Having a BALI - adventures in Bali, Indonesia
The magical land of Bali! The far away place that lures the soul with promises of adventure, beaches and magic! This land does not disappoint.
After spending a week in Thailand, we wanted to see a little more of the other side of the world and decided to explore Bali for 5 days.
Bangkok to Bali was an easy 4 hour flight with a brief layover in Singapore. Flying on Singapore Air was an adventure of its own. Even in steerage we got hand towels before and after the flight, delicious meals, snacks and a never ending glass of wine the flight attendants kept refilling! If I ever go back to Bali just book me on their new ultra long haul flight from New York to Singapore in a sky suite and I will be one happy girl!
WHAT I WISH I KNEW BEFORE GOING...
I love the group GIRLS LOVE TRAVE (GLT) on social media. It is an endless source of information, pictures and insider tips for anyplace you want to go in the world and some places you never knew even existed. Yes, my bucket list got a lot longer after seeing some of the posts! When people asked how long should I plan to explore Bali - the typical answer was 4-5 weeks. If you are an American and if you have a job that is almost impossible to take off 4-5 weeks. I thought my five days were plenty. I was very wrong.
Bali is my first almost travel fail that was saved from being a true travel fail on the last day. I did so much research, I had my restaurants booked, hired a driver, planned my adventures and the one thing I did not plan for was TRAFFIC. Seriously, you are on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere why would I ever think of traffic and no one ever mentions traffic, but I'm telling you, traffic here is off the chains! It's so bad, it pretty much almost ruined my entire trip. And it’s not just cars, motorcycles are everywhere! Entire families of four are riding on motorcycles- some with no helmets! The average person starts driving around 11 or 12 years old! I know every country is different but I could not imagine my 11 year old driving around on a motorcycle!
Our villa was in the beach area of Jimbaran, I booked a restaurant in Seminyak which was 5 miles away, easy drive, right? We ended up canceling our reservation after we learned it would take about 90 minutes to get there! I would have jogged there but it's crazy hot so heat stroke would be the real deal.
The other issue is Insta Perfect Pictures. Bali on Instagram is Insta Perfection. The beaches, the swings, the islands, the temples. What you don't see are the crowds. And so many of those places are breath-taking and beautiful but they are also far, remote, hard to reach and remember TRAFFIC which makes it all difficult and you, Insta Worn Out. That's why it's very hard to see the real Bali in a week.
I'm so grateful I got to experience Bali and YES YES YES I want to go back and stay for 4-5 weeks so I can see all the things I had on my list that I thought I could see in 5 days! Maybe one day, I can eat, pray, love and stay in Bali for a month! So here's what we managed to fit in in five short days!
The hotels in Bali can be pricey. Since we were traveling with the kids and needed some space, we opted for an AirBNB with a Superhost. Best idea EVER! For $180 a night we got a spacious 3 bedroom open air villa with a private pool and spectacular views of the Indian Ocean. The villa included a private chef who cooked us an amazing made to order breakfast every morning! Elsye was an amazing host and answered all questions for us! You can find her villa on AirBNB under Casa Jimbaran in Bali. If you are traveling with children, most villas in Bali are open air. Our villa did have a front door that locked but you could jump over the front door or any bush or flower and be in the open area villa. All of the bedrooms are separate and each of them locked. The first night I did not sleep very well locked in a bedroom with my children locked in another in a strange place in Indonesia. Everyone was fine and the neighborhood was very safe - it's just very different from houses here. The kids had a cell phone and could call me if there was a problem or if they wanted to be unlocked from their room. Just a good thing to know if you are traveling with young children!
After a long day of travel we opted to sleep in, enjoy the villa and spend the afternoon at one of Bali’s top-rated beach clubs, Mrs. Sippy in Seminyak. Even though it was 7 miles from our villa, it took us almost 90 minutes to get there as traffic creeped along. We had our own day bed, the food was good, the drinks were cold and the kids were entertained with various jumping platforms and met some kids from Australia who liked their accents. Overall it was a good afternoon but I wish it was on the ocean or at a least had the view of the ocean. People said it gets very happening at night so it's probably more of a night side. Later that evening we had reservations at Bikini in Seminyak but unfortunately had to cancel the reservations because of the traffic issue.
After hearing so much and reading so much about Ubud, I imagined this mysterious town in the mountainous jungles with witch doctors poking out of alleys pitching potions promised to cure any aliment, monkeys crawling around ancient temples and the sound of waterfalls.
Maybe this exists because I saw some Insta Perfect pictures but I didn't experience any of this in Ubud except the monkeys crawling over temples and yep TRAFFIC.
Our first stop, Mandala Suci Wenara Wana or The Forest of the Sacred Monkey in Padangtegal Village. It's a sanctuary for the Balinese long tailed monkeys about 700 of them live here so you are guaranteed to have a close encounter with many of the residents. There are three Hindu Temples in the forest, all of them were built around 1350.
I did my research and re-affirmed to the kids -
* Do not smile at a monkey
* Do no look a monkey in the eye
* Do not feed the monkeys
* Do not touch the monkeys
* Leave everything in the car so the monkeys have nothing to take
* And if a monkey does take something, do not fight with a monkey
This place is freaky and creepy and those little devils are nothing sacred. They are big, they are feisty and they are not pleased that humans are invading THEIR home and they are not afraid to make sure you know this. After taking less than ten steps inside the forest I walked past a monkey and the next thing I know I'm fighting with this creature because its trying to steal my purse. Yep, ten steps in and I broke rule number six.
