我们的天空。。

召集旅游狂和博客!!若有兴趣成为我们的一分子,请留言在chatbox或email我: confessionofdtravelholics@hotmail.com。 Travelholics (bloggers) wanted!! Come and join us by dropping a message in the chatbox or email me confessionofdtravelholics@hotmail.com.

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现在才发现,原来我们的部落格差一点就安了个和大马著名背包旅行作者黄爱琳的两本书书名一样的名字。。。所以如果有一天爱琳再出版第三本书,而书名为《再难也要去旅行》的话,我们并不是抄袭她的哦。。。 ^.^

主编 09年8月1日 ****************************************************************

Bali tour - An interesting review

On our second visit to Bali, the main task we set was to do 'audit'. Audit means assess the quality of ground tour itinerary, accommodation and food given throughout the trip. Last time we backpacked to Bali to explore the island, randomly booked some ground arrangements and then that was it. After the requests to Bali are getting more, we came to an agreement to really assess the quality of tours available so that every customized package proposed to our clients will be above average quality at comparable price.

Nowadays people always question a lot, for example:

"WHY X can provide me lower price but the itineraries cover more than Y can provide???"

"Almost same package but why X gives cheaper price? Only the accommodation not the same, can you change the hotel to cheaper one?"

If you wonder how we did that 'audit', we actually get the help from our friends and spread out into 3 groups and took 3 different assignments to find out the answer for the clients.
Group #1 - the most 'attractive' budget tours comes in a package, of course the cheaper range tour
Group #2 - moderate price package tour where clients like to do comparison with the budget tours
Group #3 - tailor made tour from another agency, we request for a small group tour within budget of RM1000/pax, full board

Interesting?? Ok now here are the stories...

Travel date: around July (peak season)
Travel duraton: 5D4N

Group #1 (CN & T volunteered to take this package as their pre-honeymoon trip because they were on a tight budget to go for another trip after Bali)
- price range: RM600-RM750+ per pax for 5D4N
- accommodation range: 2-3 star hotel
- food: 3 lunch, 4 dinner included, breakfast at hotel
- transportation: all transfer including airport and moving around
- itinerary: typical routes covering Kuta, Ubud, and Lovina area
- special request: dolphin watching -> additional RM160

---> We purchased the package around 4 months before the trip, because the agent said if we book earlier we can get cheaper price (that is true because last minute deal especially during peak season will have extra charges). We asked about the hotel which we are going to stay, and after checked on the review in tripadvisor we found out that the hotel was not really in a good condition. We talked to the agent about this but she tried to persuade that at this price the hotel is consider good already. So we accepted that since our objective is to do assessment. Despite tourguide being provided as what the agent said, what we got was only a driver guide!!! A driver guide means the driver is the guide, a non-trained guide who will give some brief explanation about the places, drop you off and then wait for you in the car.

Day1 - First day itinerary was still ok. But then problem with the hotel came! We stayed in a so-called 3-star hotel in Kuta but in fact it is only rated 2-and-a-half-star in the hotel list. No control of air-conditioning, water pressure low, and one of a sudden the hot water became icy cold, and seconds later it could boil an egg!! What's worse was the hotel did not even provide drinking water! Closet was so smelly and the floor tiles were cracking. First time ever we had to wear shoes to walk around in a hotel room and also into the toilet! We complained to the hotel reception but they said all rooms were fully book so had to wait until tomorrow. They put us in a twin sharing room (2 single beds) instead of double bed room - I say COME ON!! We had mentioned to the agent that we will go on a pre-honeymoon trip since months ago! Went to Jimbaran for seafood and spa to relax but mood was already a bit ruined because of the stupid hotel arrangement.

