Our month in Bali will go down as one of our favorites in the whole trip. It certainly has to do with the enthralling culture, the beautiful beaches, the animals, the fun things to do and the friendliness of the people; but, BY FAR, the best thing about Bali was being able to see the amazing friends and family who came to visit us there!
We were all feeling a little bit homesick, and while I know this sounds weird because we were going to some amazing places, knowing Bali was coming up gave us something to look forward to on the calendar. It was wonderful to feel the love and support from family and friends whom we had missed so much. It was a long way to come for everyone and we really appreciate the effort it took to get there. I have to give a shout out to my best friend Kym who traveled the furthest. Door to door from Bali to her home in Oklahoma City it took her 41 HOURS of travel! Now that is a good friend!
I was so excited to have someone to talk to that I lost my voice within a couple days of my girlfriends getting there and Jeromy was going hoarse after my family got there from all the talking. They were probably all entirely sick of listening to us, but it was so nice to be able to have conversations with new people!
The boys loved having people there as much as we did. Luke took every opportunity to snuggle with someone, Tyler loved having someone to tell his stories to, and Parker enjoyed listening to all his uncle’s inappropriate jokes. They also loved having friends their own age come visit so they weren’t always surrounded by adults.
In a month, we were able to see a lot of Bali and it is a wonderful place to travel. In fact, Tripadvisor just named it the #1 place to visit in 2017! (Is it a coincidence that it was the year we were there with so many friends and family? I leave you to judge.) I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun adventure. There’s just a few things to be aware of, it takes a LONG time to get there, the traffic on the island itself is horrendous, and their are LOTS of creepy crawly things around. These three minor issues can be mitigated with the following things respectively; sleeping pills, renting a scooter, and a really good sense of humor (and maybe some earplugs for when you are trying to sleep).
Bali is an island in Indonesia, the fourth largest country in the world. It is a huge tourist destination for Australians and it was the most English speaking people we had encountered in months, which was kind of nice, even though it was with an Aussie accent. 🙂 It’s actually known as a huge party place for Australians, which wasn’t super appealing to me despite my huge party lifestyle (that was a joke). We rented a house for the month in Canggu, a town away from the crazy party area, and near Berawa Beach. For us, this was the perfect location. It was an up and coming area so there were lots of new restaurants and shops, but it still had a small town feel and it didn’t have the hoards of people and traffic.
To encourage visitors to come we rented a big house (6 bedrooms) so there was plenty of space for them. While it was a bit more rustic than expected, it ended up being a fun place to stay with plenty of space for everyone. Each bedroom also had it’s own full bathroom, although it was outside! Jeromy loved the outdoor toilets and showers and if the weather was better in the Northwest would probably install one at our house if he could.
While we were there, we were able to see so much of Bali, and have many awesome experiences. We hired a driver to take us when we were heading anywhere too far away, and when we stayed local, we either walked or rode on the scooters. I was a little hesitant at first about riding on the scooter (the roads are crazy), but by the end of our time there, Jeromy was shuttling two or three of us at a time to dinner at night.
Hiking down to a beautiful waterfall and doing our best to swim underneath it, And just relaxing at the beach for sunset,It is hard to encapsulate the whole experience in one blog post. I did my best and so here are just a few of the reasons we love the Island of Peace.
The thing that makes Bali so special is the culture of the people there. They are primarily Hindu and the people there live their cultural heritage on a daily basis. Offerings like this one I made are in front of every hotel, business, temple, and even all over the beach. It is thought to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. The ladies we had working at our house put multiple offerings around our home every day.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of temples in Bali. We had the privilege to visit a large variety of them while we were there. From small local temples belonging to one family, to huge beautiful temples hundreds of years old, visited by thousands of people a day. The following are just a few that we came across during our travels around the island.
The house we stayed in was right next to a large temple in our town. I asked our house workers if it was ever open to the public for us to be able to see it. They let me know that it was open on the full and new moon and they would take us there when the time came. This was such a special experience, Putu and Wayan helped dress the boys and I in the appropriate clothing and brought an offering basket for us (Jeromy was really sick that day and not able to come with us). They then escorted us over to the temple and explained to the woman there that we wanted to show our respects to them. It was very special for us to receive a blessing and share in an important part of the culture of the wonderful people who helped care for us everyday.
