I've got to admit I had trouble sleeping last night after the incredible day at the Great Wall. I had so much adrenaline pumping from the day that I just didn't want to stop thinking about it. Luckily Jenn and I are both way off on time zones so waking up this morning to make our 7:30 AM flight out of Beijing was no problem. We had the alarm on for 3:30 AM and were out of the hotel by 4:30 AM. I can finally say that we drove in Beijing when there wasn't any traffic and made it to the airport in less then an hour.
Once we arrived at the airport we waited in a lengthy queue at the Hong Kong Airlines desk to get our boarding pass to go from Beijing to Hong Kong and then off to Bali, Indonesia. When we reached the desk it seemed like we were going to have some issues as the lady called over her supervisor a few times but we had no idea what they were discussing. Luckily it all worked out and she was nice enough to ship our bags all the way to Bali.
Once we got through customs/security which once again had my bags get a thorough search we were off to try and find some sort of food. Obviously the Beijing airport wasn't going to be able to re-create a JW Marriott buffet, I think we both did a quick prayer hoping for a Starbucks. And wouldn't you know it right around the corner there was a beautiful Starbucks sitting right there and we just about ran to it. Jenn got her go-to tall hot chocolate, while I went with my go-to grande carmel macchiato. It was a godsend and hit the spot. Our plane boarded a half an hour after we got done with our drinks and we were off to Hong Kong.
Going into this first flight we knew that any delay could cause major problems for us in Hong Kong, given our hour and ten minute layover. The plane appeared to be fully boarded and ready to depart a good twenty minutes before our scheduled departure but we ended up taking off twenty minutes late. According to the captain we were going to make up the time in the air and we actually would be arriving early. Jenn and I were satisfied with that so we went back to enjoying our horrible movies, (Jenn watched The Call and I watched The Big Wedding) fully expecting to make it. And then we were twenty minutes from touchdown at Hong Kong and we began doing circles in the air because of congestion at the Hong Kong airport.
We ended up being told we were going to land fifteen minutes later then expected which meant we were landing ten minutes before our connecting flight was supposed to board. Both Jenn and I figured there was no chance we were going to be able to switch terminals and go through customs in time, so we almost resigned ourselves to missing the flight. We made a bull rush off the flight and wouldn't you know it a member of the Hong Kong Airlines staff was there with a sign with our names on it to escort us to the plane. We were down right floored. Do most airlines do this? We've never gotten that sort of service from an airline before, but were more then thankful that they were there for us today. She escorted through the airport, on a transfer train, through the staff lines for both customs and security, only to be one of the last two to board a bus to take us to our plane. Once again God is good.
The flight to Bali was pretty uneventful. They served us lunch which was a horrid mashed potatoes and pork, but otherwise a pretty normal four hour flight. The plane landed on-time at 5 PM and we were off to battle yet another immigration line. Unlike China which we had to purchase a Visa before traveling, in Bali you pay $25 a person when you arrive to get admitted. Seems like a scam to me but you do what you have to. We got our visa pretty quickly and made it through customs with little problem. By the time we made it to the baggage claim Jenn's bag was already in a pile off the conveyer belt and mine was just moving by on the belt. So we grabbed our bags and pushed away several porters who wanted to “help” us with our bags.
Now was the challenge of making sure our driver from our hotel was there to pick us up. When we made our way outside to where we were told our driver would be we were taken back by hordes of hotel drivers picking up their guests. We did a full walk through scan of the crowd and couldn't find our guy. Luckily I told Jenn that we should do a second scan and wouldn't you know it we found our guy with a Royal Pita Maha clipboard and our names written on it. He took our bags, got his car, and we were on our way to our hotel.
Just looking at the map we knew going in that our drive was going to be at least an hour from Bali Airport to the Royal Pita Maha, but we were in no way prepared for the road ahead. We knew that Bali was a poor country but having now driven through over 60 KM of it I can say it is by far the poorest country we've ever stayed in. At every turn there were huddles of homeless people, homes that looked like if you touched them they would crumble, stray dogs, abandon lots, you name it we saw it on the drive. Another thing we noticed is that a majority of vehicles on the road were motorcycles. That made our drivers job of weaving in and out of traffic quite the challenge. What we anticipated being an hour drive actually took two and during that time Jenn and I both got a little nervous about what we signed up for. Luckily a little after seven we made it through the mile long entrance and security gate to our hotel for the next three nights, the Royal Pita Maha. It's amazed how nestled in all of this poverty could be a giant five star resort, but once we got here the nerves all went away.
As we arrived at the hotel we were greeted by five or six staff members, our bags were grabbed and taken to our villa, and we were walked through the lobby to have a seat in their lounge and brought welcome drinks and cold towels. After we were all checked in we were given keys to our one bedroom villa (#109) and were escorted through the grounds to our unit. We unpacked briefly and went straight back to the main hotel to the third floor restaurant where we had another quick bite to eat. Just like a few nights ago we were downright exhausted and just wanted to eat and go to sleep. Jenn got her trip staple of spaghetti bolognase and I had a chicken club sandwich. Jenn did get a vanilla milkshake and I had a local beer.
After dinner we made our way back up to the room and got ready to go to bed. Did I mention that this hotel is in a rain forest? Surrounding our king size bed is a mosquito net which instantly got Jenn worried, not to mention the multitude of flying critters hover by the lights outside. So Jenn fortressed the bed with the net and we ended up falling asleep not to much later, but it wasn't before I made sure all areas of the bed were covered.
We went to bed more excited then anything to see the beauty of Bali during daylight.