SAN FRANCISCO: A CITY FILLED WITH WARMTH AND SURPRISES

I’m Sally Cui, born in mainland China, but I’m also a university student in Hong Kong. I have noticed the differences between mainland China and Hong Kong. This journey to America gives me a totally fresh feeling about American culture. I visited America four years ago. On my first visit, I experienced the Great Canyon, Los Angeles and Yosemite, but in a hurry. This time, as an intern in San Francisco for about two months I got the opportunity to do some deep exploration. My experience will be as a temporary resident in this compact and technological city. I have to say that San Francisco, is like a good brandy; quickly intoxicating and easy to love.

Photo by Florian

Photo by Flickr user Florian CC 2.0

Transportation

Before I arrived here, I was told that America is a country where it is difficult to travel without a car. So at first, I was worried about the transportation in San Francisco. However, from my experience so far, I can say that it’s convenient as well as inconvenient. Why so contradictory? Let me compare Hong Kong and mainland China with America. The metro in Hong Kong is well developed, so much that people prefer to take the metro rather than the car to go out. In mainland China, there’s a huge bus system with many buses arriving frequently. Public transportation in America offers a different convenience. Firstly, all forms of transport have an exact schedule to follow and people can download the schedule from the Internet. Drivers conform to that schedule and are very punctual. Supposing that smooth traffic leads to early arrival, drivers will wait at the bus stop to stay on schedule. In China, you know that you are going to get on the bus only when you can see the bus is coming in the distance—there is no specific schedule. Secondly, all transportation systems aim to maximize the interests and convenience of passengers. On all buses, there’s a movable ramp at the front door of the bus, which can let senior citizens get on the bus without climbing the steps. It is convenient for the people who are not flexible on their legs and for disabled people who use wheelchairs. Caltrain, a commuter train in San Francisco, goes through several cities. Many people take it to get to work. I was surprised to find free wi-fi on Caltrain. It’s convenient for those people who want to do some work during their long commute. There are only some upscale trains which offer this service in China. Muni buses, environmentally-friendly trams and trolleys can always be seen in downtown San Francisco. If you want to tour the downtown area, good news for you– you pay for a timed ticket so if you take other bus within this period, there is no need to pay again. It’s different in China, where if you take a bus, you have to pay the fee for each bus. Also, if you are an avid cyclist, you can take your bike on the bus; every bus has bike racks. I have never seen this in China.

 

Photo by Sally

Photo by Sally

Atmosphere

The Statue of Liberty in New York is known all over the world and even in San Francisco I feel the air of freedom. City hall is open for all visitors during business hours. You can see the secretaries working, take a picture just in front of the door of the mayor’s office and even see the mayor come and go. In many countries, including China, government buildings are not typically open for visitors, and citizens even seldom see the mayor in daily life.

Photo by Sally

Photo by Sally

The fourth weekend in June is the celebrated as Pride Parade weekend and I was fortunately enough to attend the festivities. I went to the Pink Party on Saturday night in the Castro with my friend. The Castro is a neighborhood famous for its prominent gay and lesbian community. Various distinctive restaurants, bars and pubs can be found in this part of the city. On the Saturday evening, you can do anything you want to do at the party. There was a sign people held which read “Free Hugs,” you can come forward to hug them. You can sing with someone you don’t know, you can dance with someone you don’t know and you can chat with someone you don’t know. People are totally free, friendly and open in Castro. I definitely saw two different Castros during the day and in the evening. During the day, the Castro is quiet and peaceful, like a shy little girl. However, in the evening, Castro shows her wild side, it is noisy and crowded, like a passionate and dynamic adolescent.

Photo by Sally

Photo by Sally

 

Photo by Sally

Photo by Sally

After the Pink Party on Saturday, Sunday is the day for the famous Pride Parade. There’s no such Pride Parade in China, so I have never seen a parade before. People who support gay rights paraded on Market Street.  There were not only individuals in the parade, but also some important corporations including Google, Facebook and Apple. I was moved by some signs people held which read “35 years together, married 2 months ago.” Everyone has the right to love and be loved, no laws and rule should prohibit this. I appreciate that this free city allows people to love each other regardless of gender.

