Elephant Safari Park.

Upon checking out of Ubud and moving to Sanur we went to the Elephant Safari Park, which is on the outskirts of Ubud, about 30 mins from our hotel. A very expensive experience but well worth the money. This is a hotel/elephant rescue park and had I known about it before we came I would of booked us in to stay there. It was a very early 5.30am start but we got to clean and scrub the elephants with hoses and scrubbing brushes, then it was our turn to ride the elephants into the lake and take them for a swim, we had been prewarned to bring a change of clothes! This was then followed by a warm shower and a buffet breakfast. After that we had a 30 minute safari on the elephants around the grounds and finally they showed us some of the things they’d taught the elephants to do; painting, hula hooping and kicking footballs. 
I did my research before booking this as there’s a lot of stuff out there warning you not to do these things because the elephants are mistreated however at the Elephant Safari Park in Taro, Ubud all the 31 elephants are rescued Sumatran elephants who are treated with such devotion by their trainers. The elephants range from 4 to 54 years old and 4 babies have been born there so far. It was definitely worth getting up early as we were one of the first families in the park and could spend quite a while on each activity, whereas when we came to leave around midday it was much busier and queues were starting to form. 

Exploring Ubud. 

Once the sickness bug was over and done with we could finally get out and do some exploring. 

Our hotel runs a shuttle 6 times a day back and forth to the centre so we have mainly just used that to get in and out. Blue bird taxis don’t really operate in Ubud but you can still order them via the app they just may take a while to come. The other options you notice when you are in central Ubud is men holding taxi signs up everywhere and as we are 2 pasty white Brits we get asked every 10 steps if we want one! What you do have to be careful about these ones is that they may mean to provide their taxi service via moped not car! 

First off we hit Ubud Markets near at the top of Jl. Monkey Forest. This was a good fun way to spend an hour bartering for tourist tat, from Bintang t-shirts to bottle openers – watch out grandparents it’s coming your way! There’s also some obsession with tourist tat in the shape of a penis! Necklaces, pens, wooden statues, you name it and there’s one in a penis shape! 

Jl. Monkey Forest is a great road to amble along, probably just over a mile and it leads down to the entrance of the monkey forest. There are loads of cafes, bars, restaurants, spas and shops. Faye found a great little shop that sells DVDs for 50p each so she treated herself to a few for the hotel room. She also saw a fish spa and was desperate to give it a try! 

With a lot of the eateries it’s easy to think from the outside that it doesn’t look much but once you go inside it’ll have the most amazing view of a rice field of river out the back. There are so many to choose from!

The monkey forest itself was an experience. It costs around £2 to enter and is a circular 2km route of which there are about 600 monkeys in. Both Faye and I were a little fearful as they jump out of nowhere and we didn’t want them to jump on us! You can buy bananas in the forest but as soon as you do the monkeys will be jumping on you to snatch them away. You have to be careful with sunglasses and bags as they won’t hesitate to grab them and once they do you won’t be getting them back! 

Balinese dance performances occur every night in Ubud centre. It’s a bit like the West End. There’s about 8 shows on in different temples that alternate every night in and around Monkey Forest road. A ticket is about £4.50 and the show lasts about 90mins. There’s a few different shows to watch, ours was Legong and Berong. They have a full live orchestra and a number of different dances telling a story. The costumes were great, but it was probably a little too long for Faye. 

One afternoon we took a walk down to Campuhan Ridge to admire the view and there’s a lovely restaurant down there called Bridges which we had a tasty tapas meal in overlooking the ridge. 

Our hotel were great at offering us lots options for activities so on Saturday we took them up on there offer of a driver to take us on a tour on some different areas. We went to Tegenungan waterfall, Elephant Cave Temple, Holy Spring Temple, Wood Carving Centre, Coffee & Chocolate Plant, Mount Batur Volcano and to a Rice Terrace. This was a great day, we saw loads! There was a lot of steps to climb! Faye is at a good age for all this, any younger and I think we would of struggled because there is a fair amount of walking and climbing and I can’t carry her anymore! The waterfall we visited I believe made the news as a couple of people died there recently but we were told by our guide that was because they tried swimming in it despite all the signs everywhere telling you not to! You could see the force of the water from standing nearby so you’d be crazy to try and swim near it! The coffee and chocolate plant was a really good experience which Faye enjoyed. They explain everything they grow and give you a tasting of 6 coffees, 6 teas and 4 chocolate bars. Faye really enjoyed the Wood Carving Centre and has since declared it’s what she wants to do when she’s older!! 

