No waves

What do people do in surfers’ paradise when there is no swell, and the very few waves that break are so weak they won’t take you anywhere? Things (read: the sea) has been looking rather gloomy for the past few days here in Canggu, and the atmosphere is a bit anxious (yet still way more relaxed than anywhere else I’ve been).

High tide.
High tide.

 

What do you do when you can’t surf? Funny question in a way, since I hardly go surfing once a day if even that, this is not a problem to me. My fellow travelers and flatmates have harder time to fill their time.

1. Drive around from one beach to another, just to check ifThe beaches are different, so there might be a chance of white water, even though you can’t see it from where you stand.

2. Watch surf movies, preferably in the pool. This includes loud sound effects, re-plays and Bintang. Also surf clips on different media devices, and some Black Friday mayhem clips.

3. General day drinking. Might just as well.

4. Talk about surfing (They do that nevertheless, so this doesn’t really count). Take the surf board for a swim. It needs water!

5. Go bowling. This night time activity is technically not surfing-time, but still something special. And fun! Not in flip-flops, I wore socks for the 1st time in a month.

Tuesday should be lucky day with proper swell. Then it’s just a question of who gets the waves.

 

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Canggu

I have now stayed and kept on extending my accommodation day after day in one of Bali’s most potential surfers’ paradise and upcoming cool hipster mecca, Canggu. Canggu is located a bit north from the infamous party beach of Kuta, followed by Legian and Seminyak, after which comes Kerobokan area where in my best understanding also Canggu is located. I have enjoyed my time here without doing much anything, which is very rare, odd and even scary for me. Why have I stayed so long? I am not even a surfer, though I am doing my best to learn and not to mind the visual damages than follow when getting hit by the board or rolling in the “washing machine” (No picture of my fin hit purple thigh, sorry).

Compared to other places (for example Ubud and Kuta, where I visited for 1 hour the other day and was extremely glad to get away), you are not constantly hassled by people who want to sell you tourist stuff or offer you a taxi/tour/rafting/mushrooms.

Doesn't get more chill than this
Doesn’t get more chill than this

Canggu is laid-back. No one is in a hurry to go anywhere, the biggest topic of the day is the swell and tide, and where to have dinner. And oh boy, there are options. Naturally I want to tell you more about food rather than my experiences of getting my face rubbed against the sand in the sea, or seeing a car (or better yet, two cars) fallen into the rice field.

Best picks for Canggu, if you ever happen to be around:

Inventive and inexpensive menu: just the way I like it!
Inventive and inexpensive menu: just the way I like it! Moshpit is The One, for now.

Crate. Awesome breakfast, quality coffee and good lunch options too for ridiculously cheap prices compared to some other places. You can swap to out-of-this-world-delicious gluten free bread without extra cost, and man that stuff is yum! This place is very laid back and rustic, almost like you’re in an open space loft in San Francisco (though the weather was 38C today)! No extra taxes added, which is always a plus!

 

Raw gado gado aka eat the rainbow. Yes please.
Raw gado gado aka eat the rainbow. Yes please.

Betelnut. Next to Crate, this lovely joint is also open for dinner, but offers also breakfast, smoothies, desserts and whatnot. I have tried their raw gado gado several times, and the other guys usually go for a burger or wraps. Mixture of comforting Western and Asian grub, this place is cosy and also cheap, no added tax.

 

Happy hour at Old Man's.
Happy hour at Old Man’s.

Old Man’s. Bar by the beach with happy hour every weekday – what more can you ask for? Live music at nighttime. Even after rather heavy drinking people drive home on their scooter through the rice paddies.

 

Indo food for like less than 2 euros.
Indo food for like less than 2 euros.

Warung Heebo. Indonesian food that is so cheap it is odd. No idea how they price their food: basically you pick the stuff you want and they give you a price tag which you hand over at the cashier. Convenient.

Deus (ex Machina). Apparently sells motorcycles, cool gear, surfboards and such, but is also a restaurant and “the place to be” on a Sunday night.

Some more? Sprout. Disappointment price-wise, but has AC. Canteen. Another brekkie option, but since I’m so deeply in love with Crate, I haven’t tried it out. Avocado. Sounds tempting, but I have not yet made it there. Maybe tomorrow. Or the day after.

Beach babe at Berawa.
Beach babe at Berawa.

Beaches. Berawa, Batubolong, Old Man’s, Echo. All the same sea and you can walk the shore, but somehow different. As a beginner surfer I’d go for Batubolong. Oh yeah, I am a surfer. One day, maybe.

When in Canggu, you really need a motorcycle to get around. I had never in my life driven one, but what’s a better place to learn than one where there’s almost no rules, and everyone just seems to drive like a maniac? In the smaller roads I feel quite okay, but I would not go to the bigger ones. And I still prefer to be on the back of a bike than to be the one driving.

Chill mate, we're surfing.
Chill mate, we’re surfing.

Days just seem to float on by, and even though I have plans on moving somewhere else, there is a vibe here that I enjoy. Even besides the food.

Ubud

Ubud is also known as Bali’s home to culture, good (read: health) food, yoga and spiritualism. This village in the middle of Bali attracts those interested in “the journey to self”, exquisite retreats, and/or wood carvings.

The village consists of mainly 3 main roads, two of which are parallel to each other: Monkey Forest Road (at the end of which surprisingly is the famous Monkey Forest), Jl. Hanoman which has few of the healthy organic restaurants also serving raw food from local ingredients, and the actual Main Road which is perpendicular to the first mentioned two. Ubud centre can easily be walked, but it can be a bit frustrating since you hear “taxi taxi” offers approximately every 2 minutes – as if it was wrong to use you own feet instead of a scooter for moving around.

