Hong Kong, Koh Samui & Bali – Jul/Aug 2015
HK: 3 Days
We stayed at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Hong Kong. The room was adequate and the breakfast a bit dull (Scrambled egg ,cereal and confectionary as well as a variety of eastern breakfast delights , noodles, dim sum, soup and curry) every day.
It was a little out of the way but the hotel has a very efficient shuttle bus that takes and collects guests at various points on the island.
The hotel provides you with a “handy”, like a phone, but preloaded with all the hotel things and all things Hong Kong. A really helpful tool.
We found things a little expensive so shopping and wining and dining was minimal. It does not stop them putting shops everywhere.
We went to the highest point on the island for the view and to take pictures, only to find two small shopping centres on the top.
We did a 7.2 km cable car ride into the hills to visit a big Buddha and a temple, only to walk through a string of shops before getting to the point of the journey. They sell the biggest incense sticks you’ve ever seen. At least 100mm in diameter and more than a meter long.
We spent an evening going back and forth on the star ferries while seeing the light show (about 15 minutes every evening) play out on the buildings on the waterfront.
The ferry rides last about 10 minutes each and are really cheap (R5-00 each way for two of us). The reason we did so many was because we took the wrong ferry on our return trip and ended up at a different quay, so enjoyed the back and forth till we got back to the right one. Worth every cent.
Koh Samui: 5 Days
Arriving at the airport on Koh Samui must be the best airport experience ever! It’s almost like arriving at a resort except for the customs check.
We stayed at the Chaweng Cove Beach resort. The room was a good beach resort room. Spacious, good bathroom and relatively quiet. It was at the back of the resort facing the main road but with a double set of windows, the noise was never an issue.
Breakfasts were brilliant, what we’ve come to expect from our holiday hotels you’ve provided. I think we’ve been spoilt.
We went zip lining in the hills. A bit short for an afternoon outing, but still enjoyable.
We went on a boat trip to Ang Thong National park to do snorkelling and kayaking. This must’ve been the lowlight of Koh Samui. The snorkelling was not possible due to low tide and the ridiculously small area allocated in which to do it. Between the huge sea urchins and lack of visibility we packed it in as a bad idea and waited for the kayaking in the afternoon. We had a good lunch onboard and went off to another island to do the kayaking. Due to the size of the group, we were split into two. The first group left and returned 40 mins later. We were then let loose on the boats. 15 minutes and a couple of hundred meters later (I’m not kidding, literally around the corner) our kayaking came to an end. I made my feelings felt to the guide who could not really do too much.
When we got back to the resort I went to the tour organisers and let them know about my disappointment. They returned half our fee which improved our day immensely.
Next outing was an around the island tour by boat. This was really enjoyable. The group was not too big which also helped. A very informed German ex pat led the tour. We stopped at an island for lunch, also pretty good and then went snorkelling. Finally some decent snorkelling!
Much time was spent on the really nice beach and at the hotel facilities.
And then we left from that amazing airport.
Bali: 8 Days
Arriving at Denpasar airport after Koh Samui is a wakeup call. The security and customs were bordering on extreme. All good and well but still a bit disconcerting.
We found our driver and hustled off to our hotel, about 5 minutes away, but due to the traffic took half an hour.
We stayed at the Adhi Jaya hotel in Kuta. The noisiest, busiest part of Bali. The hotel was great and the staff really fantastic. Our room had a little balcony overlooking the pool area. All the rooms overlook the pool area, although ours had trees in front of it, giving us a little privacy while still having a bit of a view. Breakfasts were always good.
Bali is nothing like Thailand.
The traffic and pedestrians are constant. Road rules are non-existent, especially for scooters. Intersections are a free for all and scooters often drive on the pavement. Their driving makes our taxi drivers seem sedate.
Kuta caters largely for the Australian market so there are numerous Ozzie bars with rugby on TV’s 24/7.
We started with a river rafting outing which was stunning. Not too wild, but the scenery as you bounce through the jungle is absolutely amazing.
Next day we did a cultural tour which included traditional dancing, wood carving, silver jewellery manufacture, rice paddies, coffee plantation and volcano viewing. The dancing was good, the wood carving and silver jewellery expensive. The rice paddies were scenic and the coffee plantation was, well, a coffee plantation. We tasted various coffees including the stuff that’s eaten by a ‘mongoose” (that’s what they call it), excreted, washed roasted and ground into coffee. That coffee experience costs an additional R50-00. The volcano was a no show as the hills were completely misted over. Pictures on the internet make it look like a cone shaped hill in the distance. No loss then as far as we were concerned.
The hotel has a service whereby you can get a car and a driver for about R400-00 a day. There was no way I was driving anything in Bali. Did I mention the traffic?
So we took the car for a couple of days, Day 1 we went to Uluwatu, down south of the island. A picturesque temple, and probably the best beach in Bali. There are a million steps down to the beach which probably deters a lot of people. This was a highlight.
Day 2 in the car, we went to Nusa Dua to go snorkelling. Don’t know how much longer the area will last because of the watersports and boat traffic. There are hundreds of boats that go out daily and drop their anchors on the already decimated reef. There were still lots of fish to see.
Day 3 in the car we went to Tana Lot, a temple north of kuta, on the rocks surrounded by the sea at high tide. All very scenic except for the hundreds of tourists. Us included.
If you are planning shopping for T-shirts and souvenirs, this is the place to do it. There is a huge market with almost everything they sell in the roadside stalls, but a whole lot cheaper.
On our last day we took a boat trip to Lembogaan, an island off Bali. By speedboat it took a little over an hour. We went snorkelling in a glass bottom boat in the morning (the sea water around Bali is not as warm as Thailand), had lunch at a resort on the island, then had the afternoon to ourselves to stroll around the beach and island. A nice relaxing day to end our holiday.
Michael & Wendy Brinkley