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If Bali is your love language, here’s how to find your dose of magic

Bali scenery

I admit, it is an easy place to travel to, and it does have a lot to offer for mature and sophisticated women, but I will also admit that Bintang shirts, fake designer bags sold on the street, and people misbehaving because they think they can, turns my stomach.


I have been to Bali three times. The first time was extremely spontaneous, some friends booked a trip and we simply decided to tag along. Everything was new and fun.


The second time was well planned; we decided to escape the obligatory holiday get-togethers, and spent Christmas there. We flew business, booked a suite and explored the island in style.


The third time I surprised my husband with a trip for his birthday. He’s never been to Bali before, and I gave him clues on Facebook daily – it was all fun and games, until he started thinking that I’m going to arrange his abduction by aliens. You see, I booked his birthday dinner at a restaurant called Cocoon and lot of the clues I have given him were from the movie bearing the same name. Then the jig was up. But the short trip was amazing, we booked a driver, stayed at a suite and I tried to get him in the Bali spirit as much as I could.


Gabi Anderson-Courtney and Shane Courtney at Cocoon restaurant Bali
Shane Courtney birthday Cocoon restaurant Bali


This was seven years ago, and I haven’t been back since. We simply decided to visit some other places, then Covid hit. I know people who go twice a year, religiously. Honestly, I don’t think I could do that, I would feel cheated for missing out on other places where I haven’t been before. But, somehow Bali has been on my mind, and if I go again, I know exactly how I would travel. Here’s my essential list to make it an easy and memorable trip. And not a Bintang shirt in site.


DO


Fly a reputable airline. Qantas is always a good choice. Budget airlines have additional charges for luggage, food, etc., by the time you add up all the extras, you will be paying more and only creating hassle for yourself.


Book a nice place to stay. I generally avoid Kuta, simply because it’s not for our generation. People who want to party will be filling the streets at 2 am, loud and unruly, when you are trying to get your beauty sleep. Nusa Dua is a good choice, but my two favourite places are Soori Bali and The St. Regis Bali Resort. Mark my word, you will be happy that you listened to me.


Monkey forest Bali

Book a driver for your stay. For a daily fee, they will be available 24/7. I tend to do this wherever I go, but in Bali it is extremely easy, and you’ll be glad you did. You simply need to email your driver your itinerary before arriving, and they will be at your service from the time they pick you up from the airport. If you pay the daily fee, they tend to only attend to you, so if something unexpected pops up, you can just call them and they can come straight away.


Have a plan. I admit, I am an absolute control freak, on holidays, I have every hour and every day planned. Yes, things don’t always go to plan and I’m ok with that, but you need to have at least a broad idea on how you will use your time on the island. And don’t go overboard. Make sure you have time to do nothing, and nothing at all – having a massage or lazing by the pool with a cocktail.


Gabi Anderson-Courtney and Shane Courtney at Kopi Luwak Bali

Do something out of the ordinary. One of my best experiences in Bali was visiting the Kopi Luwak plantation. I love coffee and this was something truly extraordinary. I even ended up coming home with a variety of their teas (still trying to find that lemongrass tea everywhere..)


Plan for who you are travelling with. I don’t travel with children, so I tend to avoid places that are child friendly. Kids running and screaming around me, splashing in the pool, is not my idea of relaxation. Having said that, if you decide to go with family that includes children, you need to plan accordingly.


DO NOT


Don't overeat. Let’s be honest, there is some amazing food in Bali, and the all-you-can-eat breakfast is especially dangerous, but please for the love of god, don’t go home five kilos heavier than you have arrived. Because you can overeat, doesn’t mean you should. You’ll be sluggish all day and at our age, it is not classy. Go for some fresh fruit instead.


Don't get a temporary tattoo or your hair braided. Just no. There is no justification for this, and you will look awful. They are even worse when you get home.


Monkey forest Bali

Don't wear what you wouldn’t wear at home. I cannot count how many times I would’ve liked to wash my eyes out with soap at the sight of horrible things being displayed in plain view, unsuitable for human vision. Let it be at the pool, at a restaurant or anywhere else as the matter of fact, just don’t think it’s ok to be a style disaster because you are on holidays. Yes, I know it’s hot, but whatever your body shape is, there is always a perfect solution. I actually love to wear long loose dresses on holidays, it hides everything, it is breezy and cool, and there are some great styles out there, like Camilla kaftans.


Don't get drunk. Period. You are not 20 anymore and even if you can hold your liquor, being on holidays is not an excuse. You will feel really stupid the next day. Tipsy? No problems. Drunk? I don’t think so.


Bali fake designer items

Don't buy fake designer crap on the street. Yes, we can all see that it’s fake, you are not fooling anyone. I’m going to say what I always say, again; quality before quantity. Buy one amazing designer item, instead of ten fake rubbish ones. That one piece will always be a reminder of the holiday you had, will last a very long time, and you will know in your heart that you have done the right thing.


Bali local

Don't be rude to the locals. Ever. I know they can be pushy, but you have to remember that they are just trying to make a living. Count your blessings and know how fortunate you are, be charitable if you can, but if you can’t, just smile and say no thank you. Then repeat and repeat. And never lose your temper. They will soon realise that there will be no sale, and you said no with style. This also goes for people who serve you at the hotel, at a restaurant, or anywhere else. Bali people are friendly and chatty and yes, they do cross boundaries sometimes proposing questions that would be unthinkable to ask somewhere else, but you have to remember that different cultures have different norms. It doesn’t mean that you have to give out information that you are uncomfortable with, but no need to get offended. I remember being repeatedly asked at a high-end restaurant by very friendly wait staff why we only have one child and why we don’t have more. I didn’t think that I would need to provide an explanation, so I just smiled and said that this is the decision we made. There were a few smiles and ‘oh, shame’ remarks, but then it was left at that. You have to remember, you cannot control what other people do, but you do control how you react to them.


Bali is a magical place, but it will only serve you up its best, if you choose the right ingredients. And if I decide to visit again, I will be telling you about it all. So, what you should do with all this information? Well, if you have been reading my posts, you already know what I’m going to say. We, mature aged ladies always do whatever we damn please, so take it or leave it, but whatever you do, make sure you have fun doing it.

 

Gabi

xx

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