Christiana Vardakou's Textile Research Trip around SEA, Indonesia

It was my second time visiting Indonesia. Last year in September 2017, I visited Jakarta, Bali, Lombok and the Gili islands. This time we only went to Bali and Nusa Penida

Last year when I went to Bali, I stayed in Ubud. (I am planning to write a blog post about Jakarta, Ubud, Lombok and the Gilis after I finish these textile trip series.) This time round, we only stayed in Canggu, and went on a day trip to Nusa Penida. Canggu is quite different from Ubud. I like both for different reasons. 

Canggu is a coastal ‘village’ on the south coast of Bali. It is 10km from Kuta. Canggu is the perfect place to relax, with beaches, cafes, restaurants, pools and bars. There are still scenic views of paddy fields and coconut groves, however Canggu is getting very popular and new villas, shops and cafes are being built everyday. What I liked about Canggu is that it’s a mixture of very friendly locals, tourists, as well as Europeans and Australians that have moved to Bali and work from there. Canggu is full of digital nomads who work from amazing co-working spaces, like Dojo Bali. There is a sense of community and I really felt that when I was there. 

We stayed in a great AirBnB, in Canggu, close to Echo Beach. The area is great to relax, with lots of amazing food and cafes! We stayed there for nine days - we both had some work to do while we were there so we worked from cafes and co-working spaces, with breaks for a swim in the sea, or a snack. 

Some photos of the shared pool at the AirBnB:

One of the things I loved the most was that every day we went to watch the sunset on the beach. This is something most people that live in Canggu do on a daily basis. Around 17.30 everyone stops working and goes to Echo beach, to have a drink and enjoy the beautiful sunset. Here are some photos

There are amazing shops in Canggu, with great clothes, accessories and homeware. I was very inspired while I was there, and I think these few days made me want to focus more on interiors instead of fashion. Seeing great interiors in airbnbs, cafes, restaurants and shops everyday made me want to start creating. I only did one workshop while in Bali, a day of macrame, which I talk about further down. I really missed doing workshops while in Bali, however it was nice to relax and think about what I want to do when this trip ends. Looking back, it definitely was the time I fully relaxed and started thinking about the future.

Here are some photos of the amazing interiors

Here is a list of my favourite shops in Canggu:

Cove Island Essentials: Clothes, bags, shoes, rugs, vases and jewellery. Beautifully selected items.
Crate Concept shop: Next to the Crate cafe, very stylish clothes from Balinese and some international brands. Both women and menswear. 
Frockk Canggu: Nice selection of women and menswear.
Lucy’s Batik: Very close to Seminyak, original batiks made in Indonesia. Homeware: carpets, duvets, placemats, pillows as well as some clothes and children toys. 
Quince Cafe Shop: Textiles for your house, ceramics, wooden spoons, prints. I wanted to buy everything in this shop. Plus it’s in one of my favourite cafes of Bali, with the friendliest owner and delicious food. Definitely recommend. 
Yoli and Otis:  Australian brand with beautiful clothes. All naturally dyed. Their clothes are for children and women. 

Here is a list of all the places we went for food (breakfast, lunch, dinner):

Balibola Cafe: This cafe is quite new, the decor is very playful and we really enjoyed working from here, meeting the owner and having a friendly chat, and of course the delicious food.

Copenhagen Cafe: I loved this place, you choose many small plates and try different flavours. It’s small but cute and the all-day breakfast is delicious. 

Crate Cafe: Another nice place to sit and relax, work on your laptop and have salads, food, snacks and of course smoothies. There’s also a gallery at the back and a concept store right next door.

Give Cafe: If you want to have some food and also make a difference this is the place to do it. Here every purchase has a purpose. It’s a 100% plant based cafe that gives 100% of its profit to the people and the places that need it. They have chosen three charities one that helps animals, one that helps the planet and one that helps people. Once you pay for your food, you get a token - and you choose which charity you want to help and put the token in one of the three boxes.

Holiday Cafe: One more place I loved, with great decor and a space that hosts exhibitions (when we went there was a photography exhibition on corals). Macrame wall hangings and baskets decorate the walls, and the textiles are all beautiful. The food was once again amazing. 

Kynd Community Cafe: Another plant-based cafe with great all-day breakfast and coffee. We tried both savoury and sweet breakfasts and liked them both. 

La Baracca: Teleport to Italy for a few hours and have great pizza, pasta and wine.

La Brisa Beach-Front Bar: Another place we really liked. It has jungle/pirate feels, a big pool, a great sunset view, nice food and cocktails.

La Laguna: My favourite beach-front bar. A gypsy wonderland with hand-painted caravans and they even do gypsy readings! On Tuesdays they have movie nights. They also do a gypsy market every month with local handcrafts. 

Mad Pops Bali: Vegan Ice Cream and cocktail flavoured ice lollies — what more can I say. We went there a few times as well. 

Nude: Really good coffee, nice interior and once again the classic (and great) organic food. 

Peloton Supershop: Vegan all-day cafe. Smoothie bowls, smoothies, pancakes, salads, cocktails. Everything you can imagine — you can find it here. I am not vegan but I loved everything I tried there. 

Quince Cafe: Probably my favourite, the food is perfect, the owner is really friendly and I really liked the decor and shop.

Santorini Greek Restaurant: My friend probably loves greek food more than I do, so we ended up going there a few times. The owners are Greek, and it was nice talking in Greek with them and sharing stories. The food was traditional and really good. 

