Arrival

Our trip to Bali got off to a slightly rocky start; we arrived into Bali’s warm air around 10.30pm, but didn’t actually make it to our hotel, the Puri Raja in Legian, until past midnight. However, the staff of Buffalo Tours, our transfer, especially Widi, were polite and calm. In turn, this helped keep our boys calm in an over stimulated, bone tired situation.

We flew with Jetstar, mainly because my husband found cheap flights and partly because we used Virgin to get us to a wedding in the Cook Islands last year, which was a total disaster for me, the boys, pretty much everyone. I was too worried to go through that again.

Hubby preordered our meals and entertainment with Jetstar. Even though we brought our own headphones Mr 11 wanted to use Jetstar’s provided earbuds and his adapter jack was crackly. That was the only issue we had on the flight! Both Mr 10 and Mr 11 loved their kids meal. Hallelujah! They received a roll, butter, hot pasta dish, caramel mousse, juice and a Kit Kat.

The entertainment from the screen on the seat back kept them entertained for six hours, and there is no delay, as soon as you get to your seat it is working.

A Conflict of Interest

This holiday threw up a conflict of interests, as is often the case when holidaying with kids. My husband and I and our mates had some serious relaxation planned while the boys were anticipating excitement. Friends from Melbourne are Bali regulars and suggested a nanny.

We’d never had one before and our impending gratitude caused us to book months in advance for our whole time in Bali. We met Mey at 9am on our first morning and were instantly in love with her. What a joy she was! Proactive, attentive, nurturing, energetic and most importantly, firm when required.

I’ll admit I was nervous the first day the kids were out with Mey, but my anxiety was totally unfounded. Mr 10 and Mr 11 had never been so space-staringly tired and keen for dinner and bed!

We managed our nanny time like this:

– We booked and paid her for full days for all the days we were in Bali
– When we spent the day with the boys Mey had a paid day off
– When we wanted to go to dinner and drinks with friends at a venue that the kids would not be accommodated, we spent the morning with the kids. Mey started later and stayed with the boys while they slept.
– Some days we spent time with Mey and the boys together (this made shopping way easier).

Activities for Kids

Here are some of the activities our boys loved. Some they did with us, some with Mey and sometimes all together.

Surfing Lessons

Parents’ Verdict:

Even though Mr 11 was down in the mouth for a few hours, I loved that the coach told them to come back in the afternoon because the surf was too rough. It was not what I expected. They did a short lesson on the sand, not much chit chat and then straight in. For most of the time the coach pulled the child and board out, then some instruction and kid surfed to shore. Repeat. The nurture the coaches crammed into an hour and a half made my boys feel like they were Kelly Slater. That experience is priceless!

Kids’ Verdict:

Mr 10: “I thought it was okay. Be prepared to get bruises. Other than that it is good!”
Mr 11: “It was awesome! My advice is to try hard to stand up.”

Waterbom

Parents’ Verdict:

Knowing our boys penchant for risky behaviour I worried about the extreme description of the rides. And it didn’t disappoint. They haven’t stopped talking about which slides I would have hated and in which boring area I could have stayed while they careened down tubes in heart pumping ecstasy. Sigh.

Kids’ Verdict:

Mr 10: “Awesome! Five stars outta five. I recommend The Double Twist and The Double Vipers”
Mr 11: “Go on The Python. It is a bit scary. And The Constrictor. It looks fast but it is really fun. Go on the Superbowl. It is awesome.”

Day Trip to Nusa Lembongan

Parents’ Verdict:

Lembongan was beautiful. The water was clear and the sand clean. Most of our group thought they might like to stay there for a few days in the future.

Husband: “Best snorkeling I’ve done. We saw Nemo, Dory, trevally and grouper.”

Kids’ Verdict:

Mr 10: “Nice.”
Mr 11: “Snorkeling was fun and tiring. That’s because I’m a kid. Just be careful. You don’t know what’s out there. It took half an hour to get there.”

Day Trip to The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary (Ubud)

Husband’s Verdict:

“It was cheap and great for the kids. You walked along the path and monkeys were about. You can buy bananas that you can feed the monkeys. Good for an hour or so with the kids.”

Kids’ Verdict:

Mr 10: “Awesome and be prepared to be jumped on. Hold the bananas under your shirt. This lady was crying and she pushed a monkey.”
Mr 11: “Scary but fun. Or put the bananas in your pocket so they don’t attack you. This lady fed this monkey. It took the banana and it jumped on her to get the banana and she was shaking to get it off.”

Activities for Parents

Here are some of the activities in which we were able to indulge because the boys were well occupied.

Kdong Ding Cooking Class (Ubud)

We were picked up from our hotel, walked the local markets then spent most of the day learning to cook a typical Balinese meal from a chef in a family compound. The outdoor kitchen was modern and well equipped. The food was delightful. And most importantly, our chef instructor, Wayan, was attentive, cheery and patient.

I’m home now and dreaming of the soup. I’ll definitely make it at home as well as the pancakes. The pancake filling was divine. I’m glad we learned how to make sates but my family eats too fast to spend time wrapping their food around lemongrass. I have new respect for sate chefs. But the best thing is that most of the ingredients can be found in Australia!

Dinner At Bambu (Seminyak)

Just go there! One of the best meals I’ve eaten with amazing service and atmosphere. Every bite was memorable. The best way to describe it would be as if a day spa was a restaurant. We walked over a fish pond on square stepping stones, then upstairs to our round, marble topped table. The staff were attentive, proactive and funny without being overbearing. The standout for me was the chocolate martini. It wasn’t creamy but clear. With Java chocolate flakes floating on the surface. I don’t know what kind of magical chocolate melts immediately on tongue contact after sitting in a chilled drink but it exists. I had two….and then dessert.

Luwak Coffee Plantation – Teba Sari Bali Agrotourism

I enjoyed hearing about the process of making the world’s most expensive coffee. My mum had some trouble overlooking civet poo in a bowl…this increased my enjoyment. A lot.

I like, but can’t drink much coffee. This wasn’t a problem because they had a heap of other hot drinks – hot chocolate and a myriad of teas. The fruit teas were powders that you mix with hot water, rather than leaves that you steep. You can buy the teas mixed with sugar or without. Even though it costs a little more it is better value to buy the teas without sugar added in the mix. I bought the mangosteen tea, which is fragrant and sweet enough without sugar.

The Luwak Coffee was strong and intensely aromatic. Well worth the process and cost. After that the Ginger Coffee was a big hit.

Conclusion

We enjoyed our family holiday in Bali’s balmy warm glow. We met new friends and it will be them, including our nanny, Mey, who will be most influential in encouraging us to return.

What Our Kids Thought Of Our Balinese Holiday

Mr 10: “The hotel was nice and tidy. There were heaps of animals, cats, horses, dogs, geckos, cows, pigs, goats. Bali is so fun. For all the girls that are out there, if you want braids you should get them.”

Mr 11: “The hotels look nice. There are geckos and not much animals. The food is nice.”

Lamese Larney is a graphic designer (www.wordsandpictures.com.au) and mother of 2 boys. She also runs a blog of cocktail recipes with a couple of friends called www.cocktailsformums.com