Hi Snooky, thanks for agreeing to be interveiwed....these "chats" have been of real interest to many Bali TA forum readers.
I see you've been a TA member since 2007 (same as myself) - what was it that led you to join TripAdvisor? A family or solo trip? Where to? (Mine was our first family OS holiday to Singapore).
I originally joined trip advisor because I wanted to be more ‘involved’ in planning our holidays, and rely less and less on travel agents. Trip advisor opened my eyes to some fantastic accommodation options not offered in glossy travel agent brochures and with so many up to date reviews giving valuable information and helpful hints in the forum pages it gave me more freedom and confidence to provide our family with some fantastic holidays. I travel with my husband and youngest child (7) mostly as my older children cannot always go with us due to school, university and work. I will always take my older children and any ‘extras’ whenever possible. One of my earliest challenges was the planning of a family holiday for myself, sister and 8 very excited children, to Kuala Lumpur, Phuket and Bali not long after I first joined TA. Organizing and booking everyone’s flights, hotels, activities, tours and transfers etc took some doing, there were countless e mails and it was a huge effort pleasing so many people of varying ages and interests but thanks to TA forums and reviews the planning went smoothly and after 3 fun weeks on holiday I was then designated our family and friends ‘official’ travel agent lol. I now spend a lot of time booking everyones holidays.
You've clocked up almost 6,500 posts and are listed as a DE for Bali,Nusa Dua,Sanur,Tuban and Ubud! (Wow!). How many trips to Bali have you had and when was your first one? Where did you stay on that first holiday?
I have lost count of how many trips I have had to Bali, but I do know that I will always return to Bali and our plan is to eventually have extended stays in Bali and hopefully stay 2 - 3 months at a time, Bali feels like our second home and our friends there are like family. Going back is more than just a holiday. On my first holiday in Bali I stayed at the Adi Dharma hotel in Kuta, Grand Hyatt in Nusa Dua and Bali Hyatt in Sanur.
Is your family in love with Bali too?
Oh yes, they all love Bali and are constantly sharing many happy memories and saying “I can’t wait to get back to Bali”. They all like the usual things like shopping, hair and beauty treatments, attractions, good food, entertainment etc like the rest of us but more importantly they love the people, the culture and have a great respect for the Balinese, their beliefs and religion. They love to catch up with Balinese friends they have made over the years and have even gone to places and events that I haven’t. Traveling overseas, especially to Bali has been a real education in itself. They now invite others to travel with us when possible.
What is your personal favorite Bali location and why?
I would have to say Sanur is where I love to stay. There is a special ‘something‘ about Sanur that draws me back there every trip. I feel at home there, having less traffic, and a relaxed feel, with everything you need for a fantastic holiday it will always be first on my list. There is nothing better than sitting with your feet in the sand eating a meal and having a cold drink. Being able to choose a hotel directly on the beach with no roads to cross is a real bonus and there are some very affordable beach front hotels in Sanur in great locations. I also enjoy some of the lesser visited areas.
What has been your worst Bali
moment? Many years ago I arrived at a hotel in Bali that was recommended by a travel agent and also published in national newspapers here in Australia, the hotel was part of a ‘package’ we purchased through the agent and this package worked out far cheaper than simply booking our flights separately. As we were only staying at this hotel for a few nights as we had booked the rest of our accommodation ourselves we turned up at the hotel with low expectations but still happy to stay at a basic budget hotel. Nothing wrong with budget places at all, some of our best stays have been at small budget hotels, but this place left us with no choice but to leave. Firstly they didn’t have our booking, then when they located it they had already let out the room, still not complaining, I went off to look at another room down the back of the hotel. Just getting to the room through swarms of mosquitoes and a swamp was a mission in itself then when the door to the room was opened my jaw dropped. I quickly went back to my husband and said there is NO way we are staying there. We then went together to another type of room which was even more horrendous. The mattress and pillows had been written all over with abusive language, the linen was a disgrace, the bathroom door was literally falling apart and the room was dirty, a solitary light swung from a rather dangerous exposed wire and this room was not even suitable for a dog. We took numerous photos to show our travel agent as we thought it would help get our money back and also help other travelers. You know the saying ‘ a picture speaks a thousand words’. We placed the padlock on the door and went back to reception and politely complained. We told them we were going to leave and check in elsewhere then they asked us to wait while they made a phone call. Before long a car arrived out the front and they took us to see a sister property which was a huge improvement. So although our holiday started off rather disappointing things improved, we still laugh about the shock of seeing such a terrible hotel room.
