Does anybody actually like Kuta, the most touristy city in Bali? And a city it is, with busy streets full of noisy traffic, huge shopping malls, overpriced restaurants and fast food joints, and narrow sidewalks full of shifty guys trying to sell me transport, Viagra, Cialis, hashish, and “young lady sexy massage.” The Australians and Chinese must, judging by the crowds of them here. Or maybe they’re just passing through on the way to nicer places.
I should just be passing through to, but I have to stop and work periodically, so I’m spending a week here locked in my room.
As terrible and touristy as Kuta is, the Balinese culture shines through. Temples are everywhere, and they are hubs of activity, with traditional music being performed. Every day the locals construct little palm leave baskets to hold offerings of food, flowers, and cigarets, which they place on the ground in various strategic places in the morning.
While doing this they wear traditional sarongs. Besides Myanmar, Bali is the only place in South East Asia where I saw people going about their daily business in traditional clothes. I get to watch the family running my homestay do this every morning, and the colorful little baskets can be seen on the ground everywhere throughout the day.
My small hotel, which is more like a big homestay, is a traditional home, full of shrines and statues. It looks more like a temple. Unlike the decorations in five star hotels, everything is real, and the family places great importance on them.
So I don’t like Kuta, but I like Balinese culture. What am I to do? Leave Kuta of course! Which is where my nascent crazy plan comes in. The best way to get around is via motorbike, and I’d like to spend two weeks on my own touring the island.
That’s not too crazy, and quite a few people do it. The craziness is that it’s possible to take a bike on a ferry to the East to the islands of Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, and even as far as Alor.
The road less traveled, getting off the beaten track, on my own pace, holds a lot of appeal. I’ll see how my tour of Bali goes first.