Day2 - Breakfast included. 2 toast with butter and jam plus a cup of coffee. THAT'S ALL??!! OMG!! We looked around and found the puzzled faces of the other guests... FINE, WE PAID FOR ADDITIONAL FRIED RICE. We asked for private tour (meaning only 2 person) but suddenly another 4 people hopped into our car the second morning?! FINE, when we go back we'll question her.. First destination, second destination, third destination still followed schedule as per planning. After lunch question marks started to pop up...the driver seemed not following the itinerary? 6 of us took out the email printed and started comparing on the details. Well yea, all the same places but how come the driver went to another place? Then he explained that the direction of places we should visit should be the other way round, or else we will have to drive all the way to north and then back to south. 5 places proposed, we missed 2 because he said there were some changes to suit the routes and will cover back the next day. FINE! Lunch was ok. But dinner was really bad - eating by the roadside stall which seemed we were the only customers. Dropped the others and back to hotel, still no room... WTF!

Day3 - Check out hotel. Going to Lovina today. Another couple joined us because they were also going to Lovina. Why couldn't the agent tell us honestly that we would be placed in a joined tour?! She promised us all private tour...!!! All the way up north and it took around 5 hours before we reach Lovina. Roads in Bali is really bad, traffic slow, roads narrow. We visited 3 places before reaching Lovina but by that time we could actually throw away the printed itinerary already. Schedule were all mixed up and we didn't know where were we heading to. The driver kept 'updating' us on where to go. Lunch was not good at all. Roads were winding all the way to Lovina...we fell asleep in the car and woke up realizing the driver was missing?! We were shocked and went out of the car to search for the driver. After 15 minutes later only he appeared. I really felt the blood cooking. Hotel was a lot better than the previous one, nothing much to complain because the environment is cozy and relaxing. But still NO HOT WATER...we're lazy to complain again...felt like very disappointed in the whole trip arrangement since yesterday. As usual, dinner was a big turn-off due to long waiting time - nearly an hour - but there were only 3 tables in the shop.

Day4 - Woke up at 5am for dolphin watching. The expenses were on our own. This was quite fun because we were lucky to be able to see dolphins when there were quite a lot of boats on that day. The boat rower told us that the more boats the lesser dolphins will appear. The whole morning was free and easy until lunch time. Schedule was out again because the driver was late. Due to the 10-year-once prayer ceremony, we noticed that many shops were closed. Transferred to Ubud and on the way we did some shopping at the local arts and crafts market. Stayed at another 3-star hotel much better than the Kuta one but there was no tv in the room! Night was boring after dinner. We actually requested to go to Bebek Bengil but the agent forgot to book earlier so we had to go somewhere else. Same as the spa, we waited so long because the staff said booking was not done earlier so they had to call for 'OT'. DUH! I think the happiest meal we had throughout the trip was only Babi Guling.

Day5 - Driver was late for pick up!! Schedule said he should come at 10am but he told us 12pm last night. What more choice we had? Did a bit shopping and the itineraries still left out 2...couldn't cover all but we were lazy to bother about that. It's already last day and we're really hoping to go back VERY VERY SOON. Not because we hate Bali - Bali is a place full of cultural beauty and definitely a great place for photographers - we were very disappointed with the arrangement, felt like being conned you know. Not only us complaining but the other couple also felt so. We shared the same trip transfers since day3. It's like nobody's business after payment. This is the worst trip in my life...and the complain email that I sent to the agent after the trip was even longer than this review.

Group #2 (C, S, J and M chose to purchase this moderately priced package, their set their objective as to have fun and enjoy photography in Bali)
- price range: RM800-RM900+ per pax for 5D4N
- accommodation range: 3 star hotel
- food: 3 lunch, 4 dinner included, breakfast at hotel
- transportation: all transfer including airport and moving around
- itinerary: typical routes covering Kuta, Ubud, and Lovina area
- special request: dolphin watching -> additional RM160

---> The package was bought around 1 month before we visited Bali, the agent advised about the hotel choices in the 3-star range available, only listed out 3 choices of hotel because July is the peak season in Bali. We also asked about the hotel which we are going to stay, checked on the review and was quite satisfied with it (still need to check out later). A van, together with a driver and a tour guide was provided and we were given a private tour as well. The tour guide was very experienced and he can even speak a little chinese! Even better than J because he couldn't speak chinese at all. And he's funny too, always try to make jokes along the way.

