We fly back to Bali from Singapore because we loved it so much a month ago and decided it was worth looping back for Christmas and New Year and seeing more of the friends we enjoyed our time with on the last trip! We have a relaxed 3 weeks in the most glorious villa we’ve rented near Ubud.
Tucked away down a small ‘gang’ or alley in the midst of rice paddies, in the village of Penestanan, with three wonderful staff looking after us – Angel, our housekeeper, Kadek our gardener and Wayan our security guy who is around the premises all night every night.
There seems to be a local problem with petty theft, which is hard to believe when it feels so calm and safe but luckily this creates quite a lot of employment in security guard jobs!
We enjoy more activities in and around Ubud taking dance, woodcarving and fruit carving classes (as well as borrowing a lot of books!) through the wonderful local library, and we see lots of our friends and make some new ones too. We visit an orphanage in the south of Bali, the kids take stationery supplies to give, carefully chosen at our local supermarket and we take some of the kids out on a shopping expedition to the local wholesale supermarket. It’s so much fun and the children we meet are so lovely. It’s a humbling experience to have a glimpse of their lives and a tiny chance to see another side to Bali and give a tiny bit back in a country that has given so much of itself to us. The Jodie O Shea orphanage, established in memory of an Australian girl who died from burns suffered in the 2002 Bali bombings, is a wonderful happy home and we wish we had the time to come back and volunteer for longer. I definitely recommend it to consider by anyone looking for a short or longer term volunteer opportunity.
Christmas is different but wonderful! We have a wonderful evening decorating gingerbread houses with our friends the Pearces, getting us right in the spirit!. The kids make snow from soap bubbles and make it snow from the upstairs balcony! On Christmas morning, the sky is blue and Santa has managed to find the little stockings, carrot, cookie and milk left, although not without a lot of messages left to challenge poor Santa to prove himself, left by Ben! It’s a miracle Santa remembered to fill the stockings after that!
We’re a bit sorry not to find a ‘traditional’ Christmas lunch somewhere but we still have a great lunch at another firm favourite of ours The Bridge and we spend Boxing Day chilling in the pool of the small hotel near our villa! New Year’s eve is fantastic, spent with our friends the Pearces at Rouge then watching endless fireworks lighting up the paddies across the horizon from our villa balcony. One New Years Day, while most of the family catch up on sleep, Erika and I wander the lanes of Penestanan and see the busy New Year activities on the streets and doorsteps – special offerings and incense burning everywhere, a special garland for Ganesha and other significant gods!
We have a fun, shared 6th birthday party for Lara and Merle, we attend a spectacular up-market local wedding, invited by Angel, we learn more about Bali Hindu (Ben says he’s decided if he were to follow a religion this is the one he’d choose,) we enjoy fabulous food – ranging from the amazing raw organic salads at Alchemy, to the amazing Kue chocolate cafe nearby, to our favourite Rouge sushi bar – think Bali meets Hollywood meets Japan, to our favourite to a fab 7 course tasting menu outing sans-kids (Oma babysitting, took the four kids to Taco Casa, another fave) at Mozaic with our new buddy who’s also a travelling Mum and our kids’ new English teacher!
Erika, Lara and I especially enjoy some beautiful walks through paddies and villages and of course (massage addicts Martin Erika and Zoe mainly) enjoy a lot of massage treatments. Last time here I saw an incredible cranio-sacral therapist who did amazing miracles with my sore back. I’d like a top up but find out he’s booked up with training – doh! Ubud has endless alternative therapy specialists available – it’s yet another draw!
Then we take a great road trip around the east and the north of Bali, staying at the beach in Amed and Lovina, visiting some amazing temples and drinking in stunning views.
Zoe and I go diving, this time on a wreck, Martin and I attend the fabulous Bali Asli cooking school and the kids have a blast at Bali Treetops ropes course!
The upset of saying goodbye is softened a little because we have discovered that by complete chance, we’re booked to fly to Sri Lanka from Kuala Lumpur on the same flight as the Pearces in a week or so! So nicer to say ‘See you in KL next week!!’