Mom’s Bali Birthday Bonanza: Mom’s Thoughts

Below are my mom’s unedited thoughts on our trip to Bali… I just added some pictures.

When Benjamin said he wanted to take me somewhere for my birthday I was so happy, and when we decided on Bali I thought “wow!” and just couldn’t believe it. When he mentioned the Amandari and Amankila resorts, I did some research. The reviews and the pictures of the resorts were stunning. I dreamed of Bali my whole life, but why would you take your mom there? These places seemed to me a perfect place for honeymooners or film stars. What an amazing place to take your mom!

I first flew from Tampa to Chicago, and then we flew together all the way to Hong Kong. I liked Cathay Pacific very much! The service was very friendly and the food was quite good. It was daylight most of the way, so why not have some champagne and try some of the wines? The crew was very friendly and professional. They set up a table were we could sit opposite one another and enjoy our dinner together. The comfort was almost like at home, and very special!


I was so excited to visit Hong Kong too, because this is Benjamin’s favorite city since he was 16 years old. I was very impressed when we drove from the airport towards Hong Kong. We crossed a very modern bridge, and the city was in front of us. Wow, what a view, it was beautiful.

Hong Kong is basically built on hills, and the Conrad Hotel was located on one of them. I enjoy being in the middle of the city and love to explore on foot. So we walked a lot, and coming from Florida where everything is flat it was tough — but a lot of fun too! Benjamin showed me all over the city, and where the local people live. We also went to the markets – I was surprised, I expected a little more I think “better” products on the markets. I didn’t really want to go shopping, and I understand there were better stores, but it was more about the experience, I think. It was very interesting, and Benjamin was very funny negotiating the prices. I think I maybe talked the price down 30%, and then Benjamin would talk them down another 40 or 50%. The girls working the market would say “don’t tell me this, I’m not making any money”, and Benjamin would say “don’t tell me this, I’m from here!”


I think Hong Kong is an interesting city and I could image living there for a while. Of course, from Hong Kong you can visit lots of other places.

So then we went to Bali, and were picked up by a person from our hotel who was very friendly. It was a Sunday, and as soon as we got on the road I was stunned. There were many, many mopeds on the street, three or four in one lane, it was crazy. And to my amazement, it seemed like they carried the entire family, even with two parents and two children. When the wind would blow you could see the mother hiding a dog or a rabbit under her skirt. It was amazing and watching the people kept me occupied the whole way. I wondered where they were going and what they do.

Driving around the island I noticed that I did not see many temples. Our driver explained that the families (grandparents, parents and children) live in a compound. This is usually a property consisting of two or three buildings, an open space, and surrounded by walls. Every night they all meet in their own little temple and pray and worship. He also explained that the grandparents are the first ones up in the morning going to the early market and that they prepare food for the day. It sounded like every family member had a job to do and take care of each other. What a different world!

Then I saw this long, beautiful, green, driveway, going on forever and ever. Benjamin said we were there, and I was just stunned by the beautiful scenery.

The person who greeted us out front was very, very friendly. She showed us all around, and brought us to our villa. We had to walk over lots of cobblestones, and it all looked very old, but was kept in very good shape.

Once we opened the door to our villa, I was almost in shock. There were high ceilings, beautiful modern furniture, expensive faucets, an additional outside bathtub, very comfortable beds with the best linens I ever slept in. Everything was clean and soothing local music was playing; I felt like I was in paradise. We also had a large balcony overlooking the rice fields. Every morning the first thing I did was open the door to the balcony and enjoy the fresh air on one of the lounge chairs. I just closed my eyes and did not want to open them again. I can only imagine how it would be sleeping in the jungle. There were so many different noises and echoes, unlike anything I’ve ever heard before.


The resort had 150 staff members and I believe only 10-15 villas were occupied. The service was immaculate, the German cook made some amazing dishes for us. The massage I got was excellent, different in certain ways than what I’ve had elsewhere.

The next day we went to Ubud, the nearest town, and we just watched the people and I realized what Benjamin liked about Bali. The people were so happy, and they were all smiling, and not just smiling with their eyes but with their whole faces, just as wide as can be. It was so refreshing to see.


On the way back to the resort we had to stop in the middle of the street, and so we asked our driver what was going on, and he explained that the car in front was delivering something. The streets were so narrow that no one could pass, yet no one was honking or getting angry. He went on to explain that in Bali they try to be understanding, because today someone else is blocking the road, but tomorrow it could be him instead, and he would hope for the same understanding.

We watched a play of the local artists in an open air auditorium. It was very different, a lot of dancing and acting. And the costumes were very colorful and oversized. Afterwards Benjamin asked if we liked it or not. I had no idea, it was so different; maybe we should have watched a second play to get an opinion.

