SOUTHEAST ASIAN ADVENTURE:
I truly believe that travel is cathartic for the body and the soul so we try our best to take at least two family vacations every year, one in the summer (or during Spring break) and one during winter vacation. This winter vacation we opted for Southeast Asia for a few reasons. First, we always try to escape the harsh Chicago winter for warmer climes. Second, we were traveling with my in-laws and my wife (and her sister) wanted to take them to experience a Muslim majority country outside of the Middle East. Third, since we last visited Bali in 2008, I’ve always wanted to return. So, Southeast Asia it was and in particular Jakarta, Indonesia followed by Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and lastly my lovely Bali, Indonesia. So come on along for our 16 day journey through Southeast Asia. BALI, INDONESIA:
Bali is Indonesia’s undisputed vacation capitol and with good reason. I was last in Bali in 2008 and I was excited to be coming back to one of the most beautiful places I had ever visited. This portion of the vacation was all about rest and relaxation and the beaches of Bali are the perfect spot for that mission.For the full trip report with all the pics and videos, you can click the link below. If the light version (which I think is pretty dang good) is enough, keep on scrolling.
http://www.twindoctorstv.com/dr-southea ... ying-bali/MALAYSIA AIRLINES MH853 KUL-DPS:
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is about 40 miles from the city center which meant a 1-hour long drive from the Doubletree hotel to…
KLIA terminal 1 (terminal 2 in the new low cost terminal).
The KLIA-1 checkin lobby has high ceilings but I feel like it could have been designed to let more natural light in. Nonetheless, it gets the job done. For the most part, Malaysia Airlines’ operations at KUL are largely self service (you check yourself in, you tag your own bags and you drop those bags off). We were traveling with a wheel chair however, so we had to check in with Special services which was a wee bit chaotic.
The security and immigrations lines moved quickly and we were soon airside at the gate waiting to board MH853.
With some time to kill, what else would a good aerophile do? Of course I decided a little bit of spotting including the Sri Lankan Airbus A330 bound for Colombo in the distance and 9M-MXV, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800 that was bound for Saigon.
The spotting was a bit dry, thankfully we only had to kill a few minutes before it was now time to board 9M-MXL, the 2012 built Boeing 737-800 that would fly the 1,222 mile flight to Denpasar/Bali in 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Yup, the TV screen confirmed it, we were definitely aboard Malaysia Airlines.
After getting settled in, I had to checkout the activity on the tarmac. Unfortunately it was largely a sea of MH 737-800’s.
I explored the seat back contents which included the safety card and…
Going Places, Malaysia Airlines’ in-flight magazine.
Malaysia Airlines has definitely simplified it’s fleet centering it primarily around the Airbus A330 and Boeing 737-800. The few Airbus A380’s in their fleet truly are white whales..get it? because they are white and, well, they are whales…Okay, okay, that was my one and only attempt at an airplane joke for today.
My little princess was all strapped in and ready to go. The last time we were in Bali, my wife was barely a month pregnant with her. The difference 9 1/2 years makes!!
I decided to warm up the in-flight entertainment system which had a decent offering of movies and TV programming as well as my favorite channel, the flight map. We pushed off of the gate on-time and after a relatively quick taxi were airborne over the Malaysian countryside.You can check out the full video flight report including push back, taxi and take-off right here:
The mood lighting was set to a purplish-blue hue for the entire flight. This looked nice with the 737’s Sky interior.
We soon reached our cruising altitude of 35,000 feet as we cruised over the Malacca strait.
Soon the aroma of lunch permeated the cabin as the kebaya clad crew appeared, starting the lunch service.
The neatly arranged mealbox (I swear it was neat when I first got it) included roasted chicken (which was phenomenal), leeks, spring water,…
salted peanuts and a cookie.
During lunch I started to watch a movie called A Ghost Story. The movie was really, really weird and I honestly almost turned it off during the 4+ minute pie eating scene. I was trapped however (you know, the whole stuck in a metal tube at 35,000 feet situation), so I decided to persevere, and it really was one of those movies that you need to talk about afterwards. To be honest with you, I’m still not sure that I got it. Anywho…
after the movie I decided to get up and stretch my legs before we started our descent. I like the look of the MH 737 cabin with the Sky interior, the mood lighting and the burgundy seats.
Got a quick shot of the two lavs and the galley in the rear. With the majority of my 737 flying being US domestic, I almost forgot that there are still 737s with ovens and food carts.
I got a quick shot from the starboard side behind the wing before heading back to my seat.
We were about 20 minutes out of DPS over the Java Sea when we started our descent.
The air breaks deployed, quickly bringing us down from our cruising altitude.
Doesn’t that shore looking inviting? Oh yeah, it definitely looks inviting. Daddy is going to spend a lot of time with you sunning my sun starved midwestern buns. You can check out the full video flight report including landing at Denpasar/Bali right here.