The Lawn Beach Lounge: Another perfect place for sunset, drinks and food. There is also a pool and they host a lot of parties and events. 

The food in Canggu is great guys. The vegetables and fruit are amazing. I probably had around three smoothies a day while I was here.  

Macrame workshop with Nadjma Achmad (@najmasmeer):

I did a basic Macrame workshop with Nadjma. Macrame is a textile technique which involves knotting. It looks a bit like lace or a webbing. Knot combinations create intricate patterns. Usually rope or cotton string are used to do this. Macrame is getting quite popular and lots of people use them as wall decorations and hangings. However, you can also make baskets, garments, bags, jewellery and even hammocks! According to Nadjma, macrame was used by sailors — they used different knots to decorate knife handles, parts of ships or bottles. 

First, I learnt the basic knot which is the square knot. Using this knot I created diamond and V shapes. We worked together, hanging a piece of wood on the wall and working while standing. Nadjma would show me a knot on her piece and then I would do it on mine. It was a fun lesson and it was nice working together. I made two small wall hangings, one necklace and one plant hanger. It’s a really easy technique and it goes very fast unlike weaving or hand-knitting. 

On the weekend my friend and I decided to go on two day trips - one to the Green School which is between Canggu and Ubud, and one to Nusa Penida

Green School Bali:

Green School Bali is a non-profit, private and international school located along the Ayung river, near Ubud. The school was founded by John and Cynthia Hardy. The school opened in 2008 with 90 students and now has approximately 450 students. The school is in the jungle. It has been built with ecology and sustainability in mind. They use renewable energy resources such as micro-hydro power and solar power.

You can go visit any day, and there is an english guided tour where the guide (staff and volunteering teachers) shows you around and talks to you about the history of the school and the beliefs and aims of the founders. We were amazed by what they created. It’s like a dream school. The students cultivate an organic garden as one of their learning activities. Their lunch consists of the vegetables and fruits they’ve planted, helped grow and harvested. The food is cooked with sawdust fuel from a local bamboo farm. It is served on ingka - straw baskets with a compostable banana-leaf lining. (No dishes to be washed!)

The buildings are built from bamboo and some of them are high up like treehouses! Shoes are optional, and students learn to build bridges and bamboo bikes. There is a menagerie of rabbits, pigs and chickens — again the children are the ones that take care of them. Apparently, the students’ favourite place is the mud pit which is for mepantigan — a balinese martial art.

The vision of the school is to educate ‘young green leaders’. The school consists of pre-school, primary school, middle school and high school. What we liked was that except from maths, literature or history - which are taught here too - children here learn more about teamwork, problem-solving (in real life situations) as well as about the environment. It is a school that prepares students for university but also equips them with survival skills. 

What I kept thinking while I was there was ‘this is a school where I’d be so happy to go every day - I’d never pretend to be sick or wake up dreading to go’… It’s like a fairytale but at the same time so progressive. It is a place I’d really like my children to maybe go one day. 

Nusa Penida:

After snorkelling in Thailand, we really wanted to snorkel again. Therefore, we decided to go on a day trip there. First of all let me just say that you should never EVER book a tour from the little kiosk that offers day tours next to Echo Beach. We paid exactly double what everyone else paid on this tour. For no reason! We should have booked online or just arranged a transfer to the island and then found a snorkelling company there. We got really ripped-off but I guess it had to happen at some point. 

We woke up at 6 because the driver was supposed to pick us up between 6.15 and 7.15 (we got picked up at 7.30). We reached the port, and after waiting for another hour we went on a boat that took us to Nusa Penida. There we found our snorkelling “guides” who couldn’t speak any English. I got stung by something (probably a jellyfish) and when I asked what it was and if they had something for me to put on they just said “don’t know” or “no english” and one of them even laughed.

Anyway… we enjoyed snorkelling here as well, we saw beautiful fish and corals. We went to Crystal Bay and Manta Bay, however we didn’t say any Manta Rays. After around three hours we got back to the port — where we were told that the snorkelling tour had finished. However, no boat was taking us back to Bali for another four hours. That’s when we also found out that everyone else on the tour had paid half of what we paid. After realising how angry and disappointed we were, the snorkelling tour guides gave us a scooter for free to go around the island. We went to Atuh beach and Crystal bay and did some hiking as well. We returned to the port the time we were supposed to, but the boat was delayed. We were supposed to be back in Bali at 17.30 but we returned at 21.00, we were really tired and quite angry… Anyway, it was the only ‘bad’ experience we had so far, and it wasn’t all bad so we focused on the good and went for food and wine and got over it. I would like to visit Nusa Penida again, there are many nice places we didn’t have time to see.

Some places I’d like to visit next time I’m in Nusa Penida
Pura Goa Giri Putri Cave 
Kelingking Secret Point Beach 
Broken Beach
Thousand Island (Pulau Seribu) Viewpoint
Tembeling Beach, Natural Pool and Forest
Gamat Bay (for snorkelling) 

Despite that day trip, I loved being in Canggu. I loved the organic cafes, the food, the smoothies and the way of life. The weather, the sunsets and being able to swim whenever you want. I would really like to go back and live there for longer. 

Next blog post will be about Vientiane, Laos. There, I did an Ikat weaving workshop and a natural dyeing one as well. They were probably my two favourite workshops I did while in Asia.  More about them, next week. 

Have a lovely weekend,

xx Christiana

All Posts All Posts