Travelling solo can be the most liberating pursuit in the world. You need not compromise on where you go, what you do, or when you do it. There is no chasing up cash for group accommodation; no scouring through bags to find the single power adapter; no bickering over whose turn it is to forgo dietary requirements when deciding where to eat. But as redemptive as that freedom can feel, it can also be incredibly challenging to roam in a one-wolf-wolf-pack. For those used to an abundance of social biddings, the lack of direction and uncertainty of how to pass time in solitude can be quite daunting.
Bali, and perhaps Canggu in particular, is a great place to start out as a single traveler. The island manages to strike a familiar balance between home and holiday, making for an ideal training ground pre-extended-South-East-Asian-crusade. And if you want somewhere to stay put or relocate temporarily then Canggu, the digital nomads haven, is certainly a good spot to set up shop solo.
But in the interim between touch down and when you inevitably meet your Bintang Clan, how does one keep their mind and body active a cappella? Below are a few suggestions that require the permission and participation of absolutely no one else but you.
Learn the lingo
As far as Asian languages go, Bahasa Indonesia is fairly easy to pick up. Capitalise on your time unaccompanied by English speakers and learn a few liners in the native tongue. It will undeniably enhance your experience of the island and is the most basic way to pay your respect. A couple of schools in the area to kickstart your bilingualism are Cinta Bahasa (Canggu & Ubud) or Seminyak Language School (Seminyak, Canggu & Jimbaran).
Slow down and enjoy some art
Take a wander through Room 13 – the art gallery attached to The Slow in Canggu. The room has regular exhibitions from both local and international artists so you never know just whose psychedelic mind you might casually stroll into. If the artwork gets you all hot and bothered, The Slow also has a bar and café attached with everything you need to cool down.
Watch the world
Canggu is erupting with personalities. From Deus clad motorbike enthusiasts and #sponsoredpost cosmopolites, to local hustlers with cigarette smiles wrapped around their faces. There is no shortage of folks to gawk at. Post up somewhere you can grab a beverage (makes for a less ominous session on the people perv) and simply watch the world go by. You’ll be surprised at just how fast the hours dissolve.
Hit the reset button
While you’re not being tempted by other hyperactive travelers, give your gut a deep clean. There are plenty of places in the ‘Gu offering 3-5 day juice cleanses (The Detox Room or Oma Jamu, to name a few) and yoga for every level of the spiritual order. Granted, this is more of a commitment than a ‘fun’ solo activity but if you’ve only got a few days to yourself it’s the perfect time to get your factory settings back to basics. If living off liquids ain’t your thing then there are enough healthy eateries to keep you on track too. Couple café-hopping with a massage, hit of acupuncture, colonoscopy, scrub or a swim (for the coin conscious) and boredom won’t even dream of rearing itself in your vocabulary.
Sunset at Tanah Lot
A 30-40 min scoot out of the ‘Gu awaits the most kaleidoscopic view of the earth’s rotations one can witness. Sure, temples are somewhat of a regular pit stop in South East Asia but Tanah Lot, which was built on a rock in the sea, is one of Bali’s most sacred Hindu reserves. Nothing but your eyeballs (plus a cheeky IDR 62.000 for entrance and parking) are necessary to enjoy this panoramic vision and all of the existential reflection it summons.
Ignite the artisan in you
Learn the basics of silver smithing with traditional Indonesian techniques at a local jewelry-making course. A half day on the tools and you’ll have yourself (or chosen recipient) a unique piece of handmade jewelry; a full day and you’ll learn all the fundamentals of sanding, polishing and soldering silver. Check out House of Alaia for an intimate class experience, lead by Indonesian experts. Bond your metals while bonding with yourself.
Get cookin’ good-lookin’
Indonesian cuisine is a realm unto itself but once you leave the country, the sambal just doesn’t quite sting the same. A sure fire remedy for this is to learn to make your own! Better yet, learn to make the dish it accompanies too. Gastronomy classes offering everything from local ingredient scouting to authentic preparation are a-plenty in Bali but if you want to stay close to the Canggu area, have a squiz at Iboe Soelastri’s cooking class at Hotel Tugu or Chef Will Meyrick’s cooking retreat. See ya later satay ayum separation anxiety! So, there you have it! Enough to keep you fairly tied up while enjoying some time to yourself atop the Island of Gods. If all else fails, there is always the ‘B cubed’ recipe: beach, books and booze. Words by Paige Leacey