Bali, Indonesia

Kids,

Bali has always been one of those magical far off places that we thought we’d only see through pictures. The island is a province of Indonesia with around 4.5MM people, and at the time of our visit the currency’s, Indonesian Rupees (IDR), exchange rate was 14,810 IDR to $1. As such, a dinner out could cost us 1,300,000 IDR, which was a little to get used to.

Bali depends on tourism for revenue, which accounts for around 70% of it’s economy, according to our tour guide. Luckily they see tourists from different parts of the world year round.  In our summertime the island sees a lot of visitors from Australia and Asia, and then in our wintertime they see a shift to more visitors from Europe, mostly Russia and Germany.

It was apparent that Bali is to Asia and Australia what the Caribbean is to the US. The island is anywhere from 2.5 – 5.5hrs from anywhere in Australia and has multiple flights a day during the Australian winter.

Day 1 – Saturday September 15th: Traveling, little sleep, and the pool

We left Mumbai at 10:20pm on our first leg of the trip, 5.5hrs to Singapore. This was our first experience on Singapore Airlines, and they lived up to their reviews. The experience was very family friendly and the staff and planes where really great.

The flight was fairly packed so no luck in having space for you all to lay down. Your Mom and I got around 2-3 hours of sleep, but I’m confident that you all got close to 4 hours.

After a 2 hour layover at the Singapore Lounge we headed for the last leg of the trip,  a 2.5 hours flight from Singapore to Jimbaran. On international flights, by the time you get the meal over with it really makes these 2 hour flights go really fast.

Once we landed we waited, for what seemed like an eternity, for our luggage. We had planned to carry everything on the plane, but forgot to weight the carry on bags. Two exceeded the limit and had to be checked…

The hotel had transportation waiting for us at the airport, so once we had our bags it took around 5 minutes and we were on our way to the hotel. The hotel was around 20 minutes from the airport, but the trip felt like an hour because all of you were tired and in very close proximity to each other.

The Bali landscape, between the airport and hotel, reminded us a lot of our trip to Thailand with small houses, tight roads, motorcycles, and little more rules to the road than Mumbai.

We checked into the hotel, dropped the bags off at our room and proceeded to the pool to get the rest of the energy out before dinner in and early bed.

Day 2 – Sunday September 16th: More Pool

The next morning we slept in to 9:30am, which is 7:00am IST, so our normal. We quickly got our stuff together and headed down to breakfast.

The buffet was amazing. They had a kids area with cartoons playing, local Balinese food, fresh juice bar, and an amazing bakery section. The best part of the breakfast was the yogurt and purée bar, which only Mom and I enjoyed…it was amazing.

The first full day after travel we try to stay at the hotel to allow for naps and early bed times if needed. We found a spot right next to the kids water playground and had a great day watching you play and having lunch by the pool. After 4 hours the boys wanted to go to the Kids Club, so we packed everything up and got ready for dinner.

We dropped the boys off at the kids clubs, and would have loved to include Madelyn but most locations have a 4 year old minimum. So, Madelyn, Mom, and I took that opportunity to explore the grounds. This included the daily chocolate hour from 4-5pm, a little treat for not getting to play in the kids club.

The hotel didn’t have too many restaurants that we thought would be successful for you three, but what they had was amazing. We fell in love with Above Eleven, a rooftop bar and restaurant that looked out over the Indian Ocean. The view was magnificent, but the real gem was the movie area they had setup for the kids. Each night at 6pm the restaurant would project movies in a corner of the space, which allowed the adults to enjoy dinner. It was Awesome!

Day 3 – Monday September 17th: Cabana in Paradise

On Day 2 we booked our trip to Ubud, so we decided to hang out at the hotel today, do the pool and checkout the shopping options outside the hotel.

Our breakfast routine was basically the same for the entire trip, with a slight shift in the time we got up.

I bet we were at the pool for 7 hours. We would have left earlier, but we got our hands on one of the cabanas around the pool and your mother was in heaven.

After such a long time in the pool we packed up and headed back to Above Eleven for dinner and a movie. It was an awesome day!

Day 4 – Tuesday September 18th: Ubud, Bali

We booked a private tour guide to take us around the sights near Ubud, which was located about 1.5hrs North East of Jimbaran. We had the Ubud Monkey Forest, and Ubud market on our itinerary. Based on the brochure we thought it would be around 4-5 hours total, but it took 8 hours and was amazing.

After an early breakfast we headed to the lobby to meet our tour guide, Sandy, and our driver. We left the hotel at 10am and headed straight for the monkey forest, which was the farthest location from the hotel.

The Monkey Forest was just that, a forest filled with monkeys, around 600 to be exact. The location was a paid attraction and had at least a hundred people from different countries there looking at the sculptures and watching the monkeys.

Before we got into the gate we could see monkeys in the parking lot running around on the cars which had parked too close. Directly inside was a temple that was closed off to the public, but we could see the majority of it.

