Slow Days in Bali

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May 19th 2013
Published: May 19th 2013
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Kuching to Kuala Lumpur to Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

We are coming to the end of our 3 week visit to Bali, Indonesia. We live in the town of Sanur, popular with expats and well off retirees. Sanur is towards the southeastern end of the island, not far from the capital, Denpasar. Sanur has a nice beach which is protected by an offshore reef making it a good place to swim. Being on the windward side of the island, Sanur is a popular place to enjoy the Bali pastime of kite flying. Sanur has one main street that passes along the beach through town. The street is lined with small restaurants and spas and many shops catering to tourists. A few larger hotels line the road on the beach side, but nearly all have a low profile and lots of trees so the entire town has a quiet, small town feel.

We live in a traditional Balinese style house called a Joglo. It is attached to a larger villa where the owner lives. A typical Joglo has a large front room covered by a tall, pointed roof which is supported by thick beams. There are no walls and it is open to the outside. We have 2 bedrooms just off of the living room, which are closed off to the elements, both with air conditioning. We have a small bathroom with a waterfall type shower that occasionally has hot water. The entire Joglo is surrounded by an eight or ten foot high wall as are most of the houses in Sanur. We have a small yard in front and a small garden on one side which contains Papaya and Banana trees as well as various tropical plants. Our Joglo is more than 100 years old and was moved to the property from the neighboring island of Java by previous owners.

Our house is about 4 blocks from the beach, about a 10 minute walk. Most of Sanur’s streets are actually alleys that run in a seemingly random way between the many villa style houses. We frequently walk to the beach in the afternoons. The beach has a paved pathway that runs the entire length of the beach and is popular with walkers and bicycle riders. There seems to always be a breeze blowing there and it is quite cool to sit under one of the large trees during the very hot afternoons.

We have a small kitchen area in our house which has enabled us to do some cooking. It has been a nice change from eating every meal in a restaurant as we have for the last month and a half. The few times we have eaten out in town have been good and very affordable. Sanur is not really known for its night life besides a few pub-like bars on the main street. Aside from the restaurants the town is very quiet not long after dark.

Too be honest, we haven’t really done much since we have been here. Bali doesn’t really have a bus service, so it is quite difficult to get around without taking tours or taking a taxi. After walking a lot for the last 2 ½ months in the heat of Southeast Asia we are a little tired. We used to say all the time that the best thing about travel is you never get tired and you never get bored. I think that we are a little of each after being on the road for just short of 2 years now. Perhaps Bali is a good place to catch up on sleep and enjoy some rest while we have a chance.

Bali is much too beautiful to stay around the house for the whole 3 weeks, so we did hire a driver for one long day. We saw a large part of the central part of Bali that interested us the most before we came here. We met our driver early one morning and started our journey towards the central mountains and the rice fields and farms of rural Bali.

We drove through several small towns heading north from Sanur. Each town seemed to specialize in some type of craft, all of which were displayed in shops along the narrow roads. Woodcarvers, Stonecutters and Silversmiths were abundant. We don’t buy many souvenirs anymore, so we didn’t stop to visit any of the craftsmen’s shops. Our first stop was a small temple in the town of Bataun where we learned about Bali’s unique version of Hindu religion. While most of Indonesia is predominately Muslim, more than 90 percent of Balinese are Hindu. It was interesting to see that many of the stonecutter’s shops primarily sold Buddha statues in a mostly Hindu island.

Our next stop was in the town of Ubud. Ubud is much higher than Sanur and was slightly cooler. We stopped at the Monkey Forest just south of the main town. Hundreds of Macaques live in the park which itself was quite beautiful with many shrines and gardens. The Macaques are quite brave and despite warnings to watch your things, one of the macaques jumped on Nanci and quickly rifled through her bag and stole her hairbrush. We waited for a while to see if he would become bored with it, but after he chewed on it for about 10 minutes it was probably a lost cause anyway. The monkeys were quite entertaining and really have the run of the place. Some were a little aggressive and I think some of the tourists visiting there seemed to forget that they were wild animals.

After passing through downtown Ubud we got into a more rural and much more beautiful part of the island. We passed through endless rice fields and stopped several times to take pictures and observe farm life. We continued higher into the hills and eventually reached the town of Tegallalang which has some of the most beautiful rice terraces on the island. They were absolutely stunning and among the best things we have seen during our travels anywhere.

We also visited a small coffee farm. Bali is famous for its unique type of coffee called Kopi Luwak. Basically the coffee beans are harvested and eaten by the Civet cats (Luwak in Bali). After the beans are excreted by the Civets the beans are collected and dried and then roasted. The coffee is supposed to be better tasting and has less caffeine than regular coffee. Nanci wouldn’t try it but I thought it was delicious, but not much better than regular coffee. The coffee farm also had samples of some spice teas and chocolate that is grown at the farm also. We enjoyed some more stunning views of rice terraces from the farm also.

We continued up the hill and finally made our way to a magnificent viewpoint so we could see one of Bali’s volcanoes called Mt. Batur. Mt. Batur last erupted in the 1980’s and is surrounded by a large lake. The clouds were coming in but we could still see Mt. Agung in the distance. Mt. Agung is the holiest mountain in Bali and is the center point of much of their religion.

We enjoyed lunch with the wonderful view and then began our way back down the mountain. We stopped for a long time at Tirta Empul water temple, which again was stunning and a true highlight of the day. We watched the bathers who stopped in front of different water spouts which each had a different purpose or brought a different kind of good luck.

It was now getting quite late and we made one last stop at another temple called Goa Gajah or elephant temple. We only stayed for a few minutes as it was nearly dark and we still had quite a drive back to Sanur.

We will be leaving Bali for the island of Java on Thursday. We feel a little guilty that we haven’t taken advantage of the abundance of other things to do in Bali. Many people come to Bali to rest and I guess that would now include us. We plan on staying on the road for some time to come so perhaps we will visit again in the future to find out what adventures could be had on this beautiful island.

Additional photos below
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19th May 2013

Beautiful Bali
We enjoyed our time in Bali spending a few days in Lovina Beach, Ubud and Sanur Beach. Your photos brought back wonderful memories. We completely understand being tired and needing a rest.
20th May 2013

Thanks for the memories....
This brought back wonderful memories for us too. We've been to all the places you talked about and photographed and we enjoyed reliving our travels in Bali. When we were in Ubud we saw many tourists lose things to those crazy monkeys. Bali was probably the perfect place for a rest stop. We never tire of return trips to Bali, and perhaps you'll make it back before too long. Happy Trails!
20th May 2013
Monkey Forest, Ubud

Wise old face
Love this pic - there's something a little haunting about it...
20th May 2013

I only visited Bali in Indonesia, I know there is much more. Bali is unique. I can easily recommend this place to everybody. A good place to spend at least 5 days.

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