Bali has long been a dream of Jenni. When she was still living in Italy, it seemed to her an unreachable destination. And now we are here. Jenni jumps through Denpasar airport with joy and can’t believe that her dream has come true.
We have planned to stay about 60 days in Indonesia, so we had to make sure to get the right extendable visa (VOA) at the airport. With the normal FREE tourist visa you can only stay 30 days in the country, but the VOA can be extended by another 30 days. Thus, in the airport, we had to go to the immigration desk and for 37 CHF per person, we simply got the VOA. Instead of waiting at an endless queue for the “normal” tourist visa, we could queue for the passport control at the first two counters, where it went quite fast. Before one can finally get to the baggage claim area, one has to fill out and hand in the customs declaration and an entry card. Everything works very uncomplicated.
Canggu – Surf and Healthy Mecca
A „Grab“ driver took us from the airport to our accommodation in Canggu, in the west of Bali. Speaking of „Grab“, we haven’t even told you about this fantastic transport service yet. It is comparable to the European Uber. For backpackers it is really ideal to save transport costs. The system is also very practical, even in the middle of nowhere, where you can’t see a taxi, you just need the Grab app and a driver will pick you up. Since there is also a war between taxis and Grab drivers here, Grab is not allowed in the tourist centres, where the taximafia gets very angry when a grabber enters their territory. But you can also avoid this by walking into a more remote alley and quickly getting into the car. The most pleasant thing about this system is that you don’t have to negotiate the prices with any taxi driver, since they don’t use taximeters and usually like to rip of tourists.
For 25km it took us two hours. We had not expected such a traffic (mostly mopeds) on an island. But yeah that’s clear with 800’000 inhabitants in Denpasar. Through the windows we watched this a unregulated traffic chaos. We were a little queasy to think about driving our moped here.
When we finally arrived, we were warmly welcomed at the car door and had the feeling of having landed in paradise. The guesthouse has a beautiful, well-kept and lush green garden with a pool overlooking the enchanting rice fields. The huts are so-called “Joglos”, traditional Javanese folk houses. At the check-in there was an ice-cold coconut to drink. A real oasis of well-being! (Link to the accommodation is under the recommendations)
Now we were here in Bali and had to move somehow, explore our surrounding. In Bali there is no public transport, so we were forced to rent a moped and threw ourselves into the middle of the action. After a while it seemed as if Aaron had never done anything else, he sneaked through the unknown traffic like a professional.
We noticed immediately that we have no chance here with the traffic rules known to us, and therefore had to adapt to the Balinese system. The Balinese road system was probably created out of necessity and works amazingly well. Everybody winds his way from all sides as he can, without endangering another driver. Red traffic lights are respected only conditionally, horns are used as warning signs for overtaking, you can overtake both from the right and from the left, even the sidewalk is driven on to pass car queues. Everything sounds very chaotic and dangerous, in reality it is a perfectly functioning system. Very often you get a friendly smile from drivers from the opposite direction, cursing or scolding, is unusual in Indonesia because no Indonesian wants to lose his face.
It is a pleasure just to ride a scooter through the area and observe the events and life of the locals. It is fascinating to see with what devotion the Balinese devote themselves to everyday religious rituals.
We have noticed that it is worth taking Indonesia with all your senses. The smell of the incense sticks, the fresh laundry or the delicious traditional dishes, as well as the sounds of the cackling chickens, the music of the traditional instruments or the prayers from the temples.
The culinary offer in Canggu is madness! Here the absolute sport and eat health madness has broken out. The streets leading to the 3 main beaches are teeming with modern restaurants offering organic, healthy and delicious food. One bar is more beautiful and unusual than the other. The public looks accordingly: in top form and well-trained. This trend has spread here for two reasons: On the one hand, because the beaches are extremely suitable for all surf levels, on the other hand, because a large community of expats has settled here in a few years and of course has influenced the way of life.
Besides surfing you can also find many yoga studios in Canggu. The relaxed surfer flair, mixed with the relaxed Zen atmosphere, makes Canggu a super cool corner.
In the two weeks we spent here, we were a little carried away by this trend. And of course we tried our first attempts at standing on a surfboard. There’s almost no getting around it here.
So we booked a surf instructor on the beach for beginners (Batu Bolong). First a few basic rules, some dry practice on the beach and only 15 minutes later we were in the water and paddled. What looks so easy when you watch the surfers is in reality extremely exhausting. By the time we reached the point where we were waiting for the wave, the waves had thrown us off our boards a few times. Some more explanations on how to paddle better and how to stay on the board and get ready for the first wave. Nose to the beach and listen to the teacher’s commands. First “paddle, paddle”, then “up”. We didn’t believe it ourselves, after the second attempt we both stood on the board and glided with the wave towards the beach. Yeaaaah! But not even the time to celebrate the feeling of success inside and already we heard from the teacher: “paddle, paddle. The piece we surfed, we had to go back! Although we are both quite sporty, we found this arm exercise very tiring. More experienced surfers passed us by with ease as we tried to move forward like paddling dogs. Then the whole game from the front. Waiting for the wave, getting ready, paddling, getting up, surfing and back paddling. After 1 1/2 hours our toes and stomach were so sore and our arms were so broken. It was a lot of fun, but we never thought it would be so exhausting.
The three main beaches of Canggu all have their own charm. Batu Bolong is best suited for beginners. One surf school after the other. Luckily they all have the same price! They all offer drinks or food at the same time. Many have these colourful cushions, which invite you to chill out. In the evening the atmosphere is rounded off with live music.
Echo Beach is very pretty. Also here you have the agony of truth among the bars. But one stands out because of its special construction: La Brisa. This bar was built out of wood by over 500 old fishing boats and the decoration was handmade.
Also the the other bars have something special and inviting in its own way. A great concept is that of the grill restaurants right here on the beach. At fair prices you can have fish or meat of your choice barbecued here and including all you can eat side dishes from the buffet. Unfortunately, at sunset there are so many sand flies that you can’t eat anymore because they take your food. That’s what happened to us. Unfortunately we had to flee, although we had just started to eat. The waiter said that the flies disappear again after sunset…we haven’t tried it anymore.
Berawa Beach is the quietest of the three. Maybe it’s because the waves here are only suitable for advanced surfers. Here you will also find many cute little bars that also offer surf rental. The Canggu feature of the colorful cushions is also common on this beach. The best drink to dwell on in the heat is an ice-cold fresh coconut. Tip: ask if it is cold before you order it.
Wooden Green Paradise – beautiful traditional joglos amidst the rice paddies. Loving hosts.
Motion Café – Great healthy concept. Unusual giant salads, healthy desserts. Very good products and fair prices. You must try!
La Baracca – there are no words to describe the pleasure of eating here. It is the best Italian restaurant we know. Quality, service and prices top. You have to try the pizza, but also everything else is super delicious.
We felt very comfortable in Canggu. There is a lot to do and to see, the people are friendly and there is everything your heart desires. Also the surroundings have a lot to offer. But since we are curious what else awaits us in Bali and Indonesia, we continue with a crying eye to Ubud. In the next article we will tell you why the tears have dried so quickly. ?
Currently we are on Nusa Lembongan, a small island east of Bali and are looking for the next place to go. Gili Islands? Lombok? or away from Indonesia? We like to read your recommendations in the comments.
See you then,
Jenni & Aaron