CITY GUIDES

WHY I CAME BACK TO BALI (AND WHERE TO EAT + PLAY CANGGU)

September 7, 2017

Canggu and I have a little love affair happening, and I just can’t quit it.

After I left my nearly-a-month-stay in Canggu this April, I’ve been running it over and over in my mind like an obsessed schoolgirl. It is the life-altering place I was living when I got the most devastating phone call of my life from my family to tell me of my father’s passing, the magical place I met a traditional Balinese healer that changed my life and my views on death and changed the trajectory of my mourning and healing, the romantic place where I opened my heart again to someone for the first time in nearly a year of shut-down-heart-hibernation and spent one of the most memorable googly-eyed/sunset-kissing-waves-crashing-around-us/soul-baring/freeing-light-headed 24-hours of my life, the connected place where I played and cried and healed and changed and explored and bonded with two of my oldest and dearest friends and a new lifelong one, the wildly delicious place that nourished my body and soul and changed the way I cook forever and ever, and the epiphany place that showed me a new way of living and gave me the final push off the leap-of-faith cliff I had been teetering on.

CANGGU, BALI

SEPTEMBER 2017

MY FAVORITE SPOTS IN CANGGU (AND SOME TIPS)

I have a really big thing for closure. I don’t know how to close a chapter in anything until I feel like it is truly over, until I understand its meaning in my life and until I say a real-deal proper goodbye that makes all the sense in the world to me (the people in my life can attest to this, it sometimes takes me far too long to let go of things that are no longer serving me). Sometimes it is a strength of mine and allows me clarity and confidence of making the right call, sometimes it ends up destroying me by staying in something far too long because life doesn’t always give you the endings or the answers you need (again, exes, you know what I’m talking about). Either way, leaving to leave Bali abruptly and early last time left me feeling like I had unfinished business, I felt like my exploration here wasn’t finished and that there were experiences left unexplored and proper farewell. So it seemed only perfectly logical to have it be the start of my new life as a nomad, and this time I’d have a proper full month here.

 

So here I sit, 3 days into my return journey. And f&*!CK it has been miserable as anything. I’ve waited 3 days to type this because I have been so sick I couldn’t even open my computer. On the flight from my layover from Guangzhou, China I started to get that uh-oh I’m screwed feeling that a plague was about to fall upon me. By the time I got to my Airbnb at 3am, I couldn’t breathe and my throat was on fire. I went to turn on the air-conditioning (TIP: A/C is an absolute NECESSITY in Bali- it is hot and humid as Hades here and you’ll spend your time at home collecting your sweat in buckets without it) and it just spurted out hot air. I couldn’t see straight so I just passed out in a pool of sweat. I woke up in the morning in a puddle and go to shower, only to find that there was only ice-cold water that came out in a trickle from the shower head. The faucet in the bathroom sink came out of the sink every time I turned it on and off. The wi-fi worked for approximately 1 minute at a time every 10 minutes. As I sat with soap still on me from the defunct shower and in tears with a throat filled with daggers, unable to speak or breathe from all that awesome sinus crap, head throbbing (oh, did I forget to mention I cracked my skull open the week before I left and had to get almost 20 stitches in my forehead?!?!), I cursed myself for needing closure and returning to a place where shit like this happens on the regular.

 

