For my husband Rob and I, this is our third Christmas overseas and the first year we don’t have visitors from back home. It doesn’t mean our celebrations won’t continue, it just means adapting to a new life.
Even though Indonesia is predominantly a Muslim country and the faith in Bali is mostly Hindu—there are at least 20 million people in Indonesia who are Christians. So, Christmas is still widely celebrated everywhere. I have to say though, it was a bit strange the first time I walked into a supermarket in Bali and heard Christmas carols over the loud speaker.
For weeks now, the stores here have been filled with a huge range of Christmas trees and decorations. All at a low cost too! Back when we lived on the Gold Coast, my tree was something that took me two days to decorate, these days it’s a much simpler ordeal with a small timber tree instead. When making the move to Bali, I planned ahead and brought a few of my favourite decorations with me from home.
Right now, the weather here is warm and humid, average temperatures are around 30 C. It’s the peak of the wet season but we’ve not had a wet Christmas day here yet.
From the beginning of December, loud bangs and bright colours from fireworks have been a regular sound and sight. Most nights you’ll see and hear fireworks on every beach in Bali. This culminates to beautiful displays on the evening of Christmas and of course New Year’s Eve. The best vantage points are near the larger hotels who all have their own displays.
As for the feasting, it can be as big or small as you like. An intimate meal in your own villa, the day spent in the pool and with a good book. The supermarkets are loaded with Christmas cheer making it easy to stock up on ingredients and create your own special menu.
We have a group of expat friends who are getting together to have a lunch at home this year. Each of them is bringing a dish and it will be a casual affair. Events like this are a regular occurrence here so even if it’s your first time away and you’re flying solo, it’s easy to mix and mingle and there are also plenty of restaurants offering lavish buffets as well as four-course lunches and dinners.
In Sanur, The Fairmont Hotel is offering a festive Christmas brunch for $80 per person. Whilst in Seminyak, Ku De Ta restaurant has a lunch available for $95. Both are situated by the ocean, and personally, at this time of year I think that you need a cool sea breeze to be comfortable.
Really your options for how to spend the day are as varied as can be. There are church services being held all over the island on Christmas morning, with St. Fransiskus Xaverius Church in Kuta being one of the bigger ones. Alternatively, seeing as it’s still pretty much business as usual in Bali, if you really wanted you could simply indulge in an all-day spa package and just relax.
Our Christmas morning will be spent catching up with family over the phone before heading down to our restaurant where we’ll spend the day with around 60 or so expats and holidaymakers all looking for a good time and a great meal. We’ve a delicious four-course menu planned and have even managed to get turkey this year.
Rob has always been the cook of our family and he always puts his heart into a meal. It’s just like we’re entertaining at home, but on a much larger scale. There’ll be Christmas crackers, we’ll read the funny jokes and wear the silly hats. We’ll have live music, and we’re located right on Sanur beach, so we have the benefit of great views and ocean breezes.
Once Christmas is done and dusted, we’ll start looking forward to New Year’s Eve. That’s when Bali really comes alive and even in our sleepy town of Sanur the streets are humming with excitement. Most bars and restaurants will celebrate, with live music on every corner. Again, the fireworks are amazing. At midnight the skies are lit up with colour and the beaches are crowded with expats, locals and tourists all joining together to ring in the New Year.