Look Out Indonesia, Here We Come!

Oct 28th, 2009, 07:38 PM
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Look Out Indonesia, Here We Come!

After reading all your posts on the upcoming Bangkok GTG and about everyone's respective upcoming trips (both old-timer Fodorites and newbies), I have to say that I was getting a little bit dismayed...what with the thought of our next potential Asia trip so far out.

Well I do have some surprising (and good) news to report. Some of you may remember that a couple of months ago we put our plans for our 2010 Bali/Java trip on hold due to an upcoming family trip to celebrate my father-in-law's recovery from cancer.

Well it turns out that THAT trip has now been put on hold (not for any dire reasons--just not the right timing for everyone involved schedule-wise), so I just got off the phone with the mileage desk at Continental and we are BACK ON for our Indonesian adventure!!! YAHOOOOOO!

We leave for Bali (via Bangkok) in May for 2 weeks. As before, we're still planning stopovers in Lombok, Yogyakarta and Kuala Lumpur.

Would love to get folks advice. Thought originally about having a 1 or 2 day stopover in BKK, but the award availability wasn't there and, to be honest, I felt an overwhelming need not to fall back on my old favorite again. I could always go there and never have seen or done enough, but I just wanted to try a trip in which every aspect is completely and utterly new.

We have a nice, long stretch this time. Probably the longest vacation we've ever had. Right now, the itinerary is as follows (and here's where I could use your help, guys):

Day 1 Depart LAX
Day 3 Arrive BKK / Depart for Bali / Transfer to Ubud (arrive early afternoon)
Day 4 Ubud
Day 5 Ubud
Day 6 Ubud
Day 7 Ubud
Day 8 Depart for Lombok (early evening departure)
Day 9 Lombok
Day 10 Lobmok
Day 11 Depart for Bali (early evening departure)
Day 12 Depart for Yogyakarta (early AM departure)
Day 13 Yogyakarta
Day 14 Yogyakarta
Day 15 Depart for Kuala Lumpur (early AM departure)
Day 16 Kuala Lumpur
Day 17 Kuala Lumpur
Day 18 Depart for BKK / Depart for LAX (mid-afternoon departure)

Questions:
*What are your thoughts on overall pacing/places? You all know by now that we like to move around a lot and that we aren't huge fans of big cities and favor more rustic luxury (but I must admit that I'm really looking forward to KL...seems so very different!)

*those late night flights to/from Lombok stink. Mostly because we'll lose a night now before we can head to Yogya and probably will have to find somewhere near the airport to overnight--and probably won't even get a full night to enjoy somewhere before we have to head out again for the airport the next morning. Suggestions on this?

*Speaking of, looking at all internal flights (except from BKK to Bali and from KL to BKK) on Garuda. The only wild card is the flight from Yogyakarta to KL. Both Air Asia and Malaysian Air fly this route (for surprisingly just about the same price)...which would you go with?

*What is there to do around KL? Should we focus all our time in the city? Any interesting day trips.

That's it for now. I'm sure as things progress, I'll start more specific separate threads, but figured this post would be a good place to start.

Hopefully Bob and Andy's long-suffering SO's will be there, so we can ditch those two (we don't want them scaring the locals!) and go paint the town with the gals.

Michael, BTW, if that Balinese pork recipe of yours (which we made on Sunday) is any indication of how I'm going to be eating in a few months--I'm psyched!

I've been on a high ever since we changed the tickets--and I'm hoping this excitement lasts much, much longer. Off to start my planning again!
filmwill is offline  
Oct 28th, 2009, 07:47 PM
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Congratulations on your father in law successfully fighting the big C and on your upcoming trip to Indonesia!
Hanuman is offline  
Oct 28th, 2009, 07:51 PM
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Hey the "via Bangkok" part, it will be nice to have you back here and I insist on a GTG!

Isn't May the time Bob and Andy, plus myself, will be going to Bali? Are you planning your trip to coincide with Bob's?
Hanuman is offline  
Oct 28th, 2009, 08:11 PM
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Filmwell, I’m glad to hear that you’re back on track for Indonesia.

