03/08/2013 - 03/14/2013
Traveling with your family teaches you a lot. Spending 24x7 with your spouse and kids, sharing a single bedroom at times, dealing with the stress of getting to the airport or catching that bus, trying to come to a consensus on where to have dinner when you are all already hungry and crabby and the kids just want to eat McDonalds and you just want to eat ANYTHING BUT MCDONALDS -- these are the times that you grow closer as a family (since the alternative is to bludgeon everyone in sight, and that's been pointed out to me as illegal - even in the countries that we've been traveling through).
But sometimes, you just need to have a little quiet time and recharge your batteries.
What's the answer? PUT YOURSELF ON A TIMEOUT!
That's what Anne and I did after 7+ months on the road with the kids - we left them in Singapore with Auntie Helen, and escaped for 5 days to Bali. BY OURSELVES! NO KIDS! As you can imagine, we are forever in debt to Helen...
Helen actually helped us out even more - she found us a really cheap Groupon for a nice hotel in Seminyak. While I love a good deal, I'm always a little skeptical about Groupons. They seem to typically be from hotels that need to drive the extra business for some ulterior reason - like the pool being closed for maintenance, or a large construction site next door that generates enough noise and dust to make staying at the hotel painful. Luckily, we were unable to find much fault with our hotel (the Sunset Mansion Suites) - the room was clean, the bed was good, it was quiet, the pool was nice (although for future reference, using green and white tiles for the pool bottom gives the poor first impression that the water is filled with algae), and they brought us complimentary breakfast in our room every morning. Only downside was that it was at least a 15 minute walk to the beach, along a street system that does not have the concept of "pedestrian sidewalks" - but once you got used to sidestepping the big holes and open grates, and dodging scooters and cars on the road, it was easy to get around.
On our first morning, after we managed to roust ourselves from our luxe bed in our airconditioned room which was oh-so-quiet without our kids (okay, okay -- I'll stop),
we did our usual "first day in a new place" activity, and wandered around until we got lost. Luckily, after nearly escaping a very persistant time-share-seminar-tout ("HELLO! You may have already won a new iPad, just come to this presentation - I swear it will only take a few minutes"), we found ourselves at the beach. Little did we know that this was the start of the Balinese New Year celebrations (aka, Nyepi).
The cleansing of the sacred statues - day of Melasti
Sometimes getting lost is just what you need -it was wonderful to have stumbled across this ceremony with no prior knowledge (no, we had not planned on being in Bali for Nyepi)
After we hung around a bit longer, we wandered down the beach in search of something to eat. We had expected a bunch of local small places on the beach, but apparently that was not in the area that we were in. We ended up finding a place called Ku De Ta - although it was a bit more expensive than we would have normally gone for, since we were starving, we went for it. Great food and cold drinks - exactly what we needed!
But tell us, are these people swimming in a really small pool, or in the fountain? We couldn't decide...
After lunch we walked back to the hotel, had a swim and a nap, and planned our next day (which would be the last for us in Seminyak before we headed to Ubud). We decided that (although our anniversary was not until July) to combine our 2nd honeymoon / 15th anniversary into our AnniversaryMoon! We made our plans that night over dinner at a fantastic local restaurant (Warung Eny).
The next day - 4 hour honeymoon massage at the very nice (and affordable) Murano Spa, followed by dinner at a fancy beach-side restaurant.
Our flower bath - after the full-body massage and before the foot massage / facial (you can guess who got what)
Gado Gado - a traditional Balinese dish, and a damn good restaurant too
Oh, and we got a super sunset too - tough to beat.
The next day, we packed up and left Seminyak for Ubud. This was actually a day ahead of schedule, but since the next day was Nyepi, on which the Balinese spend a day of silence with no traveling, we needed to get to out of town. We're very glad we did, since the next place we stayed (Villa Agung Khalia in Ubud) was a place that we could have stayed for months!
On the way to Ubud, we stopped to see traditional batik making - they use hot wax to protect the design before dyeing the fabric
When we got to our Villa, we were blown away with the location. Situated about 10 minutes by car from the center of Ubud, in the middle of the rice fields, the facility and staff were amazing. They had booked us into the Honeymoon Suite, and everything was perfect - probably nicer than our first honeymoon!
Our lovely bed
The view from our balcony
Our private pool
It was all wonderful, and we recommend this place highly! It helps that the price was reasonable too.
That night, after a great dinner and a beer at our personal honeymoon table
we headed into the local town for the Ogoh-Ogoh ceremony (the night before Nyepi). The parade consists of huge statues of demons that each town spends months creating, which are then paraded around the town and burned for cleansing purposes. It was great to see these in the light of day, and we loved being welcomed into the parade as we went around the town.
Look out behind you Anne!
The next day we stayed in our villa, quietly reading. Quite a nice way to celebrate New Years Day...
The day after (our last full day in Bali), we took a walk around the rice paddies after breakfast to see all of the ducks,
and then got a lift into Ubud for some sightseeing and shopping and a great lunch at Warung Sopa.
No, we didn't buy any of these, but they are very cool
Traditional Ubud house entrance - check out that great statue of Ganesha in the courtyard
We headed back to our villa for one last dinner on the patio, listening to the sounds of the birds in the rice paddies, wishing we could stay for ever. I can see why Dan from TropicalMBA chooses to live in Bali. However, we were missing our kids (and figured that they were driving Helen crazy by then) so we headed to the airport the next day. It was a wonderful couple of days, which allowed us to have the time to reconnect as adults and partners and team-mates, and gave us the necessary recharge that we needed to continue to enjoy the challenges and adventures of traveling as a family.