I was quite unprepared when I arrived in Bali.
I left my hotel in Bangkok at 4 A.M the night before. I had been on a lovely holiday with a friend from home and we spent our last night having drinks. I was still slightly drunk in my taxi to the airport. I slept on the plane, thankfully there were a lot of empty seats. There are advantages to booking the first flight in the morning.
At the airport in Bali I realize that I need to visit an ATM and that I’m not very aware of the currency. I have no idea about the prices, and distances on the island. I don’t even have a guidebook. I did book a guesthouse, somewhere not very far from the airport, in Kuta.
I see taxi drivers everywhere. I decide to take one from the airport counter, thinking that they probably have the best rates. Wrong. I pay 7 euro’s for a 4 minute ride. My guesthouse is so close to the airport that I could have walked it easily.
The atmosphere seems friendly. People smile and speak enough English to communicate. My room has a soft bed and comes with a small seating area facing a beautiful courtyard. It feels very relaxing.
After a few hours I’m getting a bit hungry. I walk through the small alley my hotel is in and end up on a bigger street with lots and lots of scooters. They all drive fast and people don’t smile much. I conclude that I’m not in the tourist center of Kuta, more on the edge of it, in a local neighborhood.It’s a system of small alleys and bigger roads. Lots of dogs are hanging out in packs on the side of the streets. There are some small eateries, no people in them. It’s starting to get dark. I’m not sure what this neighborhood feels like at night, and I decide to pick up some small groceries and walk back to my guesthouse, before I get lost. I hope that there will be no dogs in the alleys, and I feel slightly worried.
The next day I decide to walk the other way. I discover that the location of my guesthouse is really not bad, at daytime. Just a long alley and I’m right at the corner of Kuta Beach surrounded by hordes of tourists. I walk down the beach and find myself right in the center, where all the action is. A huge crowd of people is standing on the beach, very closely together. I wonder if something has happened and walk a bit closer. Then I discover that a local is telling them that the tide is coming in and that they have to stand and wait until the water reaches them. I personally don’t feel much of a challenge in this “ wait for the wave” game, but a surprisingly large amount of people seems to think it’s exciting.
I continue walking and end up in one of the “ Poppies” the small lanes that form the center of Kuta. I see lots of people, bars, restaurants, shops and even though I’m really thirsty, stopping somewhere doesn’t appeal to me. I continue walking until I’ve seen most of the Poppies and walk to the other side of the beach. I’m very close to the airport now and there are hardly any people on this side which makes me feel more comfortable.
I put my feet into the water. The ocean is surprisingly cold compared to the Andaman Sea. The sand is black on this part of the beach. Black sand always makes me feel like I’m in a really exotic place. It makes me happy. I decide to book a bus for the next day and to see what more Bali has to offer.