Blissful Bali

By Stuart Lancaster 2019-06-21 17:53:25

A spiritual getaway the whole family can enjoy


Bali is more than an island retreat, it’s a mood, it’s magical, and a tropical state of mind! Bali provided everything we wanted for our December getaway, and somehow the timing nicely coincided with the Balinese festival of Galunga. Despite it being the rainy season my wife and I were greeted with everything we needed from a good holiday - warmth from the sun, and an introduction to another culture. My son also got what he wanted which was a visit from tropical Santa Claus and lots of swimming. A regular day during the Galungan festival would begin with me taking my morning coffee outside to enjoy the sunshine, and outside serenity, to suddenly hearing the crashing of a bronze gong and Gamelan music. This would then be followed by a parade of ladies carrying pyramids of fruit, tasselled parasols, and a furry masked Barong carried by two people. This was definitely a vibrant, different, and exciting place to be for a vacation!



This beautiful area represents the artistic heart of Bali and owes a lot of its fame to novel and film of the same title “Eat, Pray, Love” starring Julia Roberts. The artistic roots of Ubud date back to the 1930s when the royal family would invite international artists to come and share their styles with the local people. Over the years this artistic community has then developed and grown into what it is today.
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
The monkey forest offers an unforgettable day out for families of all ages. It has become fashionable to over hype the extent to which the monkeys terrorise the tourists, but if you use your common sense you will experience the greatest place in Ubud. The sanctuary looks after 749 Balinese long-tailed macaques in a maze of trails where you can experience mossy relics and statues all under the dense foliage of banyan trees. And the lack of sunlight really gives these smaller sites a mysterious and ancient feel. In the evening, we watched a Bapang performance in the 16th century Ubud Palace which seemed to have a few different styles of dance mixed into one performance. I wondered whether my son would be scared of the monster in the performance, as it was very surreal, but with a large number of children at the show he was able to feel at ease.
There was even a segment where said monster encouraged children to come up to the stage and for some bizarre reason my son quickly volunteered and jumped up onto the stage; admittedly he is a lot braver than I.



From staying in the heart of Bali in a lime grass field with an open air bathroom we ventured into the heart of the jungle and stayed at the Padma resort. As our energy as parents had begun to wane we felt saved by the Padma Resort Kid’s club, but be aware that children under the age of four need to be accompanied by an adult.

For the last leg we returned to Jimbaron bay where we celebrated 2019 at the Sintessa resort with a rooftop meal and a cacophony of fireworks. Here we tried daily yoga sessions with our own instructor which my son would on occasion join. There were perhaps more things we could have added to our agenda, for example the Jimbaron's famous dolphin trip, but honestly our collective laziness was definitely needed. We all seemed to enjoy the simplicity of Bali and its charmingly slow rhythm.

Is it dangerous?

There are active volcanoes particularly Mount Agung which is 45 miles from Kuta. Agung's last fatal was back in 1963, but more recently, in 2018, Bali did have to close its airports when Agung began to smoke; however this was purely a precautionary measure. As this lead to 450 flights being cancelled and 75,000 people being stranded this may be why there were less tourists than I remember. In terms of crime the people seem genuine and honest. On one occasion we even had a phone returned to us after having foolishly dropped it at a restaurant.

Should I go?

Honestly, Bali is a magnificent place and the people are friendly and polite. In the monkey forest a local guide showed us all his favourite monkeys and the best route through for two hours without asking for a penny; he also bought my son a local bandanna! It is primarily about the people and no place knows how to make a family more welcome than Bali. The airport even has a pristine family toilet which is a definite need in order to revitalise oneself for the rigors of Shanghai’s line two metro at eight am in the morning!



Useful Information

Galungan Festival 2019: 22nd July-1st August
Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary:
Bapang Performance: 100,000 IDR (50 RMB) per person and children go free.