Kuta is one of those places where lost souls go to dig themselves deeper into the rabbit hole, where Aussie and Kiwi party animals go to get their drink on, where couples go to reconnect, and where families can bring their little ones for an amazing experience. Kuta can be crazy, but it can also be calm and cool. There is something here for every soul, whether it’s searching for something or not.
For me, Kuta was a budget friendly place where B and our friends with a year and a half year old could either laze around all day, go exploring, swim in the pool, or have a fun night partying with fellow travelers and locals alike.
We arrived on January 15th, just after the throngs of tourists had kissed their blissful holiday goodbye and shuffled back to reality. It was perfect because the high season prices were now low, and we weren’t fighting our way through the crowds. It was a bit rainy, but I prefer a bit of stormy weather over storms of people.
Challenge 1: Drink the Flaming Special at Legian Pub
We had the fortune of meeting a very cool Australian guy named Brad in the lobby of our hotel. Brad had been to Bali 25 times. He knew just about everything anyone would ever need to know about Kuta, he had even written a guide for people like us loaded with places to go, things to do, best bars and restaurants, and where to avoid. He was like an angel with a tan and a cool accent. Lucky for us, he took a shining to our motley crew and decided to take us around for his last few hours in Kuta.
First we went to the fun Legian Pub we drank the local specialty, which may be called the Jimmy Special or the Flaming Special. By the end of the night, we had forgotten the names of most places and people we had encountered throughout the night. First, the liquor is poured into a stemmed glass, and then the glass is warmed with a match before the liquor is set on fire. Then the guys behind the bar shout, “Five! Four! Three! Two! One!” They bang on the bar with their fists, hands and plastic ashtrays as you quickly gulp the flaming concoction through a straw. The bartender adds some milk, cooling the fire in your belly. It is actually quite tasty.
Challenge 2: Sing karaoke with a live band
If you are like me and love to pretend you are a rockstar, go to Bounty where a talented band plays some oldies but goodies as well as a few contemporary songs as you move across the stage like Steven Tyler. Our friend was the first to go, and he sang 5,000 Miles. Of course, his adorable son had to join him and he completely won over the crowd with his melodious babble. Then Brad sang a few tunes, and talked me into joining him for a couple of duets. After that, I was quite comfortable on the stage, and B had to pry me away after four or five solos. I still want to go back.
Challenge 3: Go to Synergy for some martial arts training
I will try almost anything once, so when B asked if I would join him for jiu jitsu, I hesitated, but then agreed. It couldn’t be as embarrassing as me hogging the microphone at karaoke, could it? When we arrived with our friend, I gulped. Most of the guys were twice my size and ripped, then I saw there were a few young boys and another lady, so I didn’t feel so bad. That feeling didn’t last long. The instructor proceeded with showing us various ways to choke someone out, put them in an arm bar, wizard hold, full mount, rear guard, guillotine, the list of foreign terminology went on and on. I watched intently, trying to hide the fact that I was completely lost.
B was very patient with me, and even let me put him in a choke hold. That was pretty fun. We wrestled, practiced the moves (well, I tried to practice the moves), and writhed along the padded floor, grunting all the while. Then the instructor asked us to trade partners and do some sparring. As I looked around at the sweaty guys around the room, I gulped. Luckily our friend, also new to the world of jiu jitsu, was my first partner. I awkwardly lay across his chest and couldn’t help cracking up. We must have looked like a couple of fish in a boat trying to breathe in the air. Then we had to trade partners. The only other woman and I went at it. She was shorter than me, but I am pretty sure she is a former member of the Israeli army. She squirmed out from under me and in about two seconds had me in a hold. “Wow, you are good. Have you done this before?” I asked, hoping the answer was yes. “No, first time.” I was embarrassed. She pinned me down effortlessly about two more times, and then it was time to switch. A French guy, Sebastian, was my next partner. He was more experienced, but was nice enough not to laugh at me when I pathetically tried to “shrimp out” of his hold, and he even gave me a few pointers. I was too exhausted to go on much longer. By the end of the two hour class I was drenched in sweat, both my own and various other partners’, my knees were red, skinned, and bruised, and I had a sprained toe. I was not a pretty sight.
It was a painful yet adrenaline pumping experience, but I think I will stick to the tamer side of martial arts. At least now I know how to choke someone out, if the occasion ever arises.
Challenge 4: Bikram Hot Yoga
I guess I am a glutton for punishment because a couple of days after getting my butt kicked on the martial arts mat I decided to get it kicked on the yoga mat. There was a studio right next to our hotel, so we did the evening class. I had done hot yoga in Shanghai, but it did not prepare me for the sweat session I was about to experience. The room is heated by 5-6 heaters at a temperature of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Before we stared I was already sweating bullets, and I am not usually a sweaty gal. We started with standing poses, my heart was pounding like the bass in one of Kuta’s many nightclubs, and my fingers started tingling. I started to feel lightheaded and sat down on my mat, seriously considering walking out of the class, and it had only been about ten minutes. I caught my breath and felt a bit better, and decided not to give up. The next 80 minutes went by fairly quickly, as I pushed, stretched, and breathed myself to my body’s limits. In between each vinyassa, we did the dead pose, which I liked because it helped to slow down my beating heart and gave me the strength to do another set. After we finished, my body tingled again, but this time in a good way. It really makes you realize that you can do anything you put your mind to, and right at the moment you may feel like giving up, just take a deep breath and begin again.
I will definitely be going back.