The problem with Kuta (Lombok)

26th September 2017

dog

I arrived in Kuta, Lombok full of expectations, after hearing so many tales of unspoiled paradise from friends and trusted acquaintances. When I go somewhere I’m this hyped up about, reality doesn’t always match the expectations: it happened in the Perhentian Islands, it happened in Hawaii and it nearly happened in Koh Phangan. Unfortunately, it also happened in Kuta. I stuck around for a few days to explore the surrounding areas with a scooter, in search of the magic we’d heard so much about.

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But the magic was nowhere for me to be found. Kuta town is a dusty affair with not much else than a few warungs (to be fair, there was some great food around) and goats and children roaming the busted roads incessantly trying to sell you bracelets (the children, that is). It reminded me of the road in Otres Beach, a place where you only wander in case of strict necessity, either to get a ride into town or buy some sunscreen. Except that’s mostly what Kuta is made of. It’s where the hotels, restaurants, shops and spas are, so if you’re not a surfer, you end up spending an awful lot of time in this rather soulless dusty place. The roads west and east of Kuta afford great views of the sea, but the land on the hills itself is arid and barren, presenting little of interest than more dust for the motorbiker to eat, and the occasional sparse patch of palm trees in the hollows of the valleys. In comparison, I found the hills on either side of Senggigi so much more beautiful and a real treat to ride a scooter around.

Of course there are the beaches. They really are beautiful. I loved Mawun beach, despite the crazy rip current and the fact that you have to come to terms with being the sole livelihood of the Sasak people selling fruits to the tourists. I was happy to oblige and the spicy corn on the cob was excellent, but after two days of sampling the beaches and riding a scooter around, dodging the buffaloes and potholes, I felt ready to move on to a place that suited me better.

beautiful-girl

One thing that really didn’t help my enjoyment of Kuta, however, was my choice of accommodation, which I selected based on rave Tripadvisor reviews. Imagine this: a set of cute little rooms, recently built, with large comfortable beds and little porches. Imagine the rooms are set around a beautiful little garden, with a gorgeous mango tree at its centre. Imagine being away from the call to prayer and street noise of Kuta town, with just the gentle croaking of the geckos for company. Imagine that?

Good.

Now imagine that, except the owner is strutting around wearing just a towel, a towel so short that I caught a glimpse of his balls on more than one occasion. He is constantly and noisily clearing his nose, sucking on his teeth, spitting, burping and farting. The TV is blaring some terrible Indonesian jingle from the house. The women of the family are busy conversing among themselves, or with their neighbours across the way. Oh wait… Did I say conversing? I meant screaming. If they’re not screaming at each other, they’re screaming at the many children, who run around in various states of undress while shouting, screaming, crying or playing with noisy toys. Like, incredibly noisy. The roaring of a plastic motorbike outside your window at 6am is a far worse wakeup than the usual Indonesian rooster crows. Not forgetting the one little delight that simply unzips and pees wherever he feels like it: one day, he steps out of his front door, flops it out and pees directly onto our porch, not 4 feet from where we are sitting.

I really wanted to love it there, as much as I wanted to love Kuta, and it had all the ingredients to be amazing. But it just felt too much that I was living with the worst, noisiest, most dysfunctional neighbours in the world, in a town that hasn’t got much to offer to the non-surfing crowd.

corn

After not enjoying the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia and now Kuta, Lombok, I am wondering if there is something wrong with me? People are all different, and sometimes the slightest of detail can make or break a place, and I am not calling having a prime view on an old man’s testies a slight detail. To each their own, I guess, but I thought Kuta Lombok had no character. You just have to check places out for yourself and make your own opinion sometimes. Also acknowledge that lone, terrible Tripadvisor review in a sea of excellents, because, hey, you never know, that one weirdo who didn’t like it might just be you.

beachme2

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Has any travel destination ever let you down?

18 thoughts on “The problem with Kuta (Lombok)

  1. Pingback: Living in a tobacco drying house | Mostly Amélie

  2. Pingback: Gili Air: Lombok's dumb blonde | Mostly Amélie

  3. Paul

    We nearly got talked in to going here ourselves but resisted based on the fact that we were quite happy in our little corner of Bali (Jemeluk) and despite all the tips often ‘the grass isn’t greener’ so we stay put…

    From your (funny) post it sounds like we made the right choice, and by the way I am like that weirdo on TA…

    Reply
  4. puti

    I love mawun beach, i just got from there. maybe next time you cud try Drop in bungalow..check them out in airbnb 🙂

    Reply
  5. Daniela

    I’m here and I’m hating it!!! I though There was something wrong with us (my boyfriend and me), but that place really sucks and it’s people as well! Not friendly at all, very rude. I feel like I was kidnapped by the mafia.

