Singaraja, Bali - A Relaxing Slice of Paradise
Singaraja is the old colonial capital of Bali. It is the capital city of the regency of Buleleng. It is quite simply - cool. Figuratively and literally. I always think of it as much cooler physically than other areas of Bali although I have absolutely no scientific data to back up that assertion. My house is definitely cooler when the wind is blowing in off the ocean but who says we can't be relative. This is the postmodern era, correct?
Singaraja is a fairly good-sized city (which is a good way of saying that I'm not sure what the population actually is, although some friends that recently visited told me that according to a guide book it was 50,000 which is probably not counting my most recent child) with wide streets and a lot of friendly folks. They have been repairing things in Singaraja over the past few years and it definitely has a clean, open feel to it. The main shopping area is on Jalan Diponegoro and Jalan A. Yani. There is not much here in the way of tourist goods (masks, paintings, jewelry) but you can buy supplies for your stay in the north here - juice, boxed milk, diapers, toilet paper, cigarettes and beer much cheaper than if you buy them in the tourist area to the west. Singaraja has a good doctor for expats who charges rather high prices but if you're really sick and you want someone to speak English to then Dr. Gina is your woman. Friendly, good old-fashioned care.
What is it that is unique about this place, or what is it that draws me to it? Maybe it's because Singaraja isn't really all that unique - just another friendly town in Indonesia where you can bop around, find some things that you need, meet some fine folks and live your life the way that you want without interference from people that are convinced that they know how you should live your life. The new government has given folks some hope and we all expect them to continue on with repairing the economy and staying out of people's daily activities.
The Singaraja area is the home of Lovina Beach, of the well known, but as the new tourist literature proclaims, hidden treasures of Bali. In spite of the fact that my friend has this promotional material sitting in his restaurant, I happen to agree with it. That doesn't mean to come crowding up here. We wouldn't want Robert Redford to bring the Sundance here or to have Californians start building summer homes, but it is nice...
Lovina Beach is actually a collection of villages that are lumped together under the general name of Lovina which actually is a village. Other villages in the Lovina area include Kalibukbuk, Anturan, and Tukadmungga. The farther you get from Lovina on the Singaraja side, the quieter things get. While Lovina is laid back compared to Kuta, Kalibukbuk, Anturan and Tukadmungga are positively restful. Of course, it can be a bit too quiet for some staying out in Anturan or Tukadmungga so they can just take a short bemo ride or a three K walk up to Lovina to sample some of the night life.
While I have been going on about Lovina, I actually spend most of my time away from home over at Anturan or Tukadmungga. A number of homestays and small hotels have cropped up in the past few years in this area. The old popular hotel after years of being abandoned is now open under new management - it's called Villa Agung. Homestay Sri is still there after a number of years. Homestay Sri is also under new management. This Sri is also being run by foreigners. This is the big thing now in the area. The Westerners have moved in and either bought, built or leased hotels on the beach. There's getting to be less and less Balinese businesses these days.
So if you want to actually relax on your vacation to Bali, you should try visiting northern Bali. Plan on spending a week or so to get to know the place. You won’t be disappointed.
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