Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bali Adventures Day 9

Woke up early today and had a nice shower for the last time in the amazing Manyi Village. Can't believe it went so fast. I grabbed brekky with Ross, scrambled eggs again with a watermelon juice. Rahni came down and joined us shortly after and ordered a chicken porridge which was strange looking but she said it was quite nice. While we were having breakfast a monkey came down to say hello on the breakfast balcony. I ran to get Mikey from bed so he could see it. He was a bit too late and only managed to see him in the trees and not as close as he was on the balcony.

After breakfast it was time to pack. We heard some horrible screaming noises and crying so we went outside and watched the Balinese guys trying to pull a very malnourished dog from under one of the hotel vills where it was trying to live. The sounds were awful. I don't know what happened to it after that but i'm hoping they looked after it.

Narko came and picked us up about 10am and it was very sad having to leave Ubud as it was so peaceful up there. Narko took us to a temple on the way back to Kuta which we all enjoyed. I don't know what it was called but we went there last year as well. They have amazing statues in there and it's really nice to walk around. We all had to wear sarongs to go in. There were quite a few tourists there.

Next we stopped at an art gallery which was very cool but the paintings were very pricey being originals and from famous bali artists. If I was a millionaire I would bought so many of them they were absolutely beautiful.

We had to stop at a Circle K store to get Mikey a drink and some car sickness tablets as the long drive was making him queasy. After that we finally arrived at the hotel. The Harriss Resort is very orange haha. All their decor has an orange theme which is refreshing and bright. The resort is in a great location but the hotel itself is pretty average. We checked in and unpacked and then took a wander up to the Beachwalk Shopping Mall which is about ten steps from the hotel lobby. Perfect!!

Ross got an eye test there and ordered some reading glasses and they are much cheaper in Bali than Australia. I grabbed a starbucks coffee with Rahni and it was much nicer than the last one I had. We saw some signs saying that there was a food court upstairs so we headed up there for a late lunch as it was almost 4. It was quite confusing up there but we got it eventually. Basically you purchase a food card before you enter the court with a minimum of $10 and you top it up whenever you like. That card is then used to purchase food and drinks from any of the food vendors in the court. The court looked like a cute french street but was filled with all kinds of different cuisines like Indian, vietnamese, asian, indonesion etc etc.

I ordered mie goreng with prawns but I swapped with Mikey who chose Nasi Goreng and it was too spicy for him. The food was ok but it wasn't amazing. We quickly checked out a few of the shops which were all boutique stores including TopSHop, Miss Selfridge, Body Shop, Victoria's Secret, OPI, Adidas etc. After that we all headed down to Kuta Beach for a quick dip.

Once again we were bugged for surfing lessons and hair braiding but we just politely said no and kept walking.

Back at the hotel we chilled for the rest of the night. Ross went out to grab coffee with a friend from Australia who just happened to be staying across the road. While he was out I watched tv and the kids crashed out also watching tv in their interconnecting room. The best part about this hotel is that we get our own rooms. The kids even have their own key so they have some freedom from us parents.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Bali Adventures Day 8

Last day up in Ubud today and we were all tired from the last few days of sightseeing and tours so we all had a nice sleep in. Breakfast at the hotel was American style eggs and bacon on toast with a fruit platter.

We all got ready and the hotel organised a driver for us to drive down and drop us off in the centre of Ubud for shopping in the markets and to grab some lunch. As it was our final day we just wanted to have a relaxed day just walking around. The kids and I were quite anxious at the markets after our experience in Kuta and Ubud markets are so much bigger it was quite overwhelming and we didn't want to barter with the balinese. We just wandered for the first hour and then we worked out what we wanted to buy and went back to a few places to start shopping.

Mikey was first up and I made him do the sale himself as I believed it was an experience he should try at least once without mum's help. He found a souvenir bali surfboard on a stand that he wanted for his bedroom. The seller offered it at $18.00 but Mikey bargained him down to $13 which was still too pricey but Mikey was only 11 and he had tried really well so we purchased it, Mikey was happy with his purchase and I was proud that he gave it a go.

