If 2016 ended on a high then the beginning of 2017 was certainly the counter-balancing low. When it became apparent that an infatuation-fuelled Sri Lanka trip wasn’t to go ahead and said infatuation went from a white hot 100 miles an hour to a crashing halt, I knew that I needed a trip to keep me going through the start of a grim and disappointing January and Feb. Thankfully, my housemate and good friend Sophie was keen to cheer me up and if there was ever a way to get the smile back on my face, then booking flights to Bali certainly did the trick!
We’d done some research and it seemed that late May-early June would be a great time to travel; just outside of rainy season, but before the high (and therefore more pricey) seasons of July and August. We still had months to get everything planned so of course we left everything to the last minute and spent a whole day sifting through Booking.com before settling on our 16 day itinerary: Canggu for surfer spotting, pool bars and beach parties, Ubud for a spot of yoga and culture, Gili T for the parties and Gili Air to recover! Plus a couple of nights in Seminyak, mainly for it’s proximity to the infamous Potato Head pool bar and to the airport.
The accommodation was surprisingly cheap at around £15 a night (each) for mid-range boutique-style hotels, so I figured my £1k budget would be more than enough to last the fortnight or so. But then we discovered the pool bars…
Chilling in Canggu
After landing late and heading straight to bed, we woke in a jet-lagged haze and took our weary bodies up to the rooftop for our complimentary breakfast, sipping our coffee as we listened to the surf and travel chat of the other guests. Afterwards, we packed our bags and wandered down to the beach to watch the waves crashing against the shore, not a surfer in sight as the skies were clearly about to open at any moment. Optimistically, we continued our walk and as we felt the first drops of rain luckily we just happened to be passing a rather swanky looking pool bar, The Lawn. We rushed inside, found some sunshine in the form of delicious smoothies and filled our stomachs with some fish tacos. And just as we’d wiped up the last remnants, the sun appeared from behind the clouds and we grabbed a prime position by the pool in what turned out to be one of the hottest Sunday hangout spots.
A few cocktails and several dips in the pool later, we made our way back to Echoland Bed & Breakfast where we’d made the unfortunate mistake of not booking an airconditioned room. We did have a beautiful (but insect-attracting) outdoor shower though so took our time getting ready for our first night out on the town! We’d heard that Deux ex Machina was one of the hot spots in Canggu and so naturally we headed there for dinner, as had most of the other travellers and holiday-makers it seemed! Struggling to find an empty table, we ended up joining some friendly Australians and made conversation over a huge jug of sangria, burgers and salad (clearly we were embracing the Indonesian cuisine from the onset!) After dinner, we could hear that the band had already started in the courtyard so we grabbed ourselves a couple of coconut ice shots, the local Bintang beer and joined the throngs. We got into the mix of travellers, expats and locals dancing and chatting over the music and stayed for a good few hours until some old expat mistook my friendliness for flirtation and decided to start stroking my leg. We hot-footed it out of there fairly swiftly, laughing as we made our way across town to the other late-night bar, Old Man’s.
The next day, it was time to indulge in something a little more cultural and so we hired a driver for the day to take us north of Canggu to Tanah Lot Temple, a picturesque temple on an off-shore rock admired (and photographed) by both tourists and locals aplenty!
It wasn’t long until we’d had enough of the tourist trail and so afterwards we headed down to Seminyak for what was to become the obligatory pool bar pit-stop. This time Potato Head was our pool bar of choice, but when the travel blogs say to get there early they really do mean it and arriving around 2pm meant that we had no chance of getting a seat, never mind a bed by the pool which at the time had a waiting list of 48 people. It was an overcast day anyway so after another amazing smoothie and lunch, we decided to join Pande our driver for the trip back to our home in Canggu.
For our final day on the south-west coast, we once again called Pande to take us down to Balangan Beach. Thankfully the overcast days were behind us and the sun decided to shine its brightest light on this stunning piece of coastline.
We splashed in the powerful waves, getting wiped out with every one, and wondering how the hell anyone was surfing in these waters, never mind the dozens of beginners joining the surf schools dotted along the beach. After drying off and soaking up as much sun as our still pasty bodies would safely allow, our stomachs told us it was time to head for lunch. I’d spotted a sign for La Joya, a stunning boutique resort, so we stopped off for a bite to eat and ended up staying the whole afternoon! By the time we got back home, the jet-lag was clearly catching up with us and so we decided to skip the torturous hair drying routine and leave our waves au naturel for what was meant to be a quiet dinner and an early night.
Dinner at Betelnut followed (which is apparently a Canggu institution and it’s not hard to see why!) but we weren’t quite ready to head to bed and felt that a night cap might help to knock us out. We headed to Old Man’s and sipped on G&Ts in between yawns. We were about ready to drag ourselves home to bed when a friendly Austrian guy came over to introduce himself. His energy must have rubbed off on us because the next minute we were agreeing to join him at the sand party. By now it was around midnight and suddenly it felt like we were in the middle of something reminiscent of the full moon parties held in Thailand. There was a DJ, a pop-up bar and plenty of backpackers to keep our energy levels boosted and when I kept catching a hot Dutch guy looking over, I knew we would be staying a little longer than planned. Fast forward to 5am and the Dutch guy and his friend walked us home and we bid farewell as we were due to be heading to Seminyak that day, as they went on to Ubud.
Naturally we were a little bleary-eyed that day but thankfully we had nothing more strenuous to do than prop up another pool bar, this time Ku De Ta in Seminyak before it was on to Ubud the following day where my birthday celebrations could begin…