Sleepless - just back


Hi, I wrote this report partly for forum, partly for me as a memory. IT's long so bail out now if you don't want a day by day description..only 10 days:-) Cheers

Up at 5am..what a way to start a holiday. Couldn’t believe that we left home five minutes before we were supposed to and then we got to the airport 10 minutes before we had to be there. Must tell my parents…they are convinced we are late for everything:-)

Uneventful on-time flight with Garuda until Barton threw up as the plane descended. Funny how the flight staff ignores you when you have a bit of vomit about you. Cleaned him up and disembarked straight into the Bali culture of ‘children are important and we love them’…a great change from home. Staff directed us through the quick immigration queue and we were out into the sunshine.

The drive to Ubud took about an hour with loads of things to watch on the way. Quickly realised the Bali is more affluent than Thailand…the motorcycle riders wear helmets. Soon we were out of Denpasar and into the countryside with rice paddies as far as the eye could see. We arrived at Ananda Cottages to be greeted with the lilting sounds of a ‘bamboo xylophone’ and a cool drink. We had two rooms, an upstairs and a downstairs, which was the best of both worlds. We had the fun of the outside bathroom…the boys were fascinated by showering outside in their own private fernery. And we had the upstairs, which was light and airy and had great view across the rice paddies. The room was decorated with fresh hibiscus and the fragrant frangipani. All the stone carvings have red hibiscus tucked behind their ears.

Norm took the boys to the beach and I washed out the vomit soaked clothes! At 6pm we wondered across the road to Indus, a delightful restaurant with a fabulous view across the Campuan ridge. Watched people cutting and carting the elephant grass up the very steep hill.

At night the grounds of Ananda glow with citronella candles along all the walkways and you go to sleep to the sounds of frogs. I was surprised at how few mosquitoes there were. I found we had a lot more in Sanur.

Day Two
We woke to the crowing of roosters and went off at 7am with Made, one of the grounds staff for a tramp through the rice fields and villages. The boys enjoyed the ducks, finding a huge variety of spiders webs (we’re talking an eight year old here), and watching how the locals keep the birds from eating their crops. Glad I had packed snacks as this one hour work ended up being two and we egged Sandon on with promises of pancakes for breakfast.
The boys loved eating breakfast at Ananda as they got to feed the carp in the large pond any leftovers. And the staff would gather up other people’s leftovers so they thought that was great. Sandon was quite taken with the ‘palm sugar’ which was served on his pancakes.

We then headed off to the Monkey Forest. You just step off the property and someone is saying ‘transport’ but we actually went with one of the Ananda staff. It seems a loose arrangement but they can stop their Ananda job and do a sideline with the guests. It worked well for us.

We didn’t take any food with us and we were able to enjoy the monkeys without them trying to climb on us. We also got there at 10am and as we were leaving at 11am all the tourists were arriving. We had been very fortunate to have had the place to ourselves and really soak up the atmosphere. I found it a very tranquil place with some stunning rock carvings. Sandon loved the dragon carvings and the Komodo dragon.

We got back and the boys were ‘starving’ so we walked 500 metres up the hill to Warung Nuri opposite the Neka Museum. Great, cheap Indonesian meals and refreshing hot sweet tea. We then had a siesta and spent the afternoon in the pool. That had always been the deal with the boys…sightsee in the mornings and pool in the afternoon.

That night we ate at Murni’s Warung at the Campuan Bridge. Fabulous fresh fruit lassi and milkshakes. Oh yes, and the food was good too. We then went to Padentegal for the Kecak Dance as the Bona troop had finished in Bona but had moved here. This was a highlight of my holiday. The Kecak dance is unusual in that it does not have a Gamelan accompaniment but a chorus of 100 male voices. It was a small intimate venue and no one was far from the dancers. The trance dance of the two young girls was awe-inspiring. With their eyes closed they danced in perfect unison for 15 minutes. The night finished with the fire dance. Sandon had been waiting for that all night!

