancer.
It’s not a reference I liked before, and less now that my family has been touched. But this isn’t a brand sales pitch, its about my travel choices. I fly Jetstar and enjoy it enough, I trust Qantas and that means I fly on OneWorld partners where Qantas or Jetstar isn’t available.
This section is really about Qantas status
This is a “summary” of the trip I took a couple of weeks ago and how I went from 0 Status credits to over 1400 status credits in just a few weeks (there was a holiday in there somewhere, if I was doing a status run it could have been faster). – Skip to part 2 for the status details. This is part 1 and focusses on our pre trip trip to Bali.
My membership year reset on 31st of October. So 1st November I’m looking at 0. I did hardly any flying in 2014, not on revenue flights anyway (I took a couple points trips).
Now I am a normal person, average income, non-drinker, non-smoker, anti-drugs!, I do eat out a decent amount but I have had a budget in place and cut that back a lot to allow for more savings each month to spend on travel.
Ok, so I did take more than one trip. I flew to Dubbo from Sydney return for Christmas. So in December I had 20 status credits. Those cost me about $150, decent rate for return flights from Sydney to Dubbo, but not a real status grabber for an ordinary wager earner there. Happily I also received 800 points each way. It used to be 1000 but when its a free program (ok I will admit I am one of the people who paid $80 odd to join, but most people get it for free with credit cards, every day rewards cards or referral offers these days. $80 once 10 years ago, I’m not bothered), anything I get I am going to cherish as I could well be offered nothing.
Now 2014/2015 NYE was a non event for me.
January 2015 is where all the magic started to happen.
Almost at Bali
So I lied again, there was a Christmas trip, a birthday trip and a status wielding, charity party attending, cousin visiting, mayan temple touring trip. So 3 trips got me to platinum. You can get to platinum in just the 1 ticket as far as Status Credits go, but you need to take 2 trips because of the 4 flights with Jetstar (JQ from now on) or Qantas (QF from now on). On the trip that gets you the Status Credits (SC’s From now on) you only have 2 qualifying flights, yo will have the SC’s in your account ready to be platinum as soon as you take 2 more flights with either a QF or JQ flight number.
January. Birthday trip. 14th Jan – 22nd Jan. A cheap jaunt to Bali. The whole holiday for 2 including all our meals, drinks, tours, transfers and flights cost us $1000. Thats more than I planned but we got 80 sc each way and our return ticket only cost $133 + plus bundle pack costs (so I think it was $500 odd for the both of us return, the plus bundle give you points, SC’s, meals, seat selection and the ability to change your flight – you need to pay fare difference so when you get the good sale its not that awesome but the SC’s and points value are usually worth it).
The great thing at the moment with the JQ plus bundle is you earn points and SC as if you were flying in economy. Qantas has tiers and Discount Economy gives the fewest points and SC’s and if you buy anything but a fully flex Qantas fare on a Qantas flight your only earning Discount Economy SC’s and points. So that means on the same route (i.e. Sydney to Honolulu) those playing the points game are far better off flying with Jetstar than they are with Qantas, from a loyalty yield point of view.
Bali – we have been before and stayed at the Hyatt, the one that is undergoing renovation and will be reopened as Hyatt Regency some time later this year or next. I forget when exactly. We didn’t want to stay close to the airport at all this time. We weren’t the biggest fans of the area when we were there the first time. The hotel was fantastic. The overcrowding, the smell, the dogs, the drunk taxi drivers trying to offer us a lift as we walked by them sitting on the curb drinking, the disrespect for personal space, the bartering. Some people love some or all of these things. It wasn’t for us. We wanted to see more of the culture, not the commercialism.
Amed, we choose to spend our entire stay at this coastal gem about 3 hours away from the airport. Our hotel organised a driver to pick us up, his car was much nicer than the taxi we had gotten to our hotel the last trip. He was friendly, spoke decent english and very happy to stop if we asked. He works for a couple of other hotels in the area and can also be hired privately if you wish to travel to or from the Amed area. I am sure he would travel anywhere if you offered enough money but given his home is in the general area, for a well rested driver its better to have Amed as a start or end point, or both.
Our Bali background
Jetstar lands late at night, so we got to our hotel around midnight and went to sleep. The next day was through a hissy fit its my birthday and this hotel is not good enough I’m going to sulk day. We went for a walk and bought water and fought in the room or slept or avoided each other by using the internet. I had booked the hotel, Mr was not happy, no hot water, no pool, no room service, no 5 star luxury that he had expected even though he said it was fine to stay super budget and use our money on experiences.
