WH Smith, Once Merely An Outstanding Bookstore…

When I was at university, years ago, I often browsed in WH Smith’s bookstores, and appreciated their extensive stock of good reading material.

To say they’ve diversified would be an understatement, after a stop-over in Bali recently.



They have a bright and breezy outlet in the international terminal at Ngurah Rai airport. And there’s nothing wrong with diversification.

But there’s a lot wrong with rip-off prices!

On the morning of my departure, before I left home for the airport, I had to run round to the local minimart in Jakarta, to buy some bottles of Aqua, bottled drinking water, so my dispenser would not be dry on my return.

I got two and paid about Rp.10,000 – not each, for both!

  • aqua
  • Imagine my horror in transit, when the prices at Smith’s amounted to approximately FIVE TIMES that figure.

Coke ( a regular can) which I can get for between Rp.5K and ( at the very most!) 10K anywhere in Jakarta, was available too – for Rp,25,000!

  • What kind of extortionate pricing policy is being operated? And not – in fairness – only by Smith’s. Other places in that airport were just as bad.  
  • Of course, if you have time in transit, you could take a hike from the airport to the nearest Circle K, Alfamart or any of the other little shops that price items fairly.
  • But not every traveller has time, and many won’t know how handy to the airport these shops may be.

More on my Bali airport experience coming soon, relevant to how quickly you must drink any of those expensive liquids if you’re mug enough to buy them.

Oh, by the way, if you are transiting from Jakarta to Oz, DO NOT follow the signs to ‘Transit’ when you disembark. They are utterly misleading. Just follow the throng towards Baggage.

And take a trolley.

I am no slouch at hoofing it, but it took me nearly twenty minutes hauling my heavy bag to International. No escalator, short-cuts or travelator – just a long, long slog.

Still more to come. Next week.