Kuta deserves a blog post of its own. This quiet, beachside haven in Southern Lombok is paradise. One day, in the not too distant future, Starbucks and McDonalds will set up camp and gradually turn it into Bali’s inferior Kuta. For now though, Kuta has just the right combination of family-run restaurants and shops to fuel the steady stream of tourists.
The taxi driver who delivered us from Senggigi turned out to be a jack-of-all-trades determined to help us at any given opportunity. He sorted out a £5 room for the two of us (me and Anna, not me and the taxi driver) including a breakfast of banana pancakes and Lombok coffee for good measure. Doyok Homestay was a lovely guesthouse, a one minute walk from the beach.
Coconut-selling tactics on Kuta beach
The first time that I walked along the beach, a boy of about 11 tried to sell me a coconut. I turned down his offer but commented on his Arsenal shirt, asking him who his favourite player was. This conversation soon led to the 2 of us playing kick-ups. Before I knew it, 4 of his friends (who had been trying to sell bracelets to other tourists) arrived, put down their t-shirts as goalposts and selected sides. I was suddenly in a 3 on 3 football match after refusing to buy a coconut: these kids had some serious business acumen.
My team led 3-0 before conceding three times in quick succession. Sweating and barely able to catch my breath, I suggested ‘next goal wins’. A neat finish in the bottom corner by myself (not to blow my own trumpet) ended the contest. A full team photograph followed and I bought a coconut. Well played, that man.
On the 3rd March, we met up with three of our Rinjani trekking comrades and rented scooters. We rode along the South coast, hunting for beaches. The first two we came to were beautiful. We had a paddle and watched some very impressive surfers before moving on to our third and final beach: best until last.
We squeezed our bikes down a narrow bumpy path which eventually came out at a row of three or four bamboo cottages. Suddenly about twelve kids swarmed us. We parked up as they fought for our attention – some doing hand-stands, some covering themselves from head to toe in sand. Bewildered, we walked to the completely deserted beach amidst the herd of excited children. It was beautiful and was one of the few times I’ve ever seen a completely deserted beach. The kids continued to obsess over us; they clearly hadn’t seen many white people before, if any. A lady, presumably a parent of at least one of them, hurried down to the beach armed with coffee and nuts for us. Once we’d been fed and watered, she was just as enthusiastic as the children. Our cameras amazed them all, especially the mother who loved posing for photos and then looking at herself on the screen.
Eventually we peeled the children from our limbs and jumped back on the bikes. We rode back along the stunning country roads through small villages where locals waved at us enthusiastically. As we queued behind a farmer herding buffaloes along a main road, we watched the women working in the rice paddies. It was nice to be off the beaten track, away from the hoards of other backpackers that hadn’t stumbled across this beautiful place.
Kuta was (and is still) my travelling highlight. The generosity and willingness to help that the people of Indonesia possess has been unrivalled in my travels. Unfortunately we weren’t able to go on and explore Sumatra, Komodo, Flores or Borneo as our budget and time limit were tight but I really do hope I can one day.
Indonesia’s banana pancakes and Lombok’s coffee are also yet to be beaten.