Jan 28, 2011

With 2 Kids In Tow: On The Move To Bali

We finally did it-- we've started our 'big trip' at last! It's been a more hectic start than we would have preferred, but no severe consequence except for some over-tired kids and a couple of parents stretching their limits and some quick lessons learnt.
The flight from Melbourne to KL was 8hrs long and was supposed to depart at 1:25am, but left closer to 2am.  While we lucked out and got 3 seats per 2 of us, the girls incredibly still couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep well.  They tossed and turned and eventually got 5hrs of shut-eye.  We landed in KL at approx 9ish our time, but 6:30 am local time.  After stuffing around with left-luggage, changing money, and generally just sorting ourselves out, we arrived in the  KL Sentral via the handy shuttle bus around 10am.  We then took the LRT to KLCC (Petronas) where we had breakfast/lunch and a short look around the park surrounding the centre.

Disembarking at KL-LCCT

Interesting impressions about KL though: the people who worked with the public we found to be very unhelpful and even a bit rude.  For example, when we asked the Information Desk at the LCCT airport where the Left Luggage was, they told us but failed to mention that you first needed to get your luggage cleared by security before you could actually leave it.  The Left Luggage area was approx 100m from the Information Desk while the Security Check was approx 50m in the other direction!  

Similar experience happened at the KLCC shopping centre.  I was told in advance that there was a nice playground right outside the centre.  I approached the Information Desk to enquire where the park was located and was told that there wasn’t a playground in the centre!  I then asked if there was one outside, and he said yes!  But he failed to mention where the playground was located exactly and it was a large park, whose own informational signage lacked clarity and an English translation!  As such, we spent over 1hr at the park before we finally found the playground, at which point it was too late to really let the girls have a play as we had to start making our way back to the airport!  It did look like a great park though.

Another disturbing impression about KL is that it is very regulated and policed who use whistles to let you know you are doing the wrong thing.  We first encountered this at the airport when security staff whistled at people who walked outside of the designated walkway while disembarking from the plane on the tarmac.  Then at the KLCC part, Maddy got the whistle as she tried to run across the grass, which had a very small sign on it telling you to Keep Off!  We also got whistled at in the Waterpark for not taking off our shoes while crossing a walkway—we missed the very small sign telling you No Shoes.  In fact, the park was a weird place that seemed to be all about appearances of being ‘inviting’ yet they had all these security people ‘watching’ that people obeyed the discrete rules!  Very strange.

Anyway, in spite of this, we had a pretty good half day in KL.  The girls fell sound asleep on the 1hr ride back to the airport, but were then wide-awake for the 3hr flight to Bali.  We arrived in Bali around 7:30pm, all exhausted.  Luckily we pre-booked a room in Sanur, so a 30min taxi ride ended in us all arriving thankfully at our room, where we slept very soundly that night.

Day 2 of our trip (yesterday) we all awoke after a good 11hr sleep.  We headed out to look for breakfast and while we found a nice place nearby, the service was horrible.  We actually think that they ran out of ingredients while in the middle of making our 4 breakfasts—the girls got theirs, then a staff member sped off in their scooter.  Some time later, he returned, and later still, Jim and I got our breakfast, which was identical to the girls’ order!  Anyway, it was delicious.  We then headed to the beach and had a lovely swim before a thunderstorm drove us into a nearby cafe for lunch.  After that, we headed back for a nap for the girls.  We had a lovely dinner and a stroll on the boardwalk to end the day.

So far the trip with the girls has taught us a few important lessons about travelling with young children.
  1.  Allow more time than you think you’d need to get from Point A to Point B.  Inevitably there is dawdling, bathroom breaks and even minor falls when you least expect it.
  2.  Avoid night flights for preschoolers.  Toddlers and babies seem to be able to sleep anytime (at least the girls did at that age).  Older kids would probably adapt better too.  But this seems to be an awkward age to travel during a usual sleep time. 
  3. Total travel time per trip should not exceed 8hrs—any longer than that, you are really pushing everyone’s limits, including your own.  If we’d stopped in KL, or even if our connection to Bali was more immediate, the entire day would have been shorter and more pleasant.  By the time we arrived in Bali, we were ‘traveling’ for almost 24hrs and it was too much. 
  4. Be prepared to keep the kids entertained better during waits for food.  I guess we don’t go out that often that its been a problem, but so far during this trip, it has been.
But despite all of these ‘lessons’ we have also been very impressed with how the girls have handled the travel thus far.  

They have managed very well with little sleep and caught up when they had the chance.  Also they have adapted very well to the sleeping arrangements—they are currently sleeping on a therma-rest mattress each and a sleep sheet sac on the floor.  They say that they are comfortable.

My first time in Bali, and after 2 days, my impression has been a bit not what I’d expected.  I suppose I expected something more ‘developed’.  While there are plenty of beautiful 5 star establishments, there are also lots of ‘developing country’ type stuff like a family of 4 on a scooter, people riding without helmets,  poor street maintenance, hawkers everywhere.  But surprisingly, there are Western-style toilets so far everywhere we’ve been.
Another beach day for us today, including a terrific 30min massage on the beach which cost all of $2.75USD.  Ahh, I could get used to this!  Getting more into the swing of this travel thing :)
Sanur, Indonesia


  1. Love reading your first blog, such a great story! :)

    1. Thanks Erin! It's interesting to read the earlier posts versus the later ones...