You’ll easily fill up four days in the Ubud area.

I’m less enthusiastic about Lombok. Nice beaches, yes, but not much on the culture side and the aggravation of getting in and out is, to me, greater than the rewards. I would opt for a Bali beach (warts and all) or extend your time in Central Java.

Alternately maybe you could rearrange your order so that you could avoid the overnight between Lombok (Mataram) and Yogya. For example BKK/Lombok/Bali/Yogya/KL or BKK/Yogya/Bali/Lombok/KL. When you’re looking at flights for Central Java remember that you can use Yogyakarta and Solo (Surakarta) interchangeably and that Semarang is also an option.

I prefer Garuda in Indonesia because it has the most flights and the best infrastructure. When things go wrong as they are apt to do in Indonesia – like delayed or canceled flights – Garuda offers the most options. Don’t get me wrong: Garuda’s communication can be pathetically inadequate but it’s the best of the worst and you can always find someone at the airport to complain to.
marmot is offline  
Oct 28th, 2009, 08:36 PM
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Thanks marmot for all the awesome suggestions! I did consider that, but unfortunately, I feel like I wouldn't want to unwind/adjust in Lombok first (over Ubud.) I've toyed with the notion of exploring Java a bit more (so that's definitely interesting to me), but I wouldn't even know where to start. That coffee plantation that robbietravels mentioned seemed amazing (but maybe too expensive?) -- but that's the kind of vibe we love. Any suggestions?

Bali beaches don't particularly speak to me...at least nothing that I've seen so far. I don't think we'd like any nightlife/shopping type places. Sure, we're still young, but that's definitely not our scene. Way back when, I was considering the Damai Lovina, but it seemed to pale in comparison to other options (like Qunci Villas in Lombok.)

Hanuman, I wish...and maybe something will change...but as of right now (and according to our tickets) we'll only be in BKK for layovers on our connecting flights. If anything changes, you know you'll be the first to know! I would love--repeat love--to finally catch up with you! And, yes, to answer your question: Bob and Andy's trip does overlap ours--not completely, but at one point it does.
filmwill is offline  
Oct 28th, 2009, 09:05 PM
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Where to start...

KL - it is interesting, but there's not a whole lot to do (it's more an experience place). Day trips to the Batu caves and Melaka are recommended.

Can't speak to Lombok - was actually thinking of going there in May before / after the GTG in Bali, but I have my eye on the Gilis rather than the big island (for diving). There's always Flores and Komodo if you want a bit more adventure.

More Java - one trip on my "to-do" list is a route roughly from Yogya through Malang to Surabaya. You could take in the sunrise at Mt Bromo before hitting Surabaya. From Surabaya, you can get direct flights to Singapore and KL, or back to Bali. Check out the Tugu Hotel in Malang.
MichaelBKK is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 01:24 AM
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This is serious. It is now more important than ever that North Carolina suffres an ignominious loss in the NCAA. If they're two time winners, David will be able to really ridicule me.
Gpanda is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 01:34 AM
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YAY so glad it's working out for you. I totally get that feeling after just booking a flight...
Looking forward to hearing how your trip develops.
3 weeks to go before Muffin and I are off to Vietnam... YIPPEE
(or course we have the visit from Bob and Karen this Saturday to look forward to first)
Smeagol is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 03:07 AM
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There's not a lot of "boutique" style resort/hotel development in Java. I haven't been to Losari but I've spent time in the area and it is very scenic.

East Java has some areas of interest, but aside from Bromo, which is spectacular, it's quite lowkey. Malang is a sleepy but charming town. The quirky Tugu hotel is its main claim to fame. Malang is not an easy place to get to, though.

I stayed in Malang when I went to Bromo and don't think I'd do that again as it was an extremely long and arduous day. The Bromo area itself is worth a stay as it's profoundly beautiful.

I also really enjoyed the Majapahit hotel in Surabaya. It was part of the Sarkey "chain" along with Raffles, the Strand and the E&O. (Funny thing, I've stayed at all of them but only the Majapahit after renovation.) Otherwise, I'd give Surabaya a miss.

