For two families, comprising four adults and four children, our holiday to Bali has been much anticipated.
This is my family’s second visit to Pan Pacific Nirwana in Tabanan and on arrival I’m met by Riske, a member of the concierge team we met last year.
I tell her the kids are in the Sunset Lounge and she heads straight there. Before I catch up I hear the cheers and then I see the hugs.
There are not many places you stay where hospitality becomes friendship and these are the only places I return to.
Our days at the resort are defined by as much time by the pool as possible.
I’m there one morning with my daughter Matilda when general manager Guy Owen and staff member Romy Mansoer come over to introduce themselves. Matilda’s drawing of a turtle has been chosen as a logo for the Pan Pacific turtle conservation program and poster that appears around the resort.
They invite us to be blessed at the Tanah Lot temple so we dress traditionally and are given an offering of flowers and food to take. Tanah Lot attracts hundreds of locals and tourists each day, many drawn by the sunset.
Crossing at low tide, hopping between rock pools, we climb the steps to the temple which perches on the top of the island. We sit down, facing the main temple. After a blessing with holy water, we receive rice for our forehead. Rice is the seed of life and signifies a blessing by a priest for happiness and prosperity.
We’ve promised our friends a visit to Bali Treetop Adventure Park in Bedugul, in the north of the island, where the fun includes zip lines, rickety bridges, spider nets, flying foxes and Tarzan ropes suitable for all skill levels.
The quiet up in the jungle canopy is remarkable and is only pierced occasionally by an excited squeal.
After a couple of hours, we head to a hilltop overlooking Lake Bratan to enjoy a picnic lunch.
On the way back to the resort, we visit Melanting Waterfall and spend time looking at Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple, on the edge of Lake Bratan.
There are horseriding adventures a short drive from Pan Pacific Nirwana and Matilda and my friend’s son Fallon enjoy a sunset ride at Yeh Gangga Beach, just to the north of Tanah Lot. The two younger kids, Tom and Saoirse, have a pony ride at the Bali Equestrian Centre and then get to brush and feed the animals.
Not far away, Splash Water Park at Canggu Club is a good alternative to Waterbom Park in Kuta. It’s not as big and there are no queues but there are plenty of rides and a lazy river, just right for a couple of hours with the kids. The club also has a Bounce Trampoline Centre, tenpin bowling and a day spa where a dripping dad and daughter got themselves metallic temporary tattoos. Unfortunately, mine didn’t make it through the day but Matilda’s gold tree of life motif lasted several days.
One of the encounters I’m most fond of on this holiday is the walk with the kids to the nearby Pop Mart for the necessities of life; chocolates, chips and toys.
Walking back along the resort entrance road, we’re hailed by a trio of travellers on a golf cart. Inviting us aboard, Tom and Matilda are up on the seat before I can even make a comment about accepting a lift from strangers. As it turns out, two of the buggy’s occupants, Eza and Umer, are getting married at the resort.
The resort hosts about 50 weddings each year, with a quarter being Australian couples. In 1998, Rebecca and I thought the Left Bank in Fremantle was very special for our wedding reception but if I had my time again a balmy Tanah Lot sunset and a village gamelan orchestra would be hard to beat.
That night I arrange for a small gift and note to be delivered to their room as a thankyou for letting us ride with them and wishing them all the best for their life together. The next day there is reciprocation when delivered to our room is a lovely letter and two packs for the kids filled with an assortment of treats.
Isn’t it wonderful how friendships are made? This has been everyone’s holiday and it has been a bit more. It’s been about friendship; travelling with friends, staying with friends and making friends.
On our last morning one of the staff, Paramitha, comes over to see Tom. She has been so attentive of Tom, making sure he is always happy. She has a gift for him, a substantially sized Barong statue. This knocks him over like nothing I’ve seen before. He knows he has a friend and gives her a big hug, forgetting he’s climbed out of the pool and is dripping wet.
Other holidays have opened my eyes to more history, adventure and spectacle, it is friendship that has made this one the best of all.