Bali and Singapore...a Trip Overview

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Bonnie, May 27, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Silver Member

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    With the essential help of Gary Leff of www.bookyouraward.com and David Ourisman, a Brownell Virtuoso Travel Agent, we created what was an incredibly sensational journey. Gary took our American Express points and magically arranged a trip with the kind of first class service we were looking for combined with the perfect itinerary. Gary’s ability to put the puzzle together is amazing! David O is an agent who knows the best hotels for you, has been there, and can tell you which villa will give you the WOW you are looking for! His attention to detail is a perfect match for my obsessive focus on hotels. Armed with these two great resources, we booked our flights and hotels…South Florida to Bali with several days in Singapore on our return.

    Our journey began at FLL with Virgin America to San Francisco. While Virgin was fine outbound, by the time we returned and had experienced Singapore Air, that last leg from SFO to FLL on Virgin felt like we were on a bus!

    Singapore Air first class was over the top. Our biggest decision was Krug Champagne or Dom. The menu selections were equally superb. Lobster salad or salmon sashimi were just two of the appetizer choices. The flight attendants give service an entirely new meaning. Elegant, gracious and sophisticated, they never stopped amazing us. The Private Room for SQ at SIN on our return was magnificent and I believe is a serious contender to the Lufthansa FCT in Frankfort!

    DPS was extremely crowded when we arrived in Bali, so we were especially glad to have prearranged the airport VIP arrival service through the Four Seasons. We were met as we exited the jet way, then turned over to another person who handled our immigration and customs and then we were introduced to our driver. He provided a big Mercedes, welcoming cold towels, drinks, and as he proudly told us, Wi-Fi in the car! The entire arrival process in this chaotic mess took us less than 10 minutes. It was then only about twenty minutes to the hotel.

    After travelling about 36 hours I discovered how to get a second wind! Enter the breathtaking open air Lobby at The Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay in Bali…and then be escorted to your private pool villa with magnificent ocean views! Unbelievable. The villa has an open air living and dining area with a thatched/bamboo Balinese style peaked roof. Adjacent is a beautiful (enclosed, air conditioned and with similar Balinese design) bedroom, dressing area and bath, indoor and outdoor showers and private garden.

    Our ridiculously large breakfasts were served at our villa. Your choice of Indonesian, Japanese, Chinese or Western. We of course tried all of them…but I think the Japanese was my favorite!

    The sparkling private pool and lounge chairs were so inviting, I couldn’t figure out a reason to leave our villa! But then we discovered the newly opened Sundara Restaurant and Pool, at the other end of the property. The stunning Olympic length pool, perched over the ocean, and the beautifully designed (and delicious!) restaurant had such a wonderful peaceful, Zen vibe that we couldn’t resist!

    Besides the pool at Sundara, there is the Quiet Pool near the lobby. It was serene….and spectacular! Below that, on another level, was a pool that catered more to families and kids. Because the property was mostly built on a cliff, a buggy was helpful to get around. It was prompt, always arriving within minutes of our request.

    Those first four days were serious R and R for us so we never left the property! Except one evening we strolled down the beach about a quarter mile to see a string of several seafood restaurants, all populated by local Balinese. These restaurants consisted of kitchens in the back, grills for the freshly caught seafood and tables and chairs in the sand. The fish was fresh, the beer was cold….and the weather was hot! It was a fun experience and needless to say, quite different from the Four Seasons!

    We (sadly) left our dream villa on the beach to go to Ubud. We arranged for a driver, from the Four Seasons. The trip took an easy 90 minutes into the rain forest and mountains.

    We passed through (and stopped at some) areas that had several silver shops/factories, and then there would be an area with just wood carving shops, then batik artisans, stone carvers, etc. The stone carvers were particularly remarkable in the size of what they carved. We’d see enormous Buddhas, pots and fountains. We saw gorgeous clay pots large enough to contain a small house just sitting on the side of the road. Several reminded me of the pottery at The Nam Hai in Vietnam!

    The Viceroy Resort Bali, just a few minutes outside Ubud, was incredible! The beauty everywhere was breathtaking! We were in the mountains, looking out over tropical vegetation, rice paddies and the stunning Balinese architecture of the Resort. Our private pool villa was, without question, the most gorgeous we’ve ever experienced. The bed/bath/sitting area was tremendous, very modern with a tranquil feeling and just exquisite! The space had such a feeling of openness that was enhanced by the 30 foot peaked bamboo ceiling, walls of windows, marble floors and cool soft colors and fabrics. The villa overlooked our private infinity pool that was totally magnificent and suspended over the tropically landscaped mountain.

