Showing posts with label Indonesia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indonesia. Show all posts

Monday, December 19, 2011

Drive Through Bali

One day in Bali, while staying at the AYANA Resort, we rented a hotel car, equipped with a driver to take us around the island for the day.  The total cost for driver and car was around $100.  Our first stop as the ATM, where we took out the maximum amount of cash we could, 1,200,000 Indonesian Rupia, which was about $125 US at the time (the exchange rate was around Rp 9,000 to $1 US and is still close to this currently).  We were a little surprised we couldn’t take more out until our driver informed us this was close to one month’s salary for most Balinese families. 

From the ATM our driver took us to see a traditional Balinese house.  Balinese homes are set up more like a small compound surrounded by a very ornate fence.  There was a small shrine area for worship and offerings, a building where all food is prepared, a sleeping area, and a bathing area, all open air set amongst gardens.  After walking around and seeing all of the areas and having our driver explain the significance of it all, we asked if this was his family compound.  He told us that it was not, just a good example of a traditional compound.  We were a little uncomfortable at that point, knowing we had just walked unannounced through someone’s home, until he explained that the people of the island were all very close and that they were very proud of their history so they were happy to allow us to see their home.  Our driver indicated that if we could leave a $2 tip, that would more than compensate for allowing us to wander around their home for an hour.

Our next stop was at the rice paddies at Tegallalang river valley.  These rice paddies were like nothing we had ever seen before.  Steps are cut into the side of a mountain and then planted with rice and flooded to get the amount of water required to grow the rice.  Our pictures do not come close to doing justice to this amazing site.  It was so green and beautiful it seemed as though it was unreal, even looking at it. 

Next, our driver took us to a small local temple where preparations were being made for an upcoming offering.  We were able to catch a glimpse of local life where the women spend the days prior to the religious holidays making very ornate floral offerings to be offered to the Gods in an upcoming ceremony.  Most of the women making the offerings were older and did not speak English.  Despite the language barrier they were very gracious and showed us how to make the offerings and gave us flowers, then insisted on taking pictures with us.  It was a very neat experience and allowed us to catch a glimpse of local life.

After the temple we drove to the area of Ubud.  This is an area in the interior of Bali surrounded by rain forest and is a collection of many small villages.  This is a great part of the island to buy handcrafted items.  There is a village for woodcarvings, one for furniture, one for rock sculptures, and so on, all handmade.  This part of the island was very interesting to see all of the handcrafted items and the beauty surrounding these villages.  We stopped off at a shop where we could buy all of these items in one stop, as we were limited on time. 

Once we made it back to the hotel we gave our driver a $20 tip, 20% of the bill to rent the driver and vehicle.  We felt it was an average tip for taking us out for an entire day, but knew that it would be more than adequate for the area. Our driver literally started crying, he couldn’t say thank you enough. We realized that it was close to one week’s pay.  It was a very neat experience; one we will never forget.

Gate to traditional Balinese home

Hindu Temple

Balinese rock carvings

Balinese rock carvings

Katie making offerings

Scott and Katie making offerings

Terraced rice fields near Ubud

Katie at terraced rice field near Ubud

Scott and Katie at terraced rice field

Scott and Katie at Four Seasons Ubud

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hotel Review: Bali AYANA Resort and Spa Stop 2

One of our family’s favorite vacation spots has to be Bali.  Gwen was about five when we were there and it has always been listed as one of her favorite vacation spots ever since.  We stayed at the AYANA Resort and Spa, which at the time we were there was under the management of Ritz Carlton.   It has won the award for the top resort by Conde Nast Traveler.  The resort as whole was the most amazing property of any we’ve stayed at.   From first check in with the open-air lobby, we knew this was going to be an amazing property.  The rooms were nice and bathroom well equipped, but this was a resort with so much beauty, that we didn’t want to spend any time in our room other than to sleep.

The pools on this property were among some of the most beautiful we have ever seen.  The property sits atop a cliff with stunning views of the ocean.  One of the pools is literally carved into the side of the cliff with an infinity edge and saltwater.  It was like no other pool we have ever seen.   The beach is accessible via a short walk down some stairs carved into the side of the cliff, which is a tough walk back up but keeps the private beach absolutely private.  I don’t think we saw more than one other person down there. 

The staff took tremendous care of us during out stay.  One morning we had a knock on our door and there were several members of the staff with a cake that they wanted to present Scott for his birthday.  They would also take Gwen by the hand and walk her through the breakfast buffet in the mornings, putting each item that she pointed to on her plate. 

Bali is generally not viewed as a family destination, rather more of a couples only vacation, but we would rate it as one of the easiest family vacation spots we have been on.  One of the reasons it was so easy is would be the kids club.  They had activities planned all day for the kids and Gwen requested to go there every day we were in Bali.  We were more than happy to let her spend as much time there as she wanted because it was free.  We only had to pay for lunch if she chose to stay for lunch.  Because most people do not bring their kids along on a trip to Bali, she was sometimes the only child, or one of just a few, so there were always several kids club workers doting on her, braiding her hair, painting her nails, anything she could possibly want.  So, while Gwen spent hours being pampered and entertained in the kids club, we spent a lot of time lying by one of the five pools on the property, or at the private beach (by ourselves many times I should add).  The property was completely booked when we were there, but it still didn’t feel crowded at all.  Many of the rooms are actually villas equipped with a private pool, which kept a lot of people away from the beach and common pools.

Bali is definitely on the list of places we would like to visit again.  There are many temples we would like to see.  Overall a great cultural trip along with great beaches, wonderful people, and an amazing property.
Open air lobby at Ayana Resort and Spa


Katie and Gwen

Private beach with just Katie, Scott and two staff employees

Water slides by the kids' pool

The salt water cliff side pool

View from the salt water cliff side pool

Main large pool overlooking the ocean

Scott and Gwen at the infinity edge overlooking the ocean

Found this pool on our last day, didn't even have time to play in this one

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