Indonesia: Canggu

After a very good night’s sleep post-Ijen night hike, Will and I were up bright and early to get down to the Banyuwangi ferry port. Next stop, Bali! We paid a very cheap 6,500Rp each for our ferry passage, found ourselves a seat as close as possible to the functioning fan, and set off across the channel to Bali. The ferries run between Banyuwangi and Gilimanuk every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day, but I’d advise going fairly early in the morning (we got there before 8am) to beat queues and bigger tour groups. When we arrived, there was no queue at the ticket booth and we walked straight through onto the waiting ferry.

The crossing only took half an hour and we’d had a surprisingly smooth ride finding and buying tickets, then we’d only had to wait 10 minutes for the ferry to leave, so we were waiting for the sting in the tail… This came when we got on the public bus at Gilimanuk (the Bali port) and realised that the slow crawl out of the bus station was its top speed. Our map app estimated the 126km journey would take 1hr 18 mins, so taking into account we were on a bus, we thought perhaps 2.5hrs. It took almost 5 – I think we could have cycled faster. However, it was much cheaper than getting a taxi – you shouldn’t pay any more than 50,000Rp for the public bus, but taxis will be between 500,000 – 600,000Rp. Just make sure you don’t need to be anywhere in a hurry…

The world’s slowest bus from Gilimanuk to Denpasar…

We finally arrived at the bus station in Denpasar, and boy were we sweaty. We negotiated with a taxi driver for our onward journey to Canggu (we paid 50,000Rp for the two of us, him having started at 100,000Rp each which was ridiculous for the length of journey!) and hopped in his little blue van-style cab. It then took about an hour to do a 20-minute journey thanks to road closures for a local procession, then we were turfed out a kilometre from our hostel as the only open road was a one-way street. We trudged sweatily the remaining distance, and when we finally arrived at our hostel, we were the sweatiest people who’d ever lived. Luckily, the hostel had just what we needed: cold beers and a swimming pool. We took full advantage of both and got chatting to the other travellers at the hostel. It was a great place; really nice rooms, a good pool and fantastic staff – check out The Tipsy Gypsy when you’re in Canggu.

That evening, we had a big night out as it was a Canadian guy at the hostel’s birthday. We started with some beers at the hostel, where some people also got a tattoo from the visiting artist (don’t worry Mum, this didn’t include me or Will…), then headed to a bar called Pretty Poison. It was quite unique in that it has an old swimming pool in the back which is now used as a skateboarding bowl – and they run a nightly competition for skaters. Sadly our skills weren’t quite up to the task of participating in front of a bar of several hundred people, but we enjoyed watching those whose were! It’s a good place for a few drinks before moving on elsewhere, so we had some beers there, headed to the Sandbar – a club with a tiny little bar in a wooden shack, blasting music out onto the dancefloor on the beach. This moves between different places on the beach but is always along the same strip of Canggu beach. We danced for a few hours, and wobbled back to the hostel around 4am.

The next day started, unsurprisingly, slowly. We went for brunch at a tasty café down the road from the hostel called The Daun – Canggu is full of lovely little eateries, all very Shoreditch – then went back to the hostel to stew by the pool for a few hours. Late afternoon, we wandered down to the beach where 3 of the boys went surfing. I didn’t quite have the energy for my first go so two of us sat with the bags drinking a medicinal coconut. After an hour or so, they came back in and we walked to a place called Luigi’s for a delicious pizza dinner – go there if you’re in Canggu on a Monday for happy hour on pizzas, beers and cocktails.

Sunset over Canggu beach

The evening was a little more tame than the previous one – we’d signed up to the beer pong competition at a popular bar by the beach called Old Man’s (on Wednesdays they offer return boat tickets to Gili T as a prize for the beer pong winners), but thanks to perhaps the heaviest rainstorm I’ve ever experienced, we were trapped at the hostel, not fancying the 20 minute walk! Instead, we had a couple of beers and played cards before heading for some much needed sleep.

We managed to get out and about and achieve a little more the following day. We went for a delicious breakfast at another tasty café called Koi, then four of us went and rented ourselves some mopeds. We drove a pretty 7 miles or so down the coast to a place called Tanah Lot, where there’s a Hindu temple (Bali is the odd one out of the Indonesian islands in that it’s majority Hindu) built on a rocky outcrop island off the cliff. We were there at hide tide so couldn’t get out to see it up close, but it’s very striking. Apparently there’s a freshwater spring that shoots up somewhere in the middle of the island, and the locals consider this holy water, which is why it’s a special spot. It’s 60,000Rp entry and 3,000 for scooter parking.

Big grins in front of Tanah Lot

We wandered around the gardens along the cliff – in my case avoiding the huge python in a basket – before having a gander at the market stalls and buying an ice cream to cool us down a little. From there, we scootered back towards Canggu, stopping at Pererenan Beach viewpoint on the way for a view of the black volcanic beaches all the way down the coast southwest coast.

At the Pererenan Beach viewpoint

When we got back to the hostel, we had a swim, munched some noodles for lunch, then scootered down to the beach for some surfing. This time, I actually partook! You can rent boards for all abilities and rash vests down at the car park by Old Man’s – the boards are 50,000Rp for 2 hours and parking is 2,000Rp. There are also a load of places along the beach that offer surf lessons so if you’re after one, maybe ask your hostel for a recommendation or shop around a bit. They start at 300,000Rp.

I was quite nervous, with the sea not exactly being my happy place and not being very good at sports that require balancing sideways on moving objects. I decided to just see how I got on rather than getting a lesson this time, thinking I might follow up with a lesson in Lombok. Will gave me a crash course on what to do and we splashed into the sea to get started. Before I’d even got in the board to start paddling, I’d been floored by a wave. Good start. We managed to get out, and I was a slightly stronger paddler than I’d anticipated which was at least good news! We spent the next hour or two trying to catch some waves – Will was shredding them right up and I was doing a lot of face planting, but I did manage to stand up a few times which wasn’t too bad for a first attempt! It really is knackering, very good exercise – I could easily see how it keeps you fit!

At the end of my first surf session. Not my strongest sport…

When I had no steam left for paddling I drifted in and watched the others’ more successful attempts at surfing for a little bit. When they came in, we returned our boards and rash vests and scootered back to the hostel to shower and pack. We had a great burger from Pit Stop for dinner and walked back round the corner to Pretty Poison for beers and skate spectating. We managed to refrain from having too much of a big night as we had an early start the next day…

Bintangs at Pretty Poison

I could easily have spent more time in Canggu. We were keen to avoid super touristy Kuta and Legian from reviews from other travellers, and we found a perfect mix of chill, beach, food and party in Canggu. We’re moving at quite a pace due to visa restrictions and wanting to see a lot of Indonesia, but I’ll definitely be returning to Canggu on my next visit to Bali!

Until next time,

Number of strangers I’ve spoken to today: 13, including a German guy who gets seasick just from surfing.
Interaction was: sympathy-inducing, when you’re a) in an archipelago, which b) has ferry journeys that leave a lot to be desired…

One Woman and her Backpack x

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