Sanur’s Empty Beach

It’s Sunday, late in the afternoon. While I’m walking to my guesthouse I get a first impression of Sanur. I pass a small market, right near the beach with a lot of activity. Restaurants, massage shops, souvenir shops, tour agents, all seem to be fighting for a little bit of my attention. There is a walkway next to the beach which makes it easy to walk. I understand immediately why this place is popular with families and older people.  Life is relaxed here. A bit slow as well.

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After sunset I walk to the beach to get a drink. I walk past all the lounge bars and restaurants and there are so many that it’s hard to choose. Sanur is not a backpacker place and it feels like everyone is on a family vacation or retired. I feel a bit young here too. I end up in the store, buying a can to drink on the beach, somehow that feels better than drinking alone in a bar surrounded by families and older couples.

The next day I decide to take a look at a black beach that is at the end of the tourist strip. I’m intrigued by this beach. It’s very long, clean and has nice waves but it doesn’t have any people on it, while all the other beaches are relatively busy. On my way I pass a few statues with violent scenes depicted upon them. I’m curious about their meaning.
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I walk down the stairs to get to the beach. A group of local guys are hanging out. They look poor and a bit threatening. One of them comes up to me and asks me for money. I refuse. I start walking down the beach and they keep staring, but nothing happens. I get it. They are just hoping to intimidate me so that I’ll pay. Apart from me and them the beach is completely empty. And beautiful. Maybe most tourists don’t want a black beach? I still don’t understand why there are no people on it.

That evening I go out for a drink with a new friend. It’s dark and we walk through a big resort to get to the street. We end on a small, dark road. Dogs start barking and make clear that it’s their street and not ours. They growl angrily: “we were here first, go away now, we’re showing our teeth.” They can have their street.  We make it to the bar alive and we’re the only guests. The bartender is happy to see us and we have a chat. He’s from Lake Toba, and gets very excited when I tell him that I’ve been there. We talk about the differences between Bali and Sumatra, and Medan and Sanur. On the way back to my guesthouse I make sure not to take any dark streets.

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