So, I'm in The Aquarius Hotel on Kuta beach drinking insipid tea and rather delicious oatmeal waiting for the two others to wake up. We're all quite happy with this place; very resorty, but the most beautiful beach I've ever seen with frothy, crystal clear water and powdery sand. It's a much welcome fun and dumb and relaxing atmosphere, and is reminiscent of Florida beach towns. Now that I've seen the two tourist meccas on the island, I can make some general observations:
** Even though Ubud is the "cultural capital," you can eat actual Indonesian food at warung in Kuta. Unless you want overpriced nasi goreng or hideous things like "Balinese tapas," you have to actually leave Ubud to eat.
** Balinese dance and gamlean are so beautiful, especially when seen in Ubud palace. The beaches are all Tom Petty covers delivered with thick accents.
** Relationships between Balinese and foreigners seem to be more meaningful, deep and friendlier in Kuta as compared to Ubud. This may be due to the economic discrepancy between the two kinds of tourists that frequent these areas. Certainly, the locals in the tourist sector are more friendly here and give the impression that it's not only about milking you for cash.
** Ubud is a thousand times more beautiful as a city than the poorly planned, overdeveloped Kuta. Even north towards fancier digs, Ubud has a more rewarding and "Balinese" landscape.
** North of Kuta in Seminyak or Legian, you notice that the expatrate community living in and around the area seems larger than Ubud.** Ubud: hippie, new-agers taking crystal infused spiritual classes, eating overpriced cranberry muffins, being nervous and pretending not to be in Bali. South Bali: Surfer type, beautiful people who miss Australia while eating overpriced brick oven pizza and pretending not to be in Bali.
The honest truth is that I do not ultimately enjoy touristy places. Less simulated reality is healthy, even if it isn't pretty.
Tomorrow we leave to Candikunning and the lakes and hill towns of north Bali for a few days. Also, a botanical garden and volcanic sand beach! Hopefully it won't be overrun.