My lovely black travel purse with locking zippers and a slash-proof strap was apparently not monkey-proof because the creature had ripped if off my neck. I wasn't going to let this monkey take my bag with my phone, money and all of our passports inside! My hubby and kids just stood there with their mouths open starring at me as I screamed for help and others just kept walking by. Eventually the monkey realized I was one bad booty and let go of the bag and moved on.
The monkeys moved quick with their nimble little hands and feet. They would check you out and move on. We all basically wanted out of here and could finally see the exit gates. That's when a baby monkey jumped on my daughter M. Ah, a baby monkey how cute! M loves animals and animals love her, what a cute picture right? All of a sudden a monkey jumps on my head, I starting screaming for help and M starts screaming for help. I finally get the monkey off my head and she is crying hysterically. The baby monkey had bit her on the hand and the momma monkey was grabbing her leg and licking it. A medical station is located right by the back gate, hmmm, interesting isn't it? Luckily the bit did not pierce her skin it was more like a monkey warning. They cleaned her hand and leg and said she was fine. We followed up with our own doctor in America and she's fine but now has a fond dislike for monkeys.
TEGALALONG RICE TERRACES
The Tegalalong rice paddies in Ubud are very pretty. We walked down a little but it was very hot and rocky and decided we had seen enough. Outside of the rice paddies there is some shopping. This is a great time to try out your bartering skills since the price you end up paying is nothing close to the asking price!
LUWOK COFFEE PLANTATION
Luwok Coffee is on of the world's most expensive cups of coffee. Basically a cat type creature eats some berries, poops them out and bam - you've got one heck of a cup of coffee. Not lying here, children were rolling on the floor! The grounds of this plantation are absolutely beautiful. They have the bali swings and all of the nests for your Insta Perfect pictures. They also give you a sampling of over a dozen cat pooped out coffees and teas. They are all delicious and we ended up buying our two favs, the avocado coffee and the ginseng coffee. It was not crowded at all, worth a stop for sure.
After doing some shopping and a late lunch sampling some suckling duck and balinese ice cream - the kids were beat and we headed back to our villa. I basically accomplished less than half my list in Ubud because of traffic :(
ROCK BAR & SUNDARA
Again my dinner plans were canceled because of traffic so we decided to have a drink at Rock Bar, this amazing bar on a cliff at the Ayani Hotel and then have dinner at Sundara at the Four Seasons. Our villa was next door to the Four Seasons and Rock Bar was less than a mile away so traffic for once, was not an issue.
So we showed up at Rock Bar around 5:30pm and were asked if we were guests of the hotel. Since we were not guests we were handed a number, 62. Not a good number, we were number 62 on the waiting list to get into Rock Bar. You pretty much have to be a guest of the hotel to get in or you have to line up super early. Even if you make a reservation at one of their restaurants, they still won't let you pop in for a drink bar at Rock Bar. So much for my Insta Amazing snap at Rock Bar.
Dinner at Sundara did not disappoint. The grounds are amazing and the views are breath taking. The menu is a mix of international dishes and Indonesian dishes. The cool thing is you can order anything in an appetizer size, main course size or family style size so you can sample several things! We ended up with green duck curry, sea bass in coconut cream, Australian lamb chops and bok choy. They only disappointment, there wasn't a glass of Chardonnay on the menu. When we asked the manager about this, he said they only get about 50 bottles a year because Chardonnay is so expensive to import. Since the language barrier made it difficult to order mixed drinks, we learned it was better to order a couple shots of vodka, a can of club soda and a cup of limes and mix it ourselves.
Our last day in Bali was our absolute best day, the kind of day that makes you long to come back and experience it all again! We started the day at Sundays Beach Club in Uluwatu and watched the sunset on Jimbaran Beach at the seafood cafes.
If there ever was a picture perfect day you wish you could live again and again, this was one of those days!
Uluwatu is a 45 minute drive from our villa and Sundays Beach Club is certainly a gem. A beautiful resort set high on a cliff, to get to the beach club you have to take an inclinator down the cliff which is an experience itself. Once you are at the bottom, you are greeted with turquoise clear waters and amazing food and service.
The tides pretty much dictate your day. In the morning the surf was rough and the kids loved playing in the waves. In the afternoon as the tide went out, the reef made a natural pool and the water was perfect for snorkeling and paddle boating.
The food was amazing! As it turns out the Australian chef was the next-door neighbor in our villa! He recognized us and gave us exceptional service. The kids enjoyed a pizza we enjoyed a tuna poke bowl and I did find a rare bottle of Chardonnay!
We went back to our villa and could have pretty much walked to the seafood cafes on Jimbaran Beach. At the cafés fisherman bring in their fresh catch of the day everything from lobster crab and shrimp. You pick out your seafood in your seasoning and then bring it to your table! The food was amazing and the sunset was picture perfect. The Indonesian Johnny Cash was priceless - you can‘t make these things up!
Indonesia has my ❤️
I can‘t wait to go back one day and finish my list!
* Gates of Heaven - 3 hour drive from villa and need to be there super early to beat crowds
* Nusa Penida - an hour drive to boat dock and hour to island - all day if not two or three on island
* Kantu Lampo Waterfall
* Hike Mount Batur at Sunrise
* More Temples
* Go back to Sundays
The flight home was not an easy endeavor. It took us 36 hours with 26 hours of air time and a 12 hour time change. Our kids are rock stars! We flew from Bali to Singapore 🇸🇬 Singapore to Bangkok- Bangkok to Shanghai and the long 16 hour flight home Shanghai to ATL.
If you think the kids are stopping you from traveling around the world and fulfilling your dreams - TAKE THE KIDS! They can do it - they will handle it better than you - they will love it - they will ask for travel over material things! Larry and Mo earned passport stamp #29 in Bali.