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.
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.
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.
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.