Sunday, 18 May 2014

Blissed out in Bali part 2: Kuta

5-15 May

We'd heard mixed reviews about Kuta; an Australian ghetto, a nightlife centre, just plain horrid. Regardless we decided to give it a go, as the beach was well reviewed and we knew we would surely find gems as we do anywhere.

Arriving we discovered Kuta is truly about as different from quiet, sleepy Ubud as you can get. The hawkers were more aggressive, there were more tourists and it wasn't as pretty. We found our place, Hotel Bakung Sari and settled in before going for a walk.

Soon enough we found the beach. It was long, deep and sandy and even had a few lifeguards. The beach was a great place for first time surfers, and it's curve reminded me of my local beach in Bournemouth.

The following day we headed back to the beach. We intended to hire a few beds for the day, but at 200 idr we instead flopped on the sand. It was really hot, around 34degrees, so it wasn't long before the crash of the waves beckoned us in. The water was amazing. It was cool and clear and didn't have any seaweed! I was in heaven jumping over the waves and splashing about like a kid. There were a lot of people selling things, from handy things like ice cream to more unconventional beach paraphernalia like bows and arrows, but we'd mastered our "no" face by now so it wasn't much of a bother.

In the evening the road near us was closed and full of people in traditional Balinese dress participating in some kind of ritual. The street smelled of incense and the sound of the gongs rang out. It was nice to know there are still parts of traditional Balinese life in Kuta.

On Wednesday we decided it was time to try out something new, and this time it was body boarding. Mark hadn't done it before and it had been a long time for me. We managed to negotiate hire on one board for the day for 80 idr. After a while I got my sea legs back and rode my first wave all the way to the shoreline. The waves were big enough to surf on, but I held my own amongst the surfers I think. It's such a great feeling when the wave picks you up; all the tiredness from your paddling is instantly replaced with excitement. Mark was a natural too, of course, and I get to thinking about if this could be a new hobby for at home?

We enjoyed a few more lazy days before Marks birthday on the 10th. He'd decided he wanted to go to a water park and it turns out we are only a hop skip and a jump away from Waterbom, Asia's number 1 water park! I'm dubious about how good it will be, but I'm so pleasantly surprised! The slides are great quality and the park is clean and safe. We have a fantastic day racing, dropping and swirling around on the flumes and slides and burn countless calories climbing all the steps.

In the afternoon we chat to our friends before going for a sunset drink on the beach. We eat at Havana, a Latino restaurant which lured Mark in with it's temping chicken wing challenge. I'll let him tell you about that! Afterwards, we thought about finding some nightlife, which we hadn't done since leaving the UK. We were given info on the beach about the Sky Garden and decide to give it a go. It was a mostly empty super club and we eventually found the 'VIP traveller lounge offering free drinks and tapas' or 'room for drunk teenagers with free blue vodka drinks from the sticky bar'. It isn't long before we decided to leave, and when we did we found a different world outside. Kuta had become Ibiza! We had no idea this was where it all happened, only a few roads from where we had been staying. Its surprising, but no where could tempt us in.

The rest on our time in Kuta is quiet. We enjoy the beach and pool at the hotel and discover some great places to eat, namely pizza from Pizza Pronto on Poppies 1, and Fat Chow for a mix of Asian cuisine on Poppies 2.

Before we knew it it was time to pack. We'd come to the end of our time in Bali and South East Asia and we are going to Italy for the summer. Looking back its amazing how much we've seen and done in the past 2 and a half months; going south to north in Vietnam, the temples of Angkor, island hopping in Thailand - its been amazing.

I came travelling, giving up a safe secure life at home because there was something inside me that needed to get out there; go where the wind took me and find out what I liked. I've learnt so much, a few of which I've already mentioned, but I'll leave now feeling I've done what I came to do. That's why I decided to remove my anklet. I bought it and put it on in Mexico on our honeymoon, when our travels were just an idea. I promised myself it would be a daily reminder of what we would be working towards, and I've done it.

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