Tag Archives: Bali

Snorkeling, Surfing and Swimming

While in Beautiful Bali we packed so many activities in to our week there.  Another first for the children was snorkeling.

Kadek drove us to a great beach where there were many water sports available.  We decided to start with snorkeling and then see what else the kids would be up for!  We got suited up with life jackets, masks and snorkels.  My first time snorkeling is a very vivid memory of quick, panic short breaths breathing through the tube.  I found it difficult to remember that I could actually keep my face in the water (something I was not keen on when I was younger) and still breathe.  The ability to see so many wonderful fish is what kept me going back then and now I love it!  Even considering getting dive qualified once the kids are old enough to do it with me and Owen.

So, out onto the boat – just the 4 of us with the captain.  We had to go very slowly over the shallow water which was filled with fishermen!  Once we past them, we sped up and 5 minutes later we arrived at a lovely spot, attached to the buoy and then over the side we went.

We are not that far from land, despite the view from here!  Isabelle and Oliver loved it!

We are not that far from land, despite the view from here! Isabelle and Oliver loved it!

Following a little apprehension about jumping off the side of the boat into the ocean, the kids were soon bobbing about on the ocean.  It took a little more persuasion to mask up and look down, but once they got the hang of it, they both loved it!  We saw a couple of fish that looked like fish from “Finding Nemo” and both children took great delight in pointing these out to us!  They loved the fish that swam slightly higher, the optical illusion of light in the water made it seem like we could touch them.  It was not the best snorkeling that Owen and I have done, but it was a good first for Isabelle and Oliver.

Chilling on the boat after the ocean swim and snorkel!

Chilling on the boat after the ocean swim and snorkel!

Lovely shot of Owen and Isabelle xx

Lovely shot of Owen and Isabelle xx

It was a lovely few hours trying something new again!  Once back at the beach we enjoyed a leisurely time watching the fishermen and other water sport activity.

The kids loved the surf at the beach by our villa.  They spent many hours wave jumping and getting knocked over by the huge waves!

Pure joy on these faces!

Pure joy on these faces!

 

Beautiful Bali

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.

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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.

Welcome to Villa Nova, Seminyak, Bali

Welcome to Villa Nova, Seminyak, Bali

This is the view of our beautiful villa from the pool.

This is the view of our beautiful villa from the pool.

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.

Isabelle and Oliver enjoying the pool.

Isabelle and Oliver enjoying the pool.

How lovely to laze in the cabana, hear the ocean waves crashing on the beach, read a book or play on iPads!!

How lovely to laze in the cabana, hear the ocean waves crashing on the beach, read a book or play on iPads!!

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.

Deserted beach at sunset.  Spectacular colours - the photo does not do it justice!

Deserted beach at sunset. Spectacular colours – the photo does not do it justice!

Playing in the waves.

Playing in the waves.

How our garden was lit up at night.

How our garden was lit up at night.

The sunsets in Bali were wonderful

The sunsets in Bali were wonderful

Just one of the stone carvings by one of the fish ponds.  The children enjoyed feeding them every day.

Just one of the stone
carvings by one of the fish ponds. The children enjoyed feeding them every day.  Check out the lizard on the cheek!

Me and my gorgeous girl with local flowers in our hair.

Me and my gorgeous girl with local flowers in our hair.

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.

One of the hundreds of offerings that we saw around Bali.

One of the hundreds of offerings that we saw around Bali.

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.

This large tree is wrapped in the black and white cloth to protect the Gods and Spirits that live within.

This large tree is wrapped in the black and white cloth to protect the Gods and Spirits that live within.

This local lady is bringing an offering to this shrine.  You can see that this is also protected with the black and white cloth.

This local lady is bringing an offering to this shrine. You can see that this is also protected with the black and white cloth.

Colourful flags to keep the birds away from the rice fields.

Colourful flags to keep the birds away from the rice fields.

Locals harvesting the rice.

Locals harvesting the rice.

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.

A wonderful view of the rice fields.

A wonderful view of the rice fields.

More rice fields

More rice fields

This gallery has 15 family members working in it.  We bought some artwork here!  Wonderful, talented family.

This gallery has 15 family members working in it. We bought some artwork here! Wonderful, talented family.

Our day to Ubud included a visit to a Jewellery gallery.  They make all the silver (and a little gold) on the premises.

This exquisite piece is made from silver by the talented artists in this village.

This exquisite piece is made from silver by the talented artists in this village.

Oliver and Isabelle at the Silver shop.  The gallery is surrounded by fish ponds and they had great fun looking at all the different fish.

