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A Sojourn to Seminyak

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  • A Sojourn to Seminyak

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ID:	77691 Bali has for the past four years become the choice of destination when I need to get away from the cold of Melbourne.


    For a multitude of reasons I didn't do the Bali trek as a younger man, but I am trying to make up for it now. Kuta is probably the choice of locations for most younger Australians but for me, if i want to stay in or near the coast then Seminyak or its immediate neighbour Legian, is the place of choice.

    Inland, it's Ubud, but on this journey I am staying at the FurmaXclusive Exclusive Beach Hotel in Jl. Arjuna, Seminyak (although really it is Legian), but that's "snob location creep" for you.

    On this holiday, June - my erstwhile partner, and I have decided to keep trips to a minimum and basically eat, drink, and relax in the immediate vicinity of the hotel, with one exception that I'll come to later in my story in part 2.

    But I'm jumping ahead of myself, so let's go back to the moment we arrived at the Denpasse airport. The first thing that is different is that there is no more queuing up to by a Visa. As of earlier this year Australia has at long last been added to the list of countries that no longer have to pay for a visa for a stay of 30 days or less.

    That means no long queue, and it means saving around $50.00Au per person, the visa payment was previously $35.00US. So now the longest part of the terminal wait is, waiting for your baggage and like all airports, that's simply a lottery. Get your bags, and make sure you have your pre-filled out Customs declaration done, and move through the green (nothing to declare) line and you are out!

    This is where it becomes a tad hideous, as you are set upon by drivers all touting for your business and I will talk about taxi companies very shortly.

    Normally we go to a special counter outside at the airport where you purchase a ride to your hotel for a fixed price - and that is highly advisable. However on this occasion we got off to a wonderful start was that we were picked up at the airport by a driver from the hotel. To be accurate we were met inside the airport and escorted to a waiting lounge where we were given bottled water while our driver arrived.

    The driver is employed by the hotel and drove an almost new Bluebird Taxi [Taksi]. Now I should mention if you have never been to Bali before, there are two major taxi companies –Bali Taxis and Bluebird Taxis.

    Both companies drive blue taxis, and that makes it a little difficult to tell them apart from a distance, but if you look to the top of the windscreen the Bali Taxis have no writing, whereas the Bluebird taxis have white lettering,which say Bluebird Taksi but even if you can't read it from a distance - white lettering = Bluebird taxi.

    Our experience, and the experience of many others we have spoken to is, to avoid Bali taxis whenever possible. They are often grubby inside, the driver nearly always seem to forget to put their meter on,and, if you make them put them on they will
    then try and take the longest way to your destination. Now if you know your way around they Bali they will then try and tell you they have no change!

    Where as Bluebird taxi drivers are very honest, the cabs are clean and the drivers know all the best routes.Get the message?

    This was our first time at the FuramaXclusive so while we have stayed at a range of hotels in the area, this makes us newbies at this hotel.

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    Into the hotel lobby

    Reception was very organised, and check-in was swift and easy.

    The gardens are very pleasant and while standing in reception my first thought was that it is quite novel that you could see into the pool through a large glass window from the foyer. Then my wife pointed out she wasn't certain that she wanted to be ogled from under the water level while swimming – good point!

    Our room was on the ground floor and if we had realised that there were lifts at the hotel, my wife has had two knee replacements and so finds stairs troubling on a constant basis, we may have requested a room on a top floor. She did visit them and reported that the views were magnificent.

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    Crossing the pool from the lobby leads to accommodation
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    Our room

    Our accommodation size wise was quite acceptable. On entering you walk into a decent size sitting room with a flat screen TV, DVD player and a good range of Indonesian & Euro satellite channels. The kitchenette is small, there is a small fridge in a cupboard and there is no sink. There is an electric kettle for making coffee and tea, but supplies are limited and in the end June complained and was given a massive handful of tea and coffee packets. Milk is not provided.

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    Looking into the sitting area from the front door
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    Sitting room - reverse angle looking back at the door

    The bedroom is in a very large alcove around the corner from the sitting area, and the bed was comfortable and the air conditioner is set in that area but while the controls are quite basic it did an excellent job.

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    Kitchenette

    The closet had three drawers and two of them were quite small and really all up were not adequate for the two of us,but the hanging space above them was really terrible. My one pair of trousers would not hang up without folding at the knees and my wife ended up hanging her dresses out of the closet.

    The closet also contains a modern easy to set electronic safe for valuables.

    The bathroom is pretty ordinary. It has a shower recess with a wrong size tile in the centre where the water drains and it has not been fixed to the floor, and the edge of one tile on the wall was cracked. It has a large handbasin and shelf and the hot water is really hot. That is not always the case in some hotels, and some, you shower early or you shower cold. That was not the case here.

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    Bathroom from the door
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    Bathroom reverse angle - wash basin

    The toilet was clean and the handbasin and bench were clean and towels will be changed daily if left on the floor, but if you want to be a little "green" and save energy, fold the towel back up and it will not be changed.

    Be aware – all the electrical fittings are Indonesian, so you will need to bringAustralian/Indonesian adaptors (some hotels have both electrical fittings) as there are no Australian plugs. I always take just one adaptor and a power board, that way I can run all our devices without having to buy and carry multiple adaptor plugs.

    The power supply was of a good quality, again, that is not necessarily the case in all hotels and given the extraordinary number of large hotels springing up, you have to wonder whether the Balinese power infrastructure will cope.

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    Looking down at the pool from the restaurant

    The restaurant is above reception and is very large and if you can certainly try to get a table fronting the beach, the view is fabulous. If you are eating there and you want a view of the beach, book a table ahead of time.