Photo by Glenn Euloth

Photo by Flickr user Glenn Euloth CC 2.0

People

Because people are so free and open, Americans are filled with enthusiasm and energy, and are helpful and honest. I would like to tell an amazing and heart-warming experience which took place when I first arrived in San Francisco. It shows how kind-hearted and friendly Americans are.

It was past 11 o’clock at night when I left the Pink Party on Saturday. Since I don’t have a car, the only way back home is finding the 292 bus stop. I’m a road nerd, so all my sense of direction comes from Google Maps. After 20 minutes, I asked a person who was waiting for a bus. I thought she would say “I don’t know” because her bus was almost coming, but she took me to a big station board with many routes on it and found 292 for me. She didn’t find the bus, but she asked me where I wanted to go. I told her South San Francisco, she asked someone nearby whether knew which bus towards to South San Francisco. Nobody knew, so she suggested me take BART and almost wanted to lead me to BART station and show me how to use the vending machine, and she felt relieved and went back to her bus stop. Thanking her, I continued looking for the 292 bus stop. A kind person riding a bike pulled up in front of me while I was looking at Google Maps and asked if I needed help. I told him I was looking for the 292 bus stop, he said he had no idea but pointed to where it might possibly be. I walked in the direction he pointed and fortunately, I found the bus stop a few minutes later. When I was waiting for the bus, he rode back and told me I could take BART if I still had not found the bus stop. I said I had already found it, and he left with a satisfied smile. Getting off the bus at my stop, I needed to walk 20 minutes to get home. It was 1am and dark as I was crossing the road on a green light.  Perhaps the driver didn’t notice the red light, and almost crashed into me. To my surprise, he stopped and rolled down the window and apologized to me several times, and even asked where I was going and gave me a lift.

In just one night, I met some enthusiastic, proactive and honest people. I have come across nice, helpful people every day in America. That’s a huge difference from busy Hong Kong and mainland China where people hardly stop to ask whether you need help and chat with you. Perhaps they are eager to help people at the bottom of their heart, but everyday pressure and busy crowds push them to live a hurried lifestyle and ignore the beauty of life. I really hope people in my country can slow down and enjoy every day.

Because of these treasure memories, I have really enjoyed these last two months living in America, loving these sincere and unguarded people.

 

SEATTLE: CITY, NATURE, HISTORY & PLANES

As many other travelers, my first impressions about Seattle came from the famous movie “Sleepless in Seattle”. In that movie, Seattle is a beautiful, romantic and rainy city. Also, when I was preparing for my trip, I read that Seattle is a good place for business and that Seattle residents enjoy one of the best qualities of life in the United States. With inspiration and high expectations, I departed for Seattle to spend my Independence Day holiday. I found that the impressions about Seattle indeed matches the reality; it has both an impressive cityscape, natural landscape and a rich history as well as being a special place for aviation fans.

Seattle night scene from Kerry Park Flickr user: Anupam_ts CC 2.0

Seattle night scene from Kerry Park, Flickr user: Anupam_ts CC 2.0

 As the largest city of Pacific Northwest region, it has over 650,000 residents and countless skyscrapers. Located in downtown Seattle, the Space Needle is an observation tower built for 1962 World’s Fair that has become an internationally-recognized symbol of Seattle. At 184 meters’ height, it is not only a part of Seattle’s spectacular cityscape but also a perfect place to appreciate the urban and natural surroundings. From the top of the Space Needle, looking south, I could see Seattle’s skyscrapers. Looking west, I saw busy Puget Sound but ships looked as small as toys. To the north was Union Lake that looked like a swimming pool and looking southeast, the symbol of Washington State, Mountain Rainier rising in the distance. I was so glad that I chose the Space Needle as the first stop on my trip so I could see an overview of Seattle and then decided where to go next.

