Kingdom and Dragons

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  • Of course they will be different, but I respectfully choose to post where I want. I’ll try to highlight diffent things.

  • Thank you, British.

    I do agree with cathyandsteve"s suggestion of starting a new thread. That way, there is no infringement on someone else's review. Besides, we all have different travel experiences and insights. Please reconsider. Thanks.

  • edited September 2022

    As sleep now wants no part of my jet lagged state, more tips…
    When you arrive at Singapore airport and leave the plane, you walk through hoards of people for a long long way before you find immigration., it’s just not obvious where it is like in most airports. It’s fast and well organized. When they have looked at your health pass, which we had printed, they give it you back. Luggage retrieval was fast. A nice young man was waiting for us outside the nearer exit . I forgot to note how long the ride to the hotel took, maybe a half hour. A beautiful scenic drive, you can sure tell you aren’t in Kansas anymore, the greenery, trees and flower bushes along the divided highways are beautiful. When you arrive at Raffles, bedraggled and tired, they take your photo for their records and then present it to you! If you care, you might want to spruce up and comb your hair just before you leave the plane 😂😂😂🤪…you see, don’t you think that’s a really helpful tip!
    You can change money at the hotel reception, admittedly it probably isn’t the best rate, but is convenient and we did exchange a bit for taxis.
    There was a Welcome packet from our TD on arrival, the tour looks grueling and lots of reminders about lots of slippery steps. One thing also mentioned was possible wet landings for the Komodo dragon visit, that our feet will get wet….something I wish we had known in advance as we had planned to wear substantial closed toe shoes like Mr B is wearing in my photo. The only true water shoes we have with us are flimsy fancy water slip ons we popped into the suitcases last minute. My Teva type sandals might do, but they are not fabric, more suede and I’m not sure they would be good for walking in for the rest of the 90 minutes trail we have to walk. Mr B has nothing like that with him.
    The waivers we have to sign for this trip include the possibility of snake bites, yikes!

  • Kfn and Cathy, neither of you seem to like what I write anyway. Why do you waste your time reading what I say or ask me questions which I take the time to answer…sorry I’m tired.
    Gladys,I am sorry I digress from your wonderful reporting

  • British - I really enjoy reading about your trip to Singapore and Bali.  Please continue as in the past I have found your reports very helpful in planning any future trips.  We have four trips planned next year but I was thinking about 2024.   However, signing a waiver for snake bites is absolutely frigenting.   We have been to Australia twice and Africa three times and I don't remember signing any waiver that included snake bites.  

  • British: On my recent trip to the Komodo Dragons, we did NOT have a wet landing - we had a pier where the boats could dock and we could walk directly to the beach where we immediately saw four adult dragons and a juvenile. (You will likely step in Komodo and deer doo so don't wear shoes you really treasure or can't clean easily.) It takes about 4 1/2 to 5 hours each way on the boat. We had a boxed breakfast that we ate on the boat and the crew cooked us a lovely lunch, also eaten on the boat. You see the dragons in-between. My boat ("Versace") took about the same time coming back to the resort but the other boat lagged behind about a half hour. Never heard if they had motor problems or a less powerful motor and heavier currents coming back, or what. On the boat we had a very small (modest) cabin to use during the trip. Most people used them for a nap or just to read and rest in a quiet place. Hope you are having a great time! I am leaving in a few weeks for my "Grand New England" trip that starts and ends in Boston.

  • edited September 2022

    Smarks,, thanks for your help. I will hope for a dry landing. Our paperwork mentions it depend on the tides as to whether we get a wet landing or not.
    We had the WeLcome dinner last night, 19 people. Group get together with details about the tour and then straight on to dinner as documented by others. I particularly enjoyed the large number and choices of appetizers offered.

    Yesterday morning we went early to the Botanical gardens. It’s too far to walk. We got a taxi and on return there is a taxi stand right outside the gardens with a ‘notice board’. If there are no taxis waiting, there is a blue button you press and a taxi from the main highway will come. We are not sure if this works becaise straight after, a taxi dropped off passengers and when we said Raffles hotel, he welcomed us into the taxi. Which is just as well as we could not find cell phone service there.
    The gardens are huge and gorgeous. It was quiet when we arrived, cool and only slightly humid, but by 10-30am, it being Saturday, it became a lot more humid and full of locals, many with their dogs, a few exercising and some sitting on blankets on a grassy area. It was an interesting slice of life to see. There is a cafe with a small selection of meals, we ate outside, skipped the meal and enjoyed delicious cake and drinks. The gardens have free entry, but you must pay to get into the world class orchids area, $3 Singapore for seniors, you have to show ID. If you have time to go, short of time, my personal tip would be to head straight to the Orchids area because it is wonderful.
    We had 2pm massage appointments. Lovely, I fell asleep and even woke myself snoring, oh dear! Another reason I’m sure I have barely slept three hours tonight.

