After a refreshing-if-really-couldn’t-afford-it trip back home, I’m back on my way to Oz for the rest of my second year. Second I get back its throwing myself into the work force to get my cash back up to where I need it.
However, the flight prices were so high, I decided to add a detour and have a look at Australia’s favourite getaway, Bali. Admittedly not a place I’d ever considered, figured it was definitely worth a look. After a 20 hour or so travel haul, checked in on the 16th and passed out relatively early on.
My first full day was kind of a wash unfortunately. Still depressed from saying goodbye to friends and family means I struggle to make decisions – so if something goes wrong I really don’t have the energy to fix it. So when my day immediately starts with me getting on the wrong foot with the hostel staff (I used the wrong thing for directional purposes, he mocked me about it every time he saw me) it didn’t set a good course for the rest of it. By the time I had a solid plan for what to do, I realised it was a little late to be doing it, and would best leave it for the next day – and spent a good chunk of my time sending off emails to diving and other tours to see what was available for a solo traveller.
When I finally pried myself out of the hostel, I explored Legian, the street of Kuta that everything is happening. Its a long and squashed street, resembling a tourist ghetto more than anything. The streets are perpetually clogged with motorbikes and taxis (with the odd bike ignoring the one way system and using the pavements with impunity) with the pavements clogged with dozens of tourist oriented shops, wedged between closed bars and nightclubs in a giant fusion of sarongs, bikinis, watches, electrical converters and wooden dildos. On the sides, rows of parked bikes and their owners call after every tourist, miming a bike handles or hollering ‘transport’ in between women sitting on tiny stools with lime green leaflets offering manicures and massages. Its a teeming throng showing off the worst of the consumer culture that Bali has sadly become dependent on.
The one thing in the area that has a quiet dignity is the Ground Zero Memorial, which was erected in honour of those lost in the Bali Bombing several years ago. It’s just a few hundred metres from my hostel, and on the corner of a busy intersection that seems to be a popular meeting place. On the wall it lists every person lost in the disaster, though I admit I found it odd that the Australians were listed first, and the Indonesian’s listed last.
I headed down one street aiming for the beach, which is so well recommended. Unfortunately, said beach is beautiful in the morning. Once the side goes in, it reveals a grey mess in the shallows which does nothing to aid its appeal. Even the sand felt harsh – with only a small dusting on the surface rather than soft dunes I’ve gotten used to. To be fair, this is Legian Beach and not Kuta, but I thought it would be nicer considering how much people rave about beaches in Bali.
The one silver lining of the day was, sad as it sounds, a shopping centre directly opposite Kuta Beach known as the Boardwalk. Air conditioned and hosting a worldwide food court on the top floor as well as a cinema, it was a pretty nice place to walk around. Though what got me in the door was the museum on the top floor in the ‘Aspire’ section, which was currently hosting a display on Batik, the beautiful designs seen on the fabrics in Bali and Java.
…Which was sadly closed for maintenance and I would have to come back tomorrow…
Thankfully (blesfully), my day improved in the evening, when I started chatting with some of the other hostel guests, Tom, Jo and Sandra, and all 3 of us decided to head out for something to eat and then check out Kuta’s infamous nightlife. Tom was leaving in the morning, but he recommended a restaurant not far from the beach called Phat Chow, so we gave it a shot. The place had mocktails on its menu, which immediately made it a winner for me.
We pretty much followed Tom’s more experienced lead, heading to the first stop of the day, the Express Bar, which is pretty small, but has a live band that will perform requests for tips. Sandra had them earn them – by requesting 3 very hard to sing songs and then watched in awe as the guy managed to nail every single one of them. The guy was bound and determined to put his mouth where the money was.
Sandra also wanted to check out a punk bar she’d found on the Internet, so once we’d figured out the location, onwards we went to the Twice Bar, hooked between ‘Twice Tattoo’ and ‘Twice Pizza’…which unfortunately was completely dead as no band was playing that night. She’s gonna have to check the Facebook and figure out the best time to come.
After that, we pretty much wandered down the street (ignoring the dozens and dozens of ‘transport?’ requests) and settled on the Rastafari Bar, which had just stopped playing Rasta music and now had a generic (but still very good band). Drink was fair and music was good, so we ended up settling there for several hours before I finally called in a night about one as I was supposed to be getting up early. The others didn’t last long after though, crawling back around 2 – Bali’s nightlife slaying them in their prime.