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Our Second Bad Review in 3 Years: We’re On A Roll

I thought we’d breeze through the rest of 2018 without another bad review, but I forgot the Fancy trip was coming, and with that, I somehow knew exactly the issues we’d have with one or more of the travelers. This trip took us to Bali with an 18-hour layover in Hong Kong.

After reading Lamesha’s review, I am now aware that either Lamesha didn’t read the signup page properly, where it says the only difference between the fancy trip and every other trip we’ve taken is that we wouldn’t be staying in a hostel and there would be no limit on bags. The rest would be the same (and this is all spelled out in the required reading also on the signup page). Or I should have made it even simpler somehow, perhaps in photos.


IN CASE YOU WANT TO SKIP AHEAD AND NOT READ ANYTHING BELOW: Lamesha Miles wrote a review because:

1. She feels “the leader” should have stood directly beside her in line when buying a ticket, walking her through how to purchase it, even though everyone was given the same information at the same time from the customer service rep while standing in that very line.

2. She voluntarily walked through a turnstile while laughing and smiling instead of purchasing a ticket to get through it like those who “did the right thing.”

3. She packed her things and moved out of the house without communicating it directly to “the leader,” but felt that even though she had a bed in her new house, she should also have a bed in the house with “the leader.” Also, she left the house and the main group after the first day in Bali, having no idea how the rest of the trip actually went for the main group.

4. Her definition of “organized” doesn’t match the one we grew up with.

5. When 5 of 9 people complain several times about your attitude, it’s time to look within.


Let’s get through Lamesha’s review piece by piece, shall we? Or at least attempted point by attempted point.

LAMESHA: *clears throat* I contemplated just walking away from this trip with only my friends and fellow travelers knowing of the disgust I felt with this trip.. But that wouldn’t be fair and didn’t sit well with my spirit or consciousness.. So here goes….. This trip was called the “oh so different: fancy trip”; cost $2,000 per person and consisted of 9 people; 7.5 of which (to my knowledge) paid $2K each. This will soon become relevant. Our “fancy” trip destination was Bali with an 18 hr layover in Hong Kong. We were warned that our Hong Kong lodging wasn’t going to be “fancy” and even though not expected, it was okay with me. I only agreed to go on this trip because one of my friends had been on several and spoke very highly of it. But she told me they typically stay in hostels. So I was like “COUNT ME OUT!” But then this “fancy” trip came along and it happened to be over my birthday weekend, so I signed up. Leaving the airport in Hong Kong I started seeing red flags….we arrived at the airport train and the leader walked up to buy a ticket; leaving the rest of us in line. We had to ask what is our final destination? I believe that should’ve been communicated.

PASSPORT REQUIRED: We’re sorry it’s weighing on your consciousness. Let’s try to get through this together. It’s certainly correct that the group was told the Hong Kong trip would be less than fancy since it was decided at the last minute to stay there longer than expected. In fact, most of the group, several who’ve traveled with Passport Required before, expected to not even leave the airport. 18 hours though? We were definitely leaving, eating, getting some kind of rest, and returning. Blah blah blah, let’s talk about this train thing at the airport. You saw a red flag when the leader (Darnell), bought a ticket? Even after he announced to the group that they must all buy tickets to get to the city? Even after he actually bought tickets for 4 people while everyone else stood right there in line waiting to buy theirs next? After purchasing the tickets, Darnell stood directly by everyone else to walk them through the process of purchasing a ticket at the counter. You saw a red flag where? To be clear, again: at no point during that time at the counter, figuring out how to purchase tickets together, was anyone in danger of being left behind. At no point did anyone fear being left behind, but you. What brought about that fear?

We should have been clear that “fancy trip” did not mean we’d hold their hands and wipe the dried, cloud-like configurations from the corners of their mouths.