The next day we went to the monkey forest. There were trees with amazing roots where they were jumping from one branch to another with their babies on their tummies almost like a kangaroo. People could buy bananas, but it’s better not to keep the bananas in your hand, even though the monkeys would steal them out of your bag. Not out of my bag, because Benjamin wouldn’t let me buy bananas, I think he was afraid that the monkeys would come too close.


The next day we did a white water rafting trip which was very adventurous. It started with walking 550 deep steps to the river plateau. I thought I could do it but after 400 steps I could not move my feet. I had to do the rest more or less on my behind, but I did it! The rafting was a lot of fun. The scenery was beautiful, including some amazing stone carvings on the sides of the river. We all fell in the water but it was refreshing.

And then the next day we went to the Amankila, a beautiful resort on the beach. The drive was nice, one and a half hours or so, and we were so excited, because everyone said it was the nicest place. It was absolutely beautiful, but there was not very much to do there, so it was very relaxing. All the villas are individual and on the side of a hill, so connected by stairs. I should have asked the question of how many meters it was from our villa down to the beach.


The service was incredible. When you are at the pool or the beach, they bring you a basket with a variety of sunscreen, always iced water and/or a piece of fruit. They stay in the back out of the way, but if I ever wanted something, I just turned a little bit and they were right there. Amazing!

One day I went down to explore the beach, because Benjamin had to work, so they drove me down and they asked if I wanted a lounge chair. They made it so comfortable with cushions and towels, it was just wonderful!


I was the only one there, so I just laid back and tried to relax, to listen to the birds and waves with my eyes closed. It was so nice. Then I opened my eyes and looked in the sand, and I thought I saw spiders around! Like one spider after another, and they were big, with thick legs! So I was sitting in my chair, scared to move, hoping that somebody would come by and save me from the spiders, but there was no one there.

So I carefully put one foot in the sand, and all the spiders made room for me, so I ran on my tip toes all the way to the pool. One employee seemed very concerned and ran after me, shouting “what is wrong”? I said “I’m running from the spiders!” He replied, “those aren’t spiders, they’re crabs!” So I love eating crabs, these creatures didn’t look anything like them. They asked if I wanted to go back to my chair on the beach, but whether they were spiders or crabs I decided I was happier by the pool.


So the mistake I made — and if anybody is going to take their mother on this trip please let her be smarter — is that I didn’t bring the right shoes and brought way too much clothes. You really don’t need a lot, and people go out at night for dinner very relaxed and comfortable – nobody dresses up. They sell body wraps in the stores for $2-3 and they are very comfortable and really all you need.

My advice to other flyers who take their moms is to take the best shoes. No flip flops, and no high heels. I was shopping the other day and saw some, I think they were Mephisto, around $250, they look very comfortable, next time I would take those. One last piece of advice, when traveling with you mom, try to book fewer connections. More connections might be tough on her like they were for me.

The most important thing though is to bring up how much I appreciate what Benjamin did for me. From the bottom of my heart, it was just so wonderful! This was such an amazing experience that nobody ever gets to do, and the opportunity to spend it with my son, it was so incredibly special. Benjamin, you are so special to me and your heart is so big!

There is no other place that could be more special than Bali. It is totally different than any other country I’ve visited. If I stay healthy I would love to do one more big trip with Benjamin, wink, backpacking through India with the perfect shoes!

Filed Under: Travel
  1. Dear Mrs. Lucky, Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I, for one, am glad to have listened in on your vacation with your son. I once took my Mom and Aunt to France. You can’t imagine the joy I have from that trip now 13 years later — watching them start the day wearing closely matched well coordinated outfits. They too over packed. I’m sure Ben will remember this trip forever.

  2. Great review from you mom, Ben! It sounds like she really enjoyed the trip!

    Wish I can do the same for my mom one day. 🙂

  3. Careful Ben. She might replace you on your trip writing 😉

    Always neat hearing it from a perspective from someone who doesn’t fly and points like we do and travel with someone who does.

    Bravo Benjamin 😉

  4. Benny’s Mom,

    Thank you for such a great report. Benny helped me and my wife last year with the same trip, and we loved it!
    I like the advice you gave. But do you really think a mother will listen to a son’s advice on packing :)! I hope Benny took to heart your suggestion of less connections next time.
    I look forward to your next trip report. Please make sure Benny spends more of his miles on you in the coming years.


  5. Thanks for writing this report Mrs. S.(simply terrific!) – you both are truly “Lucky” to have been able to take this trip together.

    Ben – methinks your mom could ghost-write for you when you’re swamped 🙂

    Am sure you’ll both treasure the memories of this trip for years to come.

  6. Mommy Lucky, I loved reading your thoughts on this whole trip and hope you and Lucky will go on at least one more trip (India/Nepal/Bhutan, perhaps?) together.
    You’re quite adventurous! My mom would never go on a white water rafting trip nor even swim in a pool!

  7. Wow, what a wonderful thing to read. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am about on embark on a 3 week adventure with my own mom around Italy and Greece and I hope it goes as well! I sent her the link to this blog so she can read it, too.

