By Idries Abdur-Rahman, M.D., FACOG

SOUTHEAST ASIAN ADVENTURE:

I truly believe that travel is cathartic for the body and the soul so we try our best to take at least two family vacations every year, one in the summer (or during Spring break) and one during winter vacation. This winter vacation we opted for Southeast Asia for a few reasons. First, we always try to escape the harsh Chicago winter for warmer climes. Second, we were traveling with my in-laws and my wife (and her sister) wanted to take them to experience a Muslim majority country outside of the Middle East. Third, since we last visited Bali in 2008, I’ve always wanted to return. So, Southeast Asia it was and in particular Jakarta, Indonesia followed by Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and lastly my lovely Bali, Indonesia. So come on along for our 16 day journey through Southeast Asia.

BALI, INDONESIA:

Like I said in part 5, Bali was all about rest and relaxation and this is exactly what we did. We spent the week laying in cabanas by the beach either sleeping, reading or playing Scrabble (and for the record, I am still the undisputed vacation Scrabble champion!). We ventured out for meals and to go to the Elephant Safari park and that was about it. So, here is our week in Bali…

 

This was one of my favorite spots, the beach at the backside of the Conrad Bali property. This pic just summed up the relaxing environment, just imagine the waves crashing and the sun beating down on you (though it was obviously overcast the day that I took this pic).

 

Despite being an overcast day, these are some of my favorite pics from out time in Bali. In full disclosure, the skies totally opened up on us an hour later and we were huddled in our cabana (partially soaked) trying to wait out the rain that never stopped.

 

Okay, okay, one more beach shot. Just close your eyes and smell the salt in the air.

 

Another place I spent a bunch of time, the pool. Thanks to Bali’s tropical climate, the pool was almost bath water warm.

 

Apparently my youngest two were having as much fun at the beach as I was.

 

My oldest and my number 4, don’t ask me what the heck they were looking at.

 

One of my missions while we were in Bali was to recreate some pictures that we took when we were last there in 2008. This was out first attempt.

 

This was the original. It really doesn’t feel like ten years!

 

And the collage picture including the two newer additions.

 

Like I said, we did venture out once (except for food) and that was a journey to the Elephant Safari park. I still get a kick out of the hijabi’s on the scooters, don’t ask me why.

 

The little kid sandwiched between his parents was so darn cute! I know this is the primary mode of transportation throughout SE Asia, even for families, but it still looks sort of unsafe to me.

 

We came across this elaborate piece of artwork in the middle of the road. Sorry, this is the best I could do from the front seat of the speeding van.

 

As you can see, our bright, sunny day gave way to an overcast, rainy day by the time we got to the elephant park.

 

The rain only presented a minor obstacle and we still got our elephant ride on!

 

I know that it is so cliche but we had to feed the elephants, right?

 

Of course this is natural, why would you think that this wasn’t a spontaneous shot?

 

The elephant got sick of waiting for us to set the shot up and just grabbed the sugar cain.

 

Now, for the downside of the trip, the hotel. I thoroughly enjoyed the Conrad Bali when we visited in 2008 but apparently the subsequent up keep was minimal and I’m guessing very little work had been done until now (they were starting a resort-wide upgrade). Nothing says luxury like stained ceilings…

 

or jacked up stucco.

 

 

The resort signs and number plates for the rooms were rusted (this was actually one of the better ones that I saw) and…

 

some of the room furnishings, like this clock, were straight out of the 1990s (and not even the early 90’s). I see you eyeballing my wad of cash, trust me, it was worth way less than it looks like it would be.

 

Stained walls with peeling wallpaper and…

 

a shower head that just would not stay in place. To make matters worse, I had to call maintenance twice because the hot showers were ice cold.

 

This rain shower fixture had also seen better days.

 

More peeling wall paper, this time in the hallway.

 

Somebody really needs to get a ladder and clean out the light cover. How many dead bugs do you think are in there?

 

These stones along the walking path have also seen better days, this renovation can’t come soon enough.

 

Now being in the tropics, I can’t fault the Conrad for the bat chilling in the restaurant, after all, the hotel does have an open design. It was just interesting to watch him while I ate my breakfast.

 

This hornet, well I definitely kept my eye on him, he is what I call “tropics large”.

 

Okay, I’m done bashing the Conrad Bali. I am still a Hilton family loyalist and we had a great week in paradise but Hilton and the Conrad Bali really could and should do better, especially when they charge Conrad prices. The resort setting was still beautiful and nothing beats beautiful Bali! I captured this shot of the resort as we enjoyed our last dinner under the stars. Unfortunately all things must come to an end, even vacations in paradise.

 

Our flights home kind of re-traced our steps, starting with a Garuda flight from Bali to Jakarta followed by ANA flights from Jakarta to Haneda and Haneda to sweet home Chicago. With a five hour layover in Jakarta, I didn’t even try to convince the checkin agents to through check our bags.

 

Bye bye Bali, hope to see you again sometime soon!

 

Our flight to Jakarta end up being delayed for a couple of hours, but we still had more than enough time in Jakarta to make our connection. Flight #1 was aboard a Garuda Boeing 737-800 with the Sky interior. Our original flight was scheduled to be on an Airbus A330, so definitely a downguage.

 

DPS was dominated by Garuda tails (and winglets).

 

Check out the other video trip reports here:

Don’t forget to checkout part 1 of my southeast Asia adventure right HERE.

Don’t forget to checkout part 2 of my southeast Asia adventure right HERE.

Don’t forget to checkout part 3 of my southeast Asia adventure right HERE.

Don’t forget to checkout part 4 of my southeast Asia adventure right HERE.

Don’t forget to checkout part 5 of my southeast Asia adventure right HERE.