You can also take the ferry from the tip of Java to Bali. If Again, it makes for a long day from Surabaya (or Bromo) but it gets you to North Bali which is in itself a worthwhile destination. I recently stayed at the Puri Ganesha villas. They are really, really nice, but oddly very pricy. From there it's a beautiful drive down to Ubud.

If I were you I'd do Java first as it is the most challenging, then Lombok to recover, then Bali saving the best for last.
marmot is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 06:54 AM
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(Marmot, I'd forgotten about the Majapahit hotel in Surabaya. I love the old Sarkie Bros. hotels and would love to stay there. Maybe we'll have to make that a stop when we return to Java.)

Bill, I'm so glad you and David will be off to Indonesia in 2010! I have a number of ideas, some of which will likely cause you to tear your hair out (or want to tear mine out), but here goes:

The routing on this trip seems awkward. I think there are a number of ways to remedy this. First, would it be possible to route yourself through Singapore rather than Bangkok? In my experience, it's easier to get award tickets to Singapore than to Bangkok. I'd also suggest substituting Singapore for KL. If you were willing/able to do both of those things, your logistics wuold be much simpler. There is just not a lot to do in KL. I've been there three times, the last time we spent 5 days there. I thought we'd find the "hidden gems" of KL. Well, either the gems are REALLY well hidden or they aren't our idea of gems. It's not a bad place, just not much to do/see. Singapore has much more to offer, IMO. I also wouldn't consider Malacca a day trip from KL, if you want to see it spend a night there though probably not this trip. It's actually closer to Singapore.

I'm not sure why you don't want to unwind in Lombok - I can't think of a better place to unwind. I'd probably go to Lombok first. If you fly from Singapore, you have the option of a non-stop on Silk Air, though it's rather expensive. Or, if it must be Bali first, Bali is a much shorter flight from Singapore than from Bangkok.

I'd go from Lombok to Bali, from Bali to Java, then Java back to Singapore (you have the option of Silk Air to Singapore)either for a flight home or to fly onward to Bangkok and then home. Or if it must be Bali first, Bali to Lombok then Lombok to Java and back to Singapore. Aso consider Bali to Java to Lombok. Take a look at the air connections. If Singapore is your gateway you have the Silk Air non-stop options in/out of Mataram (Lombok) and Solo (Java) to/from Singapore.

No matter what you decide, this will be a fabulous trip!
Kathie is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 07:54 AM
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Wow, LOTS to digest here. Although, yes, I may need to pull my hair out now

As for the overall routing, our award tickets are booked and locked in into DPS (via Bangkok) and out of Kuala Lumpur. Unless, of course, we want to pay a change fee, which is definitely not an option right now.

So how can we make this work? Not so much worried about the Lombok/Bali first issue...can always work around that.

Not saying that Singapore isn't an option--but we'd still have to hit Kuala Lumpur at the end somehow. And that might make things much more complicated (adding another destination.)

Guess I gotta chew on this one more.
filmwill is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 08:05 AM
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If you are locked into the DPS via Bangkok and out via KL, then don't add in Singapore, make the best of what you have. Maybe cut one of the KL nights... (can you believe I'm suggesting a shorter stay somewhere?)

I wonder if Marmot's idea of Java first would work. As long as you started with some relaxing time such as the Losari (that's where we want to stay), it might work out.

Figuring out these logistics is complicated. Last time we tried to plan this trip (Java and Bali or Lombok) we threw up our hands and went elsewhere. Our dates were locked in at the time of Hari Raya and we couldn't get plane reservations between our Indonesian destinations.
Kathie is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 08:07 AM
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marmot, definitely interested in a trip to Bromo. How much time would you allow? How would recommend getting in and out? Assume we could make our way from Yogya there and then onto Surabaya? Also, do you recommend getting a guide/driver for something like this?

I read a recommendation somwhere about Java Banana in Sakapura as a decent hotel near Bromo. Any hotel reccos?
filmwill is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 08:18 AM
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Hi Filmwill

I was recently in Ubud and the Gili Islands (off of Lombok). Don't tell the Panda, but I have been rather tardy in getting my trip report posted. But I did want to throw in my 2 cents, anyway.

