KUTA, BALI - INDONESIA

It's always slightly alarming when your connecting flight to Singapore lands in South Korea. But after 36 hours and a surprise pit stop at the Seoul airport, I finally landed in Indonesia. 

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A QUICK INTRODUCTION: Indonesia consists of a string of 13,466 islands that hug the waist of Earth, covering the distance from Anchorage, Alaska to Washington DC. I've chosen to spend my time here on a little island in the middle, called Bali. The country itself contains 360 ethnic groups that speak over 719 languages and there are 240 million people here, in total.

We had booked 2 nights in bustling Kuta, which is right outside the Denpasar airport, mostly to recover from the flight. Arriving there, you can really feel that Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world. It's super busy and very crowded. But about half the people around are Australian and German tourists. 

KutaShop

I had been to Kuta before on a "WOOOOH Spring Break!" type of trip, when I studied in Perth, Australia when I was 20. Kuta is essentially a Cancun for Australians. Back then I had a blast and came back with a plethora of cheap patterned sundresses and bootleg DVD's, but I wasn't looking to recreate that this time around. To be honest, Kuta is kiiind of a tourist hellhole. It's loud and dirty,  the beaches are filthy and you get pestered everywhere you go ("Taxi! Taxi?! Massage? Massage?! You want sunglass? I sell cheap!") which isn't an accurate first impression of the actually lovely and charming Balinese people.

My first recommendation for someone visiting Bali is to get out of Kuta ASAP. It is however, good for surfing, food and amazingly cheap massages to work out the lingering effects of an extremely long flight. So, we did all of that for 48 hours while staying at the very nice Manggar Indonesia Hotel (for about $20 USD a night) in a quiet part of town. 

These boats will take hardcore surfers (like Scott) out past the reef for the big waves while their girlfriends get the most spirited 60 minute massage of their life by a tiny Balinese woman for the equivalent of $4.50 USD. In Bali, I'm thismuchcloser to my "if i had a disgusting amount of money" goal of having an in-house masseuse. It's superb. 

These boats will take hardcore surfers (like Scott) out past the reef for the big waves while their girlfriends get the most spirited 60 minute massage of their life by a tiny Balinese woman for the equivalent of $4.50 USD. In Bali, I'm thismuchcloser to my "if i had a disgusting amount of money" goal of having an in-house masseuse. It's superb. 

Ok so the beach doesn't actually look filthy. BUT IT IS. I swear to you. 

Ok so the beach doesn't actually look filthy. BUT IT IS. I swear to you. 

I got this Mie Goreng at a beach shack (like actual shack, not just a fun attempt at quirky decor) and I was raving about it until I saw that it was actually just made from a 2 minute noodle pack (to be fair, they did have a limited kitchen in said shack) and then began to question why the 2 minute noodle dishes I often made during college were garbage compared to this one that again, was made in shack.  

I got this Mie Goreng at a beach shack (like actual shack, not just a fun attempt at quirky decor) and I was raving about it until I saw that it was actually just made from a 2 minute noodle pack (to be fair, they did have a limited kitchen in said shack) and then began to question why the 2 minute noodle dishes I often made during college were garbage compared to this one that again, was made in shack.  

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Little corner store where you can stock up on one of my favorite parts of traveling: weird foreign candy. 

Little corner store where you can stock up on one of my favorite parts of traveling: weird foreign candy. 

The hotel came with breakfast and I got an Indonesian dish that's basically like savory oatmeal made out of rice and chicken. I was into it. 

The hotel came with breakfast and I got an Indonesian dish that's basically like savory oatmeal made out of rice and chicken. I was into it. 

Here is Scott with freshly cut coconut water that cost approximately 10 cents (!). Makes you question all those times you bought $8 coconut waters after a hot yoga class because you thought you really needed those electrolytes.

Here is Scott with freshly cut coconut water that cost approximately 10 cents (!). Makes you question all those times you bought $8 coconut waters after a hot yoga class because you thought you really needed those electrolytes.

Super cute neighbors. 

Super cute neighbors. 

These little colorful baskets, called "Canang sari" are everywhere you step in Bali. They're daily offerings made by Balinese Hindus to their numero uno supereme God, Acintya. The direction which the flowers are placed symbolize various Hindu gods and the idea is that the time and effort it takes to prepare each basket is a self-sacrifice, in gratitude for the peace there is in the world. You'll often find cookies on top too, because who doesn't want a cookie? Hindu God does. 

These little colorful baskets, called "Canang sari" are everywhere you step in Bali. They're daily offerings made by Balinese Hindus to their numero uno supereme God, Acintya. The direction which the flowers are placed symbolize various Hindu gods and the idea is that the time and effort it takes to prepare each basket is a self-sacrifice, in gratitude for the peace there is in the world. You'll often find cookies on top too, because who doesn't want a cookie? Hindu God does. 

Going through these photos, I'm noticing that Kuta doesn't actually look so bad. Perhaps it's because puppies and pretty flowers make even the worst of spots photogenic. I maintain that when arriving in Bali, one should exit Kuta and get to the glorious parts of the island as soon as they can. That said, it's certainly not that hard to get a cheap massage (or a Bintang) and enjoy yourself, while you're there.