Ubud-Sidemen-Amed-Candidasa-Sanur… Bali

So our two babies are 3 years and 18 months now. This year’s winter escape to Bali will be a piece of cake compared to their age a year ago, we thought. Except the kids were the easy part. Facing active volcanoes, learning about tsunami evacuation routes, and experiencing earthquakes & aftershocks turned out to be the gnarly part.

If you’re reading this (especially with young kids) and weighing up the ultimate question; ‘to go or not to go?’ there were two fantastic news sources that helped us decide. In fact we are still a bit addicted to despite being home in Melbourne. 1) The official earthquake tracker app BMKG and 2) Jackie Pomeroy’s Mount Agung Daily Report Facebook group. Both made us feel informed, connected and a whole less fearful about what, when you start to understand them, are natural events and part and parcel of Indonesian life. So, we went.

My 3rd time here and here’s what I’ve reaffirmed; Yoga Barn is not for me. Although it is a useful shortcut, and an amusing space to watch your own toddlers destroy all the hippy ‘meditative’ peace with their own loud ‘ecstatic dancing

Nyuh Kuning village has the holy grail of traveling with toddlers in Asia; pavements. Well, flat tracks by the side of a quiet tree-lined road that you can push a pram along or let them walk/hoon along. The two parallel streets of Jl. Nyuh Bulan and Jl. Nyuh Gading are a great Sunday afternoon walk.

The path around Monkey Forest is still a gauntlet of hell. The toddlers were braver than I was.

Where we stayed… (And ate plenty of times too)
Gana Ubud Hotel and Restaurant

Started as a strategic one night stop-off at a local mountain village when we took a shine to a particularly well-priced yet fancy villa. Turned into a really great decision for a stop off when our 19 month old vomited on me as she sat on my lap in a taxi traversing the windy roads. Ironically, for somewhere only 16km from the exclusion zone for the simmering Mount Agung, we had a beautifully peaceful night (apart from our own loud human volcanoes.)

Where we stayed…
Villa Shantiasa

I was worried we wouldn’t be able to enjoy Amed without a moped, as it’s a series of beach villages along the coast. Or without dive gear, as it’s famed for it’s wreck diving. Except kids are pretty ace by happily filling 3 days with nothing but a pool, a garden overlooking a rice field (are you even IN Bali without this!) and a beach 50 metres from your bedroom. Oh and the BEST ever meal in all of my six visits to Bali; Galanga restauant.  It’s worth the hype. I was also loving life during the 10 whole minutes i spent snorkeling at Bunutan. Kids are also pretty ace at making you appreciate every moment of solitary freedom too, even if you have to go underwater to get it.

Where we stayed…
Villa Mangga Beach

Will forever be the place we were pretty much scared sh*tless when two 6.4 and 6.9 quakes hit neighboring Lombok. Amed, Candidasa and Sanur are all low-lying coastal land, so tsunama prone. We always packed a nightly ‘grab bag’ in case we had to evacuate outside in an emergency with torches, passports etc. It turns out when an earthquake hits the only thing you actually do is run towards your sleeping babies and dive on top of them as you feel the walls and windows rattle around you. And for us, the official classification was moderate to strong. I cannot imagine how it feels in the epicenter of an earthquake. The kids were blissfully ignorant and slept through a whole night of aftershocks.

Where we stayed…
Bali Palms

Where we ate…
Warung Bintang
Candi Bakery

Familiar, easy, and the perfect end to our trip by meeting up with family friends. We kept it simple and spent two days visiting our favorite eateries and haggle spots from last year. We can almost understand why you might return to the same spot year on year. Only joking. We loved our 2 weeks, 6 stop adventure. As did our little gypsy nomad toddlers.

Where we stayed…
Rumah By the Sea

Where we ate…
Warung Odah Oning

Batam, Indonesia

Ah the perks of ‘popping’ to Indonesia for a Sunday day out! Here are 10 reasons to try wakeboarding in Batam…

1) Dust off Sunday’s hangover and do some exercise, if only for the month of January.

2) You get ‘express service’ for the $10 USD visa so can hop straight from the ferry, no queues.

3) Unlike East Coast Park you pay for the day (7 hours!) and not by the hour.

4) $2 SGD Bintan beers!

5) $20 SGD massages by the lake.

6) Great instructors, friendly, patient and fun; “Welcome to Batam where the time difference is 1 hour and twenty years behind Singapore.”

7) A motobike pick up service when you stack it on corners 2 or 3.

