My flight to Vancouver was scheduled for 9:15 p.m. Of course, it started to snow a lot around 4:00 p.m. Never being known to remain calm, I loaded all of my things into my car and headed up to my brother Malcolm’s house to store my car in his garage while I was away. Arriva cleans our parking garage 4 times a year and all vehicles must be removed. Got the car in the garage and set up the trickle charger on the battery. Called up Uber and in 15 minutes we were on our way, slowly, to the airport. The Air Canada agent recognized my panic and put me on the earlier flight to ensure making my connection to Taipei from Vancouver. By the time our flight was de-iced, we ended up leaving much later and when we got to Vancouver, my 9:15 flight was arriving 30 minutes after us and I would have been fine time wise. I’m flying Vancouver/Taipei Taipei/Denpasar with EVA Airline. I flew back from Thailand with them in October and they are now my favourite airline for Trans-Pacific flights.
Over the years, through work travel and personal expenses, I have amassed hundreds of thousands of points with American Express. It works out really well if you upgrade from Economy to Business class using a combination of dollars and points. The flight from Vancouver to Taipei is about 15 hours, so having an actual bed is a real luxury. EVA gives you a mattress for the bed and a quilt. Their travel pack includes slippers, toiletries and designer pajamas. Their toilets in Business class are twice as big as regular airplane toilets and include a fold down bench to make getting changed clean and easy. And, those pajamas came in handy once I arrived in Bali for watching TV as I got used to the mosquitos.
The day I received my retirement package, I called up my now investment advisor in Canada (I followed his financial blog for years) and we talked about investments, budgets and timelines. He caught me off guard when he asked me what I wanted out of retirement. Having not thought too much about actually being retired, I said the first thing that came into my head “I don’t want to travel economy and battle for the arm rest”. He laughed and said it was well within my budget. So, I decided, with retirement, that I was going to enjoy the getting there as much as the destination.
An interesting thing about the Taiwanese is that they love cartoon characters; especially Hello Kitty. Everyone had Hello Kitty pillows on the plane, too. In the Taipei terminal EVA has a large lounge done up in the Hello Kitty theme. It reminded me of my second cousin Samantha’s U of T roommate who had Hello Kitty bedding and a hanging that covered the door.
After a short layover in Taipei, it was on to Denpasar, Bali. We arrived at 3:30 p.m. on the sixth of February, having crossed the International Date Line somewhere over the Pacific. It was an easy pass through Immigration. There are two options for Indonesian Immigration Control. A no-charge 30 day tourist visa that is not extendable and a $35 visa that is extendable for a further 30 days. I purchased the $35 Visa On Arrival as I would be in Bali for 42 days. It ended up being an expense I didn’t need to incur. If you did not pay the $35 and wanted to stay longer, you could not PERIOD! It was only after further research that I discovered that with the $35 visa you could get the extension in person in Denpasar but the process took 3 trips to the Immigration office in pretty frightening traffic. You can hire an agent to manage it for you. That process takes a week, costs about $200 and requires you handing your passport over to the agent for the duration of the process AND getting finger printed. That was the deal breaker for me. I have opted to fly to Singapore for the day and return to Bali same day. The new Immigration stamp will give me an additional 30 days. I have coincided my return from Singapore to match the date my second cousin, Kelsi, and her fellow, Mitch, arrive from Kuala Lumpur . This way we can all ride from the airport back to Bingin Beach together and I won’t have to wait up till past midnight to welcome them. My flight gets in at 11:45 and theirs at 12:05.
After I had passed through Immigration and collected my luggage, I was met by Wayan (which means oldest son) carrying a sign “Richard Calgary”. Off we went for 45 minutes of hair raising driving. The traffic is chaos; especially the motor scooters. Eventually the traffic subsided and we ended up on narrow paved roads with little traffic on the road the villas are on. Pak Made (Mawday – means middle son) and Yulie met us at the gate. The both of them will look after me and the villa during my stay.
Made (means second born son) is from Bali and Yuli is from Java. They come everyday to make the bed, clean the pool and tidy the yard. Yes, Made cuts the grass with shears and there is no vacuum cleaner so all the floors are washed everyday, too. They are both always smiling and get very serious when I talk to them. Footwear is always removed before entering a house – and some stores, too – and there is a woven rug at the door with which you wipe your feet. Everyday Pak (Mr.) Made leaves an offering with burning incense on the Hindu shrine that is in the yard.