WanderMom's Story of Bali, Part 2 - Sanur, Surfing, and Touring the East Coast
On Sunday morning, we departed Ubud to head for the beaches on the southern coast of Bali. Hubby was heading back to Singapore and then coming back to meet us, so VagaBabe and I had some girl time to look forward to. We arrived at the Puri Santrian in Sanur, our home for the next four days. We were looking forward to some relaxation time by the pool and on the beach. We spent the day lounging, reading books, and sipping on tropical fruit drinks. We ended up falling asleep next to each other. Does a mother ever grow tired of cuddle time with her babies? I don't think so! Before dinner, we ventured out for a walk along the beach. I felt so connected to my daughter. What a gift! We eventually made our way to our room and had a girl's movie night. We watched some chick flick starring Sandra Bullock. I was used to having Hubby with us all of the time, so I was restless throughout the night. Every little noise seemed to jolt me awake. I was looking forward to him returning to us so we could continue our adventure together!
The next morning, I arranged for us to be transported to Kuta beach so that we could take surfing lessons. I loved our instructor, Tony. He walked us through the steps and had us practice in the swimming pool before heading out to the beach. Our lessons were in the afternoon and the tide was coming in, so the waves did not look so beginner to me! VagaBabe took a turn first. The instructor called out for her to make each move, but I saw her clinging to the board. She rode all the way into shore. I wanted to get moving on my board, because I realized she was alone on a very crowded beach. Tony got me going and I made it about half way up before tumbling over. The speed was surprising. I was experiencing the power of waves in a new way! I zoomed into shore and headed for VagaBabe. She was really upset. She was afraid that she was going to hit someone. This was a valid fear, because the beach was full of people. She was also afraid of being alone. I didn't want her to be alone either! We problem solved the situation by placing another instructor on the shoreline that could meet her when she finished her ride. She gave it another try or two but ended up building sand turtles on the beach with the instructor. This made her happy, so I let her enjoy. I was happy because she gave surfing a try. That's all a Mom can ask for, right?I kept at it myself, and finally managed to figure out how to get myself up on the board. Once I got the hang of it, it was really fun!!Surfing at 41! This old dog can learn new tricks after all! Weirdly, when I would come on shore, I kept having young people come up to have their picture taken with me. I have no idea why…there were better, younger surfers out there. We spent a few hours at Kuta beach. It had much more of a club med feel which is not usually my scene. But, for the afternoon, I enjoyed the energy of the crowd and the waves!
After several hours of surfing and playing on the beach, VagaBabe and I showered up and got dressed up for dinner. We had our driver shuttle us over to Seminyak, a trendier, hipper version of Kuta. Hubby was flying back in from Singapore and was planning to meet us for dinner. We headed for Ku De Ta, a very chi-chi restaurant/bar. As we waited for Hubby to arrive, I kicked back on one of the beach lounges with the goal of taste-testing many of the delightful drinks on the menu. Vagababe played on the beach just below me. The moon was out and the waves were crashing. I felt completely relaxed. Hubby arrived and we headed into the restaurant to have dinner. Since we were on the coast, we feasted on fresh seafood. When I say fresh, I mean that we could see the fisherman pulling the fish out of the ocean! Sleepy and sated, we drove back to Sanur and crashed. What a fun day!
The goal of our next adventure was to explore the east coast of Bali. Our drivers picked us up very early for our nearly three-hour drive to the east coast. Overall, I was much more enchanted by the east coast of Bali than I was by the southern coast. I found the quiet beach hamlets to be enchanting, thankfully lacking tourists, and consisting of some of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen. There, just off in the distance, was Mt. Agung again. This time, the mountain was hiding behind low clouds. I will climb this mountain!
We had breakfast in Padangbai at the Bloo Lagoon. In planning our trip, we had considered staying in one of the villas at the Bloo Lagoon. We had decided against it because of its distance from the airport. Hubby was flying back and forth, so we needed something closer. After we saw this sleepy little fishing village, we wished we had reconsidered! Padangbai is known for its temples, snorkeling, and beautiful beaches. It is also where you can catch a ferry to Lombok. The sunrise was gorgeous!!
