Travel to Bali-Eat Pray Love style

By Y. Wang

Finding information about “Bali” is a lot easier these days, thanks to Julia Roberts’ new movie “Eat Pray Love”, part of which was filmed in Bali.  To give a little background, the movie is based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s NY times best-selling book, also titled “Eat Pray Love”.  The story is about the author’s journey to Italy, India and Bali, trying to find herself and the purpose of her life.  Elizabeth enjoyed “Eating” and had a relationship with food while she was in Italy, found spiritual life, “Pray”, while she was in India.  And finally she found balance, “Love”, while she was in Bali.

The Bali part of the story took place in Ubud, a small town in central Bali, regarded as the cultural central of Bali.  Far removed from beach area, Ubud is famous as an arts and crafts hub and consists of artists’ galleries and workshops.  Ubud is a place rich with culture and spiritual significance.  Also known for its spas, Ubud offers a beautiful view of rice paddies, and plenty of activities such as rafting, biking, tracking, or yoga.

During the filming and especially before the opening of the movie,  Bali was in the news almost everyday.  The news coverage include topics such as helicopter scouting for a shooting place and the hotel where Julia Roberts and her family stayed. And certainly I could see the impact of it during our stay in Bali.  The hotel that we stayed, “Ayana Resort”, which was voted as world no. 1 spa, even offered ‘Eat Pray Love’ message.

The Four Seasons resort in Ubud was later revealed as the choice for Julia Roberts and her family to stay.   The resort is located in the valley of the tropical jungle. The villas offer a lot of privacy, and each is uniquely designed to blend with nature.  As Ubud is known for its rice terrace fields, Four Seasons carefully built the whole resort around it.  Taking a golf cart to get from one villa to another, you’ll see rice fields along the way.  Once you reach the villa, you’ll see only a beautiful crafted screen that is used as an entrance to the villa which is situated on the hill-side.  This clever architecture design allows absolute privacy. Each villa has its own swimming pool and terrace which is surrounded by trees and rice fields.  The Ayung river runs right through the valley where the resort sits and the serene river view can be enjoyed from the hotel’s lobby, swimming pool and restaurant.

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Travel to Bali-Indonesia

By W. Wang

Bali is one of the most desired destination in the world and it’s so well known that some people do not even realize that Bali is just a tiny island, part of a larger country called Indonesia.  Below are some facts about Indonesia that also applies to Bali.

Geography – Indonesia is an archipelago of over 17,000 islands, scatterd over a land area of some 2.02 million square kilometers. Lying across a region of immense volcanic activity, Indonesia has some 400 volcanoes, with at least 70 still active.

Population – more than 200 million people who are predominantly Muslim, minority religious groups being Christians, Hindus and Buddhists.

Climate – Although Indonesia is hot and humid throughout the year, the official wet season runs from October to August and is marked by heavy, short rainstorms after which the air is fresher. Temperatures range from 21 to 33°C in the lowlands. Higher altitudes enjoy cooler conditions.

Currency – The Indonesia Rupiah is also called IDR. Information of daily exchange rate can be found in newspapers or from the net. Some Indonesia banks provide this on their websites. IDR and US$ are the most acceptable currencies. Most tourism resorts have money changer facilities. When you are traveling to remote areas it is advisable to exchange your money and clear your check. Credit cards are only acceptable in big hotels, restaurants, shops and traveling agencies.

Time – Indonesia is divided into three time zones. Western Indonesia Time (Sumatra, Java, West and Central Kalimantan) is seven hours ahead of GMT, Central Indonesia Time (Bali, South and East Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Nusa Tenggara) is eight hours ahead, and East Indonesia Time (Maluku and Irian Jaya) is nine hours ahead.

Electricity – 50Hz at either 110 or 220 volts. So be careful with your 110-volt electronic equipment. The sockets will only fit with with two pins rounded-tip plugs (technically known as Type C, E, and F) or use adaptors. Most hotels and many restaurants in large cities provide internet connections or free WiFi.

Banking Hours – Standard banking hours are from 8 AM to 3 PM from Monday to Friday. However several banks open their branches in hotels (and some in malls) longer than office hour, a few are open on Saturdays so you might want to check first. Jakarta has a number of international banks, even though you can also exchange currencies in some hotel cashiers and official money changers.

Office Hours – Office hours start from 8 AM to 4 PM, or 9 AM to 5 PM. Lunch break occurs between 12 noon to 1 PM. Usually offices are closed on Saturdays, including government offices. Government office hours start at 8 AM and end at 4 PM.