Photo took by Ronal Law

Union Lake from The Space Needle, Photo by Ronal Law

 Located just north of the Space Needle, Union Lake was my second stop. Seattle has more to offer than just skyscrapers; there are also peaceful spaces that let people feel relief in this busy city. People can run, relax or paying with pets in the park that surrounds the lake and can even take a canoe out on the lake. Union Lake became crowed in the evening because people gathered to the lake area to see Independence Day fireworks. At the beginning of the fireworks show, a helicopter hanging the Star-Spangled Banner flew over the lake while the crowd stood up and sang the Star-Spangled Banner together. As a foreigner, I felt Americans’ strong patriotism in that moment. The fireworks show was fantastic! It lighted the sky colorfully and the crowd kept applauding.

 Mt Rainier National Park is the highest mountain in Washington State and is about a 2.5 hour drive from Seattle. The drive was quiet long but it was definitely not boring because there was always a magnificent sight to see like a lake just around the bend that I stopped a bit to take photos. When I finally arrived to Paradise, the most popular view point of the national park, I saw a huge mountain covered by snow and ice with an endless green forest below. In that moment, I felt as if I was in a real paradise! Besides Mt Rainier, there are many other beautiful places to visit in the vicinity of Seattle such as Olympic National Park, Snoqualmie Falls and Skagit Valley but sadly I could not visit all of them.

Photo took by Ronal Law

Mountain Rainier, the top is covered by thick cloud. Photo by Ronal Law

 After returning from Mt Rainier, I continued exploring the city. My next stop was an underground city tour to learn about the history of Seattle. In 1889, a fire burned Seattle to ground and the city was later rebuilt. During this period, the city leaders decided to lift up the whole city to solve the perennial flooded problem. As a result, this project created an underground city under downtown Seattle. On this tour, a funny tour guide told us the story in detail. At the same time I could explore the underground buildings. I always like to learn more about a city’s history, and the underground tour showed me the rich history of this fascinating city.

Flickr user: Larry Jacobsen CC 2.0

A tunnel of underground city, Flickr user: Larry Jacobsen CC 2.0

 Another place that I visited in Seattle is Pike Place Market. It is the oldest farmer’s market in the United States. Fishermen sell their fresh products and street artists perform for visitors every day. However, what really caught my attention was that the first Starbucks store is located here. In the very beginning, Starbucks was a small café that served local fishermen, but has become the most famous coffee shop in the world. I arrived here later in the day when fishermen and street artists had left. However, there was still a long line in front of Starbucks because people are eager to taste the original Starbucks coffee just like me.

Photo took by Ronal Law

A staff of first Starbucks was making coffee, Photo by Ronal Law

On my last day in Seattle I visited the Boeing’s factory. This well-known aircraft manufacturer, was founded in Seattle, which is why the city is a very special place for aviation fans. It was an exciting tour! I never imagined that I could really go to the factory to see how a plane is built. During the tour, I saw the enormous machines used to put together different components of a Boeing-747 while the tour guide explained each process.

Flickr user: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff CC 2.0

Boeing factory, Flickr user: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff CC 2.0

After the Boeing tour, I was still so excited about what I had just seen. Therefore, I decided to visit Museum of Flight to continue my Seattle Aviation tour. The museum has more than one hundred planes including famous fighters like the SR-71 and passenger jets like the Concorde. I watched some documentary films that help me learn more about these planes as well.

 I had to leave this beautiful city after this three-day trip. On the plane back San Francisco, the Boeing tour crossed my mind and I suddenly realized that Seattle is not only a good city for tourism, but also is a city that is changing our lives! Boeing, founded in Seattle is changing our way of travel; Microsoft, founded in Seattle, is changing our way of working; Amazon, founded in Seattle, is changing our way of shopping. Considering all this, I believed that it was very much a worthwhile visit.

Hamburg: Maritime Metropole & Gate to the World

Hamburg, a city with many dimensions and something for everybody, from culture, traditions, interesting architecture, world flair, different kinds of artworks, nature, high-class shopping, non-stop entertainment, beaches and a harbor. A perfect day in Hamburg starts with a harbor tour, then a little stroll around the historic city center and finds an interesting ending on the world-famous Reeperbahn. There are many ways to discover the fascinating flair of the traditional yet modern Hansa trading town of Hamburg. However it is always a good idea to start at the heart of the city, the harbor.