Rahni was up next when she discovered a rack full of bracelets and necklaces outside a stall. We let her bargain herself and she got a Yin Yang necklace for $1.20, Ross showed her another little trick to bartering, by purchasing in pairs for a good price and they got 2 necklaces for $2.00 so that the lady didn't have to give us any change which she was happy with.

After that we all got into the shopping experience. The markets upstairs were really stuffy and the ones below were quite smelly as they were next to a small rubbish dump. The stalls were all repeating themselves with the same items after a while.

In the end we had a fine collection of souvenirs and items:
I purchased:
- A large wooden painted elephant $27
- A tiled bowl $10
- A tasseled top $6
- A silk dress $30
- Harem Pants $9
- A flat cap $10

Mikey purchased:
- small wooden penguin $6
- Slingshot $6
- Surfboard $13
- Skull ring $5

Rahni purchased:
- Earrings $5 (which turned out to be quite rusty)
- Chinese Fortune Bunting $8
- Bookmark $2
- Dress $20
- Necklace $1.20

and Ross purchased:
- Dragon Statue $24
- Singlet $4

After we sat down and looked at it all we really did pay too much for what other people pay just a few dollars for when they are in Bali but we had a good time and a few laughs with the Balinese along the way and we all got what we wanted. So no harm done.

We had lunch at Coco Express which was quite pricey and fairly average food. It was also really hot that day and the restaurant only had one fan which didn't help much. I shared a BBQ chicken pizza with Ross and I had an energy juice which was the best part. Rahni chose a soup which ended up being a bad choice with the weather and Mikey just chose fish and chips which was the smallest dish we had seen so far.

After lunch we wandered around the streets of Ubud a bit more and grabbed some yummy sweets from Breadlife, I chose a Banana Split Cake was which SUPER yum! and then we called the hotel to come and pick us up. We had to wait a while but it was entertaining watching everyone go past and we watched massive groups of Asian tourist catching all their buses and getting on tours.

Later that evening Ross borrowed a scooter from the hotel security guard and went for a ride down to the shops and we had noodles for dinner in the hotel while watching Daddy Day Care on tv and Ross looked for a new hotel for tomorrow morning.

We booked Harriss Resort in Kuta quite close to where we were at Bali Garden so we will see if it is any good tomorrow :)

I spent the rest of the evening researching tips on haggling and things to do in Kuta.

Bali Adventures Day 7

At the Tanah Lot Temple

Today my headache was much better. I could actually get out of bed and eat something without wanting to pass out. Today was the day of our day tour with Ketut. Last year on our honeymoon Ketut took u on a day tour and we had so much fun and he was such a fantastic tour guide that we booked him again for our family trip.

Ketut picked us up from the hotel at 8am and went over the day we had planned and let us add a few things onto the tour and take some things off. First off we went to see a Barong Dance. We arrived at the venue and purchased our tickets and we were all given copies of the Barong tale to read through as we watched the dance.

There were some barong dancers in their full costumes who let us take photos with them before the show. The costumes were absolutely gorgeous. Ketut also took us out the back of the venue to teach us about the offerings that an old lady was putting together and to also explain a bit about the costumes and characters. Ketut left us after that to enjoy the show.

Mikey enjoyed the characters in the performance and we were both huge fans of the cheeky monkey. The music was interesting and the story was a little difficult to follow but enjoyable none the less. There was some very funny scenes and a few scenes that I was a bit unsure if kids should be watching. But they just laughed along and I don't think they quite understood it all.

After the show a lady came up to us selling plates that had our photos on them that we took with the balinese dancers. Ross got into the spirit of it all and purchased one for $8.

Next up we headed up to a traditional balinese primary school so that we could see what the schools were like and also meet the children. Ketut had to ask permission from the headmaster to go in and he let us meet with a grade 4 class. They were absolutely adorable and so excited to see foreigners in their classroom. This experience was truly amazing and I will never forget it. Ketut explained to us that one of the things they learn in school is English at that having us in their classroom would be a great experience for them to practice their English so we bought gifts in for them like colouring books, pencils and pens and we got to ask them questions and choose a student to answer. Whoever got it right in English got have a present. It was lots of fun.
Ross asked "What Day is it today"
Rahni asked "What their favourite colour was"
Mikey asked "What time it was"
and I asked "What their favourite sport was" and the little I chose with his hand up so eagerly answered "I like to play basketball"
We had 5 prizes in total and the last prize was a bigger than the others so we had to ask a harder question. At the beginning of the meeting we had to introduce ourselves to the class so Ross asked them who could remember his name. One kid stood up tall with his hand in the air and when we picked him to answer he remembered not only Ross, but all of our names and tried s hard to say them clearly. It was so sweet.

