Hello Bali!

P1196455I’ve been on a break, and not just any break, I went on a ‘sun holiday’. I don’t think I’ve ever gone on a sun holiday before. I don’t like the sun. I barely like holidays. I don’t like heat. I definitely don’t like sand and I hate the feeling of salt on my skin. I’m also not a fan of cocktails…except for Bloody Marys…thankfully they had Bloody Marys in Bali, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone. I also don’t like visiting locations of religious worship - churches, temples, mosques, fairy circles - they all seem to be an integral part of holidays. Nothing like trying to insert a random ‘cultural’ element to your booze-soaked hedonism to give it legitimacy and gravitas. I would rather spend the day strapped to an ant hill than have to visit a gallery or museum. All in all - I’m part killjoy, part philistine. I also hate flying.

Imagine my surprise when I actually had a wonderful time on my sun holiday. The presence of Little A seems to have made all the difference but not in a smushy ‘I’m happy just being with my child’ kind of way (because that is patently untrue). It’s because toddlers and I have the same outlook. We do not want to drink vodka from a bucket. We want to go to bed on time. We do not want to do ‘stuff’ unless stuff involves splashing in the water, napping and eating. We do not want to tan. We do not care about culture unless culture involves peanut sauce (thankfully, in Bali, peanut sauce is a key component of the culture). We don’t like sand in our pants. The only difference between me and the toddler is that he doesn’t mind if there’s a dead gecko in his bed…I really would have. Luckily the dead gecko wasn’t in my bed or I wouldn’t be so gushing about my holiday.

Our lovely two week break consisted of a three day stay in Singapore followed by twelve nights in Bali. I learned a lot about many things during this brief period - here are some of them:

1. Singapore is an amazing place to bring a toddler on holiday. Who knew? The zoo, the bird park, the botanical gardens…and that’s about all we could manage in the three days. We could have stayed for ten and never be bored. I cannot say enough great things about the zoo - it should be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Screw the pyramids, they have neither a water playground nor white tigers. The visit also re-ignited my love for queues, order and social hygiene. I love you Singapore - you’re everything I want in a country. (In contrast, there was a woman beside me on the 911 bus in Shanghai this morning clipping her finger nails and spitting on the ground.)

2. If your child gets sunburnt - you are officially a bad parent. Plus, everyone will know you’re a bad parent. It’s not like psychological cruelty or emotional neglect where the scars will only show up years later on the ward. If you are a bad parent on holiday - your child is a public beacon of your shame. Thankfully, I am not a bad parent. Sun-cream is expensive, only mildly effective and sand sticks to it which gives me the heebie-jeebies. The key, rather, is outfitting your child in a baby burka - from neck, to ankles to wrist - all of it should be covered in material. Gone are the days of children wearing little swimsuits or, God forbid, nothing at all. Nowadays, more is more. Hats are good too. Suncream can be limited to hands, feet and face.

3. The Balinese love children. No need to worry about babysitters. You just arrive at the restaurant, someone whisks your child out of your arms, wanders off with them and usually they turn up again by dessert.

4. An iguana is not always an iguana. Sometimes it is a really large gecko. So, when you see what looks like an iguana clinging to the thatchy roof above your bed take a moment to think before you go screaming hysterically to the front desk that there’s a baby komodo dragon lurking in your room. You will look stupid when they tell you it’s just a gecko. You will still feel justified in your panic on account of the fact that the ‘gecko’ is the length and width of your forearm and looks suspiciously like the iguana you saw in the zoo only days before…but the staff will just think you’re a crazy nut who doesn’t know a gecko from her forearm. Four separate members of staff will try to reassure you that the gecko will not fall on your head as you sleep - they will be right - it will not (but maybe that’s because you never really fall asleep knowing that it might).

5. When your child falls headfirst into a fishpond, don’t panic, grab an ankle. Children are easier to carry by the legs than by the arms - there’s more grip. So outraged will he feel at being fished out of the soup like a common grouper, upside down and dripping with fish-water - he will not fall in again.

6. If you absolutely must have culture, Bali is one of the nicest places in the world for it. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of temple visiting now and again. We went to three on our trip which seems like a lot but when there’s a temple every ten paces, they’re hard to avoid.

7. Don’t diss family resorts. They rock. Authentic experiences are for young people and hippies.

8. Never go anywhere without Tiger Balm and raisins. I don’t think this needs explaining.