We ate dinner out, it was the best meal of our stay. Possibly equal best with our final dinner. I would say best, partner says equal. We were happy with all our food, we didn’t die or get too bad an upset stomach from any of the meals. They all tasted good, just some better than others. So we can’t really complain. Dinner was possibly the mood changer. Maybe it wasn’t so bad here after all.
We got some more water, looked into the dive shop to find out about tours. We were only half served, told we could do a snorkel tour for 300,000 IDR (~$30) each and then told they don’t do snorkel when we said we would like to book. They did say we could hire a snorkel and fins for 140,000 IDR (~$14) each per day. We say we will think about it for tomorrow. No point now. It’s dark.
Hello can you see us
Mr was trying to get information on Diving but it was just too painful so we left to try again when they weren’t busy hitting on the European girls dressed only in their bikinis. The staff were also European, not Indonesian, they were friendly but just uninterested in actually helping us book into something they offered.
The next day, we went to find where the beach was. We had been told it was very close but we were at the top of a hill and when we looked out it seemed as thought it would be some distance away and at the very least difficult to get to. It wasn’t. We started walking back to the place we had eaten dinner the night before, I thought I had seen a path between the buildings and said we should go and check that out as it is easy to get to if it is a beach access path.
So off we went. Just as we get to the path a young man pulls up on a scooter asking if we snorkel. He has a whole heap of gear, and not liking hawkers we palm him off and walk down the path, he follows. We get to the end of the path to see a nice black rock beach (as was expected because we overlooked it eating dinner) and the guy tells us this beach has good snorkelling. So Mr engages in a conversation with him. After being quite rude and dismissing him, ignoring him and shooing him away moments ago.
We enter into an agreement to hire fins and a snorkel for 35,000 rupiah a day, each set, and we are now rushing back to our room to get packed and changed because we are also going on a cruise to the Japanese ship wreck. 300,000 rupiahs, total, not each. Wow, halved the price from last night. This was by far my favourite thing.
I hate boats. I said that earlier. But it is their traditional boat. It sits narrow and low. They use a motor, its not a row boat. I just loved being out in our little boat, making our way to the wreck. Our guy parked right on top of the wreck. The water was so clear I didn’t even need to get in to see it. Its so close to the shore, and reasonably shallow.
You don’t need to dive here to enjoy it. There was some very nice looking hotels and what looked like private villa rentals on the water on the way to the wreck. Any of those places seemed like fantastic places to stay. But we didn’t change our hotel. I had paid my $30 for the 6 nights and we were going to deal with it in all its flaws, so we could enjoy activities like this beautiful and relaxing cruise we were now on.
I don’t like the water, so we weren’t there as long as we could have been. We tipped our captain and Mr agreed that the guy from the beach should come to our room later and discuss other “programs” he could do for us. I wasn’t really interested. I enjoyed the trip but if we were going somewhere I wanted to use the driver we had through the hotel.
Booking by drop in only
He didn’t have internet and we didn’t have a phone. So we booked a day tour of the temples, 700,000 IDR for 10 hours.
I make him spell his name, that way I can put the letters together and work out what he is saying. M. A. D. E. Oh, Made.
I can handle that. I know how to spell it, now I know what he is saying. It seemed everyone else in the village that I met was also named Made. Girls, boys, someone is getting a whole lot of respect in the area.
We get up early. Our driver arrives, his name is Astra. I can remember this because I used to have a Vauxhall Astra in the UK and a Holden Astra in Australia. Its a car. I know the name. We go for a nice drive up a steep hill, did I mention I hate driving. I hate hills, I hate cliffs and most of all I hate corners on any of those things. Well the morning started off well with all of my hates at speeds (that were probably quite slow and reasonable) sure to get me killed.
We stop in the parking lot. Astra tells us its 5 hours, 6 if we go to the one at the side as well as the one at the top … wait, WHAT! 5 – 6 hours, walking. Are you kidding me? Have you seen this. We are on the side of Mt Everest and only half way up and you’re telling me I need to walk to the tippy tip top and half way around the side of the cliff face sheer terror mountain top to see them all. I almost sit down right there and refuse to do it. The is NOT what I signed up for.
What are we doing again?
Maybe I should have sat down and planned out “program” with Made rather than MR. Astra thinks I am joking, Mr is also concerned. Do you know he has a desk job and I never leave the house. Walking for 5 hours ISN’T something we can just up and do with out notice, not on flat ground. Not downhill. NOT UP HILL, not in this heat (lucky its only 7 am), not in humid weather, not in the jungle, not up this high, not on our lives.
