scootin' around bali

Kuta Travel Blog

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Lunch at the Malaysia airport! One must eat while swatting away lots of flies!

Bali rivals Cancun for amount of scooters on the roads. It’s insanity! The locals are like NYC cab drivers on two wheels… the tourists a tad more pensive and cautious with their turns.

Being a beach/tourist town, Kuta offers all your sun-n-surf attire needs. Pretty much every street is lined with shops begging and grabbing at you to purchase their saraongs of dresses or I HEART BALI towels. They’re all the same from store to store. This is where the art of haggling comes in handy! Walking down Poppies I and Poppies II (the main stall-style shopping areas), one is a broken record of “no thank yous.” Kuta requires patience!

While some prices are raised to maximize the tourist income, food is wonderfully cheap. At first I as distraught at the lack of cooking I could do to save some money, but I’m sitting here eating a large serving of vegetable curry and a sipping on Bingtang, the local beer (akin to Bud Light), and my total tab is Rp 28000. Roughly US$3. I think I can handle to expense of eating out. Plus, the hotel offers free breakfast. For half the price of eating at McDonalds or for the price of a coffee at Starbucks (both of which still maintain their Western price tags) I get a meal I can barely finish.


I’ve fallen into quite an enjoyable routine. My day begins around 8am, sans alarm, and jolting awake with a swim in the pool. Originally I promised myself I’d start running again, especially since I have the beach just outside…but I opted to not pass up the opportunity of having a pool. Having cooled off from my perpetual sweaty stickiness, the cold shower isn’t as shocking as one might think. I’ve gotten used to a lack of hot water. Breakfast (free!) is tar-like Indonesian coffee, a fried egg on (really sweet) toast, and a meager serving of fruit. It’s so hot out that this sustains me until dinner…I just gulp about a litre of water throughout the day.

It’s a taxing wonder through Kuta’s small, stall-filled lanes until noon-ish, then it’s time to slather on the sunscreen and head to the tourist packed sand. One can’t even escape sales pressure at the beach. Men come over to offer jewelry “for cheap price” or henna tattoos. Women with food balanced atop offer fruit or massages. Lazzing away the afternoon, being as unproductive as possible, it’s time to rinse off the sand that has migrated everywhere, cool off with an iced coffee, then head back to the beach to catch the ever so perfect sunset.

Then the search for dinner commences!


Being highly geared toward tourists seeking the perfect tan, there’s more emphasis on surfing than culture. But, Hindu life is still abound…from small offerings to the gods outside shops and on the sands of the beach, to full on displays of evening prayer Oceanside. Leaving the coastline, Bali boasts volcanic mounds and temples…but I have no such plans this time to do anything but join in with the rest of the imported population and soak up the spectacular splendor that is Kuta Beach.

Bali (an island of Indonesia, in which Kuta sits towards the southern end) became inhabited as early as 3000BC, but wasn’t an organized society until the 9th century and developed around the cultivation of rice. In the 19th century the Dutch began to form allies in northern Bali, but a dispute brought about the 1906 Dutch invasion of the south. Bali fell to the Dutch in a puputan (fight to the death) and became for of the Dutch East Indies.

Indonesia began fighting for independence, declaring it in 1945. The Dutch finally relented power in 1949. Bali became marketed to tourists which brought prosperity, overdevelopment, and international targeting for investors (and in 2002 and 2005; terrorists). Tourism dropped off after the Kuta bombings, but Bali still tends to make the list of those touring SE Asian’s beaches. It’s easy to see why…


I’ve successfully managed to laze away a week (without a sunburn!). It’s the last supper and I’m going Chinese. I’m leaving behind my better judgment of  ordering local food…but in all honestly, it all tastes rather similar. Everything is pretty much some sort of meat or veggies in satay sauce and a small pile of white rice. So that’s my justification for ordering the “fried noodle special.”

The day finished itself off with yet another perfect sunset, a reliable even each evening. The sun seems to swell as it begins its descent towards the ocean. It grows slightly more rotund and develops a deeper orange glow, rather than its daytime blinding yellow. There always seems to be a solitary cloud that crosses its path briefly. The waves below calm momentarily (I’m sure something to do with the shifting push and pull between the setting sun and rising moon) and become lightly tinted orange from above. As the beach quiets down and people begin their trek back into town…just as you start to settle into the relaxing crash of the waves in the background…stupid little sand crab/hermit type ugly little critters start popping in and out of the sand! I’m not “at one with nature” enough to be okay sharing the sand with them. I’ve opened myself up to salamanders and can make peace with sharing my room with one…two at the most.

I thought that was pretty big of me!


Culture shock note: I never gave much thought to chain stores. This further text excludes the monstrosities of McDonalds, Starbucks, and for some reason KFC. I pretty much assumed each country had their own chains…we have acquired some of Europe’s (IKEA, H&M) and other countries have taken on some of ours. BUT…there’s a whole world of chains out there unknown to us North Americans. The rest of the world seems to have chains that we’re not a part of. Things I thought funny of NZ culture really aren’t specific to NZ at all… Their different words/brands…well they’re all over British-inspired countries. It’s America that’s not part of this shared global culture. We dominate fast food and a handful of clothing stores…and coffee (although what I thought was a quaint NZ coffee chain, Gloria Jeans, is actually world-wide. Starbucks has no threat to its monopoly, however.

We (America) are such a world presence, I didn’t realize there’s a whole other world of chains familiar to most but foreign to us. It kind of makes me (in the grand scope of Americanness) feel left out… There’s this whole British-ly connected world out there that our continent knows nothing of. We’re the odd ones out. They share a commonness with one another that just doesn’t exist for us.

It’s embarrassing that our contribution to the globe is McDonalds (and Bush’s mess).

fromtheblock says:
i don't know what happened to all the other pictures...apparently they didn't obnoxious! the computer right now doesn't load pics...i'll get on it later....
Posted on: Sep 30, 2009
talllady6 says:
Realization! Do you find English typewriters? Dah. The spacing & such in this one made me wonder what kind of computer is available. Loved your comments on the sunsets, the culture - the chains. Thanks for being so generous!
Posted on: Sep 29, 2009
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Lunch at the Malaysia airport! One…
Lunch at the Malaysia airport! On…
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