Bali was nothing like I expected it to be when I got there. When I thought of Bali, I thought of a tropical island with palm trees swaying and a bit of a deserted, exclusive island with not many people about, a bit like the Caribbean really, but I was so wrong! I had arrived in Kuta, and I should have done a bit of research before I got here! It’s dirty, noisy, the beaches are polluted with rubbish, there are locals trying to hustle you to buy stuff constantly, it’s crowded with holiday makers and music blares from the shops and clubs at all hours. The streets are awash with traffic, morning noon and night and scooters cram the streets with whole families on board including babies. The traffic and congestion is even worse than London on these narrow streets. Apart from that, the Balinese people are really friendly and I felt safe at all times walking around, even late in the evening.
Kuta is the main town of the Island and it’s the main hangout of the Aussies that just pop over from Australia, it’s only a 3 hour plane ride from there and is their local tropical hot spot. It’s also the place for the surfers as the waves are pretty strong here so there’s also a proliferation of surf shops, especially along the main stretch of Poppies Lane, the main shopping street.
The beach is lovely and wide, but every day, tons and tons of rubbish show up on the beach deposited there by the tides bringing the debris from other islands. This is a photo of the beach after it has been massively cleaned up by the volunteer locals that come out every day to do this never-ending task.
The main street in Kuta runs from the airport in the South through Kuta to Seminyak and beyond and is lined with shops and restaurants, cafes and bars. It’s really cheap here, I got a manicure and a pedicure with full polish for £1 each and with tip came to £2.50!
This is the Bali Bomb Memorial Site where 300 holidaymakers and locals lost their lives back in 2002.
Kuta and Ubud are like chalk and cheese, vastly different from each other in very distinct ways. Kuta is the place that attracts mainly partygoers that like to hang out at the beach and then hit the town for the nightlife, and is situated not far from the airport, on the beach, in the South of the island. Ubud, on the other hand, is considered the up-market cultural centre of the island, which attracts the more middle-class, laid-back, yoga-loving, art-loving types and is situated inland, more in the centre of the island, surrounded by forests and rice fields.
The Balinese follow mainly the Hindu religion and every day an offering called Canang Sari is made in the form of little baskets of food. They are placed everywhere, outside each shop, each house on the doorstep, in temples, just about everywhere.
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is situated in Ubud and is only about £1 entrance fee to walk about with all the monkeys. The car park at the entrance to the Sanctuary is full of the little monkeys who just wander around as they please and you can buy fruit for them from the vendors and hand feed them. You have to be careful though, they can get quite vicious and bite and scratch if they see you with food and try and get it off you. They have no manners!
I stayed in the beautiful White Rose Hotel, in Kuta, just behind the Bali Bomb Memorial, right in the centre of Kuta. It was like a little oasis of calm and tranquility with beautiful lush gardens.