Another point to note is that there aren’t really many pavements when walking around Ubud. The ones there are are very very uneven, some with huge holes that drop down 3ft, it’s not somewhere you’d want to manoeuvre a pushchair around! It’s done Faye good in the sense of paying attention when crossing the roads as you are constantly on and off the pavement, if there is one as they aren’t wide enough for two people to pass. Your watching for the unevenness of the ground, pedestrians, mopeds and offerings on the ground all the time. 

Also in Ubud we’ve been to Bali Zoo and had breakfast with the Orangutans as well as elephants and parrots. You get a table for breakfast overlooking the elephant bathing pool and get called up to meet the Orangutan’s. There are also a couple of elephants by the breakfast area which you can go and see. Faye loved this experience but it was pretty expensive and a very early start! 

Towards the end of our Ubud stay we went and spent the day at Jungle Fish pool club. This was a gorgeous setting with an infinity pool looking out into the trees and the food was really tasty! Faye spent the whole day in the pool with a new friend she’d made! 

Can highly recommend our hotel, Bali Spirit, the location was great, the setting was like nothing I’d been to before and the staff were lovely. Added bonus was we both got an hours balinese massage each which was FAB! Faye’s never had anything like this before as in England children aren’t really allowed but she laid down for the whole hour and thoroughly enjoyed it! 

Woobar, W Bali

For the first leg of our trip we are in Seminyak, only for 5 days because I wasn’t overly sure it’d be the right fit for us, high end shopping boutiques and lots of nightlife, but there was a few places I wanted to check out.

We have visited a number of W hotels over the last few years and always enjoyed them so I made a reservation before we came out to eat in one of their restaurants. I chose not to stay at the hotel because I’ve tried to use more traditional Balinese accommodations to get a better experience (plus they’re a LOT cheaper).

W in Seminyak has a number of restaurant’s but I chose Woobar based on it’s relaxed atmosphere and the chance to view a lovely sunset! We had a reservation for 5pm, arrived a little early to wander around the grounds. In hindsight probably didn’t need to book in advance, but it does get quite busy around sunset (6pm) as the hotel guests are out the pool and onto Happy Hour cocktails. It was so casual and laid back, we had some lovely armchairs on the outdoor decking looking out to sea. The waitress was even kind enough to give my daughter a wristband so she could sneak off for a dip in the hotel guests’ pool which made her night!

I had a couple of Tapas dishes, pretty averagely priced around £7.50 a dish, but super fresh and tasty. Faye had a Spag Bol, really being adventurous I know, but I let her off as it was our first night and neither of us had more than 5 hours sleep in the previous 2 days. Kids meals were around £4, cheaper than England and it was lovely, fresh, homemade Spag Bol which she wolfed down.

Point to note as more days go by here, a lot of the restaurants/bars/beachclubs do have dress codes, not necessarily smart, but things like no sport branded clothes which i’ve subsequently seen a couple of guys been asked to change and come back.

We watched the sunset whilst we had our dinner which was fantastic and it was pretty much dark but 6.30pm so we played a few rounds of cards and jumped in a Taxi home!

London, Heathrow to Bali, Indonesia

This next trip of ours couldn’t come soon enough for us! 2017 hasn’t turned out to be our year so far but we are fortunate enough that we can leave the baggage (emotional not backpack, we need that) at home and jet off around the world. Last time Faye and I travelled properly Faye was 3 and we spent 3 months in the USA before she started school. Now she’s at school it’s much, much harder for us to do big trips as we are really limited to the summer holidays and which countries are suitable at that time of year.

Bali was a good choice for us weather wise as July/August is slightly cooler (28-30 degrees) and drier than other times in the year. Plus I’ve always wanted to go since seeing Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love!

Flights were booked through STA Travel, a company I always use as they do a good price comparison and the airline we flew with was Garuda Intl. I found Garuda did the best aeroplane food I’ve ever had and they did Faye a child’s meal which was all things she’d actually eat! Only questionable thing was being woken up and given a spinach and feta pastry at 4am!

Flights were as follows; 14 hours London to Jakarta, 2 hours stop in Jakarta, then a 2 hour flight from Jakarta to Bali. You actually go through customs in Jakarta so once you get to Bali you just walk straight out the airport.

I usually get questioned when I travel alone with Faye so I always bring her birth certificate and this time I brought a signed letter from her Father, but luckily for me on the way out it wasn’t questioned. Don’t think it’ll be as smooth on the way home, but we will see!

We arrived into Bali around midnight Wednesday night, the travelling was exhausting and felt very disorientated for 48 hours after but it all ran to time so you can’t ask more than that!