Flickr user: glynlowe CC 2.0

Flickr user: glynlowe CC 2.0

The harbor dates back to the 9th century as a modest 393.7 ft (120 meter) long boardwalk. However, the official birth of the harbor is May 7th,1189, this day is celebrated as the biggest harbor feast of the world with over 1.5 million attendees every year. Hundreds of national and international ships of every type of shape or form visit Hamburg at the beginning of May for the birthday celebration, Hafengeburtstag.

Hamburg has always had a special position among Hansa harbor cities, because it was the first city with a harbor connected to the western part of the world, even before the discovery of America. Over the years, the town entered into economic alliances with many other foreign harbor cities, which was against the rules within the Hansa, who only aloud alliances with german harbor cities. The boldness to build these foreign relationships helped earn the town respect and established a good reputation for trust in the rest of the world, thus the town grew quickly to become a vibrant, international city. By 1850 there was not one harbor in the world without hosting at least one ship with a Hamburg flag.

In 1888 the Hansa generated a free-port and build the Speicherstadt–still the largest connected bonded warehouse complex in the world. In 1913 Hamburg became the third largest harbor of the world, behind New York and London due to the rare combination of long, toll-free stock and the transaction of foreign goods.

Flickr user: Julian Schüngel CC 2.0

Flickr user: Julian Schüngel CC 2.0

But this quick and successful development also brought out the dark side of the city–pirates! Yes, there were pirates in the North Sea and the most famous and notorious one was Klaus Störtebeker. His legendary passing is still the story of nearly every tour in Hamburg. Legend says that Störtebeker and his crew, the Vitalienbrüder, were captured near Helgoland island. The pirate ship got stranded on a sandbar after the low tide came early that day due to a storm. On October 20, 1400 Störtebeker and his crew were to be executed in the Grasbrook district in Hamburg. To rescue his crew Störtebeker tried to bargain with the hangman. Everyone of his crew members should be saved from execution, when the pirate would be able to manage to walk by them, after he has been beheaded.  All the stories end with the information that the beheaded pirate was able to walk by 11 of his crew members. Due to his bargain, those 11 pirates would have been spared from execution, if the officials of the city had not broken their promise. Everyone of the Vitalienbrüder were executed that day.

Today there is nothing to fear, you will not find pirates in the North Sea nowadays. In fact, the North Sea is one of the safest oceans of the world. Still, the city with the most bridges in Europe offers visitors an exciting and fascinating experience.

In 2002 Hamburg opened it’s newest container terminal–one of the largest and most modern container harbors in the world with a transaction rate of over 140 million tons every year. Since 2006 Hamburg also a new cruise terminal, this and the unbeatable location of the harbor is bringing more and more tourists to the city.

Flickr user: glynlowe CC 2.0

Flickr user: glynlowe CC 2.0

When one of these massive cruise ships enter the harbor, try to be near the View Point next to the Cruise Center. This is always a magnificent spectacle, especially when the Queen Mary 2 is floating up the Elbe. The people of Hamburg are quite fond of  this British cruise ship and say Hamburg is the home port of the Queen Mary 2, that’s why she is always welcomed into the port with fireworks.

For the early birds it is pleasingly to visit the famous Fischmarkt (fish market) every Sunday at the Landungsbrücken. This historic market offers you more than just high-quality, fresh fish on the market, it is a bit like stepping back in time with the calls of the market crier and juggling. While you enjoy your fish-bun you can observe the sunrise over the water. On the other side of the harbor, workmen start harbor operations and you can witness how the gigantic container ships are loaded and unloaded. If you enjoy a more traditional type of ship, visit the sailing vessel Rickmer Rickmers or the Cap San Diego. Every saturday you can climb the rig to smell the salty sea breeze, combined with a spectacular view. In the evening you can also enjoy an amazing view of the illuminated city and harbor from the other side of the harbor, which can only be reached by ferry; this is also where the permanent musical The Lion King is located.