Day1 - The tour guide was already waiting outside the airport with C's name written on a big cardboard. As soon as we approached him, the driver quickly helped us to carry our luggages to the van, so did himself too. Then he started to introduce himself as Nyoman (meaning #2 in the siblings). Our hotel was located in Kuta area, where the nightlife never ends...and shopping area too! Nyoman explained a lot about Kuta area, and showed us the Bomb Statue where the bombing happened back in 2002. He even asked the driver to stop for 10 minutes because we wanted to take photo at the statue. After checked in to the hotel, we rest for a while and then he came to pick us up for Jimbaran seafood dinner and spa around 5pm. The dinner was nice and the environment is quite romantic, recommended for couples! Nyoman gave us a short briefing on the itinerary of next day.

Day2 - We had breakfast at the hotel that is already included. The choices of food are quite similar to Malaysian cuisine, only no Nasi Lemak lolz. Fresh fruits were served, we had nasi goreng or mee goreng, and coffee/tea. Additional charges if you add fried egg or ham/sausage but still reasonable price. Nyoman was already waiting for us at the lobby, he was wearing the traditional black and white checks Balinese sarong with the crown called 'udeng', and he looks like a pahlawan (warrior), only lacking of a keris. He explained that later we are going to visit temples so he purposely wore that. Our tour duration was around 11 hours starting from 8.30am, we really really fell in love with the sceneries at Tanah Lot. It's simply amazing! C and M did some little shopping at Tanah Lot too. There are a lot of things to buy but for sure the price is a bit higher. But anyway RP10000 is around RM3 only so who cares much about that as long as you're happy with it. Arts and crafts are priceless, just like photography.

Day3 - Today we were transferred from Kuta to Ubud. Bali is really an amazing place. The environment and culture between Kuta and Ubud is so much different! Ubud is very Balinese, while Kuta is very much like Patong area in Phuket (if one has been to Phuket before you'll understand). Photography tour went on and we visited Tegalalang village and also the paddy field. However, it is not as 'great' as those in Sapa, Vietnam. The view of Kintamani volcano is spectacular, weather was fine and a little windy, making the whole feeling great. Dinner was served at Bebek Bengil, Nyoman said usually guests have to book in advance because it's too popular. We noticed quite a lot of home stay around Ubud area which seems to be quite interesting. And then Nyoman explained that home stays are not very well-equipt (only bed and breakfast, no toiletries provided) so they only will arrange for guests if they specially request.

Day4 - Barged all the way to LOVINA~ For dolphin watching of course. L-O-V-I-N-A sounds very lovely. And I guess the dolphins are cute too. Lovina is famous for dolphin watching and black sand beaches. The stay and activities in Lovina were very relaxing. Basically you'd feel like being isolated in a village near the seaside. Rest quite early since the next day we will need to wake up very early for dolphin watching.

Day5 - 5.45am and we're already out to the sea! Hundreds of boats looked like hundreds of spiders crawling out to the sea. The boat design is worth to refer, good balancing through the waves. Never seen that in Malaysia before. Everyone was searching for dolphins and once we noticed it, every boat started to race towards where to dolphins swam passing by. We checked out from the hotel and proceeded to Bedugul on our way back to Denpasar. The journey were so long like 4 hours plus from Lovina to Denpasar! Luckily we stopped by at a fruit market and got some strawberries as snacks along the journey. Sweeter than those in Cameron Highlands - must be due to strawberries are grown in volcanic soil.. We tipped both Nyoman and the driver since they had carried out their job so professionally throughout these 5 days, understand that the Balinese families are really poor.