Day Three
We headed off to Goa Gajah or the Elephant cave. It is dated back to the 11th century. At the monkey forest we had been given a really informative trifold about the place so I expected that here but there didn’t seem to be any info so I was glad I had Lonely Planet. Of course at the END of our time there I found a pamphlet. We had a good look around and then headed to the Neka Museum. Barton at four wasn’t keen but Sandon enjoyed the original Bali art as he recognised the story from the Kecak dance. So he wandered around looking for Garuda, Sita, Rama etc. It was a bit of luck that we had gone to the dance before the museum and he was able to get a lot out of the visit. Had lunch at Warung Nuri seeing it was across the road. Great Nasi Goreng. I think Norm ate Nasi Goreng every day for lunch for 10 days. We tumbled down the hill, avoiding stepping on the offerings or falling over on the uneven pavement and headed for the pool.

I always found a sense of peace the moment I stepped onto the Ananda property. I was pleased we had not stayed right in Ubud as the traffic and noise was busier than I had expected.

Day Four.
We were being picked up at 1pm so we thought we would squeeze in a visit to Kintamani. EVERY driver you ever have says’ go to volcano’. At 8.30 in the morning it only takes 50 minutes to drive there. We were not hassled by any hawkers as we were too early. I don’t know if I had not done my research well enough or if we had a communication breakdown but when we got there we looked at the view (which was unfortunately hazy) and our driver said it was too far to drive down to Penulisan to see Bali’s tallest temple. We didn’t get taken to any temples BUT we really enjoyed the drive home through Tegallalang. With the hundreds of wood carving shops you have to wonder who are the customers?

As the trip had taken a LOT less time that we thought we called in on friends who were staying at the Casa Luna Honeymoon Guest house. They had really enjoyed the cooking school. We then had lunch at Casa Luna and headed back to say goodbye to Ananda. We were all rather sad to leave. Our ride arrived with a flat tyre so while they organised themselves we enjoyed listening to the staff practice their gamelon for an up-coming festival.

The drive to Sanur was hot and uneventful and we arrived at the Radisson Suites to be greeted with a cool drink and ‘cartoon network’ in the foyer. Goodbye rural Bali, hello western-style resort. The boys were in 7th heaven. Apparently because we had booked for 7 nights we got free a 50% discount card off most food and drink and 50% off all spa services. This made eating at the hotel as cheap and sometimes cheaper than outside restaurants. We unpacked and I made a cup of tea! Yeah, I love having a kettle. I had taken a suitcase full of food (cereal, UHT milk, tea and coffee bags, peanut butter, vegemite, etc) and brought it home full of clothes.

We headed to Camp Splash and got straight into the water slide and pool games. Most days at 3pm there was an informal game of pool volleyball followed by ‘beach’ soccer. Sandon even played goalie and did quite well. We were pretty tired that night so took advantage of our 50% card and had room service. We sat around our table for four in our airconditioned room and thought life wasn’t half bad. However, I missed the sound of the frogs and didn’t sleep well as the AC kept cutting in and out all night.

Day Five.
We caught the shuttle bus to the beach at Kesumasari. I have travelled to a lot of different places and as an Australian we are spoilt for beaches so as usual I found this beach wanting in my eyes. It was OK but which beach can compete with Norman Bay at Wilson’s Prom? Actually Jimbaran Bay was a great beach… The beach outside the Grand Bali Beach is probably the nicest in Sanur, although I never walked past the beach outside the Hyatt so that might be fine as well.

So within five minutes of arriving I was approached for a massage and I had my first taste of bargaining. No idea how I went but she dropped in price a few times and I was happy to pay $8 for an hour’s massage. I was fascinated watching each woman arrive at work and go through the ritual of offerings to the gods and the demons. The offerings lined up on the sand made a collage of bright colours. It was very quiet on the beach and I was the only customer in the two hours were were there. The boys played in the sand, collecting coral and chasing the waves.

After our siesta (Norm slept, I read and the boys watched ‘Cartoon Network’) we headed out to the pool. This system worked really well as by 2.30 part of the pool was in shade and we never got sunburnt. Mind you we had all the right gear as well but we all just slowly went honey brown without the fire red bit.

