Posts Tagged With: hotel

Jakarta (Harris Suites and FX Sudirman Mall)

As mentioned in a previous post, our taxi ride was about 40 minutes from the International Airport near Jakarta (Soekarno-Hatta International Airport) to our hotel. Because we were in Indonesia for Andrew’s work, we went with a centrally-located hotel that he has stayed in before (and that was recommended by his coworkers). The hotel is called the Harris Suites-Sudirman. 

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The Harris Suites-Sudirman hotel is actually located on top of a large Mall (FX Mall). Many of the hotels downtown are similarly set-up. The staff at the Harris Suites speak English and are especially friendly and accommodating! If you are going to arrive late (which we did), it’s good to give them a heads up ahead of time… we simply emailed before left the U.S. to let them know that our flight was getting in late and we’d arrive about an hour after that… We actually had two sets of reservations at the Harris Suites on this trip because we were spending the first weekend in Singapore. So, we arrived on a Wednesday night and checked into our room; we were placed on the 9th floor (the hotel has about 59 floors). The room was nice and clean. If you are used to large hotel rooms in the U.S. or other parts of the world, you should know that not all hotel rooms are the same everywhere. Our room for the first few nights was big enough to house a bathroom, a mini fridge and snack counter, a tv with a desk, and a bed. It wasn’t gigantic, but it served our purposes and was all we needed. Perhaps my favorite part of the rooms at Harris Suites are the gigantic floor to ceiling windows. Just beautiful; great views of the downtown business district.

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Wednesday Evening – Friday Evening we spent at the Harris Suites. In the mornings, Andrew and I would head down to the Mall and grab coffee and a muffin for breakfast at one of the maybe only two places open at that time of day (around 8AM); Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (Crazy, right?!?). We found the prices there to be comparable to what you would spend in the U.S. (ie, about $14US for two muffins, heated, 1 iced coffee and 1 iced latte). *Note- Harris Suites – Sudirman does not have its own restaurant* Andrew would then head off to work and I would return to the hotel room for a day of work myself. The Harris Suites offers free wifi and it works really well! I had no problems connecting to my VPN or accessing my files through the cloud. I typically didn’t eat lunch on these few days; I was wrapped up in work and the muffin was pretty filling. Also, after the first day, we stopped by the small store downstairs in the mall to purchase some water and snacks- so I was set.

When we were going to fly to Singapore for the weekend (before returning to the Harris Suites on Sunday night for a week again), the front desk gladly let us store bags for no cost (they gave us tags to turn in upon return). This was fantastic, because we really didn’t need all of our bags while we were gone. Additionally, the taxis at FX Sudirman are available 24/7 so there was no need to reserve one ahead of time; we did however, let the front desk know and they offered to give us a wake-up call and made sure a taxi was pulled up front and ready for us.

When we returned to Harris Suites after our weekend away, we actually requested a room on a higher floor. We were given a room on the 57th floor. The room was much larger than our first room with an additional big comfy chair and open space. The rooms ended up being about the same price despite the size difference (around $84/night). Here’s a picture that looked similar to the room we were in for the second part of the stay:

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Request a room on a higher floor for more space. [Credit]

The Harris Suites also have a fitness center, a tennis court, and a swimming pool available to all guests:

Harris Suites features a tennis court, a swimming pool, and a fitness center for guests. [Credit]

Harris Suites features a tennis court, a swimming pool, and a fitness center for guests. [Credit]

Something else interesting about hotels in Indonesia and other parts of the world (ie, that you don’t see in the United States) is how the electricity works in the rooms. When you enter your room [using a key card], you place the key card in a slot on the wall and turns on the power to the room. This means that you can’t ignorantly leave the lights, TV, and a/c on while you are gone. Likewise, this means your room is hot if you aren’t there all day :0). When you leave the room and remove your key card, the power will shut off. Pretty cool feature if you ask me.

To touch base on the Mall again- I’ll write gain in a later post about the restaurants and amenities in the Mall, but for now I will show you these pictures of the inside of the mall. It isn’t very many malls that you can find a giant slide… yes that is a gigantic slide that children (and I’m assuming adults) can purchase a slide in… pretty awesome!

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In addition to the slide and the food, the mall also contained two pharmacies, a small store, restrooms, some clothing stores, and an abundance of ATMs. One thing of note that I mentioned in a previous post as well– know how much money you need because if for some reason, you need a large amount of cash- we have found that there is a max on how much you can take out of the ATM (typically around $100 US) at a time and on how many times you can take money out of the ATMs per day.

