I have only been twice, the first time was 1998 for my honeymoon and this year I finally returned. The 2002 bombings put me off for a long, long time. But since then, a lot of family and friends have been and come back with nothing but good things to say and slowly my opinion started to change and I decided I was ready to give Bali another chance.
OK, so why here and not somewhere else? Well, from Perth (where I live) it is only a 3 hour 15 minute flight. That's the same time it takes to fly interstate to visit my family and a very do-able time for kids.
Flights from Perth are relatively cheap, specials pop up all the time. When you see them, grab them! We basically planned our holiday around a flight special.
It's warm, being so close to the equator, Bali has a dry season and wet season. Best to travel in the dry season especially if you don't like humidity. It is still more humid than in Perth and I don't do well in humidity but I coped fine, so if I can, I figure anyone can.
Tip: Humidity... forget about makeup (at least foundation) you will just sweat it off. And forget about hair driers and straighteners, there is no point! I had to make my peace with frizzy hair. My MIL's hair went flat and my girls hair loved it, their curls were curlier than ever.
Bali can be a very pretty place, think tropical plants, drinking from coconuts, driving past rice paddy fields. The hotels and villas are lovely and there are lots of lovely places to eat.
What I had forgotten about Bali was how grotty it can be. It is a third world country. Tourism is their main industry. The streets are narrow with uneven footpaths (and in some places there aren't footpaths), there is always a film of grey dust about and there are open drains.
The traffic is crazy. Most locals get around on mopeds, often with the whole family on board. The rule seems to be that there are no road rules, so getting around can be a little hair raising. Best to close your eyes and not look in some cases. What's amazing is that there doesn't seem to be any road rage, vehicles just flow around an obstacle.
We took blue taxis for short trips and hired a driver for the day when we wanted to do tours. Both are quite cheap though at night finding a taxi with a meter was hard so you had to barter for your fare. Either way it was cheap to get around.
Tip: always ask if the taxi has a meter before getting in and if not, set the price before the trip.
There are lots of beautiful hotels and resorts and private villas to stay in Bali. This time we chose to stay in a villa because we were a group of 6 and wanted the privacy and peace that a villa could offer.
We initially chose a lovely looking villa online and paid a deposit, later we found that the official looking website that we had booked through was in fact a scam and our money was gone. The villa owners had no record of our booking and the website suddenly disappeared from the web. We had to wear that mistake and were of course pretty angry about it but there wasn't much we could do to try and get our cash back.
So we found another very nice looking villa in Seminyak through Tripadvisor and we contacted the owner by email then telephone (she was Australian so that made it easier) before making the booking and decided to pay by Paypal so that we were covered by their insurance if anything went wrong.
As it turned out, everything was perfect this time and the villa was even nicer than the one we had originally thought we'd booked. It had a beautiful garden with a 20 metre lap pool, 3 enormous bedrooms each with it's own ensuite and a maid that looked after us every day. It was heaven.
We had wondered whether holidaying with so many people might be a little claustrophobic but it was ok, we all had plenty of space if we needed to get away and once we had worked out a routine that suited everyone, everyone was happy.
The kids virtually lived in the pool, every chance they got they were swimming.
Tip: the water in Bali is not fit to drink. Rinse toothbrushes with bottled water and plug ears when swimming. We bought ear putty for the kids and ear drops to dry out their ears in case any water had gotten in. Friends had warned us of ear infections from frequent swimming and visits to the doctor can be expensive over there.
Tours and Sightseeing etc