Arriving at Ngurah Rai airport last night, I tried to put myself in the shoes of a first time visitor to Bali. Actually I always try to do this, its a mental refresher as to the sights, sounds, smells and experiences that one of our ‘customers’ first gets.
Last night’s flight from Singapore on Garuda was delayed for 30 minutes, which was no big deal. The plane departed around 7.30pm and arrived in Bali around 11pm local time. In flight service was quite good, the food was decent and I got 2 glasses of red wine. My immediate neighbours were a couple from Ukraine, who were about to be married in Bali. They were accompanied by 4 older relatives, only the young bride to be, having any English. Trying my best to get some key pointers across to them, I explained about the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ money changers, how to get around and where to go. They were staying in Nusa Dua, on a package deal most likely, a day trip to Ubud is probably as far as they’ll go.
Landing we were delivered to the terminal by bus which took just 1 minute. Temporary stay permit holders (myself included) headed for one set of immigration check counters, VOA (Visa On Arrival) passengers headed to another. After a short while I spotted some of the Ukrainians lining up in a row reserved for Indonesians and those on special work visas. Calling over the bride to be, I said “Your relatives are in the wrong queue, you have to buy a $25 VOA like I explained on the plane.” They finally waddled over, bought the VOA and came back to the same line (usually not allowed). Anyway things were going so slowly last night, the immigration staff allowed anyone to go where they wanted, processing time for me, 1 hour after landing. Fortunately the Ukrainians were not asked questions and got through without difficulty. It would actually be more trouble than its worth for the staff. Saying goodbye I gave the newcomers my phone number in case they have any serious problems. Hope they have a good time in Bali.
In short, arriving at Ngurah Rai last night took a long time, procedurally was all over the place, but everyone was quite relaxed. Airport taxi (office 20 meters to the right after walking out of the airport building) cost 60,000rp.