If you are looking for a post about top tips for Bali holidays, this is not the blog post for you. I do books remember? If however, you would like to know about the best travel journal for children that I have ever found, read on, and if you’re lucky I’ll throw in some Bali tips – but they will mostly be food-related because #food.
If you have been reading my blog for some time now, you will know that last year my parents and the girls and I attempted to go to Bali for Christmas to avoid that hell that was our first Christmas without Dan and my beloved aunt, who died within six weeks of each other. It was always going to be a horrific Christmas and I just couldn’t face being at home with memories of Christmas floating around us. Then there was a volcano and the airline actually wouldn’t let us fly (I was still keen to go just to escape!). I’m pretty sure the volcano was sent to top off our year. Anyways. Fast forward nearly a year and we finally used the credit on the Bali holiday.
I pulled out the minimal planning I had done last year for Bali which had consisted of: buy plane tickets; book a villa a teacher friend recommended as I could not deal with any thoughts of my own; update passports for children to remove their father, otherwise they could not leave the country ‘without the father’s permission’ – don’t even get me started – I had a terrible experience with a terrible woman at a local Post Office who ripped up one of my precious certified death certificates and at one point muttered ‘it would really be much easier if he could just sign this’ – and yes she knew he was dead and yes my children were with me. Anyways…in this folder of ‘planning’ were two travel journals titled ‘My Awesome Bali Adventure’. I have not a single memory of buying these journals and I’ve no idea where I got them but *yay me* for this grief-fog purchase because the journals were indeed awesome.
Buy it here: ‘My Awesome Bali Adventure’.
ChickPea and PudStar started the journals before we left and as soon as they opened them I knew these were not your typical tacky travel journals. Sophisticated design, font and colour palette with not single hint of garish (why do some adults think it’s okay to dumb down design for our youngest readers?), sturdy cover and binding made to cope with being thrown into backpacks and having Mie Goreng spilt on them, minimalist and modern illustrations and very clever, witty (for a journal!) and innovative text.
Realising this was not an ordinary travel journal, I checked the creators (Phillip Gwynne, Eliza McCann and illustrator Tinne Cornelissen) and commented to my teacher librarian mother that ‘the author is a Phillip Gwynne, but it can’t be THE Phillip Gwynne, creator of some of my favourite children’s and YA books ever’. I love his book ‘Ruby Learns to Swim’ so very much that I purchased one of the artworks from the book. The man is Australian literary greatness…and he def wouldn’t be writing a travel journal.
The travel journals were started in Australia, continued on the plane, they were attached to the girls for the entire trip and they filled many hours in the afternoon while their mother and grandparents slept off Bali belly. My girls are not even the type of children to fill out ‘a workbook’ – not for one second did I think they would be engaged in these journals. And yet they were captivated. Highly recommended if you’re going to Bali with kids aged 6-12 ish…and if you’re going to Sydney, I noticed that there is a Sydney version here.
In terms of the holiday? My mother is the one for researching (such a good librarian), while I just turn up in a place then panic and then my mother flicks me all the highlights of what she has found and I read those. It’s a system that works well for me. Mum used the following blog posts for most of her research and of course she is a TripAdvisor fan from way back – pretty sure she has issues with TripAdvisor which require intervention.
Rolling Along with Kids (and I purchased Kate’s e-book)
We stayed in Sanur, Ubud and Seminyak in a combo of villas and local accommodation over the two weeks, from all out service and luxury in the extreme to very, very local – it was a good mix to experience all that Balinese life has to offer which is what travel is about for me. Initially I thought that was far too much moving around, turns out mum was correct again and these three places were great.
What we did:
Mostly we walked the streets, swam, read, the girls worked on their book with papa and we walked some more. We also did the ‘sights and activities’ below and had a driver to take us.
Bamboo Shoots Cooking School (Facebook here).
Local cooking school complete with rooster and chook pecking at our feet, run by two hardworking and delightful women. We cooked Ayam Satay, Mie Goreng, Ayam Woku, Spring Rolls, Beef Rendang and Bubur Sumsum from scratch in three hours…even made the spring roll wrappers. We used the Indonesian style mortar and pestle (called a cobek and ulakan) for most recipes. This of course required us to hunt down, purchase and carry home three of these very heavy volcanic rock cooking implements. Other people buy sarongs, we buy cooking equipment.
Beach Horse Riding – great way to see the local black sand beach at Sanur and the girls were beside themselves with joy.
Kemenuh Butterfly Park, Ubud – the loveliest butterfly dude in the breeding room talked to us for ages about the species they had there – such a nice local man.
Rice fields – so very beautiful. Gunung Kawi Sebatu Temple, Ubud – glory me the steps. But so worth it.
Tegenungan Waterfall, Ubud -again the steps! But also so worth it and we had a great swim at the bottom.
Visited Bali Clinic, Seminyak – necessary stop. Sigh. Bali belly.
Hair Braiding, Ubud
Waterbom Bali – I really (really) hate theme parks and water parks. You couldn’t pay me to go to one in Australia. I wasn’t even planning on taking the girls to Waterbom but after several days down with Bali belly (me not them!), the mother guilt was high and I knew Dan would have taken them to such a place. Sigh. Waterbom completed exceeded my expectations. Darn good coffee – Illy brand if you need to know (I do). Some of friendliest, funniest, cheekiest staff I’ve ever encountered – they honestly made my day. 50% of the park is green space with local trees and vegetation and it’s carbon neutral and committed to social and environmental sustainability.; it’s basically a tropical paradise with waterslides added.
We would have liked to do a course with Threads of Life and a Herbal Walk through the rice paddies but #time.
What we ate:
We mostly just locally, but mum’s research also lead us to these FAB places. Locally, I could have (and did) live on Mie Goreng and Nasi Campur.
Casu Lunar, Ubud (our favourite of whole trip I think)
Lazy Cats Café, Ubud
Revolver Café, Seminyak
Monsieur Spoon, Seminyak
Grocer and Grind, Seminyak
Potato Head, Seminyak (or maybe the Indonesian restaurant here was our favourite?)
What we read:
Where we shopped:
Sukawati Market – oh my glory this place was fab. Actually we weren’t in Bali to shop but this place was so much fun. Local food and art (mostly weaving) markets were on one side of the road and we were some of the only Westerners there so it seemed an authentic local market. The other side of the road was a tourist market but it was actually fab. We got bags, locally woven hats for the girls, very heavy Indonesian style mortar and pestle (called a cobek and ulakan) for our curry pastes, wooden cooking utensils, woven placemats and spice bowls. Did I mention we’re all about the food and cooking?
Hardy Supermarket in Sanur was great for little gifts and grocery shopping.
In Seminyak we entirely went on the recommendations of Vanessa from Style and Shenanigans – I screenshot each place she recommended in her ‘Where to Shop in Bali’ post!
And finally? When I was looking up the ‘My Awesome Bali Adventure’ for this blog post I discovered the the AMAZING Australian children’s and YA author Phillip Gwynne is indeed the co-author of this journal and you can read about the story behind it here. Gobsmacked. More award winning authors should write travel journals of this calibre, or at the very least Gwynne should work on many more – preferably all the places the girls and I plan to travel.