8) Jumps and a separate ‘pro queue’ so everyone gets fair time on (or under) the water.

9) Loud surround-sound and a nice balanced party vs chill playlist.

10) Sunloungers and a gorgeous deck to spectate when it all gets too tiring!

How to get there:
Visit: http://www.cable-ski.com/

Price: $108 SGD for everything. Includes two way ferry, rental gear, buffet lunch, transfer bus and 7 hours of wakeboarding time. Unfortunately not a magic wand when your muscles ache so much even typing this is hard the next day!

Mount Bromo, Indonesia

Mount Bromo is a bucket-list favorite, and a nifty tag onto a Jakarta trip.  It’s even possible to squeeze into 24 hours, so what better to do with your Sunday than climb a volcano!

Getting there:
Only a 1h flight from Jakarta  / 2h flight from Singapore for under $50 SGD with Air Asia or Tiger.  The jumping off point is Surabaya airport.

The local bus runs from Surabaya to Probolinggo (2.5 hours express bus for 27,000R) then minibus from Probolinggo to Cemoro Lawang (1 hour for 30,000R) Or taxi the whole way for $500k/$50 SGD in 2.5 hours. Bluebird taxi will even keep it on the metre!

There’s plenty of mountainside guesthouses dotted from Probolinggo upwards. Cemoro Lawang is highest at the base, so although rough, sparse and overpriced, it’s the best views and the best starting point.

LP favorite Cafe Lava offers basic (fit a bed in) rooms for $220,000R or nicer en-suit ones for $450,000R. It’s worth springing for the hot shower alone, plus you get breakfast included. A couple of home-stays offer the same for $150,000R. It’s a two street town so easy to walk-in on arrival. Cafe Lava has a surprisingly cosy restaurant, and they also hire decent waterproofs jackets for $25,000R

Tour or DIY?:
Don’t be fooled, whichever option you choose the sleepy daytime town of Cemoro Lawang is transformed into neon Vegas as 3am. 4 x 4 touts and motorbikes appear from miles around. Local guys will offer you tours to the sunrise point & crater for $100,000R, hotels the same from $250,000R.

If you bug staff at Cafe Lava long enough, they’ll eventually help you out with a map to walk yourself!


Here’s the original from another blog with great advice – but Cafe Lava will drawn you your own too;

Sunrise Trek (Looking ONTO Mt Bromo)
To reach Seruni lookout point for sunrise, set off at 3am. It’s not as cold as you think but you can buy beanies for $20,000R & gloves for $10,000R in Cemoro, just to look the part. It’s then an hour by torchlight up the road past Hotel Indoh, and another hour after that to Penanjakan & the radio mast.  You’ll still share your 5am sunrise tripod spot with a dozen others and a nice lady selling tea, but walking yourself means you can make it back down for 7am without waiting for the traffic convoy. Plus the satisfaction of breaking a sweat and all that jazz!

Mount Bromo Crater
This is by far the better half of the trip (and maybe a better alternative for Sunrise?) You can walk the flat valley sea in approx an hour, or like we did hop on a $50,000R return motorbike for a nice fly across the volcanic ash desert. Again, the steps to the crater are a little like queuing at peak commuter hours, but it’s still a spectacular view down into the sulphur smoke and back across the valley. You share the climb with a herd of pony sellers who urge you to “buy horse’ if you want to amble up the steep ash dunes a la Blackpool Pleasure Beach.  It’s packed & lively, with many Indonesian tourists on a Sunday. So although you can’t expect serenity, it’s still a fantastic morning, all before breakfast at 9am!




Pic of the week; Jakarta


City view from the Horizon Floor of the Jakarta Shangri-La Hotel. Their house cocktail is appropriately named; The Traffic Jam, which says it all about this city!

Gili Air, Indonesia

Back to everyone’s favorite set of islands. Gili Air is just gorgeous. Maybe it’s the psychedelic disco fish, maybe the cute horse & carts, maybe the Bob Marley vibe. But there’s no finer beanbag cushions to sink in and sip your Bintang, anywhere else in the world. Except maybe sama sama Gili T or Meno!

Getting there: Bluewater Express, 2h fast boat from Padangbai. $54 USD. They let you sun worship on the roof deck,until the big waves start to hit half way though the crossing!

Where we stayed:
Manta Dive Hotel $65 SGD for Garden Rooms with veranda and outdoor bathrooms!

Previous Older Entries

An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

Blasts From The Past…

August 2020

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