A little while ago, my friend A invited me to go to Peru with her. It being Christmas and knowing my mom would be livid if I didn’t go home, I declined, but lived off her stories vicariously for months. One of the things she said really struck me; she described South America as “her continent.” She loves everything about it.
When I landed in Bali, her words came right back to me, because that’s how I feel about Asia. Ok, so it’s huge and there is a stunning amount of diversity between every country- and within every country- on the continent, but I love how arresting- how ALL FIVE SENSES- it is, at least for me, everywhere I go here. The temples. The crowded streets. The food. The colors. The people. Everything. Here’s a taste of what I saw in Sanur, Bali, my first day, just walking around.
I had never been to Bali before, so I really wanted to go and explore a new part of the continent. I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, and I was determined to go, so I just decided to go solo.
My first day was really rough. Not only was I jet lagged beyond belief, despite getting actually good sleep on China Southern, the implications of solo travel were starting to slowly dawn on me. A lazy day at the beach followed by a visit to the spa are activities I would do alone even if I did have a travel buddy, but when evening struck- and it did, at a quite early (for me, being used to London) sunset of 6:01pm- I realised I’d have to eat dinner. At a restaurant. Alone. This got me thinking about all the things I’d have to do alone for the next 11 days. Considering I live alone, work alone, have traveled alone (although just to Portugal) and really enjoy my “me” time, realising that traveling alone was a stretch out of my comfort zone was a real surprise. And a source of anxiety. But challenge is change. What doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger- its just important to remember that. And smile. And have a cocktail during sunset on Sanur beach, in my case.
I read a small booklet about Sanur whilst enjoying a veggie wrap at Gecko Coffee, where you should totally go in Sanur, which was near the spa I will tell you about in a moment. It described Sanur as a community. Talking to an Aussie who had been here several times reinforced the notion that Sanur is “old Bali.” It was the first resort that attracted tourists and you can see the rustic, very Balinese aspects that weren’t quite rubbed out in Bali’s first pass at becoming an international tourist mecca. Nowadays there are so many places a tourist can go. Nusa Dua is full of resorts for the surprising number of people who want to hang out by the pool rather than at the beach, Seminyak is for the trendy and well heeled who want to say they went to Bali but don’t want to miss all the comforts of home, Kuta is part of the three K’s- Kho San Road and Katmandu being the other two- notorious for its party scene. Sanur is a little of everything, but not too much of any one thing. I was definitely one of the youngest people (not counting the many, many lucky kids who get to go to Bali for holiday with their parents!) and the only solo traveler I met. I had read as much on TripAdvisor, so I wasn’t too surprised about that. However, I had modified my expectations around the beach view and sunset, as travelers said it was nothing special in Sanur. Wrong. If this doesn’t bring a little tear to your eye, I don’t know what will.
There’s lots to do in Sanur. If you’re in to water sports, there are a TON going on, and if you’re a beginner it’s no problem. There’s a big coral reef before the beach, so the water is shallow and smooth for ages, perfect for beginner paddle boarders, kayakers and skidoo lovers. There are also loads of restaurants, shops and mazes of streets if you just want to walk around, like I did.
Although I wanted to take a paddle board class, I was too tired either of my mornings to get up and do the class. Instead, I hung out at the beach, burning my skin off. I have to say, after months in London, it was an amazing feeling.
I also visited the spa twice- #notsorry. Leha Leha is the number one spa in Sanur on TripAdvisor, and I can see why. I did two spa packages there- the first day I had a massage, reflexology treatment and Balinese head massage. The second day I had a facial and a mani/pedi. The service was MUCH better than I’d get in London, both in terms of how friendly and chatty people were as well as actual technique. And of course, both treatments were no where near what I would pay in the UK (or US, for that matter).
Foodwise, I was excited to dig in and see what Bali, and Indonesia more generally, had to offer. I’m familiar with satay, but as a veg I can’t really enjoy it. I like peanut sauce, but very few veg dishes I’ve tried can pull it off. That is, clearly, unless you’re ACTUALLY in Indonesia, and even better if you can get to Warang Crazy Monkey in Sanur. Try the gado gado- boiled veggies, a boiled egg, tofu, tempeh slathered in peanut sauce. It doesn’t look as good as it tastes. Promise.
I’m so happy I had a chance to stay in Sanur, despite not doing much but walking around and hanging out on the beach. I haven’t been to the other beachside towns in Denpasar, but the combination of Balian and Western was a good way to wean myself in to this whole solo travel thing.
Next up is my yoga retreat in Ubud. Watch this space for more!