Thursday, June 06, 2013

Bali’s Kuta: A Big Tourist Trap

South Bali became really famous due to its surfing. But, one of its main areas, Kuta, is today a busy and chaotic and nightmarish place where locals do not want to tread and the worst part is that surfing is just a small piece of it. Rest of it is concrete jungle, lots of traffic, no true Balinese culture, Western brands, lots of coffee shop, bars, watering holes and tons of shopping.

Visualize this! Starbucks, Black Canyon Coffee, McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Wendys, Pizza Hut, Dominos and many more such Western brands. You will feel like you are in a city of a Western country and not in a small beach side location on an exotic tropical island. If it is not these brands that do not fit the island status, it is the unlimited shopping frenzy that again includes a lot of Western labels, which don’t fit into the Bali scheme of things. In the evenings, people move between shopping malls, watering holes, restaurants and the many small to large size shops. There is zilch Balinese anywhere in any of this.

In fact, Kuta feels like Singapore or Hong Kong or any other large American city. Why would I need to come to Kuta to buy Western clothes and taste Western food. I might as well be in a city in California and buy the best stuff and even more indulge in better surfing. I don’t know why so many travelers get trapped in this so called tourist trap. The trap is out there and you can see it very clearly. In fact, the pull is so much that the entire area of Kuta is choking today with heavy traffic and serious traffic bottlenecks that ensure you take 2 hours in a car if the place you want to visit is in Kuta. The water is also getting affected and the air is also getting polluted with more burning of garbage and vehicular pollution.

I still don’t understand why normal people get pulled into this rut. Some listen to other travelers. Some follow the guide books and some follow the internet. My feedback is simple: Goto Kuta if you want a busy city with a beach, lots of Western labels, lots of shopping and very close to zero local culture. If you wish for a good island, then look at West, North or East Bali or the islands to the West or East of Bali.

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