In January, I was having lunch at Italianni’s when I looked up to see the phrase “Eat Pray Love” written on the wall, staring down at me. It had been two months since I got dumped and I was in a terrible state of mind. I laughed and took that as a sign to book the Bali flights I had been mulling over for the past couple of weeks. Before our appetizers arrived, I was set to spend my birthday in a different country alone.
Things only got worse over the next months, but at least I had Bali to look forward to.
This is a little embarrassing but after being broken up with, I must have watched Eat Pray Love and Under the Tuscan Sun at least once a week. I wasn’t spiritually prepared to join an Indian ashram and I am obviously too poor to jet off to the Italian countryside, but Bali had a certain pull. I got a teeny bit obsessed and admittedly romanticized the island in my mind. I imagined myself biking through the streets of Ubud and consulting with a medicine man who will then let me know that I will be okay. Just like Elizabeth Gilbert, I’d go back home whole.
Where I stayed
After reading through several Bali blogs, I decided to stay in Sanur— a sleepy, relaxed coastal town not too far from the airport. I wasn’t in Bali to party or meet people so Kuta, Seminyak, and Canggu didn’t appeal to me. I considered Ubud, Bali’s spiritual and wellness center, but I wanted to be near the water.
Browsing through AirBNB was my favorite thing about planning my trip. Balinese villas are cheap, beautiful and most have their own private pool. I came across this listing for an open air Balinese garden pavilion, fell in love, and booked it (but only after reading the reviews and googling “Bali weather temperature humidity late May early June”).
I spent a lot of time just lounging around in my pavilion, smoking, drinking Balinese coffee, and securing my trash from Free Dog. On the days I didn’t have a tour booked, I’d wake up at 730am, take a shower, put my feet up and lose track of time
doing nothing taking selfies.
Outside my window, I’d watch kites fly above the rice fields. During one of my trips to Jln Danau Tamblingan (Sanur’s main road), I asked my Uber driver about the kites; turns out Sanur has an annual kite festival every July and people were preparing for it.
One of the reasons I booked this bed and breakfast was its proximity to the water— I just had to follow a short trail through the rice fields to get to the paved walkway that would lead to Sanur Beach. I didn’t want to disturb my host and I wanted to HANDLE SHIT ON MY OWN so it took a bit of exploring and finding myself knee-deep in irrigation water before I figured out the proper path.
Sanur Beach was about a 15-minute walk from my home. On my left was the ocean and to my right were rice fields.
I think Bali is the most perfect place in the world.
My first meal in Bali (not counting the bananas, cantaloupe, and coffee I had for breakfast at home) was… this. I went inside the first beachside warung I saw and ordered the first recognizable thing on their menu: ikan (fish). Had I known it would be this corny, I would have gotten something else!
Months before my trip, I had a list of places in Sanur I wanted to see: Taman Festival Bali (an abandoned theme park near home), Bali Orchid Garden, Bajra Sandhi Monument, and Bali Sharks. Naturally, I got lazy so if you think I traveled all the way to Bali to take photos of myself in an outdoor bath tub, then you are correct.
A Bali dog came up to me while I was writing postcards to see if I would share my gelato with her. I couldn’t because I got pistachio and chocolate (fatal for cats and dogs).
Manik Organik is a veg-friendly restaurant that offered (past tense because according to TripAdvisor, the place is closed now) energy healing, among other things. I went to Bali to heal and spending quiet time alone, learning to be content in my own company and being gentle with my thoughts did just that.
It only cost me PHP35K+ to feel better.
(If you want a rough breakdown of my expenses, DM me on Twitter or send me an email.)
Traveling through the island, I couldn’t help but appreciate the beauty of Balinese architecture, which is heavily influenced by Hindu traditions and deeply rooted in their ancient culture. I felt jealous at the lack of cramped spaces and of houses painted in gaudy shades of yellow or green. There were no concrete blocks passing off as homes or offices, no tall buildings (the tallest is the Inna Grand Hotel at 9-storeys), and billboards were minimal. Nature was everywhere. It was so relaxing!
Their homes/villas are built around the 7 philosophies of Balinese architecture:
1. Tri Hata Karana – creating harmony and balance between the three elements of life – the atma or human, angga or nature, and khaya or gods.
2. Tri Mandala – rules of space division and zoning
3. Sanga Mandala – also a set of rules of space division and zoning based on directions that divide an area into nine parts
4. Tri Angga – concept or hierarchy among different realms
5. Tri Loka – similar to Tri Angga but with different realms
6. Asta Kosala Kosali – 8 guidelines of architectural designs regarding symbols, shrines, stages, and measurement units
7. Arga Segara – the sacred axis between mountain and sea
I’m so sad that we aren’t like that.
Dating a vegetarian means forgoing meat every now and then* so I made sure to check out Bali Buda. After walking up and down Jln Danau Tamblingan a couple of times (Waze is such a liar sometimes), I finally found the place and just my luck, the power was out lol. I had to sweat in the heat but the owner or manager was seated at the table next to me and she kindly offered me a hand fan.
*JK I don’t and I eat chicken gleefully in front of him.
My caprese salad and vegetarian lasagna. My lemonade came with A GLASS STRAW which is AMAZING. I think everyone should ditch plastic straws (save the sea turtles) and those silly paper straws (save our mouths from the icky wax taste) and switch to glass straws (save the world).
Bali Buda has huge servings and I could only eat half of my lasagna. I was enjoying my time alone but I really wish I had someone to share my food with.
Babi Kecap from Casablanca (the most colorful place in Sanur!). It was okay. I went back on my last day and ordered their carbonara (I read one good review on the internet and I put all my trust on that stranger) then promptly craved for Indonesian food when I landed in Changi for my connecting flight.
The carbonara was all right.
ATM phishing happens everywhere but it seems more commonplace in Bali. Take extra precaution and if possible, only use ATMs inside banks. I took a risk and used one outside Hardys (a department store that sells everything) and just asked my bank to disable international transactions when I got home.
I visited Ganesha Bookstore twice during my stay to buy local, handmade, 100% natural, sustainable bug spray (it makes me smell like an old lady, I love it) and postcards. If you’re the thrifty sort, postcards are cheaper at Hardys by 1000IDR/3PHP (lol).
Sanur isn’t a very exciting place because it attracts families and an older crowd. I loved it anyway. Jln Danau Tamblingan quickly became familiar and I fancied myself a local (I already looked the part). I got a foot massage, hung out at a Circle K to smoke and get angry at Duterte supporters on the internet, and went to Hardys and Popular Express way too many times. I went inside random warungs, drank Bintang by myself, and ordered nasi goreng to go. I had McDonald’s delivery for dinner twice. I took Ubers and sharpened my small talk skills. I was home and in bed by 11PM. I think I got catcalled a couple of times but I don’t understand Balinese or Bahasa, so I’ll never really know.
(Truthfully, this post should have been titled “Snaps from Jalan Danau Tamblingan and Selfies from my AirBNB.”)