Flickr user: Stefan Klauke CC 2.0

Flickr user: Stefan Klauke CC 2.0

If you walk along the water, you come to the largest intra-urban construction project in Europe, Hafen City. Between the harbor and Speicherstadt arises a mixture of sailor flair and modern architecture. The new emblem of the city is the Elbphilharmonie concert hall and it embodies the soul of this new city district. Many shops and businesses welcome you to stroll and if you need a little break, you are at the best spot next to the many tiny canals. Follow these canals and you will find yourself in the historic district of Speicherstadt. This part of the city is characterized by all the red brick warehouses. Like the Italian city of Venice, the whole district was build on thousands of oak stakes over the water. One advantage of building a district in the middle of water is that the many canals between the buildings serve as a water street for all the ships, who can deliver goods directly from the North Sea.

Those canals pervade the whole city and bring maritime flair to the city center and suburbs. You can ramble along the waterfront, visit the buildings at the historic center–especially the city hall, which is the senate home of the city state–or climb the tower of the St. Michael’s church to enjoy the view over the city.

Flickr user: Wolfgang Staudt CC 2.0

Flickr user: Wolfgang Staudt CC 2.0

Around the countless canals, known as Binnenalster, are many green recreation and sport areas making you feel as if you are no longer in a city. Hamburg counts as one of Europe’s greenest cities and was elected as european capital of environment in 2011. The city combines modernity, tradition, water, nature and an urban-lifestyle. Besides the strategic location of the city, the unique architecture and landscape, the Hamburg people of are known for their cosmopolitanism and welcoming attitudes.

Visit Hamburg once and you will fall in love.

 

Off the Beaten Track: San Francisco’s Hayes Valley

‘Great Adventure’ is painted in giant marquee letters on the side of a Victorian mansion on the corner of Hayes Valley’s Octavia and Page Streets. This Ben Eine mural is a constant reminder of the district’s steadfast spirit. Since suffering a crucial blow from the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake and subsequent fires, the community has continued to surmount itself. Bold entrepreneurs moved into the area after big-scale renovations had tidied up the neighborhood. Now, twenty-five years later, a unique ambiance has spawned with exciting shops, mural masterpieces, food truck dining, blossoming public gardens, and a relaxed atmosphere. Hidden away in the shadows of Civic Center’s domes, Hayes Valley has risen to contain all ingredients that make San Francisco so special.

When approaching the neighborhood from the east, coming from City Hall, picturesque Linden Street offers the prettiest entrance. Rather than lined-up cars, planters dominate this lively alley. Appropriately titled ‘While You Wait’, a monochromatic mural by Zio Ziegler offers the perfect distraction while waiting in line for Blue Bottle Coffee. Stashed away in a garage, this coffee hut is believed to have the best coffee in town. The New Orleans-style iced coffee, in particular, gloriously kick-starts your morning. The stretch of greenery that lies ahead is Patricia’s Green, the epicenter of neighborhood life. When sun bathing on the park’s lawn, give in to one of Smitten Ice Cream’s many surprising flavors. How about brown cinnamon shortbread or strawberry white balsamic for a change? Consume your icy delight away from local razzle-dazzle in the narrow public gardens flanking Octavia Street. Quoting one of the sayings painted on pieces of wood, ‘let your thoughts pass thru you like wind’ when you perch down on a bench in these fenced botanical retreats. Pass through Page and Laguna Mini Park and zigzag up to Koshland Community Park before fueling up in Samovar Tea Lounge. Sumptuous lunch dishes along with artisan teas are guaranteed to provide you with the kick of energy needed to further explore Hayes Valley.

Hayes Valley

Photo by Flickr user: Charles CC2.0

Tree-topped Hayes Street accommodates the area’s trendiest stores. One of the most notable ones, Flight 001, is a traveler’s Valhalla. Decorated to look like the inside of an airplane, this swanky shop sells everything from international power adapters to stylish travel bags. With branches in major cities like Tokyo and New York, setting-up shop here demonstrates the upturn of Hayes Valley as an up-and-coming destination. Styling the city’s most fashionable residents, Undefeated has a diverse selection of the coolest sneakers, clothing, and caps. Shop for vintage one-of-a-kind items and apparels at Reliquary, just around the corner. This neighborhood trump feels both enchanting and unhurried. Comic book nerds and aficionados meet at Isotope on Fell Street. More than just a comic book store, Isotope is also a place for art, workshops, and relaxation. Chill out on one of their comfy sofas with a graphic novel in hand while discussing the latest adventures of Spider-man, Batman, and the X-men.

