Travelling with new options. Taxi V Uber. Hotel V Airbnb. My experience.
Paranormal stuff. The stuff that makes me shiver.
A Saturday night with a difference. While I'm normally getting ready to go to bed, tonight I'm out ghost hunting. More or less.
I spot a number of cafes on the way in, and make a mental note that coffee is not far away. Thank goodness. I see a place called BSKT on the corner, two doors down from our apartment. It looks full and bustling with energy. Another mental note, 'I must go there'. A social media comment from a friend in Adelaide cements my thoughts, I need to go there. A coffee buff, he says I need to go there after my run one morning.
So I do. We go for coffee, and sit out the back. To my gleeful surprise, there is a kids play area. Hallelujah. We have been entertaining the kids on holiday with no toys, and finally, they are away from us. Happily. I eye the food coming out, and wish I had not just eaten breakfast at the apartment. The menu has me wanting to eat again, but I resist. Just. I tell Ben we are coming back for food tomorrow.
Pancakes with raw cacao, blueberries and other yummy super-food crunch. Awesome! Sweet potato and quinoa fritters. Yum! This is my kind of food. Delicious AND healthy. The menu is laden with super-foods, coconut and protein, I don't need to feel ultra guilty indulging at this place.
We sip on lattes in peace, looking out to the whitewash of waves (while not salivating over the menu). That rarely happens. Ahh. Double whammy - great coffee and time out from kids.
Ben pulls me up for a dance to The Timbers, love 'em. We are doing our shin-dig-jive when, BAM, I cop a frisbee to the back of the head. While I'm still rubbing it, and wondering if I'm bleeding, BAM, the frisbee hits me again, on my forehead. Ouch. I boot scoot it away from the stage so quick, hearing the lead singer casually saying 'hope no one has got hurt'.
I'm shocked but I have to laugh about it. I'm one of those people who will walk into doorways or trip over a mat that hundreds of people have walked over before me with no problems.
It's 32 degrees, but by about 4pm, cloud has come over, and it's beautifully overcast. Perfect. We have squeezed in among the crowd under the shade of the big gum trees, and have found more friends. Band after band are on stage, entertaining us with the chilled tunes. And we don't drink too much either… with a wait of half an hour or more for the bar, who could. We are also not going to get fat here, lines for the food, which have half sold out by the time we get to the front, are at least half an hour also.
But you know what, it is a great day, and it doesn't bother me.
Nothing is bothering me today. We sit and chat, we sit and listen, we sip wine, we wander, we even giggle on the ferris wheel (Ben hates heights). Life without kids. Every parent needs to do this for at least one day every few months, I reckon.
Well, nothing bothers me until we want to go home. Our taxi driver this morning suggested we book the return home during the day, to make sure the wait isn't too long. We listen, but decide to book just before wanting to leave, purely because, we didn't know when we wanted to leave. We ring Yellow Taxis, they confirm our booking, and then we wait. And wait. And wait. We try to call back. Always engaged. We call another taxi company to book. They are engaged too. We call Yellow Taxis again. Still no answer.
We booked our taxi at 11.30pm, and by 1am, we are still waiting. It's getting mildly cold. Everyone else is leaving - minus a few who are waiting for their taxis also. We are growing impatient. I'm getting very tired. Ben is getting hungry and grumpy. We've had enough. We ring my besties mum. She comes to get us.
Teenagers. We feel like teenagers again, having to call our parents to come get us. Shameful… What a crap ending to an awesome festival. But hey, a day without the kids. Bliss.
BK… before kids.
We travelled a lot. We lived in various parts of the world. We penny-saved our way around Europe. We had adventures. We did an around the world trip in 6 weeks. We hiked. We home stayed.
And then kids came.
Having kids halts many, but it didn't stop us. Before our daughter turned one, she had been to Bali. Before our son turned one, we took them both to Phuket. And now, at three and five, they have returned to Bali. We've also had plenty of camper trailer holidays, interstate trips and holiday home getaways. Yes, the travel has tamed down, and surely nowhere near as adventurous as our travels before, but we are doing it.
Here are some tips to get you to Asia...
1. Don't call it a holiday. It's travel. With kids. These are two very different types of 'getting away', do not get confused.
2. Resorts. Pay for the luxury. The pools, the other adults, the restaurants and room service. It all comes in handy when you need to hang around for sleeps and early nights (before restaurant opening time in Asia).
3. Don't expect to tour much. Can you imagine going on an organised day tour with two little ones? Crying, toilet stops, noise, long day... Instead, hire a car and driver, and go at your own pace. You can see what you want, stop for nappy changes, not worry so much about screaming kids and go home when you have had enough.
4. Meet the locals. The locals love to get to know kids, and it is so much fun for everyone. Sit and play with local kids then laugh as restaurant staff fight over who looks after baby while you eat. You are spoken to more, and not just to sell.
5. Take nappy wipes and antibacterial spray. You will need it. Use everywhere, all the time.
6. Strollers are handy in the heat, even if they have outgrown them at home. Whiney kids are kept quiet when they don't have to walk. And soon enough, you will be used to sharing the road with the cars, tuk-tuks and motorbikes. I believe they know what they are doing, so trust in them, and just walk straight.
7. Take snacks and known food from home. Packet fruit, crackers etc are handy when you have fussy eaters.
8. Make sure your room has dark curtains for sleeping during the day - and doors that completely close to keep mosquitos and bugs out.
9. Get a nanny. We got Holiday Nanny Berta, and LOVE her. The kids took to her within minutes, whisking her away to show off our resort.
10. Take a trip without the kids.
It is worth it - no matter how hard.
[gallery] So, Bali is boganville. Right? Well, if you go to Kuta area, yes. But go just thirty minutes north to Canggu, and it's completely different. Sitting at Echo Beach, watching the sun set, we see one hawker, a handful of locals, a few handfuls of surfers, a bunch of expats and some more tourists. All calm, all chilled, all getting on with the relaxed life. No smutty stickers, no drunk obnoxious grots. I find myself saying many times that I can see why people fall in love with the place, and live here. Expats sit at beachside cafes, tapping away at their laptop while swigging a beer. Everyone(well, nearly) rides a motorbike down, except for me and hubby, on our bicycles. Everyone knows them though too, branded with The Chillhouse, an accommodation in the area. It's like one big, happy family. Even further north is The Menjangan. It's the quietest part of Bali I've set foot on. Well, that is, until , we, and particularly, my kids, get there. The squeals of excitement that echo through the forest as we bump along the dirt rocky tracks in a double decker open minivan surely scare the monkeys back a step or two. The deer grazing at the beach don't seem to mind the curious kids sneaking up on them either. And the calm bay, bordered with white sand beach, framed by mangroves, is perfect to burn energy. After coming back from a canoe exploration, we wander the boardwalks through the mangrove, chancing upon a Monitor Lizard. The huge lizard watches us as we scuttle past, then slowly moves on.
So, for somewhere different, but still easy and cheap - Bali can deliver. Think outside the square - or from the stretch of hectic tourism that is Kuta, Legian and Seminyak - and head up. Canggu, Medewi, and Menjangan. Treat yourself. We met a few travellers from Australia, travelling up around the North West of Bali, and all of them were very impressed, and so glad they made the effort. Even the girl that wobbled around like a walking bandage after coming of her motorbike on the way up.