Walking Around Kuta

May 9, 2014

I developed a habit of shaking my head sideways as I walked down the street.

After indulging in Balinese art and culture in Ubud for 10 days, it was time to pack and leave for the famous Kuta. Unlike the mountains and coffee shops of Ubud, Kuta had beaches and bars and according to an Australian lady I shared a table with in a cafe "Kuta has lots of Aussies". It confused me why she emphasized the phrase with a half-smile on her face.

I booked a cheap hotel in Agoda that's 2-3 minutes away from the beach. What I didn't realize was that I booked the wrong Tune Hotel. Instead of staying in Kuta, I stayed in Legian. The beaches are still connected though but I had to walk 30 minutes to get to the center.

My room was incredibly tiny but good enough for someone my size. However, the bathroom was too narrow so that when I sat on the toilet, my knees touched the wall. I could only imagine the bigger folks struggling to fit in this tiny room.

The first thing I did when I left the hotel was to find the beach. People were more persistent here than in Ubud.

It was as if my every move triggered a bystander to ask if I'd like to ride his motor taxi. And if I said no, he'd ask if I'd like to go surfing. And if I said no again, he'd ask if I'd like to go on a tour. Now repeat that for every person I encounter.

For the next 6 days, I developed a habit of shaking my head sideways while I walked down the street. They just don't give up at all.

The beach wasn't what I expected but it was still nice. The white sand I imagined was actually brown. The long stretch and the huge waves were exactly how I imagined them. People walked, sat, and played near the beach enjoying its massive size.

But the thing that intrigued me were the reflections on the sand when the water retreated back to the sea. It was absolutely surreal.

Dinner with a View

Taking photos of people interacting with water made me hungry so I went about to look for food. I eventually ended up in a pizza place that advertised having the best pizza in town.

The thin crust was perfect and it sort of reminded me of Michaelangelo back home but it wasn't the best pizza I've tasted. Still worth the price though.

The Long Walk

The next morning, I woke up at 5am just to see the sunrise but the air-condition was too inviting that I snoozed off. Note that I didn't have air-conditioning in Ubud so this was such a relief for me.

When I finally decided it was time to get up, the sun was already out and it was gloomy. I guess I didn't miss anything. My stomach was grumbling for food and since it was still early, all the restaurants were closed except for the pricey hotel restaurants nearby.

Thinking there'd be cheaper food by the beach, I went out for an early morning walk. There were lots of people jogging by the beach and the place felt so alive at 6:30 in the morning.

I saw this dog lying around in a circle and went close to investigate. Turns out, the circle was made by paws. I tried to slowly hover my foot over the circle and it immediately turned towards me. Alright, moving on.

People Watching

I was also fascinated by how some people walking by looked like the dog they were with. An athletic guy zoomed past me with his hyperactive husky. Another guy had a beagle who was constantly distracted and it seemed that he was too. Here's another proof of owner-dog similarity.

There were also people picking up shells on the beach. But it was sad to see so many trash lying around. It looked like they were scavenging for treasure.

Looking for the Next Paradise to Destroy

That statement made me think about the effects of tourism in supposedly beautiful places. This is a big problem that I hope everyone would try to solve.

Thirty minutes later, the sweatier version of me reached a mall. I bought a delicious, cold milk tea to quench my thirst while waiting for Lani. She sent me a message a few days back that she was heading to Bali for the weekend to surf. I was thrilled to see her after a long time.

Outside, the sun had set and people gathered in swarms to witness it.

Lani and her friends Cristine and Feiling took me around town. We ate at a very cheap all-you-can-eat bar, which I later on found out was a very popular place to go for locals and tourists. To get to the bar, you had to climb up a building, navigate around narrow hallways and stairs, before reaching a rooftop-type bar. The food was good especially for the price we paid.

The streets were full of people walking around! Here and there, we saw sign boards of mushrooms for sale. Cristine said they were the kind of mushroom that grew in cow's manure and makes people hallucinate.

I've read stories about the 2002 bombings in Bali and had to check out the site where it happened. The memorial structure stood in silence amidst the upbeat bars as the traffic jams and people surrounded it.

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