One kid really liked Mikey and they high fived each other which got all the kids excited so their teacher told Mikey he could high five everybody if he liked. The kids were so happy. It was truly amazing and something I hope Mikey always remembers and cherishes.

Next place on our tour list was heading up to a traditional market where all of the businesses and balinese shop for food items and much more. It was really smelly and really cramped but very interesting. We purchased some local fruit to try and Ketut purchased some traditional balinese treats that they have with their morning tea for us to take back to the hotel and try. He really is a great tour guide!

The Taman Ayun Temple was our next venture. It was a beautifully serene and peaceful place but we couldn't go inside the actual temple as it was closed for preparations, I believe. We could only wander around the outside walls and look in but we got lots of photos and Ketut gave us some background on the temple as we walked. The temple also had an arena type section which was all undercover and Ketut told us that it was used for the Cock Fighting during ceremonies. He also said that it is illegal to do cock fighting in Bali except when it is for a ceremony purpose.

It was coming up for lunch time so Ketut took us to the most amazing restaurant. I was in absolute heaven and never wanted to leave. It was called Warung Dedari which had a lake in the middle surrounded by small huts with cushions and tables that you could sit at on the water.

Ross chose a whole fried gourami, I chose nasi goreng chicken, Mikey chose nasi goreng seafood and rahni had a chicken dish. We all sat and enjoyed the scenery and Ketut had his lunch up with the other guides despite our invitations to join us. The food was very very yummy and it was a beautiful place to just sit and relax after all the driving we had done.

Our next stop was up to the rice terraces which was quite a long drive. We only stopped to take photos as it was getting quite late in the day and we were all getting tired. It was another big drive back down to our last stop which was Tanah Lot. I had really been looking forward to this stop as I have seen so many beautiful photos and heard so much about it. The temple was more amazing than I expected. It was absolutely beautiful and right on the ocean.

We walked along with Ketut and took photos while he educated us on the story of the temple. We walked right down the steps and onto the ocean. At the bottom of the steps we watched some Balinese holding a ceremony for a new baby. Ross and the kids went up to the temple and paid 5 cents to wash their faces in holy water and blessed by a balinese. The kids also paid a small donation to see the holy snake that resides in caves under the cliffs.

As we climbed back up the steps Mikey purchased a flying bird toy from a balinese guy for $1.20 and we grabbed some drinks from the local deli type store. I had a really yummy Minute Maid - Aloe Vera and Grape drink which I absolutely fell in love with! I could drink that all day.....I hope I can find some in Australia. The drive back to the hotel was long and most of us fell asleep in the car. Ketut asked us lots of questions about the day on our way home and quizzed us on things we had learned.

After a short rest we headed out for dinner at the restaurant which Ross had organised. It was a moonlight dinner at the hotel for the full moon festival and the tables were lit with candlelight and there were flowers and a red carpet all set up. The kids had their own table and we all enjoyed our dinner under the stars and the bats :P

The moonlight festival dinner was:
Entree: Calamari
Main: Chicken and Rice dish
Dessert: Banana Fritters.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bali Adventures Day 6

Bali Safari Day

Excitement was all around us today as we got up early and had our first breakfast at Manyi Village. Once again it was buffet style but no where near as big as Bali Garden which was kind of expected as it is a much smaller place. I had scrambled eggs on toast with a fruit platter on the side which was all very nice. It was very pleasant sitting outside amongst the rice fields.

Narko arrived perfectly on time at 10am and we started on our big drive down to the safari park.

