Day 0 - The Plan

Honolulu Travel Blog

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Day 0 - Introduction

Boom! It’s time again for my annual epic birthday trip! Where did a year go so fast? I can’t believe it, it seems like it was just last month I was on safari in the Serengeti for my last birthday. 

Where do I even begin? So alright, if you’ve read any of my previous blogs you know that I live for travel and this is what keeps me going. I never know from year to year where I will end up on my traditional May birthday trip. This year was odd in that way because almost immediately after my last birthday trip to Tanzania I decided it would be cool to visit Indonesia for my next birthday. Then for months I went back and forth, trying to decide between Indonesia and the Philippines. Then for about 3 months I had even decided that I wouldn’t take any trip because I am moving back to the east coast of the US in a few months, probably going through a career change, and it would be prudent to save money. Then about a month ago, after a 3 hour phone call with my friend, Judy, that has been there and fell in love with Indonesia, I decided for sure that I’m going. I booked 3 lodgings and 8 flights in the span of 3 hours. When I put my mind to something I get it done!

I’ve said this before, I can usually get away twice per year for 2 weeks at a time. This trip is no different. I have exactly two weeks. That is not always the best way to tour a country, but it’s what I’m stuck with. Gotta keep my job, at least for now, it pays the bills…  So what to do for 2 weeks in Indonesia? Well, my extensive research honed in on 3 main areas: Yogyakarta, Komodo, Bali. 

The flights: I would have liked to use my Chase or AMEX points, however time is of the essence given that I only have 2 weeks. The quickest, most direct flight out of Honolulu turned out to be by Philippine Airlines (PAL) connecting in Manila. PAL has no major airline alliance, so my Chase and AMEX points were kinda useless. I could have used the Chase online portal to book, but I didn’t deem the redemption value good enough at only 1.5 cents per point… I know if I transfer those points on a business class flight out of JFK I can get up to 10 cents per point….I will save those points for another day where I can get better value for them. I could have also booked a combination of United and Delta with my points, but it would have taken 2.5 days to get there on a rather circuitous route… no go. So I ended up using my AMEX platinum to pay for the PAL international flight from Honolulu-Manila-Denpasar with return (same route in reverse) and collect 5X Member Rewards points on the cost of the ticket. It seemed like the most efficient way to book it in terms of rewards and with timing being a factor.

Lodging: First area of interest is Yogyakarta with its famous temples, palaces, and cultural attractions. 3 days/3 nights, I booked a private pool villa on Airbnb for only $60/night, cha-ching, good deal!! Next stop will be the Komodo Islands (Komodo/Rinca/Padur/Sebayur). This was kind of a budget-buster but I’m paying more to stay at an island resort close to Komodo for easy day trips rather than the dump town of Labuan Bajo on the mainland of Flores island, which is a 3 hour boat ride away from those other islands. I’m staying in a thatched hut on a beach at a diving resort for 3 days/3 nights… costly, but hey, life doesn’t suck. Last stop, of course, 4 days/4 nights in beautiful Bali, the island of the gods. Another private pool villa that I booked for cheap on booking.com. Staying in the cultural center of Ubud, steps away from the Sacred Monkey Forest! 

So there you have the trip preview… gonna be a long trip, but I’ll hit you up again in Yogyakarta!… or soon to be Jog… that’s the way it works, right? Once you’ve been there and done that, you can call it by its shortened, colloquial nickname, kinda like people who climb Kilimanjaro call it Kili? Peace out from 37,000 feet…Bali bound!

1 hour later - Well, I’m dying of boredom so I figured I would update you before Yogyakarta. This is the second longest flight I’ve ever been on, clocking in at just under 11 hours. Longest was JFK to Incheon at 13.5 hours. I am suffering mightily here. I’m on the first leg from Honolulu to Manila in an A330 with a 3-3-3 configuration. Whomever thought to go 9 wide in an A330 is a sadist for sure. Never again. On one side my shoulder is all up in this little Filipina grandma’s personal space, and on the aisle side my other shoulder is constantly being bashed by carts and flight attendants. This is the first time in a while that I didn’t get business class… mainly because as I mentioned earlier, Philippine Air has no major alliances so I couldn’t book with points/miles. I’m about 5 hours into the flight now. Backing up, I arrived at the airport 2 hours prior to takeoff. I guess this is the rush hour because it took a whole darn hour to get through PAL’s check-in line, then the flight was delayed an hour, so my experience has not been great so far. So now I’m crammed into economy, these seats are Asian-sized… like I’m only 5’7” and my knees are hitting the seat in front of me…and there are screaming babies all around me. How do people fly in economy? I think I’d rather go bankrupt than ever do this again!  6 hours to go, arggggg!!!

I reached Denpasar airport in Bali and made a bad mistake… I followed about 4 other people directly into the ATM room to get some Rupiah. What an idiot. After I came out I saw that a massive line had formed at immigration, one that would take me an hour to get through. Did I mention that my connecting flight to Yogyakarta isn’t until 0700 also? So I’m going on about 30 hours of travel now and it’s 0200 local time, I walked forever to the domestic terminal and it’s closed until 5am, yep… could’ve planned this one a little better. So I walked all the way back to the international terminal through a line of taxi-driving touts offering to “take you to Kuta to find girl for a few hours,” and now I’m sitting at an open air bar sweating for what will be my next 3 hours until I can get into the air conditioned sanctuary of the domestic terminal. Even when I get to this villa I rented in Yogyakarta, there’s no telling if an early check-in will be possible. I think tomorrow (well…today) is a wash. Whenever I do get to check in I’m going for a dip in my pool and then going to sleep. Longest day ever…

jacobi says:
I hate long flights too. With a bad back it just kills me. Melbourne to Dubai was over 13 hrs and I know exactly what you mean.
Posted on: Jun 06, 2017
TravelingChris says:
Thanks Yunni! I actually had a quick layover in Manila on the way to Despasar and then Yogya. Nothing worth mentioning though!
Posted on: Jun 06, 2017
gingerbatik says:
congrats on the featured.

wouw.... straight to Yogya...
Posted on: Jun 06, 2017
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