Sunday, 23 April 2017

Bali with Toddler


We spent this Easter term break in Bali on a family holiday. And when I say family, I mean like pretty much our whole family. My parents, Andy’s parents, my brother and his girlfriend all joined us for 10 days on the island. Pre-holiday research led me to choose Canggu as our destination. Canggu is located in South Bali, on the coast, just north of Kuta and Seminyak. We figured that the more popular destinations of Kuta and Seminyak would be too busy for us, and that the laid back surfer-vibe in Canggu would be the right atmosphere to de-stress after a busy first term of school. We briefly flirted with the idea of splitting the holiday into two parts, spending five days in Ubud and five in Canggu. However previous experiences travelling with Ella led us to choose just one destination so we could have a base and she could get used to her surroundings. 

Ella walking with her grandmothers in Canggu
Canggu: villas and rice paddies everywhere!

Scooters are the best form of transportation

Ella walking down the street with her bag and daddy

Canggu after an afternoon of rain

Where we stayed:

We rented this villa for the entire trip, located about 500m from Echo Beach in Canggu. The villa had four bedrooms, each with its own en-suite bathroom. Two of the bedrooms were in the main part of the house, and the other two were in their own separate buildings, with French doors opening on to the pool. The pool was the absolute highlight of the place! Turquoise brick lining, vertical wall fountains trickling water throughout the afternoon, a pagoda at one end, and a Jacuzzi area at the other. It was bliss! We spent A LOT of time in/by the pool: playing games, reading, entertaining Ella, and sitting outside in the pagoda with drinks at night.

LOVED this pool
What we did:

Having a toddler with us meant that we had to plan our days based around Ella-friendly activities and nap times. It definitely helped having lots of other adults around to assist with this. Andy and I were able to escape for morning coffees on our own, and even the odd lunch in the afternoon. Besides playing in the pool, which we spent a few hours doing each day, here are some of the other things we got up to in and around Canggu:
(Note: I’ve listed prices in Indonesian Rupiah. The exchange rate at the time was 1 AUD =  10,000 IRD, a nice and easy exchange rate for us to work with!)

Beaches
We were closest to Echo Beach, which is a hot surfing spot. We took Ella down there when the tide was out to splash around in the shallow water and play in the black sand along the beach. The waves were pretty powerful so we had to hold on tightly to her while in the water. She seemed to love this though, giggling widely as waves crashed into her, nearly knocking her over. There was another beach close by called Batu Balong, just south of Echo Beach. You can easily walk from one to another in about 15-20 minutes. Batu Balong is supposed to be more suited to swimming but still looked pretty rough to me! Both beaches have sun loungers for rent and there are plenty of options for renting surfboards or taking surfing lessons.

Echo Beach

Walking from Batu Bolong to Echo Beach at sunset
Eating!
There are endless cafés and restaurants that would rival any Melbourne eatery. Delicious coffee, and tasty, inventive, Instagram-worthy dishes wherever you go. There are a lot of very healthy choices, smoothies and big abundance bowls are very popular. This was the first holiday I’ve ever been on where I ate a lot but didn’t come home feeling bloated and heavy. I’m working on a separate post about our favourite places to eat in Canggu, as there are too many to list here.

Yoga
Ashley, Mike and I went to The Practice, near Batu Bolong Beach. They run about four classes per day, and the cost was 140,000 IDR for a drop-in class. That was a bit higher than other places I’d looked in to, but it was worth every penny! The studio is a gorgeous space, an open air, domed building made of bamboo, looking out on to rice fields. It was one of the best yoga classes I've been to. The classes are mostly 90 minutes long, so there was time for the instructor to focus on teaching us about the breath and some of the deeper aspects of yoga, rather than just getting straight to the sequence of asanas. After class you can relax and have a cup of tea in a peaceful setting. I'd highly recommend this place, even if you have never done yoga before - there are beginner as well as more advanced classes.

This place is really geared towards expats and visitors that want the comforts of home in Bali. The entry cost is 350,000 IDR ($35) for the day, and includes a fitness studio, lap pool, restaurant, water park, various sporting grounds, tennis courts, bowling alley, bounce trampoline studio, spa and hairdressers. We went with Andy’s parents mainly for the water park. Ella loved it, and Andy and I had fun going on the water slides. If we didn’t have a kid I wouldn’t bother coming here (I’m not sure why you’d go to Bali for a water park when you could do that in Australia), but with kids it would be a pretty fun way to spend the day. They have a daycare as well, for children aged 2-12 years. If Andy and I came back on our own to Canggu with Ella, I can definitely see us making use of that facility!

Splash Waterpark, Canggu Club

Every Sunday there is a market in Canggu selling local, organic produce, baked goods (lots of gluten free and vegan options), jewellery and clothing. We bought Ella a doll made by Bali Street Mums, a charity that gives impoverished mothers the training and skills to create incomes and business opportunities. The market is held on the site of Samadi Bali, a small hotel, yoga studio and café.

Ella with her new doll, made by Bali Street Mums
Massages and Spas
There are a few spas to choose from in Canggu. Treatments are ridiculously cheap compared to Australia so it is a good opportunity to pamper yourself! I got my eyebrows waxed at Therapy Day Spa near Echo Beach. A small treatment, but the space was lovely and calming and I wish I had gone back for a massage here. I was given a glass of lemongrass water and cool cloth on arrival, and some tea when I was finished. Also I’ve never had such care and attention given to my brows!  Massages here started at 240,000 IDR, so very cheap by Australian standards.
We ended up having massages at a new place called ModLov Salon, which was on the same road as Samadi Bali. The massages were cheap at 150,000 IDR but the space wasn’t as calming as Therapy and you could hear the noise from the road the whole time. Still, a pretty good massage for the price!

Wildlife Spotting
Ella absolutely loved spotting all the little lizards darting around everywhere. There were also lots of stray dogs to point out (she probably didn't understand why I wouldn't let her pet these dogs), cows and various other interesting insects. 

HUGE cricket!
Cows

Day Trips
Andy’s dad really wanted to visit the Bali Bird Park, so we combined that with a trip to Sanur, which is just east of Denpasar. I’d read that the beaches were a lot calmer and better suited to swimming than where we were staying. There is also a board walk that runs along the beach, past many hotels, restaurants and market stalls. This was great for having a pram! Only Andy and his dad went to the Bird Park which they said was good, but expensive at $40 entry fee. (I think this also includes entrance to a reptile park but the reputation of that one is a bit shady… some unethical practices of feeding live chickens to crocodiles for tourists.) Sanur was very calm and the beaches were nice, but I think I am glad we chose to stay in Canggu overall.

Boardwalk along the beach in Sanur
Beach in Sanur
Sanur fishing boats
Andy at Bali Bird Park
Bali Bird Park
Mike and Ashley rented scooters and went to Ubud for two days. We originally thought we’d do a day trip there as well, but in the end decided not to, as it was just easier to stay close to home with Ella. It took them about an hour to get there. I think in a taxi it might take a bit longer as the traffic can be very bad and it’s much quicker to get around on a scooter. They visited Tegalalang Rice Terrace and raved about it, and indeed their pictures were stunning.

Renting a driver for the day to go anywhere is pretty inexpensive, we were quoted 750,000 IDR for the day. That’s less than it costs us just to get to the airport in Melbourne!

All in all we had a great family holiday. I'd totally go back to Bali as there are so many different areas to explore. The Balinese were also great with kids, so it was a relatively easy place to travel with a toddler. 

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