We hire sarongs, we don’t have appropriate clothes. Not to mention I was sure we were going to the water temple first so I am actually in my swimmers ready for water temple ing. I am 100% sure I have no idea what a water temple is and assume its a temple built too close to the sea and is now under sea level. 100% sure its Atlantis. 1000% sure it is not where we are and I am in no way prepare for this. $1.5 to hire a sarong each and a donation to enter.
I don’t know how much we donated, maybe $10 for us both. I wasn’t in charge of the money or program today. It wasn’t my birthday and I was being inflexible on moving from our accommodation so I was leaving all the activity planning to Mr. We look at the first temple. Oh thats pretty, great, seen it, I’m out of breath, got some photos, let’s leave? What else can be better.
We’ve been told the first is the biggest. We have seen the biggest. Why look at others…?? So we have to see them all?
Maybe not the top one. We’ll see how the weather is.
We are told the top one is great for the views it provides but the temple is nothing special. On a cloudy day the trip to the top is wasted a bit. The one off to the side, where the kind of tell you don’t bother, you may as well skip it… it was the nicest we saw. Rain and clouds came in as we were rounding out the loop to get back to the junction in the track where we had to decide if we were going to the top or down. We started to the top, there was another temple on the way.
The view was cloudy and that temple was, well, it was lacking in every way, so we headed back down. We stopped at the junction, there was a little stall, and bought some water. She had chips and other drinks and foods but we just wanted water. We discussed if we would look back and feel like we should have gone to the top, would we think we have to return one day because we didn’t complete the journey. Deciding that no, we don’t need to go to the top and that we have in no way failed. We set back off to the parking lot and met our driver.
Off to the water temple, yay, Atlantis or at least the shrine to Atlantis here we come.
I get quite confused on the way. Astra takes us into town, away from the coast, and parks. I assume he needs something, but he tells us we have arrived. How can this be an ocean temple if we are in the middle of the island??
We pay, I don’t even know if we have to pay to enter, but there is a booth, and we get told to pay, not much tells me I have to pay. Astra didn’t pay. He came in with us and sat near the front but much further in than I would expect if guide are allowed to watch their charges.
We enter. Mr says we have entered the water level of Zelda and his life is now complete. It is beautiful. Nothing like I was expecting. More fantastic than I could have hoped. Its basically a grassy botanic garden with a lot of water features, koi in the water and 2 pools. There is a hotel and restaurant. They have to be some of the best views. We didn’t eat there. I wanted to have known about it before and we would have eaten or stayed there. We didn’t know and we have enjoyed it for a swim and because we are exhausted and still have one more temple site to visit. We cool down, wash our sweaty sweat sweat off and be on our way.
Mother Temple time. We are told its about 40 minutes away. I wish we didn’t go. it took more like 2 hours from the water temple and the torrential rain started not long after we got in the car. It was interesting, but I had just seen other temples and swam in sacred waters, so it wasn’t awe-inspiring, just ok. I could have gone without it. A good day would have been just the first 2 then home to bed and wake up in time for dinner. We didn’t stay long.
Downpour and Flooding
The place was flooding. It was hard to walk there was so much water, we were tired and cranky and not happy about the people hassling us to hire their umbrellas and all those things that get to you after you’ve trekked up a mountain and back before a swim.
We saw everything there was to see without an offering. To get entry into to some spaces you need to participate in their ceremonies and give an offering, which are for sale everywhere so no need to come prepared. Well I don’t follow their beliefs, I’m not going to make an offering to a god just because I want to see the inside of a sacred place.
Let’s say their god is real. I don’t think he/she would be happy that I am faking it. Or that they are letting me fake it for their own profit. Let’s say my god is real, pretty sure he is not too happy that I broke the not worshiping other gods rule. Let’s say I have no god, then I don’t care and don’t want to waste my money or encourage annoying hawkers. Less so when most are kids and their parents are keeping them out of school. They feel the kids get sympathy money. Let them go to school and be kids.
On our way home, half way back down this mountain, we stop. We get dinner. We have the most amazing view. The meal was a buffet and is 100% sure to kill us as we are there at 4pm, too early for dinner, too late for lunch.
Leftover lunch buffet
We are the only diners and the food is sitting out. Since when? 1pm probably. But we dine, we enjoy the view, the rain bucketing down is annoying. I am happy to not be driving in it any more. I am stalling because I know we have to drive in it some more. So we leave and get home just in time for the ‘lukewarm for 3 hours before eating it’ food takes its toll.
