Other than trekking in Ubud, nipping to a few temples here and there and then scaling the spectacular Kawah Ijen, our time in Bali was spent relaxing around Legian and sometimes Kuta in the south of Bali.
We stayed in Legian which is much quieter and as we found out, massively cheaper than Kuta. I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference between the two in terms of locality other than Legian is further up the beach and Kuta further down. I suspect we spent most of our days between both places never really knowing where exactly we were (unless you go to Discovery mall at the far south, then you are definitely in Kuta)
But the point is, the two places merge into one and the most defining way to realise is either the costs, or the standard of the beach.
The strip of sand running down then length from Seminyak – Legian – Kuta is pretty much the same the whole way. It’s proper sand, the sort you can build castles with, and the type where it allows you to dig half the way to England. But whereas Legian is clean, Kuta is full of cig butts and bottle tops.
An example of the disparity in price is that in Kuta a boogie board was going to skin me 100,000 (£6) for a couple of hours, yet in Legian it was just 25,000.
Bali attracts Australians all looking for fun and a few Europeans looking for paradise. But largely the south of Bali is a surfers dream and the coastline is just littered with hundreds of hedonistic Australians looking for a rush of adrenaline, with a few British folk who have convinced themselves on the 15 hour flight over that surfing is as easy at it looks on tv….
Not wanting to embarrass any thrill seekers with my obvious surfing skills, I decided the kids and I would stick to something a little more family friendly and so I hired a boogie board (or body board), and then gave the kids a five minute lesson like I actually knew what I was talking about. Once we had sussed it out though it was brilliant, the waves in Bali are huge and easily dwarf the kids by up to five or six times. We realised that you have to catch the wave just before it breaks and you sort of throw the board downwards following the wave, if you nail it, then it accelerates you for the duration of the wave which could be about 100 metres and right up to the shore. Genuinely, after about an hour I was doing barrel rolls and axis spins and the kid in me was let out in full force. The kids loved it every bit as I did and we had a memorable and forgotten afternoon where the hours just flew by.
And really that was the vein of things in Bali, we went to relax, to see if we could love it and we spent some five or so days sleeping in, making our way to the beach, chilling out, grabbing lunch and then spending the afternoon on the beach.
We laughed with locals, had manicures, pedicures, henna tattoos, beers, bought crafts, straw hats and loved every single second. Every day ended with a mooch back to the gorgeous hotel we were staying in and calling into markets and shops en route and we realised that just about everything in Legian can be bought for 20,000 IDR (£1.20)
But really, that was our time in Bali, we became proper beach bums and have the straw like hair and deep tans to prove it. And it was nice, as those of you that have followed our travels will know, we rarely relax due to our get in, get it done and get out mentality. As a parent I sometimes over look the importance of down time and for us to schedule five days of nothingness is practically unheard of and it has taught me a valuable lesson that though the kids love culture, exploring and adventure; they also love jumping waves, digging holes and burying each other in the sand. And as their dad I love seeing them love life without concern, boundaries and restriction. Bali became our Costa Del Sol (albeit on steroids) and we laid back so much we kind of began to shuffle as we moved around. And then there were the locals 🙂 they are hilarious and rarely did an hour pass by where we didn’t find ourselves in absolute stitches, whether it be some guy trying to demonstrate how effective the Viagra he was trying to shift without the kids realising what he was talking about, or when I was trying on some glasses and a truck full of midgets all doing Saturday night fever cruised past with deep bass.
The Balinese showed themselves to be gentle, friendly, welcoming and the type of people you just love to know. Everything was a joke and they laughed like they were living the dream. They are the sort of people that will nip your arse as you walk past and then blame a mate sat texting, go along with it and what ensues is a window into a world where laughing and enjoying life is what matters. No pressures, no hassles, just a will to live life to the full and for me that sums up what we found in Bali.
We were blessed with blue skies every day and I don’t think the daily temperature dropped below 36 degrees allowing for us to stroll around carefree with the bodies out and I even grew a porn tash in recognition of just how relaxed we really were.
I write this now on the 6.20am flight to Singapore which is the 13th flight of the trip and meaning we only have two left. Those two flights are the homeward bound ones with a flight to Saudi Arabia and then one into London.
We arrived into Bali expecting the worst but hoping for the best, and we leave Bali having had one of the most amazing and relaxing spells of any of our trips. And though we didn’t actually do a lot, we achieved what we wanted and even when I was screwed a departure tax of 150,000 IDR (a tenner-ish) we cared more that we were leaving behind not just Bali, but Indonesia. And though at times it was hard, and we reached new levels of exhaustion, as a family we found our paradise and made memories that will last a lifetime.
It is with absolute sadness that we face the last part of the summer and I genuinely have a lump in my throat recognising that this dream is almost over. My family has grown incredibly close, and we have shared emotions at every step. And so with just 20 minutes of this flight left and Singapore coming into view I wrap up a dream and Bali and look forward to our last part of tour summer holiday of a lifetime.