After reading a lot of posts/reviews/articles about Kuta and reading it being described as ‘Paradise Lost’ and the ‘worst place on earth’ I was genuinely questioning whether we should make the 20 minute journey to this place that so many people hate! But we had flown 17 hours so I had to see it for myself just to see if it was as horrendous as people had made it out to be. In my mind I had visions of sewage flowing down the street, ladies of the night conducting their ‘business’ in full view of passers-by and pickpockets actually ripping bags from people’s shoulders. Guess what? I didn’t find any of these things and to be honest, and against general consensus, I actually quite liked Kuta!!!
We had been told that Kuta was one of the best places to see the sunset in Bali; we therefore decided that we would arrive around 5.00pm, watch the sunset around 6.00pm and have a night sinking the Bintang (local beer). And that’s exactly what we did. A taxi from Sanur to Kuta cost us around 200,000IDR (approximately £8.00) and we were dropped off right at the entrance to the beach. Even in the October low season it seemed everyone had the same idea as the beach was packed with people waiting for the sun to set on another beautiful day in paradise. The beach is actually quite nice; I didn’t see one piece of litter. Surfers were enjoying the last of the day’s waves and couples, families and groups of friends alike where claiming their spot on the sand from where they would watch the sun disappear into the horizon.
The sunset didn’t disappoint, it really is a great place on the island to witness it from, especially with a cold beer in your hand from one of the sellers on the beach. Yes, they charge you marginally more for a small Bintang then in a backstreet bar but the view you get whilst sipping it makes up for the price difference and more. The beach hawkers can become quite intense when trying to sell their goods which include anything and everything from a foot massage to a bow and arrow (I kid you not!). A simple, yet continuous no thank you is all it takes for them to move on.
After sunset we hit the bars of Kuta, we went full tourist. We ate at the Hard Rock Cafe (I have an obsession), we (over)indulged on the Bintang even buying a Bintang tower to share and we witnessed the young backpackers from all over the world drink, dance and get noisy. Maybe, just maybe if I was 10 years younger and on my first trip away from home then this is probably the place I would have wanted to be for my whole time in Bali. Lapping up the sun on the beach, learning to surf, drinking more beer than water and eating street food for pennies. I imagine that is many a backpackers experience of Bali and as they have got older they maybe realised there is more to the beautiful island then just partying.
The lights, the sounds, the smells and the chaos of Kuta reminds me of any party town. I didn’t find it horrendous in fact I think that because I had set my expectations so low I was actually surprised how ‘normal’ I actually found it. We genuinely had a great night in Kuta and if you take it for what it is I think you could too. After days of exploring the island and being typical culture vultures it was actually a nice break to kick back, drink (a lot of) beer and experience the place that so many people had warned us against for ourselves. All that being said one night was enough. We were in Bali, this place isn’t Bali. There’s no culture here apart from a drinking one, but what’s one night off the temple trail?