The following is my JBR, just been report, that I posted on Tripadvisor . On the Tripadvisor forum JBRs are a great way to share your personal experiences and can give great ideas for planning your own trip.
Flying to Bali
Our flight was on Jetstar direct from Melbourne at 6:30pm. Left 45 minutes late but only landed 20 minutes late in to Bali so wasn’t a problem. We had been offered a rate of $199 each way to upgrade to business class so I decided to take it as I was traveling with my 23 month old daughter Charlotte as an infant and was dreading economy with her on my lap. Well it turned out to be the best decision I made as we were allocated seat 1B and no one was in A so she had a seat to herself. It was definitely more a premium economy experience but for $900 return in business I wasn’t complaining. The staff were lovely and the food and wine quite nice. Charlotte was fantastic and played on the iPad then slept for 4 hours so I enjoyed a movie and a couple of wines. One issue was that all the customs forms on the plane were in Indonesian so we had to wait until we arrived and fill these forms in while in the airport.
First off the plane and was so glad I had bought a Quicksmart stroller. Was great to put Charlotte in the stroller on the plane and wheel her straight off. Lined up for about 3 minutes for VOA and handed over $60 and received my change in rupiah. Filled in customs form and then headed to the Immigration line and was directed to the Indonesian line to the right as were other families with small children. Went straight through with no problems and while at the baggage carousel I realised I was going to have to relent and pay a porter which I think cost me 20000 rp. He was actually very helpful and loaded everything on to the xray machine for me and along with our driver, walked the long walk out to the van. I had organised through our hotel for a car seat and my heart sank a bit when the driver pulled it from the back and gave it to me to put it in. Not something I was so keen on doing after a 3 hour drive to the airport then a 6 hour flight!
The drive to Ubud
Charlotte was mesmerized by the whole sight of Bali and was especially excited about all the motorbikes whizzing past. I on the other hand had a “what the hell am I doing” moment, traveling by myself with a 2 year old in a foreign country!! I had been planning this trip for a long time and was originally supposed to go November last year for my 30th birthday. I was about to book when my Mum’s cancer fight took a turn for the worse and she then passed away five days before my birthday. So this trip was not only a chance to meet up with Jed who does 4:1 FIFO(fly in fly out) roster to Port Hedland, but I hoped Bali would help me in moving on after my Mum’s death. There is something about Bali that gets deep in to your soul and when we woke the next morning and I sat on our balcony watching the sun rise I knew my Mum was with me and I was in the right place.
So after a 50 minute drive to Inata Hotel in Ubud we quickly checked in and fell asleep at 1am. At 5am I had my wake up call, Charlotte!! She thought it was great to be in this new place and as it was 7am back home didn’t quite get my reluctance to get up! Our room was on the ground floor and had a nice big comfy bed and for $55 Aud per night was great. It had a lovely sitting area outside that went directly on to the garden pathway that led to the pool. The pool was lovely and breakfast was nice, nothing to rave about but was ok.
So we set about exploring Monkey Forest road and I was really happy about the location of the hotel. It was close to some nice restaurants like Cafe Wayan, Four Monkeys and Cinta Bar and Grill. The footpaths were interesting with a stroller but we managed. Changed some Aud dollars for 9800 rupiah then went back for a relax in the pool.
Organised through the hotel for a driver to take us to Taro Elephant Park. Took at least 50 minutes to get there as the traffic was quite heavy at 3pm. We spent about a hour looking around the park and I was very impressed at how clean and well looked after the elephants were. I came across my first of many Japanese tourists wanting their photo taken with Charlotte. They were never rude but would often notask me or just pull her aside put their arm around her and snap away! She quite enjoyed her “mini celebrity” status but then in typical toddler fashion would start the “NO” and put her hand out to stop them. The road back was quite winding in the van and unfortunately the ice cream didn’t stay down and our poor driver had a bit of a mess to clean up. He had been great and definitely deserved the extra tip I gave him. So it was an early night with takeaway fish and chips from Cafe Wayan.
The next morning Berta the nanny, I had organised her through recommendations from the Trip Advisor forum, arrived and I was glad to have an extra pair of hands. She was so lovely and great with Charlotte.
We were picked up by a driver from Lobong Culinary Experience and had about a 15 minute drive to the local market. It was a fantastic experience and I thoroughly enjoyed the class. Berta was great and took Charlotte back to the hotel for a sleep while I finished the class.
