Darwin Blog


Flying Home Brand
Sunday, 23 March, 2008, 12:30 pm
Filed under: Travel

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I have a policy of not flying home brand, which essentially is flying a low budget carrier/ airline.

I broke this rule last year when we flew from Denpasar to Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia.  I have to say they are cheap and everything is available on line – www.airasia.com

Air Asia is a budget airline and seems to be going great guns.  Owned by Tony Fernandes, who rose to prominence by turning AirAsia, a fledgling government-linked commercial airline, into a highly successful public-listed company. Fernandes was also instrumental in lobbying the then-Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in mid-2003, to propose the idea of open skies agreements with neighbouring Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore. As a result, these nations have granted landing rights to AirAsia and other discount carriers (Wikipedia).  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Fernandes

Air Asia planes apparently have a 20 minute turnaround on the ground and that we did witness.  The planes are new, well maintained and clean.  The staff are great and fun – we laughed a lot on our flight just by their antics and our fellow passengers.  There is no allocated seating, but that didn’t seem to be an issue as everyone appeared to have a favourite place in the plane and no one was disappointed.  We got three seats together with no issue.

Air Asia’s motto, is “Now everyone can fly”, which I don’t really agree with as it became very evident when we landed, both in Denpasar and Kuala Lumpur, that most passengers have no idea about the rules and etiquette of flying.  But, yes, cheaper fares have allowed more of the world to travel and see new places, including us.  Bear in mind that we were travelling during Ramandan and Hari Raya – traditionally very busy times for travel in Muslim countries, especially Indonesia and Malaysia.

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We loved the on board magazine, Travel3Sixty, which has many recommendations of things to try and do when visiting a number of locations that Air Asia flies to.  Apparently no recommendation goes into the magazine without Tony personally trying it out himself and agreeing with the promotion of it in the magazine.  We love the “inbox” section which is letters from passengers that have been on Air Asia and the various circumstances that required assistance and saw them to write in, especially the letter about the Indonesian maid who didn’t want to go home, hence became pyscho when boarding the plane and ended up in a mental hospital – way too funny!  They print the letters as received – priceless and great entertainment.  The magazine does a great job of promoting Malaysia and things to do when there.

Tony, seems to be a hands on man, is all over the magazine being photographed with staff, Malaysian dignitaries, launching planes etc etc – he has a good reputation by all counts.  Air Asia X now flies to the Gold Coast and we are seriously thinking of going via the old Coast later this year on route to Malaysia.

Totally recommend flying Air Asia and upon arriving in Malaysia, they have their own Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) with duty free shopping, eatries, shops and a number of transport options into the city and various towns.  The airport, for interests sake, is about a two hour drive from the CBD.

One thing to do as a tourist is to avoid travelling towards the end of Ramandan and during Hari Raya – the waiting in queues can be a bit much to handle – the queues look a lot like how Malaysians/ Indonesians drive – a bit all over the place, but there is definitely some order to it all.  Beware, they do charge for excess luggage, so be very mindful about the weight of your shopping goodies.

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How Spoilt Can One Be?
Thursday, 24 January, 2008, 12:31 pm
Filed under: Observations, Travel

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Since we went away by ourselves, without our son, at some point during our short trip the guilt factor starts to kick in.

Our son needed some new cotton shorts for wearing around the home, but is also a huge fan of Tom and Jerry and Scooby Doo.  Where else but Asia has merchandise clothing for every conceivable children television show.

We were not disappointed in Bali, with Matahari (Kuta Square) having an excellent selection.  They also bring out each year a range of clothing especially for Chinese New Year, of which we bought several pieces, as we do each year.  The quality is excellent and the designs on the t’shirts are nothing like seen in Australia.

Not to mention, Number One son also got a camera case for his new digital camera, an Avatar action figure and numerous DVDs, in addition to the clothing.

My husband decided to take a picture as a reminder of how spoilt Number One soon is from time to time!



Carrefour Bali
Thursday, 24 January, 2008, 12:05 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Bali, Travel

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This place rocks!  I love this store and wanted to share with you.

Whenever in Bali, we never miss the opportunity to visit and shop in Carrefour.

I love the fact that this store is a hypermart and has absolutely everything including fridges, electronics, television in every imaginable size, MP3 players, digital cameras, suitcases, stationery, anything for the kitchen, clothing for men, women and children, shoes, toys, pet items and of course a fully loaded supermarket.

We bought clothing for our son, my husband bought some shorts, we bought out favourite Nescafe three in one sachets, Tiger Balm (only $1 a bottle), toiletries etc.  We always end up doing a good shop here. 

