The only thing I really knew about Bali was that a lot of Instagram influencers and rich people went there for vacation. I knew it was somewhere in Southeast Asia and that it was an island that was part of Indonesia. After that it was all up in air and I really didn’t have any expectations before I decided to head there. I had several RY friends spend time in Bali recently so I knew it looked like a super cool place after scrolling through their Instagram feeds. I told Nick I’d book the AirBnB for our stay so he gave me a general area and told me to make sure it was walking-distance to the beach, so I did my best. We stayed in Canggu which is a little beach town on the coast and luckily not as touristy as some other towns close by. It ended up being the perfect spot for the first 4 days of my three week trip even though I was as clueless as anyone as I scrolled through google maps pretending I could find the “best spot”.
While I did pick a good location, I’d describe our accommodation as very “rustic”. Everything was open air. Once you walked through the gate there was a little “kitchen”, a dining table with chairs and a little pool out back. There were no walls though so it was kind of like being under a porch. Nick’s room, he got to pick since he got there first, did have a door that closed all the way. My room, which was on the second floor, just had two big wooden doors that clearly weren’t the correct size because even when you closed both of them, within a few minutes the wind would push them open. All the walls were also wooden so there were little holes in them that didn’t inspire too much confidence to what types of bugs could creep in. On top of that, there was a mosquito net over the bed which, while I appreciated it, it also meant to expect insects to be sleeping in the room with me at night. On the bright side, there was AC and it did work very well. I made sure that mosquito net covered every inch of the bed and with the AC on, it was fine to sleep in. A couple spiders here and there and mosquitos lining the net when the lights turned on but nothing anyone can’t get through. I was in Bali after all and I was supposed to be out in nature.
The first morning Nick and I walked to town to grab breakfast. We found a spot that served omelets with toasted sourdough bread and I couldn’t have been more ecstatic to have a good breakfast as my first meal in Bali. This came with a coffee and smoothie and was still around $8-9. I quickly learned two of the best things about Bali, besides the scenery and weather, are how healthy all the food was and how cheap it was. I ate more vegetarian and vegan meals and drank more smoothie and fresh juices than I think I had in my entire life. It was a really nice start to the trip as I just felt so healthy after eating so clean for a week. The food was very tasty and fresh and there were plenty of options, as long as you wanted something healthy and vegetarian. After breakfast, Nick and I decided to walk around and we just kept walking until we hit the beach – this would wind up being a huge mistake on our part as you’ll find out later.
We got to the beach and it was still early so none of the beach clubs were open. We decided to walk down the beach for a few miles and enjoy the good weather. After walking the beach for an hour or two, the beach club we wanted to go to finally opened so we were the first in line. The beach clubs in Bali are pristine and the perfect camp-out spot for a day. You can rent chairs or a cabana for a minimum amount on a bar tab, which was never a problem to hit, and could relax by the pool as it overlooked the beach. The pool had a swim-up bar, stools to enjoy your drink in the water and looked right out into the ocean. If you were sick of the pool, you could hop in the ocean real quick and then head back to your cabana. It really is the best way to enjoy the best of the beach, the pool and the bar. Nick and I were happy as could be and planned to spend the whole day there, which we did. What we didn’t plan was being out for the whole day after breakfast so we both got extremely sunburnt. After about an hour, we started to get a little red and by the end of the 4-5 hours we knew we were in trouble. It was an amazing start to the trip but I wish I had brought my sunscreen and sunglasses to breakfast that morning because I ended up getting more burnt than I had been in a few years. I guess you can’t win them all.
One of the great things about going on, and completing, Remote Year is that you have all these friends and connections all over the world. Just one week earlier I hadn’t even known I was going to be in Asia but within a week, I connected with Nick, planned to stay at an AirBnB together and was drinking cocktails by a pool in Bali with him. On top of this, there were 4 more RY people, 3 from my Balboa group, in Bali at the same time so we were able to hang out with them. It is a really cool feeling knowing that I will almost certainly know someone in any place I travel to if I network the RY community hard enough. After Nick and I got sunburnt enough to look like lobsters, we met up with our other friends at a different beach club a few miles away. This beach club was much bigger and more crowded but they had a cabana already so we got some drinks and watched the sunset together. Our friends had also rented a really sweet accommodation, fit with a huge private pool, so we were set up for the next few days. We grabbed dinner, hung out by the pool and capped off a great first night in Bali. It was surreal to think only a week before I thought I was driving out to start my new life in Phoenix. Now, here I was literally around the world reconnecting with good friends I hadn’t seen, or really talked to, in nine months.
I woke up on day 2 and could barely move because of how sunburnt I was. It was a beautiful day outside and it was a shame since I wanted to hide in the shade all day. Luckily, our friends had that private pool equipped with umbrellas so it ended up being a great day of lounging by the pool and relaxing. After a hectic few days of travel and first day in Bali, it was nice to just relax and recharge a bit. Everyone besides me also had a bit of work to do so everyone was interested in having a lounge day. In the early afternoon, the host of the place we were hanging at invited us to tour their property. The hosts had a beautiful house and temple and it really gave us a sense of the Balinese culture and religion. Both the husband and wife spoke good English so they guided as around their house and taught us about the different shrines, temples and ceremonies that were important to the local people. I learned that Bali translates to, “Land of 1000 temples” and many people have temples right in their own homes. It was great to get to meet them and learn a bit about the culture since I hadn’t done much research ahead of time.
After the tour and hanging out more at the pool, we walked down to the beach to catch the sunset. The local bar we chose had bean bag chairs right on the beach for us to sit in as the served us their local beer, Bingtang, which I grew to love. It was an awesome cap to the day as we were able to slowly watch the sun set over the horizon. It can’t get much more “Bali” or “Vacation-y” than sipping Coconuts on the beach in bean bag chairs watching the sunset and at that moment there wasn’t anywhere else in the world I would’ve rather been. After the sunset we grabbed dinner at a vegetarian restaurant and went back to the pool again to hangout a bit. I went to sleep hoping that my sunburn would be tiny bit better than it was today, especially since I used almost an entire bottle of aloe trying to stave off the burn.
The next day, I woke up feeling much better than the previous day and Nick and I decided to go to one of the more famous beach clubs, Potato Head, a few miles away. This club was massive and very posh with cabanas, a huge pool and, of course, all overlooking the ocean. Since we were on vacation mode ,we decided to just eat and drink all day and not feel sorry for it. It was a great day and I guess it was what I expected Bali to be so I suppose I had fun being a tourist and spending too much money for a day. Sometimes it’s just better to think, why not, I’m already here. After spending all day at the beach club, Nick and I decided we needed some meat after eating so healthy that last few days. We went to a perfect spot in a beautiful new building that almost looked like a train station. Right when we walked in, we saw an entire pig roasting over an open fire so we knew we were in the right spot. The meal was delicious and we felt classy eating our upscale pork dish and drinking red wine. After dinner, we headed home as we had a 6am wake up call. The next day we were heading an hour north to stay in the jungle for a few days but first we thought it made sense to get some golf in.
My time at Canggu beach was just what I needed to start off an amazing vacation and Asian adventure. Coming from winter in the States, it was great to be by the beach and get some sun since I knew it was going to be cold at the rest of my stops. I would love to go back to Canggu someday as I loved everything about it – the beach, weather, food and vibe. If a place checks all of those boxes, it usually a good bet to check out.