Bali: Does Kuta Get a Bad Rap?

Culture Wars

Kuta has its rough edges, but it’s edgy – and also friendly. There’s a long stretch of beach that attracted the attention of surfers in the 1960s, and the former fishing village has never been the same. Does Kuta get a bad rap?

Formerly a fishing village, the coastal city of Kuta was discovered by surfers in the 1960s, and the place has never been the same. It’s now chock-a-block with surfer supply shops, T-shirt vendors, all manner of cafes – and some very friendly people.

Moving from chaotic Kuta to sophisticated Seminyak was a change of pace and ambience. There were certainly mixed feelings.

After 8 days in the noisy, hedonistic, crowded paradise for surfers, bikers, and latter day hippies, I was starting to settle in …

I had my favourite restaurants and cafes, and I was starting to become a fixture at Bunyips Warung, one of the neighborhood haunts, which had live music. On my 3rd night I was greeted by name.

To put that in perspective, it took more than ONE YEAR before anyone greeted me by name at my neighborhood haunt in Hong Kong! 

As I was leaving Bynyips Warung on my last night (but I didn’t know it was going to be my last night yet), the bartender/cook/host shouted at me, “Good night, Mike! See you tomorrow!”

Some of the regulars, whom I had never spoken to, shouted, “Good night!” as well, and I heard a woman comment, “That gentleman is becoming a regular here! He’s here every night!”

After just 3 nights …

Talented Musicians

And talk about talented musicians! The one on the left (in the 2nd picture) is just 21 years old. He is from Sumatra, and when he arrived in Bali (I was told), he couldn’t speak English. Now he speak English – idiomatic English – fluently.

As he was singing, he briefly interrupted his song as a girl with blonde hair walked by.

“Hey, Blondie!” he shouted. “Where you going?”

She paused and shouted, “Your place!”

That got a laugh.

Without skipping a beat, he said, “Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen. I’m going to have to interrupt this song. I’ve got some important business to take care of at my place.”

And check this out: he’s entirely self-taught (I was told)! He and the other singers/musicians that performed there sang with what we called – when I was a teenager growing up in Oaktown – something called “soul”.

In a language that is foreign to them … Do they really understand the meaning of the words that they are singing? If not, all I can say is, “You could have fooled me!”

Or maybe there is something universal in the emotion of the music – and the ears and the voice of a talented musician – that comes together, and it is not necessary to understand the exact meaning of the words, as long as you get the emotion right.

And they did get the emotion right … And I am gonna to miss that place …

 

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