Sanur, Bali – Our first week

We arrived in Bali very excited and looking forward to our next adventure…

As we arrived at the airport nothing could prepare us for the bombardment of taxi drivers following us around the airport waving blue badges at us, not taking no for an answer when we said that we weren’t interested. It was like being followed by the paparazzi, only instead of being followed for being glamorous celebrities we were followed because we looked like very pasty, gullible tourists!

We had initially booked a taxi from Grab app (similar to Uber) but then losing signal, we lost the booking and had to, after heading out of the airport, head back through the madness and haggle a good price with a taxi driver, which we stood our ground and did with some difficulty. After a somewhat sketchy taxi ride driving through the crazy streets of Bali, during which the driver tried to get our contact details and sell us everything under the sun, we eventually arrived at our hotel – Asana Puri Maharani and were greeted with a welcome drink and friendly staff who made us feel instantly at ease. Luckily this was our only bad experience in Sanur.

Day 1

After being impressed with our room, we awoke the next morning ready for breakfast excited to see the hotel grounds, which did not disappoint!

Afer speaking to a staff member at the hotel, we learnt about the ‘Canang Sari’ – a daily Balinese Hindu blessing to give thanks and praise to God. They are created by hand and put out in temples, and on the floor entrances or shrines of guest houses, hotels, shops, houses etc. They are also placed around the interior of these places, with some having up to twenty. Walking around Bali you see them everywhere!

After breakfast we decided to have a wander around our local area, which involved crossing an extremely busy bypass with no marked crossings.

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We managed to cross safely after some hesitation and patience and ended up at Kertalangu Cultural Park. There we stumbled across The World Peace Gong, which was very interesting and cost only IDR10,000 (Indonesian Rupiah) / 50p each to enter, this was made even better considering we were the only people there.

That evening we headed back over the bypass and enjoyed lots of rice after a misunderstanding, some good coffee and acoustic music at Kopi Panas (coffee paradise).

Day 2

We decided to have a relaxed day by the pool and make the most of having the entire hotel pretty much to ourselves. 

We then caught the free shuttle service provided by our hotel to the nearest beach town, Sanur. It felt more touristy than our hotel area but it was great to be surrounded by so many restaurants, bars, shops, coffee houses, and of course the sand and sea!

We enjoyed a walk along the beachfront followed by food at Bennos and drinks on the beach at Wantilan. We even heard a Balinese live acoustic rendition of our song ‘Yellow – Coldplay’, which we enjoyed singing along to.

Day 3

Another relaxed hotel/pool day, where we were planning to book our boat ride to Nusa Penida Island and excursions. Upon looking into this, to our surprise, being on the island made transportation more complicated. All tour operators we looked at included pick up from the mainland in package price and did not offer any discount for being closer and some even expected us to make our own way to the tour starting point. Luckily, we could still cancel our accommodation in Nusa Penida with no charge and instead quickly decided to extend our stay in Sanur, opting for accommodation nearer to the beach and town.

After booking our new accommodation and tours, we then got dressed up and headed out for an evening in Sanur at Sand Beach Bar and Restaurant. We sat on the beach and enjoyed some gorgeous fresh fish and drinks.

Day 4

Our last day at Asana Puri Maharani – we caught the 9am shuttle bus into Sanur Beach, which felt early being up and about compared to what we’d been use to! It was another gorgeous day, 31 degrees and sunny with a cooling sea breeze. As part of our hotel stay we got to use the private beach area and loungers at their sister hotel right on the seafront, which was great! We spent the entire day soaking up the sun and dipping in the ocean.

Day 5

We checked into our new hotel in the centre of Sanur, Jukung Guest House. It was down a narrow, single track, bumpy road, the taxi driver struggled to navigate. It was a lovely, small guest house complete with its own pool in the courtyard.

Then excitedly we headed out to The Turtle Conservation and Education Centre, making a quick pit stop at Coconut Tree for lunch, which was amazing!

