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Sanur | Uluwatu

We arrived in Denpasar as the sweatiest and happiest duo ever.  We were not prepared for the level of humidity that we were experiencing here in Bali. Don’t forget, we Bay Area folk so this was a shock to both our minds and bodies. But we were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed so we didn’t care. At the time. (More to come on that).

We arrived in the beautiful Kamuela Suites in Sanur, decorated with dandelion-yellow ceramic taxidermy and chevron-striped upholstery. Très trendy. As you walk up to the reception counter, there was the largest buddha-head fountain I’ve ever seen, The Buddha Vairocana, a major iconic figure of Mahayana Buddhism, representing reality and wisdom. In Tibetan Buddhism, Vairocana is “personified as a meditating figure with four faces, simultaneously perceiving all directions…It [represents] complete openness of consciousness.” As we’ve continue along our journey throughout Indonesia, I realize that our visit in Indonesia could be summed up in just that. 

Even though we were in Taipei for a few days, it really felt like this was the start of our trip. After checking in to our hotel, we immediately threw on our swimsuits and jumped into the pool, surrounded by iconic Balinese greenery. It all just seemed too good to be true. But like every coin, there’s always a flip side. It was time for dinner and some exploration and we decided to stop by the bar next door for a beer, specifically the country’s popular Bintang. At this point, I look like I’m standing in a rain storm but no, it’s just me existing in the Balinese humidity. But damn, this ice cold Bintang was so refreshing. As we sat at the bar, it finally hit me. Indonesia is going to be our home for the next 4 weeks. 

For dinner, we wanted a classic meal from a warung, a family-owned café, with traditional Indonesian fare. After doing some research, we came across a very highly-rated warung, called Warung Baby Monkeys. I mean, isn’t the name already appealing enough? “They also play reggae music there,” Avery noted with a smile that still makes me melt. Done. Say no more. I kid you not - if you are ever in the Sanur area, this is the best, most affordable restaurant in town. The staff is also incredibly welcoming and hospitable. I quickly learned that the Balinese are very smiley. It’s almost impossible not to smile back, even as a New Yorker. What an amazing way to start the trip and to end the night. 

The next day, we took it easy - lounging by the pool, walking around the beach, drinking a few Bintangs throughout the day. We were still struggling with the jet lag and wanted to truly relax. That evening, we decided to call Jiwa, a Balinese driver who knew Avery’s friend from Mill Valley. We heard Jiram was incredibly kind, trustworthy and knowledgable about all the places in Bali to visit. It was a no-brainer to choose him as our driver and at the end, we are so thankful to have him around. Dear World, if you ever need a driver in Bali, Jiram is your guy. He’s the man. 

On our third and final day in Sanur, we put on our explorer hats (or really, our ExOfficio BugsAway hats (a gift from Cathryn Ramin) and ventured our way to Uluwatu, the southwest tip of Bali. We were very eager to visit the Uluwatu Temple, famous for its cliffside views. You have probably seen these photos before but there’s something incredibly cleansing about seeing these cliffs in person. It was also fun to wear the beautifully printed sarongs that our driver offered to us, mandatory when visiting Indonesian temples. If I could manifest Heaven in my mind, this is what it would look like. 

Finally, the cherry-on-top of the day was having a drink at Single Fin Bar. THE BEST. Look, I think we’ve all been to our fair share of cool bars but this place has both beautiful views and beautiful people. It was recommended by one of Avery’s old co-workers, Rob, who had traveled extensively and always knew the best night life spots. He specifically recommended that we have a drink during sunset. I dare you to recommend a better place to me. The bar overlooks Blue Point Beach so you can watch surfers catching any last waves of the day. For ladies who like surfers, come here. For those who kinda like sunsets, come here. For those that like to see pretty people and things, come here. Just don’t order food or cocktails. Keep it simple with the Bintangs and you won’t overspend. And like any lounge, you are able to reserve a table which would give you the best seat in the house. We saw a group of good-looking Australians celebrating a twenty-something birthday at one of the table’s and I have to admit, it’s a pretty dope place to have a birthday party. It makes me think back to the NYC days where everyone struggled on where to have their birthday party. Too bad you can’t take the E train to Uluwatu. 

Stay tuned for our voyage to Ubud visiting a traditional Balinese home, plus our jaw-dropping accomodations practically in the forest. 

 P.S. I fell in love with these Indonesian offerings, called  canang   sari.  All businesses place these small baskets of flowers, incense, and other gifts to the gods 3x a day. "It is a ritual of giving back what has been given to you by the Gods. It is sharing that is not based upon fear, but on gratitude to the richness of life". Offering these brings good luck and prosperity to the business and family.

P.S. I fell in love with these Indonesian offerings, called canang sari. All businesses place these small baskets of flowers, incense, and other gifts to the gods 3x a day. "It is a ritual of giving back what has been given to you by the Gods. It is sharing that is not based upon fear, but on gratitude to the richness of life". Offering these brings good luck and prosperity to the business and family.

Catherine JoeiComment