Previously I bought wooden trays for our home, spoons to be used for dishing out rice and curry (these spoons I only ever seem to find in Asia), Nivea skin lotion, clothing, household items etc.

What always amazes me is the huge range to select from, the quality of the produce and the freshly cooked food that is available to buy – check out the photos.

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The top row, far left picture is just the range of sausages available!  The abundance of quality fruit and vegetables puts Australia to shame – what are we first world and Indonesia is what? Third world I hear you say!  The bakery treats, it was so hard to choose, but we did end of with a cake which was so yummy.

Another thing I love about shopping at Carrefour is that you can use you pin number to make purchases therefore technically EFTPOSing your transaction – how cool is that, straight out of your savings account.  All our purchases, which was quite a few bags full came to $70 Australian dollars – I was very happy with that.

Located on Sunset Road and they have the best taxis in town servicing the Centre, Blue Bird Taxis.

I will also write about some of the other stores in the complex as there are other good bargains to be had in the shopping complex. 



Just back…
Thursday, 24 January, 2008, 11:45 am
Filed under: Travel

… from a quick visit to Bali to do a some business, a lot of shopping and general relax without having my son tagging along with me everywhere.  Let’s get real here – six weeks of school holidays is a very, very long time and a weekend away from the child was an opportunity too good to let pass.

We decided to go Business Class both ways as a treat and it was so worth it on many different levels – space to move, seperate toilet, decent food, newspapers and magazines to read, attentive staff (although when are they not on Garuda!), express check in, express baggage on arrival, first through immigration and customs and well need I say more.  Now my husband has travelled up the front of the plane, I think he wioll have issues about moving to the back of the plane in future.



Ubud Writers and Readers Festival – Kathy Reichs
Thursday, 6 December, 2007, 12:53 am
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Bali, Observations, Travel

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While away on annual leave earlier this year, I attempted to attend the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.  I say attempted, as for the six days I was in Ubud for this event, I was flat on my back with the worst flu virus.

I had booked and prepaid for a couple of events prior to arriving and one of those was a Literary Lunch with Kathy Reichs at The Viceroy Bali.  She is one of my favourite authors.

Kathy Reichs is a real life forensic anthropologist, who has taken experiences from her real life to write some fantastic, best selling crime novels.  The television series produced by Fox, Bones, is also based loosely on her novels.  As she says, her character Temperance Brennan featured in the television series, is a much younger one than is portrayed in the books and is designed to appeal to a much younger audience.

Kathy is native of Chicago and works as a forensic anthropologist, an academic, and bestselling writer of mystery novels. She is a Professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, but is currently on indefinite leave.[2] She divides her time between work for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, State of North Carolina, and for the Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Québec. She is one of only fifty forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology[3] and is on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Her schedule also involves a number of speaking engagements around the world. (Wikipedia)

Her latest novel, Bones to Ashes, had been released just prior to me leaving on holidays, so I bought the book in Darwin and spent a couple of days reading the book prior to attending the Literary Lunch.  Later when Kathy signed copies of her books, she was surprised I had her latest book, let alone had read it.

I was surprised to find at the intimate lunch of about 60 people, that many had not read her previous books.  I had indeed read them all, so when she referred to the different scenarios in her book, I knew exactly what she was talking about.

When we entered the pavilion at the Viceroy for lunch, I was greeted by a woman who had asked if I read any of Kathy Reichs books, I answered “yes, all of them”.  She responded with, “she can’t write for shit”.  It made me wonder why on earth would you go to a Literary Lunch with the author if you did not care for their work.

Kathy Reichs brought one of her daughters with her on the trip to Bali.  All her children are intelligent, high achievers not unlike their parents.  In fact, Kathy herself is not half as glamorous as the book sleeve photos we are used to seeing.  She is an engaging speaker, with lots of good stories to tell.  She revealed how she came to be published, through a friend of a friend of a friend.  She explained that she is committed to a a 10 book deal and takes a year to complete each book and has another three to go in this current contract.  She endeavours to make each book feature a different aspect of forensic anthropology and revealed how she incorporated elements of a personal life, such as her children’s names etc into the tapestry of Temperance Brennan.

I did say to her that it was time to find a new love interest for Tempe, as Andrew Ryan is not working for me and perhaps, I suspect, Tempe.  They can still be colleagues, but the sexual tension seems to be waning a bit.

I will admit that this was one of the highlights for me during 2007

To read and learn more about Kathy Reichs, go to her website http://www.kathyreichs.com/welcome.htm.