My guide to Bali – part two
So, you might have guessed that we didn’t opt for the big active adventure holiday together with our 2,5 year old (even though I think that bringing a stroller all the way to the Gili’s was quite adventurous). Part two stretches wide – from the jungle to the white sandy beaches – and a couple of good eats on the way.
Somehow with all it’s hustle and bustle, Ubud was the town I felt most relaxed and at peace in (and that’s definitely something when you’re out travelling with a toddler). The roads are not really made for kids, no real sidewalks/crossings so you’re on your own when you’re on two feet. You can of course take a taxi, but I feel that I discover more when I can wander off and explore “off the grid”.
Where we stayed:
We booked a newly opened hotel, Goya Boutique Resort, located on Jalan Bisma (and for us, it was within walking distance to the centre and the monkey forest). It was amazing and we loved every second of our stay. It’s more a honeymoon kind of a hotel than a family place, but the staff loves kids and there were no problem having Felix there. The infinity pool overlooking the jungle is worth every penny spent – we kept “ooh-ing and aah-ing” every time we walked around the hotel area.
Pictured: Goya Boutique Resort, Pool area and our amazing room (bathtub goals).
Pictured: Kid nap time goals.
Where we ate:
There is so much to eat in Bali and in Ubud we also tried a lot of local warungs (no webpages/instagram accounts, sorry). Here’s some places that haven’t slipped my mind yet:
Watercress – @watercressbali
Our favourite all time, everything tasted amazing – the pumpkin salad were fantastic. Also, really great drinks!
Warung Babi Guling Ibu Oka – located on Jl. Suweta
We skipped vegetarianism for one night and went to eat some pig. It is a local favourite, and they only keep the restaurant open as long as there’s food left – safe to say, they close early every night. Come early or you will miss out – we had to come back the next day so we learned the hard way. Quite spicy but SO tasty.
Nalu bowls – @nalubowls
The most delicious smoothie bowls – Felix loved the idea of having “ice-cream” for breakfast, haha! The restaurant in Ubud have unfortunately closed permanently since we went, but they still have restaurants in Canggu, Seminyak and Uluwatu.
Bali Buda Café – @balibuda
Located on the side street next to the Bali Buda shop, it’s up on the 1 floor and could be a little tricky to find – but it’s worth going! Freshly made food day-to-day, organic, sustainable and they are all about recycling, what more can you ask for?
Pictured: 1. Salads from Watercress. 2. Nalu Bowl. 3. Babi Guling. 4. Me and Felix at the Ubud Market.
What we did:
Ubud offered some great shopping. I got more baskets, hats, and bags as well as a silk kimono. I wish I took a taxi and explored Jl. Raya Andong – it’s the road that leads to the rice terraces and it’s lined with so many shops, all specialised in different kind of arts and products – a definite stop for me next time! The Ubud Market in the city centre were OK, a bit touristy and all of the stands offer a lot of the same items – be prepared to hassle the prices though!
Besides from shopping, we went for a day trip to the rice terraces – we chose Ceking over Tegalalang simply because it was a shorter ride (didn’t want to drive too much with Felix). It was amazing, not too child-friendly for smaller kids, due to the steep dirt tracks you use to get up and down. I braved it out and carried my little man (got a few high fives and a couple of wide eyed looks on the way) – hey, the kid shouldn’t miss out on the good stuff!
We also went to the Monkey Forest, but in my opinion, it’s not worth the visit. The monkeys are quite scary (specially for small kids) and they can jump up on you.
Pictured: 1. Me at the Ceking rice terrace. 2. Felix sipping on a coconut. 3. Felix in the monkey forest. 4. Dad and F shopping at Ubud market.
Pictured: F and me in a ricefield.
Pictured: Overlooking Ceking rice terrace.
Things I wish I knew before travelling to Gili Air:
We had booked 7 nights at Gili Air, thinking it would be the dreamy paradise you see in pictures and that it would be a nice change from the busy cities of Seminyak and Ubud. From the second we jumped off the boat, that dream crumbled.
First of all, the boat trip is quite a tricky one with small kids, the boats can be a bit expensive for a “good quality boat” (that in no way is in good shape) and the ride is very long. We have friends that took a plane to Lombok instead (plus a car through Lombok (scenic nature) and a short boat trip over to the Gili’s) and it seems like a much better way to travel to the Gili’s with a small child.
There’s no traffic in Gili Air, so the only way to get around is by foot, bike or horse. The horses looked horrible, strapped onto wooden carts, dragging tourists and bags and what not across the island with no water to be seen along the dirt roads for them. I felt so bad for the horses, it was definitely a put off.
The beach looks amazing, but what you don’t see is the amount of garbage that’s floated ashore and is laying along the top of the beach. They work hard on gathering the garbage to ship off to Lombok. Also, the beach is covered in so much broken corals, it hurts so bad to walk or sit on the beach/in the water. Bring flip-flops for yourself and beach shoes for your littles.
What tipped the scale for us (we canceled the Gili trip after only 3 nights and went back to Bali) was that we’d booked ourselves in during the Ramadan (the Gili islands are muslim, while the rest of bali is mainly hindu) and we didn’t realise that there would be prayer calls 24/7. We were all woken up several times every night of the loud speaker voice and as a parent with a small child, sleep is something I don’t take lightly.
With all that said, I’d love to go back to the Gili’s one day, but for me, it would be better when the boys are a bit bigger and we could go snorkelling, and out on adventures.
Pictured: Beach life on Gili Air, close up on the coral beach.
Pictured: We rented one of the very few bikes with a child seat on the island – no harness or helmet. Dorothy, we’re not in Scandinavia anymore.
Where we stayed:
We booked a house at the lovely Manusia Dunia Green Lodge, a hidden gem on the island. Located close to the west beach and a bit away from the harbour, it felt at times like we were the only ones there. It’s run by a french woman and the place is gorgeously built with different houses and a big garden. The breakfast is amazing and they were so kind to make Felix banana pancakes even though it wasn’t on the planned menu. If your budget allows, the private pool Slow villas located next to Manusia looks amazing (I got a private tour of one of the villas), they also have massages and different treatments you can book even if you don’t stay at their place.
Pictured: Rooftop area at Manusia Dunia.
Pictured: In front of our house at Manusia Dunia.
What we ate:
Pachamama – @pachamamagiliair
The best place on the island. The tempeh bowl (pictured below) were my favourite! Felix loved the porridge (I know, who eats porridge on a tropical island, well, my kid).
Captain Coconuts/Coco Loco café – @captaincoconutsgili
Both a hotel/hostel and a café, the captain sure serves up some good smoothies and they even had some toys for Felix to play with.
Coffee & Thyme – @coffeeandthyme
Located right next to the arriving boats in the harbour, this is where you get your coffee and vegan cake fix.
Pictured: 1. Tempeh bowl at Pachamama. 2. Smoothie at Pachamama. 3. Breakfast at Manusia Dunia. 4. Can’t go wrong with a fresh coconut on the beach.
Pictured: View of the Captain Coconuts place from the restaurant area. Flamingo floaters gets me everytime.
I hope you found the guides useful – bare in mind, these are just some of the things we did – it’s barely scratching the tip of the iceberg of Bali – there’s so many amazing things to see (and eat) and I can’t wait to get back and onto a new adventure. If you haven’t booked that ticket yet – what are you waiting for?!