Jennifer Bushman, her husband Kevin, their son John (13), and daughter Julia (10).
Flights from Beijing to Hong Kong with Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express cost RMB 4,810 (including tax) for an adult and RMB 3,700 (including tax) per child under 12 years old. Flying via Hong Kong and taking the red-eye home saved the family around RMB 2,500 per ticket versus flying Singapore Airlines and going through Singapore. Flights totaled RMB 10,000 for the family of four and accommodation rounded up to RMB 8,200. The total cost of the trip (flights, accommodation,food, activities, entrance fees and shopping) for a family of four was roughly RMB 35,800.
In northeast Bali, the family stayed at the Paradiso Villa at Life in Amed (lifebali.com) for two nights at USD 140 per night. They arranged a pick-up with the hotel from the airport to the hotel for the cost of USD 45. Life in Amed also arranged a roundtrip boat ride from Kuda Hitam to Gili Trawangan island, which came to USD 350 for the family of four.
Amed is known for snorkeling and its soft coral. A must-see is the Japanese Wreck in Banyuning. More accessible places to snorkel include Lipah bay (in front of Pondok Vienna), and Selang Beach (just below Blue Moon Villas). For the Bushmans, the beach next to the hotel was great for snorkeling. Although the beach was rocky, the water was warm and there were plenty of fish to look at.
Great restaurants in Amed include Life in Amed’s restaurant, Ganesha, as well as Sails and Baliku. Jennifer had the best fish soup at Sails (restaurantamedbali.com).
On the island of Gili Trawangan, Luce d’Alma Resort and Spa (lucedalmaresort.com) accommodated the family in a double deluxe cottage. They provided two extra beds for the kids. The cottage has direct door access to the pool. They stayed for two nights at a rate of USD 160 per night, including American breakfast, wifi, bicycles and DVD movies. It is only a five-minute bicycle ride to the private beach and ten minutes to restaurants, pubs and shops.
The beach is beautiful and the water was great for snorkeling – there’s a good chance you’ll spot a turtle! The hotel provided the family with bikes, so they rode around the island’s dirt lanes, cycling past lovely huts and fields. For food and shopping, there are plenty of restaurants and little shops on the main road along the beach. One downside would be the abundance of cats on the beach, begging for food from the tourists.
At the Amori Villa: The Luxury Ubud Retreat (amorivilla.com) in Ubud, they stayed in the Garden Villa for USD 220 per night (breakfast included) for three nights. The small luxury hotel was kind enough to let the family check out late, free of charge. A car and driver were at their disposal for travelling around Ubud.
Ubud has great shopping. Monkey Forest Street has dresses, silk, bags, jewelry and sarongs. Dewi Sita Street is another shopping spot, selling clothing, accessories, and furniture.
Taking advantage of the babysitting service for a night, Jennifer and her husband enjoyed a six-course meal at the Mosaic Restaurant (USD 220). For kid-friendly fare and great music, try the tapas at Jazz Café.
Sightseeing recommendations include a Legong dance performance, the serene Water Temple (except for all the vendors), and Monkey Forest. Visitors should exercise caution when walking through Monkey Forest. The monkeys can become aggressive, if provoked. However, the kids fed them bananas successfully.
While Jennifer and her daughter went to a spa on Monkey Forest street, John and Kevin went white water rafting. It was the favorite part of their trip. Bali Great Adventure charges USD 70 for each adult and USD 50 for each child. The tough trek getting up and down the gorge, which is actually rougher than the actual rafting experience.
Kevin and John went on a fishing trip with a local. No luck catching anything, but they made a new friend – the guide gave them homemade popcorn afterwards. Another great moment was spotting a large pod of dolphins and flying fish on the boat ride from Gili Island to Amed.
Exchange rates are better in the city than at the airport. Also, most prices are negotiable.