Oliver and Isabelle at the Silver shop. The gallery is surrounded by fish ponds and they had great fun looking at all the different fish.

Kadek took us to a lovely restaurant on this day trip out.  One of the highlights was a pizza oven shaped like a turtle.

The turtle pizza oven.

The turtle pizza oven.

Oliver posing by some artwork in the restaurant.

Oliver posing by some artwork in the restaurant.

Me and my little chicks at lunch.  We ate on the upper level and had a fantastic view across the fields.

Me and my little chicks at lunch. We ate on the upper level and had a fantastic view across the fields.

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!

Looking down from the upper level of the restaurant to a pool.

Looking down from the upper level of the restaurant to a pool.

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.

The lake that the Floating Temple is on.

The lake that the Floating Temple is on.  The clouds are so low here and it is much cooler than everywhere else we visited on the Island.

The Floating Temple

The Floating Temple

This photo shows a mosque in the middle of the Temple towers.

This photo shows a mosque in the middle of the Temple towers.

The top of the driveway into the Botanical Gardens where we did the Tree Top Adventure.  The mountains behind this statue are a fabulous back drop.

The top of the driveway into the Botanical Gardens where we did the Tree Top Adventure. The mountains behind this statue are a fabulous back drop.

The bottom of the driveway to the Botanical Gardens.  Look at the flags to celebrate Independence Day.

The bottom of the driveway to the Botanical Gardens. Look at the flags to celebrate Independence Day.

Isabelle by one of the displays floating by the Temple.

Isabelle by one of the displays floating by the Temple.

The roof of the temple is made from palm tree husks/silks.  There are very few on each palm tree so it takes a long time and huge effort to make this.

The roof of the temple is made from palm tree husks/silks. There are very few on each palm tree so it takes a long time and huge effort to make this.

Amazing structure

Amazing structure

A huge tree on the walk down to the Temple.  Again, it is covered in the black and white cloth to keep spirits in.

A huge tree on the walk down to the Temple. Again, it is covered in the black and white cloth to keep spirits in.

Most of the Temples in Bali have an inner and outer area.  We could walk around the outer area, but were not allowed inside.  Here we are on the steps.

Most of the Temples in Bali have an inner and outer area. We could walk around the outer area, but were not allowed inside. Here we are on the steps.

Isabelle and Oliver posing on the steps.

Isabelle and Oliver posing on the steps.

There are lovely gardens surrounding the Temple with many animal statues.  Isabelle and Oliver loved posing with all these:

Riding the giant goldfish!

Riding the giant goldfish!

Roaring with the Tiger

Roaring with the Tiger

Getting eaten by the bear

Getting eaten by the bear

Flying with the Eagle

Flying with the Eagle

With Dad on the lizard

With Dad on the lizard

By the deer

By the deer

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.

Beautiful Temples all over the Island.

Beautiful Temples all over the Island.

Treetop Adventures in Bali

The Treetop Adventure Park in the Botanical Gardens in Bali gave us several hours of thrills and excitement.  There are 7 adventure circuits within the trees from between 2 – 20 meters high.  In total there are 72 challenges including Suspended Bridges, Spider Nets, Tarzan Jumps, Flying-Fox, Flying Swings, and many more fun challenges.  All of the circuit platforms are held in place using an innovative compression system to protect trees from any damage and all of the cables are protected from cutting into the trees.

Once we arrived, we were kitted up in the safety harnesses with pulley and carabiners.  We then completed the training circuit where all of us learned how to  work the safety harness (1 of the 2 carabiners must always be attached to the guide wires) and how to work the pulleys for the flying fox zip lines.

The different circuit levels for ages 4 - 74!

The different circuit levels for ages 4 – 74!

The 4 of us having fun on the wires in the treetops!

The 4 of us having fun on the wires in the treetops!

We started on the Squirrel Yellow Circuit and Isabelle was straight up and taking the lead.  She was so confident and having so much fun doing it!  She was a little scared at some points but managed to keep going.  Oliver, who always wants to do everything that Isabelle does, kept up with us all on everything!

Isabelle high in the trees!

Isabelle high in the trees!

Oliver climbing like a monkey!

Oliver climbing like a monkey!

Smiling in the tunnels!

Smiling in the tunnels!

Owen on the Flying Fox Zip Line

Owen on the Flying Fox Zip Line

Me getting confident on the Flying Fox Zip line - look, no hands!!

Me getting confident on the Flying Fox Zip line – look, no hands!!

