A ruined Bali?


After my wonderful first impression from village life in
Bali, I was greeted with chaotic, busy, littered, un-cultural mess that is
Kuta. I perhaps would compare this place to what I imagine Benidorm or Marbella
to be like (as I have never actually been there, and from what I have heard
about  them I doubt I ever will).

Kuta is full of chavy package tourists, mostly from
Australia. There is little culture what-so-ever. It is a party place where
there are parties every night. The beach is nice, but nothing spectacular.

In fact, I don’t really understand why so many people want
to come here! For Australian standards (as it is so expensive there) it is
pretty cheap, but for an Asian country it is incredibly expensive! I will tell
you about my two nights here….

I arrived to my hotel that I had booked from the internet.
At prima face it seemed nice. This was not actually the case at all. When I
walked into my room I was welcomed with an over-powering smell of cleaning
products, I just assumed it had just been cleaned, however it was in fact to
mask the unbearable smell underneath!! The first night I went to sleep fine,
however throughout the night I kept waking up. After a while I realised that I
was waking up every time I rolled over to face the wall, because that’s where
the AWFUL smell was coming from! So I slept facing the window most of the
night….and then was awaken by extremely loud builders at around 6am. After
about an hour or so I decided I couldn’t take the smell and the noise anymore
and went to breakfast where I asked if I could change rooms.

I thought perhaps I was being dramatic because I was grouchy
that I hadn’t slept well, but I absolutely was not! They changed me to another
room, and the second night when I went to put on my pyjama top it smelt so bad
I took it straight back off (if it wasn’t my tubing souvenir top I would have
thrown it in the bin it was so bad!!)! So I suppose you are wandering what the
smell was? Well it was only when I returned to the room to move my things that
I noticed a huge wet patch across the wall, stretching almost top to bottom and
about 4 feet in width-it can’t have been healthy for me to be inhaling those
fumes all night!

But the damp smell wasn’t the only problem with the hotel.
The second room they gave me didn’t smell but it was not secure. Typical
Balinese buildings seem to have these really small (you need to duck your head
to enter!) doors that open like a wardrobe with a padlock securing both doors
together, except for this was not secure AT ALL! All you needed to do was push
the doors and they would come open! I wasn’t very happy about leaving my
belongings in there….but luckily my things were fine.

In addition to this was the pool. If I had paid to come for
my annual two week holiday and got that I would be extremely disappointed! It
was ancient, the paint was chipping away all over the place, it was dirty and
half the tiles were broken with age. As a backpacker, I suppose it was ok
(although I know I could have got more for my £12 a night!), but for a holiday
maker I would not be happy at all, but it didn’t seem to bother most of the
people there, much to my surprise!

So anyway, enough moaning about the hotel and more moaning
about the place…!

Kuta is a fair size place, it has a long stretching beach
and lane after lane of shops and restaurants. The shopping is great there and I
spent too much money buying things (one of which was a new bag that broke in 3
different ways after a week-I was not impressed!!!). They try to charge you WAY
too much for things which makes getting a bargain hard work/almost impossible,
but hey you can try! One person told me that you should actually pay 10% of the
initial asking price- that’s a LOT of haggling!!

But there are some lovely little stalls and shops. There are
also people walking around selling things, I was approached by a DVD seller,
when I chose 4 DVD’s he asked for 250 Rupiah. When I haggled him down to 100 I
thought I had done well (that’s around £7), that was until I saw them in a shop
for 10 Rupiah each! Ah I was so annoyed!!!

Kuta beach

Kuta beach

The beach is nice and long and has pleasant sand, although I have seen many much nicer beaches on my travels. I was quite surprised to find
that Bali is a big surf destination, and apparently this is a really good place
for it! I watched some of the surfers in action, and they were amazing! There
were some much better surfers here than what I had seen in Australia, either
that or ‘the surf’ is better (this is a new term I have learnt, which basically
refers to the surf-able waves)! I even considered having a surf lesson myself
and got chatting to a very friendly (and quite hot!) lifeguard who offered
to help…but I decided I would save that experience for another time…

I avoided the nightlife in Kuta as aside from not
particularly wanting to go out drinking, alcohol is expensive in Bali and I
wouldn’t have wanted to go out alone-Kuta is not the most solo traveller
friendly place I have been! But I can see that there are loads of bars and that
the nightlife must be pretty good.

The streets are narrow and filled with shops, bars and
restaurants…and motorbikes! The traffic in this area was unreal! And they
didn’t drive slowly either! As I would be walking along, minding my own
business, I would constantly be frightened out of my skin by a moto coming
within inches of me at incredible speeds-it was very unpleasant!!

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In the evenings I chilled out in a bar and had some dinner
before reading for a while and heading to bed. I tried nasi goring, a typical
Balinese dish and it was very nice! It’s just basically fried rice with a HUGE freshly
made prawn cracker on the top! Yum!

I also visited the one cultural thing that there seems to be
in Kuta-the Bali bombing memorial. A few years back (2004 maybe??) there were
some terrorist bombings in Bali that killed many tourists, and here there is a
very nice memorial for naming all of the victims and their nationalities, many
of which were Australian and a couple of British as well as Indonesian and many
others. I didn’t know about this, so I can say I learnt one thing whilst in
Kuta.

Bali bomb memorial

Bali bomb memorial

So this is a place where you sunbathe, surf and shop in the
day and party at night, I guess for many this is what they look for in a
holiday, but I feel that it is a shame. It’s a shame to see how over developed
this place has become, how globalised it is and how busy and dirty it is. Other
parts of Bali I’ve seen were so beautiful, and I feel that the natural beauty
this place has has been spoilt. I guess that’s what happens to a destination
when it experiences mass tourism like this, but it’s just such a shame.

I didn’t have an unpleasant time in Kuta, I enjoyed chilling
out on the beach and shopping, don’t get me wrong. But I will say that it is
probably my least favourite  place I have
travelled to and that I will certainly not be returning….  To me, this corner of Bali has been ruined, and I sincerely hope that this does not happen to any more of the country…because it truly is a beautiful country…..