We are, as I write, nearing the end of a family holiday in Bali. I know, I know, I was all I stand for mercy hashtags and boycott Indonesia campaigns - and I still am, of course, I’m not an ANIMAL - but I couldn’t not come. Hear me out, here. This holiday has been booked for ages. Paul and the kids and the grandparents have been counting down the days for months. I couldn’t turn around three (THREE!) days before our flight departed and be all, like, mummy’s got principles, gang, so we’re going camping in Karrinyup instead. Could you? I am what is commonly referred to as a hypocrite. I know this. So are most people. My Jewish friend avoids all things Arab until Emirates offers cheap deals to Singapore. It’s what we do, us hypocrites.
And another thing. Having given it a great deal of thought, I don’t think we SHOULD be boycotting Bali. The Balinese people - kind-hearted, merciful Hindus, for the most part - should not be tarred with the same brush as their despot of a President. Fuck’s sake, they’ve got a hard enough time of it as it is, with their President putting all his efforts into executing reformed Australians instead of providing his peace-loving people with clean fucking water. Give them a break. Tourism is their livelihood. The Balinese people - the ones I’ve spoken to anyway - stand for mercy, too, and it doesn’t seem right or fair to punish them just ‘cos their President’s a cunt.
So there you go. We’re having a big Balinese adventure, and it is wonderful, although the first day was a write off. We knew it would be. Put three generations of the same short-tempered family on a 7am flight, add in a destination with 95% humidity, and the objective simply becomes making it through to bedtime without casualties.
WE VERY NEARLY DIDN’T. At around 4pm - 12 hours after waking - Ben crumbled. Frankie and Alice and Paul and I had napped, because we’re normal humans, but Ben had refused point blank to shut his eyes, reminiscent of the time we flew to England, and he managed an 18-hour flight without BLINKING. Come 4pm, he was psychotic. We went for an early tea, and watched as he exorcised his inner demons in the form of red colouring pencil on paper. We watched, jaws on the floor, as he scrawled until the paper had holes in, then screwed it up and STABBED it, then turned to us - wild eyed and demonic - and said GET ME A SPRITE. We did.
As predicted, the next day was better. It helps when you’re staying at the Conrad (thanks mum and dad!), and the buffet breakfast contains cronuts AND pancakes AND waffles. For reasons that I’m yet to understand, we’re pretty much the only Aussies here. The majority of hotel guests are Koreans, as well as one Bulgarian family with an intellectually impaired teenage daughter who keeps raising her eyebrows suggestively at Paul, and squeezing him under the armpits (yes!) in Kids’ Club. So yes, we were something of a novelty until a German family turned up with six (SIX!) beautiful, blonde-haired boys aged between 18 months and nine years, all wearing identical clothes, ALL the time. Even their floaties match. They stole our fucking thunder alright.
Korean-Australian relations were going along swimmingly until today, when Alice tried to pat a small Korean boy’s inflatable whale (not a euphemism), and he snatched it away. And the Shearons and the Amphletts declared war, because you DO NOT snatch an inflatable whale from our baby girl. Rule number one. When the small Korean boy stole our bucket and spade, I said: “Please give it back,” and he said no. No! And in the interests of diplomatic relations I left it that, ‘cos his dad was watching, and he was bigger than me. THEN, he snatched Alice’s bucket OUT OF HER HANDS and I was all, like, WOAH THERE BROTHER. And he said something in Korean that I can only interpret as: “I’m going to fuck you right up.” We’ve come up to the room for nap time now, and although we usually leave our buckets and spades on the beach for all to use, today I’ve hidden them under our beach towels, because I’ve become THAT person, and woe betide the small Korean boy who tries to steal them.
Hey, here’s a thing. I thought selfie sticks were an urban myth, like the man bun and the health care card. But they’re not, they’re a proper thing! EVERYONE in our hotel has a selfie stick. I feel sorry for the person who has to sit through that fucking slide show.
So yes, we’re on holiday, and it’s ruddy wonderful. I haven’t had a holiday since Frankie was 14 months old and I was six months pregnant with Alice, which meant I couldn’t drink, so it doesn’t even count as a holiday. I didn’t know how much I needed a holiday until I had a holiday. For the first time in two years I’ve had time to make sandcastles, and sing songs, and make up plays, and perform abridged versions of The Sound of Music on the steps of the pool, much to the amusement of the people in room 1009. And I’ve played beach football, and run most mornings, and eaten cronuts for breakfast (they balance each other out, right?) and read books and written blogs and enjoyed just sitting and looking at my children’s squidgy, lovely heads. Yesterday Frankie fell asleep on my chest, on a sun lounger, and I was trapped beneath him for two hours, inhaling his sweaty curls. It was all kinds of perfect, because there was nowhere I needed to be, and nothing I needed to do. As my dad says (often): we’re living the dream.