Just as diverse as the district’s shopping scene is the munchscape, ranging from casual eateries to posh diners. On sunny afternoons people line up for one of the many food trucks that cruise the city. Within these mobile mini-kitchens talented rookies and established chefs cook up the most delicious meals for the most satisfying prices. Baking a mean Arugula pizza, Casey’s Pizza truck has been spotted regularly on Saturday afternoons. Derived from ‘mazza’, meaning small dishes of appetizers in Arabic, Lebanese corner restaurant Mazzat serves hummus and tapas-like dishes. Every morning, grandma prepares fresh meals for the day, making this family-enterprise highly authentic. Souvla on Hayes St. is the newest addition to the exclusive Greek dining scene in San Francisco. In this rather modern walk-in, a communal table for twelve replaces the typical ramshackle seats that one might expect in traditional Greek diners. With all those enticing fragrances, choosing between pork, chicken, or lamb (or veggie) has never been this hard. No place else screams bearish German food like Rosamunde Sausage Grill in Haight Street, just west of Hayes Valley. Head here for a hearty sausage on a bun or gigantic burger, only served on Tuesdays. Expect little space to maneuver yourself to the counter as this joint is gaining popularity.

Acknowledging the great marriage between sausage and beer, next-door Toronado allows you to bring in your grilled meat. Their infamous selection of beers and divey vibe make this place one of the Bay area’s finest beer bars. If you’ve become intrigued by San Francisco’s street art scene don’t forget to take a quick peek at the mysterious ‘Two Beauties’ mural on the corner of Steiner and Haight Streets. For tall mugs of German beer, descend back to central Hayes Valley’s Biergarten. The dozens of picnic tables, alongside the shipping containers that house the bar and kitchen, are packed with people looking to spend a carefree, sunny afternoon. Cross the Atlantic in the belly of a pirate ship in Smuggler’s Cove. Looking like the set of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, this tiki bar serves up great cocktails and ensures a fun time. One of the lesser-known music venues, Rickshaw Stop, is the go-to place for live music of your favorite indie band or underground DJ. This venue on Fell St. gives you the opportunity to see up-and-coming acts before they go viral.

If it’s department stores, Michelin stars, and nightclubs that you’re after, you came to the wrong place. But if you are looking for trendy shoes, finger foods, and happy-go-lucky drinking, Hayes Valley will win you over. The neighborhood’s unconstrained atmosphere provides a breath of fresh air compared to downtown’s fast pace. Together with the community’s appreciation of innovative ways of living, this completes the recipe for San Francisco.

Off the Beaten Track: Bali’s Canggu

Blessed with magical scenery and flanked by miles of pristine grey beaches, Canggu is the perfect getaway from Bali’s party spots. Forming a stretch of rural villages along the south coast, the area is comprised of subdistricts Canggu and Tibubeneng. Set amidst bright green rice paddies and traditional kampongs (villages), this region offers a serene and intimate alternative to its popular neighbor Seminyak; a town that has undergone rapid transformations to become the island’s most upscale retreat. In search of challenging surf breaks and peaceful living, surfers and expatriates flocked to Canggu. Ever since, local restaurants, innovative shops, and rustic villas have sprouted and given the area its 21st century identity. Today, Canggu’s laid-back scene is one of the island’s best kept secrets. Rather than splurging on Bali’s renowned spa treatments, cruise the region’s roads and meet its people in order to feed your body, mind, and soul with a dose of new life.

