Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
Budget or How do they travel for a YEAR?
Traveling in Asia long term is different than a week’s holiday in Hawaii or somewhere else close to home.
One important thing to consider on long-term travel is visa requirements and how long are you allowed to stay in different countries. Travel with a USA passport is generally easy; for our current trip we arranged a two-month visa for Indonesia before we left home.
But the thing that makes most traveling partners fight is usually money or different expectations about money and living standards while traveling. When George and I left for a year in 2008, we had very different ideas about what “great” travel was. George had been in Paraguay in the Peace Corps and dug his own latrine. During that same time, I traveled in five star luxury working for Princess Cruises.
When we arrived in Bali four years ago, George brought me to a “great” hotel and I burst into tears. I said, “This is the great hotel I have been waiting to see?” He had been there years prior with two male buddies and the three of them split the $10.00usd a night which magically included breakfast. I looked at the room with walls painted different colors, the threadbare window covering, the falling-apart single sheet on the bed, the lack of towels or toilet paper and the grimy bathroom and said, “This is where you’ve brought me?” We had many discussions during our trip about the difference between what we each thought made a great room and the importance of using the word cheap or good value instead of great as a modifier!
Over our years of traveling together, we have met people who kept track of their budget to the penny, hoping to save enough each day that their trip could be extended from a twelve-month trip to a fifteen-month excursion. We met a couple last summer in Tonga, who were mainly WWOOFING and couch surfing and managed to have a long trip starting with only $12,000. I have watched a group of three guys bargain a room down in Guiling, China from $15 to $12 and then go out and spend $10 each on beers. Everyone seems to have a different important luxury whether it is the room, the sites, the food, or the souvenirs.
This year like our last long trip, our budget is $100usd/per day for the two of us. So far we are doing great on our budget and staying in some really nice places. Bakung Sari in Kuta and Bali Lovina Beach Cottages in Lovina were both great and both on Asiarooms.com. We did find a lovely place in Lovina for 125,000Rp, which would be only 100,000Rp for multiple nights (about$10usd) with a fan and a beautiful garden and includes breakfast but I am not sure we are going to stay any more nights here.
Yesterday we ate at Bintang Bali, right on the beach, for lunch with free wifi and we enjoyed a large bottle of water, watermelon juice and two chicken satays for about $6 USD. For dinner we went to Triple 9 and enjoyed the live band and a great dinner with two juices (one pineapple, one watermelon) each 12,000Rp and a Cap Cay and a Fried Vegetables at 19,000Rp so, about $7 with tip. Including our trip to the store for some soda and a small bottle of rum, we spent about $65 for our room which includes breakfast and our day out in Lovina.
We had several long walks on the beach. We did not go on the Dolphin tour as we rarely participate in adventures that include that word “Sunrise.” At Angkor Wat, we did wake up to see the temples at dawn and the experience was worth it. But at Mt. Bromo, we went at 11am and saw no crowds and nor need for jackets. Last summer, we went on a whale-swimming adventure and swam with humpback whales as well as spinner dolphins—so no sunrise wake up for us in Lovina.
This sleepy beach town is enjoyable with great restaurants, live music and lots of room for relaxing. Do not worry about shopping, the vendors will find you. We are a great disappointment to the ladies on the beach as we do not shop while we travel unless we need to replace something, and we rarely buy items to bring home.
Will we stay another day in Lovina? Are we off to Tulamben? I know we will have breakfast at our hotel and then we will see what the day brings as we relax and let the journey unfold.
July 9, 2012 More at WeSaidGoTravel.com
Loving Lovina: Video
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July 24, 2012 | 4:18 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
While in the town of Kuta in Bali, we stayed for two nights at Bakung Sari Hotel, booked online at Asiarooms.com. On our last trip in 2008, we did not carry much electronics with us—only a digital camera, new Kindle (they came out in 2008) and an iTouch. We had no phone or computer. One couple we met in Thailand had, three phones, two cameras, a computer and a video camera. They called us brave for traveling without a phone. We said we remembered traveling before there were cell phones! We told them they could do it too.
Over the last four years during our travels, we have noticed fewer Internet cafes and more Wi-Fi zones. For many reasons, we decided that on this trip we would bring more toys: we now have a Macbook Air laptop, an iPhone 3Gs unlocked, an iTouch, a Lumix digital camera, a flip video camera, and a new Kindle 4. It seems like a lot of technology to drag about!
Using Asiarooms.com gives us more options because on the last trip we opened up the Lonely Planet, tried to follow the maps, and hoped the hostels we chose would still exist and have an available room. Sometimes events worked out and sometimes they did not. But now, with Asiarooms.com and other online booking sites, there are so many deals to discover.
Bakung Sari Hotel has a lovely setting in a temple site, with gardens and a pool. The rooms could use some care; our bathroom seemed to have termites and needed a bit of an upgrade. We did have air conditioning, a TV (albeit one with no real working channels) and a refrigerator. The breakfast was nowhere near as extensive as Bali Kuta Resort but was quite good and included in our room price of $28 a night (we did meet a couple who had gotten it for $23 on the same site!).
Using Google maps, we figured out how to walk the 1.4 kilometers from one hotel to the other. I think the locals were shocked that we never took a taxi. We did arrange transport today to Lovina from Kuta with Perama on their shuttle bus.
