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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

9/21 Welcome to Sanur in Bali, Indonesia

After saying good bye to Australia on 9/20, we flew to Kuta in Bali, Indonesia where we were met at the airport by a driver from what would be our home away from home for the next 4 nights, the Sindu Guesthouse. Steven and I joked that we could get seriously hooked on being met at airports and driven to our hotel as it's not something we would normally do. But, arriving late at night and having a long way to reach the hotel, it was a great treat especially since the cost was only $7 or 100,000 Indonesian rupiah (rp for short).
What a gorgeous airport, don't you agree?

It was about a 40 minute drive to the guesthouse and we were beat as my mum would have said. Were quickly revived though when we were escorted to our room, complete with welcome sign on the door and flower petals on the bed. That was our official welcome, none of that bothersome stuff like having to check in, handing your credit card over and signing over fistfuls of money on the dotted line.

Very cheap laundry prices: only $1.35 a kilo and it's folded and delivered to your room!
How nice to be in a real room again with our own bathroom, hooks on the doors to hang things, nightstands - a far cry from the hostel in Darwin and this was cheaper at only $25 a night including a made to order breakfast.
Waiting for breakfast 4 steps from our room! Can't tell you how many hours we whiled away here.
The guesthouse courtyard.
Bali is a favorite destination for so many Australians as it’s so close and generally inexpensive to get to, depending of course where in Oz they’re coming from. There are a number of towns in southern Bali that attract tourists from all over the world with the most famous ones being Kuta, Legian and Seminyak. Sanur, further north and, like the others right on the beach, is more of a low-key destination lacking the clubs and all night party venues of Kuta and company. Younger travelers once nicknamed it ‘Snore’ so that seemed perfect for us!
These statues overlooking the courtyard kept us safe!
Sanur was the site of Bali’s first major beach hotel in the 1960’s with the construction of the Grand Bali Beach. It did not go down well locally and led to a Bali-wide edict against building anything higher than a coconut tree. There must be some seriously high coconut trees but still luckily no highrises!

Sanur is a bustling town with motorcycles and scooters going in both directions weaving in and out of the traffic on the SAME side of the streets (they’re supposed to drive on the left as in Australia but many see that as only a mere suggestion and not a requirement!), a non stop procession of cars and especially taxis plying their trade by honking when they’re 4 or 5 feet behind you to indicate their availability, the ‘sidewalks’ can only be walked on single file because the local shopkeepers extend their selling space onto the sidewalks. 
You could hardly walk more than a few feet before seeing more of these lovely offerings to the gods placed by the majority of Balinese Hindus in front of temples, stores, homes, absolutely everywhere.

Photos of our 1st day wanderings through Sanur:

So many of the restaurants in Sanur cater to tourists; notice the ridiculously low prices for those with Western currency. The prices are all in the thousands, i.e. 52,000 rp; if you're interested in knowing the exchange rate, each 10K rp is about equal to .70.
Needed that Canadian/Colorado connection!
Another Colorado connection; think it was on its way out though.

I sure do!
Stop at our first Balinese Hindu temple: one of just many we'd see in the next week on Bali.
Hindu temples are generally highly decorated, we came to learn. 
An open door so we strolled through it wanting to see what was on the other side. Found quite a complex of buildings and beautiful grounds.
Had been taking the long way to the beach this whole time; instead of walking to the left from the guesthouse, we had walked right and thus saw more of Sanur than we had expected to then.

The length of Sanur’s 5km shoreline is fronted by a shady, mostly paved esplanade that we walked up and down several times during our 4 night stay. What a great way to while away a few hours wandering there. So many lovely boats to look at, one small resort after another, each with its own cabanas and lounge chairs to rent and gorgeous views too. When it wasn't too hazy, we could even see Gunung Agung Mountain in the northeast.

Beach Scenes from the Esplanade:

How much more beautiful can life get than this, huh? We keep reminding ourselves how fortunate we are to be to be able to discover some of the world's most spectacular places.
Before leaving on these long trips, we always sign up with the US State Dept's travel advisory program for US residents and travelers living outside the US, indicating which country we'd be visiting and when. 
Some alerts are pretty benign like the ones we'd received about the smoke and hazy conditions throughout Indonesia prior to our arriving. Other alerts we've also been receiving for our upcoming visits to other countries on this trip are more serious as they remind Americans to take special care because of possible political unrest, threats of anti-American demonstrations, etc.
All that to say, we did encounter a a lot of very hazy skies the entire 9 nights we spent traveling the beautiful island of Bali. Its haze comes from large companies burning whatever they do and locals using fires for their daily cooking needs as well as burning refuse. Bali is a gorgeous island but some of its beauty is marred certainly by the omnipresent smoky haze. Sorry - enough of that diatribe today!
Walking on the esplanade in Sanur is not the same as walking the delightful Cairns esplanade; the former is further from the beach and is filled every few feet with locals asking you to buy sarongs, scarves, beads, watches, food, take a massage, eat at their restaurants, go on a boat tour or cruise to a neighboring island - you name it. In other words, typically Asian! 
 Just loved these gaily decorated boats we saw up and down Sanur beach; never saw them before. They reminded us of the Chinese dragon boats we saw years ago at Sloans Lake in Denver that were part of a festival.

Wouldn't want to clamber over this fence!
I know I'm getting ahead of myself here as this is only my first post on Bali but we found from our first day the Balinese are much lower key, much more polite and more respectful than any other Asian culture we’ve experienced so far. You don’t feel ‘hassled’ here in Bali by the small shopkeepers and street vendors. A ‘Thank you but I’m not interested’ is met with gracious acceptance, not with arm pulling and overwhelming persistence as in other parts of Asia; that, as you can imagine, soon becomes quite draining.

Indonesians seemed to wear their hearts on their sleeves; I cannot remember seeing so many national flags (the red and white above) displayed every place you go.

Another Hindu offering.
First time we'd seen such Hindu temple rules; soon became apparent though these were the norm.
Notice the black and white checked covering around the shrine? Will explain all about that in a future post when we discovered why it was there.

Moments after taking this picture, a Balinese woman placed an offering in the shrine and then an other offering on the beach in front.
Walking back to the hotel now:
Nina: Thought of you and your love for Sunday afternoon football and how much you'd have loved watching a game here on Monday morning, Balinese time!

Walked around the Night Market which we always enjoy doing; lots of locals and tourists eating but we decided to eat at a restaurant on the beach instead.

As was the case for our trips the last 2 years, stray dogs are everywhere in Bali. I don't know how it is that that the gazillion dogs we've encountered overseas have been the quietest and most docile animals, nothing like their North American brethren!
We both luckily found this sign amusing!
Scores of restaurants back on the beach to choose from for dinner.
Celebrated our first night in Sanur by eating at a fairly fancy (for us at least) restaurant on the beach; the best thing about that meal was listening to the live music from the adjacent restaurant! Steven may beg to disagree though as he sure liked his large bottle of Bintang beer which seems to be the staple beer in Indonesia.
Once we finished eating, we walked next 'door,' i.e beyond the partition to see and hear the musicians continue to play a wide medley of songs in English and Balinese. These guys were really good.

What a hard day we'd had - getting up late, eating a great breakfast, lazing about on the comfy veranda before wandering into town and to the beach and then back there again for a sunset dinner! Stay tuned for more of the same in the days to come!

Posted on 9/30 from Labuan Bajo, Indonesia.