It did. I’m not gonna lie. But its not the worst upset belly I have had. We had ammonium with us and took one each before we got back in the car. So I am sure that helped an incredible amount.
It was a big day for us. And while there was a lot of waiting and non driving for Astra, they can be the most tiring, so a massive day for him. His car was lovely.
It is a new day
The next day Made came back to see us and ask how the trip was. Mr organises another trip for the following day. This time just snorkelling. The USS something and Jemuluk Bay. Jemeuluk bay is where we got water from the first day but its on the way back from the ship wreck so may as well get a lift. We assume our driver will be again Astra. We get picked up at 6 or something similarly early.
There is a jeep waiting for us. It’s not Astra, Made is here, he tells the driver where we are going. This driver does not speak english. Today is going to be a bad day. The jeep car is not in good condition and I don’t want to go. But we do. The ship wreck is offshore more than the Japanese wreck. It’s deeper too. This one is worth a dive. It is fine to snorkel, we have a clear day and can see a lot but it is very long and gets deep quickly so divers would have a lot to explore that snorkelers can’t see.
Once again, I don’t like the water so we don’t stay too long. I think it’s been 3 hours, I’m told its been 40 minutes. Our driver needs to stop on the way back. He stops.
Bali forever ruined
A white van goes around us. Just up ahead he hits a dog. I see it from where I am sitting. I saw it start to run onto the road. The van doesn’t hit his breaks once. Not as the dog is coming, not when or after he hits it.
I am horrified. Mr didn’t see the accident. I am crying. I say something about the dog. He has seen the dog now but thinks its dead already. Now that I am saying (angrily through my tears) the van hit it, he realises and sees what I am seeing. The dog slowly struggling to get off the road, its on its side, it twitches as it dies. Not one person did anything. Our driver is back in the car in a flash and he almost runs over it himself. I am really angry and don’t want to go snorkelling.
Today has been a shit day. I felt it would be when I got up, and now its happened. Nothing could make it worse. It wasn’t a thin dog. So it probably wasn’t a stray and was someones pet as it was well fed. Oh how I would hate for someone to hit my pet without a second thought.
I would hate for people to watch it and do nothing. Hate to think I sat in the car and didn’t run to its aid. I didn’t do anything. I am as bad as the people I am hating so much right now.
No coming back from that
I should have done something. I burst into tears sporadically at the thought of what I saw, if it was someones pet, if it was a stray and had a hard life, is someones child inconsolable, what if that happened to any of my pets I have ever had. He slowly died in the middle of the road. With either a broken back or neck or both. I now hate Bali and Balinese people. All they want is your money, but we have paid to snorkel here so we do. I get out and get ready.
I put my mask on. It keeps filling up with water. Which is frustrating because they are just my tears, I am still on the beach. Maybe I put it on too early. I am in the water before Mr because I just want this to be over with. I don’t know what I want to do, but I know I don’t want to do this right now. It’s nice.
I try to enjoy it. When will I be back? Never now, not when you can run over a dog without a second thought. Thats how I feel. Who does that. These people do. They aren’t good people.
I think I just want to sit in our crappy room that leaks and has rats in the roof trying to eat their way through and no hot water and a toilet that leaks and only a fan no tv or air.
Kindess or greed
I just want to sit in the room and think about how people in the world only care about money and themselves and they aren’t interested in if you have a good experience in life. They don’t care. They aren’t there to help you, they might offer help, help in exchange for something.
Always in exchange for something. That’s not help. That’s greed.
Help is never in exchange for something. Help if from the kindness of your heart, because you want to. Not because you want good karma or to put positive thoughts out there so you can get something positive back. Thats still only about getting something in return. You do it just because you can. You are there, willing and able, so you help. Thats it. Nothing else enters your mind. If something good comes of it, thats a bonus, not the reason and the thought had never entered your mind. Not at the time anyway.
We meet Made again this afternoon. We are home by 11am. He comes by at about midday and we hand back and pay for our snorkel and fins. He tries to organise the trip back to the airport but the hotel driver is already scheduled to pick us up early, while our flight is not until 10pm we are getting picked up at 7am so we can see some things on the way to the airport that we didn’t see due to the time we arrived.
We get to go home
We went to the water palace first. It was nice. A big building, like a palace with a moat. Nothing like the water temple. Water temple over the water palace any day. Then to the poop coffee factory. Luwak Coffee. Well, we mocked it the whole way there. I don’t even drink coffee, not a big fan of tea, I’m a Jarrah hot chocolate fan or cold milk (I am one of those lactose intolerant people but I love milk). Poop coffee.