  • September 11 - In case I didn't mentioned it before there are 17 people in our group. Today we had 2 choices, a cooking lesson and visit to the market or a visit to the Agung Rai Museum of Art I chose the later and so happy I did. The Museum founder and owner Mr Rai was our tour guide through the museum, he's an extraordinary man full of love for Bali, art and nature, he built the museum and gardens from scratch and all he wants is to share the beauty and spirituality of the garden and the art, children are admitted for free as he believes they are our future. The art in the Museum is from artists all over the world and he's most proud of the Balinese artists whose work is outstanding, I advise anyone on this trip to research thus Museum before making a choice between this and the cooking class.
    British I hope you read this before you make your choice.
    After the Museum (onlyb4 people went) we joined the group that went to the cooking class for lunch and returned to the hotel as I had an appointment with the spa for a facial which was a wonderful experience.
    The hotel had a show tonight with baldness dancers and music. Tomorrow we fly to Island of Flores.






  • Just as a counterpoint, we did the cooking lesson, which was so much fun! We made multiple dishes and they gave us a booklet with all the recipes. I still make some if them,

  • Ohh dear, we had to make our choice yesterday for this, We put the cooking class. Now I don’t know what to do. We were told we can change our minds before then. Will now have to discuss with Mr B. We thoroughly enjoyed Alvin and his museum today, an absolute highlight.
    Gladys, was the experience similar?
    SnJ, what type of dishes did you make? I’m a pretty good cook, would I learn anything with these recipes?

  • You could consider splitting up...it's not unheard of. Then you'll get the best of both.

  • This is great information and observations for those of us on later trips! Thank you!

  • Yes, a good and not unheard of thing for us, but I have to wait for my sleeping prince (🤪) to wake…so that’s hours away, he can sleep forever.

  • I learned the hard way to do the excursions I want to do. My hubby also picks his. Sometimes we are in sync; sometimes not on these choices. I did an excursion he preferred to go on one time, and I didn’t enjoy it whatsoever. The hike was treacherous. I missed out on a wonderful excursion that suited me more that I heard do much about. We get back from our excursions, and share the day.

  • British, I'm an experienced cook, and I did learn a lot--especially about making a base yellow curry sauce, for which we actually crushed the 23 ingredients in an enormous Balinese lesung (mortar and pestle) that our group took turns with. I've made it at home using ingredients from an Asian market, as some were unfamiliar. I pulled our recipe book and we made sate Siam (minced Chicken grilled on bamboo sticks), Vegetables in peanut sauce, Coconut and snake bean salad (these are also called longbeans)--the salad was delicious, steamed fish in banana leaves, deep fried tempe in sweet soy sauce, and boiled banana in palm sugar syrup. We worked in groups, and had a blast. Even my husband, who is not a big fan of cooking lessons, had fun. It was called Paon Bali Cooking Class--you could ask to see if yours is the same one. We went in September 2019. Sue

  • Thanks so much Sue! So very helpful! We both like to cook. Mr B suddenly decided he liked to cook after retirement, he still doesn’t seem to know you have to clean up as you go along, if at all, and certainly not now he is suddenly Gordon Ramsay after my forty plus years at it😀😀

  • You guys are so lucky your husbands enjoy cooking. My husband thinks he lives at the Four Seasons and enjoys being waited on! He never learned how to cook, barely an egg. I do ask him to clean after the dinners I’ve shopped and slaved over. It’s been that way for 35 years. He used to work 12 hours a day and I get it.

  • edited September 2022

    This certainly looks like a trip to put on the list! Thanks for all the photos and narrative!

    While the flight anxiety and delays were certainly unfortunate, it appears that the trip itself, if it has not made up for them, certainly makes them just seem a minor annoyance.

    Did you or anyone in your group snorkel, and if so, how were the visibility and and fish?

