Thursday, November 22, 2007

Kuta - Bali!

Hello everyone. Today, I would like to talk about a popular area in Bali called Kuta. It is about 15 minutes away from Denpasar, where the airport is. This is the tourist destination of Bali. The streets are lined with shops, restaurant/cafes, night clubs, etc. Back in October of 2002, this area was hit with bomb explosions in two popular nightclubs. It killed 200 people and injured many others. Most of the victims were tourists. Five years later, the tourism is coming back. This year has been a record year for number of tourists visiting Bali since the bomb attacks. There is no sign of the bombings at all and everything seems normal. There is one exception, before parking into one of the shopping malls or places such where people congregate, security uses mirrors to check underneath cars. Then before entering the mall, a quick check of purses or bags from a security with a metal detector.

Kuta is probably most famous for the beach, kind of like the beach in Waikiki, Hawaii. It is a fun place where you can swim, surf, fly a kite, or just hang out. There are food and drink vendors selling anything from coconut juice to beer. You can rent a surfboard and learn how to, from one of the many local operations on the beach. Local guys like to hang out and play soccer, trying to get the attention of female tourists.

Locals walk around the beach hustling everything from puka shell jewelry, temporary tattoos, fruits, kites, and quick massages. Me and my friend got hustled in very quickly the first time I went to this beach. I was interested in buying a puka bracelet for my wife from one local lady. The next thing you know, we had six or seven ladies around us trying to get us to buy all sorts of stuff. One was giving me a massage and one was offering fruit. In the end, being nice guy that I am, I gave each of them some business. I know I was hustled. I even bought fruit, at ridiculous prices. Actually it was a grandmother trying to make a living in the hot sun, so I bought all she had. Oh well, it was an experience and at least I made some people real happy that day. The ladies actually remembered me, as I went to the same beach with my wife a few weeks later, and some of them recognized me. They just smiled when they saw me.

Besides all the shopping in the small little outlets on the streets, the malls have something to offer as well. The shopping malls in Indonesia rival the best that I've seen in the US. I'm from the Bay Area and been to all the nice places there. For the most part Bali malls have everything and even more. There are stores that I've never even heard of in the US. These places sell very high end clothing and goods. Another good thing about the malls, they are packed with cool cafes and restaurants. Starbucks of course is here, but local cafes seem more busy. It is probably because of the price. Starbucks sell high priced coffee. They promote beans from exotic places like Java, Sumatra, Sulawessi, etc. Too bad these are all local islands and everybody here knows it. Very few people, at least in the US, know that these places are actually Indonesian islands. For example, Java is the main island of Indonesia. The capital of Indonesia is Jakarta and is located in western part of Java.

Overall, Kuta is a fun place to hang out. The locals are very friendly and the atmosphere is comforting. I actually stay in Benoa, about 40 minutes away from Kuta. Me and my wife like to go there at least once a week to hang out.


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