I wanted to keep this post about our trip to Bali fairly concise, we saw a lot, ate a lot, sweated a lot and I really don’t want to bore the bejesus out of people. But I do want to highlight that it was a bloody good holiday & even with a child in tow so here goes…and I’m sorry if this is long.
Why Bali? We’d been invited to wedding of our good friends’ Ben & Jo and decided that we wanted to make a holiday out of it. It would have been a shame not to go and friends who were also invited had the same idea. We therefore organised a two week trip for 6 adults and 3 kids aged 21 months, two and five!
Having flown short-haul with Milo when he was 6 months, and then again at about 1 year, I was dreading two big flights from Berlin to Bali and then back again. A short stopover meant it was a 6 hour flight from Berlin to Doha, and then Doha to Denpasar in Bali was a further 9 hours. It all sounded like actual hell. Thankfully though, it wasn’t.
We went armed with a Milo sized bag of toys, sticker books, cars, puzzles & the iPad. The flights were late in the day/evening/overnight & he did a fairly good job at sleeping for big chunks of the flights. I know we were lucky with this. He sleeps on us fairly well (though uncomfortable for us) and on one flight we had a spare seat beside us. Then the rest of time we took it in turns to play, do stickers and play CBeebies repeats with the sound turned down. It worked, it wasn’t totally without tears and frustration on his part & sweaty uncomfortable parents, but we did it. The return flights were similar, just with a whole lot less ‘Lust’ knowing it was back to normal once we landed in Berlin.
(Milo & his flight bag)
Once in Bali we met our friends & their kids and stayed in Kuta overnight to adjust & rest. Kuta wasn’t too far from the airport and from what we saw seemed a bit like a big busy bustling mega-resort town. We didn’t fancy staying much longer than we did and headed to the north of the Island the next day where we had been told it was much quieter.
Bali’s roads are busy, congested & slow but hiring a people carrier & a driver enabled us to get from south to north & see a bit of the island fairly easily. The whole journey from Kuta to our destination of Pemuteran (a resort called Taman Sari) actually took a whopping 8 hours! We stopped halfway and saw the Jatiluwah Rice Terraces, ate some great lunch and then stopped again at a wonderful Hindu temple nearby. I was fairly surprised at the traffic in Bali, there was just so much of it. Once you’re away from the main roads it’s fine but main roads are busy, without pavements and well, fairly hairy.
(Rice paddies at Jatiluwah)
(On the road to a temple near Jatiluwah)
We arrived at Taman Sari late at night, it felt jungly and hot! I wouldn’t really say any of us thought we were hotel/resort kind of holiday makers but this place was brilliant. A few days of relaxing by the pool, eating the best Indonesian food from our entire trip, snorkelling & massages.
(Taman Sari resort)
(Snorkelling in Pemuteran)
(Taman Sari beach)
(On the boat with Uncle Matt)
After a few days at Taman Sari we left for the town of Ubud, which is south/central Bali. I liked Ubud, it had an arty feel to it with markets and galleries and great restaurants. We stayed in a villa this time, all organised through Airbnb. Our villa was a few km out of Ubud and again the traffic meant it took an age to get into the centre. If we were ever to go again, I would stay much more centrally. With kids with us the long traffic jams didn’t help to maintain any amount of zen. But still we saw some great stuff, including the famous monkey forest, Ubud palace and a temple set in a Lotus garden.
(Rice terraces near Ubud)
(At the villa in Ubud)
(Milo & Finn at Pura Taman Saraswati temple in Ubud)
Final stop, Seminyak, which seriously felt like the Shoreditch of Asia. We ate in some great places, swooned at the shops and felt like rock stars at the beach clubs. I can’t say I was 100% comfortable that we flew half way across the world to experience this but on the flip side the fact that we had Milo, being in Seminyak felt fairly easy. We stayed in another Airbnb villa and spent most of our time trying out various beach clubs – KuDeTa, Potato Head and Finn’s Beach club. They were all brilliantly set up for kids, with easy food, nice pools and lots of shade. These places provided us with a nice end to the holiday. One place even had puppies! (Don’t worry it was a rescue charity doing some fundraising).
(View from the KuDeTa beach club)
Whilst we were here in Seminyak we also went to our friend’s wedding – a beautiful wedding in a villa on the coast near the Tanah Lot temple. It was wonderful and the reason we were all in Bali in the first place. My husband did say as we returned how great it was that we were able to go on holiday with our friends and this was 100% true. A wedding is something that often brings people together and this is exactly the case here. Milo loved having a big gang on holiday to play with. We really have Ben & Jo to thank for giving us a reason to head out to Bali.
(At the wedding)
Bali did have some weird elements, which I won’t shy away from mentioning. The traffic was insane, and although we’d brought a car seat for Milo, none of the people carrier/vans we hired had seat belts, rendering the seat totally useless. We also caught the tail end of the rainy season and hence we experienced a fairly grim tale of rubbish washing up on the beaches in the north of the island. The resort staff did an amazing job of clearing this but it just highlighted some environmental issues that unfortunately do affect this beautiful island. Plastic is bad! The beaches in Seminyak and Kuta didn’t seem to suffer from the rubbish that we saw but something to bear in mind if you like beaches and are headed to the north of the island.
But despite these things, Bali was good to us. It was great with a toddler. We took standard precautions covering him up, lathering the sun-cream and mosquito spray – I used kid stuff for two days and then moved to mega 50% deet after a while as the mild stuff didn’t seem to work for us. He was fine, his skin survived and none of us got Dengue Fever!
My top tips for a holiday in Bali with a toddler.
– Hire a car seat if you want to use one, don’t bother bringing your own. These guys were recommended to me – http://www.balibubs.com/
– Use cars rather than mini-buses/vans if you want to actually be able to use said car seat.
– Bring a sling! Even if your child is out of slings regularly at home & walks most places, we found this invaluable as there were awful pavements. We did bring a pushchair but it was fairly rubbish pushing it around when we did take it with us.
– Bring some swim nappies from home. We forgot to and I could not find them anywhere!
– If you bring a travel cot or hire one make sure you have your own mosquito net for it. We didn’t and hence Milo never once slept in the cot but rather in our bed under the nets we have provided on our beds. I just felt weird sleeping under a net when he wasn’t.
– For the long flight bring some sticker books. I can not say how brilliant these were for entertaining him over a fairly long period of time on all the flights. I think technically they say for over 3s sometimes but as long they’re being supervised I don’t see the problem.
– If your kid is anywhere near 2, I would just buy them a seat. We didn’t but lucked out with an extra seat on one of our four flights. That flight was by far the easiest and most pleasant as Milo had space. He is a big toddler, as tall as the two year old we travelled with so something to bear in mind if you also have fairly tall children. I know it’s expensive but I think I would have paid the extra if I were to do this again. We did have a bassinet seat ?on the way home, but this was just plain stupid as Milo’s legs just hung right over the edge….it is tiny!
– Go with the flow with jet lag. We just had Milo stay up fairly late once we arrived in Bali and then so he went to bed late, got up late and after a few days seemed to settle back to normal. On our return to Berlin, we tried to put him to bed normally on the first night and just accepted that early wake-ups would probably happen. And they did for a few nights (3:30am!). But it passed after about a week.
Bali you were fab!
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