Travel Report - Family holiday across sea to Bali ex DRW during the NT School Holiday

Discussion in 'Trip Reports and Trip Photos' started by here2go, Apr 29, 2014.

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  1. here2go

    here2go Active Member

    Mar 11, 2012
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    I thought I'd do a quick travel report DRW-DPS return for my young family and au pair (and me CBR-SYD-DPS-DRW). 4 April-9 April.

    I had booked a package through Flight Centre, as both my wife in DRW and I in Canberra were busy.

    I flew VA ex CBR on an ATR to Sydney on a VA saver fare, with bags checked to DPS. I convinced the checkin staff to let me depart early to give me more time in SYD, to cover security, TRS, etc. Very useful, and was concerned about delays getting to Sydney as a result of average weather.
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    This was great, as transfer in SYD is painful, especially from T2, where you get dropped off at the far end of T1 to security and customs. Why there is no Airtrain between the two terminals is amazing. After 3/4 an hour clearing security and customs, was inside and had 2 hours to kill before flying. T1 is certainly not a good advertisement for Australia, a case of bad planning, and a focus on shopping over happy travellers who will want to transit through there again. I was very happy to get on a VA flight about 1/3 full. This 6 hour 50 minute flight left on time.

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    Meanwhile, my wife, children and au pair prepared to leave DRW on JQ, and were expected in DPS, 20 minutes before me. Their flight left 20 minutes late, but they made up time.
    The VA 737-800 was diverted over Curtin due to storms (amazing to watch from the aircraft) resulting in a 30 minute delay. All help broke loose as a result on the ground when we landed. The aircraft was diverted from a gate, and we had to wait 10 minutes for a bus. Other flights landed from Australia in the meantime, meaning that arrivals (VOA payment and then customs) was absolute mayhem. It took 90 minutes to clear, while my family had cleared customs, and my children had fallen asleep on the bags on the luggage trolley. In hindsight, paying the bribe to bypass the process would have been a good use of time, although I object to paying bribes. The prearranged transfer had left without us (understandable) but one of the staff from the company still had our sign, and got us to the hotel.

    We stayed at the Bali Dynasty, which is popular with young families. It was our first time, and we were impressed. There is a good children' club for children 4 and above, and the staff were generally responsive. There were also plenty of nice touches like the towels folded as animals. We were upsold rooms on arrival, which we took in our late night stupor after dealing with customs and finding our transfer. The prices were a bit above and beyond, but it was worth my wife and I having a separate room to the kids was bliss. The waterslide and generic waterplay area was a hit. A bit wrong was the dwarf on the payroll - you couldn't help but stare at him dressed as a leprechaun from the onsite Irish Pub collecting empties from around the pool, and then having him greet you in Balinese fashion at the pub later that night with his hands held together saying Selamat Datang while still dressed as a leprechaun.
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    Activities in Bali we undertook were:
    walking around Kuta near the hotel. Lots of touts, and stores selling genuine fake DVDs and AFL shirts next to new shopping centres. My environmentally conscious 5 year old had a near-mental breakdown with all the rubbish on the beach, and tried to clean up the beach. Back to the hotel.

    Flight Centre had booked us on a tour the following day included rice paddies, monkey forest, silver smiths, etc. We managed to convince the company to change it to a temple tour, one we walked around the outside, and another was on the beach (I forget the name) but did have a "holy snake", which you can touch for a donation.
    From here, we were taken to the Pan Pacific to watch sunset and have "snacks". This was a free cocktail for the five of us, and a small number of snacks. As we were there for 90 minutes, we bought more cocktails and snacks. This tour certainly wasn't value for money at more than $300 for us all.

    We went to Waterbom Park the next day. This was good for families, albeit my adrenalin junkie son was too short at 116cm for most rides while they are building more rides. I like the payment system, being a wristband with barcode.

    The next day was another tour - visits to batik artists, silversmiths, and an art gallery. Nothing original, but we bought some clothes and some art. From here, a Barong Dance, monkey forest, then a trip up the mountain to visit a Kopi Luwak plantation (coffee eaten by Palm Civets) and then up the volcano to enjoy the view with a banquet lunch. Everything was tired and very average, although the view is amazing. From here, we had a long drive to the hotel. The price of this tour was c$400. Never again.

    The following day we went home. Clearing customs there was fun - first having to pay the airport fee of IDR200K. The ATMs are difficult to access on the ground floor, nowhere near departures. The rest of the terminal is still under construction. We flew Air Asia Indonesia back to Darwin. We found the cabin service to be friendly, checkin strange (a staff member was doing checkin for everybody using the robots, but not letting us pick our seats. When we changed our seats to be together at bag drop, they just wrote the seat number in pen on the boarding pass.