Once we had finished the Yellow Circuit, we went on to do the Green and Orange Circuits.  My heart was thumping on the Orange Circuit, and I was not sure that I was going to be able to finish……  (I used to be such a dare devil, but the older I get, the more I do not like heights).  However, seeing that Isabelle and Oliver had both finished this round, I could not let them see me wimp out!

Super nervous on this one.  Owen had to talk me through it!  I was so happy to finish this circuit!

Super nervous on this one. Owen had to talk me through it! I was so happy to finish this circuit!

Walking high and confident!

Walking high and confident!

Isabelle loving 1 of the Flying Fox Zip Wires

Isabelle loving 1 of the Flying Fox Zip Wires

Oliver on 1 of the Flying Fox Zip Wires

Oliver on 1 of the Flying Fox Zip Wires

After we had completed the 3 circuits that the kids could do, they wanted to start all over again!  So, we went round again, but this time Oliver went first.

Owen and Isabelle on round 2!

Owen and Isabelle on round 2!

Oliver in the lead!

Oliver in the lead!

So much fun!

So much fun!

Wheeee - we love Bali!!!!

Wheeee – we love Bali!!!!

 

A Bucket List Day

In 2009, after watching the movie “The Bucket List” and after going through a full physical for the first time in my life(!!), I wrote my own Bucket List.  Number 1 on my list is: “African Safari – ride an Elephant, see Gorilla’s in the wild, see Victoria Falls (between Zambia and Zimbabwe).”  There are 78 items on my Bucket List and vary from the very simple (Number 12 – See a spectacular sunrise. This one is complete – it was the sunrise from top of Mount Haleakalā on Maui Island in Hawaii) to the hard-to-achieve (Number 77 – take off and land in a plane on an aircraft carrier in the ocean).  Number 25 on my list is “Go White Water Rafting”.

On Thursday August 15th in Bali, I managed to do 1.5 items off my Bucket List!  After a 45 minute drive from our villa in Seminyak to the Bali Adventure Tour center, we were shown to the locker room.  After stowing our change of clothes, we then went to get kitted out in helmets, life jackets and collect our paddles!

Ready to go!  Oliver & Isabelle with Wayan, our fantastic guide.  Life vest - check; helmet - check; paddle - check!

Ready to go! Oliver & Isabelle with Wayan, our fantastic guide. Life vest – check; helmet – check; paddle – check!

As you can see, they are used to children as young as Isabelle and Oliver as all their gear was sized for them.  There were about 500 steps down from the reception center to the River Ayung.  These are well built, with solid handrails and are wide enough to accommodate a couple of people.  It is just a long walk down – Owen and the kids had jelly legs at the bottom!

The view from half way down the 500+ steps

The view from half way down the 500+ steps

Nearly there!

Nearly there!

Isabelle and Oliver were a little bit scared at this point.  Time for a Family Jones Motto" Feel the Fear, and Do It Anyway!"

Isabelle and Oliver were a little bit scared at this point. Time for a Family Jones Motto: “Feel the Fear, and Do It Anyway!”

Once in the raft, the action started.  It was just us 4 plus Wayan in our raft, so a very personalized and fun experience.  The rafts had safety ropes and foot holes and none of us fell out!!  We spent about 2.5 hours going down a 9.6km stretch of river, navigating through 33 class II and III rapids.  Superb unspoiled rainforest, rice paddy fields, waterfalls that seem to drop from heaven and the most spectacular 500 meter stone carving were our views for the entire ride.

Posing by a part of the stone carving.

Posing by a part of the stone carving.

Along several parts of our journey, Wayan stopped the raft so that we could get out and take photos and stand underneath ice cold waterfalls!  The picture above is just one small section of the 500 meter long carving in the rock.

Rock Carving

Rock Carving

More Rock Carving

More Rock Carving

More Rock Carving

More Rock Carving

Posing with another part of the Rock Carving

Posing with another part of the Rock Carving

Time to move on :-)

Time to move on 🙂

This ice cold waterfall appeared to fall out of the trees.  It was very powerful and none of us could stand under for more than a couple of seconds.

This ice cold waterfall appeared to fall out of the trees. It was very powerful and none of us could stand under for more than a couple of seconds.

Photo opportunity!

Photo opportunity!

Brrrr - this is cold Mum!

Brrrr – this is cold Mum!

At one point, at a particularly good rapid drop off, Bali Adventure Tour photographers took photos of us.  I love this set of 5 because you can see the surprise in the kids faces as we come over the rapids…..

Woo hoo - this is SOOOOO much fun!

Woo hoo – this is SOOOOO much fun!

