Kuta is a very famous town in Bali where most Australian tourists seem to stay. If you were to imagine this place you might imagine that it was quite beautiful and simple, with not much traffic and friendly people. It isn’t like that at all; it’s a shithole. At least that was Brad and my opinion of it. Kuta, Lombok, however, is everything you wish Kuta, Bali, were. The town is essentially made up of one road that runs parallel to the beach, and wandering around the street and beach are dogs and goats and cows and buffalos and chickens, most of which presumably belong to someone. The beach is stunning, and if surfing is your thing than Kuta is definitely worth a visit.
There are plenty of places to sleep and eat. The accommodation is good, clean and cheap and the food is cheap and delicious. There are a few of the usual hawkers, but everything runs at a different speed with a different attitude. There is no pressure to buy, buy, buy like in Kuta, Bali; the ladies trying to sell you sarongs on the beach and the kids trying to sell you bracelets will happily settle for a chat instead. You cannot help but make friends; my brother recently gave me instructions for making friends in China, which went along the lines of “walk outside and wait,” the same advice goes for here. We made friends with one lady, Karina, who spent two days giving us a tour of her village and her mother’s village and teaching us to cook, Sasak-style.
The buzzwords at home, like “organic”, “free-range” and “sustainable” describe how life is accidently done here. Half the menu at every warung and café is technically vegetarian or vegan, but here it’s just called “food.” A lot of furniture is made from recycled timber, because it’s easier to use abandoned boats than to chop down new materials. Everyone in the town knows each other, and after a couple of days they all know you too – more than once I’ve accidentally starting singing the theme song for Cheers.
I don’t mean to romanticize life here, or paint it as some kind of utopia. There is also terrible poverty, and a lot of the kids you see selling bracelets are trying to support themselves through school, as there is essentially no such thing as state-funded education. I would encourage anyone who wants to come here to bring with them a few books and pens and other school supplies and drop them off at any village. And, I would encourage everyone to come here. It is our favourite place from our travels so far.