Last week we took our second big trip since being in Asia (the first being to Kyoto). We went to beautiful Bali, Indonesia!!! Bali was at the top of my list of places to visit; it just seemed so obscure, tropical, and foreign, but other than that I didn't really know what to expect. But, had I had any other expectations, they would have all been exceeded! Bali is incredible! This was Peter's and my first visit to Southeast Asia, and it was unlike anywhere either of us had ever been before. Bali is known as The Land of the Gods, or The Land of a Thousand Temples--which I didn't know before going, but now that I've been, I completely understand why! There are literally thousands of temples--everywhere you go, every street you drive down, you'll see so many temples! We hired a local driver for a couple of the days, and he was fantastic at describing Bali's culture, as well as Hindu beliefs and traditions to us. He explained to us that everyone lives with their extended family, and each family's home has its own temple. Then, in addition, every neighborhood has its own temple. Then, of course, there are the bigger, well-known temples scattered throughout the country, making it really the land of tens of thousands of temples! It was so fascinating to see a culture so unlike any other I've seen! We absolutely loved it.
We spent about a week in Bali, but we didn't make any plans before going! We had looked online and gotten a general idea of things we wanted to do, but we really just planned on relaxing and taking things day by day. And it's a good thing we went about our trip that way, because the day we arrived Will came down with a double ear infection and tonsillitis! Meaning, we had no choice but to relax and take it easy! So, the first few days, we just enjoyed the hotel, its pool, and private beach. All things we would've done anyway, so it worked out just fine while Will rested and started feeling better.
We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in Nusa Dua. And it was a steal! For just about $100/night, we had a spacious room with two queen beds (which is very hard to come by at hotels in Asia and Southeast Asia) and room for a crib, free breakfast, a great pool, kids club, and private beach. We felt like we had scored a great deal, plus it was the fanciest Courtyard Marriott I've ever been to. And to top it off, the food was delicious! The breakfast buffet was full of traditional Balinese foods and tons of fresh, tropical fruit. I tried star fruit, jack fruit, dragon fruit, and snake skin fruit that week--all were delicious! We really couldn't have been happier with the hotel, especially given the great price.
Nusa Dua is the peninsula down at the bottom of the island, and is very touristy. Our hotel was located in a resort area next to a bunch of other hotels. There are plenty of hotels and villas to stay in in different areas of the island that are less touristy and will give you a better glimpse of local life, but with our kids and for our current circumstances, staying in Nusa Dua was perfect. Plus, it's still only about an hour drive to Ubud, which is the heart of the island where most of the activities and day trips were located. So, it was very feasible to still get to see the "real Bali" (as our driver kept calling it) while staying in Nusa Dua.
Right in the same area as the hotel and beach are a bunch of little shops and restaurants. And, at one of the shops, they offer a fish spa and foot massages! We couldn't help ourselves, and Peter and I did both! And it was hilarious! A fish spa is just a tank full of doctor fish in which you stick your feet and then the little fish swim up and eat all of your dead skin off! Crazy! It tickled so bad and felt totally weird. But, it was an experience we'll never forget! And afterwards, we each got a foot massage with coconut oil and frangipani cream . . . so relaxing! Both the 10 minute fish spa and 20 minute foot massage only cost us $11.00! Best $11.00 I've ever spent! Such a great deal!
Stay tuned for part 2 of our trip to Bali--it only gets better!