Welp, it’s official. Eric and I have set sail for southeast Asia. And there’s no one I’d rather go with (plus our pipsqueaks, Hati & Ernesto, duh).
Our first touch down: Taipei – we’ll leave the airport next time, Taiwan! Promise.
Okay, okay, so our first real touchdown: Bali!
Our first impression of Bali took place in Sanur. From the airport, we took a prepaid, cheap taxi (exit the airport and turn left, walk to the parking lot and you’ll find the stand) and headed to our hotel. We stayed at Puri Kelapa Cottages: a cute, quiet hotel for a decent price, ten minutes from the beach, with beautiful vegetation, a decent sized pool with an outdoor shower (say whaaaa!) and tons of stray kitties (you’ll get a better rate via Agoda or Booking). Breakfast here was free, yummy, and accompanied by mini stray meows – I’ll get to animals in Bali breaking my heart in another post. Some fruit, delicious juice, and a main. Try the Indonesian fried noodles – yes, even at breakfast time – are delicious. The banana pancake is also yummy – yes, you only get one pancake, which seems to be the trend across Bali! Oh, and this is also where we had our first impression of Balinese coffee… I must be a coffee snob because Balinese coffee tastes pretty lackluster. Thanks for the training, Dad.
The food! Yum, Bali, you sure know how to cook. I’m a total foodie – not in a snobbish way, but in a ‘hey, I appreciate food and love to eat’ kind of way. I love pasta is an understatement for me, so I was definitely excited to try out some Indonesian noodles. And, dang, are they scrumptious! Thin, but not too thin, just the way I like ’em. Here’s my tips on where to eat in Sanur:
- Walk along the main road and stumble into some different, small warungs. If a place is busy (especially with locals), it’ll probably taste damn good. We love Warung Little Bird’s surfer/hipster vibe, gado gado (think veggies & peanut sauce), and rosella iced tea – a MUST try! Plus, it’s all under like $4. Tastes great and it’s cheap? Winning.
- Off to a side street, you’ll find Lilla’s Warung – a quiet inexpensive gem with good food and friendly staff. It’s a bit hard to find, though. We used the Zoo Bar as an indicator – I believe it’s the small side street near this bar and definitely on the same side of the bar. Reviews on the bar? Sorry, haven’t tried it out so I can’t tell ya! Nonetheless, walk down this tiny street until you almost reach the end. Lilla’s is on the right. Also inexpensive and delicious. The spring rolls are resfreshing!
- Dare to try a street vendor. Now, I realize it’s hard to trust eating from a street vendor and praying you won’t get sick. I have no idea on any statistics of getting sick or the cleanliness of any vendors, so naturally, try at your own risk. But, I will say that the one night Eric and I got wonton dumplings, pork buns (for Eric, not me, cause I’m a pescatarian!), and grilled corn – we were not disappointed. It was delicious! And we had dinner – and got full – for $3. That’s how to budget travel, my friends.
The beach! I do have mixed feelings about the water itself here, but this beach is quite nice. We always entered by the road near our Puri Kelapa hotel and then turned right. Walk along the beach pathway. Walk far enough through all the hagglers (or rent a bike!), and be pleasantly surprised by a quiet, almost empty beach and very beautiful walkway. Quite a little haven the further you walk. We also found some pristine shells here – fun to collect, too. You can rent a sunbed or do what we budget youngsters did: bring your own towel and layout in the sand, old school style. Seek shady refuge with an iced juice in one of the many cafes along the walkway (and play pingpong with the local kids like Eric did!).
*Also a beach tip: if you enter on the street near Puri Kelapa an hour before sunset, you can hang with the locals who swim. We did this and it was really awesome to feel like a part of the culture!
We did find one of the best massages we had in Bali here: Koa Boutique Spa. For around $10 each, Eric got the balinese massage and I got a hot stone massage – both were awesome and in a tranquil place! We did walk ins.
With only two days in Sanur, we didn’t have too much time to explore. However, we saw what seemed to be enough for us. I read online in many reviews that Sanur is less touristy and quieter than the other parts of Bali. I have to say I was a bit disappointed to find this not to be true. The main road has fairly narrow sidewalks with stores aimed at tourists and drivers yelling Transport?! in your face every five steps (which is a trend across popular spots in Bali, we found…). Perhaps, Sanur has become more touristy because of all the positive reviews? I can’t say, because this was my first time. But I was turned off by this.
There isn’t much to do here besides stroll along on the main drag and the beach, and eat/drink. It is nice to not do much for a change, but I must say that walking around in the Balinese heat is seriously difficult and miserable if you’re not used to the heat. I overheated several times during the trip to the point where I couldn’t work any further & felt nauseous – all from casual walking. Oh, and I love hot weather.
While the beach was pretty and quiet, the water doesn’t really allow for much swimming. It’s pretty shallow very far out and there is a lot of seaweeds/rocks. Good if you want to sit in a chair all day and tan, but not if you really want to splash around. Also, a lot of hagglers. Quit buggin’ me!
All in all, Sanur was nice, but not amazing in our minds. I would suggest it as a stopover if you have a lot of time in Bali. Otherwise, not the spot I’d recommend for a full Bali trip!