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    View from the restaurant

    Breakfast is an excellent range of Asian and European food. There are multiple juices, fruit, hot and cold food – although my wife advised to steer clear of the french toast, it was very soggy. There is also a range of croissants and Danish type pastries - all fresh.

    Now I am a self-confessed coffee snob,and my wife isn't, so when I say the filtered coffee was weak and pretty bad and she agrees, then that becomes gospel! So be prepared to spend a little over 30,000Rp or $3.00, but you will get a decent cafe latte.

    There is a service charge of 10% added to everything (as it is almost everywhere) and then another 10% GSP added to the price plus the service charge.

    The is a wide range of food available for evening meals, but we had some special vouchers. Let me tell you about the vouchers we were given on our arrival.

    They gave us two free cocktails every evening, and you can choose from their extensive list. The cocktails are acceptable, but you would need to drink at least three to start to feel a bit light headed. We also were entitled to one free massage for 30 minute every day - but bookings are still essential. We also got one free evening meal each on the night of the buffet, and one free lunch each.

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    One of my many cocktails

    So that does add up, and given breakfasts are included all in all the deal was good. They do not post tariffs but if you check through Expedia for example, and put your proposed dates in a tariff or best deal will come up. Expect to pay around $130.00/night for the studio setup, that we were in.

    That is good but not a great rate for other comparable hotels. What you do get is absolutely brilliant service from the staff, and a very, very friendly interaction. They will always say good morning with a smile, and if you want to engage them, they are really happy to chat. I had a number of impromptu Indonesian lessons.

    An absolute must toward the end of the day was a trip down to the beach to Andy Bar on the beach for what is, absolutely the coldest and really well priced Bintang (the local beer). Now there are no shortages of all sorts of little bars, and all have bean bags and chairs and umbrellas and sell cold (or relatively cold) beer, for between 25,000 and 35,000Rp ($2.50 - $3.50Au).


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    Andy Bar - Tex (a friend) Ozzie & Andy

    Now Andy [and note it is Andy Bar not Andy's Bar] has blue beach umbrellas with Andy written on them and he is located on the beach almost exactly opposite the Kumala Pantai Restaurant in Jl (oh, that's Jalan - road) Arjuna. He and his employee Ozzy, are most welcoming, and if you want to chat they will love to sit and talk with you - they love Australians.

    Andy has to pay a fee for a license to be there and as he says, it only pays for itself for about 7 months of the year, when there is little rain. During the wet season he takes out bank loans to make his license payments and to support his family - he has an 18 month old son and a wife. The work is non-stop as Andy even when sitting and talking is always looking out for his customers, do they need another drink, is another chair needed, his service is only equalled by his fantastic welcoming manner.

    So do check Andy out, and believe me he really does have the coldest beer, and make sure you enjoy the scene from a beach chair and have a few beers and help him out. Itv really isn't hard to do, good cold beer, fantastic service and happy vibes = a great time!

    There is no way to avoid being approached by a myriad of boys, and young and older women, and sometimes even children, trying to sell you "things". What things ? Every-things . . . . ! Look, please be polite and but firm if you don't want to buy. It is a "dance" of a kind and some are actually licensed to sell, others are not. The problem is there is no way to tell them apart.

    I always try to find a little something to buy when my neighbour, who incidentally introduced June and I to Andy (thanks Chrissy), pointed out that they are very poor people and scrabble to make a living.

    It's hard to avoid, but June actually brought three really beautiful handmade shawls from down there, and got them at a price we thought was very fair. The woman started at $100,000Rp each ($10.00), but in the end June brought them for 50,000Rp each - bartering IS expected. I think we could have got them cheaper buying three, but we agreed we were happy with the price and 150,000Rp helped the woman, who then gave June a fabulous manicure for another 50,00oRp - which June said she was impressed with.

    On the other hand there are the watch sellers - hordes of watch sellers. The funny thing was the first night down there I looked at my watch and discovered the winder had fallen out! This was much to the delight and amazement of one of the watch sellers - who promptly offered me a "genuine" Rolex for only 300,000Rp ($30.00).

    We had a big laugh when I gently put my hand on his arm, looked him in the eyes and said, "I never knew Rolex had opened up a factory in Bali"! He looked for a moment, smiled, I laughed and he broke up.

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    Then we danced. Me: "30,000Rp, are you kidding - never!"

    Him: "You tell me how much?" Me:" No, you selling, you tell me how much".

    Him: "280,000Rp". Me: "Oh please 280,000, how many are you trying to sell me?"

    Me: "I'll tell you what - 100,000", him: "No,no I'll go broke - 250,000." Me: "Nup - 180,000 last offer!" Him: "Ohhhh you hurting me - two for 400,000!". Me: "I don't need two, I only need one and that to only last me until I get to Australia."

    Him: "Oh no, last much longer I give 3 year guarantee!" I break up totally at this point and tell him, "seriously, I come back in 12 month, you say you not even know me, 200,000Rp for one!"

    He jumps at it, and I know, he has had me! Sure enough the next day walking through Kuta, looking for a garment shop, I'm stopped by a watch seller who sees me wearing my 'Rolex" and says, how much you pay? Knowing I paid too much I bend the truth and say 150,000 Rp. He reaches toward me with the identical watch and says, "50,000Rp and you have another".

    I still have much to learn about bartering eh?

    I have some comments about a few of the other places we ate at and a trip we took to make contact with the Dolphins, but they are in Part 2, of my Sojourn to Semyinak.


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