Traveling to Bali

Despite the fact I spent the last half of our Bali trip in excruciating pain from an ear infection (side note: The 24-hour UbudCare Clinic is top-notch), I enjoyed our holiday. I would say this though: Do more than an iota of research before going. Don’t be like me, who did only an iota of research, and you may get more out of your experience.

Overall, Bali is lovely. I was enthralled with the stonework and how their houses are designed. Many of the homes are like little villas with numerous buildings housing the various functions of daily life. Almost all, that I paid attention to anyway, had house temples. According to a very quick and absolutely not thorough Internet search, Bali is 93% Balinese Hindu which, as the name implies, is a form of Hinduism. Every day, a member of the family prays and gives offerings at the house temple. We would see this ritual frequently during our time in Bali, watching as offerings were left at the door to the family villa, up high on the brick wall, and on the mode of transportation (frequently a motorbike) all of which are meant to bless the day.

Because of my total lack of planning, I ultimately booked us a tour guide with Klook (which is a fantastic app for when you’re going on travel). It’s especially useful when you have no idea how to get around a country but have a little idea of what you would like to see. It’s also a really useful app to use if you really don’t know what there is to do in the country you’re visiting as it gives insight to what is popular. I use it with confidence and have always had a great experience. For this trip we chose a tour that included rice fields, waterfalls, monkeys, and temples.

Speaking of temples, we had promised the girls to not go to a temple but, before they even realized what was happening, a sarong was wrapped around their waists and we were wandering the 1,000-year-old (!!) Puseh Butuan Temple. Our Klook tour guide, Joke (his nickname and it went well with his personality), was so kind and he enthusiastically answered all of my questions, helping me to understand the ceremonies and customs of the Balinese Hindu temple along with the differences between Balinese Hinduism and Indian Hinduism.

The only complaint I would have is how contrived everything was. This is where doing a little bit more research would have worked in our favor. With the exception of the temple, all of the places we went to put a big emphasis on Instagram pictures and souvenirs and left little time for being in the moment. As an older millennial, the Instagram/Influencer thing is, and this is putting it nicely, fucking annoying (after I had written this I later found out my little cousin is doing quite well as an Instagram influencer…sorry, Hope). I’m not petty enough to ruin someone’s shot but believe me, the thought has crossed my mind, especially when all I want to do is live in the moment and also, you’re blocking the path in a vain (used in two ways here) attempt to get that perfect shot.

One thing I did get right was our Ubud AirBnB at Villa Sentul. This was chosen exclusively for the reason that they had house cats which sounds silly but believe me, was a real sticking point for the girls. We only saw one cat during our stay, but he was more than enough because he was friendly and cuddly and would curl-up next to us while we read and relaxed. We were also nestled amongst the town which added to its charm although the roosters at four in the morning were terrible. Honestly, roosters are terrible anywhere you go so this is nothing against Villa Sentul.

Bali relies heavily on tourism and that was quite apparent as we spoke to the various tour guides. One woman in particular told me that during the pandemic she had to sell her motor bike and wedding ring in order to keep her son in school. Drivers were a dime a dozen and totally worth it because the motorbike situation is insane, and driving is not for the faint of heart. Of course, I write all of this with the understanding that we’re a family of four and not a happy couple tooling around on their own. A lifetime ago I probably could have been convinced that renting a bike would have been the way to go.

So, to wrap-up because honestly, I’ve been working on this post so long that since I started writing this Indonesia has passed new laws criminalizing sex outside of marriage (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg but I’m not here to be political) and even hosted the G20 Summit. Overall I found Bali to be quite lovely. The people were lovely. The food was lovely. The scenery and artwork through every little village was lovely. The only thing that wasn’t lovely was the ear infection and that two of us ended up with “Bali Belly” which is akin to Delhi Belly, Montezuma’s Revenge…you get the idea. Just be careful about what you eat and drink which is a good rule of thumb for most of Southeast Asia.

Published by Lauren Tepaske

I am a full-time mom and wife with a penchant for writing a humorous point-of-view of daily life.

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