📍 Sanur, 24th of August 2018.
We were really looking forward to going to Lombok and Gili islands even before we left Berlin. We then wanted to continue the journey to Flores and Komodo island. It was a magnificent plan. Unfortunately for us (and even more so for the hundreds of people whose livelihood was directly affected), nature decided differently. We still had hope that the earthquakes would stop, and it would be safe again to travel to the affected regions, but that didn’t happen either.
We evaluated a couple of options of going to Flores past Lombok, but they all seamed way over our budget. Asking locals and browsing endless blog sites to find some other small non-touristy islands easily reachable from Java didn't quiet work out either. In the end, we concluded that the easiest solution is probably the best one and ended up going to Bali.
To help you navigate
Getting to Bali
The bus from Java (incl. ferry) to Denpasar was alright, we were so tired after almost not sleeping the night before, we didn’t really care. The surprise came when the journey finished rather abruptly. The bus stopped at some station and everyone had to get out. Just like us, a lot of people looked confused because it seemed we had not reached Denapasar yet. Most people then grabbed a taxi and continued with the journey. Only now we realized that our accommodation was not really in Denpasar city and that we would somehow need to travel 30 km to get there. Something told us taxi would be way too expensive.
Getting around Denpasar
The moment we stepped out of the bus we got surrounded by a crowd of aggressively selling taxi drivers. They offered us a ride to the hotel for about 200 k/person. This is an absolutely insane price in Indonesia. The taxi drivers told grab/uber was illegal in Bali (untrue), that there were no public bus services (semi-true) and that we are only coming to Bali to create trouble (definitely not). We started feeling extremely uncomfortable and very irritated. The visit to Bali didn't start well.
Luckily there was a police station at the bus station (probably for a reason). A quick exchange with a couple of young and friendly officers reassured us. They advised us to just go around the block and order a grab, ignoring what the old and grumpy taxi drivers are saying. Apparently, since uber, grab and alike appeared, the aggravated taxi drivers now put up their own posters with “grab is illegal here” in many public places. Sometimes the behavior even gets violent if they spot cars doing car-share (just like back home). Probably nobody wants to deal with that, so the posters stay.
We wouldn’t have minded paying a bit more to a taxi driver versus a grab if they didn’t swear at us or ask a triple or quadruple price. Since this didn't happen, getting a grab was a no-brainer. We shared a ride with another “stranded” traveler, paying only 40 k per person. Sincerely hoping the rest of Bali is friendlier than the first encounter.
As you could have already concluded, we did a rather limited research on the accommodation location before we got to Bali. We based our decision more on the price-reviews criteria around Denpasar rather than the actual location. We ended up in Sanur (also heard it being called “snore”) – the quiet non-waves, no big party area, apparently popular with retirees (Charlottenburg?) :D. At first slightly discouraged, having spent a week there, we were very happy with the decision made.
A lovely quiet place to stay
Our standard process now is to book two nights at a new destination. We then decide if we want to stay longer and if yes, whether in the same place or relocate. This gives us enough flexibility and ensures we don’t get stuck in a place we really don’t like. Pictures on booking sites can be very misleading, especially in this part of the world, as we have learned.
The moment we stepped in our Kubu Nyonman Villas homestay in Sanur we fall in love with the place. It is located on a small street and is thus completely isolated from the noise of the main street. At the same time, the villas are within a walking distance from supermarkets, great and inexpensive family-owned restaurants and the beach. In the middle of the courtyard there is a small shared swimming pool. The entire place is run buy a young, kind and accommodating family. From the moment we met, we got on well. After two hours of being in Sanur we prolonged our stay for five more nights.
It was so great to unpack properly and live there for a week. We had everything we needed and could do everything we wanted - isn't it great?
Since we had a nice little terrace in front of the apartment, David could work there during the day while I was discovering the neighborhood. We bought food in a supermarket and made our own breakfast with toasts and Nutella (yum!), yoghurt and fruits. The mini garden inside the complex turned out to be the perfect place to do some yoga in the morning. Whereas the pool (seemingly only used by us) was awesome for a quick refreshment. We also finally did laundry (machines on site) as the situation was starting to get critical 😉 It really felt like home and we absolutely loved it!
