When we set foot on Balinese soil in November 2016, it will be just over 3 years since our last visit.
I feel so lucky that we’re able to go back. We had a bit of a mixed trip last time (mostly due to me having Bali Belly!!) but as soon as I left, I knew I’d return… 5 days simply wasn’t enough!
Fast forward to 3 years later – we’re saving like mad and my awesome boss is allowing me to take 2 months off work!! (As I say… I am VERY lucky! And I didn’t even have to pull out the I’m not having kids card!)
We’re flying on 1st November, so we have just under 6 months to go, which feels like forever – but I know it will go soooo quickly! For that reason, I’m trying to do as much research and planning as I can before we go and get parts of the trip booked. We don’t want our schedule to be too ‘fixed’ but at the same time we don’t have a limitless timescale. 2 months is a wonderful amount of time: more than a holiday but not exactly ‘travelling’ so it’s doable budget-wise (we’re hoping to be able to rent our house out whilst we’re away). But apart from the budget, our other biggest challenge will be not to over-plan! (I especially have such bad FOMO!!)
Our rough itinerary is as follows: one night stopover in Singapore, 2-3 weeks in Bali (and hopefully the Gili islands and Lombok too), roughly a week in Cambodia and the same for Vietnam and then a month in Thailand. (We want to max out the 30 day Thai visa!)
For Sander and I, this really is the trip of a lifetime and we are both super-excited! We high five whenever something’s booked… yep, we’re *that* couple! 😉
Also adding to the excitement of the trip is that Sander’s Mum is joining us in Singapore & Bali for the first two weeks… she’s never been, so it’ll be a really special trip!
The previous time we went to Bali was in October 2013 for our friends’ wedding. Alison and Russ are travel freaks like us – actually they’re even worse than us – or maybe they just caught the travel bug sooner! So when their engagement announcement was made, I knew immediately it would be abroad! And Bali… what a choice!!
KUTA / SEMINYAK
The first place we stayed in was (formerly) O-CE-N Bali on Legian Beach, situated between Kuta and Seminyak. It is now renamed FuramaXclusive Ocean Beach Hotel.
I did like this hotel, until I got Bali Belly that is!! We were with a group of 20 people for the wedding and 12 out of 20 of us were ill. Not sure if it was the hotel, or something else… but there is so much choice of accommodation on Bali, this hotel definitely wouldn’t be my first choice.
It’s right opposite the beach, which is great, in principle. But to cross the road to get to the beach you have to watch out for both mopeds and street hawkers. They are relentless. The area didn’t have a safe feeling to it either, when we walked around looking to buy some souvenirs and we got hassled constantly and I was worried about my camera/handbag being stolen by moped riders, they ride really close to you! (A colleague of mine had recently been to Bali and had her handbag stolen in the same way.) Maybe we were just paranoid, but it really didn’t feel that safe or comfortable.
However, once you’d safely negotiated your way past the mopeds and street sellers, the beach was rather lovely. And a great spot for surfing, so I’m told. I took a couple of pictures and then went back to my sunbed to relax and drink cocktails!
UBUD – ELEPHANT SAFARI PARK
On day 2 we visited the Elephant Safari Park, in Taro, north of Ubud. Some of the boys went white water rafting but a chilled day with elephants seemed like much more of my thing. I didn’t really think much about it at the time, but I would now think twice about riding an elephant – given all the recent press and mistreatment stories.
I’m fairly reliably informed that the elephants are well looked after here: including a one Mahout for one elephant rule. (A Mahout is a person who works with and rides an elephant.)
“We would like to assertively inform that Elephant Safari Park is not a Zoo. We are a private institution authorized, and closely monitored, by the Indonesian government through its related agencies to sustainably manage a controlled environment – as a comprehensive part of an ex-situ conservation approach, that prioritize the preservation and well-being of the rescued, Sumatran Elephants entrusted to us.” Elephant Safari Park
“The park provides a refuge for abused elephants that were used for the logging trade in Sumatra before being abandoned.” InBali.org (Animal Lovers Guide)
I would probably visit the park again if Sander’s Mum wants to go, but I wouldn’t ride on the back of an elephant in future, even despite the park’s reassurances. I guess I’m just a bit older and wiser than I was last time around.
The second hotel we stayed in was P-A-R-A-D-I-S-E! The best hotel we’ve ever stayed in! Of course, there are a lot of luxury hotels available, especially in Bali, and some are on another level to this one. But… we loved it. We’re not hotel fanatics and would much rather spend our money on other things – so for our budget it was super luxurious!! In fact, we loved it so much we’re going to visit again for two nights on our next trip! It’s called the Keraton Jimbaran Resort Bali located directly on Jimbaran Beach.
So, now for some hotel porn:
I just can’t tell you how excited I am to go back here!!
And then just when you think the views can’t get any better… the sun sets.
We also went to Rock Bar at the luxurious AYANA Resort and Spa in Jimbaran but unfortunately I don’t have good photos of it, they all came our really dark, but it’s a must-see on the island! It’s also worth going to the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay (if only for a drink). Again, we did visit there… but I don’t have any decent photos as I spent most of the time being ill!! Sorry, TMI!!
Last, but definitely not least, was our friends’ beautiful wedding in Uluwatu. It was held just before sunset, because of the scorching heat.
We were treated to Balinese music and dancers which was definitely one of the biggest highlights of the trip! We will definitely be taking Sander’s Mum to see some traditional Balinese dancing. It’s just so magical!
Wow, this really turned into a whopper of a post!! I hope it’s given you a taste of Bali.
When we return from our big trip, I will obviously be writing detailed posts with lots more tips and advice!
In the meantime… if you have any Bali tips for me (!) they are always greatly appreciated! Thanks 🙂
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