Kuta Beach – Sunset & Swill

The evening ritual of sundowners is an absolute DO NOT MISS if you ever visit the Indonesian island of Bali.  Kuta Beach is walled off from the road and amongst the trees that line the top of the beach can be found the beach bars.  Now, if your idea of a bar includes a roof and walls, then you may be surprised by what constitutes a bar along this stretch of coastline, where no more than an ice-and-drink-filled esky (cold box), an umbrella and a plastic chair are required.

People walk along Kuta beach at sunset

People walk along Kuta beach at sunset

With Kuta on the western side of the island, the sun sets directly off the beach and I have to say that the sunsets are fantastic.  Given that the drinks are also always cold, there really is no better start to your evening than heading to the beach, watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean as you listen to the waves crashing on the shore, discussing your day and making plans for dinner.

I will admit that the “hawkers” on the beach can be persistent, but my experience was that if you are polite, jovial and firm they do eventually take the hint.  Even better still, take the time to talk to some of the ladies and you may find that they have fascinating stories to tell and love a good laugh. Just remember that they are trying to do nothing more than make a living so, please, treat them with respect.

Depending on where you have chosen to stay, there are any number of options for an evening drink but I would recommend Joseph’s Bar if you’re up by the start of the pedestrian walkway in front of the Legian Beach Hotel.  He’ll definitely look after you and ensure that your Bintang is always full and cold.

A volcano peeps out from the clouds as the crowds gather to watch sunset from Kuta Beach.

A volcano peeps out from the clouds as the crowds gather to watch sunset from Kuta Beach.

Each bar owner has their own unique way of keeping track of your tab.  Some work on the crate principle.  When you arrive you will be provided with a chair and an empty crate.  Every time you finish a drink you put the empty in your crate and when its time to leave the bottles are counted and charged accordingly.

Joseph is well geared to big groups with a crate/bottle top combo.  On arrival you will receive your empty crate and when each opened bottle is delivered you are also presented with the bottle top.  When leaving you will be charged based on the bottle tops until the last person leaves and they will have to pay for the balance of what is in the crate.  Both methods worked extremely well and in all our visits we never had an issue with the bill.

Whatever you do in Bali make sure you have sundowners on at least one evening and if you do it on your first night I can almost guarantee you won’t miss a night during your stay.

Bali – It’s not for everyone

It has been some time since I last wrote anything on this site and I apologise.  This has in large part been due to not quite knowing where to start.  I was recently lucky enough to visit Bali and I thought I would get a number of amazing stories to share and a number of great images that I would be able to put on the website and Facebook and I have to admit that when I got there I was very disappointed.

A scooter with gas bottles for delivery

A scooter with gas bottles for delivery

As I was visiting Bali to attend the wedding of a couple that are very dear to me, and for whom Bali is very dear, this disappointment left me in a quandary about what to say and what to write.  I want always to be fair to the places I visit and represent here, but also need to be true to myself with what I post and so I had to work through this one in my own time.  I have finally done this and realised that my opinions of any place are exactly that – my opinion. They are not fact and everyone who visits a place will have their own experience and all I can include here is my own perception of a place based on the experience I have had and, as such, here is my first Bali post.

I initially stayed in Kuta (just off Poppies 2) and then in the more salubrious environs of the Legian Beach Hotel, before a trip to Ubud and a return to Kuta.  My over arching feelings really comes down to two things.

Firstly, we went in late July/early August and everywhere was incredibly busy.  The tranquility I had expected – particualrly from Ubud – was not my experience.

People are silhouetted against the sunset over Kuta Beach

Sundowners at Kuta Beach

The second is that the place seems to have lost most of its soul somewhere between a Bintang vest and a penis shaped bottle opener.  In these highly commercial areas, it has without a doubt sold out its unique Balinese culture for trinkets meant to make adolescent backpackers titter and childish bumper stickers based on name calling and toilet humour.

As such I had to search much harder than I want to when on holiday in order to get away from the massage and tattoo parlours that seem to adorn every street corner to find the kindness, good nature and beauty that is the Bali of one’s imagining.