We left for Bali (for real) on Friday, on a flight with Batavia Air that was supposed to take off around noon. Unfortunately, it was delayed for about 30 minutes. And it was pretty low budget and rough – I actually think there was about a 20% chance we were going to die. Fortunately, we met a very friendly fellow Canadian who now lives in Bali and was heading home for the weekend. He set us up with a car and driver in the city and recommended a few great places to visit. Vacation 180!
We landed and checked into our hotel, which was a villa in the area called Seminyak, just north of the airport. It was very quiet and friendly, and we got a lovely room. We spent the rest of Friday swimming. On Saturday, our driver took us to the shopping area of Seminyak – I hadn’t seen so many white people in months! It was very touristy. We bought a few trinkets and sun gear and headed off to the beach for the day.
Everyone said to stay away from Kuta Beach, which is famous for both being phenomenally busy, as well as home to some of the world’s most ridiculously stereotypical beach bums. So of course we stayed far, far away. We instead asked our driver to take us “to a nice beach”, and he took us to one south of the airport in Jimbaran. It was really nice, mostly because there were very few people there – we felt as though we almost had the whole beach to ourselves. The kids loved jumping over the waves that crashed into the shore. But the beach experience was somewhat diminished by the time we were ready to leave, as some garbage washed up on shore as we were packing up. It might have been more surprising if it weren’t for every single person who has ever been to Bali who told us that garbage on the beaches was pretty normal.
On Sunday, we decided to spend the day in Ubud, which is the cultural capital of Bali. It’s also where the book/movie Eat Pray Love takes place, so apparently it had has a big jump in tourism in the past few years. Not really our thing. But it was lovely. On the way, our driver took us to a Batik factory, where, although it was mostly a tourist trap, you could see the real way of hand-painting and dyeing Batik fabric. We also stopped at a silver factory, where a roomful of workers hand-molded and polished silver jewellery using ore from Kalimantan.
Once we arrived in Ubud itself, we visited Monkey Forest, which, unsurprisingly, was full of monkeys. J liked them at first, but then one tried to jump on her and she cried the rest of the way, “Bad scratchy monkeys!” Besides the monkeys, there were some beautiful old temples and statues in a river gully within the forest. It was a pretty little jewel of a place.
For lunch, we visited the famous Ibu Oka’s to try the “babi guling” – roasted suckling pig. It was featured on Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. It was delicious! And the waitresses loved J and kept doing her hair and trying to feed her – this is common here. I think we’re the tourist attraction most of the time.
After lunch we toured the old royal palace and had our fill of fancy carvings and beautiful statues. Our favourite thing about these temples is that the people (or animals) in those carvings were dressed in saris. And I don’t mean that they were carved to look like they were wearing saris, I mean that the locals actually went around and physically wrapped saris around the statues. It was cute.
After an afternoon of wandering around the shops and bazaars, we headed home and passed away the night watching movies and ordering room service. We spent Monday morning by the pool again before flying home. Vacation achievement!