    Reply
      1. anna van neerven

        Hi Amélie!

        Finally I found a vegan blogger who visit Lombok and other places in Asia 😉 Sad to hear about Lombok Kuta. Me and my boyfriend are going 10th of April to Lombok – Sengiggi – then climbing the Rinjani…- then to Kuta (lombok) – Komodo – Flores – Bali and then Gili Meno.

        I’ve been to Bali before and I thought let’s not stay for a long time in Bali (a lot of tourists), but now I read your blogs about Bali (especially Ubud), i’m thinking maybe we should stay there longer dan 2 days!

        Do you have any tips, suggestions about Sengiggi (like food or things to do)? I hope you can help me out (a) Have a nice evening.

        Lots of love, Anna

        Reply
  6. Chesca @ chescaislost.com

    Just came across this post now as I thought I was going mad by hating it here! Then realised I also came across your Ubud post when we were travelling there. Most certainly following now 🙂

    Me and my partner arrived in Kuta last night, and have already had more bad experiences here than our almost-finished 2 month trek over from Java. I don’t get the hype; it is indeed a soulless, dusty place.

    I had also heard amazing things, which is why we came here, but have found the experience to be fairly disappointing. For the first time since travelling in Indonesia, I was heckled and harassed incessantly by young men on their scooter as we walked one evening to the beach. They kept going up and down up and down, shouting at us everytime they passed, and that was with my boyfriend! We also had to escape the gangs of semi-feral dogs that roam the beach at night too, which wasn’t nice at all. And I bloody love dogs.

    We also thought – are we not doing this properly?? Is there something not right with us? But I don’t think we’re the only ones who feel it. You’re completely right, there’s no character here, and if you’re not out surfing all day, there isn’t much else to do but eat. Onwards and upwards 🙂

    Reply
  7. Chantae

    I HATED my first trip to Kuta, Lombok and had the same perception as you. I wondered why everyone loved it. Second time, went back and loved it. I’ve been back 3x since and have stayed there for ~3 months the past year… it’s gotten MUCH more crowded and developed (more bracelet kids, more construction/touting) over the past few years. I can definitely see how it doesn’t appeal at all to non-surfers. I like some of the main beaches (near turtle warung) but it does seem that everyone is making it a bit overhyped. I recently sent a friend there thinking he’d love it (he’s a surfer). He got bad vibes and left right away, so you’re definitely not alone.

    Reply
  8. Tasha

    I’m in Kuta right now and I second allllll of this and then some. Expectations definitely did not match reality on this one…

    Reply
  9. P

    Hi Amelie, I agree with you. Kuta used to be a wonderfull, isolated village with beautifull beaches, quiet and clean. Nowadays, there is concrete everywhere, it’s getting super dirty (plastic bags everywhere and and it’s noisy as hell (motorbikes without propper knalpot, people shouting, karaokes outdoors.

    Reply
  10. Tonkin Voyage Travel

    OMG, I still think like your expectation! My friends (his hometown is in Lombok) tells me to come to Lombok, experience something different from the bustling neighbor Bali. He said that Lombok is untouched and has so many wild beaches for surfing, but everything seems to be not like his speech. Nonetheless, I still put it in my bucket list cuz I want to explore Gilis. Thanks so much for sharing !

    Reply
  11. De boer Eric

    October 2017 i was supposed to go to Lombok but after reading your your article and the comments of the followers i have canceled my trip and stayed in Bali. But this year after the earthquake i have came back to indonesia and decided not to be influenced by other poeple experience and comments and decided to experience it my self and my pregnant girl friend.

    We had the best time ever because we went there with a complete open heart without judging anything and embracing the difference.

    we knew there were kids selling bracelets, so we took with us colouring pencils. right after the first day they became our friends and we used to spend hours with them in a cafe called Kenza with good vegan options. amazing place to hangout.

    the dogs are so sweet and no harmful at all.
    The food in Kuta Lombok is amazing and we were eating in these 3 places:
    @Elbazarlombok | @Krnk_lombok | @kenzaLombok

    We say, open your heart and embrace the difference. sometimes it is good to see where we all coming from

    Reply
  12. Amélie Post author

    That’s amazing, I’m so glad you had a lovely time! There’s nothing I love more than being proven wrong about a destination 🙂 And you are right, going without expectations or preconceived ideas is the best way to go!

    All best,
    Amelie

    Reply

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