It’s time to pack our bags and go on our first trip of the year!
My travels in 2014 have been focused on luxury. And while I’m not complaining at all, my adventurous bones are starting to creak just a little bit 🙂
So we are starting the year right by going on a trip that has adventure first, then luxury next.
Tomorrow, we are heading to Indonesia. Our main goal of the trip is to explore Beyond Bali. I have to confess that I’ve avoided visiting Bali for the longest time. Because I feel like I’d already been there just from seeing photos from half of my Facebook friends! (To those living outside of Australia, Bali is like Australia’s equivalent to US’s Cancun. It’s where half of Australia’s population go for R&R)
I did end up going to Bali on a press trip last year for 2 short days. I enjoyed my stay and I said I will return. Hence I am returning, but will explore more of Indonesia too.
We are flying to Labuan Bajo in Flores.
Where is Flores?
Labuan Bajo is a fishing town located at the western end of Flores. Flores itself is in the eastern part of Indonesia, very close to East Timor.
If you look closely at the map, you may see a very familiar word…
Yes we are going to explore Komodo Island , where the largest living species of lizard, the Komodo Dragons roam freely.
I love reptiles and have seen quite a number of documentaries about these giant carnivorous lizards. So I’m really beyond excited to see them up close and personal 🙂
And apart from the Komodo dragons, we will be exploring all other wildlife in Flores – both under the sea, land and mountains.
I love most creatures but zoos make me feel depressed, so we always go out of the way to where the animals are and see them within their territory.
For this wildlife-centered week, we will be going with Flores Adventure Tours. Going beyond Bali is already an adventure in itself, and for lesser-known and unexplored places, I feel more secure going on a tour.
We will also be staying overnight in a boat to reach other islands (Rinca), and I’m excited about that too!
Most of all, I hear that the lifestyle in Flores is really laid-back, untouristy and extremely different from Bali and this is what I look forward to the most.
Just seeing photos of their airport runway is enough to get me excited:
After Flores, we will fly to Denpasar and head straight to Ubud for the start of the luxury part of the trip. It’s always smart to get the adventure bits first and then reward yourself in the end 🙂
Ubud is where Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love) had her last stop in her journey of self-discovery. What I will be discovering in Ubud area two resorts that will be able to provide deep relaxation – Viceroy Bali (Ubud), and Alila Ubud.
I’ll also have time to explore the main town of Ubud so I am hoping to see a lot of interesting things.
Jimbaran Bay is a fishing & resort village in Bali located south of Ngurah Rai Airport. Here we will be staying at the Kayumanis Private Estate & Spa.
Seminyak is a mixed tourist / residential area on the west coast of Bali just north of Kuta and Legian.
Here we will be discovering two Anantara properties, the Anantara Semiyak Bali Resort & Spa, and Anantara Vacation Club.
I have never stayed in an owner club resort, but I know a few of my readers do, so I’m really curious what it’s like and will report back the deal on owner-club properties.
All the horror stories you hear about Bali – (drunken brawls and the like) most likely happen in Kuta. However, we’re suckers for adventure like that so we are not just staying in Kuta, but at the very heart of Kuta , at the Sheraton Bali Kuta.
When I was in Bali last year, we passed by Kuta (inside a private van as I was being transferred to the airport from the hotel), and the hotel staff ‘tsk-tsked’ and told me “Kuta is where all the crazy things happen.”
Kuta is a big part of what makes Bali’s character and though many would advise to avoid Kuta at all costs, I cannot help but be curious about what Kuta is really like.
The Sheraton is located near malls anyway and it would be good to explore the ‘urban’ part of Bali. After all, I’m sure you guys would want a varied report on luxury hotels in all parts of Bali 🙂
We will be flying Garuda Indonesia between Australia and Indonesia (and vice versa).
Garuda Indonesia has revamped their flight service last year and I was able to experience a touch of this on-ground last month, when actual in-flight crew demonstrated their services. I was very impressed with what I experienced and look forward to the actual in-flight experience.
We are departing TOMORROW! 🙂
Please join me in this journey of wildlife, exploration, relaxation, luxury and craziness as I do live updates on social media while travelling.
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If you’ve been to Bali, what’s your best / worst experience? Any tips?
Are you open to exploring lesser-known places like Labuan Bajo?
Grace Gomez-Fujimaki says
Excited for you and looking forward to read about your trip!
Jenn Nguyen says
You might see Katrina there? Have fun lovely! X
Katrina Evans-Murphy says
Have fun Jeanie!
Seana - Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel says
Oh how FAB!! I would love to see those dragons int he flesh but your photos will be the next best thing. Have a great time. We’re just back in Sydney after being down the coast for a couple of weeks wifi free, so I have loads of posts from you to catch up on. Bon voyage.
Jean Holy Smithereens says
Happy New year Seana! Really keeping my fingers crossed we see the dragons tomorrow (it’s been raining here).
Thanks for the catch up, I’m sure you had a relaxing (Wi-fi free 2 weeks – I love those inevitable breaks from social media as I would otherwise have no self control 😉
Anna @ shenANNAgans says
Oooooh, I can’t wait to read your posts, looks like you are in for some fun times. 🙂
I haven’t been to Bali, I should tho, it’s so easily accessible for us, but then I think… Its kinda like exploring Australia, I can do that later on. I do enjoy visiting the lesser known places, I think it is there you find out what a culture is really like. Back to basics and all that. Happy travels lovely lady!
Jean Holy Smithereens says
Hi Anna! Same reasons for me why I’ve avoided (well, really like didn’t think about it) Bali. I always think I can go later, and also having grown up in the Philippines, I’ve had this mind-set that it will be similar to the island resorts in the Philippines. But now I see every destination is really different. I’m grateful for the opportunities to go to Bali as I would otherwise not plan it on my own accord 🙂
Shikha (whywasteannualleave) says
Thrilled to have recently discovered your blog Jean and I’ve been loving keeping up with your Indonesian adventure on Instagram! I absolutely loved the warmth of the people in BalI not to mention how beautiful it is!
Becky Padmore says
Love Ubud, you’ll have an amazing time!
Jean Holy Smithereens says
I fell in love with Ubud! I wish I spent more time there 🙂