Friday, May 04, 2012

PAL Inaugural Flight to Bali (My Story)

It's been a day since I came back from a 5-day all-expense-paid-Bali trip and I have to say that I have mixed emotions about it before, during and after. I know I can just tell you how wonderful PAL's inaugural flight to Bali was, how much I enjoyed every minute of it, how thankful I am for this opportunity, etc. etc. But I wouldn't be true to to myself and to my dear readers. So here goes...

I was invited by Philippine Airlines (PAL) for their inaugural flight from Manila to Bali on April 28-29, 2012 (Saturday) and then back to Manila on May 3 (Thursday). From what I understand, this trip was supposed to be my alternative token/payment for helping them out with one of their campaigns last year. But due to the strike that happened and all the problems that went with it, let's just say that I never got my token/payment until I was contacted for this Bali trip. 

 with Sir Tony Herrera  in the middle, AVP of Passenger Sales, PAL

Of course I was excited! Who wouldn't be? More so when the agent I was in contact with told me that I can bring two of my blogger friends with me since Jayvee and his wife Chie Couldn't make it. I was sad that Jayvee couldn't go but was soon happy enough when I found out why -- they're pregnant! (Congrats again lovebirds!). So I immediately contacted all my other blogger friends and was very happy when two of them could go (Koryn and Fritz)! Yay! 

Anyway, last time I went to Bali was in 2009, and I spent a fortune! I had to take a flight from Manila to Jakarta, spent a few days touring Jakarta with my friends before taking another flight from Jakarta to Bali to spend another few days touring Bali. Despite the costs it incurred, I had an awesome experience then and I was sure I'll enjoy Bali again. So did I? You'll find out soon enough.

For now, let's focus on the inaugural flight first.

Considering that this was an "all-expense-paid" trip, my friends and I didn't expect to pay for the terminal fee. But since it was just Php600.00, we didn't mind. On our return flight, I found out that some of the PAL Twitter winners spent all their money and didn't have any left to pay for the terminal fee at the Bali airport. Coz like us, they were also not expecting to pay for it. It was great that some of the people in our group (the kind travel agents) helped them by paying for their terminal fees.  

The ride from Manila to Bali was approximately 4 hours. Even though I am a frequent traveler and flyer, riding airplanes still scares me. So it's important to me that the flight is peaceful and stress-free. Unfortunately, there was a big group of Chinese folks who took the same flight. Let's just say that it felt like my friends and I were in the middle of a kindergarten classroom filled with rowdy kids. The moment the airplane flew, they all shrieked and shouted! My goodness! And these are young adult Chinese men and women! Geesh. I was trying to sleep then and because of their shrieks, I thought we were going to crash. My heart was pounding the whole time. What a boisterous bunch! Maybe this was why some of the flight attendants weren't looking very happy and accommodating that evening. They were scowling most of the time and weren't in a very good mood. I thought flight attendants were supposed to be all smiles and all about customer service? Anyway, I let that go until we were about to land and we still haven't gotten our disembarkation card. So Koryn and I approached this middle-aged guy, the only kind flight attendant that night. He approached one of the middle-aged lady flight attendants and said "Hindi pa raw sila nabigyan ng disembarkation card. (These ladies weren't given any disembarkation cards.)" and the lady retorted rather hot-headedly "Ha?! Binigyan ko na sila kanina ah! (I already gave them a while ago!)" I was kind of shocked! I mean, I didn't expect that kind of answer from a seasoned PAL flight attendant. Besides, why would we lie about not having our disembarkation cards? As much as possible we didn't want to deal with them since they were not a friendly bunch.   

That lady in the middle was the not-so-nice PAL flight attendant.

 That lady was the one who was impatient with the Chinese passengers treating them as if they were kids.

This male flight attendant was the only hospitable and accommodating one. 

So anyway, we got our cards, filled them out and just waited to get off the plane. Finally we landed, got our bags, met up with Fritz, introduced ourselves to Joanne, another blogger who was there to take the place of Hannah since she couldn't make it too and went out of the airport to look for Febrina Budiman, our Tour Coordinator (contact number:+628780627502; This was when it got clear to me what this trip would be. 

Inside the bus while waiting for the others to settle so we can head to our first hotel (with Koryn, Fritz and Joanne).

