Bali – The first two weeks – Days 154 – 168

Two girls looking at rice field

Finally, the weather we had been chasing! It was allegedly the rainy season but we saw little rain and were blessed with hot, sunny days for our first two weeks in Bali. We based ourselves in the south of Ubud at an accommodation called Villa Ole. We planned to spend two weeks there and then relocate to the north of the city. Paige’s family was expected to arrive for Christmas and we would need a larger place. We relished our time in Ubud and got off on the right foot. The children got beautiful tans, we explored the surrounding areas and, most importantly, we slowed things down.

Paigey and I decided to end the year on a mini health kick. Our diet in Australia was delicious but not the healthiest (how could we pass on fish and chips?). In Bali, we would go vegetarian, which would be the longest I had forgone meat. Fortunately for us, Ubud lends itself well to that lifestyle with vegetarian options aplenty. Jackfruit tacos, tofu and tempeh all became our best friends. Another health bonus is that alcohol is ridiculously overpriced (relative to the cost of food) so that was easy for me to forego. Outside of diet concessions, we also explored exercise options in the area. We checked out the Titu Badu fitness club for 10 minutes but quickly realized that was not our scene. Instead, we opted for a steady diet of laps in our surprisingly large pool and 5 km walks in the town and surrounding rice fields. By the end of the two weeks, we had definitely offset the impact of our time in Australia.

Each day we would try and walk a different section of town. Ubud is a compact city with one main east-west road and a couple north-south roads. This means that traffic can get ridonkulous where the roads intersect the main street. When you add the impact of religious ceremonies (that shut down sections of the road for processions), getting around by car can be time-consuming. But everyone, including the drivers, were positive and we were forced to slow down and go with the flow. There is no honking and the intersections work with cars getting through without the traffic lights working. Since our villa was 4km south of the city centre, we needed to take a cab to the centre each time. Since 4km is nothing for the kids, we tried walking into town on our first day. It was a one-and-done affair as there was no sidewalk and we were forced to walk on the road. It wasn’t safe in the least with trucks and scooters whizzing by. But once in town, walking was a breeze. We would spend hours jumping in and out of air-conditioned store fronts. With the kids beginning to outgrow their clothes, many of the stores would get a sale as we loaded up on dresses, loose-fitting pants and lightweight shirts.

Family in raft on jungle river

Eating healthy, swimming laps and walking around town doesn’t appeal to most children. To keep Izzy and Julie onboard we planned a special outing every few days. The two most memorable were rafting and our visit to Waterbom. We stumbled upon the idea of rafting when speaking to the owner of Villa Ole. I told him we wanted to go rafting but that Julie was too young. He said that his kids loved rafting and went when they were Julie’s age. Intrigued, I asked if he knew anyone who would let Julie go and what the cost would be. He made a phone call and the entire family could go for $120. Blown away at the price, one day later, we were off to the outfitters to get our gear. The fit of Julie’s helmet and lifejacket would fall under the questionable parenting bucket. We then jumped into a truck bed with metal benches welded inside and took off down the road. The kids loved the sketchiness. We arrived at a canyon with a 15 minute hike down the cliff facing us. Again the children loved the sketchiness. While I held the railing with a death grip, they skipped down the steps unaware of the height. It was worth it as the river was surrounded by steep cliff faces and jungle overgrowth. The kids clambered into the raft and off we went. The kids sat in the back with the guide. They giggled and squealed the whole way down the relatively tame river (it hadn’t rained in over a week) so it turned out to be an excellent intro to rafting. Funny Story: Our sister raft veered into a rock face less than a minute into the journey. Everyone was jumping around their raft and we thought they were the worst rafters ever. It turns out that a snake had fallen out of the canopy, landed in the raft and bit one of the tourists (they were ok). What an exciting way to start the adventure! We weren’t afraid as what were the chances that would happen a second time.

Two Girls thumbs up at Park Map in Waterbom

The rafting was great but it was a distant second to our favourite day of the trip so far….Waterbom. Waterbom is an impressive waterpark in the middle of Kuta, Bali. Yes, be skeptical like I was. But it is hands down the best waterpark we have ever been to! Over-the-top kindness from all employees! Immaculate, landscaped grounds! Unbelievable value (family of four for $120)! Surrounded by the craziest slides ever constructed! All day the kids just ran up and down the towers. We went on: python, racing rivers, toilet bowls, zippers….I can’t remember all the names.  Paige and I remarked on how sore our legs were from walking up the towers to the slides.  That never happens at home because you get on six rides a day.  We were averaging 10+ an hour.  The kids progressed from scaredy cats to adrenaline junkies.  By the end of the day, Julie had been on every single ride she was tall enough for. Isabella was going on rides that I closed my eyes on.  At the end of that day, we had high-fived ourselves for being immensely cool parents.

The next two weeks are all about Christmas and family.  We left some activities for later.  The kids have walked down monkey forest road looking for monkeys every day since we got here.  They can’t wait to actually go inside the forest with their nan later.

Where we stayed:

  • Villa Ole: Like family, two bathrooms, pool

By the numbers:

  • Mike’s Rating for Waterbom out of 10: 23 – that’s the highest rating he has ever given
  • Number of times Grab delivered to our villa: 3 – very convenient
  • Number of visits to Simply Social: 7 (once every two days)
  • Difference in price from a Grab versus a taxi:  about 100%
  • Cost for a 30 day 7GB Sim card:  about $8 CAD (I hate Rogers more and more)

Wildlife Spotted:

Severed gecko head on path with ants
  • Fringed Flying Lizard: Had little yellow flaps – was told they sort of glide from trees
  • Bats: They would dive bomb the pool at night – chased Paige away
  • Tokay Gecko: Would live under the sun shades – one morning we found the a head outside our door
  • Monkeys: On the road outside the monkey forest, in the parking lot and on the nearby buildings

Ciao for now,

Mike

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