Monday, April 13, 2009

Bali Time

From Collages

Finally another trip to Bali!

Visited Tuban/Kuta, Uluwatu hired a car in Ubud and went to Penelokan, Bali Bird Park and Ubud Botanical Gardens. Primary Objective - Introduce Children to Bali Culture - Dance - Music - Food...
(Flying to Bali and staying in the standard holiday resort style accommodation totally blows my minimum impact philosophy but with two young kids we chose the path of least resistance...)

The last time I went to Bali was in 2006. I went solo for one week soon after our first child was born. I'd just completed a course of study and desperately needed to get away! My wife wasn't keen on going with an infant but was happy for me to go...(actually I'm not so sure she was happy about it)

Uluwatu Bali

Anyway I went solo thinking I would finally be able to enjoy the richness of life in Bali, get some rest, eat my favorite foods drink some thick kopi Bali and all the other things I'd missed for the 3 years since I was there last. I was really looking forward to having some time to myself being able to read, sleep, eat, come and go whenever I felt like it. It was only for a week but turned out to be terribly disappointing!

Campuhan ridge

I realized that although I'd longed to return, being solo was not what it used to be... or how I'd hoped it would be. I missed my family too much and every day wondered why I'd gone away without them. The Balinese people were not impressed to hear that I was married but traveling alone and I realized very quickly that having a family and leaving them behind was not the thing to do!

Now 3 years later we have two young children. This time I was looking forward to taking the whole family to experience the magic of Bali. This time it would be different and I would be able to enjoy the wonders of Bali through the eyes of my children... (A romantic notion)

As we disembarked and proceeded through customs the kids were in awe of the colours, the umbrellas and Barong statues. I could see they were absorbing it all. The smell of clove cigarrettes the fact that there were no seat belts in the car we travelled in to our hotel, the way everyone greeted them with a smile and always noticed them.

Exploring was great but meal times were hell! One of our kids wouldn't eat... (It's always been that way) and the other had to be held or we'd find him in the most dangerous of places!

In an unfamiliar environment, no TV and no other kids to play with our eldest became quite a handful. There were countless tantrums, severe cases of homesickness, loneliness and boredom. It only occurred to me on the second last day in Ubud that some toys might be in order...?!

horse and cart
(Horse and cart in Tuban)

We spent three nights in Tuban and six in Ubud. The kids both loved the performances in Ubud and we went to a show every night! Legong, Barong, Keris, Kecak, Wayang kulit so many performances and all of them were fantastic. Our eldest was spellbound while our one and a half year old who doesn't yet understand the difference between performer and audience was compelled to get up and join at least two of the performances!

Nasi Campur
(Nasi Campur in Ubud)

There are changes in Ubud now that have altered it immeasurably from how I remember the place. Large commercial enterprises have sprung up all over the place! Crowding out the virtually unchanged businesses that were operating when I was first there in the early nineties there are now some flash new air conditioned buildings with bright lightning selling international brands and surely not owned by locals.

Ubud sunset
(Ubud Near football field)

(Changing Ubud / contrasting cultures)

It used to be that the lights went out soon after the last performance at the Ubud Palace or by about 9:30pm; blackouts were very common. You would have to bring your torch along to find your way home. There were more dogs than people on the street and it was normal to walk down the middle of the road to avoid both dogs and potholes, cars weren't an issue. There are far more bars now and the streets are lit up well into the night and Reggae music can often be heard above the usual sound of Gamalan. However there are plenty of things that haven't changed a bit. For instance the internet cafe on the corner of Jl Monkey Forrest and Jl Dewi Sita still has the very same computers that struggled to handle email back in 2003!

Amazingly 10 years after the woman who became my wife and I had a peculiar encounter with a man selling coconuts on Campuhan ridge I came across the same man while walking there with my daughter! He even used the same sales pitch!

The coconut man!
(The coconut seller)


To sum it all up the trip was well worth it! We did manage to enjoy some great Indonesian food, had a few new experiences and 0ur kids had their first introduction to life outside of Australia. Best of all me eldest got to see the Kecak dance for real after having listened to it on tape for four years. Eldest child can now count to 1o in Bahasa Indonesia.


(Gunung Batur from Penelokan)