Cape Town - The recent rumblings of the Bali volcano have been a hard lesson for many travellers as to why travel insurance is vital, irrespective of where you find yourself headed to.
AP reports the gushing ash from Bali's Mount Agung volcano has dissipated into a wispy plume of steam, and Australian airlines that canceled some flights to the Indonesian resort island on the weekend have returned to near-normal schedules. The exclusion zone around the volcano still extends 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the crater in some directions. More than 55 000 people are living in shelters. The volcano's last major eruptions in 1963 killed more than 1,100 people and it was active for more than a year.
Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency has confirmed most of Bali is safe for tourists.
But as Bali remains on its higher volcano alert some travellers have been burned hard as a result, while others revel in the island paradise.
SEE: Flights continue through Bali volcano's plume of steam - what South Africans need to know
One Australian couple had their wedding planned for the same time at the end of November when the volcano decided to do a soft eruption.
A four-day celebration that would see family and friends jet in from across the world has ended in them being heavily out of pocket as a result. According to Australian publication, News.com Simran Grewal and her fiancé Anmol Sahota started planning the wedding of their dreams more than a year ago.
The couple from Sydney expected to enjoy a “pre-wedding on day one, followed by a Henna party, ceremony and finally the reception — the pair envisioned a destination wedding. A place where family and friends from all over the world could meet and celebrate their three-year relationship over the course of four days.”
However, they are now facing a bill of over AUS$70k (about R718k at R1`0.27/AUS$) and are in fact struggling to recover some of the money - with certain service providers refusing to refund them. Sadly, Grewal and her fiancé did not take out any insurance for the trip or planned wedding.
A local couple, spent some 5 months planning the island break of their dreams – which just so happened to coincide with the Bali volcano travel disruptions.
Sylvanna Wilson, an environmental specialist who lives in Vereeniging shared how she and her fiancé Ivan Kruger, a travel entrepreneur headed for Bali on 28 November and are currently having the time of their lives.
They are set to come back to on 8 December
SEE: SA writer trapped in 'paradise', fears the worst for locals in Bali volcano danger zone
Wilson told Traveller24, “We booked our flight 5months ago and upon check in at Doha International airport after an 8hour layover, we along with many others were told about the flight delays and consequent cancellations.
“Qatar Airways put us up in a Hotel in Doha where we spent the day waiting to hear whether our rescheduled flight would be cancelled or not.
Sitting in a “stuffy hotel” room Wilson says, “Myself and Ivan could not bear going back home after the hype and excitement of our paradise island trip so we decided to reroute to Jakarta and take it from there.
“Our original plan was to catch a train all the way down to Banyuwangi, catch a ferry and enter the port of Bali
The couple connected with a few other travellers who were willing to join them on a chartered flight that save them a day of travelling.
“So, we rerouted to Jakarta, caught a flight to Surabaya and then jumped a mini bus with a Canadian, 2 Ukrainian ladies, 2 South Africans and an Indonesian lady and off we went to Bali.
But, things were not as easy as it had seemed back in the stuffy Doha hotel room.
“Upon arriving in Jakarta, we had to book accommodation which we found on booking.com for approximately R250 for 2 persons.
“We ended up staying in an exceptionally low budget area which really made us look forward to our Villa awaiting us in Nusa Dua Bali but also humbled us in the process,” says Wilson.
Hit extremely bad weather
“We then caught our flight to Surabaya jumped our mini bus and mentally prepared for our 10-hour drive which turned out to be a 16-hour drive because we hit extremely rainy weather.
While the rerouting was a task, a cyclone was poised to hit the area of Java they were travelling through.
“The winding narrow roads, 1 000s of bikes and tired bus driver made the journey a bit unnerving, but we had the image of Bali beaches in our mind and that was what we were focused on.
Upon arriving in Nusa Dua, Sekar Nusa Villas gave us a warm welcome and our stay has been worth all the effort. We visited most of the tourist areas today (Monday 5 December 2017).
Wilson says most of the sites are empty, including the beaches and hotels but is not complaining in the least.
“It is absolutely amazing since I love having all this beauty to myself without all the tourists. “Ironically I would say (even though it’s my first trip to Bali) that this is the best time to visit the paradise island!”
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