Useful References/Websites:

1. Harris Suites (Website): This is the direct link to the hotel’s webpage where you can look up more information on the amenities, rooms, availabilities, prices, location, etc. It is in English. Note that Harris Suites are found in many locations other than Jakarta as well!

2. FX Surdiman Mall (Website): This provides a link to the mall that was underneath the Harris Suites in Jakarta. You can look up stores and restaurants on each of the floors and get other helpful information. It is in English.

Categories: Indonesia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Welcome to Bali: Enjoy Your Stay and the Traffic

Arriving into Bali was something else altogether for me. I flew from Perth, Australia on Air Asia [the plane was comfortable, the crew spoke in Indonesian and English, the flight was pretty short– about 3.5 hours]. When we landed, we disembarked on the runway itself. We then all loaded onto a bus shuttle, crammed in like sardines [but part of the fun!] and the bus drove us about 2-3 minutes to the entry way of customs/border patrol. They drove us right through what looked like doors of a temple. How cool. How different. This, my first experience in Asia, I was extremely excited to see the different architecture and design.

Anyway, on to the airport. When you arrive in the airport there are a handful of people there holding signs. If you have a person waiting for you, you wave and that person sprints to one of the lines for visa payment to make sure that you are first. I did not have such a person waiting for me, so I made my way groggily over to the lines and hopped into one– only about 2 people back! Turns out, waiting to be one of the last people off the plane has its advantages! The visa fee is $25US or the equivalent in Indonesian Rupiah [IDR]. You pay your money, show your passport, and receive a receipt. Then you move on to the customs lines. When you get called up, they look at your passport, look at you, then attach the visa to your passport [a sticker!] and sign it and let you go on your way. Next you grab your bag[s] if you checked them, place them on an x-ray belt where they are simply scanned through [I’m not sure if anyone was actually watching the scan screens to be honest]. Finally, you either walk to the “red line” where you go if you declared anything on your card or the “green line” if you didn’t declare. You hand your card to the guy standing there, or in my experience, you watch people walk by and drop their cards on the table while the guy speaks to one of his buddies and just like that, Welcome to Indonesia!

When I walked out the front doors of the airport,I noticed several things: 1) about 150 people crowded around the doors with signs with different names of people on them [hotel drivers and hired drivers] as well as a handful of people waiting for others to arrive; 2) a bunch of guys walking around offering taxis or private drivers; 3) warm and damp air; and 4) a giant billboard reading, “Welcome to Indonesia, Enjoy Your Stay.” I was actually expecting more of a push for Indonesian language, but alas, everyone in the airport spoke English and it seemed, so did the advertisements in Bali!

I found Andrew sitting under said billboard on the grass. We had actually told our hotel ahead of time our flight information, so the driver came to pick us up. Finding him was a bit complicated as there were so many people crammed around the door, but after a short search, we found him and headed off towards the car [he had parked about a 5-10 minute walk away].

This is where I’ll pause for a moment. I had heard and read about drivers in Indonesia. My understanding was that they were fast, didn’t follow traffic signs, and there were a lot of them. What I wasn’t prepared for is the crazy, chaotic patterns and ways of driving that I experienced on the way to the hotel. First, I think that perhaps there are 5 traffic lights in all of Indonesia. They just don’t exist. Second, Indonesian drivers do not stop or yield or pause when turning left. They simply go and turn and trust that if someone is coming that person will honk their horn. Which brings me to point three, horns are used a lot, but not in a mean way. They are used as a way of saying, “Hey, I’m here, just wanted to let you know”. Next, drivers have no problem swerving around each other and/or driving on the wrong side of the road [and I don’t mean wrong side of the road for US folks, I mean wrong side of the road for Indonesian folks]. Apparently, there is no wrong side of the road. Our driver literally straddled the center line of the road the entire hour-long drive to our hotel in Canggu.

On the insistence of the Infinity Mountain Biking Company that we had been in discussion with prior to our trip, we had chosen a hotel they recommended out in Canggu; a little further away from the Bali Airport because of the traffic. Our plan was to spend our time in Bali biking from place to place [making a loop around the island and also into the middle/central portions of the island where the volcanos are]. The hotel they recommended was the Legong Keraton Beach Hotel. Here, they would deliver our mountain bikes in the morning.

