We left the lovely confines of Gili Air and headed for the tourist-blotted landscape of Kuta on Bali for a couple of nights before flying to Japan. If Gili Air is the laid-back and chilled-out character “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski, then Kuta is John Belushi’s “Blutarsky” from Animal House, but without any the charm, wit or sophistication. Maybe it was the fact we spent a month on the lovely small island without a car in sight and were then birthed into the madness of tourist central on Bali that accounted for my disdain for Kuta. Maybe it’s just a reaffirmation of my dislike and intolerance for humans in general. Whatever the case, Kuta just didn’t do it for me.
But let me start with the good stuff – we caught an earlier boat by chance that went direct to Bali rather than the original one that included a couple of scheduled stops along the way. Nice start to the day. We then arrived at our ultra-swank 4-star hotel and were greeted by friendly staff who gave us a nice drink (no rum – sad face) and told us that we had been upgraded to a swankier room as they were overbooked. Nice! Tami mentioned to them that it was our anniversary and they brought us a cake to celebrate! Nice!! And to cap it all off, we got the room for free with a combination of a last-minute booking site promo code, and unused points on a credit card. Fucking Nice!!
I felt a bit weird climbing out of the mini-van and into our luxury hotel (complete with security guy who examined the under-carriage of the vehicle with a large mirror – but only did one side for some reason) leaving the rest of the backpackers to go on to their, presumably, not 4-star accommodations. It was like I was somehow betraying them, breaking some sort of unwritten back-packers code, even if I didn’t talk to any of them on the 2 hour car-ride. I imagined them muttering about this rich family of three, la-dee-da-ing our way to our sweet digs on their swanky vacation. Little do they know…
Anyways, we checked in, ate almost all of the cake (we were very hungry) drank a couple of beers ( chocolate milk for Swanson) and then headed out into the night to explore Kuta and eat some actual food.
Kuta is strange. The strip that we were staying on is plastered with over-priced theme restaurants (best Italian! authentic Mexican! great Greek!), dodgy shops selling knock-off goods such as bags, sunglasses, DVDs – didn’t know Jurassic Park was available on DVD yet – hats, shirts (with bizarrely inappropriate sayings) plus all sorts of shit. And for some reason many places also sold the most depressingly offensive bumper stickers I have ever seen. I don’t know who these things are meant to appeal to but I can’t even fathom what human might want to adorn their monster truck or whatever with one of these gross fucking things.
We spent 2 full days in Kuta and one of them was at this large waterpark, Waterbom. Swanson loves the waterparks and it was hot and we did have a blast at the one in Legoland in Malaysia and this is rated the 5th best (“We’re number 5!) waterpark in the world, so we thought, why not? It was pretty fun but very crowded. Legoland was virtually empty so we didn’t have to wait in any lines and it was great, but we expected this one to be busier so it wasn’t a big deal. But the folks that frequent this place, holy hotdogs!! It was if someone had rounded up all of the ugliest people in the surrounding area, stuffed them into swimwear and forced them to spend an afternoon at Waterbom. It was like a Wet ‘N Wild internment camp. One really gets to see just how weird and grotesque the general population is when everyone is wearing a bathing suit. We are still trying to erase from our minds the old man with extraordinary man-boobs and grey nipples and the thongs, oh the thongs. Who told you that was a good idea? Let’s not forget the dudes trying to stave off the aging process by wearing the smallest bathing suits available. Gunslingers, I call them. And all of the little girls, and I mean all of them, had their hair braided, Bo Derek style (I think the film 10 might have just made to these parts). It made me sad for some reason.
And, of course, there is always the ubiquitous bad tattoos – my two favourites were the dude who’s entire chest, neck to naval, was taken up with the words “Death before Dishonor” surrounded by ribbons and skulls and shit. What does that even mean? Who might he rather die than dishonor, the army, maybe a biker gang, possibly his book club? Weird. The other one was an image of a sexy policewoman (or prison guard, not too sure) suggestively dangling a pair of handcuffs while her ample (fake) bosom attempted to burst out of it’s too-small sexy uniform. It adorned the entire thigh of a pregnant woman. Maybe it was her favourite Halloween costume? Or maybe it was that “big break” she was looking for in the movies? Whatever it was it was bizarre and I couldn’t stop staring at it while we waited in line for The Climax. The ride. Too bad her face looked like a half-baked loaf of bread with flowing locks of hair (the tattoo, the woman was oddly attractive – odd for this place). Sorry, we didn’t bring our cameras due to the ever-present water situation, so no photos.
But overall, it was pretty fun and I had more than enough water blasted into my nasal cavity. Kuta was interesting but not my kind of place and we were happy leave. It was too much of a shock to the system after the tranquility and beauty of Gili Air. I wouldn’t return. Well, maybe to get a “Darren is Gay” bumper sticker.