Having long been a vocal whinger about there being so little to do on Bali for tiny kids, my ears immediately pricked up when a friend mentioned a new book is out here called Bali with Kids: Families’ Guidebook for Babies to Teenagers.
I popped into La Tartine (on the bypass in Sanur) to pick up a copy for 150,000 rupiah — quite a bit for a locally produced book, but it is full colour, more than 220 pages, and a lot less than your average big publishing house guide book. Ads are peppered throughout but do not dominate — and they’re actually the useful kind!
Plus, Bali for Kids, by Laetitia Knight and Philippe Pero, turns out to be a great up-to-the-minute guide on, well, things to do with kids in Bali. Parents travelling with kids in Bali are currently a huge but very much under-targeted group when it comes to marketing guides these days — so this book should deservedly do well.
My problem with Bali is the lack of things to do with very small kids aged two and under. Very few cafes have safe playing areas for bubs, forget about any real parks with play equipment, and it’s rotten trying to push a pram anywhere thanks to the crap footpaths, so forget street shopping with a baby in tow. (I’m never sure whether to thank big hotels for avoiding paying appropriate taxes or the government for the complete lack of infrastructure here. See? There I go whinging again.)
While this book has tips for travelling with bubs, it explores things to do mainly for kids three years and up — and here it really does excel. Just with my initial quick perusal I’ve added a stack of things to do to our list for this year. I would hazard a guess that the authors are European — both by some of the very occasional slightly off-kilter English used (like the subtitle?), but far more importantly thanks to their great suggestions that we moving in Anglo circles — or at least my small one — haven’t come across yet.
For instance, we can’t wait to try The Organic Farm and Bagus Agro Pelaga Farm, both listed in the Nature and Environment section (though the former has now been featured in Hello Bali). I’ll also be looking up Frenchman Jean de la Jungle‘ for some trek guiding once our two are a little older. The range of listings though is across the spectrum — from that kind of stuff through to adventure, water sports and activities such as cooking and horse-riding.
There is also a decent section on kid-friendly hotels and villas. One small criticism: this could just be my Australian-stoked obsession with swimming pool fences shining through, but a full-page ad for a villa saying it’s kid friendly while sporting a massive pool without a fence left me wondering what kid-friendly is supposed to mean. For me, it’s more than just providing cots and babysitters — it’s about safety too.
The book is also an excellent resource for those planning to settle in Bali as well, with listings for schools, health practitioners, where to buy baby supplies, tips on holding birthday parties, children’s books related to Bali and more.
My only real beef, and it’s not with this book alone, is that it doesn’t make clear whether the writers have accepted freebies in order to review places (all reviews are positive). Many Bali publications/reviews/apps either let their reviewers take freebies or, indeed, actually pay for inclusion — and rarely do they disclose this. It would be nice to see this changed.
Overall, Bali with Kids is a good buy, particularly if you buy it immediately on arrival, plan to come regularly to Bali or wish to settle down here. Combine it with an atlas and a self-drive car, or a hire car with driver, and you’ll be set for some excellent adventures around the island.
By Samantha Brown
Last updated on 25th April, 2011.