Once back we headed to the Monkey Forest where I had taken my glasses off so they wouldn’t get snatched but forgot about the milkshake that Charlotte was holding and they proceeded to take it out of her hands. She wasn’t so keen on this and fought with them not letting go of the cup. They won and were quite amused by the screaming toddler! Hard lesson learnt, I am just so lucky they didn’t lash out at her when she wouldn’t let go. Back to Cafe Wayan for dinner which was lovely and had fantastic gardens for Charlotte to explore. The staff were great entertaining her as I ate. Traveling with a toddler definitely has its moments but seeing how lovely the Balinese are with children was one of the highlights of the trip.
After our 3 nights in Ubud we headed down to Zen Villas in Sanur for 7 nights. We stayed in Villa B which was a privately owned villa. All my dealings with the owner Allan before we left were great so I felt confident that I wouldn’t have any issues. For $170aud per night we had a 2 bedroom villa with enclosed living and kitchen areas. There was a plunge pool which was great to cool off in and Charlotte loved splashing around. Also in the price they supplied a babycot and highchair which were both in excellent condition. We had a housekeeper each day and Agusto, the villa manager, was great. He met us at the reception area of Zen Villas and showed us to the villa.
He then headed off to pick up Jed from the airport who was due to arrive on a Garuda flight from Perth. We had some initial worries about him checking in for his flight as when I booked them online with Garuda I used my credit card instead of his. As I wasn’t traveling with him and the website indicated that the credit card holder must travel on the flight I was a bit worried that he may have issues. A fellow TA member had kindly forwarded me a form to fill in giving my authorisation for hubby to fly on the ticket but it wasn’t needed at either check in. He said his flight was comfortable and scored exit row seats so was happy.
After spending 4 weeks away from hubby it is a great moment to be reunited again and Charlotte’s reaction is always priceless. We were playing just outside the villa when she saw her dad and ran straight up and gave him the biggest hug. For me it’s a mixture of excitement and relief as now I can go to the toilet all by myself without a toddler following me in! We headed to Warung Kesari, which was about a 5 minute walk, where we had a lovely lunch. It would become one of our favourite places as it was close to the villa and we could get a Nasi Goreng and 2 cokes for 69000rp.
After lunch I left Jed and Charlotte to have a sleep and was picked up by a driver to go to Jodie O’Shea Orphanage. I had a wonderful couple of hours here seeing where all the money was going to and meeting the kids and staff. One of the workers drove 3 of the girls and I to the local supermarket LotteMart. Aries, the orphanage manager, had given me a list of things that they needed and it was up to me how much of it that I bought. On the list were things like pillows, fresh vegies and fruit, milk, flour, nappies etc. I had so much fun and watching the girls enjoy their trip out, you could really tell that they were being looked after and that my money was going to a great cause.
The next morning we had breakfast at the Bali Deli, which was just north of Jalan Kesari, which was really yummy but with prices to match. We then walked through the Bali Hyatt to the beach. The Hyatt grounds were beautiful and I had considered staying there but I was glad that for less money we had more room and our own pool back at the villa. We walked along the beach path to Sindhu beach markets and it was so nice to walk with the stroller and not have any obstacles in the way. We found Tootsies quite easily and hubby bought quite a few quicksilver t-shirts and bintang singlets. There was a good range and the prices seemed very reasonable. The AC was also a welcome relief from the heat outside. We stopped at Luhtu’s Coffee shop for some lunch and juices and really liked what we had.
After Charlotte’s sleep we headed to Peekaboo playcafe. This became one of Charlotte’s favourite places and I quite enjoyed the coffee, AC and free wifi. Cost was 85000rp which included entrance for 1 child and adult and if you didn’t have a pair of socks they cost 10000rp. The place was very clean and they used hand sanitizer before you could go in and took your temperature. Unfortunately somewhere between leaving Peekaboo in a taxi and arriving at Casablanca in Sanur for dinner my iPhone disappeared. I realised about 15 minutes later and the lovely lady at the restaurant called Bluebird taxi and they located the driver. Apparently it wasn’t in the taxi so I was shattered that I had been so careless. The locator didn’t work as it needed to be connected to wifi and I’m lucky that I had put a few photos from Ubud on Facebook or I would have no photos. Dinner at Casablanca was nice and relaxed with the prices on the cheaper side.
We visited Waterbom Park the next day and it took about 45 minutes to get there from Sanur. The traffic around the roundabout was crazy and poor Charlotte didn’t cope with the car travel again and threw up her breakfast. The poor taxi driver was so lovely insisting it was fine and that he would clean it out. My gosh it did stink! We had a great day at Waterbom and especially the kid’s funtastic zone. Charlotte thought it was fantastic especially combining her favourite things slides and water! I spent the first half hour washing our stuff that had been used early to clean up and was very impressed with the bathroom and shower area. Very clean and staff constantly there cleaning up. We arrived about 9:30am and all of the gazebos around the kid’s area had been taken. It wasn’t an issue as there were plenty of other lounges and we only planned on being there for a few hours. Throughout the park I did notice quite a few empty gazebos particularly in the quieter areas.
