Owen and the kids returned from UK on August 9th (just in time to celebrate Isabelle’s birthday!), then on August 13th we all flew from Shanghai to Bali for a week of family relaxation before the new school year starts.
Owen had found us a beautiful villa on the beach with its own pool and it was paradise. Because of the flight times, we decided to fly in 1 day early and stay at a hotel near the airport. We checked into Baliwood Property to find a lovely 2 bedroom hotel room. It had a great pool that the kids enjoyed for the morning before it was time to pack up and wait for our driver to take us to Villa Nova at Seminyak.
Kadek arrived on time and was a very entertaining driver. He is very proud of his Country, heritage, traditions and culture and was very eager to share all of that with us. It was fascinating listening to him – a wonderful story telling style with lots of facts and view points. 1 hour later we arrived at the villa = paradise.
The villa had 4 koi fish ponds, a lovely outdoor dining and sitting area, a pool and a private walkway to the beach. It had an open-plan layout, 3 en-suite bedrooms and a very modern kitchen. Best of all, it came with Kadek (our driver) and a wonderful married couple called Ketut and Nyoman who looked after the property and cooked for us. It was truly a treat to be looked after so well.
It was so relaxing to fall asleep listening to the waves rolling in every night. Our beach was a surfers paradise so the ocean was loud enough! It was therapeutic to laze on the cabana, read, watch the kids play in the pool and just let the day float by.
We decided to alternate days at the pool/beach with full activity days. I have already written about our White Water Rafting and Elephant Safari (Bucket List Day) and the Tree Top Adventures. Another day was to Ubud to the many villages that specialise in wood carving, silver work, stone work and painting. These traditions get handed down through generations. One gallery we visited had 15 family members all doing amazing art work in many different mediums. We were so fortunate to have Kadek, such a knowledgeable local, giving us a running commentary as we were driving through this beautiful, amazing Island. They are a very spiritual culture, there are shrines and temples everywhere. Every day, offerings are made to the spirits and Gods in the form of flowers that are specially grown along side rice and other crops. These are presented in woven baskets.
Our visit coincided with Bali Independence festival and there were many flags along the roadside displaying the red and white of Bali colours. There are many festivals in Bali – in fact, Kadek joked that business and schools were shut more than they were open because of all the festivals! Bali is the largest and most popular Island in Indonesia and tourism is the main form of economy. It is classed as a third world environment and in talking with Kadek, this came through in many discussions. For example, Kadek’s wife has to shop every day because not only do they not have a refrigerator, but there is not one in their village. Cock fighting is a popular form of passing the time and a social event for whole villages. Many times we were diverted because roads were closed due to cremation events. These are expensive for Balinese families, but follow a very traditional process. Carved animals and elaborate structures are lovingly created by family members and the entire village. There is a long and loud procession through the streets before the final ceremonial burning. If a family cannot afford to perform this ceremony, they will bury their loved ones, but dig them up later when they can afford to do it.
The Balinese believe that special spirits associated with the Earth live in some of the larger trees on the Island. They will protect these spirits by wrapping the trees in a black and white cloth. We saw these cloths wrapped around some of the shrines too.
As the climate is so temperate there is no set time for planting or reaping. The rice fields are a wonderful site throughout the Island.
Our day to Ubud included a visit to a Jewellery gallery. They make all the silver (and a little gold) on the premises.
Kadek took us to a lovely restaurant on this day trip out. One of the highlights was a pizza oven shaped like a turtle.
Our last stop on this day was to a wood carving gallery. This place had a bird that was a perfect mimic. He was “chatting” away to the kids and even copied Owen’s laugh!
After we completed the Tree Top Adventure we went to the Floating Temple. The lake that the Temple floats on is in the belly of a Volcanic mountain. This made for some great photos as we were so high in the mountains and the clouds were so low.
There are lovely gardens surrounding the Temple with many animal statues. Isabelle and Oliver loved posing with all these:
Owen and I have always said that the world is too large and that there is so much to see, that we would not go back to anywhere that we have previously visited. However, we loved Bali so much, that we have had to revise our thoughts! The people are so friendly and welcoming – always smiling. The land is a mix of mountains, fields, rivers, jungle, beaches, villages and tourist cities. This was a fantastic week away and we will be returning soon.