The Turtle Centre is a small establishment set up in the early 2000s to educate people all around Bali and the locals of ‘turtle island’ about the importance of protecting the species. The culture there for many years has been to use the turtles shells for decorations and to eat turtles and their eggs. Many local people would steal the eggs from the beach before they hatched and sell them to businesses. The centre tries to educate and convince them to sell them to them for less money but with the hope that there will be a brighter future in protecting the species for longer. The centre also rescues and rehabilitates injured turtles and hatches eggs from the beach that are then cared for until released about a month later. We loved wandering around, talking to the knowledgeable and friendly workers and looking at a variety of sea turtles – Hawksbill, Olive Ridley and Green. We donated IDR300,000 / £15 and adopted two sea turtles – Atlas and Splash, which were going to be released into the sea the next day. 

Later that evening we found the night market, which was a little smaller than we were expecting, but still filled with many food carts offering traditional and great smelling dishes. It seemed to be a hot spot for locals and tourists and by 7pm when we arrived it was very busy! We got two plates of what we think was called Nasi Campur for IDR60,000 / £3.00 and a bag of small snacks for IDR6,000 / about 30p – they tasted great!

Day 6

Our first proper morning at Jukung Guest House and as part of the stay we were served breakfast to our room to enjoy in our private outside area, which was tasty! 

Lauren then excitedly headed out to a local spa for a Balinese massage. The spa, Leha Leha was incredible! The spa was filled with water features and upon arrival you were given a relaxing foot bath and drink. Then the massage, in a beautiful bamboo private room, which was heavenly! Afterwards you could have a ginger tea in their seating area before being taken back to your hotel; the package included private pick up and drop off to hotel… The best IDR160,000 / £8 Lauren has ever spent!

We then headed to the beach for some reading and headed to the night market again, as we enjoyed it so much the day before.

Day 7

We awoke early, very excited to head out to a snorkelling tour around Nusa Penida: a small island off the coast of Bali (where we were originally going to stay).

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We were taken to Sanur harbour and had to walk from the edge of the beach into the sea to get onto our boat. The journey was about 45 minutes and the sights were beautiful!  

When we arrived at Nusa Penida we got kitted up and then headed out onto the boat to explore the island. We quickly arrived at Manta Point (known of course for manta rays) and jumped off to find some. Luckily we saw a few and managed to get quite close to them! They way they glided through the water was really majestic.  

Then we headed to Crystal Bay to swim amongst beautiful coral and fishes.

Next was Gamat Bay, where we were given bread to feed to the fishes and we saw sea turtles!

It was a wonderful experience, seeing so many corals and different creatures and we would really recommend Discover Nusa Penida. We also both had our first experience riding on the back of a scooter back to the boat, which was fun!

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Final thoughts

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Sanur and were really happy that we decided to spend more time there than initially planned. Sanur has a good mix of busy tourist vibes and the quiet, relaxed beach side. The sea wasn’t the best to swim in as it was quite shallow and rocky but the beach area was lovely. One thing we loved was walking around the town and along the beachfront hearing so much live acoustic music, which was great to enjoy with a meal and/or drinks.

Daniel’s favourite thing about Sanur – the accommodation: we stayed in two quite different styles of homes for around £20 a night, both with great rooms, tasty breakfasts, and attentive and friendly staff who couldn’t do enough for us

Lauren’s favourite thing about Sanur – the Balinese massage at Leha Leha spa

So that’s it for Sanur and onto Seminyak…

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Singapore

We spent three days in Singapore and it surpassed all of our expectations; we absolutely loved it! It was a really interesting and beautiful city with so much culture. It was gorgeous in the day and came alive at night time.

Day 1

We arrived after a 13 hour flight, jet lagged and very tired after getting very little sleep on the flight. We caught our taxi to the hotel, which was around 7am (12am BST). Unable to check in until after 3pm we quickly packed a bag for the day and headed out. This meant that we made our first error travelling – forgetting to apply sun cream for a day out in 30 degree sun. Somehow we didn’t burn!

We walked into the centre without really knowing where we were going, to discover that we really didn’t! With no internet to use Google Maps we managed to arrive after nearly two hours of walking and a pit stop for a drink at ‘anywhere with air con’ – it was so hot!

