Still don’t like Kuta

Kuta is the only place in Indonesia where I have seen any serious effort to clean up litter. I love that. It’s also one of the few places where you can choose a non-smoking area to eat food. I love that too. And the beach is really a delight.

But it’s still my least favourite place in Indonesia.

To put it bluntly, if I wanted to see busloads of westerners (mainly Aussies) eating and drinking to excess, and behaving generally like slobs, I wouldn’t have to go overseas. Kuta is all of the Gold Coast’s excesses and vices distilled down to one town. The souvenir shops are full of “genuine Bali dildo key-rings”, t-shirts with high-school humour, beer drinking accessories, and lots of other really classy stuff. It is completely at odds with everything else I’ve seen in Indonesia.

I could happily never go to Kuta again, yet away from Kuta/Denpasar, Bali has really beautiful countryside. I did not see a single mine site or palm plantation. Just lots of healthy, productive farmland. It’s a real pleasure to go for a slow ride through it. Which we did!

It’s only 30 km from Kuta to Udat, which my GPS indicated was a 30-minute drive. Yeah, right. That’s what happens when driving time is based only on speed limit and distance. It took 1.5 hours and that involved a lot of “Indonesian” riding. We swung by the Green School on the way back, which is one of my favourite places. It’s really inspiring and recently was nominated by Forbes magazine as the greenest school in the world. It is constructed almost entirely of locally grown bamboo, including the three-storey admin building.

The school produces a lot of its own food and all of its own electricity. It also recycles all of its waste (and I don’t just mean litter, either).

The worst thing about the Green School is that it’s insanely hard to find. I believe they want it that way to improve security of the international students. The discreet network of security guards also helps – they are located at strategic points around the site. We stumbled upon a less-used access lane, where there was a dude with a two-way radio who politely asked where we were going and why. He happily directed us once we passed the credibility test. There’s also a couple of traditional guards with machine guns on the site, but they are pretty discreet. No worse than banks and some hotels.

Out of respect for the school and the students, I am not going to publish GPS or other navigational data for it. I’ll leave the adventure of discovery to other travellers.

One of the marvellous but frustrating things about Bali is that the minor roads are so low-key, they look like driveways. You could ride past nine that really are entrances to private home clusters, and the tenth one is actually a laneway that goes for 5 km to an intersection. Riding past, they are indistinguishable.


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