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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Beginners in Bali

Updated: Jul 3, 2020

When I think of Bali, I think of the quintessential island vacation. Mountains, ocean, culture. We had only just moved to Thailand, and were stuck in our little 2 bedroom apartment waiting for our house to be ready and I was going slightly crazy. Our kids were 4, 2 and 6 months old and it was almost summer time. For anyone who lives around a lot of expats, summer means everyone goes “home” to visit family. Except we had just arrived and were figuring out how to settle in. Things were HARD, transition is HARD. It was during this time my husband and I decided to plan our first trip somewhere. We didn’t know yet where, but I knew I needed something to look forward to on the hard days!

#Bali is where we decided to go for a long weekend as it is only a 4 hour flight from Bangkok. It was our first family adventure, and we were newbies and had a lot to learn in regards to traveling with young kids!

Our first 2 nights were spent at The Patra Bali Resort & Villas. The 2-bedroom villa was perfect for us, the grounds were fabulous and it had a beautiful pool, tasty food and was right on the beach. We did not realize it was literally a two minute drive from the airport. If I were to do it again I would have switched my days, going inland first and stayed here prior to flying out. Since our flight home was at 6am it was a very early morning with an hour drive from our hotel in Kuta. You live and learn! So we spent the first 1.5 days lounging at the pool, walking along the beach and enjoying a piece of tropical paradise. The beach was clean, but because it’s a volcanic island the sand at this beach wasn’t white like I’d pictured in my head.

On our second full day we were picked up by our tour guide – Jun – for a day of touring and then we would be dropped off at our hotel in Kuta, therefore we also had to bring all our luggage along with us. Lesson #1 – don’t travel with convertible car seats for just a day or two on the road, instead go with the safe rider harnesses* for kids over 3 years old (we didn’t learn about those for another year!). Our infant was in her carseat, but due to having all our luggage in the space of the 3rd row seating, we couldn't use the car seats for all 3 of our children, so we buckled in tight and prayed for a safe drive, which it was!

I’ve mentioned it before, but one of the best things about having a tour guide is you get to learn so much more about the culture you’re visiting. You can ask questions, find places to eat you wouldn’t normally find, and so much more. They tell you what you’re looking at and history of the cities and people. It really makes a trip that much more special. He was also so helpful with the kids!!

On our day of touring with him we visited the Batuan Temple, Traditional Balinese House, Tegenungan Waterfall, a Rice Terrace and an art village. It was a fun filled day, and worth every minute. We love culture and nature, so it was a really nice mixture of both.

The Traditional #Balinesehouse was still occupied by the family, and it offered a rare glimpse into how they live. It was just fascinating seeing into the kitchen, bedrooms and outer courts!

Traditional Balinese House

Following the visit to the home we stopped at the #BatuanTemple. At the entrance they provide a sarong with the ticket purchase. The entrance gate to the temple appears as a split gate, which is very interesting. It was not very busy when we visited and is not too large that an hour is sufficient time.

The #TegenunganWaterfall is impressive, and you are allowed to swim at the bottom, although we did not. There were many steps to get down to the waterfall, so be prepared with walking shoes and drinking water. Jun assisted our oldest daughter with the stairs, which was so helpful. He was also a great photographer if you haven't noticed with all our family photos!

As I’ve mentioned before we love collecting art from places we visit, and the art village was spectacular. It was very large area and many artists sell their work, so you can easily find something of interest to you. If you want authentic art, you’ve got to look outside of the touristy shops. As a reminder, pretty much anytime you are looking at art you should barter on the price! This is something we’re still learning how to do well. But remember, they won’t sell it to you for a price that doesn’t make them money. I’m sure we still paid more than we should have as they accepted our first offer, lol. But we also don’t mind as it is supporting an artist and their family. Shopping for art is also when it comes in handy to have a guide, because in some cities it’s typical to offer ½ the asking price and go from there, other places you offer ¾ of the asking price or more. We often ask our guide what’s appropriate, as you don’t want to offend the artist either.

By the time we reached the rice terraces our kids were exhausted and 2 of them were asleep in the car. Although we would have loved to wander through the terraces, it was a very large area and you could easily spend an hour or more meandering through the terraces. As you walk you can take photos with the local workers, and if you do its respectful to give them a tip. But since we had 2 sleeping kids in the car, we took some photos with our oldest and then carried on with our day.

The second hotel we stayed at was Kubu Bali Baik Villa & Resort. We stayed in a large spacious home with 3 bedrooms and a private pool. It was in the countryside with rice fields next door. The restaurant was very limited, and breakfast was okay. At least they had toast and jam! The house was comfortable, and although the pool was cold, we had fun!

The next day our only plan was to visit the #Monkeyforest which is full of wild monkeys and quite a place with amazing vines and trees! There are many walking trails and steps along the way. The kids were not exactly sure what to think when the monkeys would get close, but there are signs giving instruction not look them in the eye or show your teeth. Overall it was a fun adventure!

That night while sleeping we woke to an earthquake! Neither my husband or I had ever experienced one before and to be honest we did not know what to do! We just stayed in the very sturdy house, and it only lasted about 2 minutes as we were far from the epicenter. Yet it highlighted the need for us to be aware of common natural disasters in the areas we are traveling to and have knowledge of what to do in those situations. Lesson learned!

Overall, it was a really fun, but short, time away! If you have more than just a few days there is so much more you could do while visiting Bali! Check my resource page to find Jun’s contact information if you’ll be visiting Bali and the different tours he offers all over the island. We would highly recommend him, as he is a safe driver, speaks English really well, is very knowledgeable and was very kind and helpful with the kids.

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