    The flight was pleasant, and there was a real customer service focus which I haven't experienced on JQ. I would fly them again. What did amuse me though was their view on alcohol. Those in exit aisles were not allowed to drink, and everybody else was allowed a maximum of two beers. I totally respect the policy.
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    As a place to chill, we were happy with the Bali Dynasty Resort, which we believe offered value for money with cheap meals and an environment which the kids enjoyed. The stereotype about Australian tourists is unfortunately true - I even stunned a minimart cashier when I didn't buy Bintang Beer. "But you Aussie." However, if you can get there in an off-peak period, you can put up with the cringeworthy Australians who frequent the place due to their lesser numbers, and just chill in the resort, and enjoy a bit of luxury. Don't book tours through your travel agent, and just wing it from the hotel. There are lots of people willing to take your money over there for less than someone else, just have your wits about you. The former Hindu kingdom is an amazing place culturally, and to have it so close to Australia (especially 2 1/2 hours from Darwin), is another benefit of being on this side of the world.
     
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  2. jetlagger

    jetlagger Established Member

    Re: Travel Report - Family holiday across sea to Bali ex DRW during the NT School Hol

    Thanks for sharing your interesting experiences & observations.
    Just remember to experience more of beautiful Bali away from Kuta.
     
  3. Jimmy124

    Jimmy124 Intern

    Jul 28, 2012
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    #3 Jimmy124, Apr 30, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2014
    Re: Travel Report - Family holiday across sea to Bali ex DRW during the NT School Hol

    Thanks here2go for the great trip report, I guess it was more than a trip report as from what I can gather you are based in CBR, and the family in DRW. So what an amazing trip to reunify! Sounds like the adrenalin junkie son and your environmentally 5 year also got quite a cultural experience.

    Am thinking the beach you are referring to was Tanah Lot, which is what you see on a lot of the postcards for the sunset phase. Pan Pacific used to be Le Meridien, and is just by Tanah Lot with the 'magic snake'. It is a great idea with the wristband, considering in a water park you dont really want to be carrying around your wallet on waterslides, nor have to go an access the lockers every time you want a nibble. Am sure the adrenaline junkie will appreciate more once he grows more than 116cm, but sounds like he had fun nonetheless.

    The Rp200,000 is an absolute pain, still can not work out why it is not included in the ticket price - they have tried a number of times, but just has not eventuated. I guess with the money you know you can save with the overs, it will be a more frequent destinations for reunification? Guess it would be a whole lot cheaper for the family to head to DPS to catch up than ferrying them down to CBR?

    Could not quite get my head around the Luwak coffee, just had this image of where the beans had come from while drinking it - although apparently that is the beauty, apparently they only digest, and excrete the best quality beans which we then drink. Thanks again for posting.
     
  4. here2go

    here2go Active Member

    Mar 11, 2012
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    Re: Travel Report - Family holiday across sea to Bali ex DRW during the NT School Hol

    Agree. Have stayed at Ubud Hanging Gardens previously when my mother in law looked after the kids for a few days. Bliss
     
  5. here2go

    here2go Active Member

    Mar 11, 2012
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    Re: Travel Report - Family holiday across sea to Bali ex DRW during the NT School Hol

    Jimmy124. Flightwise, DPS definitely cheaper than CBR, and more pleasant than camping in the house. They are all coming south for snow before Mrs Here2go's 4 year contract winds up and she heads south too.

    Tanah Lot sounds right. Average tour guide just dragged us from place to place so you lose track of where you are.

    The Kopi Luwak is pretty average by Australian standards. The method of roasting is poor. If you go somewhere like the Heritage Tea Rooms at Townsville's Harvey's Range (sic) and hand over $50 for an espresso made with Kopi Luwak, you'll understand.

    When the kids are older and taller, we'd contemplate going back ex CBR/SYD, so they can appreciate temples for more than feral cats and caged roosters, and the Climax slide at Waterbom can be contemplated by all.
    In the meantime, our big question is where to go for Easter 2015? Niseko in Japan or Obertauern in Austria for skiing
     
  6. Jimmy124

    Jimmy124 Intern

    Jul 28, 2012
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    Re: Travel Report - Family holiday across sea to Bali ex DRW during the NT School Hol

    Here2go, seems like you all got to see quite a few places, and understandably all became a blur.


    I could not quite focus on the taste, my focus was on the fact I was drinking a product that had been digested and excreted - wow $50 for an espresso, not sure if that experience will make it onto the bucket list - still remember the cartoon when the Indonesian president brought some in as a gift on one of his visits.


    Wow - decisions, decisions, skiing sounds very nice and quite a contrast to the humidity and heat in Bali. Good luck with your deliberations, and look forward to the trip report.
     
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