This is quite a delayed post but really, it is worth writing about because I don’t think we’ve ever had an event where each moment in itself is memorable.
We booked our flights to Bali, Indonesia at last year’s Cebu Pacific seat sale. At roughly PHP 24,000 (USD 530 at PHP45:USD1), Marga, Ate Ja, Aidel and I jetted off to Bali for five days and four nights last August 4-8.
Oh wait. We didn’t all get to go. Hahaha.
First hurdle: Aidel’s passport was less than six (6) months valid.
As my new sister-in-law, the fact that Aidel didn’t get to fly with us is quite stressful. Not only did we plan this trip for the four of us, but among us, she was the most excited. It was such a pain when, after paying our travel taxes, I saw her still talking to the check in counter lady. Apparently, they won’t let her fly because of her passport validity.
Important note to traveler: read the fine print. The Cebu Pacific staff was very kind in explaining how the airline will be fined (and herself, in turn) should Aidel be given an airport-to-airport transfer. Your passport must at least be valid for six months at the time of travel. It should have been elementary for us to check the terms, but eh. We were too psyched for the entire trip to even notice.
Long story short, after a day-long hurdle shuttling back and forth to various DFA offices, she was able to have her passport stamped for a year-long extension just in time to catch the next flight out to Bali that same evening. We are lucky like that.
So, Marga, Ate Ja and I landed in beautiful Bali and already we’re quite blown away by the state of its international airport. Located in the city of Denpasar, Ngurah Rai International Airport is just brimming with Indonesian culture. It was soooo clean too! I swear, we could almost see our faces on the floor and the walls. At the exit gate, we were greeted by a huge stone deity.
It made us, once again, almost infuriated that our own airport is in a state of disarray. Why can’t the powers that be just move everything and anything to have a welcome platform as representative of our culture much like this? Seriously. As an ASEAN neighbor, we truly pale in comparison to Indonesia. And I’m just speaking of Indonesia alone.
Anyway, we headed for the pickup zone where our driver, Made Dodi, is waiting for us. After changing our dollars to rupiah, Dodi immediately assisted us and handled our luggage with ease.
While buses and taxis are available on the island, we have all decided for this trip to be a budget-relaxation-leisure trip. Transportation was the last thing we wanted to worry about so we’ve decided to hire a private driver instead. It was worth every penny spent.
Dodi is the highlight of this trip. After perusing Trip Advisor for months, I emailed him a couple of days before our arrival and bam! He replies within minutes, asking for our flight details and basically arranging our airport pickup time. He was prompt, punctual and absolutely the best of Bali. Nothing else would come close.
The thing with Dodi is, he makes sure your time is well spent. On our first day, we were still getting over the shock of not having Aidel with us, so Dodi just took us to a quick tour of the Nusa Dua beaches. He then took us to lunch and then to the hotel for check in. He must have sensed our stunned silence because he just proceeded to book us a table at Jinbaran Bay, overlooking the sunset, for our seafood dinner marking our first day on the island.
Dodi is filled with stories and tips. Each tourist spot is quite far from each other, so he makes sure each area trip is maximized. His English is very good; I think he learned from his tourists too, because he uses a lot of jargons already. He is kind and very sweet. When we craved for dessert (because Balinese cuisine doesn’t really involve sugary treats), he surprised us with jackfruit fritters. The sweetest thing really! We were just completely blown away.
One thing that we will never forget was when, during our Thursday tour, Marga asked if Dodi loves driving. Apparently, he has been touring guests for the last 15 years. To that question, he swiftly replied: “I love my job. Everything about my job. I love my job.” So it is not a sales tactic. His driving is not a means to an end. He truly enjoys what he does. You will never get the short end of the stick with Dodi. He loves Bali and he loves his job. It’s the perfect combination really.
To know more about Dodi’s tours, visit his website at www.madedodi.com. Bali will not be complete without Dodi.
I know this post is amazingly late, given that our trip was at the beginning of August. But please do stay tuned. I have more to tell you about this beautiful Bali trip.