Leaving Perth, we took a 3.5 hour flight due north to the island of Bali, which is part of Indonesia. We’ve long heard rave reviews of Bali from fellow travelers so we were excited to experience it for ourselves.
We decided to spend our first few days in the beach side town of Sanur. Sanur appealed to us because it is reputed to be more laid back than some of the party hot spots (like Kuta).
One great thing about Bali is that there are a great deal of luxurious yet inexpensive AirBnbs to choose from. Our villa in Sanur had its own pool, right between the bedrooms and the outdoor kitchen/dining area!
We found the villa so comfortable and relaxing that we hardly wanted to leave!
Eventually we decided to go for a walk and check out the beach.
The beach itself had quite a bit of seaweed and trash strewn about so we decided not to swim after all. Bali is supposed to have some great beaches but we weren’t wowed by this one.
Instead, we picked a beach side restaurant and sampled some Balinese cuisine.
This dish is called “Nasi Campur” which means mixed rice, and is kind of a sampler platter with sate (ground chicken on a stick), curried meats, vegetables, and rice.
After a few relaxing days in Sanur we moved inland to Ubud, a popular tourist destination surrounded by picturesque rice paddies.
Our AirBnb was about a mile outside of the middle of town. From our balcony we had this view of rice paddies and a temple.
Once again we had our own pool. The kids loved being able to step right outside and swim!
In Ubud we decided to venture out more often to see the sights and learn more about Balinese culture. There are many kinds of classes and experiences on offer and we booked a lesson on batik, a special method for painting on fabric.
The process started with tracing a design on cotton using hot wax.
After tracing a flower pattern, we filled in the lines with our choice of paint colors.
Next we coated the whole piece of fabric with wax, then dipped it in a bowl of blue dye. In the final step, we removed the wax and hung the cloth to dry. We were pleased with the results!
Balinese Cooking Class
The next day we decided to try our hands at cooking some Balinese cuisine. There are many cooking classes to choose from in Ubud, and we picked Paon Bali cooking class because it had good reviews and included a tour of the fresh market.
In the market we learned about the ingredients used in Balinese cooking.
Our next stop was one of the local rice paddies, where our instructor taught us about rice cultivation.
Finally we arrived at the kitchen classroom, where our instructor gave an overview of the dishes that we would be making.
The kids got to take part in the preparation, grinding up ingredients for a satay sauce.
Our youngest chopped up some long beans for a vegetable dish called gado-gado.
The kids did a great job slicing and dicing!
To make the curry paste we took turns pounding a mix of garlic, turmeric, peppers and other ingredients using a stone bowl and long wooden staff.
Once all the ingredients were prepped we fired up the burners and got to cooking.
After everything was prepared, the dishes were set out on a buffet table.
Sometimes the kids can be picky about unfamiliar foods, but after doing the cooking themselves they were happy to try a bit of everything. Desert was sauteed banana and sweet potato with coconut sauce. Yum!
Tegallalang Rice Terraces
One day we hired a driver to take us to see some of the nearby sights. Our first stop was the Tegallalang Rice Terraces.
This beautiful valley is an Instagrammer’s dream and the enterprising locals have created all kinds of Insta-ready places for photos, including swings, “nests” of branches where one can sit, bicycle hi-wires, etc. We were a bit turned off by all of this silly stuff but we enjoyed the views nonetheless.
Tirta Empul Temple
Our next stop was the Tirta Empul Temple (AKA the “Water Temple”). This temple dates from the year 962 A.D. and is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu.
The temple is built around a large spring. Water from the spring flows through various fountains and is used for a purification ritual.
There was a long line of people waiting to perform the ritual. Most of the crowd appeared to be locals, but a few tourists joined in as well (some participated respectfully, but many were just there for a photo op).
All visitors are asked to wear a sarong; these were free to borrow (with purchase of an entry ticket).
Pura Gunung Kawi
Next we visited Pura Gunung Kawi, which is often referred to as the “Rock Temple” because portions of it are carved out of limestone cliffs.
Within the temple there are ten shrines that were dedicated to an ancient Balinese king and his family.
Stone “gates” are a common feature of Balinese temples.
Transportation can be a bit of a challenge in Ubud. There are no ride sharing services because the local taxi cartel has run them off, preserving their turf so that they can charge exorbitant rates.
Scooters are available to rent but this wasn’t really an option for us since we didn’t feel comfortable driving a scooter with the kids. A few times we just decided to make the 20 minute walk into town.
Ubud has a great selection of restaurants. We even found some surprisingly good Mexican food. Fresh coconuts were usually on the menu for a dollar or two, much to our daughter’s delight.
The market in town is full of local crafts, clothes, and the usual assortment of souvenir knickknacks. We wished we had more room in our luggage to bring artwork back!
While in town we explored the Ubud Palace, the former home of the royal family of Ubud.
Our week in Bali went by way too fast. We loved it and hope to return some day.
Next up: Singapore!