Bali | Settling Down in Sanur

Having been bouncing around the Pacific for a few months, we were all ready to slow things down a bit and finally get to Bali. Andy could not have been more excited about starting “jungle school” – a sales pitch we cooked up prior to leaving the USA to help Andy with our monumental life changes this year. We told him it was finally time for “jungle school” as we were boarding our Batik Air flight from Singapore, and his smile as he skipped onto the plane set a great tone for arriving at our new home in Indonesia.

Getting Andy set up at a good school was essential to our plans to spend a year abroad, which took almost a year of planning. Thankfully those efforts proved worthwhile – Andy immediately fell in love with his new school! As first time parents to a kiddo entering primary school, we didn’t know what to expect – but Bali Island School definitely set the bar high for whatever comes next. We’ve had a lot of folks ask us about international schools and how to wrap your head around all the logistics for such an endeavor, so I’ve decided I’ll write up a separate post about that in a few weeks.

Getting involved with the PTA at Bali Island School wound up being a boon for mom and dad, as it helped us to meet lots of other expat parents that we quickly became close with. The picture above is from a fall semester mixer where I volunteered to run the welcome drink bar (so out of character, I know). Many of our new amigos here are working as digital nomads and hail from all over the world (Australia, NZ, Argentina, UK, and even a few Americans) – a festive crew that we feel quite lucky to be a part of, especially when homesick-inducing holidays like Halloween come around.

What initially drew us to Bali, however, was the culture that is on display at every turn. There are Hindu temples EVERYWHERE! Each house has it’s own ornate temple for offerings, amidst the much larger ones spread throughout the island – Bali oozes culture like nowhere else. It’s hard to walk more than 10 feet without seeing an offering wrapped in banana leaves with burning incense. And it seems like every other day is some sort of Balinese holiday, complete with constant street processions shutting down traffic. Perhaps our favorite cultural experience so far though has been watching Andy integrate with the neighborhood kids. While Andy and I are both taking Bahasa Indonesia language classes, there is currently little linguistic overlap with the locals – but that didn’t stop us from (poorly) translating the rules of 2 card games to some enthusiastic learners. Crazy 8’s became “Gila Delipan” (literally “crazy” and “8”) and Go Fish became “Ayo Ikan” (literally “let’s go” and “fish”)- so much fun!

Andy’s favorite thing to do in Bali, by far, is riding in the kid seat on my bike along the beachfront promenade. There are ample spots along the route to pop in for a swim, scour tidepools for stranded sea creatures (we caught an eel one day!), and releasing baby sea turtles into the sea. There’s even a beachside playground where Andy and some local buds relished in playing with the dead fish they found!

And while the neighborhood we live in (Sanur) near Andy’s school is a far cry from the infamous party spots in Kuta/Canggu, there’s no shortage of great kid-friendly beachfront bars to hit up too. It’s hard to beat a breezy evening on the coast with a view of Bali’s largest volcano!

While we were in Australia in 2019 (where a sizeable Indonesian population resides), we grew a fondness for many Indonesian dishes like nasi goreng and beef rendang. Having access to such tasty treats at just about any restaurant in Bali has been amazing (and hard on the waistline). We found a new dish called Ayam Cabe Garam at a place near Andy’s school called Bucu, which we’ve been back to so many times now that we carry our loyalty cards with us 🙂 Luckier still was having a housekeeper (Ibu Sari) at our last Airbnb that was also an fantastic cook. She was constantly whipping up killer local food, and I was fortunate to have learned just enough Bahasa Indonesia to pick up a few kitchen tricks from her. She was great with Andy and treated our visiting American friends like family (even cooking a birthday cake), we miss her dearly already.

We’ve stayed at some incredible Airbnbs so far. Most have had huge pools with intricate decor and are regularly visited by flying foxes and bats swooping the surface for bugs at sunset. Having pools at our doorstep has given Andy a huge amount of swimming confidence, and me the perfect canvas to poke fun at Bali’s ubiquitous “influencers”. Excited about really getting to know Bali beyond the tourist facade and all of the adventures that await!

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  • SamNovember 1, 2023 - 2:50 pm

    It looks and sounds amazing! Thanks for the food recommendations!ReplyCancel

  • Ben MethNovember 1, 2023 - 4:07 pm

    Dude! This sounds and looks amazing! Keep having a great time and writing about it! Really glad and not surprised that y’all have made friends already! Also really glad Andy is thriving! Miss y’all!ReplyCancel

    • tara@tarawelchphotography.comNovember 3, 2023 - 4:43 am

      We’ve been pretty lucky and thankful that our crazy idea wound up being such a good fit for Andy! He’s gonna have some funny things to tell Max when we get home- can’t wait to catch up again in person in 24!ReplyCancel

  • TomNovember 1, 2023 - 5:20 pm

    Love it and love you guys!ReplyCancel

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