The whole day was way more exciting than I could ever have imagined. We paid for our passes which Narko had organised for us. We chose the Leopard Package which cost us $127 each person. The package included:

- Elephant Ride
- Unlimited Safari Journey on Safari Bus
- Express Lines
- Photo with an animal 
- Aquarium
- Lunch at the restaurant 
- Animal Show
- Elephant Show (my favourite part) 
- Gold seats in the Agung Show (we missed this one)
- Waterpark and unlimited fun zone
- Souvenir Hat 

Once we had paid and received our wrist bands Narko left us for the day and gave us a phone to call him when we were ready to go home. Then we were taken up to a safari bus which drove us to the Lobby where we were given our souvenir hats, a map of the park and a timetable of all events.
First up we went to see the Animal show which the kids loved. A park attendant stood on the stage and introduced a range of animals and birds at the show. The best part was that the animals were either brought up the crowd so guests to get a closer look or in the case of the big birds, they flew in to the stage above our heads. My favourite animal was the Binturong as they looked so fluffy like a baby bear crossed with a red panda and a cat. Other animals in the show were an orangutan, snakes, cats, guinea pigs and birds.

After the show we headed up towards the elephants and watched them bathing in the water. This part was really cool we got to get right up close and see them but I was a bit nervous after one of the elephants almost knocked a kid into the water accidentally while playing.
Next on the timetable was the Elephant Show which was pretty much the most coolest thing I have ever seen in my life.

We were basically just expecting some elephants to parade around while the safari keepers told them to do some tricks etc but it was a completely whole different experience all together. The elephants came out and acted out a play with the safari keepers showing us what it was like for Elephants and why they are becoming extinct, so it was like watching them all play a game together just having fun. The elephants were entertaining but not in a feel sorry for them way it seemed like they were all having fun with their owners. There were lots of laughs and splashes on the crowd and the kids loved it as well as all the adults.

After the exciting performance we walked up to see the white tigers in their enclosure.

The elephant ride was next on the list and we were all pretty excited and I was also extremely nervous as they just looked so big and I just didn't want to fall off or have an elephant decide to go for a run. The ride was absolutely fine, although I wasn't very confident as the elephant made it's way down hill, which they do everyday as part of the ride but it was a bit daunting for me. Our elephant was named Selfi as the owner said he likes to have his photo taken.
Elephant Ride
After the Elephant ride I started to feel sick. I don't know if it was because I caught whatever the kids had or if maybe it was just the excitement and heat stroke getting to me but I was a bit blah after that and it was hard for me to keep enjoying the day no matter how badly I wanted to carry on. We grabbed our free lunch at the restaurant which was full buffet style again. We went on the safari bus tour next so that I could just sit and observe for a while. There were ropes set up at the bus section which indicated that they must get very busy there but today was pretty cruisy and we only had to wait a few minutes. As I looked unwell the park guide gave me a seat and looked after my spot in the line.

The safari ride was great. It was amazing to be able to get up close to so many animals and get photos you wouldn't normally get in your typical zoo. We saw lions, tigers, hippos, monkeys, elephants, crocodiles, camels and more. All the animals came pretty close to the car and didn't seem to care that we were there. The safari was set out in three sections which were Indonesia, Africa and Asia. It was a great tour and with our passes we could go unlimited times throughout the day 

The kids were keen to get some photos with the animals as we had photo passes. The first two passes were used on the elephant rides as we shared our photos as couples. The elephant riders also took photos on our phones for us for a small tip. We got two photos printed out and put into Bali Safari frames. Very cool! Next Rahni and Mikey used a pass to get their photo taken with the orangutan who was very cheeky and didn't seem that interested in taking photos but more doing roly poly's on the floor. Finally the last photo pass was used for Mikey to have his photo taken with the baby lion, who didn't look like a baby at all. Ross and Rahni also took photos but just with our own camera and scaredy cat Mum just watched from the side lines.

The day was a long one and there was so much to do but we were so worn out and I was unwell so we skipped a few things like the waterpark fun zone and the aquarium. On the way home I fell asleep in the van and I didn't get up for the rest of the evening. But all up this was my favourite day in Bali!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bali Adventures Day 5

Mikey opening the doors of our new resort room
Today it was time to leave Kuta and head off up to Ubud. We were all sad to leave Bali Garden as we have had so much fun and the resort is so relaxing and so close to everything.