What has been your most heart-warming Bali moment?
That would have to be getting married in Bali. We always knew Bali was where we wanted to get married with beautiful lush gardens, beaches, the fragrance of frangipani trees what could be more perfect?.
Do you / have you travelled elsewhere around the world and where?
There are many more places I want to travel to in the future when time permits but so far I have been to Bali, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Lombok & Gili Islands. In June this year I went on the Pacific Dawn cruise to Port Vila, Noumea and Lifou and I have been lucky to see numerous places in Australia. In a few weeks time we are cruising over to New Zealand for 4 nights, touring around the north island for 3 weeks and then cruising back home via Norfolk Island for 5 nights on the Pacific Dawn.
Do you have another trip to Bali planned?
Yes, all year I have been trying to get back to Bali but between working, family and other commitments, a few short breaks here in Australia throughout the year, my cruise to the South Pacific in June, and going to New Zealand for all of October Bali has had to wait until December. I plan to be there in time for New Years Eve and then stay for 3 weeks.
Do you find new things to do in Bali or do you have a favorite itinerary?
I usually find something new to do in Bali, this often involves staying in an area I have not been to but what I do and where I go can depend on who is with me. One thing for sure is I always spend time in Sanur. I could easily go to Bali and just happily relax and not do any ‘touristy’ activities. I try to stay for at least 3 weeks every trip. My trips have also included sourcing furniture, water features, garden pots, home wares and a huge range of decorator items to furnish a new home we were building at the time. Doing this was fun and took me to places out of the tourist areas and this led to bringing goods home for sale as well. Importing is something I never thought I would end up doing but after spending time in Bali you soon develop the confidence to give it a go. I am fortunate to have some very good contacts in Bali.
I'm in awe of all the wonderful advice you you so kindly dispense here on the Bali forum - what drives you to contribute the way you do?
I like to do it to help others as I know from experience how daunting it can be to plan a holiday to a place you have no idea about. Sharing my experiences is something I enjoy doing as I love traveling to Bali and I hope that my answers will in some small way help others have a fantastic holiday. Those of us contributing to the forum on a regular basis makes the Bali forum one of the ‘best’ in TA. It is such a friendly helpful forum where we can all get our ‘daily Bali fix’. Not only do we all give but we also receive a lot of great information.
One best piece of advice to Bali first-timers?
Please spend as much time as you can researching your holiday. Remember the location of the hotel you choose can either make or break a holiday. Going somewhere prepared allows you time to relax as well as ensure you don’t miss out on doing things and seeing the highlights. Read all the small hints and tips and make sure you get out of Kuta and explore other areas. TA is a wealth of information.
Favorite meal and where?
Wow, I don’t really have a favorite meal but I always try different restaurants. There are always new restaurants opening up and staff at existing places often change so what was a good restaurant one trip may be the least enjoyable on the next. I have had so many variations of the same dish. I do like to sit at beach restaurants, such a beautiful setting and ocean breeze! The restaurants at the Bali Hyatt in Sanur have always served beautiful fresh quality food, even fresh waffles made to order at breakfast mmm, Great pizzas beach front and the Telaga Naga restaurant they own across the street set in a Lotus pond is very nice and they have a couple of good set menus as well as a la carte.
Tell us something about yourself completely unrelated to your Bali life?
My family are the most important part of my life. I have 5 beautiful daughters, they all keep me busy, even the two who have grown up and left home. I am very involved with all of them and their various activities and interests so I am never short of things to do! I am very fortunate to live in a lovely coastal town in SE Queensland. I have pristine beaches to walk along and enjoy without the bustle of crowds. Life is great!
With many thanks for this interview Snooky - and for all the hours you have spent helping us all here on the Bali forum:)