We landed at Denpasar/Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport just as a beautiful sunset brought the day to an end. We parked alongside an Air Asia X Airbus A330 getting readied for it’s next flight to Kuala Lumpur. Now Everybody Can Fly Xtra Long.
Being in the bulkhead row, we were amongst the first to disembark. I bade 9M-MXL a found adieu from the terminal building.
As we made our way towards immigration, I got one last look at our Boeing 737 with a slightly less obstructed view.
Okay, I swear, this really was the last shot. Confirming 9M-MXL as our registration.
My proof of life pic, I was indeed in Bali baby!
Since my last visit in 2008, Ngurah Rai airport has definitely been updated and modernized. We shared our luggage belt with Singapore Airlines flight SQ946, an Airbus A330 from Singapore Changi airport.
Our bags came quickly, unfortunately my mother-in-law’s wheelchair did not make the flight (don’t ask me how that happened with a nonstop flight that we checked in for two hours before departure). After filing a claim with the Malaysia Airlines baggage office, we were headed to the parking lot to rendezvous with our van to the Conrad Bali resort.
This was one of my favorite spots, the beach at the backside of the Conrad Bali property. This pic just summed up the relaxing environment, just imagine the waves crashing and the sun beating down on you (though it was obviously overcast the day that I took this pic).
Despite being an overcast day, these are some of my favorite pics from out time in Bali. In full disclosure, the skies totally opened up on us an hour later and we were huddled in our cabana (partially soaked) trying to wait out the rain that never stopped.
Okay, okay, one more beach shot. Just close your eyes and smell the salt in the air.
Apparently my youngest two were having as much fun at the beach as I was.
My oldest and my number 4, don’t ask me what the heck they were looking at.
One of my missions while we were in Bali was to recreate some pictures that we took when we were last there in 2008. This was out first attempt.
This was the original. It really doesn’t feel like ten years!
And the collage picture including the two newer additions.
Like I said, we did venture out once (except for food) and that was a journey to the Elephant Safari park. The little kid sandwiched between his parents was so darn cute! I know this is the primary mode of transportation throughout SE Asia, even for families, but it still looks sort of unsafe to me.
We came across this elaborate piece of artwork in the middle of the road. Sorry, this is the best I could do from the front seat of the speeding van.
As you can see, our bright, sunny day gave way to an overcast, rainy day by the time we got to the elephant park. The rain only presented a minor obstacle and we still got our elephant ride on!
I know that it is so cliche but we had to feed the elephants, right? Of course this is natural, why would you think that this wasn’t a spontaneous shot?
The elephant got sick of waiting for us to set the shot up and just grabbed the sugar cain.
Now, for the downside of the trip, the hotel. I thoroughly enjoyed the Conrad Bali when we visited in 2008 but apparently the subsequent up keep was minimal and I’m guessing very little work had been done until now (they were starting a resort-wide upgrade). Nothing says luxury like stained ceilings…
or room furnishings, like this clock, straight out of the 1990s (and not even the early 90’s). I see you eyeballing my wad of cash, trust me, it was worth way less than it looks like it would be.
Stained walls with peeling wallpaper inside and…
more peeling wall paper, this time in the hallway.
Somebody really needs to get a ladder and clean out the light cover. How many dead bugs do you think are in there?
These stones along the walking path have also seen better days, this renovation can’t come soon enough.
Now being in the tropics, I can’t fault the Conrad for the bat chilling in the restaurant, after all, the hotel does have an open design. It was just interesting to watch him while I ate my breakfast.
This hornet, well I definitely kept my eye on him, he is what I call “tropics large”.
Okay, I’m done bashing the Conrad Bali. I am still a Hilton family loyalist and we had a great week in paradise but Hilton and the Conrad Bali really could and should do better, especially when they charge Conrad prices. The resort setting was still beautiful and nothing beats beautiful Bali! I captured this shot of the resort as we enjoyed our last dinner under the stars. Unfortunately all things must come to an end, even vacations in paradise.
Our flights home kind of re-traced our steps, starting with a Garuda flight from Bali to Jakarta followed by ANA flights from Jakarta to Haneda and Haneda to sweet home Chicago. With a five hour layover in Jakarta, I didn’t even try to convince the checkin agents to through check our bags.
Bye bye Bali, hope to see you again sometime soon!
Our flight to Jakarta end up being delayed for a couple of hours, but we still had more than enough time in Jakarta to make our connection. Flight #1 was aboard a Garuda Boeing 737-800 with the Sky interior. Our original flight was scheduled to be on an Airbus A330, so definitely a downguage.
DPS was dominated by Garuda tails (and winglets).For the full trip report with all the pics and videos, you can click the link below.
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