Mandy and families just back

We are just back from a 2 week Bali holiday.  We had an absolute ball and I would say to anyone that is hesitant - please don't be GO BACK - the balinese need tourism to improve.  You won't regret going.
I have been to bali 8 times - beginning in 1987 - my husband Paul and I had 2 trips before Ben came onto the scene and this was Ben's third trip.
This was by far the most enjoyable trip we have had - Ben was at a great age - 7 1/2 - confident swimmer now - and so inquisitive about everything - which was great - he learnt a lot on this holiday. We did things a little differently this time only pre paid for our first 5 nights and then organised the next 8 ourselves.
MELASTI BEACH RESORT  - We stayed here for our first 5 nights in an old suite room.  The resort itself is set in lovely grounds - 2 pools, beach front restaurant and a spa which I used twice - heaven.  The rooms themselves are very large and spacious with a separate lounge area as you enter which is partitioned off - this is where Ben slept - they were clean and comfortable and for what you pay in a package deal - great value.
NUSA LEMBONGAN - We spent 2 nights on lembongan at Coconuts Beach Resort - we thoroughly enjoyed this - total relaxation and it was great for Ben to walk around the village itself - we saw all sorts of sights - chickens being beheaded or plucked - all the general village day to day activities which was great.  The resort itself was lovely - but if you do stay there try to get a bungalow lower down - it is a bit of a climb to the higher ones - and in the heat not much fun.  We had air cond - and no matter what anyone says - you need it - especially with a child.  The only downside was salt water shower - which left you feeling only semi clean  - but for a couple of days who cares.  We ate at the restaurant there - purely because you really had to without a major walk - food was fine - nothing spectacular - but quite OK. We snorkelled - swam, read, walked and generally relaxed.  Highly recommend this for probably no more than 2 nights.
We then returned to Melasti Beach Resort for 2 nights while we sussed out other accommodation.  We paid from memory $55 US dollars a night, which with the current conversion rates was reasonable enough. 
We then went on the hunt looking at other hotels - we looked at Bali Holiday Resort seminyak - yuk - old, run down.  Pelangi hotel - very nice, a new hotel and I must say the rooms there were very nice.  Then we looked at Kumala Pantai - beautiful this is where we ended up.  Even though Pelangi was nice - Kumala Pantai had much nicer garden areas and when you sat on your balcony you were overlooking lush gardens.    We also had a look at Resort Tunjung Legian - this was lovely - very impressed - but from what I could see totally empty and we did  want to stay somewhere - with some other bodies around.  But it was great family accomm.
We chose a junior suite at Kumala Pantai and it cost us around $98 australian a night with full breakfast.(Obviously you would get this probably a lot cheaper through a travel agent in a package deal).  The suite consisted of a room with a king size bed - desk and a table and 2 chairs, a huge bathroom - all marble with separate shower which was a nice change as well as a shower over the bath - interconnecting door led to a room with beautiful 3 piece lounge suite and dining setting with 4 chairs - coffee and tea making facilities - this is where Bens bed went.  One thing that was a big plus with Kumala compared to Melasti was a cartoon channel - by the end of the day when kids are tired they do like to plonk in front of the TV for a while and Melasti only had pretty ordinary channels - the only one worth watching for ben was HBO movie channel.
Everything was great at Kumala - beds were ultra comfortable - pillows beautiful - for a change.  Spotlessly clean - no complaints.  Breakfast was really much the same as Melasti - eggs anyway - although the omelettes were 100% nicer at Kumala - toast - fruit - noodles - bacon - pancakes etc etc.  We will definitely stay here again.  Their superior rooms are as described but obviously without the extra lounge room.  They also had I think what was called a presidential suite here which I tried to look at but was apparently occupied - I don't actually think it was I think the guy couldn't be bothered - but never mind.  This is twice the size of the junior suite - we spoke to a couple with 3 kids who had stayed in it and they were very happy.
MELASTI BEACH RESORT SPA - You must go if you are staying nearby.  I had a two hour treatment - full body scrub - massage - was then covered in yoghurt from head to two and ended with a bath full of flower petals - was absolutely magnificent for around $23 australian.  You can't beat that.
BALI BIRD PARK  - This is a MUST - it is absolutely fantastic.  We went feeling a little apprehensive of what we would find. It really was a great day out.  The most exotic birds you have ever seen. Spotless facilities - toilets etc.  We had lunch at the restaurant which is a little expensive for Bali but we shared a couple of dishes and the food was beautiful.  Ben loved going here - it really was very well maintained and better than anything I have seen in Oz.
ORPHANAGES - We visited 2 with gifts one in Denpasar , which I wouldn't return to - I actually was rather disappointed as the man who ran it was more interested in pestering me for money than appreciating what I had taken which was a large bag full of goodies textas, books, haircips, etc.  Also I had purchased around 10 bags  of shopping at Denpasar supermarket - toiletries - food etc.  The name of this orphanage was Tunas Bangsa.
The second orphanage we visited was Giri Asih in the village of Negara.  This was a 3 hour trip to get there - a bit of a long haul around windy roads but well worth it.  The children 97 in all were beautiful, happy children - they had very little and appreciated so much what we took them.  I had a huge suitcase of goodies and again shopping from the supermarket with necessities - if anyone is thinking of an orphange even though it is a long haul to get there this one is WELL worth it.  Thre was a gorgeous 9 month old baby - it was hard to say goodbye to him.
RESTAURANTS - Our favourites at Legian were Tekor Cafe, Zanzibar, Cafe Warna.  We did not have a "bad" meal for the whole 2 weeks.  The only one I could class as pretty ordinary was at Into National restaurant - which surprisingly I had read good reviews on - maybe we struck an off night.  On our last few nights we found a restaurant in Legian Padma Club - this was magnificent - a little more upmarket - but still cheap in our terms - beautiful service and food.  None of us got bali belly - slight upset tummies at times - but that is more due to change of diet and heaps of fruit and fruit juice.  I found an addition in Bali mango and banana juice - beautiful.  Funny how my waistline didn't appreciate all the wonderful eating and drinking.  Have to work on that now !!
SHOPPING - We did the usual DVDS at 15,000 each - music cds 15,000 each watches around $5 australian and sunnies $5 australian - we did buy quite a lot of clothes for Ben at Matahari and Kuta Kidz. I also got myself a few pairs of shoes at Matahari around $8 each - great value and very good quality.  As we have been to bali quite a few times we don't get too carried away with the shopping side of things.
We headed off with the intention of getting a babysitter a few times - but Ben was always happy to go out with us and loved to try different restaurants just like us - so we ended up not having a babysitter at all.  As we woke up most mornings at 6-6.30 we were all quite happy to go to bed no later than 10pm.  Party poopers!!
All in all we really had a fantastic trip.  Bali is a wonderful place to take children. The balinese adore them - and Ben loved every minute of it - the beach, the pool, sightseeing and meeting new people.  We look forward to a trip again next year !!