Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Bali Diaries: Babysitting our Moms


“When you get older, it’s not about what you did that you regret, it’s what you didn’t do.” – Grace Slick

I may not have the sweetest and most picture-perfect relationship with my mom but I always make every effort in pursuit of her happiness, especially right after my dad passed away eight years ago. So each year, I promise myself to take her to somewhere she’s never been to. 

For our two-month summer backpacking trip this year, SEA 2 Africa 2018, we explored Bali, East Timor, Singapore and Morocco; the latter being my ultimate dream destination. It’s the fifth year of what has become our annual tradition since my job as a public school teacher requires us to have a forced two-month leave during summer breaks—perfect time to unwind after each school year.

It started last year when me and my favorite travel buddy allowed our moms to take a peek on our backpacking life by letting them join on the Malaysia leg of our two-month backpacking trip. This year, we chose Bali as we knew that our moms would definitely relate to the similarities and differences of Balinese and Filipino culture. 


Bali Beach
Beach life
I’ve been to Bali a couple of times prior this trip (during ASEAN Summer Loop 2015 and Trip of Wonders) and I only have fond memories of the most famous island in the whole of Indonesia. We had ten days in Bali for this particular trip and we covered as much as we could—balancing leisure time and exploration (check here for discounted tours, transportation, and activities in Bali). 

We booked a private car with an English-speaking driver for ten days through email. It was our second time to charter the services of Bali Golden Tour and as always, we were pleased with the service from the company as we had the liberty to visit a given spot at our own pace compared to traveling with a group. 

Putu was assigned to be our chauffeur and we loved how we got acquainted with Balinese life through him. We laid out our plans to him and he managed to make an excellent itinerary out of it. It was at the airport when we first saw Putu who was patiently waiting for us in spite of our delayed flight from Manila with my name flashing on a sign. 


Ubud 

Me and my buddy loved Ubud so much during our past visits that we promised ourselves to stay here longer next time. We enjoyed the first three days of this trip at the comforts of SereS Springs Resort & Spa. We did nothing but enjoyed the nice view of the terraced rice paddies from our balcony and explored the natural spring. A three-day staycation on one of the most relaxing resorts in Ubud—the best way to kick-start our summer adventure. 

Bali Travel Family
Ubud staycation for three solid days!
We transferred to Puri Saraswati Bungalows near the town center of Ubud. Our favorite travel buddies suddenly showed up that weekend courtesy of an impulse flight booking the day before. We’re not surprised though, as they usually do this especially during our summer trips. It was cool to hang out with them with our moms in tow. 

Located in Central Bali, Ubud was the ideal home base for our excursions. The beach has always been my refuge but I wouldn’t mind exploring some not-so-hidden natural gems including some waterfalls in Bali

Puri Saraswati Bungalows Ubud
Puri Saraswati Bungalows in Ubud
Ubud is considered as Bali’s art and shopping capital so we included a full day of going around town for artsy stuff and other knick-knacks that made my mom super happy. 

Babi guling, Bintang beer, endless fried chicken, and more; Ubud is also a haven for foodies out there. Our moms would always compare Balinese dishes to what we usually have in the Philippines while my buddy’s mom was always confused on what to order every time we’re dining. 

Bars, pubs and beer shacks were also everywhere and we’d always end the day with a bottle or two of Bintang beer and then transfer to our hotel when they would all close down roughly right after midnight. Party scene in Ubud is not as hard-core like in Kuta but somehow, we’re too old for that kind of thing. 


Tegallalang Rice Terraces 

I’ve been here before but I want our moms to experience it as well. It wasn’t as grand as the terraced rice paddies in Sapa, Vietnam but Tegallalang Rice Terraces is the place to check out if you want to have a first-hand experience of rice terraces. 


Unlike our first visit, everything looked staged now; restaurants and cafés surrounded the whole area, selfie and Instagram spots like the “I Heart Bali” photo stand were everywhere, huge swings overlooking the rice paddies popped out from nowhere and the fake coconut peddler who’ll let you carry his crops for a fee, of course.

Leaving the mayhem behind, we searched for our own spot and had a quiet time on an elevated café with a nice view of the rice terraces. My mom and I shared a fresh coconut while the others enjoyed their fresh lime juice. 


Penglipuran Traditional Village 
Entrance fee: IDR30,000 (US$2) 
Opening hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm 

My mom requested for a break on our Bali temple hopping tours when our driver, Putu, mentioned that we could go somewhere. Around 27 kilometres away from Ubud Town is a famous traditional village in true Balinese style—the Penglipuran Village. 

After paying the required fee to get in, me and my buddy went around the village while our moms were literally knocking on the houses to chat with the locals with the intention to see their gardens and search out for Balinese cactuses—their current obsession. 

Bamboo forest Bali
Bamboo forest
The overall layout of the village, as well as the architecture of the houses, is in tune with the Three Mandalas in Balinese Hinduism for the design that includes Parhyangan (sacred area), Pawongan (settlement area), and Palemahan (graveyard, farming area, etc.). Building materials such as wood, palm, stones and bamboo were utilized on the houses. Each house has its own gate, traditional kitchen and praying area. 

The village was spotless and quiet. I dunno why but it felt weird as we were walking along the streets. Somehow, everything seemed staged—houses that were turned into guesthouses, traditional kitchens turned into eateries, and local stores that became souvenir shops. I am not that person who’s keen on “touristy” stuff but I was looking for authenticity in all that’s happening. Well, the people were very friendly and stuff but I felt strange inside the village, really. 

Bali Family Trip
When me and my buddy got married, I gained a second mom! :)
While our moms were still busy hoarding succulents and cactuses, we followed a path at the back of the village temple. We passed by some locals who were in the middle of renovating a house and kids who were playing soccer in a field. Smoke coming from a pile of dead leaves completed the rustic effect of this treasure at the back of the village. 

We found ourselves on a road lined with arched bamboos which felt like we were in a movie set or something. We then realized that our moms could’ve been searching for us around the village. But then again, we found them happily chatting with residents on one of the houses while munching on local fruits. 


Kuta

Our last four days in Bali were spent in Kuta where we found a cheap lodging 10 minutes away from the beach (hotels in Bali are ridiculously cheap!). 

Coming from the laid-back Ubud, our moms were surprised on the busy city of Kuta. For two days, we made it as a base for our tours and we dedicated a day on going around the bustling city. Of course, our moms weren’t raving about Kuta Beach, or the beaches in Bali for that matter, and were shocked on the hordes of people everywhere. “Boracay in the Philippines is crowded but not like this!” they added. 

Bali Family Trip
Spend more time with your parents, when they still can, and when you still have them. :)
After ten days of our Bali adventure, it was time for our moms to go home. We joined them at the airport to bid our farewell; they will go back to the Philippines while me and my buddy will continue with our backpacking trip. Both of them, well more of my buddy’s mom, were teary-eyed as we hugged them tight and let go of them. 

We watched our moms as they went to the x-ray and check-in counters. We waited for them on things that could possibly go wrong and gladly, there was none. With the glass walls dividing between us we expressed our goodbyes and turned our backs to carry on with our respective journeys. 

Some people would ask me how we managed to join our moms together considering that they just met because of us. I don’t have an exact response to that but I think that our overflowing love with life extends to our loved ones that we could actually pull together a seemingly difficult task. And you know what? Everything went well during the trip and everyone’s happy, which is the most important thing in the world, right?




Bali Golden Tour
Jalan Cekomaria, Gang Taman IV No. 1,
Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia
Contact Numbers: (+62) 851.0096.6391 | (+62) 815.5844.9505
Email Address: info@baligoldentour.com






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