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May 12th 2013
Published: May 25th 2013
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Ah crazy Kuta, a place in the South of Bali which is possibly the least authentic Balinese place you could visit. Similar to parts of Koh Samui in Thailand or Boracay in the Philippines, Kuta is the place to come if you want to party, and being only a few hours away from Australia, that is exactly what Ozzies in Bintang vests (or no tops at all) come here to do, munching away on pizza, burgers, pies and other traditional Indonesian food and swigging beer at all hours... it’s not just Australian people (although the majority), Kuta was packed with plenty of English, Dutch, Swedish and French people all here for one reason – to party and enjoy the many clubs and bars lining the main street, something which we intended to do too. We would have 2 nights here with no plans but we knew inevitably we would join the party crowd at some point! It’s definitely not the ‘real’ Bali, but having been before we knew what to expect and it was no different to how we remembered from 2011, which was a comfort of sorts, and we actually enjoyed our time wandering the back streets and gangs a lot.

We arrived at a hotel we had pre-booked which was in a quiet street in between Kuta and neighbouring Legian, after sitting in traffic for ages in a bemo we had jumped in from Denpasar. That was when we finally got off the bus at the right place, after it had stopped 30 minutes short of Denpasar and the driver tried to tell us it was Denpasar and we had to get off as the bus was terminating here...after a bit of arguing he eventually drove us to the right place. Welcome to Bali! To be fair this was the only slight bit of hassle we had here, which after reading other blogs is minor compared to stress other’s had and what we expected. Anyway, the hotel was nothing fancy but nice and quiet, with a/c in the room and a big comfy bed, just what we needed after the last few days. We were shattered after early starts and non stop moving, so grabbed a bite to eat in a small Warung in one of the alleys and headed to bed at the crazy time of 11pm.

Aside from being woken up at 6am by the hotel workers taking part in some sort of zumba dance lesson to music at full blast in the car park, which our room overlooked, we had a great night’s sleep and eventually got up at 10am, much needed. We had a small breakfast downstairs of fried rice wrapped in a banana leaf, and were going to chill by the pool for a while but it was in the shade, so headed to the beach instead. Last time we weren’t that impressed with the beach here, but just a bit further down in Legian it was quieter and seemed nicer somehow, with a big wide sand beach and of course, the main attraction here other than partying, a strong surf.

After watching the surf action and some of the pro’s riding the huge waves for a while from the sand, Scott decided to have a surf lesson! There are several surf schools here charging around $50 for a 2 hour lesson, but the local guys on the beach are just as good really and would only charge £15 for a lesson with use of the surf board for the rest of the day if you wanted it, so Scott picked one out and started his lesson. The guy showed him the basics of surfing, how to crouch and then stand on the board, what to do if a wave is about to break on you, how to catch a wave and cruise in etc, but as he was about to see learning this on the sand is one thing, but practicing in 10 feet high waves with a strong under-current in the sea is another entirely! When the guy told Scott after 25 minutes they could practice in the sea, he was a bit concerned as the waves seemed to be getting even bigger and stronger, but the guy assured him it would be ok, so they waded out into the sea together to try and catch some waves. I was watching from the sand the whole time, and it looked difficult to me, but when Scott was constantly being pounded by the water and pushed under, without even getting close to crouching on the surf board when a wave came let alone standing on it, it was time to call it quits for now. The waves were massive, and while the pro’s made it look easy, for a beginner the conditions were just too much. The guy agreed so they re-arranged the lesson to continue the next day when the sea should be a bit calmer. He enjoyed what he did but isn’t sure that surfing is for him, and it’s definitely not something you can be good at after an hour or so!

We spent a while longer chilling on the beach, but it was so hot and with the sea too strong to swim in we went for a big walk down to the other end of Legian. We had lunch at a lovely little place set around a pretty garden and run by a nice woman, and once again commented on how good the food has been in Indo, even something simple like nasi goring (fried rice), and is good value if you stay away from the places on the main road. I have also become obsessed with a sweet soy sauce which I put on everything now, I think its called Kecap Manis and it’s so good! We then wandered further down the beach and ended up at a place called Cocoon, which had big comfy looking beds around a pool, just what we fancied, but the deal was you were supposed to buy a drink to use the facilities. We had fully intended to buy a drink or two, until we saw the prices on the menu – even a can of coke worked out at over £2 plus 10% tax plus 5% service, and a cocktail was £8 plus tax and service! This might not seem like much at home but when you can eat good food for less here it makes you think a bit. Places like this always charge more, but this is still Asia and the prices were more like a beach club in Europe, though judging by the clientele (mainly Russian and Australian) no one else seemed to care. Luckily no one really bothered us in the end though so we spent a few hours sunbathing here and dipping in and out the pool which was lovely, and once again we thought if we were on holiday from the UK this would probably seem quite cheap to us for the setting etc, but for long term backpackers it just wasn’t. We need to stop wanting the nice things I guess unless we are prepared to pay for them. Anyway we had a nice afternoon and went back to our hotel at 5ish to freshen up for that evening.

After showering and changing, we had a bite to eat and headed out to meet up with the Dutch guys who we had met on the way to Ijen. We agreed to meet in Sky Garden, a famous multi-story club on the main Jalan Legian, where foreigners get in for free and also get free drinks between 10-11pm. Now we know we have been less than complimentary about the party culture in Kuta before, but we thought if you can’t beat them, join them, and truth be told we were really looking forward to a good night out and a few drinks for the first time in ages! We met with the Dutch guys and some of their friends, and after plenty of drinks, dancing on the roof terrace, a pot noodle on the way home and promises to meet up in a few days time, we went to bed around 3am after a really fun night. Kuta does partying pretty well…

We had no plans for the next day, which was just as well as we were feeling less than perky when we got up, and Scott didn't fancy surfing again, so instead of wasting the day in Kuta we decided to move on to the town of Ubud an hour or so away. We had lunch and one of the best Soto Ayam (chicken noodle soup) we have had so far for just 7,000rp (50p!) and wandered around the many shops, some of which sold really nice surf inspired clothing and accessories – we even found a Haviana flip flop vending machine! – before it was time for our mini-van transfer to Ubud. We had tried to organise a private taxi but the prices were too high so booked a shared transfer, but we were the only two in the van so it was like a private transfer anyway which was a nice surprise. So after a couple of days of (fun) madness here, it was time to go and find a slice of real Balinese culture.

S&V's Travel Info & Tips:

General Info: Approx 15,000 INR/RP (Indonesian Rupiah) to £1.

Transportation: The bus from Ketapang drove onto the ferry to Gilimanuk, Bali, which took just over an hour. The drive from Gilimanuk to Denpasar took around 3 hours, and from there to Legian a bemo cost us 50,000rp.

Food: Great warung right near our hotel on Jalan Benisari called Warung Totemo serving good local dishes and nice pizza. Also the small stall opposite does a yummy Soto Ayam for just 7,000rp.

Accomodation: POP Hotel is a new hotel just off Jln Benisari, which we booked online before we arrived, as we wanted a nice a/c room which is what we got. It also had a pool and included breakfast, plus was very quiet at night. Lots of cheaper places in the area to stay as well.

Other observations:

x) The traffic along Jalan Legian (main street) is still crazy from 4pm - onwards, its quicker to walk rather than sit in a taxi here, just watch out for all the motorbikes!

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