You see, when I read the itinerary back in Manila, I was wondering why it was was so jampacked with hotel inspections. The itinerary was for a fam tour which I didn't know the meaning of. Is it a family tour? Will I be traveling with families?! When we landed in Bali and met with Febrina, I found out that fam tour stands for familiarization tour which travel agents do so they can better sell the place, the hotels, the amenities to their customers. No wonder we were grouped with several travel agents. That was when I started to really not feel good about this trip. I mean, I thought I was going to do some "Eat Pray Love" in Bali. Wasn't this trip supposed to be a token or payment for work I already did with PAL? Why did it seem like I was being asked to work again? The agent even reminded me to bring my business cards. I don't have business cards. I never use business cards as a blogger since I don't consider blogging a business. I am a personal blogger who happens to travel a lot and blog about my travels. That part really stressed me out. Koryn and I were even planning to visit the renowned Ketut Liyer. But I guess that would have to wait another time. After much thought, I just looked at the bright side and told myself that at least this was still for free and that we'd still be visiting some other scenic spots aside from the 5-star hotels.

Inside Uluwatu Monkey Temple

Unfortunately, our group was composed of around 15 travel agents from the top travel agencies in the country and of course the schedule revolved around what they want. When we were not doing hotel inspections, most of the time was spent shopping. I didn't shop at all. So I was just inside the bus sleeping while most of them shopped til they dropped. I have nothing against shopping just so we're clear. It's just sad that I could've been doing something else I love. And because Febrina wasn't too strict with the schedule, we didn't get to see the volcano anymore. It was scheduled on the first day. But due to the rain, we didn't get to go anymore. We could've still visited it had the others not spent too much time shopping. Then one of the travel agents, Helen Hao, of Pan Pacific Travel Corp., even accused us bloggers of being late. When were we late?! We were always there on time, way ahead of them. And when they were shopping, we were just inside the bus killing precious time waiting for them when we could've just stayed in the beach or explored Bali on our own. Our blood really boiled but we managed to keep our cool. I figured, I'll just blog about everything when I get home.

I had to wake up at 5:30 am just so I can enjoy the resort before our call time at either 7:30 or 9:30 am. 

Inspecting hotels in Bali can be fun if there weren't too many of them to inspect! There I was, walking around various 5-star hotels and wishing I could just dip in their pool, or maybe lie down on their bed, or sit in one of their beach lounge chairs. But no, we were expected to take pictures, look around, gather brochures so we could sell these hotels to fellow travelers. But here's the thing, I am not a travel agent!

Trying to enjoy hotel inspections...

So the day before our last day, Koryn and I told Febrina that we won't be joining any more hotel inspections. We'd like to explore Bali on our own, feel the vibe, be one with their culture and just simply enjoy our time like how it should've been since Day 1. After all, this Bali trip was supposed to be my token and I intended to treat it that way, albeit almost too late now.

Enjoying  what Bali has to offer at last -- at Kuta Beach. 

So on May 2, for the first time since we got to Bali, I woke up with a smile on my face. While the travel agents went about their jobs inspecting hotels, Koryn and I enjoyed a long brunch.

No, we're not on death row. We just love to eat. ;)

Then we headed back to our room to pack, relax and do some stuff online. Around 1 pm, we went to Kuta Beach and simply enjoyed our time baking under the Bali sun, frolicking in the waves, and just simply admiring the beutiful people around us. This is the life! I was finally happy about this trip.

I'm in Bali babeh, looking for some hot guy! LOL! 
(photo c/o koryn) 
She who has mastered the art of self-portraiture ;p
Koryn: Ang hirap kaya mag-self portrait gamit ang DSLR haha! Pero ikaw parang digicam lang hawak mo!
Jen: Di mo ba napansin? Kaya may muscles na yang right arm ko! Hahaha!

Enjoying  the waves of Kuta.

At 4 pm, we checked out Kafe Batan Waru, one of the bars in Kuta and ordered 2 glasses of Illusion and a glass of Lime Crush. It was Happy Hour so buy one take one!

(from Koryn' cam) 
Koryn texting Fritz: OMG! Jen is tipsy so help me GOD!
Fritz's reply: You have to control Jen!
Jen: I'm so happppeeeeee!!! Hahahaha!!!
Happy hour in Kuta, Bali!

