Airport Levels

Wonderfully, Changi airport has an “Early Check In” desk where you can drop your bags. It’s free, presumably to free you up for more shopping!

So I’ve no idea what we are going to do…

Helpfully a tv notice board said there was a drone experience being hosted on L2! Aimi was not impressed, but said we could go and check it out as long as I didn’t complain about how early we got to the airport. So here is me not complaining about turning up 6 hours before our flight…

They were putting on a “build a drone” workshop for kids and the drones they had were built like lego blogs. Snapping a few bits together is a far cry from the hours of soldering and fiddling with itty bitty screws and wires that actually goes into building a drone. But it gets kids interested, and they seemed to fly reasonably well. There were hoops set out to fly thru and in a netted area there was actually a decent FPV cine whoop being flown around. I desperately wanted to have a go, but without the netting. Flying around the waterfall under that dome would have been very cool!

Boarding the flight to Bali, I was very happy I’d booked extra legroom seats. They really don’t cost that much to upgrade and for the level of additional comfort it affords me, it’s definitely worth it – even on a 2 and half hour flight. We will have done 11 flights by the end of this trip and I don’t think I’ll be flying without getting additional legroom again. It’s that important for a tall person.

Arriving in Bali we then went thru the multi leveled game show known as “Airport Arrivals”.

Level 1, and the first desk you arrive at, takes a compulsory £25 off you. This buys your visa on arrival. Its  basically for the privalige of coming to Bali, it gets you nothing, but thru the door. I’ve often thought, rather than £25, why doesnt the gov take £1000 per person on a credit card, as security you’ll be a good holidaymaker. Then, when you leave, if you haven’t caused mischief, you get it all back, less the £25 per person visa admin… surely that would incentivise good behaviour? You get a reciept and 2 bits of purple paper.

Next up, you stand in a queue and wait for Immigration to check those bits of paper. They tear them in half, put a sticker in your passport, put another sticker over that one and take your finger prints. For something I can descibe in 2 sentences, it take 5 minutes per person, so this was a long wait.

Level 2 cleared, you progress to level 3 and the merrie-go-round of multiple bags. Here you wait in a hoard of sweaty travellers, anticipating when your bag will drop onto the conveyor and jostling for position with your trolley. I think as we had checked in early, our bag must have been right in the depths of the plane. It took a long time to come thru while other smug competitors grabbed theirs and joined the next queue.

The queue for level 4 is the most tense. People are getting turned away and going back up the lines, frustrated that they have to start over again. Here you need to have completed a side quest to obtain <cue dramatic music> The QR Code Of Compliance. This is basically a form you fill in to say you arent bringing anything dangerous of illegal into the country. Failure to supply an acceptable QR code and you are turned away. We cleared this nervous level without incident and wondered what would be coming next. We have passed all the obligatory levels and now have access to the country, but we still need a few things before we reach the mission objective. 

Level 5 started on the wrong foot. I tried a cashpoint and my card we declined, despite having funds. No matter, I next tried a money exchange desk. But they only exchange cash for cash, not release it from Visa’s plastic prison. But they did point me in the direction of a cashpoint that accepted Visa. Now I just need to decide how much to get? 1.25 million IDR… Sounds reasonable!

Level 6 was multi stage, but you got passed from guide to guide. Firstly you were cornered by a wandering sales person. Research had told us Telkolsel was the best so were happy to be guided by them. We selected a plan, and were passed up to the payment desk. Our phones were taken and sims popped out and new ones popped back in. Then payment was taken before we were handed off to another person at a computer. They registered our phones, did some set up and success! Internet achieved!

Now the last level, and something that had been worrying us for a few days. It seems that Grab (similar to Uber) is the way to get around Bali. But we had seen complaints on a Bali facebook groups that grab drivers were turning up and then demanding more than Grab was stating. Or the Taxi’s from the Airport were agreeing a price, getting you half way and then “renegotiating”… which was worrying. Also, contact with the hotel was intermittent so we had been quoted 600,000 IDR no idea if it was booked. Looking at all the signs being held up, I couldn’t see our name so we had to look for a local driver. Asking a couple places they all quoted 600k except 1 place who asked 480k. This seemed the best deal, so I put all my money, except 200k (about £10), in the depths of my bag and hoped that if a renegotiation was needed, thats all I could give them. Luckily everything was straight forward, professional and friendly. Our driver, Dwi, was excellent. He handled the bags, waited with them while we used the loo, stopped at a mini mart so we could get some water and also drove fast but considerately avoiding bumps and other drivers expertly. 

We couldn’t see the landscape on the drive but the streets were much as I expected, and similar to Thailand. Somewhat unmaintained sidewalks, broken concrete and litter interspersing one room shops, fancy restaurants and hotels. Except dotted everywhere were extraordinary statues of all sorts of creatures in all sorts of sizes. Some of the fountains we passed must have been 4 stories tall! I hope we see them again because they were amazing! 

Arriving at the hotel, this was crunch time. I chose this one after Aimi became frustrated trying to find something nice. So I was hopeful she would approve. 

Arriving quite late we were surprised to see 4 or so people waiting. They opened the doors, took care of our bags and showed us inside to some comfy chairs. Inside is a bit of a misrepresentation becuase it was thru a door, and under a roof, but it was like stepping onto a large balcony. There were no walls and instead you overlooked the gardens and view across the valley that twinkled with lights of other houses and hotels. We were then presented with a cool moist towel (that would be very refreshing in the heat of the day) and 2 different welcome drinks. After the normal passport check in stuff, we were shown to our villa following a leafy and mossy path along the valley edge. 

Here is a video tour from the next morning. I’ll not do it descriptive justice so take a watch. We particularly love the carved stone and carved wooden doors. They are so intricate and beautiful. The space is absolutely huge, especially compared to Japan. I’m sure this space would be about 3 houses in japan.