To celebrate her freshly bagged bachelor's degree, Babsi and one of her mates from Uni booked a six week adventure exploring South East Asia. So when I heard about it whilst getting drunk with her on my Austria holiday this year, I decided to join in the fun.
|A photo documenting the afforementioned night of dranks. Many dranks.|
Since I was short on time (and annual leave), I decided the easiest and most relaxing way for me would be to spend my entire time in one country, especially since Babsi and her friend planned day-long hikes and other amazing adventures I couldn't really accommodate this time around. I chose the beautiful Indonesian island Bali as my travel destination.
I hadn't traveled to a 'new' destination by myself for nearly four years and decided to book my flights so I'd arrive a few days prior to my friends. I figured it would give me time to enjoy some silly luxury I was able to afford being in a full time job (and living conservatively), as opposed to my friends who were on a tight budget. I also needed some down time from two hectic months, which were riddled with constant health issues. Lastly, I just really looked forward to exploring the place and simply being by myself in a different context, no work phone, no house that needs cleaning, no dog that serves as a distraction. Just me in a place I didn't know, in a country whose language I couldn't speak, with nothing but time on my hands.
RICH PEOPLE PRIVILEGES
I booked my flights with Virgin Australia and paid AUD 890 for my Economy return tickets. You can get flights to Denpasar Airport cheaper with budget airlines, but I have recently become a Gold member with Virgin and wanted to see what sort of perks came from it. Without wanting to sound like a privileged douchebag, it REALLY pays off to be a premium member of an airline loyalty program when traveling internationally. I mean, it's cool for domestic flights and all, but it makes the entire airport experience SO much more comfortable. That's what you pay for I guess...comfort!
The special treatment starts with priority check-in, an easy breezy process that also comes with the unexpected pleasure of a "priority" luggage tag and your being handed of an "express card" that you might not initially know what to do with. Once you float down the stairs to the departure gates at Brisbane International Airport, you realize the "express card" will get you access to priority screening and the express customs line. It's nice, guys. Very nice.
So once you have made it through all the usual annoyances that international travel entails with EASE, you will find yourself sipping free ginger beer in a partner airline lounge, waiting for your flight in a stress free, quiet environment with free Wifi that actually WORKS and so much delicious food you won't know what to do with yourself!
|Extra leg room|
Be aware before packing your hand luggage that even though the Brisbane - Denpasar flight can be a whopping 7.5 hrs, there is ZERO entertainment on board. If you fly a lot domestically, you might even find yourself on the same tiny Boeing that has taken you up to Cairns the previous week.
|Views. Bloody views!|
If you've been reading my blog for a while you might know how I feel about rude people on planes, so believe me when I say staying polite on this one was a challenge. Thankfully I packed my gigantic earphones, a good book and had my smart phone full of silly games to keep me entertained and sane.
I keep my hand luggage light and here are only a few other things I packed:
- Water bottles - buy a couple at the airport kiosk once you've gone through security screening
- Moisturizers - for lips and hands
- Eye drops
- A pen - to fill in your immigrations card.
Once landed, it took about 25 minutes to get from the plane to the arrival hall and what can I say people, make sure you LAYER so you can peel off some of your way too hot clothes as soon as you land, otherwise you might find yourself stuck in high waist jeans and a long sleeved shirt, absolutely drenched in sweat.
Clearing immigration and customs is quite the challenge in most places and Bali was no exception. I landed just after lunch time and it took me four hours to get through. If you're planning trip, expect long waiting periods and make sure to use the bathroom on the plane before landing, otherwise you will loose your place in line if you're by yourself. Stay calm even if you're tired, the immigration officers do what they can. The crowd waiting in line nearly started a riot when the officers had shift change and left the booths unattended for 5 minutes. It made me pretty sad to see people who were privileged enough to book a holiday to this beautiful place gesturing and swearing like little spoiled teenagers. Some people wouldn't recognise a good situation if you rubbed it in their face...
Anyway, back to the stats. You will need to buy an entrance visa, which costs IDR 450.000 or AUD 49. Have your change ready, you want to waste as little time as possible before your adventure starts.
And let me tell you it starts as soon as you walk into the arrival hall of Denpasar airport....