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Bali -2002


Bali 2002 was a trip to celebrate our 35 (Coral) wedding anniversary. Having difficulty in deciding where to go for a special occasion, Premier Holidays suggested Bali (it does have several coral reefs after all). This proved to be an excellent suggestion and significantly their good advice was matched by their great service and that of their ground agents, Tour East. Flights by Singapore airlines were very good, despite a mix up with seat allocation from Singapore to Bali. We were allocated seating many rows apart on the Airbus flight. In the final departure area, Singapore Airlines came up with a cunning plan and persuaded a large tour group from Austria to shuffle their booking. The result was 2 seats together and some interesting conversation with our new Austrian seating companions.

After the confusion of Indonesian immigration, we were rescued from the perils of the local porters at Denpassar airport by the Tour East rep who was excellent - cold towels, cold drinks and a smooth, efficient and comfortable transfer to our Hotel, the Melia Benoa. The most striking feature, other than the excellent transfer, was the sheer volume of mopeds on the road - many with a rider and two or three passengers - being driven in what can only be described as a "kamikaze" fashion. Thankfully, the frenetic darting about of this shoal of minnows was in stark contrast to the peace and tranquility experienced on our arrival at the hotel.

Boats Bali

Outrigger Boats

The Melia Benoa, was our chosen hotel, on an all-inclusive package. We were welcomed, to the sounding of a large gong, into a beautiful reception area with garlands of orchids, a cooling fruit drink and more cool towels. Whilst similar welcomes are common, this welcome felt genuine and personal. The reception area had a high ceiling and was open to the gentle cooling breeze and exuded an air of beauty and tranquillity. We were provided with a complimentary upgrade to an executive suite for our anniversary visit and shown to a beautiful split-level room on the top floor with a view, over the shrubs and trees, to the sea. Stunning!

Our time at this hotel was excellent. The staff were most polite and efficient and always eager to please. There was a good indoor bar, a swim up and dry-side pool, a buffet restaurant, a fish restaurant (between the main building and the beach) and a very good Italian restaurant. There was also a very good, though rather expensive, Mandara Spa. It is difficult to find fault with this hotel, although we would not consider an all-inclusive deal again as we prefer to eat out and about, watching life go by.


Balinese Rice Paddies

We spent much of our time at the pool, which we preferred to the beach. The beach itself was sandy, rather small, but adequate with sun-loungers and sun shades but the pool area was more convenient and the pool itself very good.

We took an organised trip to the centre of the island - Ubud, rice paddies, jungle, temples, monkeys, and even a stone quarry - and decided that we would most definitely return (little did we know how frequently). Whilst we thoroughly enjoyed or stay at the Melia Benoa and have no regrets whatsoever about staying there, we also decided that we would stay in a different part of the island and spend some time in Ubud on our next visit.

The hotel is located in Benoa, on the outskirts of Nusa Dua - a completely man made "resort" area, catering almost exclusively for tourists and somewhat lacking in Balinese authenticity. In many respects all-inclusive was a good option in this area as the ability to dine outside of the hotels (other than in a mall area in Nusa Dua) was quite limited. The closest options for a real Balinese experience were in Denpasar or the main town of Kuta.

Our final night at the Melia Benoa was also the night of the 2002 Bali bombing, which we only heard about following our return to the hotel. We had chosen to eat at one of the few local restaurants, where we enjoyed an excellent ricetafel - the well-respected Bumbu Bali - which was located close to our hotel in Benoa. Our hearts reach out to all those who died or were maimed and to the families who suffered as a result of this despicable act in this peaceful paradise.

Security at the airport was tight, as indeed was the security during our transfer in Singapore and on arrival at Heathrow. The flights, particularly to Singapore, were sombre although the cabin crew were excellent - they too had spent the night on the island and were well aware of the appalling events that had been perpetrated by these loathsome terrorists.

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