After the Monkey Forest we jumped back in the car, after getting the monkeys off it, and headed to Ubud to check out the markets. We started at the Ubud Palace, followed by a Temple, and then Starbucks.

The Palace was busy and they had construction going on so Madelyn spent the entire time carried with her hands on her ears.

The temple was less crowded. Leading up to the temple there was a beautiful field of lotus flowers which you three couldn’t keep your hands off.

Turns out, to get Madelyn out of the monkey forest, I promised her a bracelet. So she quickly found a stand and picked out the one for her…and the boys…she wore it for 10 minutes. Then I wore it the rest of the day.

Starbucks continued to be a staple for every trip. We needed a Bali or Indonesian coffee mug for our collection. We couldn’t find a Bali mug, so we opted for the Indonesia mug.

We also continued our art collection adventures and asked Sandy if he could take us to a few galleries before we left Ubud. We heard Ubud was known for it’s art culture.

The first place Sandy took us to had hand made wood carvings. When we drove up, there were 8 people outside working on their current creations. It was really cool, but the way it was setup had too much of a commercialized feel.

Inside the shop there were likely a thousand sculptures, of various sizes, shapes, and objects. We couldn’t take photos, but it was amazing. We ended up purchasing a mask, carved from Yellow Hibiscus, and another sculpture of Rama and Sita (We were told the Indonesian Romeo and Juliette, more Here), carved from Alligator Wood.

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The second stop was to someone’s house which was converted into a gallery, the Bali Gong Art Gallery. The house was huge, so I’m sure it was the original intent.

We went through what felt like a dozen rooms looking at some amazing works. There were so many we wanted. We ended up selecting two amazing oil and canvas pieces by a local Indonesian artist.

As expected photos were not allowed here either, but we were able to get one on the way out of the family in the house throne…

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We were on our way back to hotel when Sandy asked us about Coffee Luwak. After some explaining we realized that we had heard of Coffee Luwak, the most expensive coffee. You can see the details of the process from the link, but naturally we said ‘Yes’ we want to try it.

We headed toward a Coffee Luwak factory and got a walkthrough of the process and a tasting of the coffee along with the local teas that they produced. The coffee was good, but very bitter, too much so for our taste so we didn’t get any. We did however purchase a few bags of their tea. In the end this was an opportunity to say we tried coffee Luwak in the place were it was made…and we took it.

The tour was incredible and our guide was awesome. We landed back at the hotel around 5pm, so we dropped the boys off at the kids club and headed to Above Eleven for drinks…before the movie.

Day 5 – Wednesday September 19th: Premium Poolside Cabana

The tour was amazing, but after any hectic day we felt another day of relaxation was needed. About half way through our day at the pool we snagged a Premium Cabana by the pool and immediately changed our plans to save time for the kids club. We stayed there all day. We learned that lunch, and naps, in a cabana are always better.

Day 6 – Thursday September 20th: Pool, Kids Club, and Ear Infection

Around day 4 Christopher was starting to complain about his ear hurting so we checked with the hotel and they were able to get a doctor to the hotel to look at him. The hotel did have a full time nurse but needed to call in the doctor for potential ear infections. The doctor arrived in the afternoon and let us know he didn’t have a full on ear infection but his ear canal was red. He prescribed an ear drop … and no more pool.

Day 7 – Friday September 21st: Pool, Chocolate Hour, & Kids Club

We know it was torture, but we couldn’t keep all of you out of the pool so we did spend some time there. Johnathon and Madelyn played in the pool and Christopher watched movies on his iPad.

Day 8 – Saturday September 22nd: Pool, Kids Club, Chocolate Hour, & Rooftop Dinner

On our last full day in paradise we wanted to spend as much time at the pool as we could. Christopher wasn’t allowed to get water in his ears, so we bent the rules slightly and confined him to the kids pool with no sliding down the slides. It worked out well.

I haven’t mentioned it yet, but throughout the week we made some really great friends from Brisbane Australia, Paul and Jody. They had a son, Josh, who played pretty much all week with Johnathon. By day 3 you two were inseparable. It reminded me of my time in Okoboji with Nick. You scheduled when to be at the pool, the kids club, and dinner. It was awesome.

On this day Paul and Jody helped us snag another cabana near the kids pool, and we hung out there all day watching you all play.

After the pool, kids club, and dinner we all stopped by a gelato shop outside the hotel for some desert. It was great.

Day 9 – Sunday September 23rd: Time to go home

Our flight didn’t leave until noon so we had time to get breakfast before we left. As usual we met back up with Josh and his parents and had an amazing breakfast. I don’t know why I’m always amazed at the great people we meet from all of the world.

We headed to the airport around 9am and started our reverse trip back to Mumbai. The trip was so amazing that we considered booking our stay for next September. We ended up not booking, but it’s still very likely.

Love,

Mom & Dad

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