Jam karet- rubber time – otherwise known as ‘Bali time’ can be a blessing or a bother- depending on how much of a hurry you are in! The Balinese do not terburu-buru (hurry); they merely observe your unusual expectations and carry on with their business regardless. Once you accept this instead of trying to argue with it, the submission is surprisingly calming.
Many tourists and travellers come to Bali to embrace this unhurried lifestyle- if only for a while- and recharge to resume their lives back in their homes.
They are seeking balance in their busy lives.
The Balinese exist within a flux of opposites; their life is devoted to maintaining a balance between opposing forces and maintaining equilibrium. This way of thinking is not just tradition and ritual- it’s a way of life.
Respected author Fred B Eisman, in his collection of essays on Balinese religion, ritual and art gives insight and explanations which I could never hope to comprehend on my own. As a ‘curious traveller’ and a recent resident, most of what I learn is from observations of everyday life, and by listening to the stories of those who call Sanur their home. But not all that is sought to be understood can be seen with our eyes.
Sekala means tangible, able to be perceived by the senses; the more mysterious niskala is the opposite- that which is intangible. Many of the concepts of niskala are hidden from me, or I am not able to see them. I am not yet attuned to observing what I cannot see or understand.
The way I like to begin to feel a part of my new home is to just jalan jalan- go for a walk, and makan angin, literally ‘eat the wind’ (careful when trying to say this in Indonesian, as the words for ‘wind’ and ‘dog’ are very similar and caused much laughter in my first days here trying to communicate!)
Where to go for a jalan-jalan in our home of Sanur? Perhaps where you feel you may get to know another part of town. The origins of the naming of Sanur are difficult to verify; some tourist websites claim that Sanur originates from two words, ‘Saha’ and ‘Nuhur’ which means a passion to visit a certain place; my venerable and infinitely patient Indonesian language tutor is not sure what ‘saha’ means, but can verify that ‘nuhur’ is to go somewhere for a specific purpose, mostly for religious reasons.
Perhaps don’t think about a purpose or a passion- just walk out of your gate and just start wandering- Sanur is a feast for the senses on any given day- the sounds of the bakso carts, the wafts of smoke from little spot fires, sidestepping around slumbering dogs and being drenched in tropical sunshine (or in wet season, a tropical downpour- don’t forget your umbrella!) is what I can expect on my little gang.
If I have a little more time, I like to wander down streets which are busy with the everyday lives of people who have called Sanur their home for a long time.
Jalan Danau Poso- named after Lake Poso in Central Sulawesi which drains into the Poso river and flows into the Malacca Sea- is one of these interesting streets. It stretches for a couple of tree and bougainvillea lined kilometres from the bypass down to the monument which forms a sort of roundabout at the end of Jalan Danau Tamblingan and Jalan Cemara, and becomes Jalan Kusuma Sari until you reach the ocean. It is not my intention to describe a walk down Jalan Danau Poso as one of Sanur’s major tourist attractions- even though there is plenty to see and do- it is just a pleasant thing to do to get to know this beautiful seaside town a little better. You can spend an afternoon strolling to street and getting to know another part of town, away from the busier tourist thoroughfares.
The small businesses are little universes unto themselves; quiet, unassuming, industrious activity and plenty of socialising abound- everyone has time for a chat here.
Slow down and mix with the people who work at one of the many family owned businesses which hug the narrow footpaths; choose between foot massages and facials, ear candling, a few bars and Bintangs, pick up some groceries or have a quick nasi campur or masakan padang. Or partake in all of them!
If you start on the bypass end, I love to browse in Kevala Ceramics store- most of the gifts I send to my family and friends are from here- as the pieces invoke a sense of place and can tell a story of their own. In particular, Fliss Dodd’s ‘Dari Mana’ collection tells the stories of the saput poleng - saput meaning ‘blanket’ and poleng ‘in two tones’. This is the black and white checked cloth which can be seen on any wandering through the streets, wrapped around trees and monuments and sometimes used as ceremonial sarongs. In the cloth are an equal number of the alternating black and white squares of darkness and light, good and bad. Some also include some grey or red squares. The grey squares are said to represent what lies between good and evil; the red squares represent energy and passion.
Many of the little warungs sell one of my many favourite Balinese treats, Es Cendol. It looks like a milkshake with green worms in it- but don’t let that put you off! Cendol itself is actually the name of one of the ingredients which consists of a combination of rice flour and sago flour to create the ‘worms’. They use Suji leaves and sometimes Pandan leaves to create the green colour. Even though you will mostly see it in green, I am told it is also possible to find it in pink or in its original transparent state. Watching the seller serve the drink is also a treat if they are feeling theatrical- they pour a fluid of palm sugar into the glass with flourish, then a scoop of Cendol worms and then the coconut milk with ice cubes. Enak sekali- delicious!
Further down as you head closer to the beach is Pura Blanjong (Blanjong Temple). It is a little hidden but can be found down a narrow alleyway and contains the Prasati Blanjong, a stone pillar which is widely believed to be Bali’s oldest known artefact. The inscriptions tell of a Javanese king who visited Bali in the 10th century and oversaw the beginnings of the island’s first organised government.
The fabulously quirky Strange but Cool store and Museum of Vintage Handbags is a fun experience, too. If you are lucky the owner may be in town and able to tell you a few tales about the beautiful and extensive collection of handbags. The shop is all about conscious change- how to use recycled materials and turn them into useable art!
When it’s time for a restorative drinks break, the Rumah Sanur Creative Hub Co-working space is one of the many places which can happily help you out with a coffee or something stronger. Co working spaces in my time were called ‘libraries’ but as there are no public libraries in Bali, and most of what we all need is online, a reliable wifi connection and a decent coffee machine maketh a convivial working and relaxing space.
Take your time and have a jalan -jalan down Jalan Danau Poso- you never know what you might find!
Written By Jane Stevenson