Back to Bali

Singing in the street

Singing in the street

I’d had a long and tiring day on the 18th with the bus ride. I needed a good night’s sleep, but courtesy of three of the most selfish dorm-“mates” I’ve ever had the displeasure of encountering I didn’t get it.

A Dutch couple were in the opposite bunk and woke at 6:30am, chattering away as if there was nobody else in the room. Then the guy underneath me decided to pack all his luggage shortly after, throwing stuff around on the bed making it shake and rustling plastic bags for fun.

I gave up and just got out of bed for the free breakfast (a couple of rolls and a cup of tea – I guess I missed the deep-fried banana. After chatting to another couple I’d actually seen briefly in the hostel in Dili I did a quick email check at the bar then headed back to the hostel to pay up, grab my kit and head to the airport nice and early.

Only I couldn’t as the ****ing Dutch ****ers had locked the dorm door with the only key and gone out with it. It took the staff quarter of an hour to break into the room and remove the door from the frame so I could grab my rucksack. Fortunately I had time to spare and made it to the airport well before check-in and therefore with no worries about paying for my ticket and getting on the flight.

Our first "hotel"

Our first "hotel"

Ah. But I had reckoned without Merpati Airlines and their completely screwed up booking system which hadn’t actually booked me a ticket at all. See the related post for the full horror story.

I did make it onto the (scruffy, dilapidated) plane and on to Bali where I hooked up with Bernhard and Han (from Austria and Pakistan respectively). We haggled a taxi down to 25000 to get us to Poppies I and began our search for accommodation.

Almost five hours later, we gave up. Han headed for another part of the island. Bernhard and I left our luggage with the nice people at the bungalows I stayed at last year, then went out for the night. When the last club shut at 4am, we grabbed one last McD‘s and slept in a shop front around the corner.

The weather in Bali

The weather in Bali

Our original plan had been to crash on the beach, but I’m glad we didn’t as it chucked it down in the early hours. Still, we managed 2-3 hours’ kip before the staff had to open up (they’d actually told us earlier we could sleep there which was nice of them).

We had a nice breakfast in the Treetop Cafe on Poppies I, and started hunting again. The second place we tried – opposite where our luggage was – had a room for 66000 for two. Not as nice as last year’s abode, but it will suffice for a couple of nights.

So now it’s the 20th. Today’s been easy and will continue to be so! Email’s up to date, lunch about to be had and I’ve been up to Pro Dive to see the crew. I’m off up to Tulamben to do the wreck dive with a group of Open Water students and Putu tomorrow. Aces!

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I hate airlines

I’m trying to fill the gaps in for my schedule in July. Thanks to Matt, I have some info regarding flights from Bali to East Timor and this is causing me some bellyache.

I just booked Kuala Lumpur to Denpasar at a time that won’t suit Leah. Thing is, while I was waiting for her to get back to me I was watching the Air Asia flight prices rise before my eyes. So I just went for it. This means I’m leaving KL about 5-6 hours before her, but it’s still half the price of flying the next day. Then take into account accommodation and the loss of an entire day until the next flight and I didn’t have a choice.

The problem is that I land in Denpasar at 22:00. I don’t expect the Merpati or Garuda ticket offices to be open at the airport at that time. From what I gather, Merpati have a flight out at breakfast time to Dili, which I’d be interested in… but does their ticket office open early enough to book a seat on that flight in the morning? I can’t book online as their web site is still under construction.

Garuda’s page is more functional and tells me I can get a flight to Kupang from where I know I can get a bus to Dili. The downsides: the flight’s in the afternoon so I’d likely have to stay in Kupang for a night and get the bus the next day (it’s a 12-hour journey)… and you can only book online with Garuda if your credit card was issued in Indonesia. Therefore by the time I get to Indonesia where I can book over the counter with them, all of the cheaper seats (and they are cheap) will almost certainly have gone.

Earlier in the trip I have a flight landing at Ko Samui airport at 10:45 in the morning. Ideally I want to get a ferry from Samui to Ko Tao. There are two companies (Lomprayah and Seatran Discovery) with boats at suitable times and both around 550 Baht each way for a 1½ hour journey. Lomprayah offer a free bus transfer from the airport, but this bus leaves at 11:00. Do I have time to get off the flight, grab my luggage and be on that bus? I don’t know, so I emailed them a day ago to ask… and haven’t had a reply yet.

Alternatively, Seatran’s boat leaves a couple of hours later but I’d have to make my own way down to the port… and I can’t find out which one of the several ports I’d need to get to!

You know, I much prefered traveling when I just turned up in places and winged it. I hate being on a schedule.

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Vietnam and East Timor take shape

I have to throw a couple of “thanks” out here. First of all to Thao in Ho Chi Minh City who’s helping me plan what promises to be an awesome week or so motorcycling around the south of Vietnam. I’ve been wanting to ride round the whole country since well before that Top Gear episode, but time is short. However, covering around a quarter of the place and seeing many towns and roads I’ve not encountered before promises to be amazing!

I think the plan right now is to circle round from HCM to Da Lat, then Nah Trang, Mui Ne Beach and back to the city again. If there’s time I’d love to get as far up as the DMZ near Da Nang, but that might be pushing it.

Next up, TravelFish on Twitter put me in touch with Matt who’s been able to provide me with some very useful information regarding flights to and from East Timor. I was about to give up on this adventure (mainly due to time constraints), but now it looks like it could be both affordable and enjoyable. I may try and make part of the journey there by land, but fly back out to Denpasar. He’s done this journey before and knowing this gives me a quite a bit of comfort.

I’ll likely be flying with Mupati. Unfortunately, their web page is still at the “under construction” phase so I wasn’t able to check times and prices on there. The only other alternatives were from Singapore (far too expensive) and Darwin (stupid long route round and as a result, very expensive as well). Flying from Bali is still not cheap, but it’s a lot cheaper.

Any other time I’d have just turned up and winged up, but two to three years ago I wasn’t on any real schedule. I also had a hell of a lot more money!

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