Americans have Cancun. Brits have Ibiza. Asians have Disneyland. Rednecks have Vegas.
After touching down in Denpasar airport last week, I realized quickly that Bali is the Australian equivalent of all those places.
Before getting there, I did some quick research about things to do, what to eat, and where to stay. One common thread that kept coming up was that “Kuta Beach” was one of the best places to find cheap accommodation. Coincidentally, it also happened to be one of the spots in Bali with great nightlife. I thought to myself, “Hey, I’m in my early twenties, that sounds great!”
However, I’m not actually in my early-twenties anymore, and herein laid my first mistake.
The next picture accurately sums up Kuta Beach:
From the pile of trash on the left to the tourists in the center to the creepy hawker dude on the right, this place sucks. For anyone who’s been to Thailand, think Patong beach in Phuket with less Russians. For anybody else, picture Vegas on the beach, fill it with pasty bros, and you’ve got Kuta.
Things were expensive, I was constantly being sold to, and public transportation didn’t exist. As a solo traveler, all I wanted was a few relaxing days on the beach. Maybe see some cool things and meet some chill people. Well, I failed. Not only did it rain the majority of the time, but you know who the only people that did want to meet me were?
Hookers. Perusing the local tinder game, almost everybody I matched with was a local, messaging me first, asking if I “wanted to have some fun.” “Sure!” I responded, thinking they might show me some local hidden gems. “What do you wanna do?”…Given their profile pictures, I don’t really know what else I expected. I told a coworker about this and she recited the XploreAsia motto to me. Embrace adventure Austin, change lives! I’m down to embrace adventures Rose, not create lives.
Having it rain for the 5 days I was there was actually a blessing in disguise. The hotel I stayed at, despite being surrounded by smut, was actually pretty nice. I chilled out, read a lot, and worked on an article for a friend’s website. I did make friends with the Indonesian people who worked at the hotel and one of them helped me out with the dodgy process of legally acquiring a scooter (keep an eye out for an upcoming post titled: Corruption!) Plus, it’s hard not to feel good when the currency conversion rate is $1 USD to 13,000 Rupiah. Having 9 million plus in your pocket is pretty invigorating.
Now that I’m out of Kuta and exploring the rest of the island, life is good. I went on an epic scooter ride, tried yoga, and tomorrow morning I’m gonna hike a volcano to see the sunrise.
The moral of the story is, if you come to Bali, unless you’re with a big group of people and your main goals are to get wasted and learn to surf on a crappy beach, stay somewhere else. You’ll thank me later.
This has been a public service announcement.