We were quite apprehensive about going to Kuta as we'd read numerous blogs and heard from others directly that this was a crude overpriced tourist hub lacking any Indonesian culture. Some even likened Kuta to other tourist party hotspots such as the party areas in Magaluf or Cancun. Regardless of what we'd heard or read we wanted to visit ourselves and witness this place everyone talks about. Just for one day and night that is.
It is true what many people say. Whatever charm initially attracted people to this place has long gone. This was by far one of the most touristic towns we had visited. The town itself appeared to evolve around a never ending road with many small alleyweys stemming from it on either side. It's main focus was tourism. There were stalls upon stalls all selling the same touristic thing. Lots of western themed resturaunts (fish and chips anyone?), English signs and English speaking people. Many of course with an Australian accent; even some of the locals too.
Saying all this we did not imagine it to be the way it was. Having previously visited some of well known Spanish/Greek resorts
and witnessed some of the shameful tourist behaviour otherwise known as touirsm gone bad; we do not think this place has hit rock bottom yet. It could be because we only stayed one night, maybe it was because it was Tuesday, low season or because we didn't stay out long enough. We did not see the swarms of drunk people falling out of clubs and throwing up like we half expected to. This is what we have seen in the most popular Spanish resorts full with many fellow brits.
It was a pretty easy affair getting to Kuta from Ubud as we'd arranged our travel via our homestay. The journey itself took about 2hrs via minivan and dropped us off on the main strip in Kuta. After finding relatively cheap accommodation a bit further back from the strip, we headed to the beach to chill out, maybe swim, relax and do a little people watching. As we walked through the narrow gangways towards the strip (dodging bikes as per usual), we passed the shops selling items from clothes, souvenirs to some slightly crude bumper stickers. Wooden penis's are also for sale here but these are widely available in Ubud
too. Situated side by side to these shops were bars, pubs and restaurants. We were surprised to see some small local eateries amongst the big restaurants, selling local foods at close to local prices that we were familiar with.
Kuta beach like the main road stretches on for miles on end. Surfers here were plenty, sun bathers alike doing what they do best. The locals however bagged themselves spots at back of the beach taking up much of the shade with their stalls for drinks or surfboard hire. There were lots of people on the beach, but it appeared to be clean and fortunately there were no jellyfish to worry about. We had no intention of lying in the sun so we found ourselves a small space in the shade amongst the locals, not too far from a guy strumming his guitar. P fell asleep almost straight away with Chris following not so long after (we hadn't even done anything to tire us out that morning!). Following our nap P watched some of the surfers then convinced Chris to try a surfing lesson himself as P had already undertook a lesson or 2 previously in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. Still
waking up and slightly apprehensive he declined at first until P insisted he try it as this was THE place to surf. So, after a brief lesson on the sand, Chris and his instructor Tony headed out into the sea. On his first try Chris actually managed to maintain his balance for a short distance riding the wave before hitting the water. A few more tries later with a growing confidence, Tony allowed Chris to practice on his own. He seemed to be impressed with Chris's balance and ability and told him after the lesson that he did not need to take any more lessons, renting a board to practice with would suffice. Chris was "stoked" - is that the correct surfer terminology? Chris really did get into it and now hopes to try a bit more surfing when we reach the right destination.
Later that night we decided to head out on the strip for a few drinks, but not before grabbing a filling meal for 2 (with soft drinks) for 28k rupiah (£1.40). We headed out to the area where the music was truly at its loudest; dance, country, RnB and live music blared out from all
directions. We just wanted some cheap drinks in somewhere comfortable so walked around a bit until we found a place that we agreed on. We didn't see any crazy antics from tourists at all really despite the number of touts we passed offering us marijuana and mushrooms. We ended up in one place with a mixture of local, domestic and foreign visitors and enjoyed a couple of drinks there before venturing on to a reggae bar not too far away. No matter where you are in the world there's always a reggae bar!
The reggae bar was playing some classic Bob Marley songs when we arrived so we joined the hippie like crowd on the dancefloor. After a few more Bob Marley songs, a live band came out and performed a mix of some old reggae classics. We ended up staying for a few more numbers and then had to call it a night as it was getting late and we had a flight to catch the following morning.
On a whole then, bearing in mind we only stayed in Kuta one day and night, for us we enjoyed the time we spent there. It served a purpose;
we were able to have a few drinks and had the opportunity to try surfing all whilst continuing to sleep and eat cheaply. Any longer though and it's likely our experiences would be very different. One day and one night was enough.
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