Boy, was I excited about August’s Amica theme, Wanderlust because travel is one of my favourite subjects.
I have recently moved back from the UK after living and working there for almost five years and my husband and I were fortunate enough to visit some truly incredible countries. Europe was SO accessible and you could even pop over to the US for a long weekend should you so desire. Year after year, we ticked off more and more countries and I have incredible memories from each and every place.
Moving back to Australia, and to the West Coast, travel seemed a little harder to come by. On my personal blog lifelovetravelfood the ‘travel’ section shrivelled up a bit and I had to start counting trips to northern suburbs of Perth as travel. That is until recently when we did what every Perth resident does, and we went to Bali.
Now to me, Bali gets a bit of a bad rap. I can’t say my opinion was that high of the place, but I knew it had some hidden gems. What I thought of Bali was parties, nightclubs, underage kids going there for end of school parties, Bintang beer and bogan Australians.
When we decided we would take a trip to Bali, and that we were pregnant with our first baby, I was determined to make it as peaceful and relaxing as possible. Gone are the days where we go out and party all night, drink to excess and don’t care about the state of our accommodation. Oh no. I’m 30 now, I have MUCH higher expectations!
So Bali was to be our babymoon. I will also say that we were incredibly lucky to fly in and out on the two weeks where the volcanic ash cloud wasn’t causing travel chaos. First stop – Ubud.
Famous for beautiful rice fields, yoga and ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ Ubud did not disappoint. Our accommodation was set amongst the trees, quite literally in the middle of nowhere. So much so that I had a slight panic during our late night cab ride from the airport as the driver went further and further into the darkness onto tiny roads and often, driving along no real road at all.
In Ubud we went for walks, relaxed by the pool, got hour long massages, drank giant fresh coconuts (ok, not my husband. He well and truly embraced the Bintang beer culture) did an Indonesian cooking class and just did a whole lot of nothing.
Next stop, Seminyak. Slightly more commercial and with a lot more people, we spent the next five nights in Legian which is right next to Seminyak. Being a Queenslander and an avid traveller, I was less than impressed with Bali’s beaches but I still loved just being near the water and bathed in sunshine. We stayed in a private villa with our own pool (heaven!) and copious amounts of space – just wait till you see the photos. Each morning we were treated to breakfast made by our own private cook in our own villa – heaven to wake up to, let me tell you! Especially when they cleaned up after – ah-MAZING! I did find this slightly awkward so would pack up our plates and put them in the kitchen which absolutely delighted our cook – she was so sweet!
In Seminyak/Legian, we swam in our pool, ate at amazing restaurants (some recommendations below!) had more massages (to the point that I actually got sick of them – first world problems, huh?!) went shopping (B LOVES to barter, I think it’s one of his favourite pastimes) and again, just relaxed.
We have been reminded many, many times, that this may very well be our last ever relaxing holiday for just the two of us. While on one hand that completely terrifies me, it also fills me with excitement that soon there will be a little person in tow.
But I digress. The point of this post is to say, don’t write off Bali. Go there, it’s incredibly beautiful, wonderfully cheap (compared to Australia and especially compared to Perth) the people are lovely and it has so much to give.
Sure, there are still the usual annoyances – constantly being beeped at by taxis wondering if you want a lift, being asked the following over and over again, “lady want a sarong? Another t-shirt? You want Bintang singlet?” and being called ‘Boss’, “You buy from me boss? You need sunglasses boss? Cheap price, just for you boss.” There are also the usual bogan Australians (apologies to anyone who gets offended by this, this is not me passing judgement, each to their own I say!) who fill the streets and make you wonder if you are actually even in a different country. However as I said before, there are gems to be found in Bali, if you are willing to look for them and look beyond the usual touristy stuff.
Below are some of my tips and travel suggestions. These opinions are my own and I have not received any benefits for endorsing them. Although if any resorts/restaurants/spas/airlines are reading this, I am totally up for doing paid endorsements if you want!
- Monkey forest – quite literally a place where monkeys roam around. And yes, they can and often will jump on you. Even a wuss like me enjoyed it – it’s amazing getting up close and personal with them.
- The Lokha Ubud – a wonderful relaxing place to stay in an incredible setting. The staff go out of their way to help you, there’s a fairly good breakfast selection (very important in my opinion) and there are spa and yoga facilities available.
- Hujan Locale, Ubud – the best food we had in Ubud. A huge menu with lots of choice for naughty food and healthy options. Amazing service and immaculately clean bathrooms (which are often hard to come by).
