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Canggu is arguably becoming one of Bali’s most progressive and culturally fascinating areas. Your mum will liken it to “how she remembers Legian in the 80s”, and you will hopefully never liken it to “the new Seminyak”. Having really only found its name on the tourism map over the past few years, Canggu is maturing rapidly and is undergoing a very visible revolution, as a graffitied wall along “the shortcut” suggests. As construction continues and creatives gather to cultivate, there is a fascinating undercurrent of cool becoming increasingly prevalent as Canggu comes into its adolescence. canggu1

In a place where poking fun at one’s self and not taking life too seriously is all encompassed by the chilled hipster-vibe, local settlers, with the help of Canggu Chronicles, muse on what makes the Canggu society unique to its Ubud, Uluwatu or Sanur-based cousins.

YOU KNOW YOU’RE IN CANGGU WHEN…

  • the local yoga guru wears ripped skinny jeans, hoop earrings and rides a custom bike around town – worshipped by hoards of women who are now suddenly yoga enthusiasts
  • ‘smart casual’ style means yoga sweatpants and/or the new-hip breed of surfing lycra. Picture fluro leggings paired with 80s-style, high-cut one-piece swimsuits, an oversized mens singlet in place of a dress. Whilst the rest of Indonesia goes shopping in pyjamas, Canggu steps out in 80s aerobics wear
  • girls wear ankle boots to the beach. The logic escapes you (?)
  • you haven’t seen a shaved face man in a year (Canggu expat wives let out a great collective cheer when Dorsey’s Barber Shop opened at Deus)
  • a face without a nose-ring looks odd to you. Disturbingly so – where did this strange, nose-ring-less alien come from?
  • ordering a coffee from the uber-cool local coffee shack feels like it requires 10 tattoos, circle-framed sunglasses and a panama hat a as a pre-requisite
  • the line for the weekly “free tattoo” night at Deus Ex Machina starts at lunchtime
  • happy hour at Old Man’s made the beer garden hang cool again (oh-so very 80s!).. because, let’s face it, Bali is just so expensive and we all need 50% off – right!?! Bintangs for less than $2? we are SOLD!
  • security guards party harder than the patrons. After-party at Pyramid night club anyone? (wayyyyy out of town)
  • a $2 lunch at a local warung is considered to be an appropriate setting for a hot date
  • Bakers are the local celebrities and nobody seems to care that croissants = a fat ass. Who needs Master Chef when you have Monsieur Spoon up the road? Almond croissants worthy of that extra kilo or two.
  • you’re having breakfast at Hungry Bird and realise that everyone around you is Russian, including your own wife. What just happened?
  • even kids ask for gluten-free bread and dairy-free ice cream
  • a car laying tipped off the side of the road is just another morning. Because two lanes would just take up important rice field real estate
  • taking a “shortcut” means 20 minutes of honking and squeezing, waiting for the traffic congestion to dissolve.. but we’re positive it’s quicker!
  • toffee-colured buffalo work the local roads as traffic wardens. MOO-ve!
  • what was an income producing, green rice-field last week, is suddenly a construction site this week
  • people complain about local development, then hang out for the opening parties – huh?
  • you can go to a water park for $2 or for $20, in the very same town
  • it takes a ten minute drive to find a Circle K
  • all your shopping is done on the weekend at the “local” organic markets. Because market shopping is this fun new concept in Bali – it’s really taking off!
  • if you don’t know where to be each night of the week, you will be drinking alone (Sundays – live music @ Deus. Tuesdays – Tattoos & Tacos @ Deus. Thursdays – Hip Hop & RnB @ Le Pirate. Fridays – Happy Hour @ Old Man’s. Saturdays – Sunset Session @ Le Pirate.)

CANGGU7

A golden triangle in Bali’s South, Canggu officially consists of Berawa, Batu Bolong and Echo Beach, though it’s difficult-to-define borders often welcome Umalas and Pererenan into the mix. Already home to many Bali expats and a popular choice for the back-packer type, Canggu is captivating the attention of a new wave of visitors. Tantalising tourists with the offer of peaceful serenity, seducing surfers with its world famous breaks and enticing wedding planners with villa estates on lush sprawling beachside blocks: Canggu is the new place to go. When in Bali, it is worthy of at least.. we repeat AT LEAST one solid weekend.

cangguhipsters

Leaving the airport, by-pass Kuta, Legian and Seminyak – Canggu is next along the Coast. If you hit Tanah Lot, you’ve gone too far. Print out this guide and caricatures – you’ll be sure to know when you have arrived.

