December 2016 – January 2017: Bali, Indonesia

We were excited to spend a month in Bali, both because relaxing on the beach sounded lovely and because we’d planned this trip to include visits from our parents. Being far away for months on end can be a bit rough, so we decided to rent a house near the beach in Bali for a month over Christmas to host people. Our parents’ willingness to hop on a plane and travel to wherever we’re going to be has been wonderful.

Our Monthly Rental
For a month-long visit to Bali that included five adults and a baby, we really needed to rent a house. Luckily, we found one on AirBnB that checked all our boxes. It was close to the beach, had three bedrooms and enough room for a crawling baby, and it even had a large outdoor garden area. SOLD!

There were some things that weren’t exactly to the level of luxury we’re used to in the US, of course. It had windows without glass throughout the house, meaning bugs and the occasional lizard made its way in, and air conditioning was only in a couple of the bedrooms. Since we had a baby to think about, we scored the best room in the place and were able to sleep in relative coolness. Besides that, the house tended to be a constantly balmy 75, which sometimes felt like a bit much.

But our hosts worked to ensure that we had a good visit, including a Christmas tree ready for our arrival and a celebratory cake on New Year’s eve.

Sometimes a lizardish creature wandered in the house. No big deal.

The beach was only a couple minute stroll from our front door.

Ali’s mom and cousin (who we visited in Thailand) came over for Christmas, and we spent the holiday doing all those normal things you do at Christmas. Making decorations, opening presents, swimming in the ocean, and going to a hotel for their Christmas dinner where we listened to a woman in a sparkly red dress sing the wrong words to Rudolph and then switch over to Hotel California for some reason. You know, your totally normal Christmas.

Annabelle’s first Christmas!

Out for a fun Christmas dinner.

Anna’s “First Birthday” Party and New Year’s 2017
Joe’s parents arrived shortly after Christmas Day, the holiday spirit ratcheted up another notch, and Annabelle opened yet more Christmas gifts, even though we were preparing to celebrate her birthday in a matter of days.

“But wait,” you might be thinking, “wasn’t Annabelle born at the end of January?”

Yes, yes she was. Since our parents weren’t going to be around for her birthday, we decided to do her first first-birthday party one month early, so they could shower her with love and attention and gifts.

We hope she’ll understand how truly lucky she is to have so many caring people in her life.

Annabelle celebrates turning one year old… on her 11-month birthday.

That might seem like a lot of celebrating, but we weren’t done yet. There was still New Year’s Eve! Joe’s parents brought silly hats and glasses in their luggage, so we were able to ring in the new year in fine style.

By “ring in the new year” I of course mean go to sleep at nine and only wake up at midnight because of the ridiculously loud fireworks going off right next to our house.

Happy New Year!

Escape Rooms
If you read about our trip to Manila, you know that we like to do escape rooms. And we found one in Bali! So we went twice, once with Ali’s mom and cousin, and once with Joe’s parents. They were fun, if not quite as awesomely thematic as the one in Manila.

Bali escape room.

The highlight of the escape rooms was the moment when needed to climb through a bunch of laser beams. It would be impossible to hold Annabelle and scoot through. That’s when we came up with a brilliant idea: set her down and let her crawl on over to Dada! She’s only been crawling for a month or so, but navigated the laser beams like an experienced cat burglar.

Our Sightseeing Adventure
As a bunch of tourists in Bali, we needed to get out and see a bit of the island, so we hired a driver and had some adventures!
Adventure 1: artist workplace. It was a bit touristy, but we saw some art and some artists, and Joe’s parents bought a massive, beautiful painting.
Adventure 2: monkey sanctuary. A cool temple area with so many monkeys wandering around. They advise you to leave sunglasses, hats, and shiny jewelry in the car, because the monkeys absolutely will take your things and run, and then a dude expects you to pay him when he gets it back for you by bribing the monkey with a banana. We saw this happen multiple times. Those monkeys—and guys who extort you for the return of your things–are very slick.
Adventure 3: seafood smorgasbord. We went to a small restaurant mentioned in Rick Steve’s where we ate a ridiculous amount of seafood right on the beach. Delicious and beautiful!

Bali had many cool statues. This one tells some religious story I forgot!

There were little “offerings” all over in Bali. It can be very fun seeing other cultures’ practices.

Beautiful Bali countryside.

It was nice to visit with our family and spend time together in Bali, but now that we’d done lots of eating and lots of shopping and lots of bonding, it was time to hit the road and settle into a little place for just the three of us again. Back to Australia!

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