As we were getting low on cash I went to use the atms outside the park. After a few goes on my card on a couple of them it just wasn’t working so I tried hubbys on a different machine and after a few goes it told me I was locked out because of wrong pin. It was definitely the right pin but it again didn’t like it so now I had no money, a card that wasn’t working and was sweating it when I tried a different atm again. Well this time my card worked and as I was running late for my hair appointment I shoved a card and some cash at hubby to get a taxi back to Sanur and off I went. By now I had half an hour to get to Luxe which is on Jalan Legian between Padma and Melasti. I didn’t like my luck of getting there in time in a taxi so decided to try to walk up the beach to get there. Well managed to arrive on time at Luxe but was in a lather of sweat which was a great look! Was enjoying relaxing toddler free when I checked for my card and money and I realised I had given hubby my card and the big wad of cash and I had his useless card and not enough money to pay for my hair. Hmmm the relaxing stopped immediately while I tried to work out what to do. I wasn’t too keen on getting Jed to drag poor Charlotte across again for what could be a 2 hour roundtrip so after a few frantic texts from hubbys iphone back to the ipad in the villa we had organised Agusto to come across. Only problem was he didn’t bring my card across but luckily had enough money to cover the hair!! Was really happy with my cut and colour with Rochelle being lovely to deal with.
Berta, our nanny, arrived the next morning and together we all went to Porch Cafe for breakfast which was the best breakfast we had for the trip. Prices were very reasonable and the coffee so good. Then on to Peekaboo for a play before Jed and I headed for a day of shopping in Seminyak. I felt very comfortable at this stage to leave Charlotte with Berta and we had the understanding if Charlotte became distressed at all that Berta was to message us straight away. We had a booking at Biku for lunch which was very nice and then I had booked a 1pm tarot reading. Now I’m not usually in to that sort of thing and am quite a sceptic but I was keen to give it a go. It cost 100000rp and went for about 15 minutes. She was quite accurate on a couple of things and when asked if I had any questions to ask of her I couldn’t resist and asked about my Mum. Well I’m glad I had my back to the room full of people because the tears came when she explained what she was sensing. It was powerful stuff but not sure if I’m a convert quite yet!
We then headed towards Eat street and Seminyak square stopping off at boutiques along the way. I had a great time shopping and found some lovely clothes in the boutique stores with dresses only costing around $30-40aus. Found a great kids shop called Indigo Kids where I picked up some lovely pieces for Miss 2. The heat and shopping was starting to get to Jed so we headed up to Potato Head for sunset drinks. When we arrived there were no day beds free but we put our name on the list and sat at the tables having cocktails. About half an hour later they came and moved our drinks to a day bed right next to the pool. The view and vibe was amazing and we really enjoyed our cocktails and food that we had. We had 4 bintangs, 3 cocktails, tacos, risotto, gnocchi, fries and 2 desserts and it came to 1,177,000rp so wasn’t cheap but we had a great time together so didn’t really care!
On the Saturday we spent the morning relaxing by the pool before Jed and I headed off to Karma Kandara for a 90 minute massage and dinner. The traffic was surprisingly good so only took us 70minutes by taxi to get there. The resort was beautiful with the villas set high up above a gorge. The massage room had the most amazing view I had ever seen. It was set on the cliff edge and they open the windows up so you can hear the waves crashing below. We both agreed the massage was wonderful and wished it wouldn’t end. They then gave us use of the Jacuzzi and shower for free which had a great view as well. Because we had done an advance booking we received a 20% discount which worked out to be 380000rp. So all up for the two 90 minute massages it set us back 1,839,200rp which obviously for Bali standards is not cheap but for the experience and quality of massage that we received I was happy to pay that amount.
We then headed down to Nammos beach where there was a bit of confusion when we first arrived as they were setting up for a Black moon party and had a voucher system going instead of a bill for food and drink. I was a bit disappointed that when I had been emailing in the previous couple of weeks that they hadn’t let me know about this. It was fine in the end as the drinks and food after 6pm was a lot cheaper than normal but nobody seem to able to organise the staff. The views from the beach were beautiful and even though you aren’t seeing the sun set directly over the water the chilled out atmosphere made up for that. Food was very tasty and we had a chuckle to ourselves when we had a cappuccino each while waiting for a taxi in Di mare restaurant and the bill came to 150000rp. It was a nice coffee but probably the most expensive I have ever drunk!!