- Bali Manggang Cooking Class, Ubud – so much fun! Lovely staff who speak excellent English. Try to book the morning class as you take a trip to the markets first which is great. You make loads of different foods so you’ll get to sample all kinds of delicious and traditional Indonesian food.
- Sisterfields, Seminyak – the BEST place we ate the whole trip (in my opinion!) They have the perfect menu – half ‘boy’ food (pulled pork, meatballs etc) and half my kinda food (acia bowls, delicious smoothies, gluten free options). We went here twice and I wish we could have gone back more.
- Warung Indonesia, Kuta – nothing flash about this place but the food is traditional, excellent quality and cheap! The cheapest place we ate all trip – we got nasi goreng (fried rice) and mie goreng (fried noodles) plus two drinks for $5. Ah-mazing.
- Grain espresso, Seminyak – I’m a coffee snob, I’ll admit. This place lived up to expectations and we went back twice. I loved it! Nothing else to say really!
- Fat Gajah, Seminyak – the best dumplings I’ve ever had in my life. So fricken good. Worth the somewhat annoying staff who ask you if you are enjoying your meal the second after you have shoved an entire dumpling into your mouth.
- Sarong Restaurant, Seminyak – posh! For Bali standards, it’s ‘expensive’ ($18 for a main). They have an incredible cocktail menu and the barmen will make you a mocktail from whatever cocktail you fancy which for me, was a huge tick of approval. Wonderfully prepared food (quite spicy, just a warning!) so many options to the point that I wish we could go again to try more. The best snickers dessert ever – it was like the ice cream was made of velvet! You must book well in advance here. We booked two weeks early and could still only get a 9.30pm booking.
- Dyana Villas, Seminyak – your own oasis. Such a wonderful place to stay, in the heart of the hustle and bustle but set back far enough to be peaceful (except on Friday and Saturday nights when the night clubs get a tad loud but your aircon will drown out the doof doof – does anyone say ‘doof doof’ anymore!?) You get breakfast cooked for you daily and your own pool set amongst lovely gardens. Stay here, you will not regret it.
And to finish, just a few travel tips.
Barter to your hearts content because they expect it. And barter hard cause most people are suckers. I feel like I can say this, because my husband is ruthless. I HATE bartering so I also feel a bit cheeky saying that people are suckers cause if were up to me, I’d get ripped off every time.
There are more dodgy taxis than good. The ones that beep at you are almost always dodgy. Use Bluebird Taxi’s only. Seems simple enough, but they are all the same colour, and often the dodgy ones have a bird symbol on them to confuse you but just remember that the good ones have ‘Bluebird Taxis’ written on their front windscreen. We encountered a dodgy taxi driver one trip, but my husband gave him an earful for taking us the long way home while we were watching him on our GPS – it was actually quite hilarious. Don’t get put off because taxis are incredibly cheap. I think our most expensive one (apart from to and from the airport) was $2.50.
Check Trip Advisor for tips on where to eat. But remember to take each review with a grain of salt. Some people complain about the most trivial things and mark places down for not meeting their standards of what they expect back home – I am rolling my eyes as I type this. I can’t stand people who do this!
If travelling with children, try not to take a pram. Sure, it’s easy for me to say as I was carrying my baby inside as a bump. I did notice a lot of families struggling with prams as footpaths are often blocked or unfinished. If your children are very small, take them in a sling or a baby Bjorn. I completely understand taking a pram is often the only option, but just be aware the streets can be quite small and packed with people and stalls. The markets are NOT easy to navigate with a pram either (well, the ones you want to get to in order to get the best deals aren’t!) Many hotels offer babysitting services for a very reasonable price too which means Mum and Dad can have a night out sans baby – winning!
Public bathrooms are in short supply. As a pregnant traveller, I think I gave the same answer to my husband every time he asked, “What do you want to do now?” my answer was always, “Go to the bathroom and find somewhere to sit down.” This meant we often ended up in cafes, pubs and restaurants, where I was sure to ask, “Do you have a bathroom?” before committing to any purchase. 99% of places we visited had bathrooms and drinks are so cheap (about $2 for a beer, $1 for a soft drink) so it was always worth it!
Get out of the touristy areas. Ubud, while still touristy, is away from the hustle and bustle. You can take a walk through the rice paddies, walk amongst monkeys, sit and just take in all the beauty in a hut floating above a pond and overlooking gorgeous gardens.
So there you go. Give Bali a shot, I’m certain you won’t regret it. Indonesia was our 50th country visited and one I would visit again in a heartbeat. I wonder if baby lifelovetravelfood would be up for travelling with us to Bali again next year…