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Bali trip 2024 – leaving Australia, the flight, arriving in Bali.

 

Preparing to leave your home and head off for a month away on Bali, the Island of the Gods always means a lot of prep. Will I forget this or that, and I always seem to collect an array of tech to take with me. Working in the field of digital marketing tends to over amplify the need to breing everything with you, cables of all types, for this device and that device. By the time I’m finished collecting my tech toolbok, our lounge floor resembles a garage sale. But more of that later.

So this is the first trip of 2024, some 6 months since our last trip to Bali in August 2023 – which was also a 4 week trip. We choose to get the 1 month Visa On Arrival instead of the 2 month, or multiple entry visas. Being young 60 year olds, there is still a lot of work to do at home, work wise that is – so these little 4 week stints, are the perfect time to relax as well plan for longer stays here in Bali.

My wife Kaz and I finally let our home in Buderim on the Queensland Sunshine Coast on the Sunday afternoon of 25th Feb. Fur babies have a wonderful new mother for a month called Sarah, who is house sitting in our property, which has gardens remincent of the Bali gardens we adore over here. The lusch tropical climate of Queensland mimincs the humid-heavy conditions of Bali – therefore our gardens thrive and grow so fast.

Living on the Sunshine Coast, about 90 KM North of the Brisbane CBD, and a similar distance to the Brisbane International Airport forever remains a trip down the freeway, where a small accident can cause traffic chaos. Thankfully on this occassion, we had a good run and managed to arrive at our budget hotel close to the airport, and literally a 1 minute drive to our car parking spot at Andrews Airport Parking. Typically, prices here for car parking are about 35% cheaper than parking at the airport – and their frequent shuttlew bus runs are convenient and quick, taking a mere 10 minutes, depending on whether there are passengers heading to the domestic terminal first.

After a poor night sleep, it was a 3am alarm call as our Jetstar flight was scheduled for 7.10am or so. Having prepared our gear the night before, a quick shower and we were heading out the door of the motel to our car. I have to mention this hotel had a set of weighing scales to allow passengers to check their luggage weights before being ‘slugged’ at the airport for over-allowance. (that’s another post in itself). Looking closely at the luggage weighing machine, there was a sign saying $2 for 30 seconds – my god, the world has gone mad. Where has the customer convenience gone? We live in a world where just about every step of the way – especially when travelling is met with a myriad array of charges and fees, whereby creative execs devise and scheme their way to clawing as much extra cash from unsuspecting travellers.

Ok – so now we’ve got the car checked in at Andrews Airport Parking, we’re on the bus and before no time, lining up at the check-in, where the queue is rapidly growing. Jetstar service staff kindly ask passengers who has checked in online.. and those who have no, are shunted down to another line, weaving its way to the far end check-in desks, which seem to be manned by fewer staff than the ones who manage passengers who have already checked in online.

After 50 mins standing in line, watching a few people empty overweight luggage, transferring the offending articles into their travelling companion’s luggage, we were handed our boarding passes by a very polite young guy, then it’s off to traverse the next stage of the procedure – immigration.

As usual, the rigmarole of emptying everying from bags, removing belts and pocket items goes ahead. Body scans and baggage scans seem to be the norm. Surprisingly, there were few flights departing this early, so it was quite easy to get through the bag checks. The final gate of course is passport control, and my British Passport hardly ever works, and true to form, I was ushered to the immigration desk where a stoic-faced officer, checked my passport and allowed me through.

A quick, over-priced, tastless coffee later, it was no time before we headed to gave 84 for our Jetstar 57 flight to Denpasar, Nuragh Rai Internatoinal Airport. This was a small plane with a 3 by 3 seat configuration, unlike the airbus we usually take. Seats were standard for this airline, but no on-board entertainment at all – a sign of the future whereby airlines have realised massive savings but not including 100’s of screens and in the backs of seats. The new norm is BYOD, bring your own device for self-entertainment – which suits me fine. Thankfully, there is a USB port available to charge your device – but a word of caution, if you’re sporting USB-C charging cables – you’re out of luck. Bring an adapter if your ipad or phone needs USB-C connectability.