We headed to Cocoon Restaurant in Seminyak on Sunday morning for a swim and breakfast. The food was very nice and coffee good and they also had a painting area set up. Charlotte was a bit young for this and other than the pool there were really no activities for her to join in with.
We then walked up the beach to Ku de ta to check out their family day activities and I was more impressed with their set up. They had face painting, jumping castle, bead decorating area and ice cream stand. Was nice to venture back to Ku de ta as it’s where hubby and I came for a romantic dinner 8 years ago, great memories! While Jed and Charlotte had an afternoon nap I enjoyed a massage at Kamuela. The spa rooms were lovely and a 60 minute massage set me back 169000rp which I was very happy to pay for the professional service and surroundings. Later that afternoon we headed to the beach south of the Hyatt with plans to head to Komilfo but decided instead to eat at a table on the sand at a restaurant just north of Komilfo. We had a really lovely meal of Indonesian dishes and Charlotte loved her fish and chips. It was a great atmosphere with local families enjoying their Sunday afternoon at the beach.
Our last full day was spent relaxing by the pool and having breakfast at Mona Lisa Cafe which was very yummy and reasonable priced. Our nanny came in time for lunch which we ordered in from Massimo’s for her and Charlotte while we headed to Kesumas south of the Mecure for lunch. Chicken satay and juices were very yummy but was quite windy along the beach. We then went our separate ways hubby for a massage and more cheap clothes and I to check out the boutique stores north of Hardys. I especially loved the store Nogo which specializes in textiles and had some beautiful clothes and materials. I bought a lovely silk scarf and the most gorgeous dress for Charlotte. I wish I had found this place earlier in our trip as they can make to order as well. I finished with a juice and brushcetta at Three Monkeys which was very tasty and in trendy surroundings. For our last night hubby and I headed to Charming restaurant. The surroundings and atmosphere were beautiful with the food all very tasty. We went all out with a three course meal and a few cocktails each with the bill coming to about 1,000,000rp. On the expensive side but the meals on their own were reasonable priced with the cocktails once again costing more than the food!
Hubbys flight on Garuda left the next morning on time and Charlotte and I headed to Sanur beach cafe for breakfast. Was so nice sitting on the beach on a gorgeous morning eating a yummy breakfast. All very reasonable priced and coffee good once again. Visited peekaboo for one last play and then off to do some last minute shopping at Bali Mall Galleria. Was worth a look and picked up quite a bit with the poor stroller quite overloaded at the end. Nearly had to make Charlotte walk as I couldn’t carry it all!!
Back to the Villa to pack and Charlotte to sleep until we left for the airport at 9pm. Had upgraded to Business class for flight home on Jetstar again and while checking in with Miss 2 sitting in her quicksmart stroller I had a very demanding security guard start barking at me that I had to check the stroller in. I tried to explain that it was able to go on the plane and that on the flight over there was no issues but she was very insistent. I told her I would take my chance and the girl behind the desk was happy to let me try. We headed upstairs and found the premium lounge where one of the lovely staff helped me to carry the stroller up the stairs because apparently there was no lift. It was 250000rp to enter the lounge as I had only purchased the cheaper upgrade that didn’t give free access. It was worth it for the great AC and chance to relax on the couches. The food was ok and I had a cappuccino from the machine and they also provided me with some milk for Charlotte. There wasn’t free wifi but computers with free internet available. One of the biggest bonuses of the lounge was one area was darkened off with all patrons in the other section which allowed me to give Charlotte a nap for a hour.
Once boarding commenced the staff came and found us and we headed down to the chaos. I had a quick glance in the Dewa Lounge which was packed and was glad I had paid extra for the premium lounge. The line up for the security gate area was quite long and we waited for at least 15 minutes to get through. It was hot and chaotic with everyone ditching their water bottles. Went through with the stroller no worries but as we approached the gate for one last pat down the gruff security guard spotted me and was in to me again about the stroller. I stood my ground and asked that they check with the air crew when we arrived at the plane door. I was a bit uneasy at this point and thought that I should just probably give in but with toddler on one hip and lugging the rest of the gear off we marched. Once at the door the air crew confirmed to the security that the stroller was fine and in we went. Stressful but glad I stood my ground as the walk at Melbourne from the plane to baggage is extremely long especially carrying a toddler after a 5 hour flight! The flight was fine and again we scored row 1 with a spare seat for Charlotte to have all by herself. After an initial resistance to go back to sleep she slept 4 hours including through the landing. So wish we lived closer to the airport as the 3 hour drive home is always a long one!
We enjoyed Bali so much and the peace that I found from being surrounded by such smiling and lovely people is what makes Bali so great. Hope you enjoyed my JBR and let me know if you would like any details on any aspect of our trip.