Snaps from Sanur, Bali

Snaps from Sanur Bali |

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.

Why Bali?

Sanur Bali |

Spotted in Casablanca Sanur’s washroom.

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”).

Sanur Bali |

The entrance to my little garden pavilion. I miss it so much. ♥

Sanur Bali |

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.

Sanur Bali |

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.

Sanur Bali |

The shared kitchen and Nike aka Free Dog.

Sanur Bali |

Sanur Bali |

SO. MANY. FRANGIPANIS. The garden grounds were carpeted in them.

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.

Sanur Bali |

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! 

Sanur Bali |

Sanur Bali |

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.

Sanur Bali |

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).

Sanur Bali |

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.

Sanur Bali |

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.

Sanur Bali |

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.

Sanur Bali |

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.

Sanur Bali |

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.

Sanur Bali |

Warung Little Bird. ♥

The best way to end a day in Bali is with a Bintang or Bali Hai Large.

Sanur Bali |

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 Bali |

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.”

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  • Reply Romzs July 11, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    This post is very different from all Bali-related blogs I’ve read; I love it. It’s very you. I’m glad you’re doing well now :)

    • Reply Helga July 12, 2016 at 12:35 am

      Thanks, Romila! <3

  • Reply Tara Cabullo July 11, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    I really enjoyed the photos and the snaps when it was happening :)

    • Reply Helga July 12, 2016 at 12:35 am

      Hahaha thanks so much Tara!

  • Reply Mailan July 11, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    Great post for your comeback! <3 I loved the photos and especially the writing. I felt there's something spiritual about your writing. It's weird but I really felt the internal journey you had in Sanur. It's touching and makes me weep a little bit inside. Btw, like you, I'd gladly burn thousands of pesos for a getaway just to feel better. Good job on taking that trip. Hoping for better days ahead for you. :)

    • Reply Helga July 12, 2016 at 12:41 am

      Thank you so much, Mailan. It means a lot to me. <3 And glad I'm not the only one to guiltlessly splurge on herself (for a good cause naman haha).

  • Reply Justine July 11, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Loved this. Good for you, Helga! I loved how this was fairly different from all the Bali entries people post on their blogs. I wish you’d gone to Finn’s! It would have been interesting to read what you thought about it :) I hear it’s super therapeutic just looking around. The last time I went to Bali was in 1998 and 2002 and I am 102% sure things have definitely changed. I want to go again because of this blog post and just do nothing! Dolce far niente. :)

    • Reply Helga July 14, 2016 at 12:36 am

      I didn’t research about Canggu spots na so I didn’t know about Finns! I can’t wait to go back. I’m thinking of living there for a month!

      And now I’m curious about those Bali blog entries haha.

  • Reply Irene July 11, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    I LOVED THIS. Your photos were amazing and your writing was so good and please post more of both.

    Also, low key loved how you laid the photos out.

    • Reply Helga July 14, 2016 at 12:37 am

      LOVE U

  • Reply Dani July 12, 2016 at 12:15 am

    I would also love to visit Bali soon. That calmness is so inviting and call me “boring” but that’s what I always look forward to whenever I travel. I just love the serenity of the place. Their concept of architecture is so amazing- how I also wish we have it here (personal space, gahd.)

    Stay beautiful, Helga. :)

  • Reply Jae July 12, 2016 at 12:28 am

    You needed this trip, Helga. :)

  • Reply Angel July 12, 2016 at 12:28 am

    It’s like I’m seeing the ~old Helga~ with all the selfies. I love it!

  • Reply Christine July 12, 2016 at 5:45 am

    It’s always great to take a time out and spend time with yourself in a completely different environment. And break up’s sucks!

    I can only do the Eat and Love part. I don’t think I can survive India!

  • Reply Kai July 12, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Great shots and thank you for listing down your itineraries! I now have an idea where to stay and what to look forward to :)

  • Reply Cherry July 14, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Did I read it right, you traveled alone? great post helga!

  • Reply Charles Aleksander Ravndal July 19, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    I have friends who travel alone and they told me it’s liberating and it gives you a new perspective in life. I should definitely try it! Beautiful shots and beautiful you! Btw, I love the tattoo on your thigh! I just had one recently on my left thigh :)

  • Reply Snaps from Mount Batur – Ditz Revolution | Tacky & Fancy July 20, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    […] drive to the starting point from Sanur was about an hour and a half. With nothing but potato chips and weak coffee in my body, we started […]

  • Reply JOYCE July 23, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    Hello Helga! Thank you thank you thank you for this post! Honestly, I was teary eyed after reading this cos I am in the same state as you are/were, i’ve been depressed for weeks now and i’ve been longing to have that “eat pray love” adventure but i can’t just file a leave at work . But this post gave me a push, i’m finding ways to have my alone moment even if it’s just riding a bus to the next town or something.
    Anyway, I hope you’re dong well. Thank you again <3

    • Reply JOYCE July 23, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      PS: I watched Under the Tuscan Sun last night after reading your blog. And I loved it. It gave me a bit of hope :)

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