Because of airline delays, we didn’t end up getting into the hotel until around 2:00AM, but from what I saw that late/early, it was beautiful. Situated right on the beach, Legong Keraton features spacious rooms with connected balconies that overlook tropical vegetation and trees. We quickly settled in and caught some rest. In the morning, around 7:00AM, we received a call stating that our bikes were there. We headed downstairs and met with a group of about three guys from Infinity Mountain Biking. The bikes were really nice: One Giant and One Polygon. We were handed two sets of bike gloves, two helmets [not sure they had quite the same padding amount as in the states, but they would serve their purpose], one bike lock [we were a little leery of that], two water bottles, a bike multi-tool, two extra bike tubes, a patch kit, and we were offered but declined a backpack. There was also supposed to be a pump, but I guess they forgot it. Andrew asked if it would be easy to find a pump if we needed one. After some talking back and forth, they agreed that they would return with a bike pump in about an hour. We handed over $600US [well, the equivalent in Rupiah] as a bike deposit. The total for all of the gear and the bikes for 12 days [including delivery today and pick-up at a hotel in Ubud 12 days from now] was $240US. So, when they come to pick up our bikes in Ubud, they’ll return the deposit minus the $240US. Not too bad for a week of traveling.

When they headed out to get the pump, we headed to breakfast. There is a restaurant at the hotel and breakfast was included in our stay. We entered the open-air dining area and were instantly greeted by a woman who offered to cook us eggs. Andrew ordered ham and cheese eggs and I ordered mixed eggs, no meat. My eggs turned out to be: cheese, mushrooms, peppers, and onions. Yum. In addition, there was a buffet style set-up with strawberry juice, water, coffee, tea, cereals, fresh fruit [pineapple, yellow watermelon, and papaya], beef sausage, and nasi goreng [nasi = rice, goring = fried]. The breakfast nasi goreng was vegetarian and had egg, onion, and some chilies in it. Yum!

We dined on a patio overlooking the manicured lawns, palm trees, and beach. While the lawns looked fake, they were still nice and it was very obvious how much time and care was put into keeping them looking perfect. About half-way through our breakfast, infinity mountain bikes returned with our pump and after a handshake and a wave, they were off. We headed back to our room and set about discarding things we didn’t need from our bags and repacking them in an effort to minimize the weight of our packs. At the end of the day, we had about 50lb packs. They were too heavy.

Andrew had also asked if we could store an extra bag at the hotel for about a week [stuff leftover from working in Jakarta for the past 3 weeks]. The hotel said sure no problem and didn’t even charge us! With a few more checks of our gear, we double-checked our maps and headed off down the road to begin our cycling adventure!

Pictures to be added: poor internet connection here!!

Categories: Indonesia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The New Esplanade: Stay Away!

Just a short post here. I had booked a hotel in Perth through bookingbuddy.com about two months ago. The hotel was called “The New Esplanade”. It had some decent reviews on some site I saw and it wasn’t as expensive as the other options in the Perth area. So, I booked it. Terrible awful choice. The lobby is nice and the location was supposed to be awesome– overlooking a park and the Swan River. What the website fails to tell you is that the park is completely ripped up and full of piles of dirt and bulldozers. Second, there is not a single picture/mirror/decoration/etc on ANY of the walls outside of the lobby. I don’t consider myself to be someone with high hotel standards and I’m merely pointing out the decorationless state of the hotel as the cherry on top of the problems. I mean, the room was about $140/night, so shouldn’t they have something on the walls? I know I could have booked a hostel, but I needed a strong internet connection because I have work work and school work to do and most hostels only have an internet cafe that has set hours.

Next, the room. The door was beat up, the lock was minimal and there were signs everywhere in the room saying that possessions should be locked in the safe at reception.The carpet was dirty, the walls were stained, the shower curtain was brown, the mattress must have been from 100 years ago, and the room was musty. But, with all of that, I could have still sucked it up…EXCEPT. The walls are super thin and the guy in the room next to me was smoking like a chimney. All of the smoke was seeping into my room through a door that joined our rooms… and the door didn’t lock. So, I put a chair against it and tried to keep the tears in my eyes from smoke stinging at bay. Sigh. I was very unhappy. I was paying entirely too much for the conditions of the room. So, I did a nice little google search and less than 10 minutes later I had found a room in Fremantle where I had planned on going tomorrow anyway and booked it. I spent a horrible night in The New Esplanade before running far and fast to get away!

So, if you ever come across The New Esplanade in Perth City Center, WA, DO NOT BOOK IT. No matter how nice the website and location seem to be… I should mention hear that there is apparently an Esplanade in Fremantle that is very nice. So don’t confuse the two 🙂

Categories: Australia | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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