I had planned SO WELL DAMNIT! I booked my Airbnb 3 months out, it was chic with a great location, a private home with my own kitchen so I could work and shoot cooking videos while in Bali, and an amazing price. The best laid plans, right? After a head-banging-against-the-wall conversation and repair-guy that couldn’t repair anything and a trip to urgent care to get some antibiotics for strep throat (hilarious, I came to Bali having just recovered from strep last time. Very funny, Universe), I walked two doors down and literally collapsed into a hotel that miraculously had a vacant, cheap, and beautifully air-conditioned, hot-watered, wi-fied room. During that time my Airbnb host told me to find a new place (still working on a refund, pray for me) and I spent hours trying to find one, only to find that there are no longer any decent listings since it is so last minute- I will no longer get a private home and will no longer have a kitchen to work in and I will no longer have the peace I so desperately need unless I pay 4x what I had originally paid. So in desperation, I booked the month in a guesthouse that advertised in words and photographs that I would have my own private residence (on Airbnb “Entire Home”) yet I am currently sitting there in my bed with two 4-bed dorm rooms filled with loud AF men on either side of me that keep peering into my limited curtained glass door room trying to come in and chat while I hack up a lung and try to sleep. AMAZING. After again being reduced to a sick exhausted puddle of tears not finding a single thing on Airbnb, I walked across the street to another villa, and while incredibly similar, it at least has no dorm-rooms and is a fraction quieter so I booked there for a tomorrow check-in.

 

Send all the good juju: if I have to move again I will lose my mind.

 

The good news is, I have nothing to do but sit here behind a locked door and tell you all the awesome places to eat, drink and play in Canggu (and now some tips on where to go if you get sick!)- all of which I will be hopping back on the horse and experiencing after I shake this bug and finally find a place to call my temporary home. It will also help me remember why the hell I came back, it truly is a magical place without my cursed luck!


Bali is a tropical, humid, hot, wet climate, in other words: you will sweat. a lot. Wear light, breathable, natural fabrics to help keep you cool. It has a super casual surf-town beachy vibe, so you don’t need anything fancy. You’ll see people mostly naked in tiny shorts and tanks, light cover-ups over bikinis, crochet halters and sarongs, or sundresses. The temperature and humidity rarely drops, so other than MAYBE a light long sleeve to layer you don’t need anything to keep you warm. Also keep in mind you can take a giant week’s worth load of laundry to many corner shops and get it all done for under $10, you you can pack light!

BUG SPRAY // SUNSCREEN // HAT // FLIP FLOPS // SWIMSUITS // COVERUPS // SHORTS // TANKS + TEES // CASUAL DRESSES // WORKOUT CLOTHES // BEACH TOWEL // TOILETRIES (good products are expensive and hard if not impossible to buy) // SEXY UNDERWEAR FOR ROMANTIC NIGHTS

Ok here we go people, what you came for. The food here is just out of control.

Every other building in Canggu is a hip straight-out-of-Venice Beach or Williamsburg beautifully-designed spot with incredible, fresh, creative dishes served in beautiful, carefully chosen vessels on perfectly Instagrammable tables. While you still feel like you’re in Southeast Asia with the rice paddies and zipping scooters and Indonesian tongue, you can find every single cuisine you’re looking for. Authentic Italian pizza? Gotcha covered. Memphis BBQ? Yup. Hipster Vegan Smoothie Bowls? EVERYWHERE. And since Bali is pretty much Australia’s go-to vacation spot, there’s a huge Aussie influence here in design and food so everything feels incredibly coooooool (just like those perfectly sunkissed beautiful surfers from down under.) It’s hard to go wrong, and you’ll probably never have a terrible meal (though I’ve had a few “meh” ones), but you should definitely hit these up first:

ULEKAN
Lunch or Dinner: Special Rijsttafel + Sambal Trio + Lemongrass, Ginger, Pandan Iced Tea

SHADY SHACK
Breakfast/Lunch: Epic smoothie bowl + Coffee
Dinner: Halloumi Burger

THE SLOW
Lunch/Dinner: COS Hearts Salad + Garden Greens Salad + Little Potatoes + Charred Corn + Chickpea Fritters + Jamu Tonic

GREEN GINGER NOODLE HO– USE
Lunch/Dinner: Laksa

BOOTSTRAP COLDBREW
Coffee: Coldbrew with Coconut + Nitro Coldbrew

MILK AND MADU
Breakfast/Lunch: Smashed Peas Toast + Kombucha
Sunday Dinner: Sunday Sessions all you can eat pizza + a free beer or wine + live music

PELOTON SUPERSHOP
Lunch or Dinner: Ms. Jackson Tacos + Jamu Shot

WARUNG HEBOH
Lunch: A plate from the self serve bar for under a few dollars + Watermelon Juice

WARUNG GOUTHE
Breakfast: Chocolate French Toast + Kombucha

Now, in the rare moments you’re not eating there’s other fun stuff to do too (and some not so fun stuff like visit the doctor). Here’s some musts and tips and tricks!