Our next stop was Tulamben,a village named for the many stones that "showered" the coast after the last eruption of Mt. Agung. The snorkeling here was fantastic. I saw many different types of coral and fish that I had never seen in previous dive trips. We were also able to explore the wreck of the US Liberty from WWII. I have determined, though, that my narrow face deserves its own dive mask. I've learned my lesson after several trips where I struggle with leaks. I need to know that I am going to have a good fit. An ill-fitting mask can ruin what would otherwise be a perfect dive!Next time, I bring my own!! To my delight, VagaBabe loved to snorkel! I had been practicing with her in the pool for a few weeks so that she would be comfortable with the feel of the mask and breathing through a snorkel. She had no anxiety and swam like a fish! She was amazed by the world she saw below. We spent a couple of hours exploring and she never tired!
Next, we visited Tirtagangga, a water garden built in 1948 by the King of Karangasem. The gardens were divided into different sections. First, on the lower level there are two ponds and two bridges, and a beautiful water fountain. We had a great time skipping across the stones and feeding the giant koi. On the second level, there were mountain-spring-fed swimming pools. The spring water is thought to be holy and sacred because it meets the needs of the people who live nearby and provides "purification" for the Gods.My favorite part of visiting the water palace was swimming in the pools. It was SOOOO cold, but I loved it! The bottom was mossy and black so there was no choice but to quickly take the plunge. Residing on the uppermost level was the palace itself. We walked around and explored a little, but we were getting hungry and our driver was asking what kind of fish we wanted to eat. WHAT? In the time that we were driving to our lunch spot, they were going to go out and catch the fish and grill it for us!
Our lunch destination was Virgin beach. We had time to relax on the beach and drink a couple of beers before lunch. The sand was a mix of black volcanic sand and white sand. It was so soft and it actually sparkled like glitter. We played in the water and tried to go to work on a sandcastle. When lunch was ready, we feasted on amazing, fresh seafood. I was eating this food and never wanting to go home. Virgin Beach and I were meant to be! I know where it is and we will go back next time we visit Bali!After lunch, we played on the beach for a little while longer. A hardened volcanic flow protected one side of our beautiful beach cove. Hubby and I went over to explore. There were some rocks out in the ocean and I thought it would be fun to climb around on them. As we approached, we realized the stone looked like it was moving. The rocks were covered with big black crabs and lots of little squiggle fish/tadpole like creatures! I decided that sitting up on the rocks would probably not be such a great idea!
Our final stop on the tour was a visit to the Bali Aga village of Tenganan. As we steppedthrough the gates of the village, there was a sense of calm and peace. Our host showed us around the homes, temples, and workshops in the village. It was later in the day, so we didn't see any other tourists. It was nice to visit with the villagers as they were winding down for the day. Tenganan is one of three places in the world that make "double ikat", a special style of weaving cloth. One sarong can take 5 years to weave! I enjoyed hearing about the many creative ways in which the village earned money and decided how it would be spent to serve its people. Town meetings are held in which everyone must attend and contribute to the conversation. Villagers who fail to show up for the meetings are fined! The entire town is involved in the decision making about how money and resources should be shared. For example, if there is someone in the village who is old or sick, the village will provide that person with the means to obtain what they need. Our host explained that if a man needs rice, he will be given space in the paddy - but there were no handouts. Hmmm…maybe we have something to learn from this tiny little village! Another example is how the villagers decided that toileting facilities needed to be built away from the village to maintain a higher standard of cleanliness. All of the money from the tours in the village was put toward this goal. I was also horrified after our host invited us to come back in a few weeks to attend their "festival". During this festival, known as the Mekare-kare or Perang Pandan, all of the males engage in a ceremonial war using thorny pandanous leaves as their weapons. The goal of the fight is to bloody up your fighting partner as much as possible. This is considered an offering to the Gods! As the sun was setting, we piled back into the car and made the long drive back to Sanur. What a fantastic day: amazing people, beautiful scenery, culture, art, nature, and fresh food. What's not to love?
I have to mention the Charming Restaurant. When we got back to Sanur, we were hungry! We found this great little restaurant with good food and music. I was mostly thrilled with the Balinese Mariachi band that played Radiohead and U2 songs! It sounds weird, but they were really, really good!
We had one more day in beautiful Bali and we decided to spend it on the beach. We made a comfy beach bed/sofa our relaxation station for the day. As I lay on the beach with the sun shining on me, the waves crashing, the palm trees crackling overhead, and my husband and daughter snuggled up next to me, I thought that, indeed, "my ship had come in" just as my grandmother had predicted it would so many years ago.