Paradise only lasts as long as your visa
Living in utopia comes with a few other hitches -- not least among them, Indonesia’s tricky immigration rules and expensive visas. Most expats stay on a tourist visa that requires leaving the country every 60 days (a $70 expense each time) and multiple trips to immigration bureaus between. You can hire a visa agent to take care of the latter, but again, you’ve gotta pay ‘em. Some foreigners apply for a Social/Cultural visa, which is good for six months but becomes void the minute you leave Indonesia.
As a result, Canggu is mostly a refuge for solo travelers and very few families, making it a transient place where people (and relationships) come and go. When expats finally do bounce, reality gives them a jolt after living in such an idyll.
“It’s not real life,” my Canadian friend told me. “Everyone here is beautiful, there are hormones flying everywhere. The minute you move away, you’re in for a big wake-up.”
But for hopeful entrepreneurs, freelancers, designers, and in-betweeners, Canggu offers a chance to reset. To make connections. And at the very least, to catch a good wave. I talked to Suzy Brown, of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, who was studying for her PhD when she was rocked by the sudden death of her sister. She quit and blew her savings on a plane ticket to Bali and surf lessons. A year later, she is settled in Canggu and bent on staying.
Her typical day? Rising early, surfing for at least four hours, and then enjoying sunset drinks and seafood tacos at her favorite thatch-roofed eatery, The Lawn. “Surfing is my No. 1 priority," Brown says. “I probably wouldn’t be living in Bali if it weren’t for the surf. With the loss of my sister I’ve done a 180. I have the values I had before. But life’s short.”