With road stalls selling gasoline in vodka bottles for a penny, renting a scooter is the ideal way to explore the island. Close to Seminyak’s accommodations and laden with cafes, Jalan Batubelig is the perfect jalan (street) to start your tour. Begin your day by filling your belly with fresh bakes and barista coffee at Watercress Cafe. Their all-day breakfast menu combines Australian dishes with Asian infusions. As you follow the winding road into Jalan Pantai Berawa, rice fields gradually replace walled residences. Hidden away under palm trees along one of Canggu’s hairpin roads, a Balinese vendor prepares deliciously marinated chicken satays on his homemade charcoal grill. If you’d like your skewered meat extra spicy nod yes when he mumbles something inaudible. Get a glimpse of the scenic canals, rice terraces, and straw-hat-wearing farmers plowing their fields when you follow the signs to Echo Beach. One of the former surfers’ dens has been converted into bustling Echo Beach House with live music on Friday and Saturday night. Their beer-battered fish and chips and ice-cold Bintang beer will surely make your trip worthwhile.

Bali-street-life1

Photo by Flickr user: Bali Blog CC2.0

Although Canggu doesn’t seem like the most strategic area to set up shop, several entrepreneurs have taken the impulsive leap of faith. A handful of local shops are located in a side alley of Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong, one of Canggu’s main corridors. Outfitting the area’s beachy clientele, Ginger Snap Men’s Fashion offers limited edition men’s clothing that is made in Bali. Down the road Flow and Yonder Canggu Surf Co towers above the surrounding paddies. Check the daily surf reports pinned to the shop’s ground floor wall, before ascending the stairs to their surfboard showroom. The shop is reputable for its one-of-a-kind boards and top notch gear; unsurprisingly this is where Bali’s surf pros stock up. Nearby Deux Ex Machina is one of the island’s quaintest shops. Indeed, where else can you find clothes, books, art, and motorcycles under one roof? If you’re growing tired riding around on your tame scooter, consider adding some brute power to your trip by renting a motorcycle or push bike.

Not to be confused with a garage repair shop, Pasta Garage is one of many warungs (family-owned businesses) that the area is rich with. Located out of sight in a bumpy alley, this family-friendly restaurant is set in the idyllic garden of the owners’ house. Lanterns shed just enough light on the little tables that are spread around the patio. Their diverse menu and ridiculously cheap prices make Pasta Garage a Canggu gem. Back on the main road of this particular area sits Dabumito, one of the few Mexican restaurants on the island. Although Mexican cuisine is emphasized, the Indonesian dishes should definitely not be overlooked. For those appreciating spicy food, ask the ibu (hostess) for lombok kecil, Indonesia’s spiciest chili pepper. For something more familiar, take-away or eat in at Pizza Club where the menu is based entirely on movie titles. With extra toppings abbreviated as E.T., their seafood pizza called Finding Nemo, and their lamb pizza named Silence of the Lambs, you’re in for a laugh. Consider sitting down at one of Pantai Batu Belig’s terrace-like patios for a marvelous sunset. Just a few steps away from the beach, this local restaurant will permanently win you over on Indonesian cooking. Since the kitchen is located a few blocks away, allow some extra wait time for the food to arrive by scooter. Away from the beach, Warung Sobat has become quite the hit with both locals and foreigners looking to satiate on Indonesian dishes for next to nothing. Their satay ayam comes served on a mini grill, making it delightfully tender.

With all that tasty, inexpensive food, it’s easy to overindulge in Canggu’s dining scene. For deep after-dinner conversations relax on one of the heaven-like canopy beds at the brand new Mozaic Beachclub & Restaurant. The club’s anonymous location on one of the less visited stretches of beach keeps away loud and pretentious holiday crowds. Similarly, Vue Beach Club’s infinity pool area is decorated with comfortable seats. Dip your toes in pool or seawater while enjoying the DJ’s loungy beats. Decorated with hundreds of colorful antique shutters, Potato Head is one of Bali’s trendiest beach clubs. Surprisingly, you don’t require an unlimited credit card to spend the day feeling like a jetsetter. As you slip into the pool and have a drink at the island bar, taking in the see-and-be-seen atmosphere, you will start to comprehend how Bali earned its reputation as Asia’s new Miami.

Thanks to the upswing of locally-owned businesses, eco-friendly accommodations, and the preservation of nature, Canggu has become one of the most authentic, yet affordable, south Bali escapes. Perceived by many as a welcome alternative to Seminyak’s fancy sunglasses, expensive wines, and slick rides, the area has left developers coveting its grounds empty-handed.