  • edited September 2022

    Here are the hints from our tour. We leave Singapore in a few hours.
    Yesterday our group visited Gardens by the Bay, one of those bucket list type of places. You first tour around on a tram. Our group of 19 plus our TD and a trainee and our local guide were packed into one tram, four in a row. Half of us were facing backwards. It was difficult to take decent photos here if you were not in end seats, everyone’s arms seemed to be in the way. Once you get out, it’s fine. You visit two indoor environmentally controlled ‘green houses’ so you get out of the humidity for a lot of the visit. You may want to stay behind at the end and there is a taxi stand if you want to get back to the hotel. Taxis are cheap.
    Our TD made a lunch booking for us at the restaurant at the top of the famous Bay Sands hotel which was one of the two drop off stops on the way back to the hotel. We had a wonderful table on the terrace that overlooked the infinity edge pool on the 57th floor. The views of Singapore were fantastic from here. So far, this was by far our favorite meal. A set menu with choices of appetizer and main, only one choice of dessert. We both chose tripe cooked in a mildly spicy tomato broth with a burrato cheese on top for our appetizer We used to cook tripe at home many years ago, try it, you might love it.
    We did not learn until this morning how interesting the tour with one of the long time staff members of Raffles hotel was. Neither did we know numbers on the tour were limited. When we arrived back at the hotel, we assumed we would just join the 4pm tour. No it was full. The receptionist said she would ask the guide and get back to us, so we waited In the room and eventually called them back, no no chance, but tomorrow you can, no we will be in Jakarta by then. She called back and said we could join the tour, there were just seven of us. The tour was very interesting but be warned, you are standing in one place for at least 45 minutes by the open door of the hotel lobby, so the humidity really gets you and we were all wilting and desperate to sit down at the end of the 90 plus minute tour…the highlight was going into one of the two Presidential suites, the one where Queen Elizabeth stayed in 2006.
    Already, people are bailing out of going to the fancy restaurants because we are too full of breakfast and lunch. We cancelled our dinner booking last night. Reservations are essential for all major restaurants inside the hotel and out. Thanks to those who helped us make a final decision on the museum/cooking choice, we are doing the cooking.

  • Such fabulous photos, Gladys! Your weather looks great too...

  • edited September 2022


    I’d like to continue to report on the tips….

    So far, it’s obvious that you have to be physically fit for this tour, especially with regard to stairs. We are only on day five. When we transferred from Singapore to Jakarta airport yesterday, the walking inside the airports added up to three and a half miles, several people clocked this up on their devices and there is only one opportunity to take a short bus ride between terminals, so you are left walking about three miles and that is at a clip.
    The hotel we are staying in now, the Amanjiwo has a huge number of steep steps to get to the rooms, I’m going to post pics of all the stairs we take to our room, and these are all different staircases, there are no elevators. I think I counted 50 steps in all.








  • Alan - You are right the memories of the trip here have dissipated with all the wonders we've seen. I didn't go snorkeling but my fried that did xsays visibility was good and she saw corals and blue starfish, I believe you should consider this trip.
    September 13th - Today we sailed in a schooner for Komodo Island to visit Komodo National Park in the quest to see the Komodo Dragons, it took 4 and a half hours each way and the sea was like glass great for me with motion sickness. The Komodo Dragons live to 50 to 60 years old, they're carnivores and eat once a month, their saliva contains a bacteria that can be fatal if bitten or spit on however they now have an antidote to the venom. The females lay between 15 and 30 eggs which the bury and create a small mountain, they stay around the eggs for the first 3 months and when the rainy season comes they leave, the gestation period is 8 to 9 months and only 2 to 4 make it, as soon as they're born the babies climb up a hollow tree and stay in there for 5 years otherwise the big Dragons including the mother will eat them.
    We were very lucky and saw 4 Dragons, a deer and a wild boar. We had breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea on the boat, all the food was great and the crew were lovely, there are private rooms with a bathroom in which you can sleep if you want.
    Tomorrow we go back to Bali for the last 2 days of the tour.

  • Gladys, what a wonderful adventure! Your words and pics are inspiring (if only I didn't prefer 60° and below lol). Surprised to see someone in sandals near the komodos; I read most bites are from people accidentally stepping on them. p.s. best wishes for a quick trip home.

  • edited September 2022

    British, any comments on your tour director? I was glad that the one Gladys has had turned out to be good after all. Your trips sound and look great.

  • edited September 2022

    Debra our TD is lovely, she has worked for Tauck for a long time and is pleasant and efficient. So far, we’ve all been behaving ourselves so she hasn’t been challenged yet and I hope that continues for her. We leave for our next destination within the half hour. As usual, we are all bloated with all the food.

  • edited September 2022

    I'm sure British will have good things to say, we had her TD for our J&E tour in March. :)

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