Indonesia is big. Very big. Way too big for us to even scratch the surface in 2 months of travelling.
So the plan…? Bali, Flores and a quick jaunt in Java, the epic centre of Indonesian life. First off was Bali the land of smiles, followed by Flores, before we hit Bali for part deux.
Bali is beautiful. Rice terraces of all shapes and sizes and views of volcano peaks are never far away. But its changing, and in some parts very fast. Betty’s first ‘Big’ trip was here back in 2014. Both of us have a distinct memory of sitting in a beachside warung in Canggu and Bet wolfing down a Nasi goreng (Fried rice) to the locals delight! She was eight months old. Things around these parts have not been spared the change though. Canggu is no longer a sleepy collection of surf beaches, but an extension of the never ending sprawl radiating out from the mess that is Kuta. Betty has changed as well, with the Nasi goreng having been ditched for Chicken satay!
The weather in Indonesia, as much of the world we’ve seen in the last 13 months, is messed up. June and July should be firmly into the ‘Dry season’, that means no rain, or at least very little. 2016 though has been different. We had rain every week in Bali, Flores and Java, some of which was torrential for 24hrs. It may be a blip for this year, or it may be slightly concerning for all of us.
Bali was definitely a tale of two halves. The first was mostly spent around Ubud, the artistic heart of the island, which has just about been spared the expansion further South. The bonus was, we had friends from back home in St Albans along for the ride. We were living it up in a Villa nestled in the Ubud countryside. When i say living it up, i mean in bed for nine most nights. After all it was the fanciest place we’d seen in quite a while! It was great for Bet to have some friends she remembered, but it was also nice for us to have some normal chat. This might not sound like a big deal, but when you’ve been on the road long term, its usually the same old, Where you from? Where you going?, bla bla bla. If we had a penny for everytime Betty was asked her name, we would nearly have paid for this trip. Nearly ?.
Part deux, involved meeting lots of locals, with the homestay being the standard choice of accommodation. The added bonus being that most families have children, which at the minute is something of a necessity. We found that we have a much better time when staying local and experiencing life in the quiet rural parts, as opposed to the money hungry urban South.
I don’t know if its the air in Bali or Betty seeing some familiar faces, but ever since we touched down in Denpasar, this kid of ours has ramped up the tantrums a couple of notches! We have had to change tack and seek out some mates to play with at every opportunity, although tearing her away usually takes us to another level again. I believe they call it character and you know what, we wouldn’t change it for the world.
Going back to the homestay’s. No mention would be complete without giving a huge shout out to Made and his beautiful family at D’Tegale homestay. They welcomed us into their home in the village of Desa Cepaka and were fantastic hosts. If you are after authentic Balinese hospitality, then this place is going to take a lot of beating. Betty also picked up a few new dance moves here courtesy of Cita (Made’s daughter), and even went to the local school for the morning, where she was pretty much hyperventilating with excitement! If she remembers much from this trip of ours, then there is a good chance it will be from our stay here.
During our time in Bali, we also had the opportunity to stay for a few days on the Nusa islands off the South East coast. Nusa Lembongan was not so much to our liking, but Nusa Penida was a great find. Penida is big though and the roads shocking in places, so its not the most friendly place to get around if your a small family. This though sort of makes it what it is. Its not full of tourists and the tourists that are there, are mainly backpackers looking for some quiet time away from the hordes of mainland Bali. Its also beautiful, with many hidden beaches and locals in full traditional dress village after village. We have never been waved at so much on the entire trip!
So we finished off on the rice terraces of Mount Agung, in the village of Selat. This was a fitting end to our time on Bali. We stayed at another fantastic homestay, where we again were lucky enough to have a peek into local life firsthand. The views also in this part of the island are fantastic. If we do ever decide to return to Bali, we will stay away from the South coast and head back up this way. Oh and 100% we will return to D’Tegale and say hello to Made and family.
Thank you Bali, but look after yourself.
- D’Tegale homestay, An authentic balinese stay, with one of the nicest families we’ve had the pleasure of meeting.
- Shady Shack – In and around Canggu, where there’s cafe after cafe, this place does what others can only dream of. Brunch on another level.
- Selat and the surrounds – Rice terraces, Volcano views and Hideout Bali, a special place to stay indeed.
- The Lawn, Canggu – A great family friendly place for the sundown.
- Nusa Penida – Escape the crowds and find some solitude.
- And then can i play with Rohan? (Betty)
- Its not Ketchup, its chilli sauce. (Adopting tactics to avoid the dreaded red sauce!)
- Snap! (All of us, when we put our Blessing bracelets together)
- She cannot stop dancing! (Us after Betty has had some kind of sugar intake!)
- She’s got long hair! (Betty, to pretty much everyone with hair longer than hers!)
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