Ok, so Bali doesn’t technically qualify as part of our around Australia trip – however – since we were reliably informed by our Western Australian counterparts that Perth-ites often travel there three times a year I’ve decided that it can be an honorary State of Australia for the purposes of my blog. Why Bali? Well until now we had resisted the Australian Bali craze however flights are so cheap out of Perth and it was roughly half way through our mammoth tour of Australia – there is only so much living in a campervan one can do before going slightly (or a lot) batty. So we left our campervan parked in our friends drive way (love you KL and Cam), repacked our bags with summer clothes and hopped a plane to Bali. It nearly didn’t happen, Craig and I are both a little risk averse when it comes to travelling with the short people and there were many discussions about the fact that Sophia can’t resist experiencing her surrounding through her mouth (not advised for South East Asia) and how Bali Belly could ruin the whole two weeks. However, we hopped a plane and went and joined the ranks of thousands of Australian’s who flock to this Indonesian tourist hot spot every year.
Having spent time in Asian destinations before Bali was pretty much as expected – hot, humid, crowded, slightly unsanitary by Western Standards but also fascinating, charming and exotic. As usual seeing things through children’s eyes is a whole new perspective, they couldn’t have cared less that people looked different, that there were broken sidewalks or that nothing seemed like home – there was just endless fascination with the shops selling so many bright and unusual items, a love of travelling everywhere by taxi and spending half of each day in the pool.
As we were told by so many others who had travelled here, the girls were a source of endless fascination for the locals – not so much in the tourist hot spots of Kuta and Seminyak but when we travelled out into the regional areas of the temples where local tourists from Java frequented. After a dozen requests to take photographs with the girls (and one couple who tried to actually pick Layla up) our Nanny informed us that many of the Javanese hadn’t seen white people before let alone twin girls so they were as fascinated by us as we were by the local Indonesian culture. Layla seemed to take it in her stride (born exhibitionist) however Sophia took to hiding behind my legs as soon as anyone with a camera came near her! We were also constantly amused by the local taxi drivers who questioned Craig every trip about why we weren’t having a third child – didn’t he want a boy??!
I loved the local culture, the colour, the food and being able to dine out every night in another beautiful restaurant and having a local nanny smoothed the way in regard to obtaining great local food, especially fruit (although I was a little bemused by the road side vendor in the mountains who attempted to sell me a rifle when we hopped out to buy strawberries!) Another highlight was the local man who was merrily bathing in the local drainage system completely naked (as you do when you bathe) right next to the main highway! The amount of pollution and rubbish accumulating in local waterways was a little sad for me, it feels that we are contributing to their economy with our tourist trade but the down side is also generating a ton of plastic water bottles amongst other detritus that often makes its way into the environment or gets burnt resulting in a constant atmospheric smog.
We made some amazing family memories – riding elephants at the Safari Park, stroking a sleeping tiger cub, being harassed mercilessly by the local cheeky monkeys, watching the sunset over the water at Jimbaran Bay while eating seafood and visiting some stunningly beautiful temple locations – as well as spend a lot of time just idling around our hotel pool and reflecting on life in general. Somehow in amongst the crowded busyness this became a time of being able to rebalance and refocus on what life is really about. Although we were all more than ready to return to Australia after two weeks (the girls weren’t that chuffed about Indonesian food I have to say!) it was with a sense of gratitude and appreciation for how lucky we are to be on this trip and looking forward to the remaining two months.