Saturday, June 21, 2008

The agony of last minute bookings.

We (read: J) actually planned on either staying in one of those little hotels with cottages around its compound as rooms, or roughing it out in some crappy dingy little 'hotel'. He was actually thinking of just booking a room for a night, and then search for those 'rustic' little hotels without websites when we got there.

[I'm suspicious about the adjective 'rustic'. I was in disbelief.]

Since he was at sea and had no access to internet, I had to do research, book flights and hotel and find out what I want to do in Bali. He has been there way too many times and he is happy to go wherever I want, so it was really up to me. Thank gawd it was up to me.

-- J actually wanted Poppies Cottages but it was fully booked.


The trip was confirmed only 2 weeks before we were set to go so I was frantically searching around for flights online. I looked at budget airlines first because my budget for fixed costs was targetted to not exceed $1500 in total. Rough times, my friends.

Guess what? (All the quoted prices are for 2 passengers.)
  • Tiger Airlines - $600++ but had no seats on the return sector
  • JetStar Asia - $1200++

I am not going to spend $1200 on flights that don't serve me food or expect me to pay for every piece of checked baggage. WTF?!

But since we were dead set on going away for a week, I called up a few travel agencies recommended to me and tried Zuji.com and a new site Pricebreaker.com. The sympathetic lady at one of the travel agencies told me that my best option was to book on Singapore Airlines' website so she wouldn't have to charge me $60 service fee because she was going to book there anyway.

Singapore Airlines - $1200++

I groaned about the price, because $1200++ for a 2.5 hours flight is just not what I had budgeted for. Then at the very last minute, Pricebreaker.com came to the rescue. The lady said I could get myself on Garuda Airlines and it would be about $900 for 2 inclusive of taxes.

F*cking fuel surcharge will cripple us.

-- read all about it here.

I was not ecstatic. Yes Garuda is cheap and I'm saving $300 but it also has a spotty aviation reputation. Singapore Airlines is comfy and you get your own tv in your seat. And both these full-service airlines serve food and don't charge you for luggage every passenger (in my opinion, entitled) checks in. I settled for Garuda and hoped my flights would land safely.

-- I don't think bursting into a fire ball counts as a safe landing.


I scoured all over TripAdvisor and Google Images for pictures of hotel rooms and facilities. I am really picky about where I stay. I'm spoilt rotten because ever since I was little "Family Funded Trips" meant awesome hotels. Like Wynn and cozy ryokans in Japan with onsen (hot spring). But now that I'm paying for my own holidays, I can't afford flashy hotels for a week. The least I can do is to get myself into an ok hotel with a clean room with ensuite, air conditioning and tv.

That's not a lot to expect, right?

I don't trust official hotel websites. The rooms and facilities always look incredible but it may not be the case when you get there. The photos were probably taken when the hotel just opened and after 10 years of opening and millions of tourists sleeping on their beds, the ick factor is VERY HIGH.

Anyhoo we ran out of options by the time I decided on a hotel. It was full and my friend Ari, a native of Bali who is now happily settled in Broome, recommended us Alamkulkul. I booked a room for 1 week and it came with complimentary breakfast for 2 for the duration of our stay on HotelClub.net.

[HotelClub.net was one of those online 'last minute hotel booking' websites I saw on a bus. A friggin bus.

I was pretty skeptical when I entered my credit card details. I mean, f*ck, this could be a totally bogus website and I might end up in Bali with a 'booking' the hotel won't honour. I was the one who booked the flights and hotel and can you imagine the horror if both bookings were not honoured? J would probably not talk to me for a pretty long time if I got conned by stupid online travel websites.]

.
.
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-- Open concept guest area with fish and greens!

It was actually not bad!

Next time, J wants to stay in a losmen. It's a small guest house, cold water only and bring your own sheets.

Absolutely mortifying.



Links:

Poppies Cottages - Official website
Tripadvisor.com - Official website
Zuji - Official website
Pricebreaker - Official website
Tiger Airways and their charges - Official website


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