July 14, 1997

Ubud, Bali

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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