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.

Ubud
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

Sidemen
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

Amed
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

Candidasa
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

Sanur
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

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Townsville & Magnetic Island, Australia

Once upon a time, many countries ago, I set off around the world all bright eyed and bushy tailed, alive with adventure. This week I was reminded of that feeling by the most unexpected of things – traveling with two babies under the age of 2.

The joy in my toddlers face as she eyed up our simple twin room and gasped “We sleep in the hotel” was just gorgeous. Less joyace when she repeated it at 1am, 4am, 6am, but never the less we’re glad she’s a keeno travel lover.

We were only in Townsville for a few hours, between the late night flight and lunchtime ferry. My husband fondly reminisced about the time he lived here over a decade ago, and threw in the intriguing fact that there’s a bar with a round pool table (Flynn’s Irish Bar.) How did I not get to see this! Oh yes, because we’ve swapped Irish Bars for crack of dawn walks to kids parks instead.

The Strand was perfect for this with beautiful Gothic trees to hide-and seek around. Sadly we missed the (free!) water park and instead grabbed a lazy breakfast at a foreshore cafe with killer views over to Magnetic Island.

‘Maggie’ is delightful. We were here for a family wedding on Picnic Bay beach but easily filled 8 days here. I’m grateful for 3 new discoveries; 1) Winning a jug of beer at Trivia night at local backpackers – ah the good old days! 2) Adding the new word ‘Moke‘ to my vocabulary. And…

3) The unique experience of riding bareback and barefoot on a beautiful early morning trail ride of the aptly named Horseshoe Bay.  It was a fitting send off to remember my recently deceased childhood pony, and an achievement in itself squeezing into a stinger suit and galloping through the Australian bush 12 weeks after giving birth.

Where we stayed:

The Ville Resort Townsville – http://www.the-ville.com.au/

Bluehaven Holiday House, Horseshoe Bay

Horse riding – http://www.horseshoebayranch.com.au/

 

 

 

 

 

Tolmie and Mansfield, Victorian High Country

For xmas 2015 the husband rather mysteriously presented me with a USB drive featuring the film;’The Man From Snowy River.’ For the unacquainted, it’s an Australian 1982 classic set in the Victorian High Country around Mansfield (3 hours drive from Melbourne.) Flash-forward to the Easter long weekend and we booked a quiet AirBnB hidden way off the grid, 15 mins down a dirt road, near to the tiny town of Tolmie. Think birdsong, log fires & scrabble. Bliss.

For those fitter than I (or for those without a cheeky 11 month baby glued to their hip) you can do 7 day rides deep into the bush, taking in Craig’s Hut & many of the film’s locations. I was happy with an energetic 2 hour trail ride run by the fantastic company Hidden Trails. For those really keen, there’s an 1988 sequel; The Man From Snowy River 2. Yes, we watched both.

Travel with an 8 month old baby…

One of my favorite pictures. 8 months old, 30 degree heat, first holiday and she's happily asleep on a loud, choppy speedboat traveling to the islands from Belize city...

One of my favorite pictures. Our 8 month old daughter fast asleep on the back of a loud, choppy speedboat traveling to the islands from Belize city.

‘You’re traveling to Central America and Asia with an 8 month old?’ ‘You’re traveling by bus overland across the Mexico Chetumal border?’ ‘You’re taking a baby away for 6 weeks?’ were all questions people asked even more than ‘You’re eloping in Belize?!’

To anyone that knows us (my visit list is up to 65 countries now, hubby’s 35) the answer was ‘of course we are – our 8 month old will love it!’ And she did.

Our route was AustraliaLA – Belize – Mexico – UK – Singapore – Australia. 45 days, 8 different beds in 5 countries, 52 hours of flights, hundreds of new faces and experiences.

I’ve honestly never seen her more curious, more happy, or more adaptable. What surprised me the most is how natural it comes to them. She got more sleep on our long haul flights & dealt with jet-lag quicker than both of us! Watching her dip her toes in the Caribbean, charm Singaporean strangers on the MRT and scoff Mexican tacos till her heart is content was utterly worth it.

We found 6 weeks away with a baby a crazy, exhausting adventure, but most of all a huge bonding experience. Our daughter relished having both mum & dad (and grandparents) around her, as well as the overwhelming kindness of doting strangers. Everyone loves a baby. I’d of had one long ago if I knew how useful they are for nabbing the best seats on buses and cutting boat queues :)

There’s so much written about the negatives of travel with children, about baby routines, about jet-lag adjustment schedules etc. People often stress about whether such young babies will miss home or feel secure.

Before we left a friend gave me the following advice, which I absolutely love (in the context of travel and just motherhood in general); “You are their home. You are their safe place. Make all the lists you want of tips, advice, things to pack. All they really need is you. “

Beautiful. Simple. True.

 

Scepan Polje, Durmitor National Park

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We booked a rafting tour through Old Town Hostel Kotor and headed up to the National Park as a day tour (74 euros). It’s a winding 3 hour drive each way, with some pretty spectacular views that give Lake Bled a run for its money on neon blue water. The white water is apparently level 2 – 3; enjoyable with a few drops & splashes. With river temperatures of 4 degrees you wouldn’t necessarily want to fall in, even with a wetsuit. After the travel, a nice breakfast & lunch, you spend about 2.5 hours on the water. The best bit was during a waterfall stop when our guide casually remarked that we were in Bosnia! Apparently border control is pretty relaxed on the Montenegro / Bosnia border since we had no passports. A shame, as I’d love to add ‘raft’ to my list of border crossings.

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.

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