Bali trip was C's third holidays trip (after Sydney and Jakarta), he was almost 2 years old at that time. I don't like beaches but I quite like going to Bali (especially Ubud). My husband loves beaches but he doesn't like going to Bali. Confused?! I am! :-) It took me a lot of time and effort to convince him (=my husband) to go there. I can understand his reason - Bali can be too touristy.
Some tips to make your stay in Bali more enjoyable if you want to avoid that "touristy" feeling are:
- Do not go to Kuta Beach or stay in this area. The beach is not nice anyway and the traffic can be bad. Too many shops.
- Do not go during big holidays period like local school holidays (June/July), Eid al-Fitr or Hari Raya holidays (the time change every year, you may google to check the exact time), and Christmas / New Year holidays (anyway it's rainy season, usually it would rain and rain every day).
- Do not go to big beach club as they can be very crowded. Unless you are the type who enjoy a very big crowd. We don't.
- Find secluded beaches to visit, instead of the usual ones that everybody visit.
We chose to go in October and stayed in Seminyak area (which by now has became more crowded than before. The next time we go to Bali, we may need to find a different area that is more quiet). We chose to stay in a villa with a private pool instead of staying in the big hotel / resort. After an extensive research, we found this nice place with many excellent reviews called Villa Bali Asri in Seminyak.
Indeed, it's a lovely one-bedroom villa (they do have other villas within the same compound with more bedrooms) in a quiet neigbourhood, just about 200 metres away from Seminyak beach and about 750 metres away from KuDeTa. The villa has an open concept - the living room and dining room is overlooking the pool and so is the bedroom. The bathroom inside the bedroom is also partly open (the shower is under the open sky). There is a little pond with fish just at the back of the living room, next to the kitchen. The breakfast was served in the villa, every morning the chef came and prepared the breakfast. Yummy!
Now... let's go to the not-so-good news for those who don't fancy showering with creepy creatures looking at you! They were everywhere! First, let me mention the home lizards that made me scream my lungs out!!! Second, the frogs that were stationed in the bathroom together with some home lizard. Third, the big balinese lizards called Tokek on the ceiling of our living room - and possibly in the ceiling of our bedroom. I was very worried they were going to fall on me!!! Fourth, the mosquitos which were more welcomed by me compared to the previous three (make sure you bring mosquito repellent). The only two creatures I enjoy were the fish in the pond and a cute turtle who stayed near the swimming pool.
What a four nights full of suspense for me! Anyway... enough about the villa (which I still highly recommend if you are fine with the creatures), let's go exploring the island :-)
We went to Seminyak Beach but C was still not so keen about playing in the sand so only my husband went to the water but the wave was not suitable for doing bodysurf. We didn't spend much time and headed to a restaurant for lunch, Chandi. Highly recommended, we loved their food. For sunset watching and early dinner (since we have kid, our dinner time follows his schedule, at 5.30 pm), we chose Breeze at The Samaya Seminyak. While the sunset was spectacular, the food there was overpriced.
We rent a car without a driver as we preferred to have our own privacy. In Indonesia, I have always been the driver because my husband's driving capability is obviously not up to standard for Indonesia's traffic and road condition (hahaha!). The only problem with driving our own was to find a parking space. It can be a challenge, surprisingly, although we went during off-peak season.
The next morning, we drove to Padang Bai, about 60 km north-east of Seminyak. We went to Blue Lagoon Beach, a secluded beach where you can do snorkeling and diving. It's a nice beach, I quite like it. While my husband did the snorkeling, C and I were under the shade (aha!) playing with the sand. C didn't feel comfortable to go near the water.
We had lunch in a small eating place that looked most convincing - not many options of restaurants there. We were very careful about this as we didn't want to get a food poisoning. For our toddler, we have packed food from the villa (this is the trick we always do when we visit a place with doubtful food hygiene - we always do research prior to the trip).
After lunch, we drove to another secluded beach nearby, a very beautiful white sandy beach called Bias Tugal Beach. The wave was nice to do bodysurf and the beach was very clean and quiet. But it was not too easy to get to, it required some effort. From where we parked our car (and it's not even a proper parking spot), we had to walk quite a few hundred metres on a rocky path to reach the beach. On the way back from the beach to the car, I carried C with a baby carrier and somehow managed to fall down, luckily, I covered his head with my left hand so he didn't bump his head to the rocks and my right palm missed a few centimetres from broken glasses. Pffhhh!
Another beach to visit the following day was Balangan Beach, about 25 km south of Seminyak. This is another nice and quiet beach, well known for surfing. Here in Balangan Beach, there are beach umbrellas and chairs we can rent for an hour or so (unlike the previous two at Padang Bai).
From Balangan Beach, it makes sense to drive to Uluwatu, about 15 km south-west to enjoy the sunset and the magical Kecak Dance. I did this in my previous trip and it was one of the key highlight. This time however, we decided not to do it because it might be a bit too late for our toddler (his bed time is around 7 pm). We decided to head back to Seminyak and enjoyed the sunset in KuDeTa, just 800 metres away from our villa. Although we went during off-peak season, it was full.
The next morning, we drove about 35 km north-east to Ubud, my favourite place in Bali. I love Ubud because of its cool(er) weather, terraced rice fields, the art and the culture. We stayed in a one-bedroom villa in Ubud Green Resort Villas. The surroundings are really nice - so much greeneries and the restaurant is overlooking terraced rice fields. But the layout of the villa itself is not nice. The bedroom is located on the first floor and the living room / common room is on the second floor while the stairs are located outside the room. There was no way we could leave our son sleeping in the bedroom while we watched television in the living room. This villa lay-out doesn't work for us.
The most impressive meal we had during this Bali trip was the lunch we had in Swept Away at The Samaya Ubud. The restaurant is located inside the resort compound, just by the river. It's just so beautiful and so serene. The taste of the food was fantastic! The whole experience was just lovely. We had to ride the hotel buggy from the parking area to the restaurant. Highly recommended restaurant.
We spent some time to look for paintings (which I enjoyed very much) but unable to agree on one painting that we both like :-) So we did not buy anything.
We had dinner at Indus Restaurant (probably one of my favourite place in Ubud, mainly for the view. I just love the greeneries so much and the cozy feeling when I am inside the restaurant. I've been there a few times). After dinner, we took C to see the traditional Balinese dance, Legong Dance, at Pura Taman Saraswati, a Balinese Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Sarasvati. The temple is famous for its Lotus pond. C loved it so much. Whenever the music stopped, he said : more! more!
The day after, our last day in Ubud, we had lunch at Casa Luna (Jln Raya Ubud). It is located in a short distance from Ubud Palace. We walked to see around after lunch and visited Ubud Palace (Puri Saren Agung), where people were busy preparing the Royal Cremation Ceremony.
Overall, it was a nice and relaxing holidays. The pace of the trip was definitely slower compared to my previous trips to Bali (without kid, which I will cover in a separate posting) and the type of activity done was different . The key highlight was visiting the secluded beaches and enjoying the greeneries in Ubud.