Despite all our best efforts, Erik and I ended up spending our last few days on Bali in Kuta. Think Cancun for Australians. We researched several different beaches, but Kuta was always the cheapest to get to, to stay in and it’s insanely close to the airport for our early morning flight to Australia.
We encountered some culture shock that smacks you in the face with never-ending beachwear shops all selling the same stupid t-shirts, insistent touts advertising taxi rides and made-up women passing out cards for free drinks at one of the many bars lining the main strip. We did, however, find some solace in the small side streets or “gangs” where the alcohol and swimsuits quickly dissolve away into local life if you spend the time to get lost, which we inadvertently did on our first afternoon.
The plaque there lists the names of the 202 people from all over the world who died when a nightclub district was targeted by a violent Islamist group, only three years before a similar bombing in 2005. The bombings have severely hurt the tourism industry in Bali, but from what we could tell it seems to be recovering quickly.
Another thing about Kuta is that it’s ungodly hot. The air-conditioning in our room was completely necessary and we learned quickly why the locals don’t head to the beach until near sundown. After trying the beach once during the day, although we got a sense of the wonderful surf culture there, we vowed to return again only later in the early evening.
On our last night we dragged ourselves out of our air-conditioning and went for a stroll as the sun went down. The ocean was too much for Erik to resist, and he decided to take a dip among the sunset surfers to cool off.
Before retiring for our early flight the next morning, we mingled among the young and restless on the main strip.
Nightclubs pumped bass, dancers beckoned to us, people blew whistles and bars promoted their foam parties as we strolled by half pondering how much sleep do you really need before an early morning flight, followed by an overnight flight, followed by meeting our housesitting family?