Kuta, Indonesia: Third Time Lucky

Trip Start Jul 28, 2013
Trip End Feb 06, 2014

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Flag of Indonesia  , Bali,
Sunday, February 2, 2014

Our last day on Lembongan was spent watching boat loads of Chinese tourists pull into shore and hurl as soon as their feet touched the sand. It made for highly entertaining viewing watching the poor things stagger off down the beach with bags of sick swinging from their hands whilst husbands gave them a nonchalant pat on the back.

Our original plan was to head up to Ubud when we reached Bali but that changed to Kuta after our boat operator informed us a transfer to Kuta would be free versus a IDR 200,000 (A$20) charge if we wanted to go to Ubud. Ever the backpacker we went with free and checked ourselves into a bargain hotel between Poppies I, Poppies II and conveniently located behind the Beach Walk Shopping Centre.

With far less people our third time in Bali was thoroughly enjoyable - minimal traffic, quiet shops and numerous seats to choose from at restaurants. Having brought our flight to Australia forward due to bad weather, it was of course Sod's law that we were blessed with sunshine everyday.

On a night out we got talking to two people who lived in Mandurah, just south of Perth, so spent the evening bar crawling with them and then met up the following day at Waterbomb Park which seemed like a fabulous idea in between downing shots. Note to self - drinking with 22 year olds and then agreeing to spend the following day shooting down waterslides is not ideal. Nor is trying to stand on a rain soaked surf board glued onto a concrete wave. There was only one possible outcome and that was complete wipeout and a few more bruises being added to the collection.

We had planned to spend our last day in Ubud but decided to head south and go to Rock Bar for cocktails instead. One should really research opening times before driving half an hr in the scorching heat only to be told it wasn't due to open for another 4 hours. Oops. As a Plan B we decided to check out a few of the surrounding bays so ventured down to Jimbaran Bay which had a nice big beach and was relatively rubbish free. Not the clearest of waters but it still looked to be a nice place. Balangan Bay was also a pleasant discovery with its clean beach, blue waters and row of shack cafes hovering over the sand on stilts. With great surf breaks it was the perfect place to chill out and watch as surfers crashed and burned or sliced up the waves. Definitely somewhere we'll be going back to.

By the time we made it back to Rock Bar it was just gone opening time of 4pm and we were a dripping mess. Located within the grounds of Anaya Resort the Rock Bar is built out of a cliff, 14m above the crashing waves below. Picturesque? Absolutely. Extortionately overpriced? Absolutely. My aunt and uncle suggested we go there - which I now believe to be payback for taking them on the world's most expensive railway in Switzerland! I'm pleased I went but I don't think I'll be going back in a hurry. First, we had to wait in the blazing sun for about half an hour before we could even get on the funicular to take us down there (hotel guest get first priority). Second, the actual bar was reserved for hotel guests only (fine but not when they don't drink!). Third, the nice comfy chairs had a IDR 600,000 minimum spend (a simple task once prices of drinks known). Fourth, no shade BUT you are offered an umbrella. Great I thought, until they produced an actual umbrella for me to sit and hold. WTF?!? Fifth, the cost. I'm all for spending A$20 on a cocktail but A$10 on a small bottle of Bintang is ridiculous. To get his money's worth Sam jumped in the infinity pool and went for a swim whilst I walked on pretending I didn't know him. Really I was secretly cursing myself for not slipping a bikini in my handbag. Rule one of tropical travel - always take swimmers.

Watching a sunset down on Kuta beach it was nice to see it looking a little cleaner. Yes there were still piles of rubbish and things scattered in the sand but on a much smaller scale to that over Christmas. You would still have to pay me to go swimming though.

When not eating, drinking or weaving the scooter through traffic, Sam continued on his shopping streak and purchased a few more 'essential' items for his life in the sun. Despite money burning a hole in my pocket I was only able to acquire a hat and pair of trousers. Poor effort but I'm sure my bank balance will thank me when I'm still unemployed two months down the track!

Taking a break from the heat of the streets we lounged in the hotel pool and enjoyed having sunshine. As much as I've bagged out Bali and Indonesia in general, it is a good place and most of the problems we faced were due to our budget. We had to catch the cheapest form of public transport rather than hire a driver. We had to stay in places with cold water and high risk bed bug zones. We had to eat the majority of meals in places that screamed "WARNING: Contents will evacuate your bowls quicker than you'll be able to find a decent toilet".

If you did Indo on money you could hire a driver and cut out all the wait times and public transport faff and uncomfortableness. You could stay in beautiful 5 star resorts with surrounds and infinity pools more luscious than your dreams (see Hanging Gardens). You could dine in places that prepped food in a way that wouldn't send you racing for the hills. So in part I think I've unjustly berated the place but some things are inexcusable - pollution and blatant lying being two which have annoyed me the most and it's for that reason that I put Indonesia just slightly slightly above India in my least favourite countries to BACKPACK list. Not holiday, backpack.

So that's that. Tomorrow we fly to Australia and our travel comes to a close, just shy of being 6 months since we left British shores.
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