Monday, December 24, 2007

Kuta, Bali

Suits are not supposed to see the light of day in Bali. Nor ties or shirts or even loafers. And the island showed its disapproval at me by enveloping Kuta and the surrounding area with thick humidity. I was sweating up a storm and even within walls of the hotel lobby my shirt was sticking to my back. Why is it that resort hotels always have un-air conditioned lobbies?

I stayed at the Patra Bali near the airport. Very cosy although there was no real beach instead there was a rocky breaker that stretched all the way to the Discovery Mall.

The breakfast is edible, the Internet is woefully slow at the business center where the price of the Internet access voucher is rather pricey. The rooms are nice and large and you could almost spend the whole day just in the hotel exploring its grounds and just chilling by the beach and the various pools.

Some of the villas. The private suites come with their own outdoor jacuzzi

Patra Bali Main pool

One of the smaller pools closer to the presidential suites

Lobby of Karthika Discovery Hotel

The stretch of Kuta is truly a resort town. The surfer mentality still remains although its probably years past that the last serious surfer gulped down ice cold Bintang looking onto a Balinese sunset. Its all good to walk around shirtless, in string bikinis and especially in flip flops. But beyond the proliferation of surf shops and the surprising abundance of Polo shops (note that there are 2 versions here – Polo and Polo by Ralph Lauren, its just another tourist town – the cheap t-shirts, the trinkets, the fake Manchester United jerseys all easily found on the beaches of Ferringhi, Phuket, Hanoi and even Mongkok.

Lamps at Ku De Ta

I stopped by Kudeta at the upmarket area of Seminyak and found it very chill but just wasn't in a up for a quiet drink with mood lighting. Its one of those places folks who listen to Café Del Mar would love to hang out with sipping their Stellas.

For the second time the sea food at Jimbaran disappointed me until I realised that Jimbaran is not about the food. Its dining on a 3 or 5 kilometer beach (depending how many beers you’ve had) with tables placed almost until the sea. The beach stretched from the Four Seasons on one end almost to the airport on the other. Its about eating fresh and sometimes not so fresh seafood as the evening waves crash against the beach, the wind is in your face and so is the dying embers of that magnificent sunset on an ocean view that spans the entire horizon. On both sides of you the lamps from hundreds of tables on the sand stretch of twinkling into the distance and as you sip that ice cold beer as your seafood barbecue platter arrives, you see an airplane take off in the not too distant airport, its lights flashing faintly as it rises into the Western sky. At the restaurant nearby clear voices sing an Indonesian classic. Nice.

A shop specializing in condoms and of all things figurines of sexy manga babes. I guess its the replacement for the blow-up doll?

Kuta Beach

I think its an Australian franchise. Just try once for the sentimental reasons. Hey you can even buy a souvenir "Run Forrest Run" T-shirt.

C'mon people what's with all those take-away boxes? Its just too sweet man!

Fishing on Patra Bali 'beach'. All swimming confined to the pools as they are reclaiming the land around the hotel.

I forgot to book for a late checkout so got booted out of my room by 1pm. My flight was at 8pm. I hit an Internet café in Kuta but the company web mail was already on Christmas break. Now I had about 5 hours to kill in a town that really had nothing to offer me. So I decided to hit a spa. Kill 2 hours there and then figure out what to do later. I went for the volcanic mud thing package. I have no idea what the hell it’s supposed to do but I do know I fell asleep when I was getting some oil massage thing. When the woman started slapping the mud on me I started wondering what the hell I was doing there. The word ‘exfoliating’ came to mind but I didn’t care because it was shit cold. Then I got scrubbed off and got slapped on with some rather nice fruity smelling glop. As I hadn’t had my lunch it actually took some will power to prevent me from licking myself(I MUST start expanding my vocabulary only so I stop sounding like a manic perv). After I had ‘set’ the lady told me to ‘rendam’ in a rose petal bath. As I sat there simmering and trying to figure out how that one piece of volcanic crumb ended up in my butt crack, I wondered if I was now officially “metrosexual’. I realised that was a negative when I asked the lady after if I could exchange my ginger tea for a Bintang Beer and a serving of 'babi guling'.

I like Bali. It makes me comfortable. The people are warm and friendly. Their stone Gods and legends share their land and prayers. Kuta however is not for me. I need to get out into the country, the volcanoes and the countryside. I want to selfishly enjoy a sunset without going through a mad throng. The next trip is going to be pure holiday. I’ve a volcano to climb near Kintamani, the rice terraces to enjoy up north and maybe the royal ponds in the west. On my final day however I will come down to Kuta, maybe get a bit pretentious and head over to Kudeta and sip slowly that cold beer as the sun sets over the Indian ocean and the sounds of the surf and distant voices drowns out the gentle whisperings of the life that waits for me when my flight touches down back home.

* Pictures property of Chindiana Trails

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