Here's a tip, free and for nothing. My favourite part of the wedding planning so far was researching, dreaming of and deciding on the honeymoon! It's my happy thought when I get down and the big pay off at the end of the year's work.
Of course I'm looking forward to the actual day and to marrying my wonderful man and I absolutely expect to have a brilliant wedding filled with meaning and love and all the things a wedding should be, but come on. Don't tell me two weeks in Bali is not something entirely different to look forward to? Yep, two weeks in Bali baby.
BB and I went through a whole virtual trip around the world together to get to Bali, and it was fantastic. I know a lot of grooms organise it all on their own and it's meant to remain their secret, but this was just too much fun for me not to participate.
Confession, when BB started muttering phrases including "hiking trips through the Amazon" and "climbing expeditions in Machu Picchu", I also felt compelled to intervene! I'd love to do something really adventurous, challenging and character forming like that one day, but not straight after the busiest year of my life, please?
In order to find a happy medium, we then investigated medium-adventure destinations like Costa Rica, Belize, Guatamala, Madagascar and such, but nothing seemed a perfect fit. We were also super keen to see Brazil but the travel agents we approached didn't seem very interested in helping us find anything out of the ordinary. No, they just kept pushing the same big resort, all-inclusive package deals to Mauritius, Seychelles and Thailand onto us... Fabulous vacations, I’m sure, but not what we were looking for.
So what were we looking for? We can be quite the picky couple let me tell you. I wanted: warm sun, mild sea, sandy beach, nice pool, a little luxury, some privacy, good food, shopping and the option to explore some night life. BB wanted mild weather, good swimming, tropical scenery, exotic culture, exploration, fab food and no anonymously huge hotels.
I spent days on tripadvisor and eventually we found the concept of Private Villas in Bali. You can get your own little one bedroom villa, with your own little pool in your own little backyard for the same price or less than the big resorts charge for just another room like any other. (You have to contact the villas though and check their package rates. Their advertised rates are much higher than what we paid!) My own pool? I don’t care if it’s the size of my living room rug, I like quaint and cosy, it’s my pool! I can lie around in tiny bikinis and roll into the pool and splash and play and do handstands and no one’s there to appreciate it except my new hubby? I was sold.
There are many different villa developments and each one is more luxurious than the next. When we contacted a few of them they offered us honeymoon packages and stay-longer specials and threw in massages and meals and day-trips and in the end we feel we got a fantastic deal on the perfect place for us.
It’s in Seminyak, the allegedly trendy, smart shopping/eating suburb neighbouring touristy Kuta and while it’s not on the beach, they do offer free transport around the area. We can go out to shop, eat, lie on the beach, sip cocktails and if the crowds get too much we can just retreat to our private haven. Sounds like heaven to me.
To satisfy BB’s more adventurous needs we’ll visit the markets, go snorkelling and parasailing, take a surfing lesson or two and maybe rent a moped to drive around the island. The last couple of nights aren’t booked yet, so we’ll pack up and try somewhere different then. Go inland to seek out more culture around Ubud in the rice paddies, or take a boat over to the pristine, car-free little island of Nusa Lembongan.
Oh goodness, can we get there already?
Oh, I nearly forgot. The catch.
Apart from the very reasonably priced accommodation, we also found fantastically cheap flights on Qatar Airways. I’ve flown with them before and they are a perfectly good airline. The only little niggle is that their flights are so cheap because they want to lure you into Doha, their capital. So all flights on Qatar Airways go through Doha, and the layover there is usually at least eight hours. When we first considered Qatar Airways, it was widely publicised that the airline will provide travellers on a long layover with a visa and hotel voucher. Perfect! We could spend the first day on honeymoon shopping in their humongous malls or chilling by a nice hotel pool!
We booked our flights. All was set. Then I discovered a few more recent posts on tripadvisor forums describing how only certain passport holders are now allowed to obtain visas to enter Qatar and as usual, South Africans are not on this lucky list. When I phoned Qatar Airways to get confirmation, they told me that we could only obtain Qatar visas by booking accommodation at a four or five star hotel in Doha. Our layover is actually during the daytime, so we just don’t feel it’s worth spending the money on an expensive room in Doha, when we’d be out and about anyway. Not to mention that those Riyals will be worth a fortune in Balinese Rupiahs!
So our first day on honeymoon will look something like this:
Except we can't leave the airport, so really more like this:
Which is not the end of the world, as we’ll finally get to this:
Oh, I feel so much better already.