I’ve yet to find a good wireless signal, so I’m still paying for internet access — hence no photos and lackadaisical writing — my apologies.

Observations from Kuta

  • This is the tourist epicenter of Indonesia and one of the busiest places in Southeast Asia. The beach looks more like Miami than some romantic little island tucked inside of Java.
  • Poppies lane 1 and 2 are the Khao San Road of Indonesia. You can find cheap rooms, dreadlocks, a multitude of bars, and brown leathery expats walking around with their local girlfriends while smoking Marlboro Reds.
  • At the same time, there are honeymooners, families, and package tourists mixing seamlessly. It reminds me of Koh Phi Phi island in Thailand almost…the budget travelers are definitely present, but they may not be a majority. This isn’t quite the busy season for Bali — which is good, things here will be absolutely mad in two months, and I don’t plan to be around!

Walking in Kuta

Walking here is surprisingly difficult, even more challenging than the average street in Bangkok. The sidewalk is cluttered with vendors, people squatting, Hindu offerings of incense and flowers, and parked motorbikes. The streets are extremely narrow, there is not even enough room for two small cars to pass side by side, yet they drive down them from both directions!

Twice now I’ve seen two cars meet head to head and create a cacophony of horn honking with scooters and pedestrians going nowhere. It can be literally impossible to circumnavigate so you have to wait patiently for some resolution.

Add to this that there are more broken sidewalk tiles than good ones, just a short walk can be a stressful experience. Several times I stepped on what looked like a solid concrete plate and it moved, threatening to plunge my foot into the toxic slew of sewage below.

Yuck!

Petrol for motorbikes is sold in Absolute Vodka bottles for 50 cents each…and people never stop driving their scooters aimlessly around the streets. I’m excited about getting back on a bike, but not here.

The Beach in South Bali

The beach here is huge, very busy but still enough real estate to spread everyone around. Surfers abound, and for good reason: the waves were three meters tall yesterday! I got out for a while, enjoying the power and sting of these massive waves. This is definitely the right place to hire a body board, at least, and spending a day riding.

Hawkers and vendors patrol the beach constantly; it is as bad or worse here than in Acapulco. You can’t just sit silently with a book, someone is constantly trying to sell you a massage or bracelet.

Interestingly, there are guys walking around selling massive compound bows and quivers full of sharp arrows — the kind you would use for hunting. WTF?
Of all the things to buy on one of the most crowded beaches in Southeast Asia, why a deadly weapon? There is no hunting; you couldn’t possible shoot it in any direction without killing someone, and forget trying to walk around with it or get it home. I don’t understand, but maybe I should be arming myself for West Papua later? 🙂

Sounds like I’m complaining…which is true. But I’m mainly just cranky from the jetlag and tiny heat strokes I keep having.

More from Bali later with some photos!