The day Laurencia left, I found myself in Kuta, Bali, walking the notoriously crowded streets with abject loneliness in my heart. We’ve spent six full days together, gallivanting all over the southern part of the island, frolicking on beaches, braving storms and scaling great heights.
It was the sixth day of overcast skies since the start of our trip. The dreary dark clouds were the perfect analogy of my mind as I walked down the nasty cobblestone streets, feeling the chill of having my security blanket pulled from around me, brows furrowed, ignoring the calls of street vendors who had seemed to morphed into vultures hungry for my tourist money.
Why did I choose to be alone in Kuta, Bali, otherwise dubbed as the the “most vile place on Earth“? My palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. No vomit on my bikini but my anxiety crippling. It’s been a while since I’ve taken a solo trip anywhere. I had forgotten how to be alone with myself and in a state of panic, I had devolved into a total child afraid of every fucking thing. What better place to be feeling lost and frightened than in Kuta?
But you know what, Kuta came and took me into her warm, loving arms like a mother. I was not only comforted by her touch. Reads like a cheesy rom-com but this is really a documentary of how I fell head over heels in love with Kuta.
My favourite places in Kuta, Bali
On the day I renounced being a brat, the skies decided to reward me with fluffy white clouds sailing across azure blue skies and finally, a sun of the beach that can actually turn my yellow Chinese skin a more pleasant yellowish brown.
- Pantai Kuta
Kuta Beach is the perfect place to learn surfing.
The waves are consistent, just the right sizes and exist throughout the days from 8AM to 4PM. The entire stretch of the beach is also lined with vendors renting out surfboards, offering private surf lessons (inclusive of board and rash guard rental) which can go for as low as 200,000 RP, about S$20 (or even lower if you are better at haggling than I am, which is probably the case).
This is definitely WAY cheaper that established surf schools with booking websites online, which offer group lessons at USD$25 (~332,487 RP) and even higher prices for private classes.
Some of these surfer dudes on the beach, with their shaggy long hair, tattooed chests and perfectly chiseled washboard abs may try and flirt their way to getting your business. I’m glad I was able to resist the temptations and keep my head above the water, because that’s what surfing is about… staying above the water.
While Kuta Beach might not be the most scenic pantai of all, it is definitely one with the most character. It is teeming with persistent salesmen, unassuming entrepreneurs and travelers, with such diverse stories to tell. I spent the last two days of the trip having amazing, heartfelt conversations with the locals here, in between falling off my surfboard and waiting for cantik sunsets.
This is my FAVOURITE cafe in Kuta and I might have spent over S$50 here over 4 visits. Yeah you lookin’ at the truth, the money never lies, no.
They’ve got amazing ambiance and coffee. Amazing service too as they greet everyone who strolled through the doors with a cheery “Good Morning!” It can get pretty crowded around brunch time (9-11AM) though and you may find yourself having to share tables with strangers – an introvert’s worst nightmare.
3. Sky Garden
When Laurencia was here, we checked out Sky Garden Bali which was a really dope place with numerous rooms playing different genres of music like live rock, techno, hip hop or music for white people to grind each other on. The venue and the music were no doubt LIT af.
However, I am not a fan of the hefty Friday night cover charge of 200,000 RP (S$20) which only came with one complimentary drink that wasn’t enough to get me drunk despite me breaking my speed limit of imbibing alcohol. The drinks were similarly, too fucking expensive. And also there were too many drunk white people there grinding on each other.
Future money saving tips:
1. Ladies get free entry every Sunday nights. A local told me there’s free flow drinks in basically every bar along that street of vice for the females on that day.
2. If you don’t mind being in the club for a long time (I do), get in at 99,000 RP (~s$10) for a buffet dinner and you can stay in there till the music starts and you don’t got to pay the exorbitant cover charge.
If you find yourself with a dead phone, without friends, lonely in the night, check out Max Warung or “i-Max” as referred to by the locals.
“Welcome to the jungle,” the guitarist and lead vocalist of the band (pictured above) said to me as I settled down with my watermelon juice across the stage. Man, did I fall in love with this jungle like Jane fell in love with Tarzan. If you love classic rock and an enthusiastic local crowd, this is definitely the place to be. Drinks are pretty cheap too!
Next time I’m back in Kuta or Bali, I’ll make sure I’ve got my motorcycle license under my belt so that it makes it easier to get around. Laurencia and I did try to rent a scooter for only 60,000 RP ($6) per day – that is hella cheap – but had the rental guy refund us our money because our riding skills inspired too much fear within him when we brought it for a test ride. Shame.
Also, the traditional taxi drivers, the security guards of hotels or other establishments absolutely HATE any form of technology that make our lives easier and cheaper like Grab or Uber. It was an absolute nightmare attempting to get out of the airport the moment we arrive.
Getting around tips:
1. The first rule of Uber is you never talk about Uber. The second rule of Uber is you never talk about Uber. You gotta say that your friend is picking you up, not your uber driver.
2. When getting a ride out from the airport, put the departure terminal as your pick up location. Advice given by one of the kindest uber driver we’ve met on the trip, Ben.
3. If you are travelling alone without a scooter, use the bike options on Grab, Uber or Go-Jek. It raises less eyebrows (and fists) than cars and it is a faster, more inexpensive way to navigate the horrible traffic in Kuta.
4. If you are taking an Uber out of the Kuta or Jimbaran region, the app doesn’t work even though there is a UberTrip option. You will need to negotiate the price with the driver.
5. Blue Bird Group is alright if you need to pre-book a taxi at a certain time. They go by the numbers on their cars and not the car plate number so it can be a little confusing initially.
Future destinations in Kuta
(places I didn’t get to check out this time)
- La Laguna Bali
- La Plancha Bali
- Seminyak area – maybe bring my parents here one day
- All of the above places I’ve visited except for Sky Garden