Kuta (on Lombok; there’s one on Bali and one on Lombok) was all about relaxing.
Somewhere up on Mt. Rinjani (or had we even gotten that far yet?) Lauren and I decided that we’d we worth all the pampering in the world if and when we’d accomplished our mission. Lauren was planning to come to Kuta before heading to Cambodia, and as usual, I didn’t really know what was going to happen next, so along I came.
We arrived in Kuta late in the evening on Saturday after a 4-hour minivan drive. We’d booked a hotel for the first night in order to make sure that we’d have comfortable beds, air conditioning and a pool. Also, to be completely honest, we did not feel like socializing with a bunch of strangers in a hostel.
Apart from being so done with walking we were extremely hungry. After three days of nothing but soup and noodles and cookies, so many cookies, we needed to get something proper to eat. We chose the first best option available – mouth watering burgers next door from our hotel! Also, we wanted to get all the dust and dirt out of sight, so we took our laundry to the nearest convenience store-laundry-gas station-home.
Sleeping in a comfortable bed felt like heaven on earth. We found a cute little cafe and had energizing smoothie bowls for breakfast, and then took a walk along the main street and had a look at the beach. Kuta seemed nice and cosy and not-so-touristy: the beach, for example, was full of locals. We had the perfect tempeh sandwich for lunch, took a nap and a dip in the pool and set out to look for our post-Rinjani massages.
It seemed impossible to find a proper massage. The places that had a massage sign outside were tiny little stores selling clothes and sarongs and whatever they all sold, in addition to which they provided massages and other treatments in the back of the store – not quite what we were looking for.
We found what seemed to be one of the two main yoga studios in Kuta, attached to which we happily noticed that there was a sign saying ‘salon & spa’. Next thing we knew we found ourselves in an Indonesian lady’s multi-purpose complex (home?) where we got a one-hour Balinese full body massage.
Halfway through our massages a cd player was turned on. Soft music was playing in the background blending in with the distant sounds of Indonesian chatter and a barking dog. The massage wasn’t the best I’ve had, but it was for sure authentically Balinese and relaxing, too.
Once we were finished the owner, Ani, asked us if we wanted some tea and fried tempeh served with peanut sauce and chili. What I had assumed to be a cd player turned our to be live music: a guy named Martin was singing and playing the guitar. We took a seat in the little hut where he was sitting and enjoyed our accidental detour to Indonesian lifestyle. We talked about everything from our Rinjani-experience to food, and all of a sudden we had signed up for a cooking class the following day.
This, if something, is good marketing.
We got to pick three dishes plus one bonus dish that we wanted to make. Our first choice was Lauren’s favorite gado gado, a salad of steamed vegetables and fried tempeh or tofu served with a delicious peanut sauce, the sauce being the main thing. Second we chose urap urap, or steamed vegetables mixed with grated and seasoned black coconut. Third we chose a Lombok specialty called olah olah, consisting of a vegetable curry cooked with coconut milk. Last but not least we chose perkadel, or mashed, deep fried corn patties.
Getting to know some of the Indonesian specialties was a lot of fun since I was still quite unfamiliar with the local food. All of the dishes were vegetarian and fairly easy to make, so the cooking only took a little more than an hour.
The food was delicious, yet heavy. It was served with a side of rice that we ended up not even touching as there were so many other things to try. We even got to bring some of the leftovers with us, packed into banana leaves. As dessert we had ginger tea and fresh pineapple.
Later that day once Lauren had been picked up by Martin to go to the airport I found myself in the exact same place as I did a week ago: feeling a little low for having parted ways with someone I’d just gotten to know and really enjoyed traveling with.
There I was, alone again, faced with the fact that I am my only travel companion and it is time to start all over again. And I’ve only traveled for two weeks. Oh, man!
In the afternoon I went back to Ani’s place for a third time, this time for a manicure and pedicure. Although I was well aware of the fact that I should probably not be expecting anything close to salon standard results (it was all very homemade and done in the dark), I was quite unhappy with the outcome. How unnecessary, but oh well… at least they got the dirt off from under my toenails.
Once again I was served ginger tea. They asked me about my travel plans, however once they got to persuading me to come back the following day to check their bungalows in case I’d like to stay there for the remainder of my time, and also to try their yoga classes (of course with a cup of tea and some talking, too), I thought I’d better get going. No matter how sweet they were, it was too much.
As Lauren had left, Ani thought that I’d better get a ride with her daughter who was just on her way to the supermarket, so I jumped onto the back of her motorbike and was back at the hotel in no time. I was confused – how random is life?
I had a Magnum and a pack of Oreos (yup…) and went to bed. I guess one’s gotta have her lows to be able to recognize the highs.