That night we rang Segara Agung restaurant and they sent a car to pick us up. This was free and they drove us home as well. This restaurant is owned by the village of Segara and proceeds go back into the village for schooling, health programs etc so we ate well and contributed to the community. As it is right on the beach the boys enjoyed beach combing while we kicked back, enjoyed a bintang and waited for our meal. We had been in Bali five days without doing ANY shopping so we had a quick wander through the market. Barton was almost asleep on Norm’s shoulder so he was a great excuse as to why we couldn’t linger at anyone’s shop. Sandon wanted a wooden Komodo dragon so we bargained away and got a good price. I was surprised at how I enjoyed bargaining as the two times I had tried it the people had been friendly. But you can get sucked in as it all changed the next day.

Day Six
We slept in and lazed about and then decided to go shopping. I was looking for Toot sies which I had heard all about on the Bali Travel Forum on the ‘net. It has fixed prices, and no bargaining. This was the first time I had encountered, “you look my shop, I give you good price’. We had people almost hanging off us and one girl insisted on following us and accused us of saying we would go to her shop when we hadn’t. I had warned the boys about all this so we just looked down and kept marching.
I had a bit of trouble finding Toot sies….I had left the shop number at home. One women showed me where the shop was so I promised I would go to her shop after Toot sies. That was my downfall from a bargaining point of view. Anyway Toot sies was great and I got the boy’s summer wardrobe.
Then I went back to this woman’s shop confident I knew my prices etc but I got done on a beaded bag. It wasn’t a pleasant experience but I redeemed my dignity by leaving without buying the rattan placemats. The price started dropping fast at that point but I was so ticked off at her that I would never buy anything from her again.

Hot and tired we headed back to a scrummy Nasi Goreng and satay room service lunch, a snooze and then were were ready for Kite making. I didn’t really work out the Camp Splash program for kids. I don’t know if it was because it was quiet but there were never many kids about and the activities listed for the day didn’t seem to happen unless you asked. I had read kite-making was available so I booked that but it was just our boys. Yan was fantastic and we learned all about kites and Norm now knows why none of his kites flew as a kid!

Every afternoon as we played on the water-slide we enjoyed looking at all the kites in the sky, in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some can be 10 metres long!

That night we organised a babysitter ($9 for three hours) and we caught a blue taxi over to Jimbaran Bay. The warungs line the beach and you choose your fresh seafood which is BBQ’d over coconut husks and you sit on the beach and watch the sun go down, the fishermen casting their nets from their outrigger conoes, and the planes coming into land! The boys enjoued being minded by Sunarti and the next morning Barton asked ‘so are you going out tonight so we can have a babysitter?’

Day Seven
We went with Agung who waits outside the Suites in his van to Batubulan to see the Barong Dance. I was disppointed with this after our intimate experience in Ubud. But Barton enjoyed it which was great as he had slept through the Kecak which had been at night. We then headed out another 10 minutes to the Reptile Park which was a highlight of Sandon’s holiday. The joy and bliss of holding an Igunana, seeing crocodiles, pythons, boas and a real live Komodo dragon was almost too much for him.

And of course we spent the afternon in the pool. That night we headed to north sanur as we were going to eat at the watering hole restaurant but it was a public holiday and many restaurants were opening later. We went further down the street and as we were waiting for our meal a procession to the temple went past. The women were all dressed in gorgeous sarongs and lace blouses and balanced large offerings of stacked fruit on their head. So that was an unexpected treat but then that is Bali. You really don’t have to ‘try’ to see a temple ceremony, as they happen around you.