Once in the city we were instantly impressed with the amazing buildings and beautiful plants and flowers everywhere. We wandered near China Town absolutely starving and taking advice we had read, found ‘somewhere where the locals eat’. A small cafe busy with workers from the local area. It was delicious and very much needed!

We continued to walk around the centre of Singapore taking in all of the sights and then headed back to our hotel to finally check in and…sleep!!

Day 2

We woke up feeling well rested and refreshed and ready for a full day of exploring! We decided after our long walk yesterday that we would get the SMRT (Singapore Mass Rapid Transit) in to the centre: especially being the #1 rated thing to do in Singapore on Tripsdvisor…not quite sure why!

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Let’s just say it was a five star experience compared to the London Underground. We did break one of their rules and eat on the train, which apparently could have cost us a $500 fine…luckily we didn’t get caught!

We headed straight for Gardens by the bay, walking through the marina area, which was stunning, including the designer shopping centre.

We arrived at the gardens and walked around the beautiful spaces.

We then headed up to the OCBC Skyway at Supertree Grove, which we would highly recommend doing, the views were great and even though we didn’t have a very clear day it was still worthwhile and impressive to see across the city.

Then it was time for some food; we had read a lot about the Maxwell Road Hawker Centre. It was a huge undercover area with food stalls around the outside and tables and chairs in the middle. We were spoilt for choice but after reading lots about the ‘chicken rice’ street food and seeing that it had the biggest queue, Lauren tried that and it was completely underwhelming. Daniel made the better choice and choose a duck and pork noodles dish, which Lauren looked at longingly. Both meals with drinks cost S$11.50 / £6.40, which we felt was good value for money!

Feeling very full, we stumbled across China Town and went to see the lights and The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Then we headed back to Gardens by the bay for the evening shows. Whilst on our way across the marina we stopped to take in the incredible skyline.

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Gardens by the bay were celebrating a ‘Autumn of fantasies’ festival for the month of September and every night of the year they have two light shows called ‘Garden Rhapsody’. We caught the later one at 8:45pm. The show was breathtaking.

Day 3

Our final day was shorter as our flight was 5pm. We checked out of our hotel and headed to another hawkers food centre, as we enjoyed the other one so much. Old Airport Road Food Court was only a 15 minute walk from our hotel so we chose this one. Daniel ordered a very tasty vegetarian meal for only S$2.30 / £1.28! Being a bit too early for a big meal, Lauren went to the fruit stall nearby and brought some fruit for breakfast and a not so healthy bag of Singapore iced gems. Lauren did manage to have some more traditional food though, at the food market area of the airport before leaving Singapore.

Singapore airport is almost something to write about on its own. It was full of restaurants, comfortable seating, shops, TV areas, game areas, a gallery, gardens, even a sleeping area with beds, and the first time Lauren has ever used a toilet that lifted the seat when she walked in to the cubicle and was heated – little luxuries!

Final thoughts

We absolutely loved Singapore and even though we’d like to go back, we felt the time we had was enough to fit in what we wanted to. The only thing we didn’t do to was visit the famous Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling, as the hotel was closed for renovations during our visit.

Lauren’s favourite thing about Singapore – Gardens by the bay

Daniel’s favourite thing about Singapore – the Hawker Centres  

So that’s it for Singapore and on to Bali… 

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Deciding to travel

Our plans to travel have been bubbling over the past year or so. Travelling to America for our honeymoon last year became a big turning point in beginning to discuss and plan our trip.

We have always loved going away and exploring new places. We started to look into destinations, think about our savings and how long we could travel for. We set our mind on Australia, being a great place for weather, beaches, walking, wildlife and the ocean. It also made sense as we could apply for a working tourist visa for one year.

From our initial decision to go we started reading lots of blogs, travel books and listening to loads of podcasts which inspired us to take the leap into the idea of travelling and seeing more of the world. Our travel plans then expanded to include South East Asia – Singapore and Bali, with the likely option of returning there after our adventures in Australia.

We decided to sell our house and quit our jobs, giving us the freedom to travel for any length of time.

We are hoping our travel experience will be an incredible time that we will enjoy greatly and always look back on glad we decided to go for it!

Lauren and Daniel