The whoosh of the plane wings, the dip in your stomach, the mind-blowing views of the ground from the sky, the flurry of the airport and hotel and finally, arriving at your fabulous holiday destination. We all remember our first time travelling by plane to an exotic, exciting place.
Jabulani and Thokozani Hansen won an all-expenses paid trip to Club Med Bali with Afropolitan magazine. This was the Hansens’ first time travelling overseas, and like many of us, they experienced the highlights of first time travel. The Hansens travelled to Bali, Indonesia for seven days with a two day stopover in Hong Kong. We spoke to the Hansens for the scoop on their holiday, where they exhibited all the signs of excited and nervous first-timers!
Disbelief and amazement
Thokozani: We had such conflicting feelings at first, excited and scared at the same time. We are used to flying around South Africa and now all of a sudden we had to fly 12 hours and 45 minutes. On such a long flight, you kind of don’t know what to do with yourself.
Too excited to sleep
Jabu: I couldn’t sleep the entire flight to China. I was watching movies and wanted to see everything, as if there was anything to see. My wife on the other hand slept the whole way – it was very overwhelming for her.
The dreaded jet lag
J: On our return trip it was a bit tough, we flew four hours from Bali and connected at Hong Kong then to South Africa without much proper rest. We flew almost 17 hours coming back home. We didn’t want anything else but to get home, and the jet lag was quite uncomfortable, especially given the fact that we were first time international travellers. We guess the reality of coming back to the real life also took its toil after being spoilt rotten for more than a week.
Dreams coming true
T: We won the trip in November and the 27th of December was our 10th wedding anniversary. The whole trip was just a blessing from heaven for us, it became our second honeymoon and a celebration of our marriage’s milestone. The thought of going overseas had always seemed like a far-fetched dream, so you can imagine how excited we were. It was everything we expected. We started with a stopover in Hong Kong – what a city! At night, the whole city comes alive. It’s hot and over-populated, but really great nonetheless.
J: Our first day walking in the city, I was about three or four steps ahead of my wife and we lost each other in the crowd. She eventually had to send me a message from the hotel!
Exploring new cultures
J: It was interesting to note that as over populated as Hong Kong is, people are very disciplined – they do not litter or jaywalk anywhere except at the designated areas next to the traffic lights and they use public transport with the exception of one or two people using their private vehicles.
T: The food is an acquired taste, something your palate needs to get used to. But we enjoyed the food in Bali, though nothing beats food from home. The chef at the Club Med resort prepared a special meal for us, which was a really special treat. A funny story is that I always thought Hong Kong was in Japan, and not China. I even took photos at one of the universities and sent them to my former lecturer pronouncing boldly that I was in Japan!
A home away from home
J: It is hard to single out just one thing, but we were humbled by the treatment we received from everyone we interacted with, especially the Club Med GOs. The guys at the main and beach bars were awesome, the theme for each day was interesting and the great shows every night were entertaining.
On the day we left, we were accompanied by a convoy of Gos – some cried, my wife cried and I almost cried too. It was like leaving family behind. One guest travelling with us to the airport commented ‘’Wow! What a send-off, what makes you guys so special?”
T: There was so much to do at the resort with all the amenities available from the gym, tennis court, putt-putt, soccer, pool table etc. The resort is child-friendly and they have their own amenities, so the parents that brought kids along didn’t have to worry about them at all because the GOs are excellent with kids.
Epic holiday adventures
T: We decided not to go on an excursion out of the resort. We were astonished to see the empty sea in some parts of the ocean. In the afternoon, the sea goes away only to return later in the evening, I guess. That’s something we had never seen before, we grew up in Durban and that phenomenon is unheard of. The GOs said to us that it was low tide, and that went right over our heads!
Another thing was the fact that they do not have skyscrapers. The buildings are limited to the height of a coconut tree – an equivalent length of about four stories. There are no taxis, so every house has more than three motorbikes or scooters of some sort parked outside, and there are lanes dedicated to them. This includes school kids who are allowed to drive the scooters without driver’s license, only for the purposes of going to school.
T: The entire trip was special to both of us. We made new friends at the resort: Sally, Deena, Fahri, Pam – the list is endless. We took photos with almost all the GOs, whom we are still in contact with, ‘’adopting’’ one of the ladies, Dian, as our ‘‘daughter’’ and leaving her my cap as a gift. She called us Momma and Poppa, which was very sweet. During meal times, every GO wanted to be on our table. And we got invited to attend a wedding ceremony in Paris by a friend we made there.
J: Another highlight was going to the club late at night and giving the DJ my memory stick with South African music on it. We set the dancefloor alight! Of course, chilling on the loungers by the beach only to be asked ‘’what would you like to drink sir and you ma’am?’’ was not only a highlight – It was paradise!
Club Med cares
T: It was a home away from home, and even better! Given a chance, we would go back again and again. We have already told a few friends about Club Med. It is beautiful, and the service is out of this world. There were no hiccups whatsoever in any part of our journey.
We were inspired to travel more and explore other parts of the world. We also realized that it is actually affordable, and just needs proper planning in terms of the moola, but other than that, Club Med does the rest for you.
Travel tips for first-timers
T: Google everything you need to know about the country you are visiting and learn one or two things about their culture and way of life. It would do you good to learn the basics of the local language too. The people just love people who show an effort in trying to learn about them and their country.
Visit the travel clinic and exchange a lot of cash to the currency of the country you are travelling to or US dollars, as they are international. This will help you avoid unnecessary charges on your Visa Passport Card. Club Med’s packages are all-inclusive and guests actually don’t need to carry cash with them, unless they want to purchase souvenirs. Otherwise, every aspect of your holiday is taken care of. We mean everything, including transport from the airport to resort, food and drinks throughout the entire holiday. This really makes traveling very convenient and stress-free.
Do not expect the food to be the same as what you know in South Africa because it is not! The sooner you understand this, the better for you.
If you are going to have interconnecting flights, state that during your luggage check-in so that you won’t have to offload and then reload your luggage. The airline can do all that for you.
And very importantly, take a lot of pics!
Courtesy of www.afropolitan.co.za
Images courtesy of Club Med.