Flight was 5.5 hours, so not bad – and seems to go fast, especially with BYOD for entertainment. One passenger next to us, an elderly man, wasn’t happy about not having a TV screen – and rightly so. I can’t remember seeing any notifications about BYOD from Jetstar. After all, we’re all used to travelling overseas with modern conveniences such as TV screen in the back of the chair in front – and Jetstar don’t promote the fact there isnt any entertainment. I know this has been going on for a while now – but it’s worth mentioning again.

Food on board is lifeless and well below standard. If we were to buy this food at a cafe, there would be no going back. For some unexplained reason the flight attendant handed my wife and I a tray of Lasagne each. Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve never eaten lasagne at 8.30 in the morning before. Which begs the question, who in their right mind thinks an early morning ‘breakfast’ meal should be lasagne – a heavy, and dry version at that. Copious amounts of salt were required to begin to develop the taste and excite (somewhat slowly) my taste buds.

Back to the flight…before long, I pulled up the window shades to reveal the last glimpse of the N.W. coast of Australia passing gently beneath us. I have to say, the clear aqua water was breathtaking, and a wonderful reminder of how Australia is such a gifted place to live. Intermittently checking our arrival time, because there is no other way to check your actual flight path, notifications rang out through the aircraft tanoy, to  put your trays away, seats back in the upright position and prepare for our decent. As we neared Bali itself, my view out the right side of the plane revealed the sandy beaches and clear aqua seas of Nusa Lembongan and Cenegan, both lovely little getaways, and only an hour or so fast boat trip from Sanur.

Our landing was from the East, which was unusual as most flight come in over the ocean with the airport situated at the Eastern end of Kuta beach. Approaching the runway, a clear view of the connecting road bright was a sight to see, and huge flotillas of traditional Balinese boats popped out in their majestic blue colour.

Landing and taxing to the gate is always pretty quick, and if you choose your seats to be at the front of the aircraft, disembarking is a relatively painless and quick exercise. For those who have not been to Bali before, let’s walk through the next steps.

Ngurah Rai International Airport – Arrival Process

For Australians entering Bali. Visa on Arrival $51 (or so) + Bali Tourist tax of $15. That’s $66 to enter Bali in 2024, per person.

  1. Note: As of 19 Feb 2024, a new tourist tax was introduced (on top of the Visa on Arrival fee). This $15 AUD tax is payable by each person entering Bali. The reason given for the new tax is to generate extra money for the Balinese goverment to maintain its cultural roots, preserve essential services and prevent further errosion of its way of life, which has been ravaged by tourism over the years. Whether this money is put to use as it was intended – we shall see over time.
  2. Pay your Visa on Arrival (VoA) – about $51 AUD They accept the exact cash amount in AUD, or card payment. You’ll be given a paper receipt, a purple ticket which is placed inside your passport by the offical who processed your payment. You’ll need this at the passort control step.
  3. Immigration, Passport Control. This is where you can wait forever, or breeze through, depending on the number of flights, or whether the person in front of you has an issue with their passport. Having said that, this trip there are new automatic passport control gates, where self-service passport control is being rolled out. I was’t game to use my British passport, only because I know it would fail and the excitement of breezing through immigration would be met with the frustration of going back into a new queue to face the humans at passport control. You may be asked a couple of questions by the immigration officer, like \”how long are you staying for?”, “where are you staying?”. Don’t worry, it’s all part of the process. Your VoA will be checked and you’ll be granted the standard 30 day visa – you’re now a tourist in Bali 🙂
  4. The next stage is to go get your bags from the carousel. Not much to say here. Just eyeball your bag, and drag it off the merry-go-round. Always taking care not to wipe someone out as you fight for your propery. It was be like a game of dodgeball at times – everyone eagre to get their gear and get the hell out of the airport.
  5. So you’ve arrived, paid your VoA (or if you’re really organised, you’ve paid it online before you left), now the last hurdle is the customs declaration process, to verify you’re not bringing in any illegal or banned objects into Indonesia. One our previous trip before this, we had to head over to the computer terminals and fight for  screen, fill out a lot of questions (terrible experience), then print out a QR code, which is used to hand to the officer at the final desk before your freedom awaits. Travelling as a couple, you can add your companion to the one decparation – no need to print a separate QR code for each traveller.

That’s it, we’re in Bali again. It feels good to be back once more. Soon as you arrive out into the main airport concourse, it all begins. Change money, taxi, sim card vendors everywhere, the gauntlet has formed – and it will always be part of the arrival process. Embrace it, breath it in – you’re in Bali now – it’s a very different world.