    The beauty of the Viceroy was only enhanced by the graciousness and constant smiles of the staff. Everyone was so happy to please… from the owner, the concierge, the restaurant staff, and the buggy drivers (you took a buggy everywhere as the entire resort is constructed on the side of a mountain)! The warmth and kindness of the people throughout Bali was extraordinary!

    While it was not easy to leave this piece of paradise, we went into Ubud each day for several hours. Ubud was fun and the shopping was excellent. Monkey Forest Road had an interesting mix of shops, restaurants, and at the end you were at The Monkey Forest. Some of those monkeys spilled out into the street and wandered around among the people and the occasional stray rooster! We decided to skip the monkeys and wait for the cuter and better behaved Orangutans at the Singapore Zoo!

    We had a reasonably fast four hour flight to Singapore. It’s easy to understand why Changi Airport is considered the best airport in the world! It mostly feels like an elegant shopping mall. Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton….. The immigration process is so fast, you’re not even certain you’ve just been through a line!

    Our prearranged driver from the Shangra-La Hotel was waiting for us at the airport, as was the Concierge upon our arrival at the Hotel. Check in was fast, the hotel was lovely, and the services in the Valley Wing were outstanding. The enormous breakfasts and the constant pouring of exceptional champagne all day were terrific bonuses!

    We visited Singapore about 30 years ago, and like most of the world, the changes were astonishing! The architecture is magnificent, the city continues to be immaculate, and the people are wonderful! A highlight for us was the Singapore Zoo.

    We had ‘Breakfast with the Orangutans’. While we enjoyed breakfast, several families of orangutans played and generally hung out on a platform at the end of this open air restaurant at the Zoo. I stood there watching these amazing animals, totally transfixed for over two hours! I just couldn’t stop watching them! They were close enough to touch; although we weren’t allowed….and they pretty much ignored us. They just did their thing playing with each other and being beyond adorable! After breakfast, we wandered through the zoo and saw more orangutans, white rhinos, giraffes, lions, zebras….none were caged…and all were magnificent!

    We spent our last evening in Singapore at the Marina Bay area. It was spectacular….and the sound and light show over the Marina was terrific! It was similar to the nightly laser show in Hong Kong but with added animation, music and water works. We went to the sky deck at the top of one of the hotels at the Marina and the views of the city and the Singapore Strait below us were amazing!

    The foods in Indonesia and Singapore were over the top! The perfect combination of cuisines from around Asia featured mostly local seafood, fresh vegetables and fruits we’ve never before tasted! We fell in love with mangosteens, which unfortunately, are too delicate to export. The soup dumplings were outstanding, the crispy duck was perfection and all the flavors were spicy, often very different and always wonderful!

    We were incredibly fortunate with the weather. We arrived just prior to the heavy monsoon rains and impossibly high humidity. It certainly was hot, but with mostly blue skies and rain only very late on a few nights.

    We were also very lucky with our flights. Our shortest flight was four hours, and the longest was thirteen. Not to belabor the obvious, but these long flights for us can really only be enjoyed when flying at the front of the plane! We had a total of nine flights and remarkably every single flight was on time!

    Many of our experiences were significantly helped by suggestions and opinions offered here at MP.....so a really big THANK YOU to everyone for sharing!!

     
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  2. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    Thanks for the report. We are presently in Singapore having also flown first class on Singapore Air. The Conrad hotel is also fantastic and our suite upgrade even when using points for the room is much appreciated. We do the Orangutan breakfast tomorrow and are greatly looking forward to it. While it is presently hot and muggy, it is not as bad as I was expecting and as you stated the food is just unreal here.
     
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  3. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Silver Member

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    I find it difficult to deal with heat and humidity (even after 30 years in South Florida!)....but the incredible heat in Singapore was quickly forgotten when I stood there watching those amazing orangutans! Really, I was beyond hot and didn't care....I just couldn't tear myself away from the orangutan event! Wish I could be back there with you!
    Enjoy!!
     
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  4. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I will be in SIN for a week in November and have been there multiple times either in late December or early January, and it is usually hot and muggy (but I like it when I remember that it is usually freezing cold in NYC at that time)...;)
     
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  5. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Thanks for the report. The zoo sounds awesome!
     
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  6. jmgriffin

    jmgriffin Silver Member

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    Awesome report, any photos? We're heading there for our honeymoon in December. Can't wait to go!
     
  7. Bonnie
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    Bonnie Silver Member

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    I'm seriously challenged when it comes to posting photos. If anyone has 'directions for dummies', I'm ready to give it a try! I do have great pics on my computer....and also on my iphone. Just wish there was an easy way to get them from me to Milepoint!:eek:
     

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