(Photo c/o Koryn) 
Mischief at hand :p
This, after three sets of "Buy 1, Take 1" drinks haha.
Conversation goes:
Jen: "Omigod let's call Dino! Okay, quiet, I'm calling him na!"
Koryn: "Wait, Jen! Are you sure? 133 pesos per 6 seconds ang charge!"
Jen: "'Yun lang ba? Aynakoh, kaya ko 'yan!"

Pretty soon, we were both tipsy in Bali! Woohooo! We declare our last day in Bali the best day everrrr!!! Hahaha!

See? We personal bloggers are not that hard to please, at least me and Koryn. Just set the expectations right, give us some free time to enjoy ourselves, and let us drink our alcohol and we're happy. Hahaha!

All in all, I was still able to make the most of this Bali trip. I still thank PAL for inviting me and for not forgetting to "pay" me after all this time. Perhaps, next time, expectations should be better aligned and the tour coordinator should also know who are on board the tour (coz Febrina thought we were all travel agents!)

I'll soon blog about the wonderful hotels and the other sites we visited.
(Here's the first one: Nikko Bali Resort and Spa)

For now, I shall pack. I have a flight to Macau to catch!

P.S. My friend Koryn has a really beautiful photo blog about our trip. Check it out at: Under the Bali Sun


Koryn said...

They didn't realize that instead of trying impress us with all the snazzy meals, we would have been just perfectly happy lying under the sun!

Oh well. At least we were able to fend for ourselves and had a total blast during the last day!

Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

True true! Buti na lang we insisted that we enjoy our last day. We should've done it sooner.

Oh well, at least there's still Ketut Liyer and the volcano to visit next time. :)

The Serious Poser said...

I'm sorry about booboo's during your trip, Jen. Had mishaps during our Bali trip, too. We missed our flight from Jakarta to Bali because of late hotel service, so had to pay additional re-booking fee! Friends are valued more during those times, yeah? And a mint mojito under the Kuta sun??? A whole different universe in itself! ;-) Great truthful post! Love it! :):)

Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

Hi Jigs!

So sorry to hear about your troubles too. What's up with Bali and all these mishaps?! LOL. Seriously, I'm hoping that the next time we go to Bali, it should be pure fun all the way with booze and all! Hehehe.

Thanks for your comment my dear. It surely lifted up my spirits. ;)

Jo Tan said...

i love the post Jen!!! :D

Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

Thanks Jo! That really means a lot.

etc said...

When I was in the middle of my emo mode when I accidentally read this blog, and I quote:" Of course I was excited! Who wouldn't be? More so when the agent I was in contact with told me that I can bring two of my blogger friends with me since Jayvee and his wife Chie Couldn't make it. I was sad that Jayvee couldn't go but was soon happy enough when I found out why -- they're pregnant! (Congrats again lovebirds!)


Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

Hi Eric!

Hahaha! I know how it sounds like. So funny!:D But that's how we couples say it when the wifey is pregnant. After all, it takes two to tango. ;)

R is for Rogue said...

Despite the inaugural flight madness and the hotel hopping, I'm glad you still got to have one day of pure Bali bliss.

I promise to make it up with you on our next trip. Maybe next year? When I get vacation leaves from my new work. :)

Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

Mer, yeah, one day of Bali bliss is better than nothing. :)

Can't wait to travel with you! I miss you so much! :)

Vince Golangco said...

Oh bummer, at least you were able to salvage the last days to relax and rest. There really should have been like a media or blogger ambassador from PAL there to better accommodate you bloggers. I mean we're not high maintenance or anything but at least know that we wouldn't want to go on hotel inspections and such. This could have been a much better experience and thus a much better review and thus much better referrals for them had they done it right. Oh well, we live and we learn. I hope my writer Jo still had a decent time as well.

Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

Hi Vince,

Yeah, it's definitely a learning experience for everyone concerned. PAL could've planned everything much better. I think it's just a matter of letting the tour coordinator know that there are bloggers coming along to vacay and if the bloggers want to join the itinerary, they're free to do so but if they want to be left alone, it's perfectly okay too. We would have been happy with that kind of set up.

About your writer Jo, she was very vocal that she didn't enjoy the experience at all. I can't wait to read her post about it.

joei ♥ said...

They shouldn't have grouped you with the travel agents Jen! Of course, they want something else, you guys want something else. Buti you thought of having a separate day from them :)

Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

Hi Joei!

Buti talaga we asserted ourselves on the last day. At least we have one happy day in Bali. ;)


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