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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D MJ Binkley
Dave and Merry Jo Binkley
Thank you. We failed to bring our camera out so failed to get any real action shots but are still happy we captured ones like this.
Ren & Andrew
'Chris really did get into it and now hopes to try a bit more surfing when we reach the right destination.'...do you mean Australia?? ;) Glad you missed the horrible side of Kuta beach with Australian 'bogans' behaving badly.
We both did not have a clue what the term Bogan meant but we looked it up and can gladly confirm we did not have to witness any such behaviour. I'm sure if we stuck around we would have had the pleasure. Afterall we hear there are some simalirities between our cultures here. We have no flights booked so there is a possibility... although since we are nearing the end of China we were thinking of heading to Laos for a couple of weeks get our visas sorted for India and fly out to maybe Delhi . Many people we meet talk highly about Australia and so a part of us feels like we are missing out on something big... :(
Congrats to Chris on actually surfing his first time around! I'm from a surfer town and have only managed to boogie board! Your experiences in Ubud were so wonderful--it's bizarre that people prefer this place to Ubud's culture and tranquility, but clearly, people travel for different reasons. I've read great things of Laos--enjoy!
Surfing is by no means easy. P only got to a point of half standing when she tried before always toppling over and drinking salt water in the process. Yes people do travel for different reasons, sometimes when we travel to some off the beaten tracks places and we find a similar kind of traceller. In places like Bali it is very mixed though.
Deni, Dax and Ella
We were in Indonesia a few years ago and didn't like Kuta neither but, as Kuta doesn't represent the whole of Bali, please don't think that the whole of Majorca is represented by those few spots where the tourists get drunk and practice "balconing" (I assume you were talking of Magaluf and El Arenal). We lived in Majorca for 2 years and it's a beautiful place with mainly family oriented tourism.
Wow you lived in Mallorca. We have never been but love the areas of spain we have visited and hope to explore some more destinations when we return home. We agree Kuta is not Bali and neither is the party areas of Magaluf Mallorca and it is a shane that the behaviour of tourists put a negative light on such beautiful areas. Like you say, many of our friends have also spoke positively of places in magaluf away from the crazy antics of those who only go away to party.
Nanci and David Curry
We heard similar things about Kuta when we visited Bali. We decided not to visit that side of the island (we stayed in Sanur for 3 weeks) and I always kind of regretted it. After your story, perhaps we made a good decision. We have developed a theory you see some of any countries worst tourists when you go to the nearest beach resort. Cancun and Cabo are full of pretty pitiful Americans and unfortunately Bali seems to be Australias dumping ground. Even in sleepy Sanur we witnessed some pretty poor displays. Spain was full of Brits that should have just stayed home. Oh, well. We really liked Laos. It's worth a visit, but since you guys saw Myanmar, it might seem a little bit the same. Great blog and we are enjoying following along on your journey!
Thats a pretty good theory and most likely stands true in most countries. As everyone mentioned Kuta like you we would have maybe regretted it if we had missed it. We can happily say though you did not miss anything. A few people have likened Myanmar to Laos. We loved Myanmar but at the same time we are ready to move on from south east asia so we will see how long we last in Laos.
Votre petit article me rappelle de supers souvenirs ! J'y suis allé en 2013 ! Un régal - Je vous partage mon blog, n'hésitez pas à y faire un tour, je vais justement poster des articles sur mes découvertes en Am central et mes plans matos ! https://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/Fred-Extreme/