Saturday, January 24, 2009

About a Tour

There's only one reason why Jia and I joined a tour to Bali: price. The tour package was only slightly more expensive than the flight from Hong Kong, which meant we would save money on hotels and such. I was prepared for the worst after hearing horror stories from expats on Chinese tours. 

The biggest challenge I saw going in was that there were 26 of us. That's a rather large group to organize. I know how difficult it can be to get people to arrive anywhere on time--it's even worse with tour groups. Our group was rarely on time, but not overly late, so it wasn't too bad. Another problem with a large group is having a large bus--complicated by the narrow, winding roads of Bali (I blame the British for building roads like this).

I quickly discovered why our tour was so cheap--shopping trips. They had some pretty bad stops for us. The only one I sort of enjoyed was to the coffee factory (which wasn't really much of a factory, more like a warehouse). Unfortunately, there wasn't a deal for the coffee--not much cheaper than buying it in China or at the airport. One surprising shop was the traditional Chinese medicine shop--where some of the group paid a few hundred Yuan on things they could buy in any city in China.
We also had to change hotels during the short trip. The first one, The Grand Mirage in Nusa Dua, was wonderful and convenient. The second was far from anything (almost a mile to the nearest store), which provided the tour guide a way to convince the group to sign up for an overpriced spa and dinner day on our "free day." Jia and I skipped that and saw the real parts of Bali.

Despite the problems of the tour, it was still worth it. We did see more on our free day with a rented car than we did on the actual tour. Now, we just have to find a way of getting back.

Next time, more details stories of the sights.

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