Fun, fun, fun

Fun, fun, fun

Over we go.....

Over we go…..

Kids faces are a picture.

Kids faces are a picture.

And, repeat for 32 more times.  Awesome!

And, repeat for 32 more times. Awesome!

Once we reached the end of the rapids, we had to climb back up more stairs.  Another 500 steps and this time all our legs were jelly!!  Oliver, the charmer, was carried some of the way by Wayan.

Wish I had been carried too!

Wish I had been carried too!

When will we get to the top??

When will we get to the top??

The facilities were excellent with good showers (including shampoo and soap!) plus hairdryers.  Once we were all clean, it was up to the top of the building for a buffet meal and rehydration.  Great views over the rain forest and rice fields from here.  This was a very short turnaround as we needed to get in the bus to go to the Elephant Safari park, Taro, Ubud.  This park is an official member of the World Zoo Association and meets International Standards for animal care.  It is set in more than 2 hectares of eco tourism landscaped botanical gardens, surrounded by national forest.  Acclaimed as the World’s Best Elephant Park, the facilities include a full Reception and Information Centre, a comprehensive Museum, with a large collection of elephant memorabilia and the only Mammoth Skeleton in South East Asia.

For people who know me well, this chance to get up close and personal with these incredible animals is a dream.  I have collected elephants in all forms (except for ivory, of course) since I was little.  I have supported specific campaigns through Ele-Friends and the WWF to protect these magnificent creatures.  All of us had the opportunity to hand feed them, touch them, take photos with them, and then – best of all – ride on them in a night time safari.

Arriving, and I am so excited.  This is a dream come true for me.

Arriving, and I am so excited. This is a dream come true for me.

Oliver posing with a lovely statue outside the park.  Little did he know that he was just about to do the same thing with a real one!

Oliver posing with a lovely statue outside the park. Little did he know that he was just about to do the same thing with a real one!

This lovely gentle giant is 30 years old.  I fed him for about 20 minutes!

This lovely gentle giant is 30 years old. I fed him for about 20 minutes!

Owen feeding the Big Daddy!

Owen feeding the Big Daddy!

Oliver and Isabelle being presented with a garland.

Oliver and Isabelle being presented with a garland.

This elephant is resting her trunk on my shoulder and breathing down my back.  It was very ticklish.

This elephant is resting her trunk on my shoulder and breathing down my back. It was very ticklish.

This elephant was our favourite.

This elephant was our favourite.

There are 3 baby elephants in this Safari park and successful breeding is a sure sign of animal wellness.  The elephants in this park are the Sumatran elephant and is the smallest in the world, up to five times smaller than its African cousin (which are actually my favourites).  While they can be gentle and playful, they have strong and unique personalities and get bored and despondent if they are just hanging around.  They also need to exercise, so their rides through the jungle is a key to their happiness and health.  (The weight of two people is easily borne by an 800 kilo creature).  After we had fed a few of the elephants we walked over to the Mother and Baby.

So fuzzy, so cute!

So fuzzy, so cute!

The Mummy's poop contains partially digested food that their babies love and are full of nutrients.  YUCK!

The Mummy’s poop contains partially digested food that their babies love and are full of nutrients. YUCK!

Quite amazing to see these animals sitting down!

Quite amazing to see these animals sitting down!

There was a brief “talent show”.  3 elephants played football, basketball and walked along the beam that these 2 are sitting on above.  While an elephant skillfully kicking a soccer ball or wielding a paint brush may seem a little gimmicky (and made me a little uncomfortable), I have learned that in the wild they will often kick around coconuts, or use sticks, pebbles and leaves to make pictures in the earth.

Isabelle and Owen enjoying their elephant night time ride.

Isabelle and Owen enjoying their elephant night time ride.

WOW - that was BRILLIANT!

WOW – that was BRILLIANT!

BRILLIANT!

AWESOME!

End of the day and the kids could not resist a cuddle with 1 or 2 more statues

End of the day and the kids could not resist a cuddle with 1 or 2 more statues

Feeling sorry for the wounded, bandaged ele.

Feeling sorry for the wounded, bandaged ele.

The elephants are beautiful!  They certainly looked healthy and happy.  I believe that the wild is the best place for all animals, but due to human devastation, most of the Elephant land in Sumatra is now unavailable to them.  If you would like to see the elephants that we fed and rode on, then check out this link:

http://earthcam.com/indonesia/bali/?cam=bali1

Oh – I have now completed 19 of the 78 items on my bucket!  Number 25 – complete!  Number 1 – partially complete!