Our favorite temple to visit was Tanah Lot Temple. It is a temple built in the 16th century on a large offshore rock that is completely surrounded by water at high tide. While you can’t actually go inside the temple, if you arrive at low tide, you are able to walk down on the surrounding rock, receive a blessing from a local priest, and even see a holy snake, that is thought to protect the temple.
My favorite cultural performance was the kecak dance performed at Uluwatu temple. The performance starts as the sun is slowly setting in the sky and finishes after dark. There are no instruments used, the only sounds are those of a large group of male dancers chanting in a poly-rhythmic choir during most the performance. The second time we went, we were seated right in the front and during the fire portion, more than one person in our group bore the evidence that the fire was VERY real.
While we were in Bali we also had the opportunity to experience Nyepi or “Day of Silence” celebrating the Balinese New Year. We noticed, in the weeks leading up to Nyepi, many large figures being sculpted all over Bali. We learned that these are demons, or ogoh-ogoh, made by each village, and on the night before Nyepi, each town parades these through the streets before performing a ritual that often involves burning it. The Scukanecs were there during this time and able to experience these days with us. At night, we heard music and singing so we hurried up to our gazebo that looked over our wall onto the street below. We got there just in time to watch as the local villagers paraded their demon through the streets past our villa and on to the center of town.
The next morning beginning at 6:00am was “Silent Day.” While I tried to ask everyone I knew if there was some kind of exception for tourists about this rule, each and every person informed me that EVERYONE on the island must observe “Silent Day.” Every restaurant and store was closed, no one is allowed on the streets or on the beach, the airport is shut down, and you are not allowed to have fire or light (unless blocked by curtains within your rooms). The only people who are allowed to be out are the local “security” who walk around making sure people are observing “Silent Day.” One explanation I heard as to why there is a “Silent Day” is that the night before they call all the evil spirits there (with the ogoh-ogohs) and when the evil spirits come to the island the next day, they see that there are no lights and no one around on Bali so they pass over the island looking for somewhere else to go. After hearing that explanation it makes sense why they take it so seriously and why even non Hindus need to observe, as a sign of respect for the Hindu believers. If we are out, or have our lights on, then they believe, the evil spirits will stay for the New Year. It was a wonderful experience to participate in and while I wasn’t too excited about sitting around for a day being quiet and not having lights, it ended up being a very interesting and memorable experience from our time on Bali.
With weather 85-90 degrees and high humidity, a lot of our time was spent either in the ocean or in the pool.
Our villa was right across from Berawa Beach and one of the first things we did when the ‘Couve girls arrived was take surf lessons. We had awesome instructors and the perfect size waves (small) and we were all able to get up! To top it off, we got a free coconut to drink afterward (which none of us liked, despite our eager faces below).
Tyler and Luke also gave it a try!
The weather seemed to shift by the time my family and the Scukanecs got there so we weren’t every able to really get out and surf again because the waves were too big. We did have a fun time watching the more experienced surfers, playing in the waves and doing a little boogie boarding.
We were able to explore a variety of beaches in our time there and had a blast at all of them. There is such a variety, we loved being able to experience so many different beaches on Bali.
One day a group of us went to explore on the scooters and we arrived at Batu Bolong beach. We saw some kids jumping off this rock into the water when a big wave came. I might almost be 40, but I know fun when I see it, so Julie, Melissa and I all went out and joined them. Did I mention I wasn’t wearing a swimsuit so I did it in my clothes? I knew I may never be back here and this was my only chance. We had a blast and showed those boys that Moms know how to have fun too!
If you are looking at pictures of Bali, you will inevitably see some amazing pools! As my friend Christy said, “I don’t feel like I will have really experienced Bali unless I go in an Infiniti pool.” Our hotel in Ubud had a beautiful one! We found a few other beautiful pools as well…
A really fun place and pool where we ended up spending multiple days, was Finn’s, a beach club a 5 minute walk from our house. It had an infiniti pool looking out into the ocean and lots of other fun things to do. You could rent beds and spend the day playing, relaxing, getting drinks at the swim up bar, enjoying the sunshine and at the end of the day watching a magnificent sunset!