Day Eight.
The hotel offered a lot of free activities and we took advantage of the early morning trips which were to places we wanted to go. Most times it was just us or us and one other couple. We had a bowl of cereal and then headed off to the morning (wet) market where the locals shop. We stocked up on bananas, pears, apples, water melon etc. Up to this point I had thought that the women made their offerings each day but at the market I discovered people buy them (five for a dollar). Sandon thought the market ‘smelly’ but I remember a lot worse in Thailand and Malaysia with the exception of the five stall holders who were right under the dumpster! Don’t know how they could sit there for five hours each day. One stall stocked all things for the temple…umbrellas, woven baskets for offerings, golden stands. Again I was able to point out to Sandon things he had seen in the procession the day before.
We headed back to the suites for part two of breakfast…fresh fruit and pancakes.
At 10 we caught the shuttle up to the Radisson Hotel which was two kilometres away. In the foyer was a fabulous carving of Garuda so we took a picture of that for Sandon’s journal. We spent the morning swimming in a different pool. Norm and Sandon played pool (which was free unlike the suites) and table tennis. The recreation staff were smitten with Barton so I got to read my book for 30 minutes.

Back for Nasi Goreng, siesta, water slide and pool. We headed back to Segara Agung for dinner. IT was a cool quiet evening on the beach and we watched the locals play on the beach. Barton got his wooden lizard from one of the stalls so he was happy.

Day Nine
Norm and Sandon headed off at 7.20am for a sunrise bike ride. They were the only two and the bikes were a bit old Norm thought. They road along the beach, through the backlanes, past a school and rested in a rice paddy which was actually idle and growing water melon. We then headed into Sanur as Norm was trying to buy material for a shirt but couldn’t find what he liked and when he did they wouldn’t budge on the price. The tailor had told him not to pay over a certain price so that was disappointing. He then tried to organise a wood carved push bike but that didn’t pan out either and to top it all off I bargained for a watch for Sandon that worked for about 4 hours and then stopped. Some days are like that. We headed back to the pool.

That afternoon we both had a massage and we had room service for dinner as Norm had come down with a cold. There was actually a film we wanted to watch on one of the 26 channels so we ended the day well.

Day Ten
We visited a local temple at 7.30am and watched the local women making their offerings. Barton was thrilled, as he was able to wear his sarong and scarf he had insisted we buy at Too sies. His was the most expensive sarong as he chose a gorgeous batik of Garuda. ($7). The women at Too sies were intrigued that a four year old wanted a sarong.

I left the boys at the pool and caught a blue taxi to Matahari’s department store which I had read about. I got the boys some good quality clothes but could find nothing for me. Would have been fine if I had been 20 years younger or 20 years older!
So back I went to the pool!!

That night we caught the shuttle and ate at Kalamantin restaurant with the birds in cages which kept the boys entertained. And then we crawled into our Bali beds for the last time.

Day Eleven
We made a last visit to Toot sies. The women at the other shop made her third attempt to sell me the rattan place mats. Every time I had walked past since the encounter she had tried to sell them to me at a lower and lower price. We exchanged the watch that had stopped and that one went for tad longer. However the one from Toot sies is keeping perfect time!! And it came with a compass, just what an eight-year-old likes. Must have been suffering from last day blues as Norm got ripped off at the moneychanger. Don’t you hate that!

And we did as many runs on the water slide as we could. We packed up, checked out and then went and ate at the restaurant. After all the 50% discount card didn’t run out until midnight!! Norm and Sandon played a game of pool while Barton and I hung out in the Internet café watching TV. IT was quite and had AC as it was very close and humid. The weather had been cooler than I expected but the last two days were hot. Even the locals were wilting. In fact noon on a hot day is a good time to go to the art markets as they don’t hassle you as they are too hot!!

Headed off to the airport at 8.30pm. Uneventful check in, plenty of familiar faces on the return flight…10-day holidays must be common. The only down side to such a relaxing holiday is that you have to fly home through the night. Gave Barton Dramimine before we got on the plane and this time I packed a spare set of clothes and made sure the vomit bags were not sealed like they were last time. Who ever heard of sealed sick bags??? Of course he slept right through and was fine. The children’s meals on the plane were really great with good variety of food.

Negotiating quarantine took forever and our kids were too well behaved and no one suggested we go through faster! A few crying kids were put into a different line.
And then we were outside into 11 degrees C and we all had to agree with Barton who had said, “Mummy, I’m sad to leave Bali.”