Bali – Sanur

We dedicated the next few days to exploring Bali. On Thursday, we got up, had some breakfast with Med, and talked to him about possible destinations for the day. We agreed we would check out Sanur, the neighborhood we were in. Therefore we traced a route on our printed map, and on we went. A trip that should have taken  a 10-minute walk straight took around 30, as we stopped every few steps to take pictures. Many of the houses around had crazy doors and statues, and we wanted to capture as much as possible. In most streets here, there are no such things as we would understand as sidewalks.. Even the ones that have something like one are full of holes and they are used for parking, laying pots and sometimes, driving. The other things you share the side of the street with are shrines and offerings. We were not yet quite sure at this point how these worked, but essentially from what we had gathered so far, a few times a day they would put these little baskets out with some food and other misc items (cigarettes included) to gain their Gods favor. In actual fact it means you have to be careful not to kick them around… and they get generally eaten by ants and stray dogs… All in all, they sure look pretty!

power monkeys

So we walked for quite a long time, until we got to the beach. Nice sand, not too dirty, and full of colourful little boats.

bright boat small

We started walking along the beachfront, and this Indonesian guy stopped us. He handed us two closed cards, and asked us to open it to see what prize we got. It all sounded very strange and fishy, but why not play along and pretend we believe him? So we did, I kept talking to him and Tim could not stop laughing at the whole thing. I got first prize, which meant I could win a bunch of fantastic prizes. All we had to do is jump into a car, drive to this brand newly opened hotel, go for a tour, and then get our prize. He was very eloquent and looked genuinely excited about it all. So we finally managed to get rid of him, promising to come back in a few hours and do what he wanted. The second we left him we started drawing our conclusions.. Do you think he would take us to the middle of no where and ask for all our money? Or pull out a gun? Would we be able to beat him up? What part of it all is true? …And those thoughts kept us occupied and laughing for at least half an hour, so thank you, unknown crazy man. Jumping ahead in time, same thing happened again the next day in Kuta, same cards, different man.. So we looked it up later on and turned out to be a time share pitch for Karma Hotel and mostly true! Thought the only prize anyone  ever won was staying at their hotel for a week or so.. But two first prizes in two days, we must be winners…

Karma Royal Timeshare

Along the Sanur beachfront we went on then, stopping at this local place for a coconut and iced coffee. The heat was getting to us, making us very tired and dehydrated. So sitting down in the shade with something cold to drink was very welcomed. While Tim was finishing his coconut, I went into the water. There were two kids playing in the water. They said ‘Hi’ and started speaking Indonesian to me, though all I could do was smile… Not sure how their parents would react to more interaction as I was still new to this place and culture…Also, I was able to  see a few fishermen in the water, with their funny hats with pockets where they kept their stuff from getting wet…

DCIM101GOPRO fisherman small

A bit further ahead, three ladies engaged us and started asking questions… what our names were, where we came from, etc. And then, escorted us to see their shops in the market! So far we had encountered very few white people, and the whole place was rather quiet… so they were out and looking for clients. We got to this market, and they were impatient to take us to THEIR stores and did not really want us to see or talk to anyone else. Of course we did our best to ignore them, as the first shop was a genuine wood carver’s. His work was amazing, full of frozen moments and feelings. We talked to him for a bit, asked him how long it had taken him to manufacture those intricate works of art. He was very humble, as if these fantastic things could have bene done by anybody.. But of course we were in no position to start collecting non essentials at the moment, so we took some pictures and moved on. We started checking out this market, but we did not have any local currency at that point to actually purchase anything… Nonetheless, they thought we were using that excuse as a bargaining mechanism, so they just kept offering more and more stuff and lowering the prices! All the shops had very similar products which, according to them, come from Sabah. I ask ‘Sabah in Malaysian Borneo?’ They gave me a blank look that I translated to ‘How am I supposed to know where Sabah is?’ I felt slightly disappointed by this, as I would like to buy local craftsmanship if anything… not some imported generics that came in a box… but at the same time felt rather sorry for them as there didn’t seem to be many buyers around that day… So we again told a white lie and said we would be back so they let us go and we could continue walking around.

Johnnys Shopcarved mask small

A similar situation presented itself not too further along, with them following us through another local market. In this one the highlight for me was an old man painting.. He was filling this enormous canvas with bright colours and complex patterns. I stood around looking at him work for a while, but my female companions kept pushing for me to go on and look at their shops. So we finished going around while having a simple conversation with them. ‘He is very tall’ – one of them said while pointing at Tim, I laughed and nodded. We were finally released to our own again, and we kept going, stopping at a Pagoda for a few minutes to catch our breath and enjoy the scenery. We were absorbed in the beauty and calm of this place.. We will need to get used to the constant contradiction of the ocean stillness and the savage shopping culture, and I think we will get there faster than we think!

pagodas small

The further north we got, the fancier the hotels along the beachfront seemed to be, and the more expensive the food. So as we got hungry, we decided to leave the coast and go find some local food to eat. We walked to the main shopping street of Sanur, which is only a block away from the beach, until we found a restaurant where some locals were eating. It is mostly very easy to differentiate which places cater to white westerners and which are more local/authentic. As it was our first day out and about, we aimed for something in the middle. The place we decided upon was called Mango, and the menu had an English translation and was within our price range. I ordered chicken with black pepper sauce and Tim orders Gado Gado, boiled vegies with peanut sauce. My food was utterly delicious, so much we almost licked the plate. For dessert, Pisang Goreng (friend banana) with melted chocolate. All this food costed about 10 NZ$, and we were more than satisfied. We kept walking on the main street, the day kept getting hotter and our energy started to fail us. After a short visit to the bakery and a convenience store to get some food for the next day’s breakfast, we started our long walk home. All that time, the thought of the pool at home kept us going…

And that was exactly our main priority when we got home, to get in the pool and cool down. Needless is to say that hit the spot and felt wonderful. After a shower we spent some quality time with the AC – Tim on the computer, me reading ‘Kafka on the Shore’ by Murakami. As usual, I got really into the book and time passed without me noticing, until it got dark.

Med and Preya were out for dinner that night, so we were on our own. We had spotted a nice Indonesian restaurant a few hundred metres away from home, and there we went for dinner. The menu this time had no English on it whatsoever, which was exactly what we were aiming for. We had learned a few words already, and the waitress helped us with some others. We ordered Nasi Goreng (friend rice), and fried potatoes.. when it came, we realized we ordered chips! Good old western chips (french fries), with ketchup and all. It was all very yummy, so we happily strolled home and into bed. Walking around at night time without a light is a little bit dangerous…

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