July 14, 1997
Perched in the slopes of the central mountains, Ubud is the cultural center of Bali.
It has attracted many visitors interested in Bali's arts and crafts since the early
1930's. In Ubud itself, there are numerous temples, ancient sites and interesting craft
centers. There are corridors of craft shops and galleries of local artistry. The goods are
of excellent value and unique to Bali. However, I was not in the mind set to deal with the
haggling with vendors that requires some experience in Indonesia on the value of goods. I
could see many Westerners overpaying several hundred times the actual value. The store
merchants in Bali can hustle with the best of them.
The city of Ubud has undergone tremendous development in the past few years. On the
whole though, Ubud has managed to stay relaxed and beautiful. A great place to enjoy a few
days. It is a bit removed from the real life of the average Indonesian and created from
western dollars. Not to sound critical, but many tourists don't stray off the beaten path
and experience the brilliance of some of the remote places. The feeling of socializing
with the locals stays with one much longer than any material goods.
July 17, 1997
Kuta Beach, Bali
A 50 km cycle through the capital city of Denpasar and I arrived in Kuta Beach. Kuta
is Bali's biggest tourist beach area. Nearly all the packaged tour hotels are found in
this area and many tourists only get out on a day trips. Many never get out at all. What
am I doing here? Most visitors come to Kuta sooner or later because its close to the
airport. Kuta is overdeveloped and seedy, but the beach and sunset are nice. I figured I
could enjoy a few days of nightlife and the beach scene before the jungles of Sumatra. So
much for planning. A bout of viral gastroenteritis changed that tune in a hurry. It is
characterized by stomach cramps, diarrhea(heaps) and a fever. This is not the condition
ones desires to be in on a beach resort location. The owner of the losmen(hotel) brought
me to a doctor and I received a shot and a few pills. A few days of rest I will off to
Sumatra. Kuta feels a bit like Southern California mixed with Tijuana.
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