Heather and families just back - Dynasty July 2004

Firstly, a bit of background. We're a kiwi couple with kids aged 7 (Sam) and 9 (Amy) and this was our long awaited first trip to Indonesia. I was one of the ones anxiously reading the posts re Bali warnings - we're so glad we made the call to carry on as we had the best holiday ever....
We had a few days in Singapore first and flew Air NZ. Now I'm a patriotic gal, but we weren't impressed with the service on the 9 hr trip. Maybe they were just having a bad hair day/PMT/ bust up with the partner, etc, but the cabin crew in our section had left their personalities behind and we suffered for it......the drinks trolley was hardly in sight (much to Ian's dismay) and meal trays were fired at us over a discussion amongst themselves about their social lives...
Anyhow, Singapore was as ever, sparkling clean and tidy (think someone had been up all night polishing and buffing the streets before we got there) There was plenty to do with the kids, though we were looking forward to moving onto Bali - especially as we went Singapore Air which was wonderful.
Having read every post known to man about the visas and immigration, it only took us 10 minutes to go through - but it doesn't pay to get too cocky as of course our bags were the last ones off. We stayed at the Dynasty in Tuban (kids suite) which was just fine for us - great pools, plenty of places to eat, cheap cocktails (WOW - those R 45000 'love buckets' were something else). Our 7 year old was the one who looked like he was drowning in the pool- arms and legs flailing everywhere - however that is his current and rather effective 'swimming' style.
We went to Waterbom down the road and had such a brilliant time we went back for a 2nd day. Again thanks to the posts that recommended going there early and getting a cabana for the day.
We flew over to Lombok 5 days later and had a few nights on Gili Meno. Originally we thought we'd go on the Bounty Catamaran but despite still advertising on their website, they haven't gone for months, so Merpati Air it was. No sooner up in the air, then it was time to go down - I like little planes like that, and the kids were stoked cos they could see the pilots doing their thing. We met Iwan, our superb host, and took a boat over to the Bounty Bungalows on the island. Despite there being room for 80, we were the only ones staying. There used to be over 120 staff, now there are 12 - another sad fallout post Oct. 02. So we had the undivided attention of some truly amazing people at the Bounty, plus the bonus of a great pool and room. The meals were sublime - lots of local food and freshly caught fish and we mostly ate it on the beach watching the sun go down with a bonfire and of course the bintangs and the company of Iwan et al.
Last port of call was Ubud and Taman Harum cottages - again we liked the rooms, especially being able to open the upstairs door and look over the rice paddies over to Mt Agung. The kids loved the batik painting and woodcarving classes. Ubud just didn't do it for me though - personal choice I guess.
We flew home via Singapore again, and cos we had 8 hours to fill in, booked into the transit hotel at Changi airport where Amy and I had a great time watching a hundred or so planes take off and pretend we were off to Maldives/ Kenya/NY or wherever they were headed.
The AirNZ trip home was much better than the trip over, though we noticed returning off duty staff certainly got preferential treatment (magazines, newspapers, early drinks)and 3 seats to themselves while the rest of plane was full. To put us in a worse mood, our connecting flight from Auckland home had been cancelled (wing fell off I think), and though we had been prebooked through, no one had changed us on the computer - so we waited 7 hours in Auckland terminal for a flight home - with 2 sleep deprived kids and a very p***ed off husband, it was the low point of the trip.
Eating and Drinking: We had great breakfasts at Daddy's - across the road from the Dynasty, good meals at 'Gracie Kelly's' and the Impala and also the Treehouse in Poppies 1.
The pick of them all for value, service and taste in Kuta was Ratu restaurant on Jl Legian - their address is printed as "in front of the Bomb Bali Monument" , (which we couldn't see as it was boarded up). Naughty Nuris in Ubud was a spectacular BBQed meal and had an amazing atmosphere - a great place for families, and I can see why it's known as the "Cheers" of Ubud. We also went to the Bridge cafe in Ubud - the food was fine there was just no spark about the place when we were there.
Shopping: Bought all the usual shirts and shorts, the best buy for us was keyrings at 'face to face' and Ian got a really good camera case for about R40000. Did our DVD shopping at Hoyts at the Melasti end of Jl Legian- thanks Colleen for that post. Run by a lovely young couple who are just starting out (Wayan and Gede). Took over a couple of things for their young son which was appreciated. All DVD's work apart from 'Calendar Girls' - which isn't bad considering we got over 70. At 'Ticket to the Moon' (Legian St) we bought swing seats made from parachute material - no discount for buying 4, but had a hammock given to us instead so very happy with that.
Highlights: The Elephant park at Taro - easily the most expensive day trip we did, but worth every cent ($208 US family pass with free pickup and buffet lunch). The bird and reptile Parks were also very good - though it took less than 10 seconds for a cheeky cockie to break and remove break my bracelet and bend the metal tag on a backpack. Best to hid all jewellery before you go there! The kids loved the iguanas and Komodo dragons. Really inflated food prices in the Bird Park though. We also went snorkelling with the sea turtles off Gili Meno which was brilliant. Stopped on the road back to the airport in Lombok and sat amongst the monkeys who ever so gently openned our hands one finger at a time to remove the peanuts...
And the people - the place we had been cautioned not to go (Lombok) had the most gentle, happy people who the kids loved to be with, and who they learnt the most from.
Lowlights: I'm almost embarassed to say that we were sooooo gullible and taken in by a timeshare outfit - beware of these guys. It was our first day (yeah - must have been obvious!) and we were handed a 'winning' ($1000 Aus/ camcorder, etc) ticket outside Daddy's. Ian loves a good argument, but it took us 10 minutes of solid talking to get away from the saleswoman at the hotel...man were the kids peed off with us as they didn't want to be there in the first place......
Now we were prepared for the roadworks, but they were worse than we thought. Could only walk on one side of the road in parts (on the road in some too) and was constantly accosted by hawkers - one who grabbed my daughter's arm and pulled her away to braid her hair. Now I don't know any juicy phrases in Bahasa, but I recalled some in Greek, Italian and Arabic, and she got the lot (and consequently got the message). I can take being hassled myself, but won't tolerate the kids being manhandled.
The taxi drivers - my God, we just shut our eyes and grabbed hold of the kids over the Lombok hills. Oh, yes, and Sam got carsick (apologies again to that poor honeymooning Japanese pair who nearly wore it....). At least we were prepared for it when we were driven to the elephants.....
Those poor cidomo ponies - guess we're just not used to treating animals like that, and the dogs just seemed resigned to being lowest of the low.... Amy went to pat a pony on the island (yep - we know - she shouldn't have done it) and got a huge bite on her chest for her trouble.

So - that was our trip. No bali belly (never did find that elusive raspberry juice) and no major money or other mishaps. We got sooooooo much great information from this brilliant site so thanks everyone. Wish we'd taken over more things form home to give to the locals - we took a few postcards (live close to Mt Hutt, so it's fairly cool here!) and had given all away by Day 2... Now we're making plans to return in 2005 or 2006......... - it seems so long away
cheers all, Heather