Day Three – Transit to Bali

On the morning of our departure for Bali, we again woke up really early. This jet lag thing is kicking our butts… We had set our alarm for 630am, but who were we kidding, we were up at 430am. And that was after trying desperately to sleep in as much as possible. So, after getting ready and getting everything packed up, we were headed for the airport at around 6am for our 1020am flight.

Cathay Pacific check-in has a designated area for first class, but business and coach all check in together so we waited in line about 15 minutes before being helped. But the lines at security were virtually non-existent and we were at the shops in no time. We perused the Disney store and looked for a shop that sold toy airplanes, but had no luck so we made our way to “The Wing,” one of three Cathay Pacific lounges at the Hong Kong airport. Food and drink were aplenty and the wifi was fast so we were easily able to occupy the 3 hours we had until our departure.

At about 915am, we headed for our gate as we had no idea how long it would take us. The walk wasn’t as long as we expected, so we stopped in “The Pier” lounge for a quick drink before finally making our way to our gate. We were at gate 29 which had a separate boarding entrance for first and business class passengers so we were on the plane in no time. The plane was the same type that took us from JFK – HKG, so we were pretty excited. We were offered a pre-departure drink and we both chose the “Ocean Breeze” which Ken called “the drink with potpourri in it. “ It did appear to have potpourri in it. It was tasty and within no time, we were off for Bali. I finished watching “Crazy.Stupid.Love” which was a little depressing but funny at times. I also watched “Friends with Kids” and most of “Five Year Engagement,” both of which I could have done without. Cathay Pacific updates its entertainment offerings each month and as we’re headed home in a different month, I’m hopeful that there will be new choices for our return. I really can’t complain when there are so many choices…

The food this time around left a bit to be desired. I had the sesame chicken dish which wasn’t very appetizing. I did partake in a few Bailey’s which was nice. And having ice cream on an airplane is pretty cool. Within no time, we were landing at Denpasar airport.

We were immediately struck by the fact that the humidity was virtually non-existent when compared to Hong Kong. The temperature was quite warm, but not uncomfortable. We had read that the airport in Bali was pretty chaotic so we had prepared ourselves for the worst. After buying our visa and making our way through immigration, our bag was just coming out on the luggage carousel. We were struck by the sheer number of people everywhere. As I said, chaos.

After getting some money at the ATM and making our way through customs, we found ourselves on the sidewalk being bombarded by “taxi drivers,” both legitimate and not. After making our way through several candidates, we found one who was willing to turn on the meter. We agreed that we’d pay 10,000 IDR for his parking (about $1) plus whatever the meter said. We had read that the taxi drivers would try to charge us a flat fee and the flat fees that were proposed to us were at least twice as much as we actually ended up paying.

As an aside, I get annoyed when I feel like I’m being taken because I’m a tourist. I think this harks back to my Peace Corps days when, despite living in a country, we were frequently “treated” to tourist prices. In retrospect, that annoyance makes sense as we were living off a Peace Corps stipend, not making any salary. Before leaving on this adventure, I had read a piece of advice in one of the forums that I frequent. They said to try not to get too upset if you get overcharged. This person said that these people make a tiny fraction of what you do and if your instinct is to be annoyed by this, try to see it as a donation to them as it really doesn’t make a large impact to you, but it does to them. I thought that this was a good perspective and one I’m going to try to remember while we’re in Bali. I wasn’t off to a very good start with the taxi drivers, but I’m trying!

Our ride from the airport to the Bali Hyatt in Sanur was interesting. It’s been nearly 9 years since I have been in southeast Asia and I had forgotten about how chaotic things can be. The taxi ride took nearly an hour and in the end cost us a little over $10. Our driver was very nice, spoke English, and in the end we were happy with his honesty so we gave him a nice tip.

Check in was quick although a bit awkward. We are Platinum Hyatt members which means we’re entitled to a few perks like free internet and late check out. When we arrived, we were invited to sit in the lobby lounge chairs and were asked for our passports and credit card. After looking up our reservation, they learned of our platinum status and asked us to move to the Platinum/Diamond check in desk. We would have been perfectly happy staying in the lounge chairs but I guess it must make some feel more special to have a separate desk to acknowledge their status.

Our benefits were explained to us and a porter then escorted us and our bags to our room, giving us a tour along the way. The open air lobby of the Hyatt is stunning, but the buildings are certainly showing their age. I had read that this was the case prior to our trip so I didn’t have high expectations. In fact, this was one of the reasons why we had decided to spend our second three nights in Bali at the Intercontinental. We want to enjoy a little luxury before returning home.

After checking out our room (not much to explore as it was about half the size of our room in Hong Kong), we decided to explore the grounds a bit. The beach was beautiful although it did not appear to be very swimming friendly. There were a few people wading, but it appeared that most of those on the beach were purely using it for sunbathing. We then checked out the pools and made our way to the Regency Club where we had a diet coke and a few snacks before returning to our room.

At check-in, the agent recognized that it was our anniversary (I had mentioned it when making the booking) and wanted to send a chocolate cake to our room. We decided that 7pm was a good time so after returning from the club, we tried to stay up to wait for the cake. We studied the spa offerings which were quite extensive and decided to spluge for a 2 hour massage each, the next day. Now for those of you who know me, massages usually aren’t high on my list of “wants,” but it’s been something that Ken’s talked about for months so I decided to throw apprehension to the wind and give it a go. I’ll let you know the verdict!

Despite our best efforts to make it to 7pm, we had no luck so we called and requested that the cake be postponed until the following night. And we passed out. All in all, it was a great transition day, now if we can only shake this jet lag thing!

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