AIRBNB
Canggu has two sides, separated by a large rice paddy and accessed by the Echo Beach shortcut. The westside of the shortcut has Deus, The Slow, Old Man’s, and is a little better for nightlife, the eastside (Berawa neighborhood) has everything else I’ve listed and is more chill and hipster- and is definitely my favorite side. Book an Airbnb by searching Canggu, locate the shortcut on the map, and go from there.

FINN’S BEACH CLUB
Spend the day here lounging in an infinity pool and drinking ice cold young coconuts and cold beer with your own private lounge chair overlooking the Indian Ocean. Tip: “Rent” a chair or a group lounge spot for a fee, but it’s really just a credit you have to spend on food or drinks- incredibly easy to do in one day. The food and drinks are definitely high priced for Bali, but it’s worth it to splurge one day for the experience.

 

LA LAGUNA
This place is Swiss Family Robinson meets magical bohemian paradise (it is my happy place and the most romantic spot you can go in all of Canggu). Lounge in the grassy meadow or in little pockets of heaven throughout this sprawling spot, visit the Tarot reader, stroll across the wooden bridge to the ocean, dance to the DJ, and watch the sunset in awe. The food is not great and expensive, and the drinks are pricy, but damn is it worth it- I promise you’ll fall in love.

 

OLD MAN’S
This huge beer bar close to the beach is an indoor/outdoor dive-y cool spot to drink, dance, and meet a shit ton of young people out having a blast. A great place for a casual drunken night out.

TATTOOS: SEVEN AND NINE TATTOO HO– USE
This guy is everything if you want a tattoo to remember your Bali adventures. He did two for me last time- one coverup and one new and I couldn’t be happier (and I’m fucking picky) – I’ll be going back for more.

 

WORKOUTS: THE CANGGU STUDIO
A beautiful space with a killer lineup of classes from Pilates for Surfers to Muay Thai to Power Yoga, this spot will keep dat booty tight for your days at the beach and make up for allll the food you’re eating. My favorite:Any class taught by Stella

 

DOCTOR: PRIME PLUS MEDICAL
Open 24-hours, I was in and out in less than 20 minutes with my antibiotics and decongestants in hand for under $50. They were incredibly kind, thorough, and efficient. They also do IV drips by appointment.

PHARMACY: KIMIA FARMA
The one next to Popular Supermarket. Over the counter stuff, and stuff that’s RX only at home without a prescription for way cheap, with a friendly staff.

 

GROCERIES: POPULAR + CANGGU STATION
For those of you from the US, Popular is like your Ralph’s/Safeway/Kroger and Canggu Station is like your Gelsons/Whole Foods – even though neither is even close to those lol. Both have a good selection of staples, produce, and alcohol. Popular has more staples, Canggu Station has an awesome wine cellar and bakery.

 

RIDES + FOOD DELIVERY: GOJEK
Download the app. It’s Bali’s answer to Uber and Postmates on crack (you CAN uber here BTW, but they are slow and inconsistent). You can Go-jek a ride on a scooter or in a car, and order food, groceries, alcohol, and pharmacy stuff to your doorstep. You need to pay cash to your driver though, and the driver pays out of pocket for any items so if you have a big order they may cancel on you if they don’t have enough cash! Keep an eye on your delivery or ride to make sure it’s coming.

Ok. That took every ounce of sick lady energy I have in my body, I am officially crashing. I will repeat over and over again: I am grateful to be here and things can only go up from here. Let’s hope for a brighter tomorrow!!!

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