Pantai Pandawa and a seafood lunch

Today was another moving day, going from Seminyak to stay with Ilona and her friends at Canggu. But, before we relocated we were heading to Pantai Pandawa to enjoy the beach followed by a fresh seafood lunch.

During our drive to Tanah Lot the night before, the driver asked the usual questions of “How long are you here?”, “When do you leave?”, “Where else are you planning to go?”  We were really happy with the price for that trip, so figured we might as well tell him about or plans to go to Pantai Pandawa and see what he could do. We had agreed on a price and pick up time and we were pretty happy with ourselves.

Walking along the lane way after breakfast

So, that morning we woke a little earlier and packed our bags ready to leave. We went for a quick breakfast on the main road, then came back just in time for our ride. On a side note, the photo above is the lane way that ran from our villa up to the main road. There are shards of glass set in the concrete, presumably to stop people jumping over the wall. Also, you can see plastic bags hanging from rope above the rice. This was an intricate network of interconnected ropes hanging from poles which ran to a small hut where a man was sitting watching over the rice. He could pull on the rope and all the plastic bags would start jumping around to scare away birds – so clever!

Anyway, back at the villa we were surprised to find a different driver to the guy who took us to Tanah Lot the night before. We asked where the other driver was and he told us he was busy. Not too concerned, we hopped in the car and set off.  It’s just under an hour drive from Seminyak to Pantai Pandawa, and along the way the driver asked what sort of activities we wanted to do at the beach, such as water skiing or snorkelling. We said we just wanted to sit by the beach and swim. He suggested another beach, but we insisted on Pantai Pandawa because we had read about it as somewhere that locals go which is less touristy. The photos we had seen also looked very clean, and the road there runs through an impressive cut in the hill in order to access the beach.  He seemed a bit disgruntled (I suspect he was hoping to get a commission from these other activities), but took us there anyway. The night before we told the driver very clearly we wanted to go to Pantai Pandawa, but maybe there had been a miscommunication when the replacement driver took the job.

A massive statue set into the cliff overlooking the beach

When we arrived at Pantai Pandawa we weren’t disappointed.  Just as we had read, the road ran through a narrow gap between two white cliffs, then suddenly opened up to views over the ocean. The road snaked down the hill towards the beach, and on one side of the road alcoves had been carved into the cliff and several massive statues looked out over the ocean.

Down by the water there was a large car park and a few market stalls, with a paved path following the sand and lined by small cafes and restaurants. Each of these cafes had a set of banana lounges on the sand. We walked the length of the beach, not wanting to stop at the first place we saw and potentially miss out on a better spot. As we walked along we checked out the different cafes, prepared to choose a place to stop based on the food and drinks on offer.

Beanbags on the beach

At the end of the path there were some beanbags on the beach, but we decided to go back a bit where there were a few more people and choices for snacks.  We found a banana lounge and dropped off our things, then went in the water to cool off.  The water was lovely, but the sand was a bit rough with lots of small shells and some prickly stones.  Still, it was nice to splash around in the waves.  We spent the next couple of hours going between the water and our banana lounges, sipping on coconuts and beer and snacking on chips. It was great! Compared with the beach at Seminyak, the sand here was much cleaner and there were hardly any people selling souvenirs and other wares on the beach. It was much more peaceful and relaxing and we were glad we had made the trip out here.

Rinsing off under the cow shower

Since we were meeting Ilona and the others at Canggu later in the afternoon, we decided we should make a move and find our seafood lunch. Back at the car park we found our driver, and headed north back towards Seminyak, stopping at Jimbaran Bay for seafood.  We had read good things about the different seafood places at Jimbaran Bay, and had also seen some reviews cautioning against the more expensive places, encouraging us to shop around when picking a restaurant. With that in mind, we were surprised when we pulled up in front a restaurant that didn’t seem to have any neighbours and also was set back a little from the beach. Having paid for parking, the driver started to lead us towards the restaurant. We looked at the menu and were surprised by how expensive it was, so turned to see if there was anywhere else to eat.