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Smooth travel experience

By W. Wang

When you have to take a long and in-direct flight with overlay, it’s very  important to pay attention on the comfort, convenience, and efficiency during your trip.  Being a member of Star Alliance, for example, can make your tiring trip more bearable.  Star Alliance lounges provide good services at major airports worldwide.  Along with paid star alliance member and business class traveler, a member with Gold status with any partner airlines could also use the facility when traveling on economy class on any international flight. However, every lounge has its own rules and policies regarding bringing guests.  The lounge at JFK airport, for example, allows its Star alliance member along with the family to use the lounge.  But, Star Alliance lounge at Changi Airport in Singapore, allows its member to bring only one guest.  This could be challenging when traveling with the family. Unless your child is 2 years old or younger, you entire family won’t be able to use the facility even if you are willing to pay for the extra person.  (To read more about Star Alliance, go to DoyanTravel.com and follow the link to Star Alliance homepage).

If you really need a quick and good rest and can not bring the entire family to the lounge, your best bet is to go to the transit hotel available at Changi airport.  Located at terminal 2, Ambassador is one of the transit hotels that offers clean and reasonabley priced room.  For as low as 41.20 Singapore Dollar, you can get a single occupancy budget room for minimum of 6 hours.  For additional of 20 Singapore Dollar, you can get a better room with your own private bathroom.  Or if you just want to use their shower facility, you can pay as little as 9 Singapore Dollar.

In conclusion, a smooth and good travel experience is not just about the experience at the destination but also an overall experience during the entire trip.  Getting to the destination fresh and rested is the first step to a happy and healthy journey.

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Travel to Bali-Airline

By W. Wang

If you’ve never been to Bali, you might wonder how long it takes to fly from US (East Coast).  Well.. depending where you live, and what airline you choose, you might spend as fast as 18 hours (this gets you to Singapore only, from there you will spend about 1 hour flight to Denpasar Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali) to more than a day.

In my opinion, the best airline available so far is Singapore airline.  With a bit of extra money, you can fly from Newark International Airport to Singapore, non stop 18 hours, in all business class layout Singapore air A340-500 (they call it Economy plus).   Another way is to fly Singapore airline in-direct flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport (New York) to Singapore with an hour layover in Frankfurt.  The first leg JFK-FRA will take about 8 hours.  The second leg, FRA-SIN, will take about another 12 hours.

There are more other airlines which fly to Bali; such as China airline, Cathay Pacific (via Hong Kong), Continental, Japan Airline, American Airline, and many more.   You may want to compare both price and total time it takes to get to the destination, before you decide which airline to choose.  Go to a very useful website http://matrix.itasoftware.com/cvg/dispatch to compare prices and total flight time from various airlines.  You may also go to my website www.DoyanTravel.com and click on “Flight Search” under “Travel Tool”.

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Travel to Bali-Visa

By W. Wang

As the date is getting closer, I’m checking all the necessary items, especially proper documentations that I need to bring.  There are only 2 most important things on top of the list.  A valid passport that is still valid 6 months after the departure date, and a visa entry to country of Indonesia, where island Bali is located.

One good news is US citizens can obtain visa on arrival at various Internationl airports in Indonesia.  This visa entry is good for 30 days visit and it costs about $25 per visa.   Bali’s airport, Ngurah Rai, located in Denpasar, offers visa on arrival service at the location.  You may also obtain visa at Indonesian consulats through out United States.  Check out my website http://doyantravel.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=72&Itemid=94 for more information about visa entry to Indonesia.

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Travel to Bali-Intro

By W. Wang

In less than 2 weeks, I will be back in Bali, ‘the heaven on earth’, as movie star Julia Roberts describes during her interview with Oprah.  Growing up around the area, I am not surprise that Julia Roberts loves the place (she took her whole family to Bali in 2009 to shoot her recent movie ‘Eat Pray Love’, a movie based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s no. 1 best selling book).  Bali is a special place where beautiful nature meet unique cultures and people.

New and luxurious hotels and resorts are booming rapidly in Bali that recently Indonesian government put a stop on new real estate developments.  Cannot keep up with the fast growing hotels and resorts in Bali, I promise to myself that I will be more adventurous in experiencing Bali resorts and hotels this time around.  Based on the recommendation of my friends who still live there, I will stay in 4 different hotels during my visit.  3 hotels are in Nusa Dua gated area (Conrad (by Hilton), Grand Hyatt, and Westin), and 1 hotel in Jimbaran beach area (Ayana – formerly Ritz Carlton hotel).  I’ve booked all the hotels through my friend who happens to have a travel agency in Indonesia (how convenience.. :)).  And I also arrange a private car and driver to pick us up at the airport and take us around during the stay.

I will keep on blogging through out my stay, so stay tuned..

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