Friday, October 31, 2008

Genting & Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Oct. 17, 2008

It's a good thing that we prepared in advance. My Wife's High School friend which is based on Japan had her vacation here in Singapore. She wanted to go to Malaysia since she's in Singapore anyways. We opt to take the 3D2N package Genting/Kuala Lumpur. For weeks we've been searching for the best deal. Me i was pretty particular about the coach. I've heard stories from my friends when they went to Genting. It's 6 hours long drive from Singapore. The coach that they booked has an individual LCD screen where you can choose programs you want to watch. To get the best deal my officemate suggested we go directly to the Golden Mile Complex along Beach Road. These is where most of the coach companies are located (Grassland, Konsortium, Five Stars). Coach companies have their own travel agencies also. Grasslands' package was much more attractive and cheaper than other travel agencies offer but that's understandable.

Oct. 17
Our coach leaves at 7:30am so we must arrive at the Golden Mile Complex 30 mins. before to show our booking to get our tickets and hotel vouchers from the Grassland Travel and Tours. It was on time. Our coach is Royal VIP 21 seater. Seat can be reclined to almost flat. Seat and leg pads can be controlled also.

The LCD screen doesn't turn on until we past the Singapore Immigration. I was dying to watch the in-house movies however to my disappointment i already watched most of the english movies. One category is "Other Movies" where they showcase Malaysian, Thailand movies. No luck from there since there are no english subtitles. So i tried the "Chinese Movies" and thank God most of them have english subtitles. I even saw the movie of Alessandra de Rossi titled "The Maid" which is shot in Singapore.

Getting through Singapore immigration is a breeze. Don't need to bring your bags.

Next stop was the Malaysian Immigration where you need to bring all your stuff since you will go through standard security checks like x-rays and metal detectors. Not as fast in Singapore but not bad also.

3rd stop is like a Food Centre with small shopping mart. My Wife and Jo had a waffle and bought 6pcs donuts.

4th stop is a short one just enough to go to the toilet. It's near the checkpoint which is already in Malaysia.

We arrived at around 2pm at the First World Bus Terminal. You can already feel the cool breeze and mist. I think it's like a counterpart of Baguio in the Philippines minus the Theme Park and Rides.

The first thing to do is to check-in. People are packed during these hours. There's a queue ticket for those who wants to check in. I found some seats and wait for the girls to get the lunch while i wait for our queue number to turn up. We ate our lunch (Kenny Roger's) while we wait. We checked-in at around 3:30pm already. We quickly went to our room so that we can fully enjoy the outdoor and indoor rides. It's drizzling a little bit outside since the rain poured at around 3pm. We started off with the Outdoor rides first. It closes at around 7pm so we thought we still have enough time to complete all the thrill rides before that.

Bali, Indonesia Getaway Sept. 19, 2008

It's been over a month since we've been there so I'll try my best to recall the events that took place. I'd like to start of unconventionally by relaying the lessons I've learned when planning your trip to Bali.

1. Plan ahead
- Ours is pretty much those spur of the moment kinda thing. If you can go on leave for an off-peak month then that would be the best. You can find a lot of travel agencies online that is based on Singapore to get the best price and inquire when is their off-peak season. Also try to avoid rainy seasons.

2. Have a budget
- You cannot really truly enjoy the vacation if you have tight budget so try save some for this.

3. Beachfront hotel
- If you're like me who likes to feel the breeze of the ocean early in the morning then do not settle for anything else but a beachfront regardless of the price. Make sure to double-check with the hotel itself if they are located near the beach or search online. Don't go for Kuta area unless you're in to Surfing. I've heard that surfing areas have uneven sea floor and strong undercurrent (not sure about the term). Search online for the best shoreline in Bali. Our guide said Nusa Dua is great also.

- I've got the best deal in Chinatown inside People's Park Centre. Ask all Money Changers. That time i got 1sgd=6500rupiah. Too bad he ran short of rupiah's. When we arrived in Bali the exchange rate was 1sgd=6450rupiah. In the airport it was 1sgd=6400rupiah. Although make sure that if you change your money in Bali don't go to those make shift counters along the streets. Safest is inside Kodak or Banks. If it's to good to be true then it probably is.

5. Souvenirs
- For shirts heed our advice and buy quality shirts. We bought ours at Pasar Sukowati. Shirts for women and men. When we washed them they shrank and the colors faded like they were old. You can buy them very cheap at around 2sgd per shirt but it's still a rift off. I've never experienced that when i bought my souvenir shirts in Boracay and Puerto Galera. Although i've got some best buys like the 6 different native musical instruments that i bought and my Wife bought a painting of the face of Buddha which she said is expensive in Dubai. Keychains and magnets never gets old too.

6. Activities
- If you took my advice and got a beachfront hotel in the best beach of Bali then good for you. Just don't forget to experience it. White-water rafting was great.

Elephant ride is cool also if you've never tried it. There are a lot of things to do in Bali which to me, a 3D2N, doesn't cut it because some of these activities are 1 hour or more drive. If you try to fit all then you'd be pretty exhausted and you won't be able to enjoy.

7. Transportation
- If you've got any Balinese or Indonesian friend that can refer you to a trusted rental car driver then that would be the best. Your travel agency should've provided you with a transport from airport to the hotel and back. The driver would definitely offer you a tour package. Try to negotiate the price. Make sure to bargain 50% off everytime they make an offer. If they won't agree then just ask for their number. They will definitely lower the price. However you must insist that you just take their number but be polite. Just tell them that you need to discuss it first with whoever's with you. Never go on a vacation alone. There are some scrupulous taxi drivers in Bali. There was this time during our last day when we went back to the hotel around after lunch with my Wife. The meter was 5k rupiah (it was a very short ride)> I don't have the exact amount so i gave him 20k rupiah. I was waiting for the change but he just stared at me. So i ask him where's the change. That's the only time that he gave me 10k rupiah. I stared back at him because i supposed to get 15k. He said it's 5k for me and 5k for my Wife. I was like
Are you kidding me?
My Wife already unboarded but not me. I was still waiting for the 5k. The amount is nothing really. It's just the feeling of being ripped off that pissed me off. Finally he gave me the 5k. So i was thinking he has no intention of giving any change in the first place. I think if you're in a group then they wouldn't try to rip you off.