We had a quick breakfast and then packed up our bags ready to go. We all headed up to the reception and on the way up we had the cleaners say goodbye to us and say that they were sad to see us go. They are so adorable!!
Ross and Narko
Ross paid for our stay and organised a driver to take us up to Ubud. We got Narko who was very chatty and friendly. He told us about his 2 daughters who are 12 and 17 and we asked him if he lived in a compound style residence which he said he doesn't as he lives in Kuta so he is actually living in an apartment which is just 2 rooms.

Narko was a great driver and offered to take us to a few places along the way to Ubud. First he took us to see a silver place where we were able to observe the balinese making the jewellery and athe hostess there talked us through the process. After the guide we were taken out the back where they had all the finished products that we could purchase if we wished. I found some super pretty 'moon face' jewellery which I named after Moonface from the Enid Blyton books that I love. Ross bought me the moon face pendant and ring to match as our anniversary present. We ended up spending about $200 there.

While we were driving Narko asked Rahni what she liked to do and we told him about her great art skills so our next stop Narko took us to a Batik art teacher who showed us what he makes there and also gave Rahni a little lesson in drawing Batik designs for free. Once again they had a shop attached so we all wandered through there and we purchased a batik purse, a very nice scarf/shawl for Rahni amd Ross got a gorgeous batik cloth that can be used as a table cloth, sarong or bed throw.

At the coffee plantation
Our next stop was to a coffee plantation where we got to have a personal guide take us through the plantation and show us all the different plants grown and also the luwaks which are part of the cat family and eat the coffee berries. The luwaks poop the berries and this is used to make the coffee beans. They were very cute but the kids didn't like seeing them in cages. I believe they let them roam free when they are not showing them at the plantation but i'm not entirely sure.

The guide we had was a very happy guy, always smiling and he organised free trials of all the coffee and tea as part of the tour for free. The only one that cost money was the Luwak coffee which was $5 to try. Once again we were shown into a shop attached to the plantation. After trialling the tea and coffee Rahni and I decided that the mangosteen tea was the best so we purchased that and Ross grabbed some coconut coffee. We asked our tour guide if he loved his job as Ross said it looked like a wonderful place to work but the guy said he doesn't get paid enough for the hours he does. We gave him a $10 tip and he was so grateful it was lovely to see.

Before we got to the new hotel Narko stopped in at a little mini mart so that we could grab some mosquito repellant as we were heading into the hills and knew there would be many of the little buggers. We also grabbed a few snacks and then we finally arrived at our new and extremely nice hotel, Manyi Village Ubud...........

Before our driver left we booked him for the next day to take us to Bali Safari & Marine Park which he had told us all about on the car ride up and we were all very excited to see.

The hotel was a bunch of villas completely surrounded by gorgeous looking rice fields and we had 2 bedrooms in our villa divided by a lounge room and private pool. We were pretty much in heaven. We all took photos and quickly unpacked. The ride had made us all tired and hungry so we headed out for a walk up the road to get a late lunch at the local 'Warung Padi Organic'. On the way up the road we were stopped by a balinese guy who was selling bone statues. We didn't want any particularly but he was begging Ross so much that Ross just found it easier to buy some from him and get him on his way. So we got 2 statues for $10. While this was going on it started to rain heavily so we rushed up to the warung and we were greeted by staff with umbrellas for us which was lovely.

At the Warung we lost power a few times whenever they started the blender to make our drinks. They were so apologetic but we were happily enjoying being out in peacefulness and listening to nature that we just didn't care about a little electricity issue. The restaurant was very quiet as we were the only guests but we enjoyed our time there. I had crispy duck for lunch which was hard to eat as it didn't have much meat on it but the skin was so delicious and crispy it didn't bother me so much about the small amount of meat. Mikey chose satay chicken which ended up being way too spicy for him, Rahni chose a club sandwich and Ross was happy with his Nasi Goreng which came wrapped in a leaf.

For the remainder of the evening we sat outside our villa watching the locals burning on the rice fields and then watching the awesome lightning show from the thunderstorm. I did end up going inside as it got later and hundreds of bats were swooping above us. I know now that they probably would have just left us alone but if you know me you know that in my mind they are all blood sucking creatures just waiting to play in my hair!!