We managed to finally get some sleep after the last post and realised that it has all been too hectic for the children and we’d all had enough. So in true ex-pat style we threw money at the problem and went to Canggu Club- which is home to Bali Splashpark and spent the day on the water flumes.
The place was blessed relief, away from the manic mopeds and relentless traffic jams. It felt colonial and a bit uncomfortable, what with all the servitude that was going on so I made friends with the staff, obviously. Or at least they allowed me to think that I did, bless them. ‘tell me about your life! What is your favourite local dish? I’ll have that!’
This place was set up for families escaping the Bali craziness so we charged up our cashless wristband, set ourselves up at some sunloungers and spent the day hurling ourselves down massive waterslides and getting all wrinkly. I remembered that I love water parks and now the boys are a bit older they love them too- family races down the SpeedRacer! Whoop!
We nailed it and even had time for a cocktail when the boys were occupied with the Lazy River. Those swimming lessons just paid for themselves. (Thanks Tayler! x)
After a day of waterslides we thought we’d like a nice dental emergency. It had been at least 1 week since Mike last visited the dentist, so he thought he’d bite into a pizza crust and snap his tooth off. It was a plastic tooth that was from an accident that happened when he was 9 years old (which is pretty much when he last went to the dentist) so it just thought it would rear its head again here. Thank you tooth, how convenient. Thank GOODNESS there is excellent dental care a short drive away, for just 38 quid it was all sorted- better than it had been before.
After that we thought we’d brave Kuta beach- it is the place that is so famous that I felt like we should go at least once. Some dear friends of ours, who we travelled together with in past years - went there for honeymoon and hated it. I can see why, it was sprawling and garish, not the idyllic paradise we were looking for - though we all totally found our place watching the surfers from the pop up beach bar.
One man did a head stand catching a tube- I have literally never seen anything like it. Outstanding. This was slightly overshadowed by a gaggle of beach hawkers who could JUST TELL that we were new here and stood around us continually asking if we want a bow & arrow/ kite/ Marlboro. Eventually about 10 of them stood there, taking it in turns asking what we’d like. I think they could sense the cracks in Mike’s jovial façade and did it for a laugh.
We spent the next day bumming about by the pool in preparation for our Gili Island adventure- early nights for us because we all couldn’t wait. Bali had been ok but we were ready to leave.
Our alarms went off at 5.30am and we were ready, having packed the night before. Our first move wasn’t too painful, though there was a point I thought that there was no way our stuff was going to go back into the 2 backpacks.
The bus quickly took us to the harbour and the Bluewater Express departure lounge had free coffee and complementary travel sickness pills. That should have worried us, but I love a boat ride and the kids were already pilled up. We took the last few seats at the back and the boat pulled away with its 6 engines roaring.
The speedboat jumped across the waves and thank god the boys didn’t want to join me on the roof as I wouldn’t have been able to get them up there safely. I had to grab hold of the hand rail whilst my whole body left the ladder I was climbing. I crawled onto the roof, with the head wind almost knocking me backwards, wondering how I was going to get back down.
I sat there, watching the huge volcanoes of Bali slip away as we roared towards the Gilis. The bright sunshine, the smell of the sea spray added to the exhilaration of the ride - which was topped off when a family of dolphins skipped along beside us! (shame the kids didn’t see it). Naturally this perfect scene was hampered by the fact that I was unaware of the 42 degree temperature. A rookie mistake I am still paying for... it's hard to carry off a peeling nose.
When we arrived at the island we walked with our (not inconsiderable) bags to our huts at Cotton Tree Cottages. We were greeted by Ilario- an Italian chap with a killer moustache who gave us our room early and a map of the island- telling us which resort would allow free pool use. He would later order in Chocolate milk for the boys’ breakfast and they would think it was better than Christmas. Thank you Ilario.
We dumped our stuff and went to the first beach we could find. Naturally the children were thrilled to be here, but they don’t always express it in ways we can understand. So, we retreated to the hut and regrouped, heading out to a cacophony of ‘Hello, Boy!’ to dinner, feeling like a minor celebrity with our children who are in their element high fiving strangers.
The following day we bought snorkels, hired bikes and rode around the island. We met a chap called ‘Steven’ who ran some bungalows and wanted our number so he could whatsapp us. This turned out to be very useful, as it happens we had left a blessed snorkel mask at his place. He had lots of questions about home educating. Did we know there was a local Montessouri school and would our children like to attend? Yes please Steven, can we leave them there..?
After 24 hours in Gili T we all realised that it is heaven. No traffic here- only push bikes and horses and carts, so we are cycling around all day long, meeting the friendliest people on earth. We have seen tropical fish in the shallows and danced to bongos as the sunset. The views are stunning and the vibe is very chilled so we decided to extend our stay. Ilario was happy to oblige and we get to keep our amazing mezzanine hut with outdoor bathroom.
Even the mosquitoes are giving me a bit of a break here and I am even able to look in the sea, with my face UNDER the water and everything. Despite my lifelong phobia of open water, it is like this place makes it ok- that and the searing heat.
It;s not all perfection, though. I saw a scorpion fish earlier when snorkelling, and didn’t realise... then took my eldest son into the water to look at it. On googling the image it may have been a Frogfish but we will be wearing reef boots from now on and I will temper my amateur enthusiasm for snorkelling. Seriously though, it is like laying in a tropical fish tank! I’ve never seen anything like it and might just move into the water permanently.
Where we stayed:
Budget Villa on Air BNB 50 GBP per night 15 minute walk to Batu Belig beach.
Cotton Tree Cottages in Gili Trewangen via Booking.com at 37 GBP per night (edit- price has gone up as they have now installed a swimming pool)
How we got around:
Bluewater Express speed boat from Bali to Gili Trewangen cost 148 GBP for a family of 4. Very bumpy, but we saw dolphins. They give you sickness tablets with your coffee before departure.. yes it really is that bumpy, but you get there in only 2 hours. Alternatively you could fly from Bali to Lombok and catch a short ferry to the Gili Islands, but we didn't realise that at the time.
We had a driver in Bali called Andy who drove us around and acted as a personal guide for a very reasonable price. He was amazing with the children and he worked out cheaper than public transport for all of us. Please PM me if you would like his details and I wold like to recommend him but don't want to put his mobile number on here.