Group #3 (When 4 travel planners meet other travel planners...)
- price range: budget given RM1000/per pax for 5D4N
- accommodation range: 3 star hotel, home stay
- food: all meals included
- transportation: all transfer including airport and moving around
- itinerary: special request of activities and places must visit
- special request: no "shopping stops" please...

---> What would happen when travel planners meet travel planners?? Interesting huh... Like 2 weeks before the trip we selected a few travel planners and requested for quotation before we decided which one to take. Things often get complicated when the so-called experts talk about a topic they are good at. Many alteration went on because we were not very satisfied with the proposed itineraries. Some were too packed while some were too relaxing. The biggest mistake a planner could make -- never treat their clients sincerely!! Either no detailed explanation, no patience, or some like have attittude problem. Eh...you think I don't pay you? I ask another few things then you already feel frustrated, like don't want to do business! If I need to follow everything you propose then why should I hire a planner? I could just select any package available from the travel agent. However, task still must be completed, so we select one.

Day1 - Per planned.
Day2 - Per planned.
Day3 - Per planned.
Day4 - Per planned.
Day5 - Per planned.

End of story??!

WAIT...

We wanted something special and different from the conventional itinerary. A trip which most Asians do not opt for. Majority of the Bali tours often emphasis on temples and cultures and sightseeing. But we wanted more than that. We went for cycling trip, volcano climbing before sunrise, and also some water sports activities. Of course spa is a must-not-miss, and also the amazing sunset view at Tanah Lot. We did not only stay in hotel, but we asked for a one day home stay to experience the lifestyle of the Balinese. However 5D4N was really too short.. You know what, initially we did have plan to explore places other than the published ones, but due to very limited time this trip we had to let it go. So next time we might spend another 8 days to round the island.

Throughout the trip most of the aspects were met because we were so picky. Like we even listed out the food selection and asked for advice which one to go for. Well, becoming our corporate partner is not an easy task and we really want to make sure that our partners can satisfy the clients. Understanding the needs and expectation of your clients is the most basic requirement in service industry. And we are very sure that we really put effort into what we do in order to serve our clients the best.

-the end-

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Well I think we're really crazy enough to takes things seriously in this way. But this is the attitude one will have if you really have passion in doing something. If you ask the best chef how many places had he explored to taste the same kind of dishes cooked by different people, I'm sure the effort he poured in was even more. Our aim is to be the best one day in future.

Finally I'm really happy that after spending days to compile things together, 10 of us could come out with an interesting review like this. All true stories, but we will not expose the WHOs because that's not very ethical to do so. But by writing this report, we hope to share the good and ugly truths behind something attractive. As a wise traveller we must always know what and how to judge things. Think of the good things you are going to gain when you step into a new place with the people who mean so much to you, do you want to suffer when you're on a holiday?? If you pay for misery, then why still go for it? We're really sorry for C & T but I believe out there many people experienced the similar disaster too...but never mind, take it as a lesson.

So what's next? Hmm...we just come out with sort of a crazy idea because we might organize another non-profit trip to Bali in future, and it's going to be ideal if we can group a gang of travelholics together to start the new adventure~ We plan to drive on our own to explore new routes!! Will anyone be interested to join? Come on we can make it happen!!

You have your own version of stories oo? Come on and share your interesting travel stories with everyone. The comment space is always open for you.


Sincerely from us, the travelholics
4 Responses
  1. Karen Chan Says:

    I totally agreed with you as I experienced this during my trip to Bali. I was in the scenario #1.
    In next trip, with additional of 10-15% to get a good packages is reasonable. At least, we really can enjoy the holiday not “holy day”.Anyway, Good sharing.


  2. Come to us then! We always serve you the best we can give. =)


  3. Karen Chan Says:

    Yes of course, I'm planning my trip to Hanoi for 6Days in Mar10. I should look for you then.


  4. Andy Says:

    I like this review!! Simply the truth. I went to Halong Bay Vietnam with my friends once and we took the cheapest package. So many shopping stops!! And realized the boat was so lousy when we reach the pier...


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