Nothing says “Ho, Ho, Ho Merry Christmas” like having to stop at multiple security checkpoints (outside of the airport) on the way to your resort in a tropical paradise. Due to the facts that there have been multiple terrorist attacks in Bali (one in 2002 and one in 2005 – something we didn’t make our parents aware of until after we left) and that the economy in Bali is so dependent on tourism, these checkpoints have been set up to both reduce the likelihood of further attacks as well as make tourists feel safer. So, our car had to be searched both upon entering the area of the island where we were staying and before entering our actual resort. Trunks and hoods were popped, doors were opened to inspect occupants (Quin even tried to get out as he thought we had arrived) and an explosive detecting wand was run through the car. Just what you need to get you in the holiday spirit. Now – don’t get me wrong; there was plenty of Christmas spirit around, from Balinese Christmas trees in the lobby
To Santas carved out of fruit
To Balinese Nativity scenes
To Christmas caroling in a restaurant on Christmas
There was even a strange Santa with sexy assistants!
And while it was a wonderful trip, there seemed to be a bit of an edge running under the enjoyment. Part of it was due to the enhanced security (which was everywhere you turned – going into malls, walking the streets, etc.); while it was designed to make you safer, it had the perverse effect of making you feel less safe. Part of the edge was also due to a bit of sadness; while our trip to Thailand was pure escapism (a week off in the middle of October is something we never do), we couldn’t help but miss our family and friends on this trip.
Nonetheless, we still managed to have a fabulous time. There was lots of swimming in the pool and exploring the ocean. A coral reef at the edge of the inlet we were on meant awesome breakers - if only we could surf! More drinks by the pool facilitated by an engaging kids club. The boys and I even tried one of those massages where the fish eat the dead skin off your feet (I was WAY more freaked out by it than they were).
We enjoyed traditional Balinese food in an authentic restaurant, Bumbu Bali (so yummy!), and experienced a bit of the unique culture of Bali, which unlike the rest of Indonesia is predominantly Hindu.
And, most importantly, Santa even came by to drop off new Kindle Fires for the boys.
All in all then, a very different but enjoyable holiday experience. I know that at the same time next year, when we’re at home celebrating Christmas in our usual way, we’ll definitely appreciate that ordinariness more and look back fondly at the time we spent in Bali for Christmas 2011.