For the first time this holiday we were both awake before our alarm went off. This wasn’t a bad thing though as the earlier start to the day enabled us to enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the Novotel. We kept with our selection from the previous days and munched our way through this whilst reading the weekend copy of the Jakarta Post that had been delivered to our room. Its presentation was very dated with black and white photos but it passed a few minutes before we checked the UK news on our iPads.
Returning to our room, we completed the packing process checking out of the hotel at 10.30 a.m. On arrival from the airport a few days earlier we had opted to travel into the city centre by train to the nearest station and then complete the journey by Grab Car. As Grab are not allowed to pick up from Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and we’d read that metered taxis were often unreliable and expensive it seemed the best option and worked well.
However, Grab Cars are permitted into the airport to drop off passengers so we were able to order one from the hotel. This cost IDR 92,000 + IDR 17,000 in motorway tolls (£6.11) for the 55 minute journey. We arrived at the Domestic section of Terminal 2 very early as it can often take in excess of two hours depending on traffic, but obviously on a Saturday morning this wasn’t a problem. Each of the Grab Cars we had used whilst in Jakarta were fairly large vehicles with polite drivers but not necessarily speaking English. Although the cars appeared to be well maintained, the majority did not have working seatbelts to the rear seats but as we were mostly travelling at a snail’s pace, I doubt we were in any danger.
As we were too early to check-in for our Air Asia flight we sought refuge in a KFC as this was preferable to the hard seats in the main concourse and to pass the time we each had a bowl of their cream of chicken soup, only IDR 11,000 (62p) each. When check-in opened we tried to use one of the Air Asia automated ticket machines for our luggage labels as we had already checked-in on-line and had boarding passes on our phones. Each of the machines appeared to be faulty as other passengers were having the same problems as us, so we joined a short queue at the bag drop and had our tags printed off without problem. 15 kg of checked luggage is complimentary on Indonesia Air-Asia flights with small surcharges for 20, 25 or 30 kg. As our baggage allowance on our international flights with Qatar Airways was 30 kg we opted for 25 kg but could have saved a little as both our large suitcases actually weighed less than this.
Passing through to the airside domestic terminal it was quite pleasant as it had been designed in traditional Indonesian style and we soon found a window seat where we settled down and read for awhile.
Our internal flight to Bali boarded promptly and as with my previous experience of Air Asia, the cabin was in a pristine condition with polite, smartly attired cabin crew. Shortly after reaching our cruising height the meal service commenced and as we had pre-ordered when booking as this was cheaper, we were one of the first to be served.
To be honest our expectations weren’t high and we had only really ordered meals to pass the time on the two hour flight. Surprisingly, our choices were really quite good. We had ordered Kung Pao Chicken with rice and Roast Chicken with black pepper sauce which only cost about IDR 44,500 (£2.50) each.
Included in the meal deal was either coffee or water and as my son spotted a tea pot on the trolley he requested that but bizarrely it was not an option. After spending the remainder of the flight reading an e-book on my iPad and adjusting my watch a further hour to +8 hours GMT it was soon time to disembark via an airbridge into the domestic terminal of Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, Bali.
After collecting our luggage we made our way to the pick up point for our complimentary hotel transfer and waited and waited but sadly our pre-arranged transfer did not arrive. As we were unable to connect to a Wi-Fi network we couldn’t contact the hotel so we finally gave up and made our own way to the Holiday Inn Express Baruna Bali. As we received a warm welcome from the receptionists we didn’t bother to mention the transport issues. This new hotel has a swimming pool theme running through the entire property and our room continued in this style.
After unpacking and freshening up we were eager to start exploring on this our first visit to Bali. We walked the short distance to the beachfront but as it was already dark we were unable to see very much.
There were a few bars strung along the beach but surprisingly little activity for a Saturday evening. Our stroll continued into Kuta’s main street which, as expected, was lined with bars, cafes and restaurants. We passed some small food stores, a couple of large malls, one of which contained Marks & Spencer and SOGO franchises. Taxi drivers proved annoying as they were constantly kerb crawling and pestering us for rides but we just brushed them aside. After finding somewhere for a late evening snack we returned to the hotel, Skyped home and then realised that it was already midnight and time for bed.
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