Private transport would have been 200,000Rp per person (about $20, exchange is generally 93000Rp for $100.00 USD) with a pick up at our hotel at 9am. Group bus transport was 125,000Rp per person and you needed to show up at the office at 9:45am. They claimed the ride took three or four hours depending on traffic, but we arrived at 3pm at the Lovina station. We were fed fried rice with egg and they showed interested guests to their rooms, which are located two kilometers from the town and the beach. Quite a few people chose to stay at the Perama rooms.
We continued by bus to town and walked 100m to our new hotel, Bali Lovina Beach Cottages which was 294,000Rp online or $31 but with all the taxes and fees turns out to be $38.00usd which does include breakfast, air conditioning, a balcony, refrigerator but no wifi. Wifi is 50,000 per day. At both our Kuta hotels, wifi was included and fast.
One last thing for today, we usually get all our local currency at the ATM as that gives the best rate so we do not have to carry much cash. On this trip we have changed some money with money changers. A few things to know: you get a better rate for larger bills (as in $100 bill will get the 9300 rate and a few $5 bills will get a lower rate perhaps 8500), if the exchange rate seems too good to be true, it probably is. I do not recommend changing money in alleys or sketchy places; remember to bring your common sense along with your suitcase.
All in all, it was a great day. I am happy to be out of the traffic of Kuta and enjoying the rice fields and beach town of Lovina. Hope you are enjoying sunsets and summer vacations. July 9, 2012
Bakung Sari Hotel: Video
July 17, 2012 | 9:42 pm
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
July 3, 2012 in Los Angeles at 6:31pm, July 4th, 2012 9:31am in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
Our Year Adventure Begins: Three Flights to Bali, Indonesia from Los Angeles, California
What a trip! Three flights from Los Angeles to Bali; with the help of modern chemistry we slept through most of the first 12 hour flight from LAX to PEK. I think I slept nearly 10 hours. I even fell asleep before we took off. Our flight was at 1:40am July 2nd. My cousins, Eric and Krystie, who just moved to Los Angeles on the day before we left, took us to dinner and from there to the airport. We passed Air China in Terminal 2 at Los Angeles Airport because we were so sure we would leave from Terminal 4 the Tom Bradley International Terminal—but we were wrong. Luckily together our two big packs aren’t so heavy—so schlepping back to the other terminal was not too painful. One of the TSA men commented on how most people pay extra so that each of their bags can be over the fifty-pound weight limit yet together we have less than one person might have. All in all, the Los Angeles airport is an embarrassment compared to other countries’ international hubs.
We marveled at how modern, big and spacious the Beijing airport felt. Not like LAX. We went through immigration and on the tram to pick up our next two boarding passes. Honestly it was a bit confusing but we survived and we got help from a few officials. The tram and all the other signs were in English and Chinese; we really did not think we had to go through immigration as we were in transit and had no visa. We found a Starbucks had a snack and wandered about until our next flight. We could not log in to the “free Wifi” but we did not have much to say yet to anyone back home anyway.
Our paperwork for the three flights said “no meals” on all three flights which seemed odd for international flights but in fact there was food on all of them. The Air China B777-300ER was surprisingly nice. I had thought that our two legs from Beijing to Singapore(6 hours) and Singapore to Bali (2 hours) would be the most enjoyable segments of the trip, but our twelve hours on Air China were the best. Biggest seats in economy, nicest amenities, and better movies. If I’d wanted to pay the big bucks for First Class, the sleeping pods for Air China looked phenomenal!
Other than the thirty-minute line to get a taxi coupon at the Bali airport, and the half an hour of bumper-to-bumper traffic to our hotel in Kuta (which reminded me of Los Angeles evening traffic although in Los Angeles no one creates an extra lane), the whole journey could not have been much better or easier. And that fact that our three flights were paid with United Frequent Flyer Miles made the start to our year’s journey in the East very pleasant.
We are excited to be back in Bali. More about the Swiss Bel Hotel: Bali Kuta Resort soon! Lisa
Video from our flight to Bali: Click here
July 6, 2012 | 3:30 am
Posted by Lisa Niver Rajna
Northern Ireland. It warms every hand that stretches, and it thaws the frozen seas within us. There is something eternal about the light of this land, a radiance that unshadows the future, like the pillars of a bridge supporting what we see into the delights of what we soon will. So praise this bridge that carries us over, because here is a peerless berth of beauty, bread and song, of castles, culture and cheer. It is a place of ambition big enough to build the ship of dreams, and to craft huge legends, tales and unsinkable stories. It has an eye for the natural, and a heart that doesn’t waiver to protect it. It is almost criminally rich in splendor, aptitude, customs and passion. It is an adventure big enough for giants, where water and time have done nothing but saturate the soil with inspiration. For it is a land of artists, from poets to painters, from designers to distillers. Art, it could be said, is the unceasing effort to compete with the innate beauty of this acreage—and never succeeding. Some would say this place is better than Irish whiskey—it intoxicates both the holder and the beholder, and it beckons back for more.
Check out this short video from Richard’s “mini-quest” to Northern Ireland during the Titanic celebrations.
More from Richard Bangs at http://www.richardbangs.com/
Credits: Music by Aidan O’Brien (http://www.youtube.com/user/musicaid1).
More stories from Lisa and George at http://www.wesaidgotravel.com/