Of all the pools, the one we spent the most time in was the one at our house. Rain or shine, night or day, there always seemed to be someone in there swimming, cooling off, or having an epic cannonball contest. It was perfect!
A whole section on relaxing may seem indulgent, but that is what Bali is all about. We regularly had 2-3 massage therapists come to the house for a few hours to give massages to us and our guests. In fact, as soon as our guests arrived from the airport, we had ladies waiting to give them a massage!
We also relaxed at some beautiful resorts in Ubud for a couple of days with each of our guests. It was so relaxing except when we woke up to a 6.5 earthquake! Our room was right above our kid’s room and I frantically called them to get under the desk in their room, fearing we would fall directly on top of them! By the time I hung up the earthquake was over, but it added a little excitement to our day!
Playing with Animals
When I say I loved seeing the animals, I don’t mean the huge snake that crawled across the road and into our scooter, or the giant crab I found skittering around under my bed one night, or the variety of frogs, toads, lizards, and geckos that made the interesting sounds we would go to sleep to every night. I am referring to the monkeys and the elephants.
My first time there, I learned a few lessons that made the second time, while less eventful, more manageable.
- Lesson One: Don’t buy food unless you want to be aggressively pursued by moneys.
- Lesson Two: Don’t bend down or they will try to come steal your things.
- Lesson Three: When posing for a selfie with a monkey. Make sure and keep your mouth closed or you will end up with a monkey foot IN your mouth! Below is an action shot of this happening. About one second later, that foot was in my mouth. Disgusting!
I was asked to help show how smart the elephants were by holding two numbers and he had to pick which one was the correct answer to a math problem.
After spending the previous three months in Asia, we had become pretty used to finding food that we could eat, sometimes it was good, but it was a constant difficulty finding three meals a day that we liked. When we arrived in Bali all of that changed! Due to the huge tourist population, there were a ton of restaurants providing healthy, fresh, and most importantly delicious food!
This was essentially a bunch of individual food trucks all in one open area. This made it great for a large group of people, as everyone could decide what they felt like. Most nights they had live music and we loved to sit out in the evening letting the kids run around while listening to music.
I don’t know the number of times we had Gelato Secrets, but once we discovered it we were hooked. It seemed like everywhere we looked there would be a Gelato Secrets, and with it being hot and humid everyday, it made it pretty hard to refuse!
The best lunch experience I had was in Ubud. We had found a place with great reviews on tripadvisor, but Komang, our driver, wasn’t able to find it. He called the restaurant and talked to them awhile. We couldn’t understand what he was saying (he was speaking Balinese), but when he got off he just told us we had to meet them in the main parking area and they would show us where to go from there. We were all so surprised when we hopped out of the car and 5 men drove up on scooters with the restaurants name on it and told us to hop on! Komang called out to us, “Adventure!” and sent us on our way. We were whisked off down tiny alleys, cobblestone pathways, through rice fields, to a beautiful little restaurant surrounded by rice paddies. Sitting there with my incredible friends having an amazing lunch in Bali, was a moment I will never forget.
They even baked a delicious birthday cake for Parker on his birthday! That’s right, Parker turned 14 while we were in Bali! We are so thankful to have the gift of this year together before he gets so old he doesn’t want to hang out with us anymore at all!
When I look back at the favorite experiences and places we have visited throughout our time away, I don’t think it is a coincidence that most of them were when we had visitors. There is nothing like sharing an experience with those you love! Having so many wonderful visitors in Bali made our time there incredibly special. Thank you Kym, Christy, Meghan, Kathy, James, Jenell, Dan, Kerry, Julie, Joel, Mike, Melissa, Jason, Taylor, James and Lily for making the trip out to see us, and for all those husbands, grandparents, and friends at home that made it possible for them to be there. We love you all!