If you don’t do yoga and are not that much into the organic food scene, what to do? Go to the Ubud Market, which has looooads of stalls selling basically the same souvenir stuff. After visiting the Monkey Forest and taking a walk in the famous rice fields, there is not that much anything special besides massages and other pampering.

Rice fields surrounding Ubud
Rice fields surrounding Ubud

 

To the point aka Food issues:
Alchemy. A bit away from the main road (scooter ride away, to be exact), Alchemy has probably the best salad I’ve ever had. Plenty of juices, elixirs, smoothies and raw treats to choose from, this chill out place is perfect for a remote workday, if you happen to be in the need for that.

Alchemy menu
Alchemy menu
Choose your own salad toppings from many awesome and innovative options.
Choose your own salad toppings from many awesome and innovative options.

Clear Cafe. Convenient location in the north end of Jl. Hanuman, this restaurants has lots of international cooked and raw dishes from organic and local products. Also a variety of raw dishes , vast range of elixirs, juices, smoothies and whatnot. Right next to the restaurant is Clear Express selling raw snacks, some cookies, infused coconut water and sweet treats.

Down to Earth. Also spots in other parts of Bali, DTE includes an organic store, cafe, movie theater and a restaurant. Same thing – elixirs, tonics, raw cakes and a menu of organic food. Good mediterranean platter, small salad.

Mediterranean plate with buckwheat flatbread and quinoa curry in Down to Earth.
Mediterranean plate with buckwheat flatbread and quinoa curry in Down to Earth.

Kafe. Same owner than the famous Yoga Barn, Kafe is also located on Jl. Hanuman. Not so much highlighting the raw trend, but Kafe also has juices and such. A bit more pricey than the others, and the main course salad looked more like an appetizer to me.

Plant Food Lab. Near Monkey Forest, this place is a chillout spot or good for remote working. Not really a restaurants, but has small dishes like raw burger, wrap etc. And of course the sweets.

Raw burger, watermelon juice and the rice field.
Raw burger, watermelon juice and the rice field.

Seeds of Life. Menu- and price-wise my favorite. All dishes under 70K (rare!), changing daily specials, simple menu but interesting. Offers tonics with herbs and mushrooms, and a variety of high quality teas. Of course raw desserts too…located a bit off on a side street, but still in the city center. I wish to go there on a Wednesday, when daily specials are Korean.

Honorable mention: Kokolato ice cream. Interesting flavors including Moringa mint chip, strawberry chili, raw chocolate maca and black rice pudding. All natural ice cream made from coconuts.

My kind of ice cream.
My kind of ice cream.

Aforementioned Yoga Barn also has a restaurant, but I only enjoyed their pre-movie buffet dinner so I don’t know what the menu includes. I would assume it’s similar to Kafe’s.

 

Am I forgetting some essential place?

 

 

Be aware of the police

What if when you’re casually strolling on your scooter somewhere in Asia, minding your own business with the thousand other drivers beside you, when a policeman stops you.

Rule number one: Do not stop. Keep on driving, and they will not follow you (hopefully and most likely).

However, if you for some reason do stop, try to get away with whatever horrible things you’ve done (driving without a helmet, not having your license with you, a broken light, didn’t wave when turning…) with as much bribing needed for you to get off paying as little as possible.

– Keep your money somewhere else than your wallet. You can always pull the “I have no money, sir”-card, and give them whatever small money you have. Maybe you just spent all your money on lunch, or you’re coming from the beach where you didn’t want to carry any.
– You don’t have your passport because it’s either at the immigration office for your visa extension (which is actually true for me), or you keep it at the hostel safe so that no one can steal it from you.
– You DO have an international license (khrm), but you forgot to take it with you.
– “Please sir, I do not have 500,000 I only got 1000,000. Seriously.”
– Don’t talk to them, give the money and get away with it. Too much talk makes them angry.

If they take your bike key, make them give it back to you. If possible and you dare, drive away.

That’s what’s up today! I was not the one driving, btw. And I WILL stay off the main roads when I do.

One in a million. Indonesian traffic picture from the interweb.
One in a million. Indonesian traffic picture from the interweb.

Visa issues and actions

When traveling to the Republic of Indonesia as a tourist (from most Western countries at least), one obtains a 30 day Visa on Arrival (VOA) after paying 25USD at the immigration on the airport. This 30 day visa can be renewed once, totaling your trip to paradise for 60 days. If one does not leave the country within the 30 days from arrival and has not extended their visa, each extra day will have to pay a fine of I don’t remember how much. Another popular option is to make a visa run to either Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, but I decided just to stay here and do the extension the easiest way – through a Visa Agency.

There are several agents around Bali (mostly in Kuta, but I found mine in Ubud), who help people with their visas and basically do all the work. The procedures take 7 working days, so usually it is best to be safe and sorry and give it at least 10 days. So after a week in Bali, today I went to the visa office, and was told to bring my passport and a picture (which I went to get with wet and dirty hair, most likely one of the worst photos ever taken of me) with 700,000 IDR (card machine not working). So I walked around to passport pictures, went to get money, then walked back to the office just to find out that from this date onwards (12.11.2014) there is no longer a need for the picture. Go figure. I handed out my passport and gave my email address so they can contact me regarding the next steps. Next week I somehow will go to the Immigration office in Denpasar to give my fingerprints and some other neat stuff, then I will receive my passport back. But since I am no longer staying in Ubud next week, my Agent (how cool!) suggested we meet in the KFC in Sanur. Oh, my…

Random picture of the day: Juice. I’ve had my share of that!

Random shot: Green juice by the rice paddies.
Random shot: Green juice by the rice paddies.