Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bali Back to LAX on EVA Business Class and Premium Economy

It was really sad for me to leave Bali, but I had been away from home for about 11 days and it was time to go home. That many days is about my limit. I started wanting my creature comforts from home. Not to mention that I miss my dogs on long trips like these. Luckily enough our flight didn't leave Bali until the afternoon and we spent one last morning at the beautiful pool. We checked out of the hotel around 2:00pm and had the hotel van take us back to the airport and within 15-20 minutes we were back at DPS airport. I had used miles on this first leg for business class seats and we were checked in very quickly. As I had mentioned in a previous post, this airport is brand new and actually not really completed yet so there was some weirdness in the terminal with construction. After paying the departure tax and getting through security, we found the business lounge that EVA uses and it's just a sectioned-off area of a departure lounge right next to a gate. There wasn't much to eat and the drinks were limited. It was also really warm and the furniture was a little gross and dirty. At one point the lounge was very crowded and the food went very quickly.

Our plane arrived from Taipei slightly late and we boarded a little late too. The airside part of the terminal looks like a Balinese village with the hut design. It's really neat. On this flight to Taipei we would be flying on a A330-200. The flight to Taipei was a good 5+ hours and is almost directly a northern direction. The distance is about the same as flying from Los Angeles to Hawaii or New York. Since we were seated in business class, what they call Premium Laurel Class, we boarded first and found our seats in row 2.

When we took off we headed directly north and flew over the rest of the island. The airport is on the southern part of the island and the volcanoes are in the northern part. As we passed over them, the scenery was beautiful with the sun setting. Apparently there is a lake in the crater of the volcano just below. 

Below is a shot of the tons of legroom we had in these seats that were fairly old. The entertainment system was a little old too. The seats reclined to be almost flat but angled. 

Surprisingly the meal service was a little lacking for such a long flight. The presentation was pretty though. I love the salt and pepper shakers that look like little rocks. I wanted to take them and as I write this I'm thinking that I wish I had.

The dessert was a fruit plate and although I love dragon fruit, I was a bit disappointed and was expecting some cake or something sweet. They had ice cream though.

We arrived at Taipei around 9:30p and we had about a 2.5 hour layover before our 13 hour flight home. We found the same lounge we had used about 10 days prior and had a snack and did internet. Our flight left just before midnight. Luckily we were once again seated in EVA's premium economy cabin called Elite Class. I requested a bulkhead seat which they only release at the airport. We had pretty good legroom and had slippers and an amenity kit waiting at our seats. Our flight was on one of their older 777-300ERs.

Once we took off, they served dinner which was ok and nothing special. It was a little strange to be eating a meal so late.

Several movies and about 9 hours later they served breakfast and this was about 2 hours before we landed. Our flight was landing around 8pm, so having breakfast felt odd but that would've been the next meal after the dinner the night before.

We landed on the longest day of the year and by the time we were on the ground the sun had set. All together we had flown 20,481 miles on this trip. Vietnam and Bali were amazing and I can't wait to go back.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Day Tour on the Island of Bali

We had a day tour booked through For a whole day wherever we want to go, they only charge $55USD. I prearranged the sites I wanted to see by email and I was really happy with what we got. Our driver spoke really good English and he first took us to some shopping places for authentic Balinese crafts. After shopping at a batik place and a wood carving place we went to a Hindu Temple. I do not remember the name of the temple but we weren't too far from Ubud. The interesting thing about the Hindu temples we saw was that they didn't look like the Hindu temples I've seen in places like Singapore and Malaysia with all of the figurines and vignettes everywhere. These were all old stone structures that looked like a mix of Angkor Wat and Buddhist influences. Of course, I may be completely off base, but that's what they looked like to me. 

After this temple we went up into the mountains through lots of rice fields and found Satria Agrowisata. This is a coffee plantation where they have the famous kopi luwak, which is coffee beans harvested from the poop from an Asian civet. It's a nocturnal cat/lemur looking thing. It only eats the fruit with the best coffee beans inside and then passes them some time later. This is the most expensive coffee in the world and it sells for ridiculous prices. 

They have a free tasting of 12 different coffees and teas of all types and flavors. Some of the teas were really good and were flavors that I have never heard of before. The coffees were flavored too, but weren't the kopi luwak. That one you have to pay for to try.

Below is a cup of the kopi luwak that I ordered. At first, I didn't want to get it, but then I thought that not everyone can say they had the most expensive coffee in the world. Here it was just a little more than $4.25USD for the cup. 

This is me drinking the world's most expensive coffee.

After lunch, we were taken to a tourist restaurant that had the most amazing view of a rice field. We sat in our own little hut in the field among some lotus plants. We had our guide eat with us and we talked about Indonesia and Bali while we watched people harvest rice, which is quite a laborious task.

This was the gorgeous sampler of Balinese cuisine and it was amazing.

After we ate lunch, we were not too far from the holy water temple called, Tirta Empul. This temple is the site of a fresh water spring that has cold water coming out of it. They built a temple around it and there are a couple of pools. The idea is that you put your head under each of the 13 fountains to get the blessing.

After the Tirta Empul, we drove through Ubud to get to the Sacred Monkey Forest. This was a really interesting place. It's basically a large park with temples and lots of monkeys in it. You can buy fruit to feed them, but I didn't do it. I've seen monkeys in Malaysia and they were not nice to people that they thought were carrying food. In a way, they were really cute, but also kind of scary.

At one point, I had one hand in my pocket and a monkey thought I had food in there and jumped onto my arm. I was so startled that I let out a scream and eventually shook off the monkey. They are actually really tame and will climb up on you if you put your arm out, but they also fight a lot among each other, which makes them scary.

From Ubud, we drove a long way to the west coast of Bali to Tanah Lot, which is a temple complex on the coast. We arrived just as the sun was setting and it was gorgeous. It was also quite crowded with people trying to get a good spot for the sunset. Every view here was like a postcard.

The part of the temple pictured above is also only accessible during low tide, which it was that evening. We really lucked out with the timing of both the sunset and the tide. Right on cue all these bats flew out of some beach cave like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. After walking around for a little while until it was completely dark, we found our driver and he took us back to Nusa Dua, where our hotel was. But by this time we were hungry for dinner, so we had him drop us off at a shopping and dining complex called Bali Collection, where we ate dinner and did some souvenir shopping before getting back to the Conrad. It was an awesome day touring Bali and it was incredible to see that the island is so large that you really need several days to see all that it has to offer.