  8. Good post.

    It’s always fascinating to me when I’m with someone experiencing things like this for the first time. It made be old hat and routine to us but when you’re with someone experiencing it for the first time it kind of takes you back to your first experience.

  9. Mommy Lucky – great to read your thoughts. You are very welcome to my country, India – am sure you will love it there.

  10. This is a very touching story. Lucky is a great young man and a wonderful son. Thanks for sharing your thoughs with us.

  11. What a wonderful trip report, it is raw and yet so honest and pure.
    Thank you Benny’s mom for taking time to write this.
    Looking forward to read more of this in the future.
    Ben, are you going to ask your dad for hid trip report also :)-

  12. A nice read with insights to the places visited. I’ll remember the spider/crab story from Bali.

  13. I wish I had resources and opportunity like you to take my parents travel abroad when we were younger. But there were no miles and points to redeem for travel two decades ago where we lived. It is harder to travel with the elderly people, due to health @ endurance issues, food/ weather reactions, medications, etc…Next year, my mom and daughter will be in five continents in the world and I six so far, except Antartica. Hopefully, they will visit Africa with me in the next two years. Countries in India sub-continent will not be on my must-see countries list to visit. When I lived in Kuwait for three years in early 1990s, I did not have pleasant experiences encountering with people from that region. A professor once summed up his visit in India to me ” Being inside the restaurant is the first world environment, stepping outside is the third world slum.” I hope your mom will be well-prepared to fulfill her wish. You may need another reliable assistant with you on the trip to conquer the unexpected.

  14. Great to hear from you!! And you are right, Ecco or Mephisto shoes are wonderful for traveling. Well worth the extra $$$
    Joseph Seibel are great too. ( I am not a Birki kind of guy).

    Move over OMAAT and let’s say hello to “Traveling with Mrs Schlaeppig!”

  15. I enjoyed the report, Mrs. Schlappig!

    One thing, though, in your son’s defense, he booked the minimum possible connections. Unless you had driven to Atlanta, there are no one stop connections to Bali from Tampa. You must make two connections.

  16. Wow. I’m impressed your mom made it on those steps from hell down to the Ayung river in Ubud. 550 steps? That’s conservative! Me and my family were sore the next day going up and down those stairs – but what a beautiful raft ride. I could have gone another 2 hours down those light rapids and that lazy river!

  17. Thank you for your report, Mrs. S.!

    @ Lucky – suggestion: if you are bringing family or friends on your trips, they should contribute a report like this to give another perspective 😉

  18. Thank you for taking the time to write this report Mrs.S. It was very enjoyable reading it. Maybe Boarding Area has room for a new blogger?! You have a great son and are rightfully very proud of him.

  19. It is interesting how Mrs. S is much more impressed with the hotel and how relaxing it was and much less with the first class cabin or the lounge.
    Ben usually spends much more time describing in details the lounge and the cabin/service on board and much less about the places he visited.
    This is actually a great balance.
    Mrs. S can describe the places they visit and
    Ben can continue writing about the flight/lounge.

  20. This post seems very Mom-like and by that I mean wonderful! I like how she calls you by your full name, Benjamin.

    Funny story about the spiders/crabs!

    Between the travels with Dad and now this set of posts, you’ve creatively invigorated the blog. What will you do for an encore?

    Similar to Colleen’s observation, I hope Mom had a twinkle in her eye when she suggested backpacking with you. Can you picture the luggage cart? 😉

  21. This is great. I have never loved my husband more than the day he suggested we bring my mother along to Easter Island. Travel with parents is a whole different world, and such a funny role reversal. My mom was very worried about being lost or left behind, and we had to make sure she knew what to do. I can’t wait to bring her somewhere again soon!

  22. Loved this post! The only question is where are you bringing Mom next. We just went on a five night trip to Paris with my mother and my two aunts who range from 75-85. It was magical.
    I realize your Mom must be much younger!

  23. I’ve taken family members on many amazing trips (the biggest was taking everyone to Africa on a safari), and can only hope they liked it this much. So nice to hear her perspective, and love the “spider” story!

  24. Loved her post. Too bad that you didn’t include a photo if a family and their rabbit on a moped. What a great visual! I’m going to read it again with a German accent. Let’s hear more about those shoes, too. 😉 lovely!

  25. Wonderful write up, I have loved reading the trips from both of your parents perspectives (reading the blog from back to front)

    I am taking my partner’s mother with us in the next few weeks on vacation…..Iceland, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Hungary. Hopefully she enjoys it as much as your mother did!!! Although I’m sure the Intra Europe Business class will become tiresome!!!

  26. I loved reading from the perspective of your mother and it shows that maybe we all are too obsessed with points, lounges and travel classes. It shows here that the best redemption is for a trip that you’ll never forget – not just which seat you sat in to get there!

    I have been inspired to take my mother for my next amazing trip.

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