  • Gary Hind

    Nicely written. Satire is generally lacking in today’s media. Well done.

  • emma

    Love how you describe about Canggu… Been in love with Canggu at the first time (2011), two years later I move to this lovely place, Canggu for good. Once again brava…

  • Mary

    Love it! And more places to add to the hit list when I return 😉 thanks!

  • Hans

    Canggu is just obscene. Hipsters worrying about their organic food while next door ibu is struggling to send her child through school.

    The fact that expats and Indonesian people live in paralel universes there in Canggu is going to be a problem.

  • Wawan

    The writer clearly doesnt know what Legian looks like in the 80’s..
    If Canggu only have 10% of it’s current concrete building, 80% less asphalt, 90% less traffic, and also 90% less expats, then yea, i could see a little resemblance to Legian in the 80’s.. just a little..

    Hans also put it very well. The gap between rich hippies (with their first world problems) and poor locals on the island is worst in some bukit areas, but Canggu is certainly up on the list.

  • Alana Elderfield

    Look, I can hardly talk, i have just written an entire piece poking a bit of lighthearted fun at a stereotype, but that does feel like a slight bit of a generalisation. Call me biased, but I do know a great group of expats living in Canggu, who support the locals. I myself pay for 2 local children to go to school, and I know others who do the same. Perhaps I am entirely naive, but i truly hope that myself and my Canggu friends aren’t the exception to the general rule. I know most people in Canggu are living pretty simply, at least these hippy types I’m writing about. Let’s hope as the area evolves so too will this paradox. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation Hans. Are you living in the ‘Gu? Alana

  • Alana Elderfield

    Thanks for the love Mary. Will have some more coming your way in the future 🙂

  • Alana Elderfield

    Emma, sounds like you are as ‘Gu crazy as me! Great place isn’t it.. thank you so much for the feedback 🙂

  • Alana Elderfield

    Thank you Gary. So pleased you enjoyed my ridiculous sense of humor!

  • misell

    Hipsters are just so mainstream…

  • Nats

    hahah too funny and so true!!

  • Jared

    Re the comments on Ibu – Trickle down economics people, read about it. It takes time for its forces to improve everyone’s lot, but over time it raises the standard of living for everyone. Bali is best placed than other parts of Indonesia as a result.

  • Tuan Bule

    First went to Canggu in 1983. There was one guy selling drinks and jaffles that he cooked on a solitary gas cooker. There was one bamboo bench to sit on after a surf. In the wet season guys often fell into the rice paddies while following the track through them to the beach. Canggu has changed a lot.

  • Tommy Brahmaputra

    Much has certainly changed in Canggu. This is the very essence of nature. Change is inevitable. What may be worth to reflect upon is, are these changes making any significant difference for the better in Canggu and for who? If it’s not useful then it better be entertaining. If it’s not useful and not entertaining then there’s only one basket left and that’s useless. At the moment i see alot of entertaining changes. However, much of the changes involving businesses are of a temporary nature for temporary needs on temporary rented land. People build villas, start their dining places, motorcycle workshops, bars, surfshops, clothingstores, spa’s etc with minimum environmental consideration. There is more of a focus on aesthetics and not so much on making room for true nature. I would like to see more people who are making changes in Canggu to be more committed to the environment. Canggu was once a quiet agricultural fisherman’s village. People can build their entertaining villas, homestays, motorcycle workshops, surfshops, retail stores, warungs and restaurants. That’s not a problem, but, we have to compensate to nature for what we are taking. Plant a few strategically placed shade trees for the permanent long-term, regardless of ones temporary plans. So be the ricefields are disappearing and being replaced by shop and villas. So for the horizontal greenery we are taking from ricefields, let us making it grow vertically by trees. Let us not leave mother earth behind as people did in Kuta and Denpasar. Take her with you and make room for her so that we won’t be left in scorching heat.

    Sarvam Shantih

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