Saturday, October 29, 2011

Kuta, Bali

I'm kinda behind on the posts, but I want to write about something recent, so I'll skip New Zealand and Australia for now, and get back to those later. I also cannot connect my SD card to the pc here, so I'll hopefully load some pics sometime else.
23.-24.10.: Denpasar & Kuta

Sunday: Flight to Denpasar, through visa and customs, taxi to Kuta, the tourist village of Bali, for Rp80 000 (~$9) after a lot of haggling. Still got stiffed, we probably could have gotten a ride for less than Rp40 000.The first taxi driver to talk us up (he eventually passed us along to someone cheaper, he wanted $20) told us: "Germans don't like Kuta. Too busy. Germans want to see real Bali. Australians go to Kuta, for the discotheque."

Kuta is a mass (mess?) of touristy stalls along mostly small pathways, many only a span wide, all shared by scotters and pedestrians going in both directions. Te density of taxi drivers (including motorbike taxis) and massage 'spas' is incredible. The amount of ugly or downright stupid t-shirts obviously sold to drunks is amazing.

The weather in Bali is hot and humid, so that your clothes will stick to you. In cheaper hotels, air conditioning will generally double the price of a room, bu a fan over the bed is usually enough to make the night comfortable. We were pointed o a hotel named Rempen as cheap and got a room for Rp 100 000 (~Euro8.50), but we cannot recommend the place: to filthy.

From there, we walked along the streets of Kuta during the remainder of the day and the next. We ate at stalls a bit off the main tourist roads, the meals including fried banana with coconut and chocolate flakes covered in evaporated milk, gato-gato (rice with vegetables in a peanut sauce, often very spicy) and chicken curry (Rp 5k, 12k and 15k, respectively). The range of places to eat is varied, with street vendors starting at Rp 5k for vegetarian, rice-based meals, up to restaurants only slightly cheaper than in Germany.

Traffic is fluid, rules relaxed. People tend to drive on the left side, but at the slightest opening in traffic a gaggle of scooters -- they make up about 80% of traffic, unlike in Bolivia, where Buses and Taxis dominate -- will overtake slower trucks, and 50m of free space will induce your bus driver to overtake 5 scooters and two trucks. Pedestrians, of course, are far down the food chain, pedestrian crossings drawn on the street only to get rid of excess paint, I surmise. Still, it works, and the upside of this kind of driving is the relaxedness with which people get through traffic. Honking is used a a friendly, fair warning to others that you're there and need that space, unless you are a herd of tourists on motorbikes, who honked continuously because traffic generally does not allow more than 30kph, at best 40, and the mean Balinese would not clear the road for them. (Other, slightly off-topic pet peeve: I don't care how bad their English is, calling the waitress at the friendly, and cheap, restaurant [Warung]  Missy is downright arrogant)

On a final note, in Bali you can expect to find someone around who speaks English reasonably well, so communicating is not a problem. This must be different outside of the island, and we're grateful that we have the time to get used to Indonesia.

Bali is a Hindu island, and this is a very visible religion here. I'll write more on that in the next post, but there are some nice pictures from Kuta I want to share. Basically, in front of every house, you find these little prayer bowls made of banana leaves and filled with flowers and foodstuff: rice, soy sauce, crackers, chocolate... You smell incense every couple of steps. This is quite nice, the smells of the city are drowned out, and the open air (I can't say fresh, in Kuta) dissipates the incense fast enough so it does not become overbearing.

There's shrines everywhere. Many houses come as little complexes, with a shrine region in front, and I guess one larger families houses in the back. Note the demon on the right hand side of the shrine in the picture to the right.
The picture below, shows a housing complex. The roofs are all shrines, and somewhere in there a house is hidden. If the area's too crowded for such a complex, the house at least gets a small stele, as seen down below.

Sorry for the crappy formatting, but I'll not spend my time around here trying to get it right :)

No comments:

Post a Comment