Have you ever been ashamed of loving a destination?
Travel has become a little bit of a status symbol: the more insta perfect a place, the better it is. The more remote a destination the cooler you become among the backpacking community. But recently we visited a tourist mecca, one of those places which have a reputation for being seedy, dirty and full of drunks. I expected to loathe it, but instead, I kind of liked it. And, do you know what? I am ashamed to admit I liked it there. Stupid, huh?
The place I’m talking about: Kuta, Bali. Whenever you talk to someone about Bali the first thing they say is “don’t go to Kuta” or “Kuta isn’t really Bali.” So, as I have travelled around Bali, I find myself agreeing that Kuta isn’t nice and it is worth avoiding. But, in reality, I had a couple of really good days there, and so, I am questioning: why? Why am I ashamed to admit I had a good time there?! Why should I have to follow the crowds’ opinions? I should say loud and proud: “I liked Kuta!”
Check out our pics of Kuta on instagram.
Preconceptions of Kuta.
Don’t get me wrong, I had my preconceptions of what Kuta would be like. In fact, we originally only booked two nights to recover from a 17 hour layover in KL. The idea was we would spend a day hanging out around the pool to relax before exploring more off the beaten track locations. However, after a morning exploring we decided we wanted to extend by a night: Kuta was not what we were expecting.
Back in February, we spent a week in Phuket with my parents. While it was nice to see them, I hated Phuket. I specifically hated Patong. It was dirty, overpriced and the seediest place I’ve ever been. No one wants to have their boyfriend propositioned by a hooker while their dad is there! I expected Kuta to be Patong 2.0. Conversely, I had a great time in Kuta.
Why did I end up liking Kuta?
Kuta had some charm that Patong was severely lacking. In amongst the Starbucks’ and tourist tat shops, there was still local places. Yes, Kuta is overly commercialised but we still managed to find the nicest local run warung to eat at. It is still the best food I have had in Bali! It is small gems like this that made Kuta likeable.
Surfing is another reason we loved Kuta. Kuta is one of the best places to learn to surf. Small waves make the perfect conditions. So, James and I had our very first surf lesson in Kuta. It was a blast: I even managed to stand a few times! This experience is just another reason to love Kuta. Who doesn’t want to believe they are a cool surfer chick, even just for one day?
And finally, cheap spas. Spas are one of the reasons Bali is famous and I had a fabulous massage in Kuta. A lovely Balinese lady made my body feel like heaven and this treatment made me fall in love with Kuta even more. The chance to just relax and have a couple of days relaxing. Enjoying ourselves in a 3 star hotel, instead of a hostel, was bliss. The touristic side of Kuta means there are tonnes of great value accommodation options.
Overall, I had an amazing time in Kuta. Did I expect to? No. But sometimes a place surprises you and for me, that place was Kuta. So, here I am saying proudly: I liked Kuta. And there is nothing wrong with that!
Have you ever visited a place you loved but you’re ashamed to admit you loved it? Leave a comment below.