It was a home away from home, and even better!

So where in the world did Club Med take you?

We went to Bali in Indonesia for 7 days with a two-day stop-over in Hong Kong, China, on an all-expenses paid trip, courtesy of Afropolitan and Club Med. We still can’t believe this happened to us. This was such an incredible experience for us both. Club Med and Afropolitan really rocked our world!

Tell us about your travel experience?

When two power brands come together the results can only be sensational. For two lucky Afropolitan readers Jabu and his wife Thokozani, the partnership between Afropolitan and Club Med saw them flying out to the magical island of Bali for an all expenses paid trip courtesy of Club Med.

Wow! Where do we start? We had such conflicting feelings at first, excited and scared at the same time. We are used to flying around South Africa with the furthest distance being Cape Town, and all of a sudden we had to fly 12hrs 45min. On such a long haul flight you kind of don’t know what to do with yourself.

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. On our return trip it was a bit tough, we flew 4hrs from Bali and connected at Hong Kong then to South Africa without much proper rest. We flew almost 17hrs coming back home. We didn’t want anything else but to get home, and the jet lag was quite uncomfortable especially given 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.

We understand that this was your first time travelling overseas, was it everything you expected? If yes, how so? If not, what was different?

Oh yes! It was indeed our first time travelling overseas. We won the trip in November and the 27th of December was our 10th year anniversary - so the whole trip was just a blessing from heaven for us, it became our second honeymoon and a celebration of our marriage 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 stop-over in Hong Kong - what a city! At night the whole city comes alive. It’s hot and over populated but really great nonetheless.

Jabu: Our first day walking in the city, I was about 3 or 4 steps ahead of my wife and we lost each other in the crowd and she had to send me a message from the hotel!! It was interesting to note that as over populated as Hong Kong is, people are very disciplined - they do not litter or jay-walk 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.

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!

What stood out for you at the resort?

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.

Thokozani: 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 GO’s are excellent with kids.

Jabu: On the day we left we were accompanied by a convoy of GO’s, 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?”

What did you enjoy about being in Bali?

We decided not to go on an excursion out of the resort. We were astonished to see the empty sea in some part of the ocean, in the afternoon the sea goes away only to return later in the evening I guess. 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 4 stories. There are no taxis so every house has more than 3 motor bikes 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 purposes of going to school.

Which country or Club Med resort would you like to visit next?

It’s hard to choose but it has to be Mauritius, Maldives or Brazil – one of the three.

What was your best memory from the trip?

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 GO’s whom we are still in contact with, ‘’adopting’’ one of the ladies, called 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.

Jabu: Another highlight was going to the club late at night and giving the DJ my memory stick with South African music and setting the dance floor alight, and of course chilling on the loungers by the beach only to be asked ‘’what would you like to drink sir and you ma’am?’’ It was paradise!

If you had to describe your Club Med experience, how would that read?

If better was possible, good is not enough! It was a home away from home, and even better! Given a chance we would go back again and again.

Would you recommend other travellers to use Club Med?

Definitely, we have already told a few friends about Club Med. It is beautiful, and the service is out of this world. From what we experienced and gathered from the GO’s and other guests who have been to the other Club Med resorts, the experience is the same if not better. We also liked the fact that we had no hiccups whatsoever in any part of our journey and that is excellent.

Did you learn anything new during your time with Club Med?

Yes, we were inspired to travel more and explore other parts of the world. We also realized that it is actually affordable, and needs proper planning in terms of the moola, but other than that Club Med does the rest for you.

If you had a piece of advice for first time international travellers, based on your experience, what would that be?

Google everything you need to know about the country you are visiting, 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 to avoid unnecessary charges on your Visa Passport Card. Club Med offers all-inclusive packages and guests actually don’t need to carry cash with them. The only cash needed is perhaps for buying souvenirs for your loved ones.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 off load and load your luggage now and again, the airline does all that for you.

And very importantly, take a lot of pics!