I can only imagine how many thousands of people have written blogs in, around, and about Bali.
I don't know where to start to be honest, because I have a lot to say about Bali, and it is quite varied and lacking in a tangible storyline, but if you bare with me, we'll get there I'm sure…
This little family adventure started about 6 months ago, when on the eve of my first centrelink parenting payment, Jetstar released flights from Townsville to Bali.
How could I resist?? I said to myself well we don't have any money now but I'm sure we will in 6 months. My payment came through just after I reserved the flights, and it was almost the exact amount to the dollar that I owed Jetstar. I took it as a sign from a higher power that I had done the right thing.
Skip forward a couple of months and I excitedly booked our two hotels, one in Ubud, one in Balangan. You may have heard of Ubud, it is quite a famous village, reknowned originally for the traditional artists living in the area but now seemingly more well known as the yoga capital of the world.
Balangan is a beach spot just enough off the beaten track that it isn't too touristy but still close enough to civilisation if required.
I organised passports, insurance etc, all the boring stuff, and finally the day of our flight arrived.
I was pretty excited. I thought I was going to relax for two weeks, do yoga every day, struggle to find the time to fit in a pedicure in between massages...
did I forget that we have a child?? I definitely forgot that the further out of their comfort zone they get the attention level required for entertainment and keeping said child alive rises exponentially.
Nine days in to the holiday, this is the first day I feel i have truly been able to relax a little, and that is mostly because Sebastian slept for three hours over lunch!
We spent our first week in Ubud, and that is not a child friendly place. The traffic is crazy, there are steps everywhere, plenty of ponds too!
I am not ashamed to say that the most useful item we brought with us was Steves laptop, which we forced Sebastian to watch cartoons on at 5 am so as not to get any more noise complaints from our downstairs neighbours. (middle aged gay male couple, clearly had never spent any time around young children). Peppa (as in the pig) is one of his best pronounced words as of last week.
We have had some great moments though. The monkey forest was a highlight and Sebastian is now monkey crazy. Our hotel had a great pool and we went swimming everyday. Sebastian is now so confident he is jumping in and swimming to us and even putting his head under the water by himself. The food in Ubud is amazing. There are so many organic, raw, healthy eating restaurants with delicious traditional and western options. I would have eaten 5 meals a day if I could. Unfortunately Steve and I both got sick (not Sebastian thank god) so that cut out at least two days of eating time. Such a shame. I didn't get to try the raw cakes!
We had a lovely driver named Wayan who is a friend of Steve's parents. Wayan looked after us on four occasions last week, and also invited us to his home to spend some time with his beautiful family. Wayans girls loved playing with Sebastian, and we spent a few hours sitting on their verandah eating fruit and drinking coconut water, and throwing a ball around. They took us for a walk through the rice paddy behind their home, where we saw tens of Balinese ducks waddling through the rows in long lines. Ducks are another favourite of Sebastians.
One morning was spent at Bali bird park, where Steve bravely confronted his hilarious fear of birds and held not one but two giant parrots. Due to Sebastians napping schedule we could only spend the morning here, it was a little bit pricey for 3 hours of entertainment but if we'd had the whole day it would have been awesome.
Another trip we took from Ubud was to the surf beach Kerammas. Kerammas is a black sand beach and famous for its left break. There is a huge surf comp there every year, but the waves weren't quite that big when we were there. Steve had his first surf of the holiday while Sebastian and I hung out with Wayan and the locals. My brother Alex and his girlfriend Juzzy came with us as well so it was a nice family day.
A few other memorable moments were when Steve and Sebastian were swimming one morning. Steve removed Sebastian from the pool just in time for him to squat and fill his pants, luckily they were tight pants!
Another day Sebastian and I took a walk up the main street of our hotel. For the entire walk, roughly one kilometre, Sebastian waved and said hello to every single person we passed, like travelling royalty. (Which he has been treated like).
We also ran into so many cute and super smart balinese babies! The littlies we met all seemed so advanced, many of them months younger than Sebastian and walking and talking like pros. Must be the constant hang outs with Mum and Dad, and probably lack of Tv's and iPhones!
It seems like so much yet so little has happened in the last week. The constant stream of shops, swims and motorbikes has all been a bit of a blur.
The thing I most wonder about Bali is how it would be if tourists had not started coming here. Ubuds entire economy seems to be based around Tourism. I have travelled to similar places before but never somewhere so overrun and ruled by the desires of Western consumerism. It makes me wonder whether the Balinese people are happy, or would a traditional lifestyle have been better for them? They mostly seem happy enough. The staff at our hotel in Ubud were all incredibly friendly and accommodating, and especially fond of Sebastian.
Maybe that is satisfaction enough, just to serve someone else and make their life better for a little while. I just can't help but feel that we are taking advantage.
Oh Bali, the first week has been a rocky ride. I hope we can be kinder to each other for the next few days. I will definitely write another blog post about you if you're nice to me.
Thanks for reading,
PS I know this is a sin but the photos included are screenshots because the wifi at the hotel is not powerful enough to upload anything bigger. Also the images that uploaded were pot luck, only about 6 out of 20 worked, thankfully my favourite monkey pic made it in.