He asked us where we were going, and we explained we wanted to look around. He started to get quite frustrated and told us we had to eat there. We said it was too expensive and we wanted to go somewhere else. at which point the parking inspector came over and started to get cross with the driver for using the restaurant car park when we weren’t eating there. We checked the reviews we read, and gave him the name of a restaurant we wanted to visit, only to be told it was closed. According to Google maps and some other reviews, it seemed like this restaurant and the others in that area should be open. There was a tense and anxious few minutes while we decided how hard to push.

Deciding he was being dishonest, we insisted that he take us to the other restaurant. He then said it was too far to go and we had already used up our allocated time. Now understanding what the problem was, we said we’d pay him for more time, agreed on a rate for an extra hour and then he drove us to the restaurant. When we arrived we weren’t at all that surprised to find there were seven or eight places to choose from, and they were all open.  We browsed the menus and settled on Made Bagus Cafe, which had a good lunch special and tables right on the sand. We were much happier here, and settled down to debrief on our unpleasant experience with the driver.

Fresh seafood on the beach at Jimbaran Bay

Before long, our disappointment with the driver was forgotten as a seafood banquet, consisting of fish, squid, clams, prawns, crab and lobster, was brought to our table. And all for the price of about $60! Most people know I’m not a huge fan of seafood, but this was so fresh and the sauces were so yummy that I quite enjoyed it! Sitting on the sand watching the waves certainly helped as well. Having cleared our plates, we were very full and made our way back to the car for a particularly long drive to Canggu.

We arrived there at 4pm, and had one final disagreement with the driver who was demanding more money since it took longer in the heavy traffic. Keen to be rid of him, we paid a bit extra using our original rate and factoring in the additional time, then told him we had no more money before walking away. Fortunately he just drove off after that, and left us to find the villa. Our learning from this was to not make plans with drivers directly, but instead go through the tourist counter, no matter how unofficial they look. Going through a tourist counter would mean the driver wouldn’t be confused by where we wanted to go and by paying them in advance there would be no further negotiation on price.

Glad to be rid of him, we check Google maps to find the villa. The address we had was a bit confusing and we had trouble finding the place. A friendly local walked passed and offered to help, but unfortunately his directions were wrong and we ended up one block to far. Able to see the villa, but not able to cross through the rice paddy which was in our way, we retraced our steps then turned down the correct street.

Hot from all the walking, we arrived at the villa to find no-one was home. There were a couple of villas in the block, and unsure if we had the right one Ron stuck his head inside the villa next door. It turned out there were people there, but not our friends.  After sending some messages and trying to call, we left our bags by the door and went back up the street to find a cold drink. There was a nice cafe just at the end of the street with a view of the road so we could keep an eye out for Ilona. We ordered iced coffees and just as they arrived Ilona walked past! She had come across some wifi and saw our messages, so came to let us in. We grabbed the key from her, then finished our coffees before checking in to the villa.

Our villa in Canggu

The villa here was really cool. With exposed brick walls and concrete floors, it was nicely furnished and had a hippy beach vibe. There were a couple of bedrooms downstairs set around the private pool, a massive living area and kitchen, and another bedroom and large balcony upstairs. After unpacking our bags, we gathered by the pool with a bottle of wine and some snacks waiting for the others to arrive from Jakarta. It was really nice to hang out with Ilona and Sarah and catch up with them before heading in to Seminyak for dinner.

For dinner we went a really nice Indonesian restaurant called Merah Putih.  We met Negah and Tek there (very exciting to see them!) and had a lovely dinner with cocktails and delicious Indonesian food. It was set in a beautiful enclosed garden with tall palm trees under an unusual white ceiling. It had a very modern feel compared to the cheaper, local places we had been to previously, and we had a really good night.  The fine food and friendly company was a great way to end the day.

Dinner at Merah Putih

Posted from Bali, Indonesia.

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