Not sure if you're definitely set on Lombok, but I had a great time in the Gili Islands (between Bali and Lombok). The islands are very small, no cars, great white sand beaches and good snorkeling. I took the fast ferry (very safe) from Padangbai in Bali, and the trip only took about 1.5 hrs. Here are 2 places to stay, that looked great:
www.alamindahbali.com/alam_gili.htm
www.karmakayak.com

Even if you stick with the Lombok plan, you might look into taking the ferry instead of flying, if the times work better for you.

As other's have suggested, I might also consider doing the beach/chill time first, as there is so much more to do in Ubud.
cruisinred is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 09:03 AM
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I threw Malang in there as just an interesting stop on the way to Bromo, that looks interesting to me for what's around it. Like Kathie, I can spend hours on each and every pile of rocks between Borobodur and Besakih, and there are quite a few of those around Malang. Other than that, it's just one place to stop on the way to Bromo.

The typical trip to Bromo involves either a long schlep from Surabaya or Malang overnight, OR, a leisurely trip in the day time up to some lodge where you'll spend (half) a night before traveling up to see the sunrise. I used Bromo Cottages, and arranged the necessary car and driver from them for the whole trip from Surabaya and back (including some sightseeing in Surabaya).

I agree Surabaya isn't much of a destination in itself. It's just a place with lots of connections, that's closer to Bromo than trying to get back to Solo or Yogya. The Majapahit is very nice (I stayed there when it was still part of the M-O chain), and if you have time the Sapoerna Museum is interesting. I stayed one night in the Majapahit, traveled up to Bromo Cottages the next day, saw the sunrise and got back to Surabaya for a late afternoon flight to DPS.

Around Solo, I'm not sure if you've got Candi Sukuh on your list. You guys might find it interesting, and the drive up there is certainly nice.
MichaelBKK is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 11:08 AM
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Yes, Candi Sukuh is certainly worth a stop. And I agree with Michael that the drive is lovely.

We stopped at the Kraton is Solo, which was intersting and stopped at the place where they make the batik for the Solo Kraton. Imagine batik that takes 3-4 months to make a single length!
Kathie is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 05:53 PM
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Glad to hear your trip is back on!

You may be pulling your hair out, but for a wonderful reason
Femi is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 05:55 PM
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PS Have you ever been on safari? You think you're obsessive now...
Femi is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 06:34 PM
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Haha, Femi. Oh, I couldn't even try that one now. It might push me over the edge.

Absolutely. I won't lose sight of the fact that I'm still over-the-moon about this trip. Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bali...whatever it may be. I'LL BE IN ASIA AGAIN!

Hard to beat that, if you ask me...
filmwill is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 08:58 PM
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Bromo is an undertaking wherever you stay, but it is, to me, sublimely beautiful. When I went I “commuted” from Malang and I swore I’d stay on the mountain the next time, but with one thing and another have never returned. My son was there two years ago and stayed on Bromo at the Lava View Lodge. He said it was well situated, but grungy which is pretty much the consensus of the older places in the area. Java Banana’s website certainly looks appealing.

This Wikitravel article is helpful in getting a perspective of what’s where.
http://wikitravel.org/en/Bromo-Tengg..._National_Park

If you do go to Bromo I’d try to stay on the mountain at least one night. The area is breathtakingly beautiful, all day, not just at sunrise. Surabaya is somewhat closer than Malang but it’s still one of those get up at 2:00 a.m. events which are to me very disconcerting.

All of the resorts have guides who will also provide transport (and annoyingly take you to crummy restaurants).

It’s a long drive (~12 hours+) from Central Java to Malang, Surabaya or Bromo so it’s better to fly. You don't want to be driving after dark. The flight schedules are somewhat unpredictable, however.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed my stay at the Tugu in Malang and the Majapahit in Surabaya. Malang is a quintessential Javanese small town. Orderly, slow and charming. Surabaya is a big city -- crowded and busy.
marmot is offline  

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