Have you noticed….Bali

You are sitting on the plane or in the car. You are on the way back home after a wonderful trip. Does your mind go through all the things you did  in those days? Do you relive those beautiful moments over and over?

We always ask our kids what they enjoyed most of our trip. The funny fact is that they only remember the most recent days of a 17 day vacation! The truth is that when you are traveling, you see so much. Unfortunately by the time it is over, the first days seem so far away. Almost as if they happened in another time of your life! That is why I love taking millions of pictures. It is a way to visually keep the trip alive. We also ask our kids to write some “facts” that impressed them daily. Hopefully one day, they will look back in their little journals and their writing will bring them back to those memories.

Family photo
Bali was an amazing experience for us. Just like in Thailand a few months ago, we all had to step out of our comfort zone. We left our routine behind and embraced a very different way of life. Different traditions, different uses and different food. It is a very liberating experience to be able to do this, also if just temporarily. It felt good to let go of the routine and securities and welcome a little unknown. Sometimes it may feel like it is more challenging with kids. But the truth is that they follow a lot of what you do as a parent. So their discomfort often simply replicates yours, also if you try not to show it or simply don’t realize it.

So here is our little “online journal” about this memorable first trip to Bali.

Here is what we noticed about Bali…….

Bathrooms

In most places they are outside. Enclosed of course, but under the moon (or sun). One night I took a shower with a frog. Instead one morning I almost smashed a worm, because I did not see him!

There aren’t ceilings or sometimes any glass to the windows, so bugs, ants and geckos are often keeping you company at night! In one of the hotels we visited, every night huge ants would show up in the bathroom. On the bright side, they were gone the next morning. Our kids were a little scared the first couple of days, but shortly after they hardly noticed the bugs anymore!

House photos collage
The food

Hopefully you are not a picky eater, because there aren’t many options in their traditional cuisine. It is mainly rice or noodles with fish or meat, vegetables and eggs. However most places also offer an international cuisine. Some of the Italian restaurants here are truly amazing! Trust me you are not going to starve in Bali!

Most accommodations offer breakfast. When you are staying in a Villa, some will come and cook for you in the morning. It was a fascinating experience for the kids, they loved watching the people cook and chat with them. It a great moment of interaction with locals.

food collage
Driving

We were going to rent a car and be the awesome family that went all over the island by ourselves. However once my husband got there he realized that it truly wasn’t an option. The roads are tight, some people can be pretty wild drivers and many road signs are nowhere to be found. Last but not least, the parking is impossible! So if we did try doing it on our own, we would never have seen as much as we did! We would have wasted our time getting lost or trying to park! However you can easily bargain on a good price with a driver. This will give you so much more freedom in your exploration. The car won’t be your concern anymore.

We did learn something from this experience though. If a driver doesn’t know a road to get somewhere, he will simply try to convince you that it isn’t worth going or he will want to go the only way he knows also if it is longer. Our driver was awesome the whole time, however we had this issue with him. On our insistence he did venture the unknown way and after taking lots of wrong turns we made to our destination!

Cars are also small, although they can magically fit lots of people and luggage! However after 2 or 3 hours on the road with 3 kids in a tight space, you really need to get out! Specially considering that there are many winding roads, and no high ways. So of course we did many stops to visit temples!

If you want to try a different thrill, ride on a motorbike! Rent it or ride as a passenger. In some areas they are the only way of getting to the hotel, in case you want to avoid walking a few kilometers. You can find a motorbike taxi stop along the road. You will be amazed of how many people and kids they can squeeze on one of those little things! In order to get to one of our hotels, 3 motorbikes came to pick up our kids and all our luggage. It was impressive to see how balanced they were with all the stuff and people they had to carry!

transportation
Shopping

After walking though one of the many markets outside of a temple, I taught my kids a new way of defining them “tourist traps”, they love it!

There are millions wherever you go! You want to see a temple? A waterfall? A beach? These little markets are all the way there! Keep in mind that if you stop in one, everyone else will beg you to stop in theirs to check their stuff as well. Of course they will also ask you to buy something, in order to bring them “good luck”! They believe that the first sale of the day will bring many more. These ladies are good at asking you crazy prices (which I’m sure some tourist will just give them), but as our driver explained you have to bargain…..a lot! They are very good at making you feel guilty, but they love the bargain game!

markets
Pure (Temple)

Pure is a Balinese Hindu temple and the place of worship for adherents of Balinese Hinduism in Indonesia. Most of the Puras are found on the island since Hinduism is the main religion. However many Puras exist in other parts of Indonesia where there are a significant numbers of Balinese people.

The Mother Temple of Besakih is the most important, largest and holiest temple in Bali. Since many of Puras have been built on the island, Bali obtained the nickname of “The island of a Thousand Puras”. It is amazing to go and visit these temples, watch the Balinese prepare for some type of ceremony or celebration. You can feel their faith just by being around them…

temples
The people

Balinese are very simple and friendly people. We have learned this thanks to the ones we met and the many aspects of Balinese life that Gede (our driver) told us about.

They follow their traditions and respect them. They are happy and have a very deep faith that guides them through life. They are kind and respectful in most places.

In some areas they might seem a little less friendly, but I have a feeling that the high presence of tourists and the attitude that many give them is what causes it. I have noticed many tourists that show up and act like it is their island. They don’t behave as guests that should be respectful for being in such a beautiful place. Wouldn’t you stop being kind in those situations?

They love kids! We have met so many kind people who have been very sweet to our kids. They listened to them. They tried to interact with them, also when the language was a challenge, or simply smiled at them. In our first home, the manager that made our breakfast, entertained Luca so we could eat our meal without him throwing everything on the floor. I never asked him to do that, he just enjoyed watching my little wild child walk all over the place!

balinese
What can I say, it has truly been a beautiful experience.

A few months have gone by from our return home, but our memory of Bali is still very much alive! We look forward to going back next year to explore new parts that we haven’t seen this time…….

Check out our Bali Photo Gallery to see some of its beauty!

UPDATE: a few years have gone by and our travels to Bali have continued so check out more of our posts!

Cosimo

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