Lamesha Miles, Potato Head Beach. Photographer: Ty Reed

LAMESHA: Next we had to take a subway; the leader told us to buy a ticket to XYZ station. When we arrived at XYZ station we transferred onto another train line. At our final destination, we had to scan our ticket in order to exit. It did not work and the turnstile didn’t open. I travel to Europe a lot and the subway system is the same way, you pay for your zone when you leave. When we went past the original station it was clearly out of the zone that we purchased. The leader was able to walk thru because a turnstile was open, but then it closed. Not wanting to get left by the leader who at this point was the only one who knew our lodging info, I went through behind a stranger to exit. A few more of the travelers followed. But majority stayed behind, even though the leader encouraged them to just come through with someone. The others did the right thing and found a ticket booth and purchased the additional fare. Hostel in Hong Kong – there were 9 of us, yet I counted 7 beds. As a grown-up, who spent $2K on a trip; I had no intention of sharing a bed, especially with a stranger. But I’m adaptable and I thought it’s only a few hours. At our final destination I will experience the luxuriousness that I deserve and this will mean nothing.

PASSPORT REQUIRED: But there was no fear of being left my “the leader” because “the leader” stood still, waiting patiently for everyone to come through. At no point was “the leader” going to leave. And at no point was anyone there thinking this would happen. Well, except you. Also, you followed the stranger through the turnstile, laughing, smiling, and joking that it reminded you of NYC. These dramatics are beginning to sound a lot like that one episode from one of the early seasons of Real World. Poor Kevin. As for the hostel in Hong Kong, no one was required to stay there. Again, and as you also pointed out, Hong Kong was an added bonus and everyone was already told it’d be much less than fancy. In fact, some folks even ventured out to see if they could find a room of their own in other hotels. Since you’ve brought us to this point, it’s only right that I also tell you, there were two extra unused beds in an extra room that was offered to us from management that night for the trouble they put us through. When “the leader” returned from the ATM to look for you, you had already chosen to share a bed. You also failed to mention any of this when I saw you just moments later during your diarrhea episode. In short, your hand was not being forced. You were not forced to share a bed with a stranger at any point during this bonus Hong Kong trip. In short, we don’t quite understand your complaint here.

LAMESHA: NOPE! WRONG! Air bnb in Bali (Villa Puri Shanti (google it)) – this among the lack of organization is why this trip received 1 star. When we arrived at the Air Bnb ( a house clearly under construction) a barefoot man with a ripped up t-shirt opened the car door of our taxi. I yelled! I honestly thought this was a man on the street, I didn’t realize this was one of the groundsmen of the Air Bnb. Once inside we were welcomed with a pool full of brown water and 8 beds for 9 people. The place looked like it hadn’t been clean in months. The white sheets on the bed had stains, the bathrooms didn’t have working shower heads, one of the rooms had a birds nest in the closet, the wi-fi didn’t work and there were multiple stray cats roaming around the house. It was apparent, none of the women were comfortable or satisfied with the place. When the leader was told waterbugs (big brown roaches) and lizards were in the bedrooms, he responded with “this is nature.” I wanted to cry, leave and die all at the same time. There was no way I could stay in this place for 5 nights. I immediately started looking up resorts like the Hard Rock, because I expected fancy and this was not it. Some of the other travelers looked up Air bnb and not only did they find nicer real luxurious houses, we realized they were all extremely cheap; less than $100 per night. We found our “villa” as well it was $17/per night. Need I say more? Remember 7.5 x $2K…. Our villa had 2 reviews one of which was from 2015 by a person who stayed 1 night. I was too scared to even take a shower that night, I waited until the morning. It was hard to sleep tho with the birds chirping all night. My shower consisted of me standing in the bathtub with only the bottom faucet running because the showerhead did not work. We all started looking up other options because the Leader didn’t seem to have any issue with the place. Several of us decided to leave after we went into town. When we came back to collect our belongings the door of the shack, I mean the house was locked. Our driver knew the owner, so he attempted to call someone….and when they didn’t answer he WALKED THROUGH THE PART OF THE HOUSE THAT WAS UNDER CONSTRUCTION AND FROM INSIDE OF THE HOUSE; OPENED THE DOOR. So we slept at a place where people could walk right in, that explained the stray cats. So anyway we left.