A cat type animal, affectionately called the Luwak by locals, eats the coffee beans then poops it and you drink that. So they had a mountain of teas to test for free. They were amazing. Some I didn’t like, but the flavour was intense and clean. The guide told us that they grind the tea leaves, and make the tea an instant tea just like a hot chocolate. Yum yum yum.
We had to pay for a poop coffee, it was a full coffee, not just a small tester. At $5 for a coffee, I’d expect full size. Mr didn’t mind as he hadn’t had coffee since we left Sydney, he was happy to buy a coffee. He would have bought a coffee even if it was free. He buzzed for hours after the coffee, I’m not going to lie. It hit him. He was given a normal espresso coffee and a poop coffee to taste the difference. Needless to say we bought some poop coffee, at $70 it was the single most expensive thing we bought on our Bali trip.
We wouldn’t buy the coffee now, knowing how badly the Luwak are treated
I also bought some tea, the cinnamon tea was just what you want chai tea to be without all the annoying muck around. I also got some instant coconut coffee. Mr liked it, and its not Luwak coffee so it wasn’t as expensive. It wasn’t cheap, over $10 for 100 or so grams, but it wasn’t $70.
They also had some pure cacao chocolate. There were no testers but the pack looked like more than one small block so I got one. It turned out to be just 1 block. I had bought it as a gift. Then I got the ok to sample it. Woohoo. I didn’t expect to like it. I expected it to be bitter and strong and everything I don’t like about chocolate. It was surprisingly light and fluffy with a very smooth texture and no bitterness at all. The pack weight and the look of the block made me think it would be dense but nope. Light. Lovely. Sad I’d given it away already. Sad there was only one block in the back. Happy I’d tried it. Probably a good thing I didn’t keep it. No need for me to eat it all, I’d likely eat it all in one sitting.
On then to Ubud. We had been told it was divine. Bleh. We told those who thought Ubud was the be all and end all of Bali, obviously had never been anywhere actually good in Bali. Amed and the meal over the real rice paddies on the way home from the mother temple, fantastic. Beautiful.
Ubud. What? Who thinks this is nice. This. What? Where? You guys really need to get out more.
Ubud, highly rated all I see is destruction
Yes it is nicer than the places nearer the airport, but its not near the beach. Get out to somewhere like Amed, you don’t need to take another flight or get on a speedboat or ferry with a shifty operator that overloads, drives too fast and doesn’t know the sea. I read the reports. Thats why we didn’t boat it to the Gili Islands. Thought about it. It’s not good management, its good luck that more boats don’t sink killing people.
The sea is rough, and did I mention I don’t actually like flying, boats, water? The boats might be perfectly safe. Might be. Plenty have done it and survived. Not many Australians go to Amed. There was an Australian family there when we were. They followed us (by pure accident) so we ran into them a few times. At the moment it’s a lot of French and Germans. Europeans in general. Some Americans. They know Australia exists but they just don’t see many Australians in the area.
If you HAVE to go to Bali. Go to Amed if you can. Hotels with a pool and air con and a tv have rooms for less than $30 a night. We slummed it. Just to save $30 a night, but I had already paid $30 for the stay… makes sense right? You can live like a king for less than $50 a night up there. I know Bali might be cheap. But your $50 in Amed is better than your $50 anywhere closer to the airport.
Do you HAVE to go to Bali
There will be other lovely places on the island. I am not saying Amed is the only place to go. It’s an emerging destination for tourism and for Australian tourists. So get in before its over run and the new Kuta. If you want to party, spend a few days in Kuta on arrival or departure but make sure you fit in a couple nights relaxing somewhere North of Ubud and on the coast preferably.
Gede: Our Hotel Driver, available for private hire. We paid in USD but I am sure he will take IDR. Speaks English.
Phone: +62 81 915 707 585 (I don’t know if Mr took that down right, maybe its +62 85 915 707 585, we didn’t actually call him).
Made: program (tour) organiser, snorkel/fin hire in Amed. Bout tour organiser. If organising a day trip with Made, ask for Astra. I wouldn’t recommend that second driver. His driving was bad, his car was bad, no seat belts. Gede and Astra had nice cars, seat belts, and drove reasonable. Gede was the more cautious of them. Takes IDR. Speaks English.
Phone: +62 85 739 891 757
Astra: Driver organised by Made but he takes private bookings. Takes IDR. Speaks English.
Phone: +62 85 237 224 810