The beach in Sanur is beautiful – just like you would see on postcards and posters. The only problem is that it is very shallow. You would need to walk and walk before the water gets over your knees.
Everything around the beach is touristy with everything that comes with it – Western cuisine, higher prices, sellers chasing you on the street and the beach. It was not as bad as we had expected though, and could still find more local and chilled places.
We especially like Jack Fish- a restaurant at the beach, serving fish and beer at reasonable prices. Jack had lived and studied in Switzerland, so he spoke good German. He even had a couple of remarks on the decisions we were making while playing yahtzee (Kniffel in German) 😉 It was great to be stationed there for the day. We could go swim and leave our stuff, play games and drink fresh juices until the place closed. He who seeks finds.
Doing day trips and planning the rest
The rest of our time in the South of Bali we spent planning and organizing our next steps and hanging out with the two awesome German sisters we met back in Jakarta. Once we felt we could take a break from beaches and all that chilling, we rented a scooter and explored the island. Make sure to check out our blog posts about our days on scooter chasing waterfalls and discovering the must-see temples in Bali.
Yummy and inexpensive food options
We also really enjoyed the local warungs (family owned restaurants) in Sanur. There are a lot of various options with great food and authentically friendly service. The best part is that the prices are incomparable to those in Kuta or Seminyak (as in, it is considerably cheaper). Here are a couple of places we'd recommend - Lilla Pantai (for working & chilling, a bit pricey), Arirang restaurant (great Korean), Warung Angkang (for great salads and fish) and Warung Mega Sanur (great little restaurant with seafood).
Working in Seminyak
One day we went to Seminyak (a very popular beach on the West side) to see what the fuss was all about. We planned to spend the day on work/blog from there while enjoying a beach. It is nice and lively – there are tons of upbeat places with wifi & cocktails. The sea actually has waves and thus surfers, the beach is much more populated than back in Sanur. The prices are therefore also much higher.
We spent a day at La Plancha - beach bar/restaurant sipping fresh juices and ordering some small snacks to avoid a huge bill. It was surprisingly a very productive and creative work environment.
In the evening, as the sun started setting down, a lovely live band played at the beach. We closed our laptops and enjoyed a glass of wine while listening to the music and saying “goodnight” to the sun. Although it was a great day, we couldn’t afford doing that all the time if we want to travel for six months – the bill was way over 30 EUR (and we were still hungry!).
Getting a Thai visa in Bali
Since we were not going to any other islands outside of Bali, we decided not to prolong our Indonesian visa and to move on in the beginning of September. Our next destination was chosen by the price and duration of air transfer. So, Malaysia it is as of the 8th. It will be a rather “short” visit of barely three weeks, after which we will be moving for about two months to Thailand. To be able to do that and to avoid any hassle, we decided to get the 60-day visa already in Indonesia. The consulate was conveniently almost around the corner anyway.
We checked online and prepared everything we thought was necessary to apply. Upon arrival to the consulate we learned we were missing quite a lot (confirmed flight to Thailand, accommodation for at least 1 week, flight out, bank statement). We were not the only ones. There were a lot of other travelers, all with different challenges and frustrations. They really should keep their website up-to-date – would save everyone a lot of time and nerves. For us it wasn’t so bad (at least we were not asked to go back to Jakarta), so after 90 mins of researching/booking/printing we submitted our pile of documents. In two days, our visa was ready to be picked up. So, rather easy.
We have also finally figured out why is the alcohol so expensive in Indonesia. There is a 150% import tax on alcohol. Also, another fun fact - Bali has its own vineyards in the North of the island - Hatten wines. The wine is decent and not as sweet as expected. Nevertheless, the most standard bottle of wine is about 10 Euro. Lasted me for almost 10 days though 😉
|Kubu Nyonman Villas||400k IDR per room/night|
|Whole day at the beach||470k IDR|
|Dinner for two||150k-200k IDR|
|Bottle of beer||35k IDR|