PASSPORT REQUIRED: In short, you are saying the place didn’t look and function as the AirBnB page said it would and “the leader” did his best to keep the people calm? Got it. Here’s what actually happened. After arriving and seeing that the place was not as it was described in the ad, “the leader” jumped on the phone with AirBnB to begin locating a new residence for the entire group. While in town at the Bali Swing, one of “the leader’s” favorite travelers informed him that half the group would be moving out because they found a new place to stay after deciding the original lodging wasn’t suitable. “The Leader” understood wholeheartedly since he found the place utterly disgusting and not-so-safe as well. “The leader” did, however, wish they’d informed him of their decision prior to finalizing it, but it threw no wrnches into the plans. Well, I guess your plans, but no one else. Finding a solution with the team at AirBnB took longer than expected because there were issues with the owners and getting accepted for last minute bookings. As “the leader,” I am sad about how the first place turned out. And angry about that. Had you come to me prior to making your decision to leave, perhaps your complaints would have been shorter. I am often disappointed when a thing presents itself as one thing, but turns out to be something completely different and utterly bad. That’s what happened with the house in Bali. Here is my apology: I am sorry the owners of that villa painted such a beautiful picture of their home that it made me want to place my travelers there. I am sorry that picture was bullsh*t, and I’m sorry the speed at which things happened weren’t to your liking. But but but I will not apologize for arriving at the house, seeing that it was bad, and immediately begin working toward making the necessary change while simultaneously trying to keep everyone in good spirits. Also, you left after the first day in Bali and moved to a completely different region on the Island, at which point, “the leader” only saw you maybe three more times and that was to celebrate your birthday and eat. At no point before leaving, while you were gone, or after did you communicate anything directly to “the leader.”

Lamesha Miles, Potato Head Beach. Photographer: Ty Reed

And finally:

LAMESHA: The next day the rest of the group left, after the house had no electricity. The new house that they went to didn’t have 9 beds either, which struck me as strange. Overall this bad housing situation left a bad taste in my mouth and it was hard to move on and enjoy as this was the constant topic of discussion. I’m sure after this review I will be added to the “no-fly” list, which I’m okay with because I don’t plan on recommending this trip or traveling with this company again.

PASSPORT REQUIRED: Just so we’re clear, you’re saying you found it strange that “the leader” took the 5 people who stayed behind, patiently waiting to transfer houses, to a house with 5 beds? How is that strange? There were 5 people left to house and there were 5 beds at the new, amazing and beautiful villa. You’re saying you’re upset because even though you found a place to live and left to that new place without first talking to “the leader” about it, though you didn’t have to because you are an adult, you didn’t have a spare room in that new place? Once “the leader” was informed that you’d moved out and found another place to stay, what room were you supposed to have at the house the leader found? Here is another point where we don’t quite understand your complaint. As for the No-Fly list, I’ll have to disagree. This review isn’t the reason you’re no longer welcomed back. The feedback from your fellow travelers about you while still on the trip is the reason you’re no longer welcomed back.

A REAL APOLOGY TO THE OTHERS FROM PASSPORT REQUIRED: We are sorry the original housing in Bali was shitty. Of course we had no idea it would be that way, as we’d never put anyone in that situation, and we are thankful to you who rolled with the punches and made the most of a bad experience while “the leader” worked out the kinks. We apologize for not screening properly and leaving you in several situations to deal with bad attitudes and behaviors and negativity. In the future, not only will we ensure better lodging conditions from the start, we will also ensure that everyone the trip has read the website and is there to participate in JOY.

Darnell Lamont Walker, a self-professed traveling foodie, has been found sitting at tables eating baby goat sweetbreads, drinking tequila, and laughing loudly with strangers. The writer, filmmaker, artist, and sometimes photographer puts happiness above all.