On the Road West of Kuta

Kuta Lombok – Indonesia – Information


JANUARY 2015:



ACCOMMODATION:

You can use online booking applications to find and book accommodation if you want but you will be paying a premium for the convenience. A premium of up to 100% (even for heavily discounted hotels).

Avoid Indah Hotel – it is terrible. The standard rooms are grotty, rumour is that dogs wash in the pool at night, and it is all very run down; which makes it overpriced for what you get.

You can get a Homestay ‘off the street’ for about 100k-150k per night depending on the quality of theI booked in at a Homestay down the road for 125k / night. It was nothing special (just a double bed, fan, and ensuite) but it was still better than the Kuta Indah.

Homestay type accommodation is easily available ‘off the street’ at 100k to 150k depending on the quality and your negotiating skills. But, don’t expect anything fancy for that price… it’s just somewhere to sleep. But, having said that, you will invariably find that the Homestay Owners are lovely people who do everything possible to make you feel welcome; after all… the Homestay is their livelihood. Double that to 250k and you should be able to find something pretty decent.

An expat who had lived in Lombok for a number of years  said that prices are starting to move like Bali did and there are a lot of people buying (especially along the waterfront).

There are modern, gated, expat communities on Lombok. He lived in one with 8 western quality houses that included 24 hour security, maid service, a pool, etc. The houses cost about 10m per month (NZ$1,000).




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TRANSPORT:

You can walk everywhere in Kuta but I highly recommend renting out a scooter. The ‘going rate’ is 50k / day. No deposit seems to be required.

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They run on the smell of an oily rag and give you the freedom to explore.

On the Road West of Kuta

If you are still able and willing to do so, a scooter is an excellent way of getting around. It really ‘opens up’ islands the size of Bali and Lombok. However, you need to be very careful on a scooter and some of you may be better off paying a little extra for an economy car.

One of the locals told me that you don’t get 50cc scooters in Indonesia. The smallest ones are 110cc which sell new for about 12m. A 125cc option should sell new for about 15m.

Easy Rider for wrinklies:

Get that motor running…

Head out on the Highway…

Looking for my dentures…

That I left in someones driveway…


KUTA TOWN:

I found Kuta, itself, quite average. It has a nice beach but nobody seems to use it as almost all of the accommodation is about 1km away.

Kuta doesn’t seem to know what it is meant to be. As a result, it lacks both heart and soul.

Prices are pretty much the same as the prices on Gili Air: 35k for a large Bintang, 10-15k for a soft drink, 20-40k for an Indonesian meal in a Warung, and 70-85k for a Burger.

Where Kuta did score well is for laundry: you can get your laundry cleaned for a mere 6k to 8k per kilo (itt’s 20k per kilo on Gili Air)..


WEST OF KUTA:

Belongas Beach West of KutaAbout 25km west of Kuta is Belongas surfing beach (where I did a bit of body surfing).

They charge you 10k to park up your scooter for the day; but I think that this is yet another scam.

You can get surf-board lessons on the beach. There are cafes that serve snacks and canned drinks. There are also a couple of guys BBQing corn on the cob at 10k each (but I think that I was done – they should be 5k each).

Alas, the water was not the best… as you wade through the water you can feel the plastic bags and rubbish hitting your legs. Small pottles float on the surface. What a shame… such a beautiful beach ruined by rubbish. The local cafe owners on the beach sweep up what they can every morning but they can’t get to what is still in the sea.

I, then, got off the beaten track and toured the local area. On the back streets everyone waves at you and says hello. The school children queue up on the side of the road so that you can ‘high 5’ them as you drive past. Obviously, you need to slow down a bit or you might take their arms off.

Just stopping for a cup of tea at some sort of cafe on the side of the road attracted a lot of attention. It is moments like that where a Mobile Data Plan and iTranslate come into play; very pleasant.


EAST OF KUTA:

Seger Beach East of KutaAbout 5kms east is the beautiful and isolated Seger Beach. There were fewer rubbish problems in these waters (you can still feel the odd bit of plastic bag hit your legs). Cleaner waters. Clean beach. Good swimming.

The first day that I went, I parked up my scooter without any problems. The second day, however, I went to collect my scooter to leave and an elderly man in a blue uniform tried to give me a parking chit for 5k. I just ignored him and drove off… if they want a parking fee, they should clearly state so on entry or collect that fee on entry… not when you are leaving.

A couple of kids tried to do the same on the next beach along. I ignored them too.


HAWKERS:

All around Kuta you will be approached by 8-10 year olds trying to sell you bracelets (they start at 20k, soften up at 10k and offer 5k as a last resort). You get slightly older kids trying to sell you T Shirts.

The local ladies specialise in sarongs for 50k (40k or less as a last resort).

This goes on all day and becomes almost every 5 minutes at night. It gets a bit tiresome in the end.


DEPARTURE:

The standard Minicab fare from Kuta to the Lombok Airport is 60k. You can see the price advertised on Tour Shop Windows as you walk down the main streets.

Pick up is, as usual, from your hotel. My pick up, again, was bang on time – an 09:30 pick up to get to the Airport by 10:15 for a 12:15 International Flight check in.

At the Air Asia check in counter at the Airport, I showed them my eTicket on my Tablet screen (I had no hard copy and no means of getting one printed). This was not a problem, they booked me in and issued my Boarding Pass. Please note that this is in stark contrast to what happened at the Air Asia counter in Kuala Lumpur – where I was sent away to find a self check-in kiosk and get my own Boarding Pass.

It would seem that on 1st January 2015, Lombok Airport introduced a 150k ‘Service Fee’ (basically, a Departure Tax) for all international departures. It took me by surprise and used up all of my last cash reserves – which meant that the lunch that I was going to have at Lombok Airport before I caught my flight to KL, got delayed 6 hours (until I cleared customs at KL and found an ATM machine).

This ‘fee’ may be a consequence of an Australian Airline pulling out of daily international flights to Lombok. It would seem that the route proved to be commercial non-viable as most tourists who flew to Lombok tended to return from Denpasar… anyway, the result is that Lombok has been left with an International Airport that doesn’t really have many flights and is slowly becoming run down.


COMPARED TO GILI AIR:

The comments that I made in my Gili Air Review about negotiating prices, understanding how little these guys get paid and unreliable power (with random outages)  apply to Kuta, Lombok as well.

If there is a drug scene in Kuta, it is very low key. I saw no evidence of drugs at all… This is, probably, a reflection on the severe penalties dished out by police.


WHEN TO GO:

In High Season the place will be full of 18-25 year old surfies. Most of whom will be driving around on scooters with a surfboard attached to the scooter on a specially constructed rack.

I would suggest that Mid Season would be the best time for wrinklies.


IS KUTA, LOMBOK A RETIREMENT LOCATION?

Is Kuta paradise? No. Is Kuta a possible Retirement Location? No.

Simply put… the place is a bit grubby, the waters a a bit grubby, and it is too too quiet. Also, Kuta has no real ‘town center’ so it is hard to meet and mix with new people / make friends.

A better option may be to check out what’s available in a 10km radius of Kuta. I did that but mainly found grubby villages (where the village trash is chucked on the side of the road that leads out of town). I like my life a bit neater and cleaner than that.

Could Kuta become a place to stay for 3-4 months as part of a retirement location rotation? Possibly, but I would suggest that there are much better places to go where you don’t need so many ‘visa runs’ and where you don’t get hassled so much..


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