Bali Diaries - 4 - Canggu and around
Canggu and around
With hindsight I'm really happy about how things have gone. Spending the first month in the Bukit peninsula gave me time to slow down and remove that frantic feeling that lives within every Londoner. And also it gave me time to appreciate how people actually live in this island. Appreciate the small things, adapt my eyes and mind to the nature surrounding everything.
But our fist month in Bali was gone, we were half way through our adventure. After a month living in the almost secluded peninsula, we were moving to a more open and hip area of the island. With a bit of sadness we got a taxi to our next stop: Canggu.
After a good hour driving in south East Asian traffic, we reached our destination. All the sadness building up on the car journey faded away in the moment we entered the gates of our new home. We couldn't quite believe it, in front of us there was this Hollywood style villa. Swimming pool, two floors, massive bedrooms, massive garden. Quite a change from our smaller previous house, I say smaller but it was still beautiful just less opulent.
We had a whole set of people taking care of the house, cleaners, gardeners, even a manager. At the beginning it was quite awkward i have to say, but after a few days we got used to it. Once we got hold of our new moped provided by the manager of the house, off we went to explore our new village.
Canggu is a weird village, it feels like being in East London, mainly for the crowds of hipsters and the kind of overpriced bars and restaurants. I have a mixed feeling about it; I clearly dislike the idea of what they did to that village, completely removed his Balinese individuality to transform it to another hipster town with organic gluten free overpriced skinny latte. But, as hypocritical as I can be, I kind of felt like home.
Used to live in the south where the local culture is still quite strong, what stroke me the most in the first few days, , is that in Canggu the Balinese presence is almost totally gone. In the centre of Canggu you hardly see any Balinese, if not behind the bar of some caffe, you can clearly see that they are disappearing from there while westerners are taking over. Pretty much all the restaurant owners are westerners.
Yeah maybe Balinese don't have a great business acumen, and maybe they don't know how to prepare your favourite westerner dish. But isn't that one of the reasons why you go to Bali in the first place? to experience something different from your ordinary life. And that includes eating local food instead of your pizza… or even beef burger, especially in a hindu country. But hey you are free to do whatever you feel appropriate. I would be hypocritical if I say I haven’t enojoyed myself, but it still felt totally wrong.
From Canggu you have access to few beaches, the famous Echo beach and Old Mans. Not as gorgeous as the beaches in the south, but really good for surfing at a beginner level. Unfortunately they are not that clean and the cranes, building new hotels and villas on the back, are kind of defeating the purpose of a tropical beach. But that’s also part of Bali’s identity, where tradition meets the rush to the new.
Another beach closed by, I used to go to, is Berawa beach. Berawa has few more structures around, like bars and hotels, I guess cause it’s closer to the more developed and touristic Seminyak.
On the west side of Changgu there’s Pererenan, a black sand beach. I went there on an overcast day, and the scenario was still breathtaking, it was like being in a black and white movie. The beach has no structures like bars or surf rental, but still worth visiting in my opinion if you want a bit of peace.
A great advantage about living in Canggu is that, compared to the Bukit peninsula, it’s pretty central within the island. And gives you easy access to other good places around the island. Canggu is just hour away from the airport, one hour from Ubud, one hour from Jatilouwi rice terrace, and few other places.
I can’t complain at all about my time in Changgu, yes the white man is exploiting the islandand pushing the balinese people a bit more west. I guess in a couple of years Pererenan will be the hotspot, and after few more years whatever is west of Pererenan.
But I also had some great times there. First of all, the team of people running the villa was just incredible and made us feel at home. I still remember the interminable conversion about politics with the owner of the structure. His stories about when he was an hippy were just so fun.
An awesome fish bbq we had in a beach bar in Berawa, the sun was settings, the bar owner was cooking this awesome food, while some other guys were preparing a bonfire.
And finally, being in Canggu gave me access to other parts of the island where I had some incredible experiences.