Kuta: Watch this space

Trip Start Aug 29, 2010
Trip End Nov 06, 2010

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Where I stayed
Matahari Inn

Flag of Indonesia  , Nusa Tenggara Barat,
Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kuta, the polar opposite from it's Balinese counterpart, is on the south coast of Lombok. It's a surfer's paradise, with good breaks all along the coast (so I'm told, what do I know!?), chilled bars and cheap accommodation. We went because I wanted to see this quiet part of the coast with its unspoilt beaches and countryside. It turns only surfers go there. Seriously, ONLY surfers. People thought we were strange because we had no surfboard! But we got down to business, overlooked our room that smelt strongly of mold, rented a scooter and got exploring. Interestingly, when you need petrol in a town like Kuta, and there are no petrol stations, you buy a 1litre bottle of it from a roadside stall!

What was refreshing about Kuta was that, for the first time, it felt like we tourists were spending time in the local's town, in other words, it isn't focused on tourism - except for surfers shops, which are used by the surf mad locals anyway. The town is something like Rooi Els back in the day (or now still??), with one or 2 shops, a couple of restaurants and bars - that's it! There are kampungs (villages) of shacks and small houses right on the beach because that's where the people have always lived; they have prime beach property and no one has forced them out (yet), now that is unusual.

However, the end may well be nigh. An international airport is about to open 30 minutes away in Praya and a Dubai property company is investing USD600 million in building a series of luxury hotels and golf courses in Kuta. There is also an Indonesian law which states that any minister can force locals to sell their land. So goodbye kampung on the beach and hello Ritz Carlton? There are property development signs everywhere, so I guess it's only a matter of time. For now, the beaches are deserted - in fact we never actually saw any surfers, I think they were in some hidden beach we never found; the Sasak locals have their beaches and local services and we have a kind of paradise! (it is quiet in the evenings though and we did go a little mad...)

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