Admist our move from Oz back home to the UK, I turned 30. But I didn’t want any huge celebrations or a party. I knew I would be up to my eyeballs in ‘stuff-to-do’ and I just wanted an escape. So after spotting some dirt cheap flights from Perth to Bali, I booked Gavin, Ethan and I five days of much needed relaxation away from cardboard boxes and shipping itinerarys.
We’ve been to several South East Asian countries before (in fact, I found out I was pregnant with Ethan in Thailand!), but never as a family and never to Indonesia. So I was really looking forward to seeing beautiful Bali and spending some much needed downtime with my boys.
We stayed at Purana Resort and I could not rate it highly enough (clearly all the people on Tripadvisor agree!). The rooms were clean and luxurious, the resort small, but perfect and although we opted for a room rather than a private villa to keep the costs down, we ended up pretty much having the pool to ourselves the entire time we were there. We had a private butler named Adi and whilst all the staff were incredible people, Adi was such a kind and smiley young guy, who really went out of his way to make our stay awesome. Adi and Nita took a shine to Ethan and he to them. The Balinese people in general are very family orientated and Ethan just adored all the attention and new faces.
I love a good travel ‘day in the life’ post, so I figured it was the best way to show you what we got up to on our trip.
Waking up to the gentle, distant sound of roosters crowing in rice fields. Ethan climbing into bed with us for a long cuddle until breakfast was served at the poolside table outside our room. It was a ridiculously abundant four course spread and left us all feeling full until dinner. Ethan had a great start with pancakes, fruit and granola. There was a menu to order from which hosted everything from western favourites to traditional Balinese brekkie (mainly some kind of fried noodle or rice dish that us Westerners would call dinner, but that I love indulging in when holidaying in Eastern countries).
Whilst the resort was a 10 minute drive into Ubud town centre, they organised a free shuttle service every two hours. We were dropped off smack bang in the middle and had heaps of options from there. Some mornings we would wander around the streets and streets of shops (the clothing boutiques were really fashion forward and ridiculously cheap), other mornings we would take a walk around the Ubud market. The market, like most, was partly full of tourist tatt, but the further you ventured in, the more little gems of stalls there were. I love wandering around the food section looking at all the spice stalls and exotic fruit. Ethan had a ball roaming around and was even given fruit for free by some of the ladies at the stalls.
A few of the days we made our way into Monkey Forest (definitely Ethan’s favourite part of the trip). Officially called Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, it’s a nature reserve and Hindu temple complex that’s home to 600+ wild macaques. While I had read of some horror stories online involving monkey bites, I was reassured by the amount of Park personnel there who kept a close eye on how the monkeys were interacting with visitors. We also just watched Ethan and used common sense to keep him away from the bigger monkeys. But he loved watching them being fed, swinging in the trees and seeing the baby monkeys. We also got to see some beautiful Hindu offering ceremonies there.
Morning was definitely the best bet for adventuring because whilst it wasn’t that hot, the humidity was REAL. Making it feel like 50 degrees. It was hard to walk around in, especially when Ethan got tired and our only option was to put him up on our shoulders.
The main thing we did, which was partly due to the overwhelming humidity and partly because we were there for a slow paced holiday, was make all our decisions based on Ethan’s mood. When he got tired around the 2pm mark, we would bail out back to the hotel and swim in the deliciously cool pool or have a nap in the air conditioning. Taking this little afternoon siesta was key to us all enjoying ourselves and giving Ethan some much needed down time in the heat of the afternoon.
Most evenings, we could head back into town for an early dinner. Our favourite food while there by far was at a tiny little Balinese warung (small family owned cafe/restaurant) called Fair Warung Bale. We climbed onto the rooftop of a building down a side street and found ourselves seated at a low table (the kind you sit on your hunkers or cross legged to eat at) looking out over the rooftops. Had this just been your average restaurant we would have went back again and again for the food alone. But it was in fact a warung set up for social good. They train and employ teens from impoverished areas to prep, cook and serve. They also use all profits to provide medical treatment for those in the community who can not afford it (amongst a host of other amazing initiatives). The things this little business accomplishes just blow my mind. And the curry is pretty damn special too.
Back to the resort for bed time. We would get Ethan into his PJs and wander outside to watch the neighbours burn their rubbish (Ethan loved seeing the flames roaring out of the metal drums) and the breathtaking sunsets over the rice paddies. To wind Ethan down we would walk around the resort and try to spot frogs or geckos. After putting him to sleep in the room, the humidity of the day had wiped us all, so Gavin and I would either have a drink outside the room or watch a movie in bed. The true, hotel bound evening of the holidaying parents.
The one other place I would absolutely recommend for a 11 out of 10 spa treatment was Karsa Day Spa. It’s situated well out of the main drag, but on the morning of my birthday I went for a 4.5 hour long treatment including one of the best massages of my life, a head massage, reiki and a flower bath (literally a bath outdoors covered in floating flowers). I’ve never felt more like a princess. And to top it off… The whole 4.5 hours cost approx £40!
Ubud really was the most restorative, magical place. And the people were such warm and inviting souls. I would highly recommend it for a romantic escape or a family adventure.
Have you ever holidayed in Ubud?
Is it somewhere on your list of places to go?