Bali with children

children in baliWe just completed what I believe to be our first adventure with our kids; a trip to Bali, Indonesia.
Our children are 4 and 3 years old and we were contemplating whether they would be able to handle the 17+ hours long *day* flight and the culture shock.
I’m glad to report that it all went spectacularly well and our children have memories for a life time.
We started out in Ubud which is a wonderful place busting with culture, music and art craft.
While the Mrs enjoyed browsing the markets and shops the kids were much more keen on excursions. Luckily there are a lot of activities in and around Ubud that are just a short drive away.
monkey forestMonkey Forest is a little pathway in the local forest which is filled with curious and cheeky monkeys.
You can buy a bunch of bananas by the entrance to give to the monkeys but watch out, once they get a whiff of the fact that you are carrying their favourite dish, they will not leave you alone until they have robbed them all.
Out of 50+ friendly monkeys there was one that hissed at our daughter but we just moved on swiftly and didn’t have any further problems.
The elephant safari park is just an hour away and while outrageously expensive ($100 for the four of us) the kids loved the elephant ride and feeding the elephants.
To be honest you can give the 20 minute elephant ride a miss and just enjoy the elephant park.
Favourite restaurant: Cafe Lotus and Wayan Cafe
Favourite stay: Kori Ubud
After a few hectic days in Ubud we decided to relax at the beach for the rest of the holiday.
Out of all the various beach locations in Bali like Kuta, Seminyak, Legian, Nusa Dua and Sanur we opted for Sanur. Crowded with retired ex-pats and families with young children, Sanur seemed like the perfect spot.
bali bird parkHalf-way between Ubud and Sanur is the lovely bird park. Walk around the aviary and see that many, many colorful birds up and close.
The kids loved discovering all the different bird species (from tiny to large) but the highlight was when 3 birds were placed on each of them. Great photos in the park btw!
Sanur is a very laid back town with the usual tourist shops, bars and restaurants but no chaos (like in Kuta). You get the occasional guy on the street calling “taxi?” at you but nothing intense.
We had such a great time in Ubud doing daily excursion we decided to continue with the theme.
First day out was a busy day with Uluwatu temple, white beach and water sports at Nusa Dua, Dreamland Beach and food at Jimbaran (no sunset).
Just a sad word about Dreamland Beach; it is totally wrecked. Car parks, sewage like water, hordes of “local” tourists and an abandoned concrete construction. Give it a miss!
tanah lotGoing north turned out to be a much better direction. More rice fields, temples like Tanah Lot and Batukaru, lake Bedugul and hot springs. All in all some of the best sights Bali has to offer.
Waterbom is a water park in Kuta. Again it is a very expensive experience compared to other less touristy activities in Bali but it is a wonderful break in pace for the kids.
We spent a whole day swimming, running around and sliding down various slides. The kids loved it and it’s needless to say they fell asleep early and hard.
Favourite place: Tanah Lot
Favourite stay: Tandjung Sari
Favourite restaurant: Tandjung Sari
temple at lake bedugulIn summary Bali turned out to be a great beach and sightseeing holiday with the children. The combination of Balinese culture, nature, people and great value was just unbeatable.
PS Wayan, Made, Nyoman and Ketut are Balinese names where Wayan is the first born, Made the second and so on. If you want to get some laughs and instant acceptance from local people call your kids Wayan and Made and watch their sweet reactions.

Mad dash in Brazil

So we were supposed to be going to the Txai resort, Bahia, Brazil. The flight Sao Paulo to Illeus was at 7 am which meant we had to go up at 4:30.
Now this would normally not have been too bad but this time it was the morning after my brother in law’s wedding. Of course there was a big Brazilian party to mark the occasion and of course did I have to force my self to go to bed by midnight.
To add to the already nicely stressed schedule, a project for work was due and this was possibly the last time with decent Internet access to send of a couple of MB worth of application design. It got done, just. Between midnight and two in the morning.
After just 3 hours of sleep but very psyched to be of to a sunny paradise we got of to the airport Guarulhos. Getting another ride from my wife’s cousin who by now I know is an excellent driver (fast, safe, breaking all possible traffic rules) in the Sao Paulo traffic.
At the airport we discovered to our horror that Guarulhos was the wrong airport. TAM, the airline that was to service us, had changed the airport of departure to Congonhas just one day before the flight. They had notified as many passengers as possible but we booked through an agent and he did not get through to us.
It was 6:30 and the flight was scheduled for 7 am. The trip between Guarulhos and Congonhas is about 1 hour we were told.
Close to tears, we gave it a shot to try to speed to the correct airport. The TAM staff were at least nice enough to warn the crew at the other airport that we were making a dash for it.
18 minutes later our tires were screeching outside the correct airport. A few ladies at the check in desk notified us professionally that there was no way we could make it on the flight but a senior staff jumped swiftly over the counter and commanded us to run after him.
10 minutes later after an express security check, a personal lift to the aircraft and re-lowering the plane staircase we were on board. Sweaty but on board. The plane took of 7:01, just one minute late. (BA, take some pointers please)
txai resort bahia brazilSo here we are. Writing you from a sunny Bahia. They even have some sort of Internet connection here! (I had to high-jack a LAN cable and an IP address but it works)

Where are we going?

I thought I would be telling you about how our ski holiday in Courchevel, France is coming along. But you see, my wife managed to pull off the biggest surprise of my life and I am nowhere near France or Europe for that matter.
On the morning of our departure she confessed. There was no need for ski clothes and they were quickly unpacked. Instead I was given a fat itinerary and a travel guide to study.
Needless to say, I was completely flabbergasted. The illusion of a ski trip had been very real and I had been day dreaming about deep powder snow the last two weeks.
Nobody knew. Not our parents, not our friends. This one will be a tough cookie to beat if ever possible. Touché mon amor!
Good night Tokyo, I am signing off.
Japan, Tokyo and Kyoto photos