I have redefined retirement at age 23. I have a lifestyle where I do the things I like, with the time I have and still get paid for it. I designed my freedom these two decades, traveling to more than 40 countries. I run a successful business doing consulting works as a Corporate Writer, Corporate Emcee, Event Producer and a Workshop Facilitator. I am also a talk-show host on an Internet Radio station with two programs "A Course In Miracles for Work-Life" and "Freedom Speaks". Life is Healthy, Rich & FREE! You can design this lifestyle according to your willingness. I hope mine will inspire you to achieve that freedom too.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bali - Romantic Sita Spa Package, you will drool...

I have never been to Bali.  

Many friends were surprised when I told them that, "What? You mean you have been around the world but you have never been to Bali!?" 

In July this year, I finally got the chance to visit Bali.  And I drooled over it.  I loved it so much I vowed to be back next year.  

I have heard so much about Bali from friends, read rave reviews from Travel Magazines.  When I was in the Interior Design business, some of my clients told me to look for Balinese designs.  Of course I did learn a bit about Bali, but I have no idea what is there that captured everyone's heart and perhaps.....soul too.

Until July 2008, I know what being Bali-ed means.  I was totally head over heels with the people, the culture, the food, the lifestyle and the sacred devotion to mother nature that is so widely practiced by the Balinese people.  Amidst all the bustling activities in Kuta or the arty-scenes in Ubud or the nature-infused highlands surrounding Mt Agung, you will find everyone in Bali devote their time to prayers.  You will notice little square bowls made of all natural leaves and flowers adorn their streets, their shops and the interiors of their houses. Most houses are intricately landscaped to blend in with nature.

I was in Tanah Lot Temple grounds.  There is only 1 hotel in the Temple grounds, others are within walking distance away.  So, when I stay inside the Temple grounds, I don't need to pay entrance fee everytime I walk into the park.

The hotel rates is very reasonable.  I paid Rp200,000 (RM70) for a night's stay in a room meant for 2 persons.  The room is with attached bath, a king-size bed, tv and chairs.  Like a junior  suite room but minus all the 5-star glitters.  Very simple setting but nice.  Breakfast is included.  

I was the hotel guest, so I got a special price for a 3-hour Balinese spa.  Let me share with you this, it will drool you over, the package is called Romantic Sita, it includes :

  • Foot flower bath
  • Balinese traditional full body massage
  • Lulur Sinta full body scrub
  • Flower bath
  • Cream hair treatment (include head and shoulder massage)
  • Foot massage
  • Herbal tea with ginger
Normal price USD50 for 3 hours.

I got all the above for only USD35.  It was so relaxing and rejuvenating, I still think about it after so many months.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Traveler's Check, Cash or Credit Card?

(I have been asked many times questions about how to travel wisely especially about things to bring, hotel stay, places to visit and ground transportation etc.  I will write a series of these things and post them periodically with all my other stories here in this blog. Enjoy the read.  If you have things you want to know about traveling, do write in to me and I will provide the answers through my traveling experience....... not from what you get in travel guides.  Well.... the guidebooks are all great, I just prefer to travel with my open heart ... and an open mind.)

Question :

When you travel, is it better to bring cash in local currency, Traveler's Check or Credit Card?

Answer :

I travel using Credit Cards and a little cash in local currency.  

However, how much cash you need depends on which country you will be visiting and where you go.  If you are going to Nepal and trek the Annapurna Range, then credit cards are useless.  In South Africa though, credit cards are used wherever you are, even to the National Parks and when you pay for your trekkings, they all accept credit cards for any amount.

My first backpacking experience was to New Zealand via Melbourne and en route Sydney.  It was about 20 years ago.  Credit cards were not issued that easily then.  But Traveler's Check was the most raved about international exchange document.  The setback was I need to pay commission when I buy the Traveler's Check and pay again another commission when I en-cash the checks.  There are banks who don't charge commission for en-cashing the checks, I just got to look out for them.  It was not so much of a problem, the main reason I stopped using Traveler's Checks after my first backpacking experience was because .....I had hard time trying to sign on so many pieces of the checks when I could not move my fingers, they were so numbed in winter, I can't move the strokes to sign my name.

That was the first and the last time I ever carried with me Traveler's Checks.

Credit Cards are still the best money exchange tool, why?

  • they are save and easy to carry;
  • they are accepted worldwide;
  • you can use first then pay later;
  • exchange rate is sometimes better than the rates you get from the foreign country;
  • high credit limit so you don't have to worry if you need more cash than you budgeted;
  • you can get cash when you have finished with the local currency and you don't have other available currency to exchange, you can fall back easily on your reliable plastic;
  • you can en-cash it easily, just produce it to a bank officer and he will give you cash without charging a commission** (but you will need to pay finance charges to your issuing bank);
  • it saves you from exchanging too much local currency where you don't use when you come home (imagine having too much Laos kip or Vietnam dong or Kenyan shilings).
**I was in Cairo and I had used up my Egyptian pound.  I was alone. I wanted an early flight home but all flights were full.  So, I had to stay in Cairo for a few more days.  And my credit card got me the cash at the same exchange rate, no commission.
**I was in Sri Lanka and spent all my Sri Lankan Rupees, because I did not know that I need to pay airport tax.  I took it for granted that the airport tax was already paid with my flight ticket.  I did not have US Dollars and to my horror, that was the day when Malaysian Ringgit was suspended for forex trading, remember that day in 1997? I can't pay my airport tax, which means I can't get on my flight.  And you know what saved the day?  I en-cashed my credit card.  Long live the plastic...

Important note :
Please call your issuing bank and let them know where you will be with your credit cards and how long will you be staying there.  Always do this before you travel, and you will be rest assured of your payment going through once your cards are swiped.