Jane Ian and Family Just Back Report
We, 2 adults and 2 boys, 10 and 15, flew with Air Paradise to Bali in January for 2 weeks. Accommodation:The boys really enjoyed staying in different places: in 2 weeks we stayed in 4 different places which worked out well. The first 4 nights were part of the package then we did our own thing. Legian: 4 nights at the Melasti - much nicer than Kuta, great gardens, two pools, but our "family suite" had a king size bed only - 2 fold up beds were brought in but the second room was really only big enough for one. Great location right on the beach front; big breakfasts. All the spa treatments were 50% off and the 2 hour massage/body scrub is highly recommended. Ubud: Ketut's Place in Jalan Suweta 40 was fantastic - a bed and breakfast place in a family compound. Ask for the honeymoon suite plus one for the kids. Ketut can organise anything for you and there is a Balinese feast every Friday night - 15 dishes for 85,000 rp ($A12) per head. Padangbai: - a sleepy fishing village on the east coast (gateway to Lombok). The only hotel in town with a swimming pool (2 in fact) is the Puri Rai. The fan room upstairs overlooking the pool was much nicer than the air con room and prices are negotiable.We all had a massage on the beach for 25,000rp each. Sanur: Sativa Sanur was down the south end of Sanur; big rooms, a nice pool and great breakfast. The beach market at Sanur was very quiet. Tootsies (stall no 28) is the fixed price place which is a good place to start. Transport: It's cheaper and more comfortable to hire your own transport for 4 people than to take the shuttle buses between towns. Things to do: White water rafting - we did the Telaga Waja river with Sobek and it was great - a 2 hour trip 14 km down stream including a 4 m drop over a dam wall. The trip included hotel pick up and drop off, all safety gear, a practice run on how to follow the guide's instructions, also morning tea and a great buffet lunch at the other end (after walking up 200 steps from the river to the village). It was very professionally run and highly recommended. Snorkelling - at Padangbai there is a little beach called Blue Lagoon, about a 10 minute walk north from the village. You can hire masks and snorkels and flippers at the beach and the fish and coral there are amazing. Waterbom Park - as good as everyone said it was (comparable to Wet n Wild on the Gold Coast but better as fewer people - never more than a few minutes to queue for a ride). Lunch is expensive and they take photos for 20,000rp each. Fishing - we went out with the local fishing fleet at 4.30am one morning in Padangbai in small outriggers (2 people per boat). We organised this through the massage ladies and paid 50,000rp for each boat. We didn't catch any fish due to the storms overnight but is was fun anyway. Cooking class - went to the Casa Luna cooking class in Ubud (they will organise babysitters for you). We spent the morning learning about the different spices and ingredients then cooked 6 different dishes and ate them for lunch - recommended. After the class I went to the market and bought lots of spices which were all confiscated by customs when we came home (despite what they said at the class). But I got to keep the knife and mortar and pestle! Food - the best food was definitely in the cheaper warungs. We liked Legian Snacks restaurant a few minutes walk from the Melasti - great banana pancakes (Bali crepes). Jimbaran Bay was worth the trip for fresh fish and calamari on the beach. The fresh juices (banana was our favourite) were good everywhere. Shopping - Ubud was definitely cheaper than Kuta but no cheap DVDs/CDs there. However there were some lovely bead boxes in the market that we didn't see anywhere else in Bali. For silver it's worth going to the village of Celuk and looking around at the many jewellery shops there - much cheaper than Ubud. Legian is the best place for DVDs and CDs. Visiting an orphanage - through the website carryforkids.com.au (a South Australian organisation) we got the names of some orphanages in Bali and lots of ideas of what to take for the orphans. We collected a big $2 striped bag full of clothes, toys, games, sporting stuff etc. The place we went to was Jati Two near Klungkung (easy to get to from Ubud or Padangbai). Everyone was very welcoming and a little boy was sent up a coconut tree to pick young coconuts for us to drink. A worthwhile thing to do. Money - we had a few travellers cheques but relied mainly on ATMs. We had no problems and there were plenty of ATMs in Legian, Kuta and Ubud, but not in Padangbai. Customs - apart from our spices we also lost a drum made of wood and hide at customs. They checked all the wood products very carefully. As there were not a lot of tourists around bargaining (including hotel prices) was easy but people are desperate for business and we didn't mind paying too much sometimes when we heard their stories. It's a great time to go to Bali - we had been there 30 and 20 years ago and it's still the island of the gods; a very friendly and welcoming place and we felt very safe at all times.