Jan blagged us the last two seats in the first fast boat from Gili Trawangan. The company had clearly over booked and we stowed away with a large group from the US. We got to the coastline of Bali in around 90 minutes, the minivan from the shore took around 3 hours. It was stress free though as we were being dropped at our hotel, let it take as long as it takes.
The roads of town were solid with traffic, the maze of the one way system didn't seem to be as efficient as any of the other busy centres we'd seen.
The hotel was on the edge of Kuta, the main tourist hub and boy did it show. Branch after branch of every American fast food joint imaginable, even a Wendy! We had done our best to prepare ourselves for the final leg of our trip in Asia. We were hoping that the barrage of tourism would help prepare us for what was to come when we hit Oz.
We took a walk to the beach where we were staying, it was very low key, a few hawker stalls but no shops or bars in this neck of the woods. The beach was spotlessly clean but the fine sand got churned up in the sea, causing the water to look cloudy and not overly inviting as medium size waves crashed on the beach. Out in the swell, a line of surfers sat straddled across their board waiting for a decent wave and in the distance we could make out the curve of the bay and the main hub of Kuta, it looked busy, but nothing excessive, very bearable.
There isn't a huge amount to see in Kuta, even the temples are family owned and entry isn't permitted for tourists. A drinking culture rules and the 'entertainment' is steered towards it, any number of cage bars, pole dance places and an unusually high number of massage parlours.
In any shop, it seemed that you could buy groceries, get a tattoo, acquire narcotics or have a massage. Come to Kuta for a one stop, fast track to become disease ridden.
We also happened to walk past a few of the top 5 places to eat as recommended on trip advisor, one in particular, Macaroni will stick in our minds. A shop front with a glass counter full of curling-up-at-the-edges pizza, dried out lasagne and other fit-for-the-bin pasta dishes, and this was rated as number 3 in Kuta. We went into town just the once and this was during the day. Get us out of here!
In 2004, 202 people were murdered when an Al Qaeda cell planted a bomb in one of Kuta's nightclubs. We visited the memorial that is now at the site. We were surprised to see some Japanese girls posing with big smiles, doing all manner of poses in front of the memorial. Some people just don't get it. What hit us hardest was that for the most part, these people, kids really, were just exploring the world and having fun. We read the names and paid our respects, very sad.
Day 2 and Jan becomes unwell, back at the diving centre on the Gilis, we heard that a few of the instructors had been struck down with a stomach bug, including one of our guides. Our final few days in Asia was spent in our hotel room, fortunately, we didn't feel we were missing too much in Kuta, it was a shame we didn't get to Ubud but that's how it goes sometimes.
So our time in Asia is at an end. We couldn't have wished for a more exciting, beautiful and thought provoking experience. Not every destination lived up to our expectations but that's the way it is, but others left our heads spinning with dopey grins across our faces with their stunning scenery, wild animals and generous people. Asia can't be summed up, all we can say is that we'd love to return someday.
Off to Australia, home of the boomerang & Mrs Mangle.