Tuesday, 8 July 2014

BALI BELLY...LAUGHS!!! How to survive the island paradise with kids.

Family holiday in Bali... we survived!
We took a trip to Bali a couple of weeks ago. Score fifty points! We took the kids. Minus ten points. We chose to stay at three different locations during our two week trip. Gain ten points and lose five. We also attempted a day of shopping in Seminyak with the kids. Deduct fifteen points. But we made up for it by booking sitters so we could escape for a few amazing romantic nights out on the town! Bonus thirty points! Overall, it was a win win experience, and i've got a stack of tips for you if you're headed to Bali with the gidgets any time soon. Here they are!

We flew Sydney to Denpasar on Garuda. The airline was shocking, but not the worst I've seen. And we flew overnight, landing around midnight. Our three year old had a nice little dose of phernergen and slept like an angel!! Our 14 month old chose to have the biggest spack-attack i've ever seen from her and then slept for the final hour of the flight. Go figure.

Half an hour before landing
The must-do tip for the actual travel side of the journey was that we pre-booked an express customs chauffeur for about $30AU per person, which meant that we could bypass all customs and immigration queues, all visa lines, and are personally escorted past the other hundreds of bedraggled passengers with kids screaming with fatigue all waiting in line, straight to our car and driver ready to deliver us direct to our hotel.

The only downside was that our pram (the $25 target umbrella pram special!) was the last item to come out through the compulsory oversized baggage area - so almost everyone in those long lines at customs eventually overtook us anyway!!

Parents-escape dinner in Seminyak!
We stayed in the heart of trendy Seminyak at the U Paasha hotel - which had THE BEST breakfasts and the most incredible rooftop pool!!! The rooms were fantastic and the hotel was right in the best position on Jalan Laksmana (the main shopping street) only a few doors down from Seminyak Square and only a short cab ride to some of the most incredible restaurants in Bali.

They also offered a babysitting service if you book more than 24 hours in advance. And these girls were sensational! In fact, Balinese women generally are!

We also took a boat trip to an island called Nusa Lembongan (where we got married four years ago) and spoiled ourselves in true Bali island style with a private villa with our own pool a house-girl, babysitters, gardeners, and even masseuses that only charge $13 an hour. This was the most extraordinary experience. If you are looking for a very special treat, then this is the way to go.

The best part was that we were just a short beach stroll away from an amazing beach club called Sandy Bay Beach Club that was super kid-friendly and served the most delicious fresh juices and homemade gelato of all time!

Meep Meep!!
Some people may find this next bit a little controversial - but we also hired a motorbike while we were there on this island (with practically no cars or real roads). People move around this island either on foot, on motorbike, or on golf cart. Its slow. Just the way we like it.
So, with both our daughters between us (Frenchie strapped onto me in a baby bjorn) we putted off on little adventures around the island. Issy was so comfortable on the bike she actually fell asleep on one ride! Frenchie spent the rest of the Bali holiday pointing at every vespa she saw and screaming until I let her sit on them all, immediately pacifying her. There were many.
(*nb: For the record, there's no way I would do this back on mainland Bali, no matter how many local Indonesian twelve year old kids you see confidently riding motorbikes in and out of peak hour traffic through Kuta!)

We collected shells. We spent all day every day in the pool. We hung in hammocks. We had afternoon siestas. We picked flowers. We stood still. We had quality family time.

Back on the mainland we headed up to the famous cliff / surf spot of Uluwatu where we stayed for three nights and hung out at various kid friendly beach clubs and hidden surf locations that only the locals will tell you about if they like you! I got in good with my morning yoga instructor and she spilled the beans on all the amazing little gems in the area!
Blue Point Beach

Either way, you need to check out the incredible cliff-side cafe and surf shack area of Blue Point Beach. Make sure you go Allll the way down the stairs to the cave at the beach. You won't regret it, even when carrying a toddler in thirty five degree heat!!

And, for a day of really cool relaxation, the kids will be stoked at the gondola ride down the cliff face to Finns Beach Club at the Semaya Resort.
Finns Beach Club
It's a little hair raising, but so worth the ride!! And for a special dinner or two, you need to book a cliff-side table at the Alila Resort (it's the one in all the magazines!) and at the Karma Kandara Restaurant. The views are the ocean equivalent of "The Wall" - and yes, you will feel like John Snow when you stand on the edge.
Karma Kandara

And then finally, to cap off the trip back in Seminyak, Steven and I discovered some really exceptional spots for dinners once the girls were down. Methis was phenomenal. Potato Head was mind blowing.
Potato Head
And Sarong has the best crispy fish in the world. The Rock Bar at the Ayana Resort is out of this world. But the list was endless. I spent the entire trip imagining ways we could live in Bali, like expat kings, being warm, creative and free.
Living the dream
And while I will continue to quietly plot this fantasy in my mind from our wintry cold reality back in Sydney (it's winter here in July for my international readers needing a reminder) I take comfort in the knowledge that we went, we saw, we conquered... and we will go again, as soon as we humanly can!! You should go too.

Terima Kasih
(Thank you)

And my other favourite phrase..."Berapa harganya?"... "how much is this?". It's only a problem when they answer you back in Indonesian.

Let me know if you need any extra tips!!

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