As soon as Jo, Joya, and I arrived in Kuta we were shell-shocked. Several people told me to avoid it as I’d certainly hate the scene and I could quickly see why. I can only think to describe it as a sort of Australian Las Vegas meets Miami meets LA. Trendy shops line the streets, leather-skinned and silicone-enhanced women are everywhere, DJs spin tunes at every restaurant and the air is filled with incessant bass of club music. It’s like someone put last night’s frat party club mix on repeat and cranked the volume to max, frat boys and all. Sure, I’ve spent time on the rave scene, but somehow even that is classier than this.
And what’s with the Australian 80s surf style!? Every guy had a mullet and a surfboard and was straight out of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Combined with the Aussie flags hanging everywhere it seemed we had magically jumped into the Land Down Under.
We discussed returning to the car and fleeing to Ulu Watu, but our driver had to return to Amed, so alas… stuck in Kuta we were. Too tired to look for hotels, we happily accepted the first one our driver took us to that was within walking distance to the beach. $75/night seemed expensive after our cheap stay in Amed, but luckily with three of us it was still tolerable. And never before did A/C feel so good.
After checking in we walked to a restaurant on the beach and had the most expensive dinner we’ve had since arriving in Bali. And of course, it was to the soothing sounds of bumping bass. It was still cheap by American standards, but I had a feeling the ultra cheap prices we enjoyed in Amed and Ubud were over. As we ate I could sense a change in everyone’s mood. Maybe it was because we knew our trip was winding down. Maybe it was disappointment to be here. I guess it takes a place like Kuta to really make us appreciate the beautiful and awesome things we’d seen while in Bali, but it was certainly a crass change.
We grew weary of the dance club scene and retired to the hotel determined to make the most of it. Joya and I went to work learning to speak Australian. After a few very bad attempts, our Aussie surf neighbors called us ‘pommy’. I guess it’s an insult but they were more than happy to sit down and help educate us on some Australian slang:
“Richard Gere” – beer
“Al Capone” – phone
“Tea Leaf” – thief
The Aussies have this interesting celebrity rhyming scheme that you guessed it… rhymes things with celebrity names. Bizarre. We also learned “off the face” is a great slang term for really f’n drunk and there’s even a cute little body snap that goes with it. “Fuckin’ choice” is a popular slang term. Oh, but you have to say it with an Aussie accent, which is the hard part.
Aside from our Australian language aspirations, we mostly lounged by the hotel pool, swam, relaxed, and unwound from the trip. After a very hot week and a half in Amed and Ubud our room A/C felt pretty fabulous, as did the nice pool. Being a lazy tourist for a day or so wasn’t really all that bad.
I had thoughts of taking a surf lesson but most people said the conditions were crap and the water was cold. Joya said the waves were closing out pretty fast which made for tough learning. I ventured out to the beach and the surf scene for a bit, got some photos, and laughed at the carnage. And of course, I laughed at the 1980s Australian surf style.
I’ll certainly skip Kuta if I end up in Bali again. There are too many better places than this to visit. Disturbingly enough, many of the Aussies we talked with had visited Bali numerous times and never even been outside of Kuta. Ugh. Two guys in particular we kept crossing paths with had been to Kuta at least five years in a row and couldn’t speak even one word in Indonesian. And they had Indonesian dates with them most of the time. Yeah, equally awesome. At least Joya insisted on teaching one of them how to count to 10. Good on ya mate! I’ll try not to hold it against Australia.